Star Wars: Aftermath — Reviews, News, And Such!

So, hey, uhhh — *clears throat* — anything going on, you guys?

Any, ahhh, books come out recently?

*whistles*

OH THAT’S RIGHT

*orgasmic Yoda face*

A little book called STAR WARS: AFTERMATH came out.

Force Friday And The Launch Weekend

I flew down to DragonCon and the Decatur Bookfest for the weekend — both of which were amazing, by the way, and each the polar opposite of one another — and on Thursday night headed over to the Edgewood Barnes & Noble for an Aftermath launch event. There I got to connect with a passel of fans new and old, and meet rad folks from various corners of Star Wars fandom, and just generally have fun signing books and oh yeah maybe buying myself a remote control BB-8 and a Force Awakens LEGO Millennium Falcon. Ahem.

The launch continued through the weekend, and being at DragonCon for it was like being at Ground Zero for the Joyous Nerd Bomb. I had people come up to me randomly to get me to sign their book. I got to do a really rad Aftermath panel with bad-ass moderator Nanci Schwartz of Tosche Station fame. (Actually, all the folks from Tosche Station were a blast. Big ups to them for making me feel welcome and just generally being a hoot to hang with. Oh, and sorry, Bria, that I can’t tell you ANY SECRETS. Also Luke dies in the book seven times.) Did an interview with the awesome Bryan Young and also with bad-ass drinker-of-foe-tears Donna Dickens at HitFix. Sold out of the book at various places. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.

The online response has been exciting, too — so many folks tweeting at me or emailing me or FACEYBOOKING me about how much they dig it. It’s really nice to see because Star Wars is a beloved thing to me, and having a little acreage of actual canon to cultivate is a dream come true.

(For much of the weekend, actually, the book was the number one novel across all of Amazon. Which is completely head-breaking to me in the best way possible. I swoon. I swoon!)

I’m In The Papers, Ma

[note: a lot of the links below may involve spoilers big and small]

First off, it was surreal to be at my hotel in Decatur and look over at a USA Today — in print — and see my big dumb face staring back. I literally had a moment where I thought: am I stroking outDid I eat some bad eggs or shrimp and now I’m tripping gonads? Am I staring at myself from inside a newspaper? Am I trapped inside the newspaper? Do I need to get myself out of the newspaper? I was ready to grab the paper and start ripping it up to free me from its prison.

Then I calmed down and realized it was real and also holy shit.

(You can read the USA Today article here. It also features a new excerpt from the book.)

I also had an interview with Anthony Breznican about Aftermath and Zer0es. It was a real pleasure to do this interview and it’s really one of my favorites. Broken into three parts:

Part One: How Aftermath sets the stage for Force Awakens

Part Two: Aftermath introduces a new gay character

Part Three: Finding Han Solo

Grantland did an interview and article about me and the book, too. Read that here.

And I guess I really made it because I have a book referenced in a Penny Arcade cartoon. (!!)

Blastr did “10 important things we learned from the new book, and hints about Force Awakens.”

And IGN offers “9 important new details from Star Wars Aftermath.”

Hollywood Reporter talks about how the book may tie into the new movie.\

From the Nerdist review:

“Wendig neatly captures the current states of the Empire and Rebel Alliance and does so through flawed, real, and nuanced characters. His writing gets you up close and personal with anyone we come in contact with, whether we spend chapters with them or only a few pages. Wendig does wonders with dialogue and voice and carving out space for everyone to breathe. Aftermath is a strong foot forward into unexplored territory and puts down just enough foundation that you can start picturing the Resistance and First Order of The Force Awakens taking shape.”

From the NY Daily News review:

“If the opening chapter of the Wendig’s “Aftermath” trilogy is any indication, the ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ will be every bit as exciting as the movie.”

(also worth noting their comments on the droid character in the book)

“Rounding out the heroes is Mr. Bones, Temmin’s customized Battle Droid. This killing machine serves mostly as a deus ex machina, saving his allies from certain death… However, his scenes are always fun to read and many “Star Wars” fans will be reminded of HK-47 from the “Knights of the Old Republic” game and Triple-Zero from Marvel’s “Darth Vader” series. Bones is also one of the many clever shoutouts to the prequel era.”

From Den of Geek’s review:

“The four heroes work fantastically together, and have become some of my favorite characters in the new canon. They really seem to connect with one another: they hug, they laugh, they make maps out of household objects. Singer, whose job was torturing his own crewmates for information, flinches when he’s presented with a box of thermal detonators – he wasn’t a front-line soldier, after all. Their dynamic is fun and believable. Aftermath is also one of the most diverse books in the Star Wars oeuvre, showing characters of various races, genders, and sexual orientations…

Aftermath is a wonderful addition to the expanded universe. It brings vivid characters and a strong writing style, and while I won’t be outlining them here in order to avoid spoilers, there are intriguing hints at where Star Wars stories could go next. The Star Wars universe is fresh and new again, and just as rich and mysterious as it always was.”

From Big Shiny Robot:

“The book itself is incredibly readable. I couldn’t put it down, I consumed it rapidly over the course of two days. My time was limited and I had many deadlines, but found myself setting things aside in order to read instead. It moves quickly and is structured like you’d imagine a “Star Wars” book should be.”

From Sci-Fi Bulletin:

“If you’ve not read a Chuck Wendig book before, the present tense third person POV style may come as a bit of a shock, but it’s absolutely right for the story that’s being told. As I’ve said elsewhere about his original fiction, Wendig’s writing is visceral, drawing you into the characters he creates, appealing to all your senses, the pacing matching the emotional temperature of the scene he’s presenting (and presenting is the right word). The original Star Wars movie used fairy tale tropes – farm boy, princess, wise old man etc. – but this story is more about what happens after the ‘happy ever after’, and it needs that realistic edge, so that you feel you know the people – bounty hunter, Rebel mother and rebel teenager, Imperial loyalty officer – and inhabit their feelings…

“Verdict: A highly readable, sharp continuation of the saga.”

From Star Wars Post:

“First and foremost, Aftermath is an engaging, fun, thought provoking ride that will keep you engaged and thirsting for more. To put it simply, it’s just plain great Star Wars. The tempo is suberb and the affection and attachment to the characters is real and complete. There are great personalities here and they feel like they belong in our galaxy far far away.”

From the Eloquent Page:

“Wendig has achieved an accomplishment I thought nigh on impossible. He has written a novel that has left me actively salivating for the next Star Wars movie. Well played, Mr. Wendig, well played. Turns out, thirty two years later, I haven’t changed a bit; I am still completely in thrall to my childhood favourites. If The Force Awakens manages to capture the same sense of adventure that is on display here, then the future of Star Wars is in safe hands.”

The Dark Side

The book has also gotten some… interesting reviews.

A blogger at Allen West’s website has decried me and Paul S. Kemp somehow destroying America with our GAY STAR WARS. Something-something traditional values? I dunno. Probably don’t read it? But if you want a Do Not Link click to it, here you go.

And at Amazon, the book seems to have collected an astonishing number of one-star reviews — many of them arriving en masse, in a row, the first couple days of release. Obviously, some of that is simply that people don’t like the book. That happens with every book release.

Others have suggested that there may be a campaign by some Legends fangroups to “raid” the book’s reviews to tank its ranking with these one-star reviews — an interesting tactic that does indeed tank its actual review score, but not its sales ranking given that Amazon algorithms are interested not in the quality of the reviews but rather the attention that the reviews and the book get. (Meaning, a passel of negative reviews actually elevates the book’s overall sales ranking. Which in turn garners it more sales. Amazon reps have been clear with me on this point: buyers buy books with reviews, period. Not good reviews, not bad reviews. But rather: quantity of reviews impress buyers to make purchases. So, leaving a ton of bad reviews actually increases the book’s sales. Ironic, and not likely what anyone supporting such a campaign intends.)

