Read an exclusive 'Star Wars' excerpt of the anthology 'From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back'

"From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back" goes deeper into the stories of our favorite characters from the second "Star Wars" film.
"From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back" goes deeper into the stories of our favorite characters from the second "Star Wars" film. (Image credit: Del Rey Books)

Back on May 21, 1980, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" zoomed into theaters with its old-fashioned space opera thrills, continuing the saga that started with "Star Wars: A New Hope" three years earlier.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of director Irvin Kershner's fantastic follow-up, a new anthology book titled "From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back" (Del Rey Books, 2020) launched on Nov. 10 to celebrate the blockbuster film's lasting legacy. 

Related: The greatest 'Star Wars' movie plot twists of all time

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars) | $24.48 on Amazon

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars) | <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"">$24.48 on Amazon
Get the inside story of your favorite characters from "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" in this anthology book.

This hefty 576-page hardcover is filled with literary reimaginings of memorable supporting "Star Wars" heroes, villains, droids, monsters, and aliens from the movie written by an all-star roster of 40 inspired storytellers — and we're serving up an exclusive excerpt from author Mike Chen's Palpatine-centric story, "Disturbance."

"From A Certain Point Of View" also showcases additional contributions by bestselling authors and acclaimed artists like Cavan Scott, Austin Walker, Michael Moreci, Gary Whitta, Jim Zub, Hank Green, Tracy Deonn, Mark Oshiro, Adam Christopher, Delilah Dawson, Alexander Freed, John Jackson Miller, Anne Toole, and many more.

All participating writers have generously waived compensation for their tales and their proceeds will be donated to First Book, a nonprofit providing new books and learning materials to educators and organizations serving children in need.

"The idea of writing Palpatine was too enticing," Chen "Especially considering that his moment in "ESB" is such a huge turning point for the saga — it's the moment that the past collides with the present, where Vader's allegiances and motivations are truly put to the test. So to get inside his head for such a thing — and, as a huge fan of the prequels and "Clone Wars," to be able to weave connective tissue across the saga — it was really "go big or go home." 

Related: The greatest 'Star Wars' villains of all time

For Chen, "The Empire Strikes Back" is the linchpin of the entire saga. 

"Not only does it expand the mythos in nearly unlimited directions, it changes the scope of the series from rebellion space adventure to a very personal family story (within a rebellion space adventure)," he adds. "That bit of redirection adds so many more layers to the characters and the world, and it builds the foundation for pretty much everything that happens after.

"I was two when it came out, so I just missed it in the theaters, though I do remember specifically sometime around that era being in a Toys R Us and throwing a fit to get the small Hoth playset with the rubber tauntaun that had "open belly" slit in it to stuff your figures."

Now leap into our exclusive excerpt for Mike Chen's "Disturbance" as found in "From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back."

Emperor Palpatine takes a starring role in "Disturbance," a tale from the anthology "From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back." (Image credit: Del Rey Books)

Emperor Palpatine felt a great disturbance in the Force. 

It erupted, clear as a ship emerging from hyperspace, sending shock waves through the dark and the light, the cold and the flame. He closed his eyes, and despite being physically surrounded by pitch black, doing so gave him sight. 

He was no longer seated in the cold lightless chamber hidden far below the former Jedi Temple, a place he used to deepen his mastery over the dark side. Instead he felt the sheer violence of the Force, the rise and fall of its infinite currents, something only a true Sith Lord would dare to invite in. 

The Jedi, in their ancient foolish ways, had wasted their lives, even their Order, concerned with their connection to the Force. Symbiosis. Flow. Such primitive idealism.

That was why they went extinct. The Force was never elegant or luminous, at least not for those that saw the entire scope of possibilities. The Jedi, with their myopic commitment to life of all things, only experienced a sliver of it. But the dark side demanded more. It worked amid the chaotic ocean of the Force, the very embodiment of life and death, past and future, everything and nothing. There was no symbiosis to it, only a never-ending battle for control over both the shadow and the light. Only then was it possible to bend it to one's will, to exploit its potential into the most powerful path.

But when a strong enough disturbance roared from the turbulence, the Force shook free. For only a second, perhaps a mere flash. Some might have felt a shadow of fear upon recognizing the disturbance, but Palpatine knew better than to ever give in to something as trivial as emotions. Those types of risks were shed long ago, in another lifetime. All he cared about was the source of the disturbance. Because when the dark side loosened its grip, only one thing had to be done:

To fight back.

To tame it. And conquer it.

Some time had passed since a disturbance erupted with this magnitude, when a spike in the Force let the galaxy slip from Palpatine's oversight. That had been a tiny blink, the slightest movements of one being's finger. But in that instance, the finger pulled the trigger at a very specific time, flying at a very specific velocity and altitude, thus allowing proton torpedoes to launch and hurl through a small exhaust port.

One moment of precision. How that spike came to be, Palpatine remained unsure. Only vague certainties appeared despite his efforts. There was a pilot. One in the Rebellion. One that flew an X-wing during that battle. One that pulled that trigger.

But that pilot's connection to the Force? It remained a mystery, even up until moments ago. 

Then everything changed.

Because as Palpatine felt the great disturbance, he gave in to the chaos, riding through the Force's crashing waves and underlying slipstreams until the source revealed itself. An energy rippled outward, a frequency that answered one question and created another.

This was indeed connected to that rebel pilot from three years ago. And yet there was more.

The Force surged, something gathering defenses around the disturbance, pushing all who dared approach away. But Palpatine fought back, clawing his way to the eye of the storm, step by step. The current retaliated, shielding itself like a sun-dragon guarding its treasures with all the might of an exploding star.

But the dark side was too strong.

Palpatine was too strong.

Sheer will powered Palpatine through as it always did, fending off the determination of someone or something wanting to hide this, a secret held so tightly that the very desire to protect it gave itself away, if only for a blink.

Much as the Force spoke to the rebel pilot pulling the trigger, it revealed itself to Palpatine here. Not by guiding the launch of torpedoes, but with a vision.

What Palpatine saw in the Force should have frightened him.

On the floor of his office in the Imperial capital lay the bodies of two Royal Guards, their severed red helmets tossed across the space. And next to them, a figure stood.

Stoic. Intimidating. Cold.

Just as the Sith of legend, with power emanating from its very breath.

The Sith, after all, always attempted a coup. It was the way of things. 

This figure remained at attention, the crimson glow of a drawn lightsaber reflecting off panoramic transparisteel. Shadows cast over the figure's hooded face, a brief glance enough to show that it was a young man; not an old wizard like Dooku, not covered in demonic tattoos like Maul, and not a lumbering clash of organic and mechanical like Vader. 

Only, it seemed, a boy.

"From A Certain Point Of View: The Empire Strikes Back" is available now from Del Rey books. 

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.