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"The Death Star was a monster, no question about that. It was conceived by monsters and controlled by them. But not everyone on board was a monster."
Death Star is a novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Perry also wrote Shadows of the Empire. Reaves wrote a few episodes of the old Droids and Ewoks television shows, as well as Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and the Coruscant Nights Trilogy. Prior to Death Star, the two authors worked together to write the Medstar Duology. They re-use characters and details from one anothers' previously-written works with some regularity.
The novel follows the lives of a selection of characters who end up working on the Death Star late in its completion, and after that. They include Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, Admiral Motti, an old surgeon, a Force-Sensitive stormtrooper, a bartender, a librarian, a bouncer, a TIE pilot, a wrongly accused convict, a political prisoner who was an architect, and the Death Star's lead gunner.
Interestingly, there is no overall villain of the book. The Rebellion is certainly out there, weighing on people's minds, but aside from the minor role that Leia Organa plays, none of them are named or given much notoriety, much less become a viewpoint character. Some characters oppose each other - Motti does not like Vader, for instance - but until the end most of them are at least somewhat civil with each other. They're all more or less on the same side, after all.
The novel includes examples of
- Ace Pilot: The TIE pilot, Vil Dance, becomes one.
- Ascended Extra: Tenn Graneet and Nova Stihl.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Vader of course, but it turns out that Motti lifts weights in several times normal gravity.
- Bar Brawl: Threatened at several points, but it never gets that far. The bouncer's good at his job.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Tenn Graneet calls it by name.
There was an old proverb his grandfather had taught him when he'd been a boy: Take care what you wish for, Tenn- you might get it.
- Being Evil Sucks: Tenn Graneet is the one who pulled the trigger sending Despayre and Alderaan to their deaths. While Despayre unnerves him, he can at least partially rationalize it what with it being full of convicts declared too dangerous to be held locally. When he terminates Alderaan, however, he sinks into a deep, deep depression feeling that death would be too good for him.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The smuggler is Zelosian, and although he looks like a green-eyed human, he photosynthesizes.
- Catapult Nightmare: Nova. See Dreaming Of Things To Come below.
- Catch Phrase: Lieutenant Vil Dance often thinks or says a variation of "Never happen!", as in "it will never", when he thinks of failing in his duty.
- Chekhov's Gun: In addition to the obligatory "What the hell is that thermal exhaust port doing there, and isn't it a blatant Weaksauce Weakness?" comment, there's Uli's research into midichlorians as they relate to Nova's Blink. He even forgot all about it.
- Cultured Warrior: Nova Stihl.
- Curb Stomp Battle: The Rebels send five hundred X-Wings after the Death Star before it's fully operational. This does not end well.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Called out by name, with lampshade lovingly hung.
- Defector From Evil: Why some of the surviving characters decide to join the Rebellion. They know nothing about it, but it's got to be better than the government that decides to annihilate inhabited planets as a test.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: When he transfers onto the Death Star, Nova's Force-Sensitivity starts giving him horrible, horrible dreams that all end up coming true, to one extent or another.
- Drink Order: Only to be expected when one character is a bartender.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Alderaan, obviously, but before that, Despayre.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Despayre's environment is explicitly like that. It doesn't help that it's populated by (mostly) dangerous convicts.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Fan Disservice: Motti, "stripped to", well, anything, but the use of the word "strap" makes it sound like the GFFA version of a jockstrap.
- Fan Service: Twi'lek "micro" clothing leaves readers wondering what it is.
- Foregone Conclusion: You've seen A New Hope. You know that the Death Star destroys Alderaan, Leia escapes, and the Death Star is blown up by a brave Rebel pilot.
- Foreshadowing: Of the Foregone Conclusion constantly.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Deck 69.
- Heel Faith Turn: Motti, after Vader chokes him. (Of course.)
- Heel Realization: Every Imperial viewpoint character except Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Admiral Motti gets this at the destruction of Alderaan. The ones who weren't in the Imperial military, who just worked for it, tended to get it earlier.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: To vac(hard vacuum) with this!
- Out of the black.
- A pixel is worth a thousand bytes.
- A snowflake's chance in a supernova.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The prison world "Despayre".
- I Have Many Names: Celot Ratua Dill, the smuggler, also gets called "Teh Roxxor", "Green Eyes", and "Radish Boy".
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Nova
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Darth Vader. The TIE pilot saw him fly once and promised himself that he'd commit suicide if Vader ever came after him; late in the novel the pilot and his new defecting friends flee in a shuttle, are pursued, and the pilot manages to not get shot down just long enough that Vader's attention turned to the Rebels.
- Internal Retcon: Daala's head injury explains where her vaunted tactical knowledge went.
- Interspecies Romance: Memah Roothes(the bartender) and Celot Ratua Dil(the convict); also Villian Dance(the pilot) and Teela Kaarz(the architect). Interestingly, while Memah is a Twi'lek, Ratua is a very humanlike plant alien, and Teela is from a very humanlike offshoot of humanity.
- Large Ham/Oh Crap: Admiral Motti's last words.
- Last-Name Basis: As a result of Daala having Only One Name at this point, Tarkin is given to referring to his lover only by her last name, even in private.
- Leet Lingo: The name the convict takes for himself is "Teh Roxxor".
- C-4ME-O is l33t5p33k3 for "cameo".
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Oh yes.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Thirteen characters in the Dramatis Personae (ten male, three female). three males and three females survive. Admittedly some characters are Doomed by Canon - or saved by it in the case of Darth Vader and Admiral Daala, but even amongst the 'new' characters the male death rate is 60%.
- And not a single named woman dies!
