Books, favorites, fiction, influences

In Memorium

I have come to a conclusion that is important to me. I no longer believe that the momentum of a life headed in a worthwhile direction ends when that life does.

Jesmin Ackbar shot down five enemies, all of whom served evil men. Had she not done so, their actions would have led to further evil, but her actions take their place instead, broadening like a firebreak into the future theirs would have occupied.

Jesmin Ackbar saved hundreds of lives at Folor. Had she not done so, a bow wave of suffering would have rippled out from Folor, scarring survivors, leaving behind nothing but loss.

… I will never know how much good surrounding me is a legacy of Jesmin’s life. Her future will be invisible to me. But invisible is not the same as nonexistent.

-Aaron Allston, Wraith Squadron

Aaron Allston, author of the above words (and many more), died last week. The news hit me hard, especially coming as it did on the heels of a more personal, but equally unexpected, loss.

I loved Allston’s Star Wars X-Wing novels. I still love them. I sold the majority of my Star Wars novels several years ago, but I kept the ones by Allston, Michael Stackpole, and Timothy Zahn. Not only were they happy reminders of my younger days and my first genuine fandom, they were just really excellent books, Star Wars or no.

I had recently started following Allston on Twitter. He proved to be just as warm, funny, and engaging on social media as he appeared through his books, with pithy insights delivered as a rapier strike of wit, not a bludgeon of dogma.

I had so much respect for him, as a man and as an author, and his books did and do mean so much to me. I have been mourning him deeply, but today, reading his own words in Wraith Squadron, the pain eases slightly.

The good that he did is not finished. His life is ended but not over. His legacy continues in the countless lives he and his writing touched and will continue to touch. Because of that, he will never really be gone.

Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command, and my favorite of all, Starfighters of Adumar
Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command, and my favorite of all, Starfighters of Adumar

6 thoughts on “In Memorium”

  1. It’s difficult to lose a source of inspiration in our lives. And I think as we get older, we really cleave to those childhood memories (or memories from our younger years) even more, because each day we live is an increasing reminder that time is the one thing in life we never get more of. Mr. Allston would undoubtedly be moved to see how you’re carrying his work forward even after he’s gone, because I think that’s what most artists want to achieve with their work.

  2. Ooo! What a perfect, perfect quote!

    I’ve never read any of the… Expanded Universe? Isn’t that what they’re called?… Star Wars books, even though I’m a passionate fan of the movies. At this point in my TBR list… not sure I ever will. But it was nice to read this lovely eulogy anyway.

    1. I was wholly invested in the EU for a long time … but as my life got more demanding, and the EU degenerated into something far from what the original tales were trying to tell (inevitable, I think, given the sheer amount of writers contributing to it and the years they covered – it just got too unwieldy to maintain), I lost interest. The release of Episodes I, II, and III also shook my devotion to Star Wars overall. I could have forgiven those movies much, but not the attempt to make us feel sympathy for a child-murderer as he committed those murders. That really left a nasty taste in my mouth, and turned me off the entire universe for a long time.

      I am really curious to see what Disney does with Episodes VII +, though I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have the same love for Star Wars that I did before Lucas butchered his own story.

      None of which has anything to do with Aaron Allston! Except I think his books held the closest to the humor and subtle truths I found in the original Star Wars movies out of any of the EU books, and did much to shape my passion and ideals as a teen. Quotes like the one up there – it’s a remarkably deep and beautiful way to look at a person’s life and legacy, and goes far beyond what one might expect from a derivative novel.

  3. I always saw Vader’s fall as a Shakespearean tragedy– it’s a different kind of sympathy for the main character, if it’s a sympathy at all– it’s a “Why?!” feeling, not a “oh our poor hero” feeling. Anyway, at that point Obi Wan is clearly the HERO (but I’ve always had an Obi Wan bias)…. Actually I thought the second half of III was actually up there with the original trilogy. The rest of the prequels, not so much!

    1. That bit of Ep III when Anakin slaughtered the Jedi children made me physically ill. I can’t take any kind of child abuse/murder in entertainment, and especially when that comes at the hands of one the children trust. The camera zooming in on Anakin’s tears seemed to me, in the moment, as a ploy to make us feel sympathy for the poor tortured murderer, and it just further sickened me. Looking back at it, I am willing to concede that I might have read that intention into it! I couldn’t be exactly rational in that moment. I mostly wanted to throw up.

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