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)

199 comments

  • 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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