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Credit: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Alex Segura reveals Poe's spice-running past in new Star Wars novel 'Free Fall'

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Jul 28, 2020

Known for his Anthony Award-nominated Pete Fernandez mystery novels and creative work as co-president of Archie Comics, author Alex Segura is dipping into the fertile spaceways of the Star Wars universe with a fresh new young adult novel titled, Poe Dameron: Free Fall.

Free Fall drops into Earth orbit on August 4 from Disney Lucasfilm Press, acting as a Poe origin tale that begins on Yavin IV and offers intriguing info on his secret past with Zorii Bliss and the Spice Runners of Kijimi. In last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we were introduced to an older, helmeted Zorii (played by Keri Russell) when Poe and company came to Kijimi searching for droidsmith Babu Frik. The reunion hinted at Poe’s wilder days smuggling spice. 

Credit: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Here Zorii is given a fleshed out backstory to complement Poe’s history and the result is a frenetic escapade that entertains as well as deepens the saga’s rich tapestry of storytelling. And yes, there are some fun Easter Eggs and shadows of the past tossed into the narrative mix.

SYFY WIRE spoke to Segura on the process of crafting his first Star Wars novel, delivering detail to the official canon, adding to the mythology of the ace X-wing pilot, exploring Poe’s family life and fateful choices, while providing a richer path of discovery for Zorii.

After the chat, check out an exclusive excerpt from Poe Dameron: Free Fall!

Credit: Disney Lucasfilm

Before tackling his debut Star Wars book, Segura went back to the source material for a closer read with his eye toward Poe. 

“That meant rewatching all the films, reading Charles Soule’s Poe Dameron comics, Greg Rucka’s comics that featured Poe’s parents, then also kinda diving back into Star Wars novels,” Segura recalls. “I revisited some of my favorites like Tim Zahn’s books, and more recent stuff like Claudia Gray, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Zoraida Cordova and really getting a sense of how it works and this is how this feeds into that. And I got to meet Alexander Freed on a New York Comic-Con virtual panel and his books are great too. It is a great pantheon of writers playing in the universe and it felt like a cool validation that I got invited into the room."

Plot-wise, Free Fall is best defined as a classic Poe Dameron origin tale.

“If you left Rise of Skywalker with questions tying into Poe and what was revealed about him in the movie, those are very much answered and more in this book," adds Segura. "We get to see Poe at about 16 years old, still reeling from his mother’s death, having some conflict with his father on Yavin IV, and we get to see what gets him off the moon and on his own adventures.

"He runs into a complicated group of people that he sees as his ticket into space and to explore and live his own life. And he doesn’t really put as much thought into it as he maybe should, because he’s a teenager. I mean we all make bad decisions as kids. But that’s his journey, and he meets this group and a girl named Zorii, and this spice runner crew and the adventure continues from there."

Disney Lucasfilm Press

For Segura, Star Wars has always contained a great sense of wonder that’s never faded for him.

“I remember seeing bits and pieces of Empire Strikes Back at a very young age, then when I got a little older seeing them with the awareness of an older child. I remember the excitement in college of seeing The Phantom Menace on opening night, that sort of second wave of fun with the prequels. 

"Now I’m 40 and a parent now so it’s a whole new set of adventures. It’s always been around and been a key, tentpole moment in pop-culture, especially for me as a fan who’s loved sci-fi and high adventure. It’s such a great blend of science fiction and fantasy and folklore. All these great heroes’ quests. I feel like it’s all part of our pop-culture DNA." 

Credit: Disney Lucasfilm

On a character level, Segura hoped to strike the balance of introducing people to this character that they recognize as Poe, but to also have an awareness that he still has far to go before becoming the hero we know in The Force Awakens

“But it’s also Zorii’s origin story too," he notes. "She’s such an important character and we see her for such a short amount of time in the movie, that I wanted to give readers a lot more context on who she was. You watch the movie and you know something happened that broke them apart in terms of their friendship and really led Poe on another path, the one he was meant to be on. And so I really wanted to show that and what defined Poe as a person.

"From the sequel trilogy, he’s probably my favorite character, so getting to write what’s in essence his origin story felt like not only a huge honor but also a huge responsibility."

Credit: Disney Lucasfilm

Now enjoy an exclusive chapter excerpt from Alex Segura's Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall published by Disney Lucasfilm Press.

“I’m in trouble,” Poe said, sliding into a seat at the bar.

“Big trouble.”

Fontis waved a hand at Poe dismissively.

“You keep playing this game, Poe, but you know the

score,” the barkeep said. “You’re a sprout. I don’t serve

sprouts.”

Poe slammed a hand on the bar—more a joke than a

show of anger.

“C’mon, Fontis, cut me a break,” Poe said. “I’ve had a

rough day.”

“Looks like it, kid. And, hey, I will be happy to take

your scraps of money in a few years,” Fontis said with a

devious smile. “I’m quite fond of allowing people to

drown their sorrows, as you well know. But I also need to

avoid having my place shut down because an unruly teenager

wants to get a buzz going, you see? It’s just not worth

the cost of a drink, assuming you have any credits in those

rumpled pants.”

