‘Survivor’s Quest’, T. Zahn

Ah, the wonders of science-fiction. I yesterday (by now, the day before yesterday) finished a wonderful (rephrase: another wonderful) book by Timothy Zahn, this one being named ‘Survivor’s Quest’. I guess it made a lot more sense given that I’m rather well versed in the Expanded Universe (disclosure: ‘Survivor’s Quest’ is part of Star Wars Expanded Universe //one of several hundred books there//, and takes place quite a bit of time after any of the movies) but also since I’ve read the so-to-say prequel ‘Outbound Flight’ (also by T. Zahn).

I can’t really tell what fascinated me most about this book, except for the fact that it had some really deep moments — these insights into people, why they act, and how people might be better of acting; and yet Zahn did not disappoint with action or logic (unless you, the reader, are one of the people who kindly says that science-fiction by itself defies logic etc etc and therefore should not be read).

One of his greatest achievements for the EU has been the inclusion of a wonderful species named the Chiss. The who, what and why are rather irrelevant, but this books brings up a few new Chiss characters (previously 95% of the interaction with the by-now-deceased Grand Admiral Thrawn) and they illustrate a beauty which many species (either imaginary or real) lack: a love of tactical thinking, or at least that is how it seems to be portrayed.

I’ll bring out a quote illustrating the Chiss:

“It is completely and purely a matter of honor and morality. The Chiss are never to be the aggressor people. We cannot and will not make war against any until and unless we have been attacked. That has been our law for a thousand years, [Master Skywalker], and we will not bend from it.”

I believe this displays what I wished to convey earlier on: and what humans, in this case, certainly are not — principles die too easily for us.

Somehow Zahn also manages to include a number of references to correct military behavior (e.g. nearly every EU book of his beginning with an Imperial Star Destroyer in space and a few notions of proper naval etiquette).

And a few other quotes for the conclusion:

“… it would be the height of arrogance and pride to risk their lives, not to mention the lives of our companions, by insisting on amateur leadership when a professional is standing by. Don’t you agree?”


“Past thoughts are irrelevant to the realities of the present.”

“To Spend Time On Reading…”

The original post can be found here, but since it touches greatly on writing and literature and reading, I have decided to post it specifically on this blog-side as well (with very few minor edits). Here it is.

Lately, I’ve read quite a bit — science fiction mostly, the rest would fall under the genre of philosophical writings. I’ve also got my hands (finally, around six-seven years after starting with the first book!) on ‘Noble House’ and ‘Whirlwind’ which means that when I wish to continue reading about British arrogance and commerce in the Far East I can freely continue doing so. James Clavell is a bit too good to miss out, so I’m planning to take it up as one of the next (not the next though: first I’ll make sure I’ve got all of the New Republic Era //all == as much as I can and have// read; after that a bit of Mahan, and then, I guess, onwards to the Clavell books).

I started using an interesting web-site called GoodReads.com. Seems to keep a list of what I’ve (you’ve) read — something that I consider rather useful. I have tried to keep such a list in the past but it never works out; on the computer/online it should amount to something better though.

Reading the New Republic Era has made quite an impression though: with the previous ten-odd books by John Marsden (on Australia and such) and now a whole lot by different authors I’ve seen how there’s a difference between styles, and what that actually means. Just to bring out a few, then if we look at Matthew Stover (my friend Natalie would probably cringe just on hearing his name) then he often starts long discourses about things not-that-directly related to everything else. Yet, it suits me well since I see the relevance of the things he poses and it creates a deeper background; Roger MacBride Allen on the other hand uses deeply comical situations along with fast-paced action which has made me like the overall depth less though the few scenes that are in all of them do make a sort of impression as well as the characters he creates; Timothy Zahn is just great, of his creation is the tactical genius Thrawn and I believe that (much like John Howe in his newsletters) Zahn allows himself to dedicate the entire artful being that he projected into Thrawn into the entire action of his writing — the books simply flow and while not as funny as MacBride Allen’s they still offer a sense of completeness and thoroughness; finally, Mr Marsden…

Ah, John Marsden’s books… I have to say, it might have been the first young adult (or whatever-nonsense they call that) series that I ever read, but it was good. Enjoyable. The language, as has been often noted, was exactly that — deeply in line with the intended audience. The books — content — is not that wonderful in the Tomorrow and Ellie series but it is still an interesting question to wonder about, especially given the war is a simple background setting to the larger problem of human interaction. I do deeply recommend reading Marsden and not for the same reasons for why people should read either J.R.R. Tolkien, J. Clavell, W. Somerset Maugham, or Kawabata Yasunari. No, the reason to read John Marsden is to read about becoming human/inhuman, growing up — no, maybe not quite that: I cannot place my hand (paw?) on what it is that is there, but there’s something worthwhile… it is not the beauty of the style nor any other obvious literary quality, but something less tangible perhaps (or therefore, instead, more tangible?).

I did also want to say a word about a few of the characters that have struck me as wonderful as few can be from the New Republic era books that I’ve read, but I believe I’ll keep that for another time now.


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