With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon, Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)
High Noon on Jakku by Landry Q. Walker (ebook, 2015)
In April 2016, a new anthology – something Star Wars fans have long been hoping for – will be released. The book, Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens will include six stories, four of which were recently released as separate ebooks, months before seeing physical print. Unlike in previous anthologies, all of the stories in this new tome will be written by a single author, Landry Q. Walker. Each story will feature alien characters from The Force Awakens. This review focuses on one of the four stories released in December 2015.
High Noon on Jakku
Taking place at Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, High Noon on Jakku focuses on Constable Zuvio, the Kyuzo (i.e. Embo’s species) law enforcement officer seen in The Force Awakens. The tale begins with Zuvio facing his “trusted” droid, CZ-1G5, in a sort of “high noon” style pistol duel. The action then flashes back to shortly before the incident, wherein an apparent heist of digital funds from a computer aboard a banking vessel begins a hunt for the perpetrators. The tale proceeds until we “catch up” to the “duel” and see the situation resolved.
While it is nice to get some new background on Zuvio and his deputies, Streehn and Drego, the story adds little to them beyond simply giving us a story featuring them for the first time. Broadly speaking, the story plays out exactly as one would expect, right down to the “twist” of who the thief turns out to be. It is so straightforward and true-to-form that it feels like a written equivalent of a paint-by-numbers piece.
That said, as if compensating for the run-of-the-mill nature of the story, Walker’s decision to begin near the end of the story and then flash backward changes the nature of the tale from being entirely about the rather obvious heist case and instead puts the focus on why Zuvio would be facing off with CG-1G5 at all. Again, the answer is relatively obvious, but that shift in timing helps create more of a driving question for the story than the identity of the story’s criminal (which is so painfully obvious that the culprit might as well be named similarly to The Clone Wars Jedi Master Ima-Gun-Di).
This isn’t a bad story, but it does not offer much.
Does the Label Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Actually Fit the Story?
Given that we will be meeting Zuvio later this week in The Force Awakens, one could argue that anything that introduces new characters from the film counts as part of that “journey,” but unless there is somehow a story connection (beyond characters and location) between this heist and The Force Awakens, the “journey to” label’s validity here is tenuous at best.
High Noon on Jakku isn’t a bad story, nor is it particularly good. It is a straightforward, run-of-the-mill tale that serves to introduce us to Zuvio and his companions and little else. You will not regret reading it, but you will not gain much from the experience either.
Recommended for: Those interested in learning about Zuvio outside of The Force Awakens.
Not recommended for: Those looking for something particularly new, innovative, or unpredictable.
A retail purchase ebook (on Nook) was used for this review.
POST-TFA EDITORIAL ADDITION
Well, so much for Zuvio being a featured character in The Force Awakens. The question of “Where is Zuvio?” could rival the pre-release “Where is Luke?” question.