Some of the reviews seem to take issue with my voice, some take issue with it being, erm, “SJW propaganda,” others still because I’m not Timothy Zahn and because I apparently hate the prequels and the EU. (Neither could be farther from the truth, mind you. We literally just watched some of the prequels last week, and the Zahn novels are three of my most beloved books.)

Jim C. Hines did a post unpacking some of this.

Michael Patrick Hicks took a look at what’s going on with those reviews, too.

Your mileage may vary.

As for my voice: I can’t do much about that. I’m me. My writing is my writing. I took a long time to find my voice and if it’s not your thing, I respect that. (That said, it also doesn’t make it “bad” writing, as some have suggested. It’s just not what you prefer, which is entirely okay.)

And some folks, too, I think may be disappointed that this does not… you know, ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS. I recognize that some readers will be picking this book up hoping it’s basically just a laundry list of details about what happens between this and the new movie. If you’re looking for that, I apologize. This book ain’t it. The principal three characters are only barely featured. (Heads up: Luke isn’t even in the book at all outside a mention or two.)

And on the idea of there being a campaign…

I’ll say only this — if the only reason you didn’t like the book or left a review like that is because of some kind of campaign against it based on the EU/Legends canon, I am sorry. Honestly. I get that it sucks that some of the stories you love will remain unconsidered and unfinished. That’s not awesome. I’m not really sure what else would’ve been an option in terms of carrying that forward, though I also don’t know that Disney has officially put Legends out to pasture in terms of no new content ever. I will say, though, if your love of the EU drives you to campaigns like this, or hate-tweeting me or hate-mailing me, you’ve stopped being a fan. That’s not what being a fan is. Loving something is fandom. Hate isn’t, or shouldn’t be, part of it. Fandom is about sharing awesome things with like-minded people. It isn’t about spreading hate and forming spiteful tribes. That’s heinous fuckery. Do not partake in heinous fuckery.

Oh, And The Gay Thing

And if you’re upset because I put gay characters and a gay protagonist in the book, I got nothing for you. Sorry, you squawking saurian — meteor’s coming. And it’s a fabulously gay Nyan Cat meteor with a rainbow trailing behind it and your mode of thought will be extinct. You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive, totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars. It’s like trying to picture Jesus kicking lepers in the throat instead of curing them. Stop being the Empire. Join the Rebel Alliance. We have love and inclusion and great music and cute droids.

(By the way, the book also has an older woman, a mother, rescuing a man. So if that bothers you, you might wanna find a bunker for hunkering down. And I dunno if you noticed, but the three new protagonists of the movie consist of a woman, a black man, a Latino man. The bad guys all look like white guys, too. So many meteors. So little time to squawk at them.)

Anyway.

Aftermath’s out if you wanna check it out.

Two more books in the trilogy coming, too. Keep your grapes peeled.

Star Wars: Aftermath: Indiebound | Amazon | B&N | iBooks

(t-shirt image at the top by houseorgana)

198 comments

  • September 8, 2015 at 9:40 PM // Reply

    “Join the Rebel Alliance. We have love and inclusion and great music and cute droids. … The bad guys all look like white guys, too.”

    No self-awareness at all.

    I haven’t hate-read the book yet, but I’m sure I can look forward to spitefully one-starring it. Should feel great. So, thanks for that.

  • Read your final comments on your blog regarding people who have a problem with you including gay characters in a Star Wars novel. It is unfortunate that instead of being the sort of voice that can engage in a conversation with someone who may not agree with you, instead you resort to a childish retort comparable to someone who sticks his fingers in his ears and yells so as not to hear the other person. Not something I would expect from someone whose vocation involves words and dialogue.

    • Because on this, I am not interested in conversation. If your problem with the book is only the inclusion of gay characters, then no conversation is possible. Because that’s homophobia, that’s bigotry, and there’s nothing to be done or said. Someone wants to talk to me about the writing style or whatever, sure, I can have that discussion. On this, no.

      — c.

    • You want to engage in a conversation about not allowing an entire class of people to engage in a conversation.

      Funny how things change when the tide of history turns and grinds you into cornmeal.

  • When I checked Amazon last night, you had 111 one-star reviews.

    OMG! A HUNDRED AND ELEVEN STARS! WOW! THAT MUST BE THE BEST BOOK EVER!

  • Wait, is it gay in the Richard K. Morgan Steel Remains sense? Like lots of hardcore gay sex? Cuz if so I’m in!!! Well, I’m in either way.

    I do think it is interesting that you got picked to write a star wars book given your very strong voice. It’s a little like if they picked Danny Boyle to direct the movie. Clearly they wanted your more unique voice. I can see how it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but whatevs.

    Is Irvine Welsh writing the next installment?

    • See, but having a strong voice — that’s what you’re going to start seeing in STAR WARS films, too.

      Rian Johnson? Strong visual thumbprint.

      Gareth Edwards? Also strong visual thumbprint.

      Even JJ Abrams makes films that look like JJ Abrams films.

      This, I believe, is the way forward for the franchise. I think it’s actively part of the plan (though to be clear, nobody has said as such, but the writing there is on the wall, I’d say).

      — c.

  • Hi Chuck, I’m really excited to get this new book – if I can ever find it in Australia.
    I have no problem with the whole ‘casting aside of the EU’ thing, as I was never super into it, although I read EU books here and there.

    Having not read the book yet, I still thought I would just share my two cents on the ‘gay hero’ aspect. I suppose my approach is that I really don’t think I would mind, as long as it was integrated well into the plot/story and not as a way to force (heh) a lesson on inclusion or not being homophobic or something like that. I also do realise that it is the readers who are going bonkers over the new hero and you yourself probably didn’t tout it as some sort of selling point and poke it at peoples faces. I just personally think that the approach to it really matters – but obviously it’s ultimately your story and you can tell it how you like, but that is just my view.

    I am also considering other characters in Star Wars whose sexuality is specifically known. Again, even seemingly heterosexual characters could be bisexual. If we take it at face value though, we have Anakin/Vader, Han, Lando, Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan as heterosexual. That leaves a lot of other characters whose sexuality we don’t know about, and who could very well be gay – it’s just that their sexuality is never mentioned. Sexuality is also just one small part of the characters so I don’t see it as defining in any way.

    Anyway, I will buy the book as soon as I can (I may end up having to get it online), and I hope I can enjoy the way you implement this new hero and invest in their journey.

    Thanks for your time,
    Mark.

  • Okay, I’m not part of any organized rabble to tank the reviews for Aftermath. I don’t attend gaming or comic conventions. I haven’t even kept up with Star Wars “fandom” in fifteen years. There are plenty of “E.U.” novels that I can’t stand, so I’m not defending the EU/Legacy series of novels.

    However, after reading both Star Wars novels that were released a few days ago (Aftermath and Lost Stars) I find Aftermath to be a terrible book. It is unreadable.

    • Okay, a couple things, Timothy.

      First up: the book is literally not unreadable. It is readable. People have read it. That’s just sort of a factual thing. As for it being terrible — well, if you think that’s the case, I can’t change your mind on that, and I’m sorry you had that experience.

      Second, though, I’d like to ask: so, is it really not the gay thing?

