Imagine being a nerd—an adult nerd—who grew up watching the epic battles of the “star wars” on VHS tapes. Movies recorded off cable TV. Or catching the edited-for-time versions networks seemed to play on heavy rotation. Imagine this adult nerd in high school, sophomore year, feeling the excitement—an excitement that he spent weeks cultivating—drain out of him as he watches the first film of a prequel trilogy. And imagine that teenage nerd being disappointed into his early twenties as he tries to wrap his head around the idea that a whiny teenager could become the galaxy’s ultimate bad guy. Imagine this nerd in his early thirties as he sits in front of his computer as he watches the first teaser to the first film of a new sequel trilogy.
It’s November 2014, and, in five months he’ll watch the second teaser. And in that teaser, a stormtrooper in a chrome suit will catch his attention. He’ll wonder about that character and its importance to the story. And nearly year from the first teaser, he’ll watch the trailer and fight to urge from reading fan theories and discussions about the movie. He’ll learn, in passing, the character’s name—Phasma. He’ll learn that Gwendoline Christie was cast to play the part. He’ll see the studio raise the character up on a pedestal. It will give him a new hope in the franchise.
And that December, as he watches J. J. Abrams rehash the first movie, he’ll feel the pang of disappointment when the movie under uses Phasma. Cringe at the lack of arc, screen time, and how easy it was for Finn and Han to dispatch her. A broken hearted man, this nerd became when she gave up the information they sought.
Sure, this movie excelled where the prequels failed. But what cost? Yet, he hopes that the second film will make more use of the character.
And, as if to answer the cry of several disappointed nerds across the world, writer Delilah S. Dawson takes up the mantle to give justice to the most underwhelming anticipated character The Force Awakens promised.
At the beginning of September, Star Wars: Phasma hit shelves across the world and sucked readers onto the road towards Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This much needed and welcomed book gives the reader insight to this mysterious character, providing the origin story for the First Order’s most deadly human weapon.
Dawson holds no punches when it comes to storytelling. Readers hit the ground running as Vi Moradi, a Resistance spy, is captured by Captain Cardinal of the First Order on his ship, the Absolution. Cardinal isn’t interested in learning Resistance secrets from Vi; he’s more intent on hearing what she’s learned on Parnassos, a desolate wasteland planet and home to First Order darling, Captain Phasma. He needs useful information to assist him on his mission: the take down of his most dreaded enemy within the First Order. Information that Vi promises she has.
The frame story, as told by Vi, follows Siv and members of her tribe known as the Scyre, who are led by siblings Keldo and Phasma. Where Keldo excels in working with their enemy for a better future, Phasma understands that in order to survive on a dying planet one must take drastic measures. And things do take a drastic turn when a “star” falls from the sky and brings with it the promise off the planet. Against the will of her brother, Phasma and her most trusted warriors assist Brendol Hux and his three stormtrooper escorts journey across the wastelands of the Parnassos in order to reach his ship. It is on this journey Siv truly begins to understand her leader’s motives and what she’s willing to do to reach her goal.
This book answers questions some fans may have had about Phasma. We learn that her planet of origin was rendered barren by the Con Star Mining Corporation. We learn that unlike other stormtroopers, Phasma entered in as an adult. We learn where her chrome suit comes from. Not to mention how ruthless she’ll become in order to ensure her survival. And we learn that she’s hiding a dark secret from the First Order, which Captain Cardinal hopes to be her undoing.
As most science fiction, Dawson seems to incorporate a political stance within the book. While it’s a subtle commentary on our species’ bad habit of polluting our planet to the brink of death, it doesn’t take front and center stage of the story. Just adds an unignorable, inconvenient truth about what we’re doing to out planet as we continue to depend on fossil fuels and nuclear power to sustain us. There is scene that echoes the Chernobyl incident with a dash of Hiroshima*.
In a rare occasion, I give this book five stars. Because not only does the book deliver what The Force Awakens failed to, it also keeps you guessing while entertaining you. Until next time, keep on huntin’.
*Yes, I know Hiroshima was a war atrocity. Read the book and you’ll understand.