Lit Rogue Squadron by Michael Stackpole 20 years later My Review

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. fett 4 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    I first read Rogue squadron in 1997 and so 20 years later (my god has it really been that long :( ) I thought I would give it another read to see if it holds up or not.

    As a story it was the first EU book not to feature the OT gang as the main cast. It will feature around a squadron of elite pilots, who make up Rogue Squadron. Basically it was Top Gun in space (without the homo-erotic subtext) , with Stackpole using the name from ESB (which I doubt Lucas saw as nothing more than a cool sounding name for a call sign) It was also a Prequel series to the then, current EU books that were going.

    So first question. Does it hold up. Well yes and no.I will go into it bit by bit and try and break down my reasoning.

    The actual space battles are well described by Stackpole who gives a great feel for the action. OTOH the Rebel ships seem to have mega powers and shields and the Imperial ships are just glorified death traps. Anyone who saw ANH knows they were evenly matched and the Rebel ships didn't have super shields. In fact it makes me wonder why the Imperials, particaruly when they are losing, were that stupid they didn't give there ships shields. It makes no logical sense for them not too. But I'm getting off track. Yes the battle scenes hold up, though it's less case of underdogs against the odds and more super cool guys blowing through all the losers.

    Then we get to the actual characters. Now in this instance Stackpole, managed to craft both a great character who was one of the most interesting of the old EU as well as one of the most painful. I'm talking about both Kirtan Loor and Corran Horn. Loor is a joy to read. A guy made aware of his own limitations both by others as well as himself but always trying to better himself. He goes through actual character devolpment during the course of this book. The other of course is Corran Horn. He's Tom Cruise in space, minus the couch jumping. He's also the authors alter ego, so not only is he the best pilot, complete with his own R2-D2 with an Ex cop past. But all the women love him too, from female co-pilots to female smugglers. He never loses or is out flown, yes there's a couple of straw man situations but he is never actually beaten, combined with his general obnoxiousness, he's really hard to read, simply because I want him taken down a peg and you know he won't be. There was an attempt to do a mystery box set up on whether he murdered someone or not as a chapter ended but that only last until the next page, where it's quickly tided up that I wondered why it was even introduced into the story it was that pointless.

    The other major character villain or villainess introduced is Yasnne Isard. It's early days but she seems to be competent and has a larger plan in store.

    Regards other characters they are ok but nothing really special that leap out and all fairly bland tbh.

    Now we get to dialogue and this is painful and definetly doesn't hold up. Characters, while winking at each other (a lot), give a lot of monologue speeches.Best comparison is the He-Man cartoon. They really do talk and act like that. But without Grumpy Skelator on Twitter to compensate.
    Example
    Wedge "The Empire is evil, so we have to fight it"
    Corran "Yeah and they're gonna find out how good we are" Whistler beeps in agreement. Everyone laughs and Corran winks at Mirax. Mirax blushes and flutters her eyebrows back. Ezri looks on jealously.

    Anyway now on to the plotting and story. It's mainly a slow build. We have Isards plan that's being developed as well as whether Tycho is a traitor or not plotline. This is set around the capture of Borelais which itself is set up for the Rebel advance to Courscant and Loor and his pursuit of Corran Horn. All in all no real complaints about that.

    Though it did fall into the He-Man setting when there was clearly an imperial trap set on the first Borelais attack. Which all the cool good guys knew was bad and which all the straw man good guys walked the Rebels into. It's like Stackpole thinks cool guys can't ever be wrong or experience failure otherwise they become losers. Hmm where have I seen something like that before...

