For most Star Wars fans, there’s one true thing that surrounds us, and binds us. Sure, we may squabble about which movie is the best and argue over who Snoke really is (it’s the angry resurrected ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, obvs), but we all agree that there’s no such thing as too much Star Wars. But the fact is, only so much Star Wars exists. Granted, when all’s told between movies, TV shows, canon novels, non-canon novels, video games, board games, and comics, there’s a lot of content out there. But it’s already been five months since Rogue One, and a grim reality is taking hold: there’s still 200 whole days that separate us from our next cinematic Star Wars fix. And if you’ve already read/watched/consumed everything there is to consume, you’re going to need to fill your time with… something.
Well, if you can’t have Star Wars, there’s always the next best thing: stuff that’s like Star Wars! Here’s six novels that can help tide you over until The Last Jedi drops in December.
Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
While the dust jacket of this novel, the first in Wagers’s Indranan War trilogy, bills it as featuring a lead character who bears similarities to Han Solo, Leia, and Rey, it still carves out its own unique own protagonist and drops her into a darn good space adventure yarn. It takes the best of the smugglers’ corner of the Star Wars universe and adds political intrigue and family drama. Wagers builds a slick and immersive world around her protagonist, an heir to the throne of a massive empire who wants nothing to do with her namesake. It rides high with a lot of twists and turns and feels like it could fold seamlessly into a corner of the Star Wars universe.
Emperor of the Eight Islands (The Tale of Shikanoko series) by Lian Hearn
While on the surface this book doesn’t bear much similarity to Star Wars—it doesn’t take place in space, after all, and it’s not even sci-fi—but many of the elements that influenced Star Wars seep into every page of Shikanoko. It’s well known that Kurosawa’s work played a significant role in Lucas’s career, and much of the samurai tradition informed the creation of the Jedi (the word Jedi, in fact, is derived from the term jidaigeki, which is type of Japanese historical drama). Shikanoko is playing in a very similar sandbox, with a magical realism bent, as it tells the story of a young man, Shikanoko, as he pursues his destiny in the shadow of an evil emperor ruling the land. Sounds familiar, right?
Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
Okay, this one is cheating. After all, it’s a Star Wars book. But, Battlefront was a bit of a sore thumb when it was released; while the flood of other Star Wars novels released at the time focused either on content that teased The Force Awakens or featured iconic characters like Luke, Han, or Leia, Battlefront didn’t have the luxury of either. In fact, it was a tie-in to a video game that was widely criticized for not having a storyline (the Battlefront video game had no story mode). But, Freed used that freedom to his advantage, and the book is fantastic. It captures the war aesthetic of Rogue One (it’s no coincidence that its author, Alexander Freed, was tapped to write the Rogue One novelization) while delivering some truly remarkable characters that enrich that Star Wars universe in a really fresh way.
Fear Agent by Rick Remender, with art by Tony Moore, Jerome Opena, and others
You can basically slide nearly any book penned by Remender into this list. No one in comics is doing pulpy sci-fi/fantasy the way Remender does, and Fear Agent is the book that crystalized his unique voice and laid the groundwork for his many, many great series that followed (I would have placed his latest series, Seven to Eternity, on this list, but there’s no collected edition available yet). Basically, the series—which is complete and available in two massive hardcover collections—follow Heathrow Huston, the last remaining Fear Agent—someone who wipes out alien threats—as he gets into all kinds of adventures. The book is crazy with ideas, big on character, and never relents on inventiveness.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
I’ll tell you what: the current crop of Star Wars canonical novels have ranged from great to spectacular, though even with such a collection of immensely satisfying books, Claudia Gray is standing tall amongst her peers. Her two books, Lost Stars and Bloodline have managed to capture the very best of Star Wars while giving readers unique and true characterizations of new and old faces alike. Before entering the Star Wars universe, Gray already had a number of books under her belt, one of which being A Thousand Pieces of You, the first in her terrific Firebird series. Like Gray’s Star Wars work, Pieces relies on a whiplash—and surprising—plot, terrific characters, and crisp, engaging writing.
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
If you’re looking for something that’s sci-fi but is a bit off the beaten path, just about any Banks novel is the right call. Phlebas, which is part of Banks’s Culture series, may be the most accessible of his works as it balances a fast-moving plot with thought-provoking ideas on religion, human existence, technology, and more. It’s classic space opera with a lot of meat on its bones; it’s a challenging read, but a rich and rewarding one as well.
This article was originally published in January 2017.
Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. He’s also a Star Wars obsessive, who is lucky to spend his time playing Star Wars action figures with his two sons by day and writing Star Wars-inspired stories by night. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.