Poe smiled. He wasn’t sure he considered Fontis a

friend, but he enjoyed the Devaronian’s dry humor and

shadowy demeanor. Gully’s felt like a doorway to another

world to Poe, a sign of what was out there, beyond the

Yavin system. A galaxy of scoundrels and double crosses

and space travel that seemed within Poe’s reach.

“Can I at least stick around?” Poe asked. “Too hot for

me to go home just yet.”

“What else is new?” Fontis said, pouring Poe a glass of

Jawa juice. “Here you go. The worst this’ll do is make you

want to dance, which I think is worth risking my license.”

Poe thanked the barkeep, tossing a few credits onto

the counter before turning around to scan the bar. It was

another loud, unruly night at Gully’s, and Poe wouldn’t

have had it any other way. He didn’t want to dwell on what’d

happened earlier. He’d pore over his conversations with

his father and L’ulo later, probably after another argument

with Kes Dameron, on his way to another sleepless

night in his room on the farm. Another night resigned to

his exile, dreaming of the expanse above Yavin 4 and the

secrets and adventures it held.

The tavern was loud, the music—a festive Laki Lembeng

number—boomed through the place, making it feel like

the entire venue was swaying softly. Most of the customers

seemed oblivious, enraptured by their own table-centric

squabbles or well on their way to obliterating their memories

of the night. Poe found himself jealous of that option.

He’d love to go back a bit and just wipe the day clean, start

over. As much as his father angered him, he loved the man

and really wanted there to be some kind of understanding

between them. Why couldn’t his father just let him go?

Let him find his own path? Poe was young. Adventure

was in his blood. How could his father—who’d married

a Rebellion pilot and been a Pathfinder during the war

himself—expect any less? But time had a way of hardening

men, of making them more set in their ways and frightened

of the possibilities of life. Even as a young man, Poe

saw this in his father, in L’ulo, and in many people he

came across on humid, dark nights like this—when Poe

would come to Gully’s and spend his time flirting and

dancing and laughing, the one pure escape he had that

didn’t involve a ship and a course that would get him out

of the Yavin system for a long time.

He saw her out of the corner of his eye—a lithe figure

swaying to the music, which was now playing a Calamari

waterballad. She was about Poe’s age, he guessed, her

long, wavy brown hair and sharp features giving her an

almost feline quality, like a patient predator able to perch

on a tree for days, waiting for its prey to finally make a

move. Her young friend—or comrade—was a Twi’lek. Poe

had seen them often near the port, a species used to space

travel and the business of the Outer Rim. She seemed less

confident in her movements but was clearly enjoying the

chance to blow off some steam. They made for an alluring

pair, and Poe was mesmerized.

“Who is that?” Poe asked, more of himself than of anyone

in particular.

Fontis sidled up across from the bar, his eyes also on

the pair.

“Never seen them before,” Fontis said. “Which means

only one thing.”

“What’s that?” Poe asked.

“Trouble.”

A rush of bravery coursed through Poe as the song ended

and a pulsing, newer, fast tune began to filter through the

tavern. The two dancers seemed hesitant, so entranced

by their slithering movements that they were unwilling to

change their pace. Poe watched them both carefully, his

attention locked on the human woman—her smile confident

and knowing, her eyes seeming much older than

her years. Next thing he knew, he was in front of her. He

hadn’t put much thought into what he’d say, but by the

time that dawned on him, a few seconds had passed—and

she was looking at him with a quizzical expression.

“Hey,” Poe said with a slight jerk of his chin. “Seems

like you two were having fun out here.”

The young woman arched an eyebrow before

responding.

“We were,” she said, emphasizing the last word. “But

now you’re here.”

“Well, don’t stop having fun on my account,” Poe said

with a shrug. “Just thought I’d say hello.”

“You’ve done that,” she continued, her voice confident

and distant. “Mr. . . . ?”

“Poe. I’m Poe Dameron,” he said, extending his hand.

She took it briefly. “I’m a local.”

She nodded, a slight smile on her face. Her Twi’lek

friend had wandered back to their table, where she joined

two others who were looking on, watching Poe banter with

their friend. Their expressions were a mix of worry, anger,

and . . . fear?

“A townie. How quaint,” she said. “I’m Zorii Wynn.”

Poe bowed quickly.

“A pleasure to meet you, Zorii,” he said. “Welcome to

our tiny fringe moon. I’d be happy to show you and your

friends around, if you’re staying long.”

“We’re not,” Zorii said, shaking her head. “In fact,

we’re in the process of figuring out how to . . . continue

our journey.”

Journey? Poe thought. They had a ship. They were going

somewhere. His mind buzzed with possibility. Surely he

was jumping ahead of himself, but he let it happen. The

idea of stepping onto a ship and leaving all this behind

had never been stronger in him. He realized he had no

desire to reenter the repetitive loop of his life. The arguments.

The escapes. The eventual returns home. The

resentment. It was time to go, whether it was on this ship

or the next one.

“So, tell me, Poe Dameron of Yavin Four,” she said,

bringing him back to the present. “Why should I care who

you are?”

“Because I’m going to be the best pilot the galaxy’s ever

seen,” Poe said. “Bank on it.”

“I’ve heard that before,” Zorii said with a shrug. “So

what?”

“I can fly anything,” Poe said, his tone growing defensive.

“Trust me.”

Zorii’s smile melted into a curious, intrigued

expression—like a reptile squinting its eyes.

“Anything?”

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