    All in all though looking back after 20 years it's a mix of both good and bad that holds up. With the good out weighing the bad for me to continue to the next in the series.
    So what are other people's thoughts ?
  2. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 7
    You done making me feel old?
  3. fett 4 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    lol I felt exactly the same
    Jedi Ben likes this.
  4. Jid123Sheeve Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2016
    star 4
    I've never read any of the X-Wing series but i only here good things. So maybe it just started out with a rocky start before becoming the series everyone seems to praise and got video games off. Ah...Rogue Squadron video games, that was the stuff.
    Ackbar's Fishsticks likes this.
  5. Zeta1127 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 5
    The nods to X-wing from the X-wing and TIE Fighter series of flight sim games, specifically the use of Skirmish near Brigia as the training mission, really showed how interconnected the galaxy far, far away could really be.
    Sturm Antilles likes this.
  6. SWpants Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2004
    star 5
    I've reread this multiple times since its release, the most recent being towards the end of last year.

    Maybe it's because of Rogue One but I really paid attention to the action scenes this time around. Rogue Squadron captures the battles the X-Wings are involved in very well. It's continued through the series.

    I loved seeing how Wedge deals with egos like Corran's, and braggarts like Bror Jace. I'd like to take people down a notch like he does.

    And something I enjoyed with this book was learning more of Biggs' personality as Gavin and Wedge reminisced.
  7. vong333 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2003
    star 4
    Man, I with you jedi ben. I feel super old.....almost ancient. Those were good books and while I haven't read them in a long time, they along with the X-wing comic books were some of the best star wars stories told.
    Jedi Ben likes this.
  8. Riven_JTAC Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2011
    star 4
    TWENTY years? Jeez.

    Granted, I didn't get the books until I was in 9th grade (2001), I think, but still...

    I get what you're saying about X-Wings wiping the floor with Imperials, but this is the best squadron in the New Republic, after all. The only Rogues who buy it tend to be very tangential to the story, which bothers me very little (but some...) since I generally hate seeing good guys die.

    I liked Corran a LOT more when I was younger. As I got older, his perfect-ness got on my nerves more. I found myself wishing Wedge was the main character more often for that reason... or Tycho, who I didn't like as much when I was younger.

    I never really had a problem with the dialogue. It seemed fine to me. Maybe Corran's parts got more irksome over time, but generally I thought it was okay.

    Your He-Man references made me realize that I can't think of He-Man anymore without thinking of Robot Chicken's He-Man and Skeletor.

    The ground part of the attack on Borelais was referenced later in the series in Wraith Squadron. That is a prime example of something I wish we had more of in the SW universe. I just started Twilight Company, but something like a novel or even a short story about the team that landed on Borelais would be awesome.
    fett 4 and vncredleader like this.
  9. Balaaa Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2016
    star 1
    I'm still hoping for a canon Phantom Squadron book or series by Stackpole :)
    Sarge likes this.
  10. AdmiralWesJanson Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 5
    At this point, I'd love if they made General Salm a protege of General Merrick.
  11. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 5, 2011
    star 6
    Still the best dogfighting ever written in Star Wars. Stackpole used actual dogfighting tactics, and made it feel like you were reading the action scenes from Top Gun. No, it doesn't make any sense to use atmospheric dogfighting tactics in space. Yes, the rebels are a little too invincible, and too easily able to outperform the TIE fighters. I don't care. Some TIE fighter novels would have been cool, though.

    I've always felt people underrate the side characters in the squadron, or are at least too hard on Stackpole for not fleshing them out fully. No, they're not anywhere near fully developed, and some are almost complete ghosts. But the Other Guys in Top Gun weren't developed, either, and I still remember them, just like I remember many side characters from Rogue squadron. Maybe that's just because RS was just that awesome, and I remember them by association, but I doubt it. I mean, I haven't read the RS novels as many times as I've seen Top Gun. I'm pretty sure the side characters played their part in making it awesome, regardless of how small their part was.

    I need to read this again. But I won't. Because I don't like Star Wars.
  12. Nobody145 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2007
    star 5
    I think when I started reading these books it was probably a while after first seeing the Special Editions (starting from the Thrawn trilogy then branching out), um, what year was that again? Then again, I probably don't want to remember too exactly, I feel old too.

