From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi (Star Wars)

About the Book

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Celebrate the lasting impact of Return of the Jedi with this exciting reimagining of the timeless Star Wars film featuring new perspectives from forty contributors.
On May 25, 1983, Star Wars cemented its legacy as the greatest movie franchise of all time with the release of Return of the Jedi. In honor of its fortieth anniversary, forty storytellers re-create an iconic scene from Return of the Jedi through the eyes of a supporting character, from heroes and villains to droids and creatures. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors and trendsetting artists:
Olivie Blake provides a chilling glimpse into the mind of Emperor Palpatine.
Saladin Ahmed recounts the tragic history of the rancor trainer.
Charlie Jane Anders explores the life and times of the Sarlacc.
Fran Wilde reveals Mon Mothma’s secret mission to save the Rebel Alliance.
Mary Kenney chronicles Wicket the Ewok’s quest for one quiet day on the forest moon of Endor.
• Anakin Skywalker becomes one with the Force in a gripping tale by Mike Chen.
Plus more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales from:
Tom Angleberger, K Arsenault Rivera, Kristin Baver, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Emma Mieko Candon, Olivia Chadha, Gloria Chao, Adam Christopher, Paul Crilley, Amal El-Mohtar, M. K. England, Jason Fry, Adam Lance Garcia, Lamar Giles, Max Gladstone, Thea Guanzon, Ali Hazelwood, Patricia A. Jackson, Alex Jennings, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Sarah Kuhn, Danny Lore, Sarah Glenn Marsh, Kwame Mbalia, Marieke Nijkamp, Danielle Paige, Laura Pohl, Dana Schwartz, Tara Sim, Phil Szostak, Suzanne Walker, Hannah Whitten, Sean Williams, Alyssa Wong
To celebrate the launch of this book, Penguin Random House and Disney/Lucasfilm will each make donations to First Book—a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. In recognition of both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House will donate at least $100,000 worth of books to First Book and Disney/Lucasfilm will donate 100,000 children’s books to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education.
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From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi (Star Wars)

Any Work Worth Doing

Amal El-Mohtar

I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.

Lord Vader had forgiven him, then. Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod watched him go for longer than was strictly necessary. He would allow no detail to escape him. The rhythm of Vader’s boots against the hangar bay floor; the sway of his cloak behind him; the precision of his gait, never hurried and never slow. The pace of inevitability.

He watched him go, then turned on his heel and matched that gait, that rhythm, exactly. Let everyone assembled see harmony in the choreography of their parting; let them see how aligned are Jerjerrod and Vader, how attuned, marching to the same silent, powerful music.

Let them see Jerjerrod as he thought of himself: not as Vader’s inferior, but as his instrument.

As he walked out of the hangar bay, Jerjerrod allowed himself a single dissonant, unbecoming thought: He had lied directly to Lord Vader, and lived.

The lie was innocent enough: They would not, in fact, be doubling their efforts. They couldn’t. Jerjerrod was no mathematician, but he took pride in his work, and he knew the scope of the project well enough to recognize that doubling their efforts wouldn’t result in an operational Death Star by the appointed time. Effort was messy, inchoate; a poor swimmer could thrash his limbs against a lake until his lungs gave out and not advance any farther or faster than a fine swimmer breathing evenly. It wasn’t a matter of effort expended, but of efficiency. Of technique.

Vader knew this, of course, whether or not he realized it. Jerjerrod had learned from watching him over the years. More powerful in the Force than anyone alive save the Emperor; capable, no doubt, of ripping men’s limbs from their bodies with a thought, of striking them down with his lightsaber, of crushing them into compacted fists of meat and bone and wringing blood from the stone of them—and what did he do, instead?

He obstructed a single airway between his thumb and forefinger. Like playing a flute.

Jerjerrod enjoyed music. He wondered if Vader did.

He had wondered, too—more than once—what it felt like. What it might feel like. Ever since Piett’s promotion to admiral, he’d allowed his thoughts to drift toward the possibility of failing Vader so utterly as to court that particular consequence. Whether he’d experience it as a bone in the throat, plugging him up from within and nothing more—whether it might overwhelm him like an ocean wave, smothering him—or whether he’d feel, in his last moments, leather against his skin, retreating from the ruin of his neck like a caress.

Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.

He did not allow himself to shiver until he knew he was out of sight.

Jerjerrod’s quarters were spare by the standards of most officers, lacking the plush comforts his rank might have afforded him elsewhere in terms of furnishings and décor. As it was, he had a bed—standard issue, slim as the cots the workers slept in—bare walls, and a draft table large enough to accommodate his peculiar affectations.

It had somewhat embarrassed Jerjerrod, ever since his student days, that schematics made more sense to him if he could touch them. He found it much easier to hold vast structures inside his mind if he could first apprehend them in two dimensions. He often did this on large datapads, but he preferred, wherever possible, to produce them on archaic physical media that he could hold flat beneath his palms, before activating the relevant holoprojections to flicker and pulse before him. Otherwise, the projections distracted him; he found it difficult to move past the smooth, false promise of a completed façade until he’d absorbed the plans with his hands.

He’d been mocked for this in his youth, of course, as if it betrayed some immaturity, some lagging development: a child still mouthing the words of a story under his breath as he read. But as an adult, he’d cultivated this into a quaint but acceptable eccentricity: A large part of his discretionary funds were spent on reams of flimsiplast, the more antique in quality the better.

More embarrassing was the truth: There was an intimacy to the process he couldn’t explain. In his first year as a recruit Jerjerrod had trained in basic field medicine, and it had struck him at the time that when a body was brought to him to treat, he saw it as a broken machine in need of fixing: Here it leaked fluid, there its circuits needed patching, or else the whole was scrap that couldn’t even be reused. Jerjerrod learned early on that he couldn’t bear waste.

He had followed this insight into a study of engineering, and from there to grander architectures—but to his surprise, once surrounded by machines, every schematic began to look to him like a body. Every project had a beating heart, a nervous system, fibers flexing beneath a sheath of skin; every project needed to be comprehended as an organism struggling to be born. He sometimes drew them as he imagined them—he never gave them faces, that would be several steps too far, but he felt compelled to give them some comprehensible personhood. He made his peace with this, and disliked speaking of it—but whenever he needed to focus on a problem, to understand it so profoundly that the solution arrived like breathing, he would roll out lengths of flimsiplast in his quarters and spend hours running his fingers over diagrammed lines as if he could coax from them a gasp or shudder of revelation.

So it was with the DS-II battle station. The project was too vast to lay out in one sheet, but he’d built a model of it that he could split open and lock shut when he wanted to be able to shift his perspective on something, and he’d mapped out key areas by hand with reference to it when he wanted to understand a projection from the inside out. As he smoothed out these reference drawings, his eye was first drawn, as always, to the improvements he’d made to the orbital station’s unfortunate predecessor. They pulsed bright in his mind: Instead of the angry red area around a single thermal exhaust port wailing its treacherous vulnerability, he’d insisted on a capillary system for venting exhaust, discarding dozens of designs in pursuit of the correct one. Now millions of minuscule tubes would stretch from core to surface, allowing the DS-II to breathe. He’d also built choke points and fail-safes to prevent the kind of catastrophic chain reaction that had doomed the original; now the system had the elegance of a Coruscanti necklace, with each bead or gem individually knotted in place such that one section could break without ruining the whole.

He was proud of his improvements. In theory, the completed DS-II would exceed its elder sibling by every relevant metric: power, efficiency, invincibility. But in practice, the angles of one stubborn geometry refused to meet.

There was simply no way to complete construction of the DS-II in the time frame allotted with the resources he’d been given. Its beating heart: the thrum of the generators. Its nervous system: the complex circuitries that would eventually resonate with kyber frequencies. Its lifeblood: for now, merely workers, flowing through its nascent corridors, building out its veins and arteries. The DS-II was anemic. He’d asked for more troops, and been denied; the Emperor had made quite clear that he could not ask for more time. So it fell to him to do the impossible.

He thought of Vader’s cape, swaying behind him.

Jerjerrod went to work.

He traced the contours of the plans. The DS-II ached beneath his hands. He could feel tension gathering in several key muscle groups—work areas—threatening to spasm into problems, delays, ruptures. He’d pushed the men hard, but if they broke now, there was no replacing them.

Perhaps to do the impossible, he had to do the unexpected.

