So, hey, uhhh — *clears throat* — anything going on, you guys?
Any, ahhh, books come out recently?
OH THAT’S RIGHT
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 out? Did 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 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. (!!)
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.)
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.)
Aftermath’s out if you wanna check it out.
Two more books in the trilogy coming, too. Keep your grapes peeled.
(t-shirt image at the top by houseorgana)