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Star Wars - The Universe Next Door

Han Solo Hides from Stormtoopers

Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters in a few days, and if you’re anything like the entire rest of the Internet, you’ve been hysterically excited about it since the summer of 2012. How are you ever going to make it one more hour, let alone days? Now, the obvious solution would be to read some Star Wars books to pass the time, but there are less than 300 of those. I’m sure you’ve read and re-read all of them too many times for them to provide much comfort. So instead, you tell me what you like best about Star Wars, and I’ll tell you what book you should be reading to find more of that. I’ll be giving recommendations in the comments, but for the sake of having a blog post to comment on, please welcome our crowd of imaginary patrons with conveniently phrased questions.

Thanks for having me. My favorite thing about Star Wars is the Jedi. More space wizards, please.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Book, eAudiobook)

I was surprised, when I tried to find another really good example of space wizardry, that I couldn’t. Seems like a natural thing to rip off from Star Wars. However, the Mistborn trilogy is an excellent fantasy series whose magic-wielding warriors possess a very Jedi-like suite of powers: telekinesis, heightened senses, clouding the emotions of lesser beings, and jumping around like Mario on a pogo stick. Plus, the evil overlord and his scary minions could give Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader a real run for their credits in the intimidation department.

I loved watching those giant space ships have giant space battles, and then explode. Kapow!

On Basilisk Station by David Weber (Book)

Nobody does capital ship warfare better than David Weber, and none of his characters has had more epic space battles than Honor Harrington. In the tradition of Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, this sprawling series follows Harrington from her first command aboard a cranky light cruiser to her eventual post as Fleet Admiral. Along the way, she uses a variety of giant space ships to blow up a bunch of other giant space ships real good. Also: her best friend is an alien who is basically a telepathic housecat.

My favorite character is Princess Leia. She’s such a boss.

Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon (Book, eBook, eAudiobook)

She is! As the daughter of one of the galaxy’s most powerful merchant houses, Kylara Vatta is one of the most Leia-like characters I know. She’s cool, she’s collected, and she always knows that she’s the captain. In this first adventure, her small trading vessel gets trapped in the middle of a sudden interplanetary civil war. Unarmed and cut off, her crew has to rely on her brains and guts to get them home safe.

I really liked watching Luke grow from a whiny farm boy to a cool, confident Jedi Knight.

The Belgariad by David Eddings (Book, eAudiobook)

Film buffs and English majors may know that George Lucas based Star Wars very heavily on Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” theories. David Eddings was writing from the same roadmap in his classic Belgariad series, and it’s fascinating to see the same archetypes pop up in a medieval fantasy as a star-spanning space opera. Garion’s journey from scullery boy to sorcerer-king is every bit as satisfying a journey as Luke’s.

I don’t really like Star Wars. I prefer Star Trek.

Redshirts by John Scalzi (Book)

That’s okay! It’s okay to be wrong. Because it means you get to enjoy the best comic deconstruction of Star Trek ever written. Written from the perspective of the doomed low-ranking officers aboard an Enterprise-like ship, the book twists the “rules” that govern the original Star Trek universe until they squeak. Just know that any time you think you’ve figured out where Scalzi is headed, the book is about to take a hard turn in a weird new direction.

My favorite character was Darth Vader. The Jedi had it coming.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman (Book, Audiobook)

If you liked Darth Vader (which is only a little sinister) then you’ll love Doctor Impossible. He’s a supervillain instead of a Sith Lord, but they have a lot in common. The book is beautifully written, and it explains the motivations of a Vader-like character without excusing the harm his actions cause.

The droids were my favorite characters. Robots are cool.

Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (Book, eBook, Playaway, Audiobook)

It’s an Asimov novel about Phillip Marlowe solving a murder mystery with C-3PO in space. If I have to sell this book any harder than that, it’s possible you’re reading the wrong blog.

My favorite character is Jar Jar Binks.

Galaxy Zack: Hello, Nebulon! by Ray O’Ryan (Book)

That’s great! You are eight years old, and that’s a great time to be getting into science fiction. The Galaxy Zack series is about a boy who moves to a new school—on an alien planet! He’ll have to make new friends, learn how to live on a new world, and have adventures, all light years away from his home in Dubbsville, Texas.

No, I’m an adult. I just think Jar Jar was the best character in all six movies.

That’s terrible. You’re terrible. I have no book for you.

Leave your own favorite things about Star Wars in the comments below, and we’ll try and find books for you to get through the last few days before the big premiere!


Todd Podzemny

Todd Podzemny's picture

I grew up on a farm in northeastern New Mexico, about fifty miles from the heart of the Dust Bowl. I spent my childhood reading too much, a habit I have failed to break to this day. Before coming to the MLS in 2009, I worked as a paint mixer at Lowe's, a freelance writer, and a skip tracer for a bail bondsman. I am lucky enough to have a wife who is prettier and smarter than me, three cats who think they're prettier and smarter than me, and a robot vacuum cleaner who likes me just the way I am.

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