      Like, you didn’t mention it as a problem, and what you mention as a problem is the writing.

      But here’s something I notice with some of the people who claim it’s the writing:

      People are, by and large, pretty available on social media.

      Like, for instance, it doesn’t take much to go to your public Facebook page and see article after article after article about your vigorous and religious opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage in particular. (Not to mention support of the Confederate flag and Planned Parenthood and all the standard checkboxes that might suggest you and I are not really in political alignment.)

      And so, it just seems sort of convenient that THIS book is a book you don’t like and it surely has nothing to do with the fact that the book has what some feel is a “progressive SJW agenda.”

  • I tend to stay away from the comment sections, but I feel compelled to speak my mind in this case.

    Look, man, you wrote a pretty damn good Star Wars novel. I thoroughly enjoy the main story, and even moreso enjoyed the interludes that gave a tantalizing peak at the wider universe that is about to unfold. Well done, salud, 23 skidoo, etc etc.

    I’m a bit puzzled at the critique of your “voice” and “writing style.” Your style is refreshing, engaging and has great flow. I found myself reading faster than usual. Frankly, I think the critique of your “voice” is a cover for other issues – namely, rampant and disgusting bigotry and homophobia. Sadly, there are just way too many people who can’t deal with sexuality, never mind sexuality that expands beyond their outdated and fear-based views. I thought you handled the gay characters perfectly. Their sexual preference was simply a small part of their character building (like it is for, you know, real people).

    I will say that some of the criticism may stem from the fact that people were expecting something…bigger. The sample that was released early on was all Wedge…but then Wedge was kinda marginalized in the book. There was no Luke, no Leia, no Lando, and only a few pages of Han and Chewie. I think people may have been geared up for a book about the old band, you know, and felt a little cheated when they didn’t get that. No matter how good the book then was (and it was good), these folks who had ramped-up expectation were going to be disappointed no matter what.

    I’ve never read your work before, but I’m picking up Zer0es now and look forward to much and more in the future!

    • Folks who wanted more “SPOILER PLOT STUFF” and more “LUKE HAN LEIA,” sure, I get that. And I recognize the frustration and can only shrug at it. Hype is a dangerous thing. It’s like fire. I can’t control it. But the book was never billed as being a book about THE MAIN THREE (though if some folks feel this is a Wedge misdirect, fair enough — I’d still argue he’s pretty bad-ass inside those pages).

      • I would not dispute that – Wedge was pretty bad-ass. And you are correct – the book never promised the Big Three. It’s a quibbling point, though – you as the author should not suffer for my, or another person’s, unfounded expectations.

        And really, the book deserved hype. It’s STAR WARS!

        And no, I definitely did not just jump around my office like George Michael Bluth brandishing a fake light saber when I typed STAR WARS. Nope. Not at all.

    • Mr. Landry, since I did not see anyone else using the word “voice” I am going to assume, hopefully correctly, that you were mentioning my comment. I hope I was clear then as I hope to be now.
      My commentary was not against Mr. Wendig’s beliefs regarding homosexuality or about his writing. I’ve never heard of Chuck Wendig till I saw his name on the cover of AFTERMATH. Sorry.
      What I was opposed to was how he lashed out at those who were not in agreement with his POV. One can dissent without lowering yourself to the level of the haters you are responding to.
      Moments like this I think about how MLK Jr. was treated and how he responded to the haters of his day.
      Finally, while I still hope to enjoy the novel, I hope it is in spite of Wendig’s rhetoric.

  • I was definitely going to buy this book anyway, because you haven’t yet published a book I didn’t love. I read a ton of sci-fi and a TON of sci-fi novels are twice as long as they need to be because they are filled with a ton of unnecessary detail and background info. I’ve never read a word of fluff out of a Wendig novel. That said, I definitely see how the “negative reviews = more sales” thing works. All the 1-star reviews (I went and read some) make me want to go buy the book to see what the hell they are talking about.

    I do have a question about this post, though. It seems the general consensus from writers online (many of them anyway) is, “haters gonna hate, DO NOT ENGAGE.” Granted, this is usually referring to some dumbass commenting on reviews of his shitty novel he posted on Goodreads. This seems a bit like seeing that haters, shouting obscenities at them, and then when they turn to look for who is shouting at them, flipping them double-fingers while showing them the goat. I am just curious why you chose to engage the haters this time, rather than crawling into your warm ton-ton and ignoring their shit?

    • I don’t mind engaging haters when it’s about more than just criticism. Critics of the book in the truest sense — that’s their business and their right to love or hate the book as they see fit, or to pick it apart or build it up or whatever the approach.

      But when it’s about organized campaigns and raids — and when it’s about the kinds of hate mail and venom on social media I’m getting directly — it becomes about something more than criticism. And that only worsens when you factor in the so-called “agenda” of the book to acknowledge the width and breadth of diversity in actual human beings.

      So, there’s value there in talking about it, to me. Not too long, of course, because it’s not a conversation that will be fruitful after, say, today. But it was worth the mention, I think.

      — c.

    • “All the 1-star reviews (I went and read some) make me want to go buy the book to see what the hell they are talking about.”

      And I should hasten to add that all the attention around the book — negative, even — just puts it in the spotlight more and more. Those who want to yell and rage at the book in order to bury it do the opposite. As I noted in the post, it also elevates the book in Amazon’s algorithm. It attracts buyers. And it also attracts media attention — the book is getting covered across various media sources (ABC, Hollywood Reporter, Mary Sue, Polygon, CNET, with more on the way), and actually, they might not have covered it otherwise. Which means people who might not have checked the book out — or who didn’t realize it was out or hadn’t read a SW novel in many years or ever — are suddenly turning and picking it up.

      So, again, there’s one of the upsides of engaging with these kinds of reviews in just the right way.

      — c.

      • Just to confirm your thinking, I’m an SF reader that tends to ignore media tie-ins. But then I started hearing about the Aftermath controversy and how it’s bringing more diversity to the SW universe. And gay characters! And it immediately jumped to the top of the to-read list. Picked it up at the local indie bookstore last night, so it’s ready to go when I finish Metal Gear Solid V.

  • “(Meaning, a passel of negative reviews actually elevates the book’s overall sales ranking. Which in turn garners it more sales.”

    I have tried to explain this to people who freak out over negative reviews. I once wrote a somewhat controversial negative review of a book, and the publisher’s PR people started sending me MORE of that author’s books to review. But then, I don’t mind if someone reads my negative review and it makes them want to buy the book. It just means I included enough info for someone to make up their own mind.

    I have not been paying much attention to the SW universe of late; I think I should get back into it starting with your book. It sounds really neat.

  • Chuck, this is the first book you’ve done that is selling to people outside your small, social media audience that thinks you do no wrong. What you’re witnessing are reviews of your writing from people who don’t know you and have no interest in lying to you about the quality of your work. I’m sure it’s tough to swallow, but stop being such a baby about it. There is no attack against you. Maybe a few people posted bad reviews, but if you think the 200 or so one star reviews on the book are fake and written by people with an agenda, you’re delusional.

    How many times have you told writers not to respond to bad reviews, yet here you are crying and responding to bad reviews under the BS premise that it’s a coordinated attack. If it were an attack, you’d notice a spike in one star reviews on your other books too.

    Grow up, Chuck. You wrote the book in 45 days and it reads like it. Now you have to deal with the repercussions of your decision. The book is being poorly reviewed because it’s honestly a terrible book.

    • Helen,

      I’m going to let this comment through to respond to it, even though it was particularly rude and, frankly, I should’ve let you tumble helplessly into the SPAM OUBLIETTE.

