X-Wing: Solo Command
[Aaron Allston, Bantam Books, 1999]


The New Republic's military faces a terrible new threat, this time from within its own ranks. Admiral Ackbar is victim of an unsuccessful assassination attempt by a member of his own staff, which is followed by a spate of similar incidents across the Republic.

Temporarily reassigned from Special Ops, the Wraiths join the Rogues on Han Solo's flagship as they try to hunt down Zinsj himself. This cues a couple of cameo appearances from Han and Chewie, Allston's first handling of "big 7" movie characters, which the author handles reasonably well.

The Warlord is not pleased with the Wraiths' interference in his plans, and carefully lays a trap for them. The bait - the lab where Piggy was modified!

And once the secret of the lab is discovered, Lieutenant Kettch makes a reappearance!

Lara's past as a former Imperial Agent is eventually uncovered, and this leads to the book's dramatic climax.


The action scenes are well-handled, as ever, but the fact remains that there are no real consequences to the violence. Several of the X-Wing pilots perish in this book, but these deaths have remarkably little effect on the Rogues and Wraiths. In an electronic battlefield where killing an "enemy" human being [or nonhuman being] is like playing a computer flight-simulator game, a certain amount of callousness to the "enemy" is to be expected; however, such coldness to one's friends and colleagues is hardly realistic.

This book makes me think of Terry Pratchett's pacifist claptrap "Only you can save Mankind", where a young boy named Johnny realises that the "enemy" are people too, and that killing them [even in a flight-simulator] is wrong.

These 2 books can be paired, just as Heinlein's militarist "Starship Troopers" fits well with Harry Harrison's pacifist "Stainless Steel Rat" series - one is the antidote to the other. My personal opinion is that both the militarists and pacifists are self-righteous in extremis - certainly, war and violence are a part of human nature, probably the better part, but the militarists seem to think that violence is the ONLY answer to EVERYTHING and the "enemy" all deserve what they get, ideally a slow painful death with no mercy, even if the enemy are MORE civilised than the "heroes"!!!

On the bright side, the humour (specifically the "Lieut. Kettch" subplot) is great, and certainly provides something that Stackpole's books lacked.

Rating: 85%

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