As he studied the diagrams, he drafted new shift rotations, changed their shapes: Instead of tight clusters of furious effort running so hot they’d burn out, he lengthened and stretched the groups to be more flexible, to ramp on and off from different key areas. He didn’t have more men, but he did have plentiful shuttles gathering dust in the hangars; he would requisition them to move workers more quickly across wider areas, such that the journey itself would provide some relief without interrupting the overall workflow.

It could work, given a comprehensive enough vision; he’d relax the pressure in some sectors by raising it in others, and keep redistributing it as it collected. Instead of cracking a whip, he’d be an iron hand in a supple glove, massaging the deep tissue of the project until it released its secrets.

In practice, this meant keener oversight. It meant pacing the corridors, seeing while being seen. Not a distraction, but a reminder of regularity. A metronome, perhaps—no, a conductor, shifting the melody line from one part of the station to another.

Jerjerrod closed his eyes, rubbed his temples. His metaphors were blurring into each other, as if he could solve the problem by simply finding the right one. But it wouldn’t be enough. This method would help—but if he wanted to meet the Emperor’s deadline, he needed a true force multiplier.

Which, of course, the Emperor had already sent.

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From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi (Star Wars)
Star Wars: Brotherhood
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About the Author

Olivie Blake
Olivie Blake is the New York Times bestselling author of the Atlas series and Alone with You in the Ether. As Alexene Farol Follmuth, she is also the author of the young adult romcom My Mechanical Romance. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, goblin prince/toddler, and rescue pit bull. More by Olivie Blake
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About the Author

Saladin Ahmed
Saladin Ahmed is the Eisner Award–winning writer of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and The Magnificent Ms. Marvel. His novel Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. He lives with his children near Detroit. Find him on Twitter at @saladinahmed. More by Saladin Ahmed
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About the Author

Charlie Jane Anders
Charlie Jane Anders is the author of the Unstoppable trilogy, beginning with Victories Greater Than Death. She’s also the author of the short-story collection Even Greater Mistakes, and Never Say You Can’t Survive, a book about how to use creative writing to get through hard times. Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky. She’s won the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Lambda Literary, Crawford, and Locus awards. She co-created Escapade, a transgender superhero, for Marvel Comics and wrote her into the long-running New Mutants comic. And she’s currently the science-fiction and fantasy book reviewer for The Washington Post. Her TED Talk, “Go Ahead, Dream About the Future” got seven hundred thousand views in its first week. With Annalee Newitz, she co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. More by Charlie Jane Anders
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About the Author

Fran Wilde
Fran Wilde won a 2015 Nebula Award for her first novel, Updraft; she completed the trilogy with Cloudbound and Horizon in 2017. Her debut middle-grade novel Riverland won a 2019 Nebula Award and was named an NPR Best Book of 2019. The middle-grade novel The Ship of Stolen Words appeared in 2021 and books in her Gemworld series with tordotcom have been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards. Wilde’s short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Tordotcom, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny Magazine, and multiple year’s best collections. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, Tordotcom, and elsewhere. The manag­ing editor of The Sunday Morning Transport, Wilde holds an MFA in poetry and an MA in information architecture and interaction de­sign. She teaches for Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been waiting her whole life to write a Mon Mothma story. More by Fran Wilde
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About the Author

Mary Kenney
Mary Kenney writes critically acclaimed videogames, books, and comics. She works at Insomniac Games, where she was on the writing team for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and she was a lead writer on Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. Her first book, Gamer Girls: 25 Women Who Built the Video Game Industry, was released in July 2022 to glowing reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. Before making games, she studied in the game design master’s program at New York University, and she teaches narrative design at Indiana University. She was an award-winning journalist with bylines in The New York Times, Salon, and Kotaku. When not writing or gaming, she can be found buried in a book, running a tabletop RPG, or trying to keep her forest of indoor plants alive. More by Mary Kenney
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About the Author

Mike Chen
Mike Chen is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Brotherhood, Here and Now and Then, A Quantum Love Story, and other novels, as well as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comics. He has covered geek culture for sites such as Nerdist and The Mary Sue, and in a different life, he's covered the NHL. A member of SFWA, Mike lives in the Bay Area with his wife, daughter, and many rescue animals. More by Mike Chen
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