      Here’s the thing:

      I wrote most of my books in about 30-45 days. Some books take a little longer — up to 90 — but I write very, very quickly. I write this way because I’ve been a professional writer now for over 15 years. And many of those years I have acted as that rara avis, a professional FULL-TIME writer.

      All of my books have an overwhelmingly positive review. That’s not because I have some army of lying, obsequious sycophants at my beck and call (oh, if only). BLACKBIRDS has over 300 reviews and has sold *tens of thousands of copies.* The reviews are largely positive. The reviews for all of my books are largely positive. Which is why publishers keep publishing me. My first novel was out in 2012, and you’ll note that AFTERMATH is my 14th published novel. I have several more on the way.

      So, when AFTERMATH popped up on Amazon and *immediately* began to garner a flood of one-star reviews, that’s a bit interesting, don’t you think? Are some of them legitimate? Sure, obviously, of course. Lots of folks are going to dislike the book. It’s a big book with big expectations and there is simply no way to please everyone. Plus, my writing style isn’t for ALL THE PEOPLE. I’m the first to admit that. But it is what it is, and I can’t change that now. Further, it doesn’t explain the surprisingly massive effort to give the book one-star reviews — an effort that is easily glimpsed by looking at how much attention the reviews are getting. Meaning, bad reviews are marked HELPFUL and negative reviews marked UNHELPFUL in the dozens. That’s not just people who feel like they read a bad book and want readers to know. That takes effort. That takes coordination and something far greater than displeasure over the book.

      By the way, you refer to the “repercussions of my decision.” Which apparently you think are negative? They’re not. I have been hired to write two more books based on the strength of the first book. And — and! — this book is selling through the roof. The negative attention hasn’t stopped that and, in fact, has only given the book more press.

      As to me writing a terrible book? I didn’t. I didn’t write a terrible book. Is it good? I’ll let other people decide that. But I know how to write. I didn’t suddenly forget how after 12 novels and over a decade of freelancing. I may not write to your liking, and the book may not be the book you wanted, and that’s entirely fair. You are free and even encouraged to Not Like Things. I don’t like all kinds of things. But I might suggest being a bit nicer about it and also tempering your dislike with the recognition that it is an opinion and not, in fact, objective reality.

      May the Force be with you, Helen.

      — c.

      • Dear Chuck,

        “Can you help me? There’s something I need to do, but I haven’t got the strength to do it.”

        From one Star Wars fan and student of English to another, I came here today looking for answers. Respectfully: I didn’t like what I read of your book, but I also have a serious question. This was the first book of yours I ever tried to read, and I just couldn’t get into the choppiness of the writing style. So far, the wookieepedia entry on your book is more syntactically coherent than the book itself. It actually made me grateful that Amazon Kindle has a preview option so that I got to sample your “strong” voice before I spent any money on the book. Honestly, I found your style to be unreadable, which was a disappointment to me because I really wanted to read the stories you were given the opportunity to tell, and I’d hoped to read your subsequent novels as well.

        In contrast to the style I read in Aftermath, I notice that you write in complete sentences here on your blog. So here’s my serious question: why did you *choose* to use so many sentence fragments in Aftermath? It’s become clear to me that you did it on purpose, not because the rules of English grammar escape you. So what was your authorial intent? What were you trying to express that conventional English doesn’t allow? Since you used such a choppy style on purpose, what was your purpose?

        Thank you for acknowledging my freedom to Not Like Things. But, maybe I’m missing something, and a clue to your stylistic choices might help me see the light. All told, I’d rather like something than not like it, especially when it comes to STAR WARS. I want to be on your side. Help me understand.

        Thank you,
        Kevin

  • Dear Mr. Wendig,

    Thanks so much for your intelligent defense of the notion that inclusion is nothing more than a more accurate reflection of reality and a way for beloved stories to speak personally to a wider audience and not some insidious and contrived agenda. Before the Dragon Age: Inquisition video game came out, I posted in the forums a request that the devs consider including non-Caucasian characters. I was surprised and saddened at how many people felt that a FANTASY setting couldn’t have people of color in it without some huge need for an explanation. I’m white myself, but I recall how touched I was when I learned that Dragon Age: Origins would allow me to play as a gay man. So I felt people of different races would also appreciate that level of personal engagement.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. I have purchased the “Aftermath” audiobook from Audible.com, and I look forward to listening to it as soon as I finish my current read.

  • I’m a 32 year old life-long Star Wars fan. I feel like Disney is handling the franchise well, and I’m excited. I saw this novel advertised in one of my new Star Wars comics, so my eyes got wide, and I got ready to purchase.. but all the negative Amazon reviews put me on the fence.

    I stumbled upon this BLOG, and thoroughly enjoyed your response to the book’s reception. I immediately connected with your style, and you reminded me of, well, myself. I have no idea who you are, but you sold me on your book. I picked up a copy from Barnes and Noble on my way home from work yesterday.

    So far, I love it! I think it’s fantastic, actually, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Your writing style is right up my alley… I prefer this style, in fact. It’s straightforward but detailed. It’s just right. In this regard, I feel like I’m lucky to have a Star Wars novel that flows like this one.

    It’s kind of crappy their are two types of Star Wars fans now, and it sucks to say that. My friends are all anti-Disney, and they refuse to get excited about anything new. For a while I found myself fiercely defending Disney and the new direction. Because I figured at the end of the day, we are all interested in the same thing. But haters are just going to hate, and that’s their prerogative. All I can say is I’ve never been more happy or excited about Star Wars, and Aftermath is amazing. I hope you write more Star Wars, and stick with your style, because I think it fits perfectly. The book is a real treat for this Star Wars fan.

    • That’s sorta the shame of it — the fact that folks can’t just get together and, y’know, love STAR WARS. I dug the Zahn books in a big way. And I still dig them now. No reason I have to stop liking them. And no reason I have to dislike THE FORCE AWAKENS. More stories are, for me, more stories, and that’s a thing to love, not a thing to fear or hate.

      • I must confess, Aftermath is my first Star Wars novel. When I was in junior high, the Zahn trilogy seemed overwhelming to me. I wasn’t into books back then. Then, in college, as I finally discovered the euphoria of written narrative, I still didn’t care for the EU… I don’t know why, because Star Wars was always a religion to me, even the prequels (love ‘em)… but I just never felt compelled to read a Star Wars novel until Aftermath. I think the timing is right for me, to begin exploring this new canon, that specifically fleshes out the Star Wars I know and love. I would have missed Aftermath, too, if you hadn’t enlightened me in your elegant response. So I think I owe you a little more than $20, not only for giving me such an awesome story to completely lose myself in (I’ve been waiting for my lunch break all day just to read a few more pages), but because you also got me to see the whole review process in new ways that I hadn’t considered before. I like this place. You’re a good man, Chuck. Don’t let the turkeys get you down… coming from a fan of fiction, albeit jaded and cynical, you’ve awoken the inner child in me, after all these years. And for that, I am eternally grateful. May the force be with you.

      • If we compare Aftermath to the Thrawn Trilogy (as folks are going to want to do) it’s clear that the books have a completely different purpose. Zahn was telling the continuing adventures of Luke, Han, and Leia. Aftermath doesn’t even really come into that area of the Star Wars Universe. It’s really silly to set the series at odds (all the canon stuff notwithstanding).

        As a question – did you like being able to focus on creating so many new characters of your own, or would you (ideally) have wanted to bring more of the big three into your own sandbox and play with them?

