Death Star is a novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Perry also wrote Shadows of the Empire. Reaves wrote a few episodes of the old Droids and Ewoks television shows, as well as Darth Maul Shadow Hunter and the Coruscant Nights trilogy. Prior to Death Star, the two authors worked together to write the Medstar Duology. They re-use characters and details from one anothers' previously-written works with some regularity.The novel follows the lives of a selection of characters who end up working on the Death Star late in its completion, and after that. They include Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, Admiral Motti, a surgeon, a Force-Sensitive stormtrooper, a bartender, a librarian, a bouncer, a TIE pilot, a wrongly accused convict, a political prisoner who was an architect, and the Death Star's lead gunner.Interestingly, there is no overall villain of the book. The Rebellion is certainly out there, weighing on people's minds, but aside from the minor role that Leia Organa plays, none of them are named or given much notoriety, much less become a viewpoint character. Some characters oppose each other — Motti does not like Vader, for instance — but until the end most of them are at least somewhat civil with each other. They're all more or less on the same side, after all.
There was an old proverb his grandfather had taught him when he'd been a boy: Take care what you wish for, Tenn- you might get it. Now he understood exactly what that meant. He had wanted to fire the big gun, and he had gotten to do just that. The only man in the galaxy who had shot it for real, at real targets, and look what it had brought him: misery beyond his ugliest dreams.
Being Evil Sucks: Tenn Graneet is the one who pulled the trigger sending Despayre and Alderaan to their deaths. While Despayre unnerves him, he can at least partially rationalize it what with it being full of convicts declared too dangerous to be held locally. When he terminates Alderaan, however, he sinks into a deep, deep depression feeling that death would be too good for him.
Big Bad: Cleanly averted as there is no overall villain. The closest thing the Rebellion is to this is a recurring antagonist.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The smuggler is Zelosian, and although he looks like a green-eyed human, he photosynthesizes.
Catch Phrase: Lieutenant Vil Dance often thinks or says a variation of "Never happen!", as in "it will never", when he thinks of failing in his duty.
Chekhov's Gun: In addition to the obligatory "What the hell is that thermal exhaust port doing there, and isn't it a blatant Weaksauce Weakness?" comment, there's Uli's research into midichlorians as they relate to Nova's Blink. He even forgot all about it.
Continuity Nod: Quite a few to A New Hope. Perhaps the best is the explanation for why the gunner said "Stand by. Stand by..."
Delaying Action/You Shall Not Pass: Nova avoided the death he'd foreseen in one dream by not chasing too closely after Han Solo. But at the end of the novel he accepts another death he'd foreseen by fighting off other stormtroopers alongside a bouncer to let the other defectors get to the shuttle.
Defector From Evil: Why some of the surviving characters decide to join the Rebellion. They know nothing about it, but it's got to be better than the government that decides to annihilate inhabited planets as a test.
Dreaming of Things to Come: When he transfers onto the Death Star, Nova's Force-Sensitivity starts giving him horrible, horrible dreams that all end up coming true, to one extent or another.
Drink Order: Only to be expected when one character is a bartender.
Ensemble Cast: One of the distinguishing things about the book is that rather than revolving around at most three main protagonists like most of the EU, it instead has a large, well-developed cast of supporting characters ranging from Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin on down to one of the stormtroopers.
Fan Disservice: Motti, "stripped to", well, anything, but the use of the word "strap" makes it sound like the GFFA version of a jockstrap.
Fanservice: Twi'lek "micro" clothing leaves readers wondering what it is.
Foregone Conclusion: You've seen A New Hope. You know that the Death Star destroys Alderaan, Leia escapes, and the Death Star is blown up by a brave Rebel pilot.
Heel Realization: Every Imperial viewpoint character except Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Admiral Motti gets this at the destruction of Alderaan. The ones who weren't in the Imperial military, who just worked for it, tended to get it earlier.
Improbable Piloting Skills: Darth Vader. The TIE pilot saw him fly once and promised himself that he'd commit suicide if Vader ever came after him; late in the novel the pilot and his new defecting friends flee in a shuttle, are pursued, and the pilot manages to not get shot down just long enough that Vader's attention turned to the Rebels.
Interspecies Romance: Memah Roothes (the bartender) and Celot Ratua Dil (the convict); also Villian Dance (the pilot) and Teela Kaarz (the architect). Interestingly, while Memah is a Twi'lek, Ratua is a very humanlikeplant alien, and Teela is from a near-human species (Star Wars lingo for a Human Subspecies resulting from divergent evolution of human colonies).
Men Are the Expendable Gender: Thirteen characters in the Dramatis Personae (ten male, three female). three males and three females survive. Admittedly some characters are Doomed by Canon - or saved by it in the case of Darth Vader and Admiral Daala, but even amongst the 'new' characters the male death rate is 60%.
Mind Probe: Vader does this casually to the architect, who senses him, freaks out, and closes down. That she was able to shut him out mildly impresses him.
My God, What Have I Done?: Tenn Graneet has a major one of these. Some time after shooting down a shuttle of escaping convicts, and then after killing Rebels in X-Wings, the TIE pilot, Dance, has a quieter one.
[Graneet] couldn't stop thinking about it. He didn't believe he would ever be able to stop thinking about it. The dead would haunt him, forever. How could a man live with that?
