Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Timothy Zahn in and out of Star Wars

During a recent conversation about the Star Wars expanded universe novels (which I think are now called legends), I commented on how I have only read the first three Zahn novels that helped start the line. (Yes, I know there are older non-movie books and other media but that trilogy is what started it’s own publishing imprint)

I commented how there have to be a lot of readers who think of Timothy Zahn as a Star Wars author. I then corrected myself and said that they thought of him as THE Star Wars author.

Why this amuses me so much is because the only reason I read the Thrawn trilogy was that I had already enjoyed so much of Timothy Zahn’s writing. He was the draw for me.

Most of my Zahn reading was in the 80s and early 90s. I am still amused that his Blackcollar books were ninjas in space before ninjas became a mainstay in pop culture (Thank you, Turtles!) and Cobra thoughtfully deconstructed super soldiers before deconstruction was cool.

But my entry point  with Zahn  was actually his novella Cascade Point. It’s the one that won the Hugo in 1983. (Nebula award winners make me think but Hugo award winners entertain me)

Unlike a fair bit of Zahn’s output, Cascade Point isn’t military science fiction or space opera (yes, I know there’s a lot of overlap between those two genres) Instead, it’s about what amounts to an industrial accident on a tramp freighter. If it had been written twenty years later, you could have called it Firefly Only Legal.

While Cascade Point had some fascinating visuals, particularly an infinite wall of diffeeent versions of the person observing, the character driven elements are what stuck with me. And what made me look for more Zahn.

Zahn is good at finding the intersection of the human element with the fantastic element. I may not have read a lot of his Star Wars work but I’m glad it’s there for those who have.

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