From A Certain Point Of View: Return Of The Jedi – Top 5 Stories

We come to it at last, the final From a Certain Point of View, wrapping up this wonderful book series which looks at Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and now, Return of the Jedi, like never before.

It’s a tough proposition really, as authors are asked to perform a little bit of storytelling alchemy; getting something from almost nothing. In short order, they’re aim is to make us care a little or a lot about people and/or moments that, on first glance, were thought to be insignificant, cannon fodder. The end result of these beefy books is a mixed bag. Some great stories, some not-so-great stories, and just about everything in between.

Enjoyment aside, the success or failure of these shorts has always relied on two factors: does the text change or alter your perspective in some way, and does it improve the watchability of the film. Return of the Jedi is my least favorite film from the OT, and perhaps because of that, this entry is correspondingly my least favorite in the series. That doesn’t mean I didn’t mostly enjoy it, nor does it mean there isn’t some great stuff between the covers.

Personally, the interest and enjoyment I derive from this series is directly related to my interest and enjoyment in things like artificial intelligence and non-human sentience. Basically, I like robots and animals, and I REALLY like it when someone gives them a voice, a soul. Lucky for me these books contain plenty examples of both and have been the ones I enjoy most.

So, without further ado (and until they tackle the prequels/sequels) here are my top five shorts in chronological order, it just so happens that the first one is my favorite in the book.


“The Key to Remembering” by Olivia Chadha

If you read my introduction, then this first choice will come as no surprise as Olivia gives us a good look under the hood. Gives us a good look at what it means to be sentient, what it means to have personal accountability, what it means to have freedom, and what happens when that freedom is taken away.

Remember that sadistic cold-hearted EV droid that appeared to enjoy inflicting pain on her metallic brothers and sisters at Jabba’s palace? The one C-3PO and R2-D2 had the misfortune of meeting? Well, that’s EV-9D9, and like a good pre-Michael Bay G1 Transformer, she’s more than meets the eye. And while she does have a somewhat chewy center as you’ll see, it’s important to note that she has absolutely earned monikers such as the Queen of Durasteel and the Mistress of Mayhem, indulging in what she thinks are “depraved desires”.

I know what you’re thinking, machines can’t have “desires”, depraved or otherwise, right? Well, she does and right away you know this droid is different as we learn that she has a peculiarity in her programming, something she calls “the anomaly”. It’s burdensome of course; most paths to enlightenment are, but she feels compelled to, “…overcome the Maker-blamed programming that MerenData had cruelly installed in her motivator.

This mechanical peccadillo has manifested something unexpected; those desires I was just mentioning. That normally very human characteristic has found its way into the wires and circuits of this artificial being who dreams of electric sheep. What does she dream about? She wants to live a life peacefully and honestly, she wants to meet the Maker, she wants to learn the origins of A.I., she wants to be a bartender, and she wants to remember.

You see, through observations and after a motivator-to-motivator chat with Artoo, she begins wonder if the routine memory wipes they are subject to are perhaps the culprit, the thing keeping “her kind” from living a life worth living. She begins to understand that memories play a vital role in cognitive functioning and form the basis for one’s sense of self. And it only then makes sense that crystalizing and safeguarding those memories is central to one’s sentience. This eureka moment, which puts things into motion that are inexorable, forces a decision out of Evee, she’s done with being controlled, she wants her freedom.

One of the early reoccurring beats is seeing who actually survived the skirmish at the Great Pit of Carkoon, and even though we know her fate thanks to The Mandalorian, this still felt fresh and new. And perhaps more inexplicable, I found myself falling for her, which I can only attribute to her more human characteristics and peccadillos, like rubbing a restraining bolt when she gets anxious, or sticking up for a fellow service droid.

Yes, even though the short contains Asimov-ian condiments like “sleep a dreamless sleep”, stopping short of the Three Laws of Robotics, Evee’s upright posture shines bright here, making this short not only the most human, but also the best of bunch.

“The Light That Falls” by Akemi Dawn Bowman

It’s tradition at this point I suppose that at least one of the tales should put us inside the mind of a monster, or at least, one who we perceive as such. Two of my favorite shorts from the series are Nnedi Okorafor’s The Baptist, and Catherynne M. Valente’s This Is No Cave, each giving a soul to an otherwise soulless creature, a dianoga and exogorth respectively. So, when one of my favorite writers, a soulful person if there ever was one, goes after a Dagobah dragonsnake well, consider me stoked.

