If you are a Star Wars fan, every day is May 4th. I recently let the force choose a book to read from the shelves. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View has been in my bookcase for a hot minute. Given my recent penchant for books on tape ( I know they are called audiobooks, but my reference is analog), I purchased the audio version. Published in 2017 for the fortieth anniversary of the original film's release, "more than forty contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the forty short stories reimagines a moment from the original film but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars."
So many stories to choose from, so many characters and scenes to explore, so many possible lines of literary flight – Captain Antilles, Aunt Beru, Grand Moff Tarkin, or the Sith of Datawork – a midlevel administrator that helps a stormtrooper out of a jam, all add to the ever-expanding universe (horrible pun intended) of Star Wars stories.
I was tractor-beamed toward "The Baptist," by Nnedi Okorafor, about "the monster in the trash compactor." As you may know from my posts here, here, and here, Okorafor is one of my favs. "The Baptist" focuses on Omi, the Dianoga seven-tentacled cephalopod kidnapped from her home planet and taken to live inside the waste sewers of the Death Star. Omi means water in Yoruba. Okorafor is stellar in her rendering of Omi, entirely re-imagining a central narrative hook – Luke Skywalker's embrace of the force.
In an interview with Kristin Baver Okorafor explains her choice to write about Omi, "I knew I wanted to get really close to Omi. I wanted this to be her part of the story. The Star Wars series tends to focus on human or humanoid characters. At times, this feels limiting to me, the series being set in such a vast universe. There are all these other people we meet or see along the way and I'm always wondering about their stories. So, I knew I wanted to tell this creature's story in a way that showed her life as being just as spectacular as the human and humanoid characters of Star Wars."
Having seen the film in 1977 as a young child, I have vivid memories of waiting for the Stormtroopers to burst through the back of the theater, waiting in line for The Return of the Jedi, and spending too much of other people's money on toys. The stories are
Imagining the scenes and subtext backstories these new narratives invoke and rewrite, accompanied by sound effects and movie dialogue, has been a joyous experience of event-horizon future-gazing nostalgia.
Other anthologized authors include Daniel José Older, Zoraida Córdova, Pablo Hidalgo, Madeleine Roux, and a host of other galactic, hyper-space-invoking imaginations.