-->

– by Kyle Malone

Welcome back to The Cantina, I’m your bartender Kyle Malone and I only keep one thing on tap here… Star Wars. I am not your average fan though. No, I am the dedicated, well versed in the EU, experienced gamer, and open-minded fan this world needs. I see the flaws in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but also the great moments too. I know the importance of The Empire Strikes Back but see how strong Return of the Jedi is. I see that the prequels… well… we’ll get there. I love Star Wars and I want more! More books, comics, games, and movies that take place in a galaxy far, far away. We have a lot to cover, so enjoy that Jet Juice, and let’s started…

Recent News

In the last week, our own Campbell Clark covered some Star Wars Episode IX rumors and a story on a likely no-go for Solo 2. I also found a story on Star Wars News Net about Andy Serkis that has some people excited. Just so you know, some of these stories require a spoiler warning!

 

Am I the only one upset they didn’t push Solo: A Star Wars Story to this December? Not because it would have given them more time to make a better movie, yeah, I am saying it sucked, but because it’s messed with the flow. December 2015 gave us Episode VII, 2016 brought Rogue One, and 2017 delivered Episode VIII… then came summer 2018. Why am I complaining? No idea… I just like consistency!

Speaking of Solo though, Jon Kasdan recently expressed his doubts, in a tweet, that a sequel would happen anytime soon. For those of you that didn’t know, the movie was likely the most expensive Star Wars film ever made and brought in less than $400 million worldwide. It most definitely lost money and that is why I don’t think it’ll get a sequel myself. Kasdan himself mentions the fact Hollywood runs away from unsuccessful films in that same tweet, and why wouldn’t they? Movie studios are businesses, and whether we like it or not they make all their decisions based on what will make them money. I think Disney should have pushed the release date to December and try to make a whole new movie versus patching the one they had. Either that or shelve it. Did we really need a movie with Han growling Wookiee-speak at Chewie? Did anyone really care how he won the Falcon? How about the half-assed EU reference of the Maw. No, we didn’t need this movie.

 

Onto happier news… maybe. It recently came to light that Andy Serkis had canceled his planned appearance at the Keystone Comic Convention in Pennsylvania. This got people’s wheels turning as too why, and the most logical thing is… SNOKE IS ALIVE! Yes, you heard it here, and in the provided link, Snoke IS alive. Maybe. Okay, who knows? SWNN states that the actor doesn’t have a very busy schedule and the cancellation came from a last minute scheduling conflict, and people are assuming that conflict was filming for Episode IX. Personally, I don’t mind Snoke being dead and I like the idea of Kylo being the big bad Force user for the finale. Additionally, I feel there’s a real possibility that we may see Snoke in flashbacks if this rumor is true. Or maybe he’ll be back as a Force ghost. Either way… SNOKE!

 

Lastly, we have a traitor in our midst. A supposed story leak has Kylo Ren fearing that there’s a spy within the First Order. This mole is feeding the Resistance and we’re being told it’s none other than General Hux. Some people, Cam, think this could make sense based on Hux wanting to undermine Kylo, but I don’t buy it. Hux hates the Resistance and wants to see the First Order become the new Empire. I guess the idea of him undermining Ren is a solid one, but I would think he would splinter the First Order before working with the enemy.

That’s it for the news folks. There were a few other things to happen such as a fan theory from Kevin Smith and another team meet and greet for Resistance, but we have a book review to get too… An EU book Review!

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole

 

That’s right, I am talking about the first book in Michael A. Stackpole’s amazing X-Wing series, Rogue Squadron. The book starts off with Wedge Antilles reforming the famed Rogue Squadron but he’s having to fight politicians that want to put pilots on the roster to garner support from specific planets and systems. Erisi Dlarit and Bror Jace are both from Thyferra, the planet that supplies the galaxy with life saving bacta. Each pilot represents one of the two bacta corporations and is placed to reassure them that the New Republic appreciates their goods and services equally. The Bothan Peshk Vri’syk is placed on the team to appease the proud species and thank them for their sacrafices in getting the plans and location of the second Death Star. Bothans also held a lot of sway in galactic politics. Then there’s less political and more thankful appointments like Aril Nunb, who was the sister of Nien Nunb. Nien flew the Millenium Falcon with Lando during the battle of Endor.

