Well by now the word has spread throughout the fandom that another Star Wars Expanded Universe author is gone. It’s a grievous thing anytime that happens, but this one stings me as Michael Reaves was by far my favorite Del Rey era author, based on how many of his books I absolutely loved and reread.
Naturally I didn’t love every detail or everything in every book, but his whole slant on the galaxy was unique. Somehow, he explored aspects of the prequel era and even into the Original Trilogy era from unique points of view. I was also pretty surprised to see how many TV shows I’d loved as a child, both cartoons and family types that he was involved with.
I can’t say I remember those two Ewok cartoons Mr. Reaves wrote, as those never got a hard media rerelease at least that I’ve found (I believe some of those were released in the PAL format only, rather than the American VHS.) Nor do I plan to hit Disney + for a temporary ‘fix’ to see them. But the Droids : Tail of the Roon Comets episode introduced Mungo Baobob and got that whole story arc rolling. The DVD release did at least include that arc, and The Phantom Menace actually had a character named into the Baobob family tree in the background of the Naboo victory scene.
The first time Michael Reaves really got my notice though, was Darth Maul Shadowhunter. You can read that review here, but I was surprised that I enjoyed it because I prefer the heroes to win. In this case, he managed to write a story where even though you know Maul has to win (as it’s right before the Phantom Menace) but made me love the new characters and feel they didn’t entirely lose either. Their legacy rolls on throughout the rest of his Clone Wars and into the Dark Times stories.
The character I5-YQ is the most interesting protocol droid since C-3PO and he manages to link each of those older books together. His vested interest in doing right by his old partner, his friendship and uniqueness are show stealers. Other characters he invents like Den Dhur and Uli Divinian also have continued future roles, though even those that don’t show up in other stories leave an impact on the galaxy.
His characters explore the seedier aspects of the galaxy. The under-levels of Coruscant, the fringe with it’s less than noble elements, and the ugly destruction of a war where sometimes the battle isn’t about right and wrong but about who benefits. He uses old characters (Xixor of Black Sun, Dash Rendar) and gives them background bits of stories while introducing new areas of our very old galaxy. After all the down and out types exist in all eras.
Reaves also took other people’s stories and rolled nicely along with them. Prince Xixor isn’t the dark Prince of Black Sun yet, but an up and coming ruthless threat long before Anakin Skywalker fell to the Dark Side and ticked him off. Barriss Offee had been established as a Jedi Padawan and rare healer in Alan Dean Foster’s The Approaching Storm, he expanded on her skills as both the unique Force power, trained doctor, Jedi investigator and even gave her a bit of combat action.
But the biggest most challenging meld of stories had to be Death Star. There were a lot of stories to interweave here, from the Maw installation and Governor Tarkin, to Darth Vader and the numerous stories involving Death Star Plans and Operation Skyhook. On top of that Michael Reaves had to weave his own story of those who were both willing workers for the Empire, unwilling ones, and those who had no idea what they were getting into and desperately wanted out when they realized what it was.
Michael Reaves Star Wars Stories:
- Droids: The Tail of the Roon Comet
- Ewoks: The Raich and Hard Sell
- Intermezzo – Star Wars Insider (set during Medstar duology)
- And Leebo Makes Three – Star Wars Insider
- Darth Maul Shadowhunter
- Medstart 1 Battlesurgeons
- Medstar 2 Jedi Healer
- Coruscant Nights 1 Jedi Twilight
- Coruscant Nights 2 Street of Shadows
- Coruscant Nights 3 Patterns of Force
- The Last Jedi
- Death Star
You can read an old interview with him on the Web Archive off the old Star Wars Suduvu Del Rey site.