Consider me a traditionalist if you will, but I was highly skeptical of the “original retellings” of the original Star Wars trilogy. I read the liveblog of the authors’ panel at San Diego Comic Con and was moreso. I have to be honest, when I read the author of So You Want To Be A Jedi announce that every other chapter was going to be told in Second Person, my immediate reaction was, “that sounds awful.”
But, ever game for new things and at the urging of a fellow fan on Twitter, I downloaded the chapter sampler and read it.
These takes on the stories are indeed fresh. With the new titles “The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farmboy” (Star Wars/A New Hope), “So You Want to be A Jedi” (The Empire Strikes Back) and “Beware the Power of the Dark Side!” (Return of the Jedi), they kind of tug at your heart from the start. After decades of being steeped in EU, re-releases, remasters, special editions and merchandising, the titles grab that little kid in your heart and remind you, “Hey, these are supposed to be fun!”
In the sampler, the writing is strong in “The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farmboy,” and the author obviously studied her radio drama lore. In fact, based on what I’ve read, I think her take on the princess owes a great deal to it. If it was unintentional then that speaks truly to how universal some things came across even when they weren’t spoken on-screen.
“So You Want to be A Jedi” is tough. The second person treatment feels like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (an observation shared by the aforementioned friend on Twitter). However, it does freshen up Empire‘s opening and makes it feel like a fairy tale again.
“Beware the Power of the Dark Side!” is written in the present tense, which is also a bit of a difficult adjustment. The characterizations of the droids and Jabba are a lot of fun, and to be honest the present tense makes you want to keep going, as if we don’t all know how this turns out.
I have a…good feeling about these.
So in short, the skeptic is defeated and I’m going to give these a shot when they get released. Download the chapter sampler and give it a whirl. I’d be interested to read others’ take on it.