In Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn, It’s time for our heroes to step up and break through the morass of red tape, fear, and political hatreds stirred up first by the discovery of the Caamas document and then by the alleged re-appearance of Thrawn. (This is in Specter of the Past. Read that first! The review is here.) They do a masterful job. The story weaves through clever tactics and realistic biases you might expect in a galaxy far far away. Our heroes grow in the story and have to risk everything in order to succeed.
The amazing thing about this story is how it not only plays into the original trilogy characters natural progression, but even contrasts and compares with the as yet unreleased prequels.
The Original Movie Heroes
Han and Lando
I like how the characters from the movies are all very in character for this point in their lives. Seeing Han and Lando risk everything for the New Republic shows how far they’ve come from their wild outlaw days. Seeing others manage to outmaneuver them just proves how dangerously clever, well informed, and well supplied the enemy is.
Luke and Leia
Luke and Leia are very well done in Vision of the Future. They have both grown in their roles as Jedi. Both are being guided by the Force. That is saying a great deal, as Leia herself never formally finished her training.
Leia is truly being a Jedi as well as a high Councilor. She is willing to risk everything, her position, her husband, even her life, to do what is right and stop a massacre. Her actions are truly that of a Jedi. She is using the Force as her guide, and when it fails, its due in part to her own emotional state. Nonetheless, she is where she needs to be at a critical moment to ensure the galaxy has a shot at peace.
Luke Skywalker is perhaps the most fascinating element. This story was written before the prequels. Everything he is here is based on the original movies and the stories that were based on them that are, at this point, part of his history. Yet the Luke we see here is incredibly like the Anakin Skywalker revealed by the prequels. His temptation is to think that because he has this power, it is his responsibility to save everyone. He easily forgets that other people have a say in this too. Mara Jade and a few others are finally helping him see this.
The Original Characters and their Visions of the Future
Mara Jade has reached a climax in her journey and is finally at a point to admit to herself some things she had been refusing to consider. She also blasts Luke with some facts about her opinion of his past actions that make him stop and think. I don’t agree entirely with her assessment, (it seems kind of arrogant how she presumes everything Luke did was based on ego) but I do agree he needed someone who really was willing to challenge him.
Grand Admiral Pellaeon
Pellaeon meanwhile is proving that some Imperial officers do have wisdom and honor. He is determined to do what he feels best for the Empire even if he doesn’t like it. He is a direct contrast to those whose only goal is revenge on what they still call the Rebellion and it’s “alien loving scum.”
The information broker and fringe criminal leader has his own future in limbo as he too, is on a quest to face the past. With the former Mystril Shada and the fate of a galaxy at stake, he is off to face a man he’s long feared. In the end, he’s going to end up with some life changes of his own.
It’s really amazing, as I said, that this book so accurately connects to the prequels even when they were not out yet. The bias revealed toward clones makes perfect sense given the revelation in Revenge of the Sith that they ushered in an Empire.
Luke and Anakin
Luke Skywalker’s behavior in this is partly to explain what the author clearly disagrees with: certain elements of other stories such as his appearing to go to the Dark Side in Dark Empire, as well as elements of the Jedi Academy trilogy. I don’t really agree with the latter one. But the end result is a Luke who has grown into a man with similar traits and temptations as Anakin, yet hasn’t quite succumbed. In a sense this is a vision of a past that might have been, as much as a vision of the future. The influence of other people in their lives has everything to do with the result.
Vision of the Future is the Sequel to Specter of the Past. It was the last adult novel published by Bantam books. It references events in Truce at Bakura, Dark Empire, Jedi Academy, Children of the Jedi, Darksaber and Planet of Twilight. I don’t always agree with the opinion the author has of all of those, but the opinion is presented by Mara Jade. In other words, its an in universe opinion and what that in universe character doesn’t know about those events can easily explain away any discrepancies without diminishing the other stories.
I’ve already noted Vision of the Future was written before the prequels and surprisingly is accurate at reflecting them. I didn’t check the dates in these (as to Clone Wars references). It is known that the original idea for the Clone Wars given the authors was off (perhaps not knowing the original outlines suggested the first movie would be before the war had something to do with that.)
Vision of the Future does mention Yoda on Dagobah. I don’t consider this a conflict (in spite of what I suspect the wiki says.) There is no particular reason to think Yoda had never been to Dagobah before his exile. In fact, there is no reason Yoda should know of this out of the way planet and chosen it for his exile if he hadn’t been there for some reason. It’s hardly a world the Jedi would be sent to on an investigation or diplomatic mission. So the Bfasshi Jedi explanation is as good as any.
In the end, Vision of the Future and it’s predecessor Specter of the Past, do a wonderful job of leading the story of the post Palpatine Empire and it’s remnants to a head and giving our heroes a nice stopping point. The Del Rey era is largely a massive commitment but this story can easily leave you with a nice ‘happily ever after’ point if you prefer. The prequel foreshadowing (or rearshadowing) is probably unintentional. But it does reveal a ‘might have been’ for Anakin by comparing and contrasting Luke in this.
- Truce at Bakura (Gariel Captison)
- Thawn Trilogy
- Heir to the Empire
- Dark Force Rising
- The Last Command
- Dark Empire
- Dark Empire 1
- Dark Empire 2
- Empire’s End
- Jedi Academy
- Jedi Search
- Dark Apprentice
- Champions of the Force
- Callista Trilogy
- Children of the Jedi
- Planet of Twilight
- Hammertong, the tale of the Tonnika Sisters (short story)
- Outbound Flight (Jorj Car’das)