I’ve said it before, but I’m a sucker for love stories, and “The Impossible Flight of Ash Angels” turns out to be one, about an unlikely character – the A-wing pilot whose sacrifice defeated the Super Star Destroyer at Endor. Punch it!
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Raw Episode Transcript:
Hey, Rebel Rouser. I’m Allen Voivod, and this is Star Wars 7 by 7, your daily dose of Star Wars joy. Thank you so much for joining me for it. The Impossible Flight of Ash Angels is the story we’re going to talk about today, and it features Arvel Crynyd. Arvel is the leader of Green squadron, the A-wing pilots at the Battle of Endor. He’s the guy who famously was out of control in his A-wing, crashed into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, and set it on a collision course with the Death Star, which was a huge turning point in the Battle of Endor. I want to know what he thought when he heard Admiral Ackbar say, “It’s a trap!” but we don’t have that in this part of the story.
Actually, the story, in that sense, is out of order, I guess, in the collection, because generally speaking, the collection of short stories From a Certain Point of View goes through the chronological events of the story, at least. When we meet that character, it is placed within that specific time frame. For the part that takes place during Return of the Jedi, the moments that Arvel is reflecting back on his life and how he ended up in this moment, that’s happening before they’ve actually gone to Endor and then they are arriving at Endor.
But most of the story takes place before Return of the Jedi as he is reflecting on how he got there. I’ll tell you, this particular story, I’ve said it on the podcast before, I’m a sucker for love stories, and this one ultimately turns out to be a love story. I’m going to try and pronounce the author’s name once, Markieke Nijcamp. Oh, gosh. Well, Marieke has written a fantastic, beautiful story. Arvel, who was working for the Bacta Guild, sees pilots training and against his better judgment, suggests that, Hey, I can probably teach you how to do barrel rolls and finds out that the flight instructors there are teaching rebel pilots. That’s how Arvel thinks of himself for quite a long time that he’s not a rebel, that he’s just a flight instructor. But we get stories about how he slowly became a part of the Rebel Alliance. There’s a name check situation for going to Hoth and meeting Alliance High Command and the Alliance flight Instructors for the first time, as opposed to having been off at the edge of the Western Reaches, basically training anybody who came through there looking to potentially join up with the Rebellion but needed some piloting skills before they could even be a part of things.
And there’s a bartender that he has occasion to meet and see every so often when he has to be there for work, as it were, and that bartender ends up following him and he joins in the whole Rebellion stuff, ends up being a chef in the Rebellion, and the two of them end up having a daughter together.
The story’s title is actually based on some birds that are on Sullust that have no feathers, which is apparently a very rare thing in the galaxy far, far away. According to Arvel, it seems impossible according to the laws of physics, that they should be able to fly, but they are able to. And one of the things that goes on in the story where he just judges people by what they’re able to do and the condition that they keep themselves in, like he’s admiring the Ash Angels. But he also first got involved with the rebels because even though their ships seemed to be cobbled together from bits and pieces of scrap and different models of ships and whatnot, they were still immaculately, pristinely kept, lovingly maintained. That was how he judged that these were quality people, which was a fun thing.
There’s a recurring line throughout the short story about how he doesn’t believe in anything, and that gets brought up once and another time and just to reinforce things as you see things changing. But at the end, there’s just this beautiful bit in there where it says that he believes in the beauty of the galaxy and the people who kept his galaxy in the palm of their hands. He believed in hope, even in the face of cruel impossibility. So in the end, he does find that he has something to believe in.
And having done a TEDx talk on the subject of hope, I found that line particularly amazing and also just considering what we have going on in the world right now. Hope is not an easy thing to come by, and it’s something that we have to cultivate. So yeah, I really enjoyed this story. And as we have done these little four-story runs of looks at the Return of the Jedi From a Certain Point of View collection and I’ve been picking my favorite stories of the four-story run. I haven’t read through all four stories that we’re going to cover this particular stretch, but this one is already a definitely candidate for my favorite in that regard.
The Impossible Flight of Ash Angels is the story, and that is going to do it for this episode of the podcast. It just remains for me to say thank you so much for joining me for it, as always, and may the Force be with you wherever in the world you may be.