Wedge also got to pick some of the best candidates that applied like Lujayne Forge from Kessel, the Twi’Lek Nawara Ven, Gavin Darklighter whose cousin Biggs died in the trench of the first Death Star, and Corran Horn. Horn was a former Corellian Security law enforcement officer who had a natural knack for flying, which was enhanced by his competitiveness and desire to be the best. There was a point of contention over Tycho Celchu, who Wedge wanted as his Executive Officer. Celchu had been captured by the Empire and many believed was let go in order to be a spy. He was interred at the Lusankya prison which was rumored to use brain washing techniques. Wedge won the fight for Tycho but he could only pilot a depowered Z-95 Headhunter, agree to house arrest when not training, and have a remote self destruct system on his ship in case he tried to do anything he wasn’t supposed too.

During the squadron’s training it becomes clear that Corran Horn is the best of the group, but his ego and altercations with Bror Jace get him in trouble. He does get to lead the third flight of Rogue Squadron and proves himself a capable leader.

The Rogues are activated earlier than expected and are moved to Talasea base to operate from. On their way there they have their first real combat scenario when they’re ripped from hyperspace by an Imperial Interdictor Cruiser. They assist in the rescue of the Pulsar Skate, a smuggling ship piloted by Mirax Terrik, and escape the imperials. Mirax is an old friend of Wedge but is also the daughter of a major smuggler that Corran put in jail. After arriving at Talasea the Rogues begin a harassment campaign against the Empire and start making a name for themselves.

We get introduced to the head of Imperial Intelligence, who is also running the Empire at the time, Ysanne Isard. She and her right hand man, Kirtan Loor, work to locate the Rogues secret base and end their actions against the Empire. Isard is an incredibly capable woman who rose through the ranks despite the Empire’s tendency to hold women in low regard.

Eventually things come to a head as the Rogues deal with a surprise attack on their base, plan a major assault on the planet Borleias, and become the Rogues of legend

I love this book, the series it belongs too, and the author. Stackpole is my favorite writer from the EU and I really wish he would come back to the galaxy far, far away. Part of what makes this book great is the lack of Skywalkers and Solos. Yes, I know those are the names most equated with the saga, but I love seeing the other side of the war against the Empire. The focus on the life of a starfighter pilot introduces so much flavor to the Star Wars Universe. Pilots have their own lingo such as calling TIE Fighters “eyeballs” or TIE Interceptors “squints”, they have to know each other more intimately to help them read each other and guess actions during combat, and they have more fun during their downtime. This book has moments of young sexual tension, egotistical males spewing testosterone all over a hanger, and Star Wars curse words such as Sithspit.

Wedge Antilles and his Executive Officer Tcho Celchu take the Rogues from being a symbol for planets and politicians to being feared by the Empire. They train hard and play hard, building relationships tougher than durasteel. There are defeats and losses for the Rogues, and they learn and grow from each one. You really connect with these characters more than Han, Luke, or Leia. They feel more accessible and relatable than the big three. I may have wanted to be a Jedi as a young kid, but these books really made me want to be an X-Wing pilot instead. Stackpole does an amazing job describing the starfighters in motion and combat. I feel he really created the blueprints for space combat in the EU.

I reread this book not too long ago and I enjoyed it as much this time as the time before that and the time before that and the first time. There are some pacing issues though, mostly due to world building and character introduction, but none of that should deter you from immediately reading the next book, Wedge’s Gamble. Now go to your local bookstore and buy it!!!

Final Grade: A

Alright, it’s time to close this place up. Look out next week when I’ll go over my dream Star Wars game. Here’s a hint it rhymes with Hex Bing. You don’t have to go home, but if you stay here I’ll let loose the Nexu. Until next time, May the Force Be With You!

What do you think of this weeks news and rumors? Have you ever read Rogue Squadron? What would you like to see me do with this column? Let us know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers! Just hit the buttons on the top of this page.

Kyle is a business school graduate who loves movies, comics, and video games. He shares his passions with his wife and is raising a next generation geek.