The first part of Reaves and Perry’s novel is set immediately before the original 1977 Star Wars movie; the second section is set during the time frame of the film, and interleaves most of the scenes set on the Death Star into the new story. (It’s a bit structurally similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in this respect, but a lot less highfalutin.)
It introduces a hefty dose of moral ambiguity into the story. In the original film, no one on the Death Star was portrayed as anything other than evil. But in Reaves and Perry’s revisionist take, the Death Star is home to conscripted doctors, conscience-stricken pilots, kindly prison guards, and other beings who are clearly not evil. Even the cold and cruel Governor Tarkin is humanized to the extent that he’s given a girlfriend.
Reaves and Perry do a good job of engaging the reader’s sympathies for the non-evil Death Star denizens without making them so well-rounded that they violate the general mood of the Star Wars uiverse. Much of the novel’s dramatic tension arises from the fact that the reader knows what happens to the Death Star, and the characters don’t. I found myself hoping that Reaves and Perry’s motley collection of misfits would somehow find a way to escape the Death Star’s fate.
I thought the first section was a little slow, but I read the second almost in a single sitting. I generally feel like it’s a mistake to try to science up Star Wars; even a Star Trek level of pseudoscience seems a bit jarring. There’s a little bit of that here, but not so much that I found it really obtrusive.
needs more demons? not so much