It’s a mostly humdrum affair as we see the bogs and swamps through the eyes of a dragonsnake named “Bright-Eyes”, and no, not the one who decided R2-D2 wasn’t a suitable snack. Being a solitary species, she’s doing her own thing, carrying on with her day-to-day activities. She has a curious mind, choosing to observe rather than interfere, which serves her well when deciding if other beings are predator or prey. She’s also quite astute, having Yoda and Luke figured out pretty quickly, commenting that the green being is “lost in his own sadness” and the human as “loud and clumsy”.

“…but Bright-Eyes knew something had been unleashed—something that had been held back for a very long time.”

The Empire Strikes Back FACPOV had a couple of shorts that did a nice job talking about the Force presence on Dagobah; both light and dark. It’s the reason Yoda chose it in the first place when he was looking for a place to hide. The next short I discuss tells us just how much Force is there, and that not just any Force wielder could handle the load. Interesting premise and I’m curious what, if any, side-effects could occur should a less-powerful Jedi be dropped off there.

Anyways, Bright-Eyes, wholly observant and appreciative of her environment, reliant on her ecosystem, may not understand exactly what’s at play, but understands enough. She understands that balance is required in all things, and the death of the green being has tipped the scales in the wrong direction. The darkness, emanating from a certain cave we are all familiar with, spreads its poison, even affecting the local denizens. This gives Bright-Eyes the heebie-jeebies and she head back to the safety of the swamps.

Albeit short, this story gives us some great insight into Yoda’s time on Dagobah, how he interacts with the lifeforms around him prior to being interrupted. As someone who holds these moments near and dear to his heart, the ones that cemented his lifelong love for Star Wars, I loved it.

“From a Certain Point of View” by Alex Jennings

The overwhelmingly apt title notwithstanding, Alex gives us not a background character, but a heavy, and in one of more reputed ROTJ scenes, Obi-Wan’s conversation with Luke on Dagobah following Yoda’s death. Touched upon in the previous short, Yoda’s death of course is significant to say the least, and like the previous short, Alex takes into account the affect it has on the planet itself…

“Obi-Wan’s impression of Master Yoda intensified in an almost musical crescendo, and Obi-Wan felt more than heard the planet appear to gasp as Yoda joined the Force.”

So yeah, turns out Luke wasn’t the only one moping around after the greatest Jedi to ever live (Yeah, I said it!) became one with the Force. I really dig this kind of stuff, beings so powerful they affect the environment around them, living in a symbiotic state, so this is twofer for me. And for Obi-Wan to feel the shift in the planet…cool shit. Also, an interesting tidbit about Force ghosts, they don’t just appear, they kinda travel!

It’s late-stage Obi-Wan, so reflection and guilt are part of the deal, so is a constant recollection of key figures from his past, Maul, Padme, Qui-Gon, and Anakin to name a few. So, as he summons enough courage to have “the talk” with Luke, he’s retracing his Force Ghost steps, starting with where his career as an apparition began, on the first Death Star, and his last physical encounter with Darth Vader. This leads to a VERY cool (albeit brief) passage about the moments immediately following Vader’s mittelhau death blow, from Kenobi’s POV.

Anyway, Obi-Wan turns on the rave light and he and Luke have their now celebrated heart-to-heart. The conversation steers towards Leia being Luke’s sister, and we get a nice little moment for fans of the “Kenobi” series, with Obi-Wan saying some nice things about Ms. Organa and the type of person/Force user she has become.

“Leia’s voice and bearing were a lightsaber, and she wielded it with implacable mastery.”

Listen, I’m a fairly big Kenobi fan, especially Clone Wars Kenobi, and it doesn’t take much to please me, but this short goes the extra mile I believe. It gives us some wonderful insight into not only the man, the myth, the legend, but Yoda, and even a little Luke Skywalker as well. And his work as a Force ghost isn’t quite finished, as you’ll see in a much later short, he’s got one last bit of unfinished business to attend to.

“No Contingency” by Fran Wilde

Thanks in no small part to the fantabulous Andor series and Genevieve O’Reilly’s picture-perfect performance, Fran Wilde’s short looking at Mon Mothma seemed to hit all the right notes for me. It’s an inconsequential little story, shoe leather really, but since we’re still basking in the glow of Andor, and with a Luthen Rael reference thrown in, well, it’s good times all around.