"How was I to know your kind can't eat sweetweed?" "You could have looked it up. You plan to date outside your species, it's on you to know what's poison and what's not." "You're never going to let me forget it, are you?" "Not a chance, Green-Eyes."
Redemption Equals Death: Tenn Graneet delays firing the superlaser at Yavin IV long enough for Luke to fire a proton torpedo. He's also smart about it. He knows that if he refused, he would be executed, and they would find another person to do the job, and the replacement may just pull the trigger without hesitation. So when he kept standing by, he was hoping that whatever plan the Rebels had to destroy the Death Star would succeed.
Resignations Not Accepted: Doctor Uli Divini has been in Imperial service since before Palpatine's New Order, due to the Imperial Military Stop Loss Order, or IMSLO.
(IMSLO is) A retroactive order mandating that, no matter when you'd been conscripted, once you were in, you were in for as long as they wanted you - or until you got killed. Either way, it was kiss your planned life goodbye. Imperial Military Stop Loss Order. An alternative translation, scrawled no doubt on a 'fresher wall somewhere by a clever graffitist, had caught on over the last few years: "I'm Milking Scragged; Life's Over."
The superlaser is retconned from a pure directed energy weapon into a partially technobabble one that also caused a sizable chunk of Alderaan's mass to transit into hyperspace. The Planar Shockwave added in the '97 Special Edition is apparently what the resulting hyperspace ripple looks like from realspace. (At time of writing this was still overridden by the Star Wars IV novelization, but Lord only knows what the correct version is now.)
Retirony: Old-school Admiral Helaw, a man with standards who'd take a beam to the chest rather than allow it to get you In the Back, planned to retire as soon as this project was finished. A certain amount of time was spent building him up as cautious, reliable, and Admiral Motti's confidant. And then he died in an act of sabotage.
Rock Beats Laser: Admiral Helaw (one of Motti's old friends) talks about this hardcore master marksman who would often throw himself into the fray with his troops. Helaw's friend is about to gun down a charging pirate when his gun jams and he gets unceremoniously shanked by a sharpened piece of junk. Helaw relates this story as a warning against hubris.
Sergeant Rock: Despite not being in the Army, Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet certainly fits the bill.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: A sort of odd example. Uli often thinks back to the young Jedi he knew twenty years ago during the Clone Wars, who died in Order 66. He's not sure if he loved her, but her death left him badly shaken, and he tries not to think of her too often. When Princess Leia is taken on board the Death Star and tortured, he's summoned to tend to her and is struck by the various ways in which she's like that Jedi. Later his friends refer to Leia as Uli's girlfriend, and he tiredly says the trope name.
There's also a clever reference to the singleplayer of Star Wars Battlefront 2 snuck in. There are rumors of an escape attempt by the prisoners being held on board the station. Memah Roothes overhears a conversation about it. The first guy says that he heard nine prisoners broke out, led by a Jedi. The other guy (who happens to be Tenn Graneet) says that Jedi are kind of scarce, so that's not too likely. Then he says that he heard that it was fifty prisoners, all of whom were captured rebels, and that they were led by five Jedi, and then they took over the superlaser and started blowing up Star Destroyer after Star Destroyer. Tenn knows that part is impossible, being the guy whose job it is to fire the superlaser and thus knowing firsthand that it isn't working yet, but he says "Why let facts get in the way of a good story?" They go on to joke that eventually the story will become so embellished that people will be saying there was a whole Rebel army on board trying to blow up the station, and that it took the 501st to stop them. (In the video game, there were tons of prisoners, all rebels and all with guns, led by one Jedi, who still had his lightsaber. The 501st did happen to be on board the station at the time and was tasked with stopping them. They didn't try to blow up the station or blast Star Destroyers, but they did try to destroy the superlaser and escape with a copy of the Death Star plans.)
At one point, Tenn Graneet is walking down a corridor and sees none other than Darth Vader up ahead, walking in the other direction. The corridor is narrow enough that one or the other is going to have to move out of the way, and Tenn wonders if he should step aside or just walk toward Vader until he moves out of the way, as that's a common game in the Imperial Navy to see who backs down first. (You don't pull it on superior officers for obvious reasons, but since Vader technically isn't part of the navy, Tenn doesn't see him as a superior.) Graneet decides at the last second that he had better move to let Vader pass, and thus avoids becoming a victim of Too Dumb to Live. Where's the shout out here? Well, as Vader walks by Tenn his cape brushes against Tenn's arm and almost gets caught on Tenn's chrono. (Wristwatch.) Tenn belatedly realizes that if he hadn't stepped aside he would probably be dead now and, moreover, he almost became the man who tugged on Darth Vader's cape.
Talk to the Fist: Those two contractors from Alderaan are kriffing sick of gloating Imps.
Technobabble: A thankfully short explanation of the process of the destruction of Alderaan is given by Tenn Graneet, who is more in horror of the fact that he just sent several billion innocent people to their deaths.
Tested On Humans: The Death Star was test-fired on Despayre. Neither the convicts nor the guards were evacuated beforehand.
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Nova Stihl is badly shaken after Alderaan, the deaths of billions of innocent civilians of all ages, enough so that he concludes he has to try to prevent something like that from happening again.
Nova could fight a room full of men straight-up, face-to-face, and if he had to kill half of them to survive, he'd do it. But he hadn't signed on to slaughter children in their beds.