    These books have their flaws, but I'm still very fond of the original Stackpole series due to all the awesome moments. I always remember these books more than the X-wing comics (which I eventually got around to reading too, but novels were easier for me to find than comics at the time). Yeah, Corran really fit the Top Gun image doesn't he? Looking back, I actually kind of like Loor too- mostly competent, but just inherently flawed (and he tries, but its hard to fix flaws that easily too).

    The battles were fun too- though this isn't the typical "Rebels vs. Imp" battle considering this is post-Endor and its starring Rogue Squadron, the elite New Republic starfighter squadron. I still miss this era, of the Rebels gradually making their way towards Coruscant (though it would take until the Warfare guide to have a really detailed campaign).
  13. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 5, 2011
    star 6
    I never felt Corran Horn fit the Top Gun image particularly well, or at all. I didn't get Top Gun from him at all. He lacks the sense of fun, humor, and just over the top personality. If anything, I thought Bror Jace was more Top Gun than Corran, a strange combo of Ice and Mav. (probably more Ice than Mav, being in the antagonist/rival role)

    I'm not sure how much Stackpole was influenced by Top Gun, if at all. Has anyone ever asked?

    @anakinfansince1983

    What say you? Corran Horn? Top Gun? Maverick?
  14. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 9
    Bror was Ice and Maverick but more Ice.

    Corran was what Maverick would have been if he had been the lead in a Pat Conroy novel. A humorless Maverick written by someone who thought more of Maverick than Maverick thought of himself.

    So...not really Maverick.

    I still got a pretty good Top Gun vibe from the series.
  15. SilentGuy66 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 1, 2014
    star 4
    Only recently read the first book but I enjoyed it very much.

    My only gripe was how Wedge likes to big up the pilots who died in ANH. "Jek Porkins was a legend, let's make it clear right now you'll never be able to match his skill"......I don't think so[face_laugh]
    Last edited by SilentGuy66, Feb 6, 2017
  16. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    I feel like these books would be a lot more highly rated if Allston hadn't done the next few.
    fett 4 likes this.
  17. AdmiralWesJanson Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 5
    Stackpole may have pushed Corran somewhat too hard, but he did play well in the shared universe, especially with Zahn, which lead to a lot of the interconnections of the mid EU.

    Combat scenes were great, character motivations generally made sense, and while there were coincidences fairly often, they were far from contrivances.

    That said, characters in Stackpole books could get long winded at times. Reminds me of Nibbler from Futurama:

    "You can talk?"
    "I can do more than talk, I CAN PONTIFICATE!"
  18. PimpBacca Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2015
    star 2
    The only thing that outshines my love for this book and its whole wonderful series is the fact that it's still not available kindle for in the Uk!!
    Last edited by PimpBacca, Feb 12, 2017
  19. Stymi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 4
    I've read almost all the Stackpole ones...But not the Allston. I would buy them all again in a second if they were released as unabridged Audiobooks.

    Like they started to do with the Thrawn Trilogy, the Bane Trilogy, and Allegiance a few years back.

    I keep hoping they will revive that effort.
  20. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 5
    I haven't read any X-wing books since they first came out. I ought to dig them out and see if they hold up for me.
  21. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6

    Fett you are a wonderful human being.
    Vthuil and fett 4 like this.
  22. Vialco Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2007
    star 4
    I did love the X-Wing Books as a kid. I still own all of them. But Stackpole really didn't think much of capital ships, did he? I still cringe when I think about how the Lusankya was brought down by a ragtag band of X-Wings and freighters.
  23. Riven_JTAC Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2011
    star 4
    But he did think a lot of time-on-target barrages. I always really liked the idea of that tactic as he wrote it in a space fight context.
  24. PimpBacca Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2015
    star 2
    I seem to remember two Star Destroyers as well.
  25. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    Well, let's be fair, the series is called "X-Wing", not "Super Star Destroyer".
    Revanfan1, Stymi and Force Smuggler like this.