It’s become clear Mon is one of those characters who the more you learn about, the better they become. The stoic and barely audible robed character we were all first introduced to in Return of the Jedi, as it turns out, was instrumental in the early days of the Rebellion and someone who was a steady hand in a sea of chaos. Yes, thanks to someone at LFL pulling hard for her and the others, we have a deeper understanding and appreciation for how the sausage was made, in regard to the early machinations of the Rebellion. Luke may have gotten the medals, but it was earned on the backs of so many brave folks before him.

As far as this short story goes, Mon borrows a move from those Rogue One rascals actually, heedlessly taking off on a shuttle to retrieve the very information we see her present in the pre-battle briefing. You can feel the desperation, the anxiety, the fear, as time is running out for the Rebels and any and all vital information could be the key to victory. And let’s not forget the cost it took to retrieve such Intel, something Leia touches on many, many years later, and something that is still a funny Family Guy bit.

Anyways, the solo mission doesn’t go smoothly, and Mon has to flex some atrophied muscle, getting into a scrap and having to fly a shuttle. But she makes it back obviously and the rest is Star Wars history…RIP Bothans.

“It is not her fate to be a hero.”

But like so many others who risked so much, her story isn’t about medals, statues, and honorifics. It required a quiet resolve, forfeit of anything silver and gold. And as Luthen said in a now infamous speech, Mon “…yearned to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost.” And although she would live for a very long time to a ripe old age, she strikes me as one of many tragic figures in Star Wars, one who would live to see shadows of the past return.

“Twenty and Out” by Lamar Giles

Twenty and Out is on the list for a couple of reasons, not least of which is how entirely relatable it is, despite the fact that it takes place in a fictional fantasy world, on a fictional space station. Listen, I work in an industrial environment, and believe me when I tell you that these types of conversations happen daily. And there are plenty of days where you feel like raw material, like part of the apparatus, and your mind begins to dream of something better. It’s also on the list for a much more gelastic reason, it’s funny.

Anyways, remember those weird cyclist-helmet-wearing folks who were sitting WAY too close to the giant rays of kyber plasma? Well, meet Imperial Gunner Corr Lerrann and his crew of fellow gunners, all toiling away keeping one eye on their panel, and the other on the calendar. Yes, after nearly twenty years of unfettered Imperial service, retirement is only a week away for Corr, and like real life, the topic of what to do next is a hot one. If anything, it breaks up the mundanity of the day, and discussing Corr’s retirement party at the Death Bar 2 in the lower hemisphere, offers respite. Yes, this thing is so huge that sections of it are referred to hemispheres. And yes, some genius named one of the watering holes after the killing station they operate. Like I said, it’s funny.

It’s akin to a TV series or something similar where the cyclic wheels of industry produce romantic notions of a better life, water cooler talk. This is something most of us can relate to, daydreaming at work, and we’ve ALL had a million-dollar idea or two in our day. I myself have thought of more than a few innovations that would improve my workplace, but of course don’t want to share them with anyone for fear of plagiarism.

So, what’s Corr’s big idea? The one idea that no one has thought of, that will make him rich beyond any and all measure? Railings…


Apparently three of the four leading causes of Stormtrooper deaths are Rebel scum, Vader chokes, and falling off platforms and bridges. And since Corr can’t do much about the first two, he figures railings is the next best option when it comes to saving at least some of the cannon fodder. His partner finds the idea a tad laughable, justifiably; until the theory is put into practice during what they thought was a routine drill, a test fire. Of course, and thanks to dramatic irony, we know it wasn’t a test fire, but a counterattack.

As the book moves along, we gradually switch from who survived the Great Pit of Carkoon skirmish, to who survived the DS2 explosion. And as we learn more about characters like Corr, the more we’re supposed to perhaps empathize with some of those on board. Spoke in the wheel kind of folks who signed up for something, just not necessarily “that” something. And sure, Corr and his crew may be 1/8 of the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, but they’re not bad guys, right?

Honorable Mentions

The Extra Five Percent by M.K. England, The Chronicler by Danielle Paige, My Mouth Never Closes by Charlie Jane Anders, Dune Sea Songs of Salt and Moonlight by Thea Guanzon, Ending Protocol by Hannah Whitten.

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