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This Star Wars anthology book turns the wampa that attacked Luke into a tragic figure
Strap on your snow shoes, zip up your parka, pop on some mittens, and prepare to mount a Tauntaun! SYFY WIRE is heading to Hoth for its latest exclusive straight out of the Star Wars universe. We are proud to debut a never-before-seen excerpt from a new anthology of short stories that shed more light on peripheral, non-main characters from Episode V.
Going on sale from Del Rey next week, From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back features pieces by Jim Zub, Garry Whitta, Christie Golden, Hank Green, Delilah S. Dawson, and a slew of other creative writers. It is a follow-up to the 2017 collection that focused on A New Hope.
Our exclusive comes from "Hunger," penned by Mark Oshiro, the award-winning author of Anger Is a Gift and Each of Us a Desert. Set on the icy world of Hoth, the story is told from the perspective of the wampa that attacked and nearly ate Luke. While we don't want to get too deep into spoiler territory, we will say that Oshiro provides a specific reason for the attack and effectively turns the shaggy snow beast into a rather tragic figure. Next time you see Luke slice the thing's arm off with his lightsaber, you may feel a twinge of pity for the abominable snowman of the galaxy far, far away.
"When I got the invitation, I knew I wasn’t going to pitch a main character," the author tells SYFY WIRE. "I wanted to go weird and to write a story from someone who normally wouldn’t get a point-of-view. I only pitched two characters: Willrow Hood, the human character carrying a camtono during the evacuation of Cloud City, and the wampa. They were both characters I was obsessed with as a kid and wished I knew more about."
The narrated snippet below was read by Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars):
When he got the green-light to write "Hunger," Oshiro went back the source. "I have The Empire Strikes Back on Blu-Ray, so I rewatched a 20-ish minute section about 10 times while taking notes. I really wanted to get the timeline right," he explains.
In terms of staying with the franchise canon, the author was able to rely on established resources while forging his own set of rules:
"There’s material that does exist that addresses the presence of wampas in the caves below the Hoth rebel base. For example, there are some pretty cool deleted scenes that were meant to show us wampa attacks on the base while the Rebels were there. That was one of two things that inspired the story. That’s technically an established story and so, I wondered why the wampas would attack humans. I did a lot of research and there is a lot, which was super helpful in establishing them as a sort of apex predator on Hoth. All that went into how I approached the 'mindset' of a wampa. Star Wars means a lot to me, so I actually wanted to create something that felt very much like it belonged in the world."
Oshiro also credits Mark Hamill with giving him the idea for the story: "In late 2017, he made a comment on Twitter that when he filmed the iconic scene, he was told that his lightsaber 'would simply singe fur [to] scare him off.' He more or less said it was out-of-character that Luke would be that cruel to a creature that was simply hungry."
"That’s the idea I ran with. Let’s dig into the wampa’s hunger: how did it come about? So, I connected the two dots: Why are the wampas attacking people on the base? Why was that one so hungry? The whole story came together pretty quickly," Oshiro continues. "The joy of the first From A Certain Point of View anthology was how incredible it was to have a scene given a new context with a different perspective. I wanted to show that the wampas’ desire for home, family, and sustenance — things humans can relate to — were accidentally threatened by this very moral act. We obviously want the Rebels to win, and they had a good reason to hide on Hoth. Yet sometimes, even with the purest intent, we hurt other people. In this case, the Rebels displaced a family and had no idea."
From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back goes on sale Tuesday, Nov. 10. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon right here.
The opportunity to contribute a story to this collection is "a dream come true," Oshiro concludes. "You can ask anyone who has been following my writing for years that it’s been a long-time goal of mine to write for Star Wars. I still can’t believe I wrote it, I can’t believe it was accepted, and I can’t believe my name is on the cover of a Star Wars book."
If you'd like to read our exclusive excerpt, please find the text below...
A small pack left the cavern one morning, all riding astride the upright, horned beasts. His instinct took over: He could deal with a group this small. Eventually, all living creatures lost to his kind. And with another upon its back, the horned beast could not maintain its normal speed.
Meaning it could not escape.
It would be too easy.
But the challenge did not matter to him. He followed the pack, watched them split up and spread out over the ice. He remained distant and quiet as he always did. He wanted the last thing his prey saw to be the whiteness of his fur, his ferocious maw cracked open, his sharp claws slicing at the softness of their neck.
He wanted that not for hunger. Not to satiate his need to feast.
He needed to fill the cavern in his body.
And only blood would do that.
He chose one. There was no need to focus on the entire pack. It was the scrawny creature, the smallest of them all, that would be easiest to take down.
Would this reunite him with his clan? Would it reveal their fate to him?
But it was a start.
He moved closer to the plateau, aware that there was not much cover, but there was only this chance. He stilled and observed. Watched the thing bury something in the snow.
He waited. The gangly creature climbed atop the other, and they moved forth.
He rushed forward then, keeping his body tucked in tight, and he closed the distance between them.
The horned beast twisted its head back, and he froze. It raised its snout in the air, sniffed a few times, and he was sure it could sense him, that the chase was about to begin.
It turned back. It remained unmoving.
He continued moving, his body hovering just above the snow, his breath even and steady.
He stayed close to the ground, but he could not help turning his head to see the flash of fire and smoke off in the distance. It was not uncommon here; things plummeted from the sky all the time. One had once killed a packmate of his when he was a cub.
But the moment had arrived: the perfect distraction.
He glided over the ice. The creature aboard the other was making noise. Fear? Concern? Communication? He did not know. He just crept ever closer, stilling only when the beast cried out. This was it. If they spotted him, a chase would certainly follow. He would surely catch them, but he didn’t want a chase.
He wanted blood.
He rushed forward.
His massive arm was in the air, and he swung it down and roared as loudly as possible, so as to strike fear into their hearts, to freeze them in place. The smaller one’s body thumped on the snow after one slash, and then he grabbed the horned beast by the neck, snapped it with one powerful squeeze.
Neither creature moved.
And he would feast tonight.
But first, the preparation. He grabbed each of the creatures by a leg and dragged them back to the empty cavern he was now using. It was a long trek, and normally he would worry about other clans taking advantage of him. But many of them were gone as well, most likely frightened away by these strange beasts and the strange thing they had constructed out of the snow, that burst up into the sky.
He was alone out here in the ice and snow. He had been for some time.
He knew he would preserve the tiny one and consume the other. He needed the energy, and it would help him with what came next.
This would not be a lone act.
No, he would seek out the others. Pick them off one by one. Each time he took one of their lives, he would be closer to getting his home back. His den-mate. The cubs. The mother of his children.
He would get them all back.
And he had all the time in the world.