    • EU is the pre-Disney wonky, inconsistent “expanded” universe of novels, old Marvel / Darkhorse comics, video games, etc. I get the impression that half of it was decent, and half of it was awful. Disney is cleaning house, getting everything organized, and legitimate for a new generation of fans, while still pleasing older fans such as myself. Long time coming. Basically, Disney hit the reset button, while still acknowledging the excellent Clone Wars and Rebels shows.

  • September 9, 2015 at 4:08 PM // Reply

    I have read the book and the only thing I didn’t like was the writing style. Can you explain why you chose this style and how I as a reader can understand this style for the next two in the series? Thank you

      • Hi Michael. Chuck has addressed the question of why he chose this style in a couple of places, but it seems perhaps your version got passed over. It’s a legitimate question, and I would respectfully direct you to Mr. Wendig’s post (on this blog) “First Person Third is My SpaceJam” The answers you seek it will provide, I think.

  • Wow, some of this negativity is so uncalled for it’s almost kind of funny. I think people are just jealous, man… you got a dream job, and like you said, two more books on the way (fuck yes)… people just like to talk shit these days. The book is SO good, man… you know it, I know it, your bosses know it. We are the winners, and the naysayers are the losers who must wake up everyday thirsty and never fulfilled. The prospect of two more Aftermath books makes me as relieved as Lando when he barely made it out of the 2nd Death Star. Oops, spoiler warning.

  • September 9, 2015 at 10:23 PM // Reply

    Yes, this article covers the general negative comments from the reviews posted on Amazon. What it overlooks are the real issues with this book. I think the review entitled “The Force is not with this one” addresses some of the real issues with this book pretty well. That review gives one sentence mentioning the author’s point-of-view but that is not what the reviewer is really trying to explain was the problem.

    Mr. Wendig, please understand that as a reader I did not care about the sexual orientation of your characters, I did not care much about your point-of-view, and while I have read many of the “Legend” books I did not judge your book by comparing it to any of these previous novels. I enjoy stories about Jedi just as much as I enjoy stories about pilots and smugglers. Your story did not invite the reader in, your environment and character descriptions were bland and generic, and your characters were not compelling.

    Please accept my apologies as I write this. Your book sold well and will continue to sell well simply because of two words on its face–Star Wars. There are three generations of readers that will read this book because they already care about the Star Wars universe. They want to know what is in store for the heroes and villains, both new and old, in a universe they have enjoyed for years. Your book may not be well received by most readers but it is now part of a history all your readers want to know about.

    I have not read any of your other works. What research I have done indicates you have written a few young adult book series that had good reviews. My opinion, based on this Star Wars book, is that your style seems more fitting to that age group. Without regard to your point-of-view, your writing style feels like it would appeal more to readers that enjoy something that is readable at a pace similar to watching a television series or movie. It is not one that adapts well to adult novelizations where readers want more depth than a screenplay can provide.

  • Hi Chuck,

    In the midst of the reading the book now. If it weren’t for things like kids and work, I’d have read it twice by now. I really dig it. I’ve read you Kick-Ass Writer book too, and it helped me get a short story accepted for publication later this year. As a fellow Pennsylvanian, thanks for representing us well!

  • Hi Chuck,

    I’ve read a ton of Star Wars novel and one problem many of them have is that they end up being lifeless chronicles of a set of events that feel contrived to elicit excitement from the reader. And I often just can’t buy into it- there’s no danger, everything is telegraphed, everything has become cliche. I started reading Aftermath and I’ve got to say I love the present tense. There’s also a kind of rawness to your writing that makes it feel like the characters (or narrator) are right there in the moment with the characters and are struggling to come up with the right words realtime. That may read like a backhanded complement- and indeed I think this is one of the problems some people have with the book (that it reads like fan fiction). Personally I think it’s a brilliant choice and it works ok both a meta and in-universe level- it’s jolting me out of the complacency of knowing how the EU pans out and how the universe works, and in-story it reflects the chaos of the galaxy and how everything has suddenly been destabilized and is on the precipice of who knows what.
    So, in short, good work. It takes guts to do something like this in a property as big as Star Wars and I’m really enjoying it.

  • I have had zero interest in anything Star Wars in the last decade. This book included. I didn’t care for the EU stuff and I’ve always felt that most Star Wars books are dreck.

    However. All of the, for lack of better word, drama has encouraged me to check it out. My personal life doesn’t afford me much reading time so I grabbed the audiobook and have been listening on my drive to and from work.

    I’m only four chapters in but so far… It’s ok with glimmers of interesting.

    Personally, I like the third person present tense style. Makes the story feel more like watching a movie. The production of the audiobook doesn’t hurt things either. Familiar sound effects, music, and characters all add to the presentation.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. My point is, all of this fervor around the validity of the book has driven at least one sale your way. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  • It surprises me that in a universe with slavery, a totalitarian galactic empire, and other evils that homosexuality is seen as so acceptable. I have nothing against homosexuality, but it does strike me as a bit odd.

    I’m not a fan of present tense or choppy prose, but I understand that’s a stylistic choice. As I’m a bit of a writer myself, do you have any advice for how to break into the market? I’ve got a few things published but I’d really like to write some Star Wars at some point.

  • Hey Chuck (I hope you don’t mind me calling you Chuck)! Got Aftermath and I’m about halfway through it and I have to say that I’m liking what I’ve read. I’m a younger Star Wars fan at 21 (if you count that as young) and I’m more optimistic about Star Wars under the Disney umbrella than other fans I know. But nothing they’ve made yet has given me cause for alarm. Heir of the Jedi was decent, Dark Disciple was amazing, Tarkin made me care more for a character I never cared much about to begin with and Lords of the Sith reminded me how horrifying Palpatine really was. Aftermath is continuing that trend so far. Can’t wait for the next one you write.

  • I am just pleased as can be with happy-happy-joy-joy that a nice writer-guy like you has Hit The Big Time. Star Wars! Fucking -canonical- Star Wars!! Three-book contract!!! !Go you!

    As for all that Other Stuff…. in the late 80’s Eddie Murphy was bummin’ because Bill Cosby said he cursed too much and Richard Pryor had some words of advice:

    Richard said, “The next time the motherfucker call, tell him I said, “Suck *my* dick.” I don’t give a fuck. Whatever the fuck make the people laugh, say that shit. Do the people laugh when you say what you say?” I said, “Yes.”
    He said, “Do you get paid?”
    I said, “Yes.”
    He said, “Well, tell Bill I said have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Jello pudding-eating motherfucker.”

