Solo Command, by Aaron Allston

October 2, 2010 at 18:09 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , , , , )

5/10

Aaron Allston’s series of books, based on Michael Stackpole’s series of books, based on bestselling space simulator X-Wing, based on George Lucas’ original Star Wars movies, based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 blockbuster, was never going to end up framed in the hallowed halls of great literature. When spin offs of spin offs of spin offs begin to appear on the shelves, the idea of finding something fresh or exciting is rather over-optimistic. But despite the flotsam of rehashed characters and subjects and events stretched to breaking points, Allston manages to produce a highly entertaining novel, following wisely in the footsteps of his predacessor and realising that stories do not have to be flooded with cameo appearances by the likes of Luke Skywalker in order to be enticing. It might be said that Allston and Stackpole have each made highly successful careers out of the one-line extras – except that in Solo Command (despite the eponymous General taking a significant part) almost all of the developed or important characters are original.

This might have been a poor decision for the thirteen-year-olds desperate to hear improbable deeds about the invulnerable heroes sheltered by the Lucasfilm licensers, but it adds some badly needed originality to Solo Command, and for a few chapters, it seems like it might even be a genuinely good book. Unfortunately, Aaron Allston thinks himself something of a comedian. Much worse than this, he can’t write for toffee.

His introduction of a host of happy-go-lucky fighter pilots, living in close quarters and living, dying and falling in love – more dangerously yet, the fact that these characters are supposed to be the ragamuffiney washout patrol – means that he feels compelled to turn the whole thing into a third-rate sitcom. A laugh track might have helped the book out. A miniseries would have been interesting. But this choice, when coupled to his plodding and immature writing style, leads inevitably to disaster. His dialogue might have been written by a high schooler, and his lacklustre attempts at tension and drama belong firmly between the pages of a fanfiction magazine. Certainly a shame, considering the bravery in abandoning the main characters and plot elements of so many other Star Wars novels, and considering the passion he clearly has for developing deep and intriguing characters.

Related reviews:
Wedge’s Gamble
The Krytos Trap
Starfighters of Adumar
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