Delilah S. Dawson’s The Perfect Weapon is an e-novella starring blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Bazine Netal from The Force Awakens. You’ll remember Bazine as the Harley Quinn-esque bounty hunter who made the call to the First Order on seeing Han Solo & co arriving at Maz Kanata’s bar. And while her screen time was limited, it was enough to make this a character fans wanted to see more of.
The Perfect Weapon fills in the blanks with this enigmatic character, sending her on a mission requiring her to revisit the ghosts of her past. In many ways, Bazine mirrors those Harley Quinn tropes, a deadly assassin with more empathy than you’d expect, but Dawson also does a great job creating a fully-rounded character in her own right as opposed to just “the best bits” from other franchises. The story is fun, a modern noir combining the smoky jazz feel of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and the mischief of Christa Faust’s Angel Dare series for Hard Case Crime, the seedy outer rim our playground for the most part. And the writing is excellent – sharp, witty and engaging making for a super-fast and rewarding read.
The Perfect Weapon succeeds brilliantly in developing the character of Bazine Netal, hopefully in preparation for her appearance in future movies. I could see her becoming the new Boba Fett of the franchise, playing more of a pivotal role as the story of Rey & co progresses. Either way, if this is anything to go by, further Bazine novels/ novellas would be very welcome.
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A longtime favourite of the Star Wars universe, Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the animation, Clone Wars, before joining the cast of Rebels in Season 2. This book is set between those two series: although once a Jedi, and Padawan of one Anakin Skywalker no less, when we meet Ahsoka here, she is neither. She is but a fugitive, operating on her own, trying to stay one step ahead of the Empire following the lethal Order 66.
I’ve always been tempted by the Star Wars tie-in novels or Extended Universe, as it is known by fans. I even dipped my toe into the water, trying one of the X-Wing novels but, to be honest, while there was nothing at all wrong with the writing, I felt the story required you to have at least some knowledge of the many, many books and comics and games and whatever else that had gone before it. So while Disney’s decision to reboot the EU, rendering its back catalogue as ‘legends’ and releasing its own slew of canonical novels, was understandably met with derision by many fans, it was an opportunity for people like me to reconnect. And reconnect I have.
Listed as Book 1.5 in the Expanse series, the bestselling space opera by James S.A. Corey, The Butcher Of Anderson Station gives us the backstory of one of the most enigmatic characters from Leviathan Awakes (book 1 of the series). Depending on who you talk to, Fred Johnson of the Outer Planets Alliance is either a hero or a mass-murderer, freedom fighter or terrorist, and that sentence alone highlights some of the complexities around the man. This short e-novella (around 10 K words long) details Fred’s backstory and leaves us, as readers, to make up our own minds.
Written in the same engaging style as other Corey books, TBOAS will no doubt delight fans of the series and, being something of a self-contained story, might even serve as a good taster for newbies. Either way, with The Expanse TV series due to hit Netflix soon, there’s no better time to get onboard with the books.
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Military sci-fi is not a sub-genre I’ve been naturally drawn to – or so I’ve thought. Renowned for its emphasis on tech and less on character development than your standard space opera, it’s been something I’ve tended to shy away from. But then again, when I think about it, some of my favourite sci-fi stories have been military-based – and none of them could be accused of half-assing it when it comes to the characters. Case in point: Battlestar Galactica, its reboot being one of the most character-rich sci-fi series out there.