For Star Wars fans like myself, you can never, ever get enough from the galaxy far, far away. But what do you do when you’ve seen all the movies, read all the books, played all the games, and watched all the shows? Now, I’m not saying I have (if I haven’t, I’m pretty close to it), but one option is to seek out stories like Star Wars. And if this is an itch you’ve been meaning to scratch, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled a list of six books that will fill that Death Star-sized hole in your reading life.
I admit, this selection sticks out from the rest. After all, Sanderson is the king of fantasy, and Star Wars is all about space stuff. To that, I’d argue that Star Wars is every bit fantasy as it is sci-fi (it’s just a fantasy story in space), but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, let’s talk about Mistborn.
There’s a few reasons I’ve selected it: For starters, like Star Wars, the story focuses on gifted individuals who draw their strength from mysterious magic, and it revolves around a bunch of rebels coming together to defeat an all-powerful tyrannical foe. But the fact is, a lot of stories cover similar ground, and they don’t scream Star Wars in the way Mistborn does. What sets Mistborn apart in terms of its similarities to the galaxy far, far away is Sanderson’s remarkable tone. From start to finish, not only does Sanderson build a compelling world filled with rich characters, but he keeps things light and fun. Star Wars has always been defined—in part—by its playfulness and how earnest its characters remain, even in the face of war and hardship. Sanderson accomplishes the same thing, and his narrative practically sings because of it.
Across the Universe
One of my very favorite things to come out of the new Star Wars canon—across all mediums—is Rogue One. In fact, it’s quickly become one of my very favorite Star Wars stories. It retains the heart and soul of the franchise while managing to forge its own identity. The characters are dark and nuanced, the action is terrific (that dogfight at the end is the best Star Wars has ever seen), and it feels just different enough to let it stand apart as its own unique thing, which I love. Anyway, I digress. Point being that there was a Rogue One tie-in novel, Rebel Rising, that focused on Jyn Erso, and it was terrific. And it just so happens that the author, Beth Revis, wrote her own sci-fi series called Across the Universe, and it’s equally great. While Revis’s series isn’t as heavy on the adventure you find in Star Wars, it contains plenty of thrills and memorable characters. The story focuses on Amy, the daughter of a scientist who has been cryogenically frozen so she can travel to a new planet, Centauri-Earth, way into the future. But when Amy is unfrozen far too early and her fellow travelers—all frozen—start to get murdered by the ship’s caretakers, things get complicated fast. Across the Universe is a page-turning thrill ride that packs one cool twist after another.
I know this is cheating, I know. But if a Star Wars fan who’d seen all the movies and knew nothing else (no comics, games, or books) came up to me and said they wanted to start reading Star Wars novels, this is probably the first book I’d put in their hands. Not only is it a terrific story, but it’s so incredibly accessible. Gray has written some of the best new canon novels (Lost Stars is every bit as good as Bloodline), but in Bloodline she pulls off the impossible feat of crafting a story that fits seamlessly into continuity while also being satisfying in its own right (i.e. not just spinning its wheels). It’s perfect for any Star Wars fan.
How do you talk about landmark space opera novels without mentioning Hyperion? You don’t. This is an iconic book written by one of the greats, and it’s hard to know where to even begin. It’s a massive, sprawling story that touches on so many things, but what’s best about it is the core focus on understanding humanity’s place in the universe. It might veer slightly away from the Star Wars mold, but classics should be read by everyone, and Hyperion is a classic.
Behind the Throne
Bad ass warrior princess? Check. Snappy dialogue? You got it. Political intrigue? And how. In Behind the Throne, Wagers paints a lush, fully realized world and drops Hail Bristol right in the middle of it. She’s a smuggler and a princess, meaning she’s pretty much Han Solo and Leia Organa rolled into one. She’s smart and funny, but also vulnerable and complex. And when she’s forced to come back to her home planet to claim the throne after years of smuggling, things get messy in all the best ways. Wagers writes terrific action scenes and even better dialogue, making for one heck of a fun ride.
Valerian: The Complete Collection
Yes, this is the comic that the movie was based off of. Yes, everyone hated the movie. Well, everyone except me—I loved it. It was big and silly and crazy, and I thought it was great. The comic captures that same spirit and multiplies it time a hundred. There’s so much wild imagination and energy in every Valerian story, quickly recalling the exuberance that makes Star Wars such a treasure. It doesn’t get much better when it comes to imaginative space adventure romps.