- Might be due less to a case of Men Are the Expendable Gender and more to the fact that only 1/5 of the cast is female
- Mind Probe: Vader does this casually to the architect, who senses him, freaks out, and closes down.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Tenn Graneet has a major one of these. Some time after shooting down a shuttle of escaping convicts, and then after killing Rebels in X-Wings, the TIE pilot, Dance, has a quieter one.
He(Graneet) couldn't stop thinking about it. He didn't believe he would ever be able to stop thinking about it. The dead would haunt him, forever.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Nova's Force-Sensitivity.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Averted. One of the interspecies couples refers to this as a Noodle Incident after a Time Skip of several months.
"How was I to know your kind can't eat sweetweed?"
- Penal Colony: Despayre, again.
- POV Sequel
- Planar Shockwave: In exposition, we see that this is because the superlaser actually causes part of the target to shift suddenly into hyperspace.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Nova, again. Despayre wakes him up screaming. Alderaan makes him pass out, bleeding, with muscle tremors.
- Punch Clock Villain: Tarkin, Daala, Motti, and Vader aren't, obviously, but the other Imperials are.
- Red Baron: Col. Vindoo "The Shooter" Barvel
- Redemption Equals Death: Tenn Graneet delays firing the superlaser at Yavin IV long enough for a certain Rebel pilot to fire a proton torpedo...
- Resignations Not Accepted: Doctor Uli Divini has been in Imperial service since before Palpatine's New Order, due to the Imperial Military Stop Loss Order, or IMSLO.
(IMSLO is) A retroactive order mandating that, no matter when you'd been conscripted, once you were in, you were in for as long as they wanted you - or until you got killed. Either way, it was kiss your planned life goodbye. Imperial Military Stop Loss Order. An alternative translation, scrawled no doubt on a 'fresher wall somewhere by a clever graffitist, had caught on over the last few years: "I'm Milking Scragged; Life's Over."
- Retirony: Old-school Admiral Helaw, a man with standards who'd take a beam to the chest rather than allow it to get you In the Back, planned to retire as soon as this project was finished. A certain amount of time was spent building him up as cautious, reliable, and Admiral Motti's confidant. And then he died in an act of sabotage.
- Rock Beats Laser: Admiral Helaw (one of Motti's old friends) talks about this hardcore master marksman who would often throw himself into the fray with his troops. Helaw's friend is about to gun down a charging pirate when his gun jams, and gets unceremoniously shanked by a sharpened piece of junk. Helaw relates this story as a warning against hubris.
- Sergeant Rock: Despite not being in the Army, Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet certainly fits the bill.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: A sort of odd example. Uli often thinks back to the young Jedi he knew twenty years ago during the Clone Wars, who died in Order 66. He's not sure if he loved her, but her death left him badly shaken, and he tries not to think of her too often. When Princess Leia is taken on board the Death Star and tortured, he's summoned to tend to her and is struck by the various ways in which she's like that Jedi. Later his friends refer to Leia as Uli's girlfriend, and he tiredly says the trope name.
- Shout-Out: In what appears to be a reference to Star Trek, the shuttle NGC-1710 ferries Nova Stihl from Despayre to the Death Star.
- Uli's a surgeon, not an internal meds doctor!
- Additionally Dybersyne Engineering Systems is said to be one of the companies contracted to assemble the Death Star's superlaser.
- Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness: The whole spectrum is well-represented.
- Sympathetic POV: Tenn Graneet. He'd always aspired to fire the biggest gun in the galaxy, and actually getting that wish meant guilt and misery beyond his ugliest dreams.
- Taking You with Me: Dance calls it the WBD - We Both Die.
- Talk to the Fist: Those two contractors from Alderaan are kriffing sick of gloating Imps.
- Techno Babble: A thankfully short explanation of the process of the destruction of Alderaan is given by Tenn Graneet, who is more in horror of the fact that he just sent several billion innocent people to their deaths.
- Tear Jerker: "Stand by. Stand by . . ."
- Tested On A Prison Planet: The Death Star was test-fired on Despayre. Neither the convicts nor the guards were evacuated beforehand.
- Two Lines, No Waiting
- Villainous Breakdown: Tarkin never believed that the Death Star had a weakness. In the end, right before the Death Star explodes, he's thinking "Unthinkable. Unthinka-" *BOOM*
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Literally, with Tenn Graneet.
- Word of God: Motti's Only One Name status was to be ended with the authors of this novel giving him the name "Zi." However, that was changed before the novel was published after George Lucas jokingly said that the character's name was "Conan Antonio Motti" (in reference to Conan O'Brien). A single use of "Zi" still remains in the novel, presumably as an editing mistake.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Nova Stihl is badly shaken after Alderaan, the deaths of billions of innocent civilians of all ages, enough so that he concludes he has to try to prevent something like that from happening again.
Nova could fight a room full of men straight-up, face-to-face, and if he had to kill half of them to survive, he'd do it. But he hadn't signed on to slaughter children in their beds.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: A minor character named Bahlateez speaks in this manner.
- And of course, Vader's "What is thy bidding, my master?" (Look up T-V distinction. Basically it means that Indo-European languages generally have a "familial" form [thou in English, some variant of tu in the Romance languages] and a "polite" form [you in English, vous in French, usted in Spanish, vos in Latin], which is usually but not always the plural form.) Which could be a case of Fridge Brilliance, considering the nature of the Sith.
- You Fail Your Medical Boards Forever: When Uli fails to find an appendix in the expected location during an appendectomy he declares that it's impossible. Variants in the location of the appendix are actually relatively common.
- You Shall Not Pass / Delaying Action: Nova avoided the death he'd foreseen in one dream by not chasing too closely after Han Solo. But at the end of the novel he accepts another death he'd foreseen by fighting off other stormtroopers alongside a bouncer to let the other defectors get to the shuttle.