The plan was simple: we’d record three episodes of our Last Shot Chapter Chats series to make our way through the book – two before Solo was released, and one after to both finish out the narrative in the novel and compare it to the new movie. Initially, things couldn’t have gone more smoothly. We recorded the first episode with a great group of guests without a hitch, released it, and were very happy. Part 2 ended up being an ambitious endeavor where we were joined by guests from both England and Japan, thus mixing three very different time zones into one show. And, not to be too lofty about it because it was all in the guests’ responses, it was a fantastic show. However, as tends to happen at least once to every podcaster, or anyone dealing with saving something via technology, the guest audio didn’t record. So, what was supposed to be a podcast episode to be shared with the world (i.e. about 100 or so people that listen) became a very well-structured chat among friends. Which isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened, but it’s still a bummer.
Fear not, though, loyal followers, because one of our guests, Dave Hackerson (@NorskAkiruno on Twitter), sent over his notes from the show, and, since they’re so well-thought and insightful, we decided to share them with all of you! We hope you enjoy them as much as we did, and please feel free to engage with Dave and/or us in the comments below or elsewhere with your own thoughts and responses. (Oh, and just as an FYI, there will be spoilers for Last Shot below, so if you haven’t read it yet, or at least read through Part 2, you might want to skip this until you catch up.)
What do you think of the social commentary in the novel? Is it too on-the-nose, not obvious enough, or just right? Do you think it’s preaching to the choir as far as the majority of Star Wars fans that read the novels goes, or do you think it has the potential to get people to think about the issues at hand?
I think it’s just right. The sentient nature of droids is a nice vehicle for getting people to think about the very real presence of AI in everyday life, a future that is nearly upon us. In Japan, the rapidly decreasing population has hastened the impending labor crunch the country will feel in the near future, prompting many companies to invest in research on robot technology as a means for filling the void of “human” or “organics” labor. However, should these robots become fairly sophisticated and capable of handling a human work load, does that mean we have the right to work them harder and longer hours? What if these robots can make “value” judgments, much as we see L3 doing in the novel? These are questions that we need to grapple with, and I think Last Shot does a nice job of weaving them into the narrative without detracting from the crux of the story.
What do you think of the juxtaposition of Lando seeming to finally decide to settle down while Han & Leia’s relationship appears to be beginning its downward spiral?
It’s definitely intriguing. Han seems envious of the freedom that Lando has when we first see him in the beginning of the story. The same can be said for Lando, who feels that Han has all the trappings that come with a happy and fulfilling domestic life. In a certain respect, and I don’t know if it was intentional, but I came away thinking that Lando views Kaasha on the same plane as Leia, and sees her as the one who can ground him in much the same way Leia grounded Han (at least from Lando’s perspective).
How do you find the writing as you get further into the heart of the story, especially when looking through a Star Wars-centric lens? Is it hitting the right notes, trying too hard, or somewhere in between?
I enjoy a lot of the dialogue, with many of the fun bits capturing the “Star Wars” essence that was defined by the incredible writing we saw in The Empire Strikes Back. Lando is damn near perfect, and the banter between him and Han feels as fresh and playful as it did in the original trilogy. I do appreciate the parallel structure between events in the past and the present, and how the two lines begin to converge in Part 2 of the novel. That said, the frequent jumping back and forth makes it difficult to catch your breath. The format works fairly well for a novel, but were it to be adapted to film it would be hard for the audience to follow. In that sense, it led me to imagine what would happen if Lucasfilm tapped Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie to make a Star Wars film. The difference between these two directors is that at least Guy Ritchie follows a linear progression in his storytelling.
What do you think of the inclusion of creatures in the novel? Do you want your own pet worrt? What about the rumor of awful creatures lurking in the bowels of the prison being true, and the blaster fire eating forosnags?
I loved the inclusion of the creatures. The more, the better, especially when it comes to Star Wars. Blaster fire eating forosnags sound like a nightmare. The beasts with the hypnotic screeching were especially intriguing, for they brought to mind images of sirens from Greek mythology. The prose describing how transfixed Han became as he became enthralled by their song reminded me of the crazy trips Hunter S. Thompson described in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (HaHa). The inclusion of creatures helped to enrich the Star Wars atmosphere of the novel and get the cogs of imagination churning, encouraging the reader to flesh out the galaxy in their own mind. They also provide that necessary “fantasy” element to remind the reader that Star Wars is first and foremost “space fantasy.”
With Solo right around the corner, do you feel like the novel will improve your viewing experience, detract from it, or make no difference?
I believe it will help improve my viewing experience, albeit slightly. If anything, the added backstory between L3 and Lando will help to better contextualize their relationship in the film. The portrayal of young Han in the novel also sets up the happy-go-lucky character we will meet in the film. This is really brought to the forefront in the audible version of the book, for I instantly associated the voice of young Han with Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of the character.