    (That’s from _Raw_ which IMHO is Eddie Murphy’s best work. )

  • I thought you might enjoy something I wrote for a gay paper in…yeah. 1995 about the various Star Trek series… also at adamvanceauthor.com

    Homosexuality: Still the Final Frontier? I’ve just seen the series premiere of “Star Trek: Voyager,” and I must say I’m disappointed, in more ways than one. Now, far be it from me to be the first to throw stones at the politically incorrect, but “Voyager” has gone so far out of its way to be P.C. that they’re asking for a little stone throwing: there’s a female captain, a black Vulcan, an Asian officer, a Native American, an interspecies romance, and a mixed species crew member. Even a lowly Ferengi gets to go off on someone for using a racial slur against him. In fact, this show could be the first interstellar Benetton ad. But guess who’s missing?
    You got it. I guess that sometime in the next five centuries, those scientists who’ve been looking for the gay have found it — and either destroyed it or enabled mothers to abort their queer children a la Twilight of the Golds.
    How else to rationalize the complete absence of gay men and lesbians from the future? Now, most series on TV omit homos from their universes; that’s nothing new. And there wouldn’t be much point in bickering about it in this case if it weren’t for the fact that everyone else has been included in this new future but us. We all know why that is; I can see the series’ writers flipping through Leviticus, looking for thunderous ordinances against dating people from other planets, failing to find such, and breathing a sigh of relief that Lou Sheldon won’t organize a boycott if they “dare” to write such a scene. Whatever the future holds for us, the present still holds a media whose prime directive is: Offend Only By Omission.
    Where is this series to boldly go? The original “Star Trek” dared to bring us the first interracial kiss ever seen on TV (between Kirk and Uhura); that episode was as scandalous then as “Tales of the City” is now; like “Tales,” many Southern stations refused to air it. “The Next Generation” came under fire for its lack of gay characters (unless you count queeny but orientation-unspecified guest star “Q”); its producers promised to make amends, but never did, choosing instead to do an episode in which Riker falls in love with a member of an androgynous species (played by a woman, therefore essentially defusing the potential sexuality bomb). That episode ended with one of those heavily coded pleas for “tolerance” and the “right to love.”
    Considering the number of gay men who had roles on “Next Generation” (two, maybe three permanent and one recurring), you’d think they’d have spoken up — but hey! Why kill the goose who’s filling your closet with golden eggs? “Next Generation” successors “Deep Space Nine” and now “Voyager” are completely devoid is, even of the hint of homosexuality.
    Well, the show probably wont be so great, anyway. The preview for the second episode of “Voyager” looks like the usual generic “Next Generation” bad script — you know, weird space anomaly sucks ship into its grasp; subplot kills time; 48 minutes into the episode, Geordie says, “Maybe if I recalibrate the frim-frams to go puttin’ on the Ritz, I can get us out of here!” Who needs it?

  • This is an interesting blog – I guess primarily because I don’t have a massive view on the EU and don’t know it, although I read the Zahn books and Dark Empire.

    I am more interested when I read a novel as to the proficiency of the writer, and as such, I will go and pick up a copy of Aftermath I guess now out of curiosity.

    However, author, I also have a non book related comment for you. Regarding your comments about a meteor coloured rainbow and ‘You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive, totalitarian Empire.’

    I would say this; I am incredibly offended by this comment: as a Christian, I know I find myself in a minority in the public view, although to make it clear I don’t hate anyone. But you are extremely narrow minded and forget not everyone can embrace your ‘rainbow world’ according to the Lord they have given their heart to.

    If you look back through 1000’s of years of persecution, being fed to lions et al. I think you’ll find the history of Christianity a lot closer to the rebellion than you believe.

    A totalitarian world is a place where freedom of speech and free thought no longer allowed, and everyone is indoctrinated to follow a global agenda. By saying ‘your mode of thought will be extinct maybe you should take a look in the mirror and see who is looking back.

    Anyway, this aside, writers are our heroes. I am a massive Tolkien and CS Lewis fan, for example, it is a shame to hear a writer speak the way you do with such a narrow minded approach to the world.

    I will however, check out your book.

    • Christians definitely suffered persecution, but much like how characters in the book fear that the New Republic might just warp into a new form of the Empire eventually, do know that history has plenty of examples of Christian’s persecuting people of other faiths and even other Christians who were deemed heretics once they got power for themselves. I don’t see Chuck’s comment being an anti-Christian one, just an anti-intolerance one.

  • Honestly, I could care less about characters being gay. However, unless you WANT to start controversy, leave them out. I think you shouldn’t use Star Wars to put forward what is a real world issue. The universe of Star Wars is so vast and expansive, and has so much room that you can use now that the old canon is trashed. I honestly think it is somewhat lazy to include a gay character and make that a thing in your star wars book, when you could make a character an alien or a new race that maybe has more than one gender or has only one gender like the Asari from Mass Effect, unless of course you were given orders from someone higher up that is supposed to connect a character with someone from another book or movie. Bottom line on this issue, I go into a Star Wars book to forget about the real life issues and politics of our world and immerse myself in a world that has much bigger fish to fry, real sci-fi issues rather than adding real world controversy and getting other people mad at you for adding those tidbits of information. Honestly, it feels like you purposefully made certain characters gay JUST to try and get someone to pick a fight with you. There is no real reason in the book that shows why they have to be gay. They just are, and it doesn’t add anything to the book. I could have gone on not knowing they were gay and it wouldn’t help or hurt the story at all.

    Truthfully, what I found with your book was that it really didn’t feel like a Star Wars book… I didn’t feel immersed into it like I do with other novels. Maybe I was too excited about Aftermath, but I usually go into a Star Wars book excited. This book just kind of let me down…. I couldn’t relate to the characters, I couldn’t relate to their struggles with a lot of those struggles being corny/cheesy. The few bits that grabbed my attention were the old characters that we have all known and loved. However, we see so little of them that it doesn’t help the story evolve at all. Every time we leave Akiva to check out a side story that lasts 3 pages at most, I get excited, but when I go back to Akiva I just look forward to the imperial story line. I have to TRY and care about the new characters and I don’t like having to try to feel something while reading a book. The further I read on into the book, the more dull it becomes. It feels as if you didn’t truly put your heart into it, it feels like you wrote it because someone hired you, not because you wanted to make a new book. In the end, I read the rest of the book because it is now considered true canon. Honestly, I wish it wasn’t.

    I sound extremely harsh, but I hope you appreciate my honesty.

    • If you didn’t like the book because of various book-flavored things, that’s fair and I wish you better luck with other books.

      If you have a problem — as you appear to — with the inclusion of gay characters (and would prefer those characters just be aliens instead), that’s not something I understand, agree with, or care to entertain as a criticism. (It also utterly unravels your very first sentence: “I could care less about characters being gay.” It would seem, in fact, that you care a great deal about it or it would’ve never rated a mention.)

      The existence of LGBT individuals is not a political point. It’s a fact. They exist. They’re not marginal. They’re not an exception. They are not an agenda. They are human beings and deserve representation. I’m not trying to “pick a fight” with anybody, but it’s a fight I’ll happily endure because I have no time and zero interest to entertain people who think that the existence of anybody (race, gender, sexual preference, whatever) inside or outside fiction is somehow anathema when white, straight people get a pass as being an apolitical and universally acceptable default.

      — c.

      • I don’t mind gay people, I have some gay friends. However, I don’t like it when people, like you, try to include real life problems and controversy inside of a Star Wars story. If I want to read a book about a gay character, I will. However, as soon as I learned there were gay characters in this book I thought “well there is going to be a fight about this controversy.” You put them in there just to bring out controversy, that is the problem I have with your book. I say I don’t care if the characters are gay because I could care less about their sexual orientation, in this case it adds nothing to the story value. At that point, they are only gay because you made them gay. I am a person who goes to read a book so I can get away from real life controversy and fights and debates, and you have started that with a series I held dear and hoped that controversy would stay out of. I could care less about it being about LGBT or whatever, I care about “controversy” and you added a ton. Obviously you want this fight and are prepared for it, but I am not here to debate homosexuality. I am here to debate you putting controversial subjects into a book about Star Wars. The fact that characters happened to be gay did not bother me, what bothered me was that you decided to put a very controversial subject into your book. And to be fair, it is your book, you made it. However, you have successfully made this book about a controversial issue rather than a good story. People will remember this book as a controversy, not as a part of the new star wars canon. You had to have known that putting gay characters into a star wars book would put people on an uneasy slope.

