Last week at Salon, Laura Miller wrote about a topic of interest in both literary circles and fandom: the underlying reasons that sometimes cause people to take offense to others not liking the books they read. For example, one postulated explanation is “intellectual insecurity” about oneself. On this day devoted to romance, though, I’d like to suggest another reason: it’s simply a matter of love.
Most of us have been there before. The first meeting, and the attraction is instantaneous. Spending some time getting to know each other, staring longingly across a short distance… You know I’m talking about a book, right? If you think about it, this type of attraction can happen with a movie, a television show, or comic. Just like real life relationships, what fuels the flames of attraction for each of us can be as different as we are. For some it’s learning the length of a new class of Star Destroyer or the backstory behind the Sith holocron used in a comic ten years ago. For others it’s exploring a new planet or sector of the galaxy. In my first Valentine’s Day post for Unbound Worlds, I admitted that Han’s and Leia’s romance helped my infatuation with Star Wars blossom into true love. Over the years, tales about different power couples finding each other, like Luke and Mara, Jaina and Jag, or Wedge and Iella, have kept my relationship with the Star Wars Expanded Universe feeling fresh and adventurous.
When we have this thing that we love – our favorite book, comic, or movie – and we introduce it to our friends, we’re often seeking validation of the connection. The trepidation behind the question “Do you like my favorite New Jedi Order novel?” isn’t any different than the emotions that come with the question, “Do you like my new significant other?” No matter how we come to our passions, it’s only natural to want others to approve of our romance, even if it’s with a story.
The funny thing is, sometimes there really is no accounting for the stories we end up liking, just like there may be no rhyme or reason to who we fall in love with. It would seem natural for a young adult reader to fall head over heels for The Hunger Games – but then you hear your fifty-year old boss or the hulking weightlifter in line behind you at the movie theater talk about it. When it comes to love, assumptions fly out the window. Sometimes the most unlikely of pairs are meant for each other.
So while a witty princess wise beyond her years and a hapless and hardened smuggler might seem destined for a few chance encounters that amount to nothing more than cold stares, that isn’t what many Star Wars fans began rooting for, even back in 1977. Not everyone sees it this way, but many people do: Leia and Han are, in the wise words of Lucasfilm’s Jennifer Heddle, “perfect together.”
Which is why this year’s Valentine’s Day art courtesy of Del Rey and artist Chris Trevas seems so fitting. If you haven’t picked up Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells, then hopefully the following scene, which takes place in a refresher, and accompanying artwork will whet your appetite. It is set between Episodes IV and V. The story explores those moments when both Han and Leia are trying to convince themselves they are too different to be together.
Han followed Leia across into the refresher. “Big enough for two people” was a bit of a stretch. But the way the appliances were built into the bulkhead left just enough room for both of them to stand. They were so close they were almost breathing each other’s breath.
“If anybody saw us come in here, we can just say we wanted to be alone,” Han said, lifting his eyebrows. But as soon as the words were out, he felt a prickle on the back of his neck and wished he hadn’t articulated the thought. To say this wasn’t the time or place for fooling around was a vast understatement. He didn’t want to be the idiot who got Leia Organa killed because he was busy trying to make time with her while they should have been planning their way out of this mess.
“Right.” Leia was not amused. She leaned back against the door, clearly trying to get as far away from him as possible. “What is it?”
“Kearn-sa’Davit was in the slave pen,” he told her. “That merchant ship? Belonged to some members of the consortium that he called you here to meet with, to buy supplies for Echo Base.”
Leia gritted her teeth and swore under her breath. That was nothing Han hadn’t seen her do before, but at the moment it seemed hugely alluring. Her braids were unraveling along one side of her head, the left one lying down along her neck in a very distracting way. He wedged himself between the tiny hand-cleaner unit and the bulkhead to put more space between them, and Leia pretended not to notice the awkward contortion.
On March 4, another novel set in the same era will be released by Del Rey. Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey focuses on Han, and like Razor’s Edge, the scenes with Han and Leia are delightful.
Earlier this week news broke about the Star Wars Rebels character Kanan. In accompanying pieces at USA Today and IGN, the show’s executive producers and voice actor Freddie Prinze Jr. expressed their fondness and excitement for the show. As I connected with friends via text and social media about the news, I realized the emotion I felt was much like the first blush of attraction. Hopefully, over the next twenty months leading to the release of Episode VII, many of us will feel the excitement of exploring a new relationship, maybe even fall in love with Star Wars all over again?
Tricia Barr is the founder of FANgirl Blog and writes for Unbound Worlds, Star Wars Blog and Star Wars Insider. She also co-hosts the podcast Fangirls Going Rogue on the RebelForce Radio network. She recently published her novel Wynde, a space opera with hints of romance.
Chris Trevas has been working professionally in the Star Wars universe since 1995 illustrating everything from limited edition fine art prints to floaty pens. His numerous book projects include Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion and Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log. Chris works from his home studio in Beverly Hills, Michigan where he lives with his wife and three daughters.