The New Rebellion, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

May 28, 2011 at 16:56 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , , , , , )

5/10

Most of the authors in the Star Wars expanded universe tend to play by the rules. They have at least a rudimentary grounding in the sort of things (such as technologies), people (the various aliens) and myths (the Force and the universe’s basic philosophies) that ought to be included, and thankfully shy away from other science fiction and fantasy plots: such as magic, mad gods and dragons. On the one hand, this keeps the universe free from the sort of claptrap that invades so much modern science fiction–and also relatively clean, as well. It admittedly leads to a rather inbred and repetitive universe, and a predictable set of characters.

Rusch departs quite radically from this formula; thankfully not in the direction taken by Roger Macbride Allen, who seems to be utterly unfamiliar not only with the Star Wars universe, but science fiction in general. Instead, she introduces some strikingly realistic themes that the naïf New Republic has not yet had to deal with: terrorism, separatism, genocide and political infighting. This leads to some dry patches, and her politics seem at several places that they have been sketched out for five-year-old readers, but she deserves some recognition for the attempt. She opens up some excellent rhetorical and ethical questions, and seems close at times to writing one of the most adult Star Wars novel yet seen.

“‘Did you know,’ he said to Eve in a husky, satisfied voice, ‘that you have your claws wrapped around my pleasure centers?'”-The New Rebellion

Unfortunately, her decision to narrate so much of the action through the hilarious antics of the droids (and a phenomenally unlikeable teenaged mechanic), not to mention a risible side plot where Luke Skywalker takes time off from his adventure to teach a furry dinosaur how to love, do a great deal of harm to the serious and insightful thematic elements of the book. Solo and Lando are thrown in for an utterly banal side plot that might have proved interesting had it not felt like a cynical attempt to shoehorn them into an adventure they had no place in; and while this book makes a brave attempt to fling its readers into a few dazzling space battles, it is clear that in these areas Rusch is out of her depth.

One of the more interesting Star Wars books as a risky experiment goes, and with some truly terrific moments; but unbalanced and schizophrenic in its wild veerings from political thriller to cartoon hour.

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