• James Hewlett

A,B,Spaceship,U,X,Y... Now I Know How To Fly

I’m currently about halfway through Alexander Freed’s recently released Alphabet Squadron, the latest Star Wars novel to be released.

Boy am I loving this book!

I should preface and say that star fighter stuff has always been some of my favourite stuff in Star Wars, way more so than the Force and the Jedi and that side of things. Maybe that speaks to my personal feelings on religion? Maybe it informed it!? Who knows.

Either way, give me a good space battle and some X-Wings and I am a happy nerd.

I first read the old expanded universe X-Wing novels by Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston when I was a teenager and I loved them. I revisited most of the series a few years ago and, while I enjoyed them nostalgically, I could see they were very much a product of their time and were pretty flawed in a lot of ways.

The announcement of a fighter squad based book in the new canon though excited me, we haven’t had anything like this since the Disney purchase.

I fully admit that the title, Alphabet Squadron, is groan inducing but it does a good job of quickly conveying the type of team we’re going to follow; a rag tag mixed group made up of all the lettered ships in the Rebel Alliance, now New Republic.

The characters who pilot these ships are just as mixed and diverse as their crafts; we have an Imperial defector, a grizzled old veteran, an unlikely survivor, etc. all having to learn to work together to complete their mission.

Recent Star Wars books have also had a lot more representation in the lead characters which is never a bad thing. A lot of people reading these books may be kids (by kids I mean anyone under 25) or young people who may feel isolated enough as is, so seeing a character that they share something in common with can be great for their self esteem.

The silliness of the premise and name isn’t glossed over in the prose though, it isn’t just used as a hook, there is a reason for each member of the squadron to be there and benefits and drawbacks to them all flying different vessels is addressed. This is a small strike team that, while not exactly on the fringes of the nascent government, doesn't have the complete support of the chancellors office who are desperately trying to end the conflict with the remnants of The Empire with as little conflict as possible.

As I said, I’m about halfway through the book at the moment and the team have all been introduced and assembled at this point, the mission doesn’t seem to be anything on a grand galaxy changing scale, which I like, leave that kind of thing to the heroes from the movies, books like this have an opportunity to tell smaller scale, but just as fun, stories about characters who may never appear in the films or tv shows and if they do they’re mostly background players. Hell, it’s stories like this that are the reason Wedge Antilles is my favourite Star Wars character.

Star Wars books aren’t for everyone, they’re not even for every fan of the franchise, but if you want a fun space adventure in the galaxy far, far away, then you could do a lot worse than Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed.

(Todays picture of me is from Friday night apparently I was a sleepy boy...)

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©2017 by James Hewlett.