I finally got around to reading From a Certain Point of View, a collection of short stories written by a Who’s-Who roster of big name SF authors, all from the perspectives of side- and background characters in the original Star Wars movie. Most of them offer backstory or imagine what happened leading up to various scenes in the movie. Some imagine what was happening elsewhere in the universe.
This collection is a gimmick and it reads like one. The stories are all pretty good (some are excellent, none are bad) but very few of them would stand on their own merits. It’s an entertaining read, certainly, but mostly forgettable.
But it did get me thinking more about the Star Wars Expanded Universe and my ambivalence toward it. I love the movies but I’ve never bothered about the EU. There are a couple reasons why.
But I had no way of casting off the gloom and feeling what I wanted to feel. My only freedom came down to a choice between hunting for reasons to justify my sadness… “Reasons to be Cheerful” by Greg Egan. Interzone #118, April 1997
When I first read this in a story by Greg Egan, it struck me hard. This is a powerful description of what it’s like to have clinical depression. The inability to feel the way you know you should, the desperate need to find a reason for what you’re feeling. It’s an aspect of the experience I struggle to articulate. The way you react to things when you’re depressed is unreasonable. You don’t make sense even to yourself.
I suffered from clinical depression when I was in college and through much of my 20s. And I knew why I was depressed. I knew the reason for it.
This review was first published by Booklist in July 2019.
Tyger Burning begins what promises to be a sweeping new military-sf series. The Sommen, a war-obsessed alien race, arrived in Earth’s solar system but then mysteriously disappeared, though they promised to return in 100 years. Maung is the last Dream Warrior, a cybernetically enhanced soldier in the Myanmarese army who fought for the Chinese against America and its allies in the last war. He has been in hiding, hunted by those who killed all of his compatriots. When he stumbles upon a secret, it sends him on a journey across the solar system, far from his family, to discover that nothing is as it seems. McCarthy is building a reputation as an author of compelling and believable military sf, and this latest outing proves his reputation is deserved. Focusing the story on characters from Myanmar gives it a unique twist. There are many threads established here to set up the rest of the series, resulting in an exciting if occasionally jumbled narrative which will leave readers awaiting the next installment.