        I hope you realize now that I don’t have a problem with sexual orientation in a book, I just care about keeping controversy away from star wars books, especially if they are going to be considered apart of the “official” canon of the star wars universe. I wouldn’t care if this book was in the EU, have all the controversy you want and I’ll gladly read it and judge it according to my tastes. However, now people talk about this book and its controversy rather than its real flaws and strengths as a star wars novel.

        • Another point of view: a character is only straight because the author makes them straight.

          The best way to stop LGBTQ characters from becoming a controversial issue is to include more, so that they’re no longer seen as unusual.

          You have gay friends. Don’t they deserve to see themselves represented in the stories you love?

        • Also, as had been pointed out in response to the Sad and Rabid Puppies mess, sci-fi has always courted controversy. It’s always been there to highlight social issues other stories were afraid to touch. There’s more good sci-fi that tackles issues like racism, politics, homophobia, sexism, than there is that’s all shallow rocket ships and rayguns.

  • Chuck,

    Just wanted to say I’m loving Aftermath so far. Took me a sec to adjust to your particular style (third-person present tense is interesting, but unorthodox) but once I did the story flowed in my head about as well as any other book. Also interesting to get each character’s POV when reading, as if actually seeing through their eyes and being in their head as opposed to reading a tale in the form of an archived “historic” account.

    I’d also say I think people are being a bit stupid about the inclusion of gay characters in-canon. It’s a galaxy of hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of people. Odds of some of them not being straight folk are high, not to mention the alien species and what reproductive methodologies may exist there. And from what I’ve seen, they’re not even written in a way that their sexuality is their leading or chief trait, so the idea it’s “in your face” is a tad silly.

    And I’d say you handled the criticisms pretty well… right up until the end with the “bad guys look mostly white” bit. A bit too far, I think. Especially since bad folk come in every kind of wrapper.

    But otherwise, well, said. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. Any idea on when we might expect the next entry?

  • I actually loved the character Sinjir Rath Velus, and found the revelation of his sexuality completely organic to the story. I didn’t, however, think the same of a few other mentions in the book. For instance I believe one point someone says my two dads, and then the aunts. It began to feel over done or done just for the sake of having gay characters. I feel when you do this it is akin to constantly pointing out you have black friends. With that said I look forward to Sinjir and companies future adventures and hope he finds a a nice storm trooper he can turn. Turn to the resistance that is.

  • Chuck, I thoroughly enjoyed Aftermath and couldn’t put it down! I don’t understand the bad reviews at all. I thought it was well written and a great edition to the new Star Wars canon. I can’t wait for the next book in the series! Keep on doing what you’re doing

  • Probably won’t read the book given I’ve never read any of the Star Wars books (the best thing about the pre-quels was the Red Letter Media Mr. Plinkett reviews of them), think that Han shooting first was almost essential in defining his character as a survivor in a tough line of work. I’m also a conservative, hetero, religious type person.

    So my thoughts on the gay character are kind of prompted by what one of the great sci-fi authors advised new writers. First tell me a story, you may be in love with this civilization you’ve envisioned, or scientific concept but describing that is boring, what’s the story? How does the gay aspect of the character feed into, move the story along?

    Don’t object at all to gay/bi characters, they do exist in classic Sci-Fi, for example in “Lord of Light” Zelazny included a couple but then one of the elements of the story was the ability to change bodies. Only natural, and I think essential to address what some implications might be– but in a way that pushed the story along. Interesting scene in Sam addressing Brahma and figuring out their original identify, which was female. He terms her a lesbian, when transgender would have been more appropriate. But that error in and of itself prompts some meditation on sexual orientation. IMHO a lesbian isn’t a woman who wants to be a man, she’s a woman who’s sexually drawn to other women. But the scene was more about Sam needing to figure out who he was dealing with, and how to manipulate that individual to gain information and possibly make a deal.

    So. I can’t criticize what I haven’t read. If the character being gay had relevance to the story, great. If not, then why? Marketing? A valid enough reason. Rowlings stated that she thought of Dumbledore as gay, but it’s not apparent in the HP series, wasn’t really relevant to the story. But it brings to mind another thought?

    Like Rowlings, Zelazny considered, and apparently even story-boarded his characters having a life/history outside of the stories he wrote. More fully fleshed them out, provided motivation and insight into the character for him than in the written story. Do you ever do that? Are there characters where you’ve imagined/created them with elements or aspects that didn’t make it into the story?

  • September 13, 2015 at 1:08 PM // Reply

    Dear Mr. Wendig,
    My name is Dr. William Proctor and I am a lecturer/ researcher at Bournemouth University, UK. I am Director of ‘The Force Re-Awakens: World Star Wars Audiences’ which is a five year research project examining the Star Wars franchise from the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and beyond. The project has multiple phases beginning with an anthology of key international scholars analysing the forces of industry, production, promotion and, at the level of fandom, reception. I have been following your blog recently and comments about your latest book, Aftermath. At present, I am writing a peer-reviewed article about the Expanded Universe (pre- and post-Disney) and also a separate article about (what you describe as) toxic fandom. We have unfortunately seen a plethora of racist, misogynist and homophobic fan commentaries (I am thinking about events such as the appointment of Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm; female Thor; Black Captain America; #blackstormtrooper and, of course, Heir to the Jedi and Aftermath). In the academy, the fan studies discipline has hitherto been afraid to address these issues which I hope to challenge head-on. I concur with your statement that fandom should be about love, rather than hatred, but it does seem that many fans adopt a contrary perspective (‘the regressive hate machine’).
    Firstly, I apologise for contacting you via your personal blog. Secondly, I would like to ask if you would do the honour of allowing myself to interview you about Star Wars and your book please? I would certainly like to capture your thoughts to flesh out the article if you would be conducive to such a chat. My contact email is: bproctor@bournemouth.ac.uk.
    I am currently reading Aftermath and I am thoroughly enjoying it! It is most definitely my favourite of the new Lucasfilm Story Group canon (for want of a better conceptualisation). I know, flattery will get me nowhere. But on this occasion, ’tis true (then again, I loved Blackbirds, too).
    I hope we can talk again at some point in the future.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Best Wishes
    Billy

  • Loved this book and all that it meant for representation and new stories in thus universe. Wonderful job, really! Didn’t dig the present tense at first, but you do you. I loved the book anyway. Thanks for foregrounding these stories about women, people of color, and LGBT folks. It was great. My favorite book in the new canon so far.

  • For the record, I’m a Christian pastor, albeit a rather liberal one. My denomination encourages me to applaud Chuck for including a couple of gay characters in Star Wars, and I do wholeheartedly. Lords of the Sith did beat him to it by a couple months, so he’s not the first, but it’s cool nonetheless. Inclusivity needs to happen for Star Wars to thrive.

    This is all hard for me to admit because I hated the book. I mean I HATED it. I bought the book in spite of the reviews and really wanted to love it, but in the end I found it so incredibly hard to read that I couldn’t finish it. There were periods and question marks where there should have been commas, and dependent clauses were passed off as full sentences. The grammar was just incorrect, and using correct punctuation would not have changed the active feel. The stye needlessly alienated a LOT of people that otherwise may have liked the story – people like me.

    I love Star Wars. That’s why this book broke my heart. As I read it, I felt like a lover had just cheated on me. Star Wars is like a dream for many of us. It needs to be handled with care by those people who contribute to it. Some people may lash out in anger or attack petty things, but in truth, if the gay character were really the issue then Lords of the Sith would have gotten a proportional amount of flak. The real issue is that the book was so alienating due to style and colloquialisms that it hurt us. Something we loved and looked forward to as a piece of our childhood was taken and broken. We feel just like we did when we saw Episode I. So please admit it: it’s not about the gay people.

