Book Review: Han Solo at Stars’ End
I’m continuing with my look at the Star Wars Legends Continuity with the second licensed Star Wars novel, and the first installment of the Han Solo Adventures.
Writer: Brian Daley
Publication Date: April 12, 1979
Han Solo is, at this point, working in the Corporate Sector. From the narrative, it’s not clear if this is set before or after A New Hope, but with the final Legends continuity timeline, these stories are set prior to A New Hope, and are set in a new region of space – the Corporate Sector. This is an independent region of space operating outside of the control of the Galactic Empire, less because the Empire doesn’t want to take them out, and more because they can’t be bothered to take them out. The Corporate Sector government is very rigid and totalitarian, and is much more efficient about it than the Empire, for a large part (as written) because their political ideology isn’t fascist, it’s based around making a profit. They’s still enough room for people like Han to operate with a reasonable degree of discretion (so long as he’s got fake papers and Transponder data for the Falcon), but this isn’t anywhere near like operating on The Outer Rim.
The story follows Han Solo & Chewbacca, who have been working together for a while now, and like Mal, are being forced further and further towards the fringes of the Corporate Sector by improving technologies to detect stuff like their Fake ID. Consequently, Han and Chewbacca go to an outlaw tech known only as “Doc” to get work done on The Falcon as a way to circumvent these new detection measures. Doc, however, is missing, and his daughter, Jessa (who has UST with Han, which is reciprocated), is now in charge. Jessa says she’ll do the work for Han, if he’ll do a job for her – take the Falcon to a data processing world run by the Corporate Sector Authority, and get a droid into the complex – well, two droids. Bollux – a modified labor droid, and Blue Max – a tiny slicer droid hidden within Bollux. This mission is being done for a collection of families of people who the Corporate Sector Authority has had “disappeared”, to determine their fates.
Han begrudgingly accepts, needing the overhaul on his ship. As a group of CSA fighters show up to attack, Han heads up with several other techs and Jessa in Z-95 headhunters to fend off the attack, while an evacuation is prepared of the facility. The fighters are fended off, and Han heads off to the planet of Orron III, to meet with Rekkon, the head of this group. Han learns from Rekkon, while Blue Max is doing the
hackslice that there’s a mole in Rekkon’s group, but he’s not sure who. The members of the group show up one at a time – a human named Torm, and an Trianii named Atuarre (who has also brought her child – Pakka). Shortly after the duo’s arrival, CSA troops show up, and our heroes have to escape through guile and gunplay – making it back to the Falcon. However, in the process of the escape, Chewbacca is captured, likely to be taken to Stars‘ End.
Once aboard the Falcon, Rekkon is murdered, and Han has to solve a fairly easy murder mystery (it’s Torm). From there, our heroes head to Stars‘ End, going under cover as a group of travelling players sent as a last minute re-scheduling by the Performers’ Guild – and they ultimately stage a massive jail break and escape with many of the prisoners, and borderline destroy the base in the process.
- First appearance of the Z-95 Headhunter.
- Wookies are very long lived, and Chewbacca in particular is significantly older than Han.
- The Empire doesn’t have complete control of the galaxy – in that there are other organized multi-system governmental bodies.
- There are collections of “Guilds” for various professions – the Performers Guild is mentioned, and of course we’ll later see the Bounty Hunters Guild.
- Introduction of the Corporate Sector Authority.
- Character Development
Han Solo & Chewbacca: Really no significant development compared to the version we see in the film. The most we get is that Han had been part of the Imperial Military, but was drummed out for circumstances that were unclear. Han and Chewbacca like to rib each other over their age. Han and Chewbacca have a very limited number of techs they’ll trust with The Falcon, and Jenna and Doc are on that list.
Jenna, Doc, and her crew can basically be considered the precursor to the outlaw tech/slicer archetype we see in later Star Wars RPGs. I like to think that the Corporate Sector is what came out of the Trade Federation, Banking Clan, and other similar organizations after the Clone War – falling back to the smattering of systems that they still held later in the Clone Wars, with Palpatine not pursuing them because he has the more pressing issue of the Rebellion. Once the Rebellion had been quelled, Palpatine planned to finish crushing the Corporate Sector – possibly framing the Corporate Sector as having been sponsoring the Rebellion as a public causus belli.
Also Ploovoo Two-For-One is a great name for a space gangster.
Han Solo at Stars‘ End is a very clear science fiction pulp adventure story – but not in the tradition of Lensmen. More in the tradition of the novels that inspired 50s adventure films like The African Queen, but moved into space. Consequently, the story works really well. Daley recognizes that Star Wars is pulp, and that Han Solo is a much more Bogart-esque Pulp hero, so (almost) any story where Bogart would be great casting as the leading man would also work in the Star Wars universe with Han Solo as the character.
Next Time: Han Solo‘s Revenge by Brian Daley.