    • I’ll let this one squeak past the spam filters so I can respond.

      I’m glad you support inclusivity both on the pages of Star Wars and in your religion. That’s nice, and I appreciate it.

      I’m also sad you didn’t like — or, rather, that you hated — the book. I get that when you’re really eager for something, really anticipating it, that if the something ends up as a particularly disappointing let-down, then that sucks. The further your expectations climb, the sharper and harder the fall. I’m sympathetic to that because I’ve been there. When things you love feel mishandled, it’s frustrating.

      And I’m sorry that AFTERMATH made you feel that kind of frustration.

      But here’s the thing. I love STAR WARS, too. I’m a huge fan, have been since a kid. I loved writing this book and I tried to write the book that lived in my heart. I’m comfortable and confident that I did that, and I’m happy and satisfied with the book that emerged. Is it a perfect book? No, no book is. Is it going to please everyone? Nope, no way. It was never going to do that for a whole lot of reasons. Am I happy with it anyway? I am.

      You hated the book. Some people loved it. Some people are ‘meh’ about it.

      That’s all normal. People have opinions about the book — strong ones, sometimes — and everyone is free to feel whatever they’re going to feel about it.

      But I’d argue that maybe your rhetoric here goes a little far, don’t you think? It’s one thing to really hate a book, and it’s another thing entirely to suggest that this book somehow took your childhood and broke it. I promise you — your childhood remains intact. The love you feel for STAR WARS can remain. I wrote one book. Out of dozens and dozens. You’ll be okay, I promise. No “lover” has cheated on you. I did not mutilate the Star Wars universe. It’s a book I like. It’s a book of which I am proud.

      I also understand that the style rubbed you the wrong way. I get that. Present tense writing is dynamic to some people, and just bugfuck weird to other people. But the writing wasn’t “incorrect.” It takes a few stylistic flourishes here and there, but nothing about that is inaccurate or incorrect. It passes editorial muster. I didn’t forget how to write books all of the sudden.

      As for your comments about the “gay people” — no, the criticisms of the book are not summarily about the supposed LGBT or SJW agenda some folks feel is present. I said in this very post above (go read it again, it’s there) that there will be a panoply of reasons for people not to like the book. One of those reasons is very easily that they just didn’t like it. Which is fine. It’s okay not to like stuff. Some folks won’t like it because it’s not the EU. Some won’t like it because it didn’t feature much of the Big Three characters. Some won’t like it because it’s only begun to plant the seeds that grow into the garden of THE FORCE AWAKENS rather than being an immediate and direct bridge to that film. Some won’t like it because of shittier reasons — they won’t like the book because not only is it not the EU, but it’s somehow responsible (spoiler: it isn’t) for ending the EU and turning it into the LEGENDS line. Some won’t like the book because of their politics: the book has a very diverse cast, whether we’re talking about a woman of color having a prominent position in the Empire or a mother character or the LGBT representation in the book, and that rankles folks.

      As in the post, I will never suggest that all criticism of the book is based on homophobia or misogyny or other bigotry.

      But some of it is. Some of the loudest criticism, in fact. Criticism that shows in the Amazon reviews. Or in my inbox. Or in the unapproved comments here at this blog. Or on Twitter or — most prominent of all — in the comment sections of various articles regarding the book. There’s a whooooole lot of “FORCING DIVERSITY DOWN OUR THROATS,” which is really just short-hand for, “THEY PUT CHARACTERS IN THERE WHO AREN’T ME,” because their greatest anger seems to be that women and LGBT characters exist in the book at all in any number. And some folks will write reviews that do not mention the diversity but who are still put off by the book because they have ingrained prejudices about a book where basically none of the protagonists are straight white men. (Temmin is close, but he’s not really grown-up, so.)

      My advice to you would be to relax. Go about your day and forget my book happened. You don’t have to read it again. You won’t wake up at night and find it there by your bedside, in the dark, staring at you. It’s just a book. It won’t follow you home. It won’t cheat on you. It won’t make you do drugs or pressure you into unpleasant habits. It definitely won’t go back in time and somehow ruin some or all of your childhood.

      I’m sorry you didn’t like the book.

      May the Force be with you.

      — c.

  • I appreciate that you were given an awesome privilege to write the book and I respect that you have a loyal fan base. I am not offended at all by the gay lead in the book. I really could care less (I presided over a gay wedding not long ago). I just did not like the book. It’s not that you are a bad author, it was just not what I consider a book that is “in the spirit of a Star Wars book”. I have read everyone of the EU books and was excited to read the new cannon. I think I am just not a fan of your writing style for what drew me to Star Wars literature. You will probably find a lot of us “old heads” that feel that way. That is not to belittle or dog you. To quote the horse from Ren and Stimpy, “No sir, I didn’t like it”. Maybe I’ll like number 2 in the series. I’ll buy it and read it because I am a fan. One thing I would say, don’t ignore the old fans. We do have some valid points and have bought enough Star Wars crap over the years to make it possible for this all to be happening. Best of Luck!

  • I have tried to read the book a couple of times, but it always sounds like a telegram to me. Short, choppy, and unpleasant. It feels like it was written for a grade six class project. Now maybe that’s done on purpose to “widen the readership base,” but I have found it personally, unpalatable. I’d find a bulleted timeline easier to read than a “novel” written in this style. I didn’t finish reading the book. It’s the first Star Wars book I haven’t finished once I had started, and it’s entirely down to language and style. I don’t think I could even listen to a person talk like that, let alone a novel I am reading for recreation. It is my suspicion that this was intentional as Disney is aiming its acquired properties at an undereducated audience. They even cut all of the political stuff from The Force Awakens that might have made the movie make sense in the context of a new universe without the EU canon.

    • Obviously, I’m sorry the style didn’t work for you.

      None of this was intentional from Disney’s POV. The style and voice were all mine. They were happy with it, but it was not engineered.

  • I don’t know how you wade through all the vitriol and stay sane. There are some really nice comments on here. But the number of negative remarks seem to eclipse them. I can only imagine what other nasty remarks you have gotten in your personal inbox. It is so easy to give advice about ignoring the haters. In actually, doing so is very hard to do.

    I once recommended my all time favorite book series to a close friend of mine. I thought I knew her and that she would love the series too. This was a serious mistake. She didn’t get through the second chapter before telling me she hated it and ended up giving the entire series a one star review. The reason? The main character was male. He was also gay.

    Oh she claimed that this was not the reason she hated it. She said she had a problem with the writing. But upon questioning her more, she admitted to me the real reason. I think she, like a lot of people, don’t want to come out and directly revel that they are a bigot living in the 21st century. Since then I have only forwarded books to her to read that have main heterosexual female characters. She has loved all of them. I don’t recommend my favorite books anymore. Seeing her poison something I love so much is incredibly hurtful.

    I don’t know you. I can only imagine how you feel when reading all these comments. But I have to wonder if it is easier to face the poison directed towards your book, a labor of love, and by extension, you, if said venom comes from people you don’t know? And whether or not this is true, such hate will still get to a person no matter how thick their armor is. I hope that it doesn’t get to you.

    I loved your article and your outspoken response to the haters and bigots out there. Your replies to all those said bigots that were insulted that you dare speak out against them, were even better. You write so well. Like I said, I don’t know you. But I wish I did. Your strength of conviction and your strength of character really shines through in your writing. I hope you never lose those.

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