Star Wars: The Cone Wars: The Pengalan Tradeoff
Author: Aaron Allston
Published in: Star Wars Insider #65
Reprinted in: Star Wars Hyperspace
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In case you havenít figured it out yet, Iím an avid reader of all things Star Wars. I subscribe to Star Wars Insider Magazine and have done so for many years. It was here that I first read short stories set in the Clone Wars era. One such story, The Pengalan Tradeoff by Aaron Allston, was so intriguing that I decided to keep it with my Star Wars reading collection.
The Pengalan Tradeoff takes place two months after the Battle of Geonosis and centers around Joram Kithe, an accountant assigned by Republic Intelligence to evaluate the combat effectiveness of a platoon of Clone Troopers during an assault on a Separatist diamond boron missile factory located on Pengalan IV. A self-proclaimed lazy coward, Joram never expected to do more than observe the troops in action, but the missile factory mission was actually a Separatist decoy set up to trap the Republic forces. After a horrific crash, Joram finds himself the only ranking officer in a severely depleted platoon of Clone Troopers. Upon discovering the location of the real factory, the mission becomes clear - it must be destroyed. Can Joram, a man with no military skills whatsoever, lead his men to victory or will his already decimated trooper force be wiped out of existence forever?
What I found so interesting about this particular short story is that Aaron Allston took great pains to make Clone Troopers more human. Prior to this story, Clone Troopers were seen as little more than Jango Fett clones, all exactly the same with little personality and no variance among them. In this story, each trooper is slightly different. They have feelings, although they may be reluctant to show them. This is also the first time that the troopers go by anything but call numbers. The nicknames given them by Joram help to differentiate one trooper from another based on who they are or their specialties. This, in turn, makes them more human for the readers. This is no longer a non-thinking fighting force of drones, but human beings dedicated to winning the battle at hand.
Another thing the reader takes away from this tale is that every being has an important role in life. Joram believed he was insignificant in the grand scheme of this war because his specialty was in accounting. He believed himself cowardly and lazy, but in the end, he was among the most courageous, using the skills he had to help the troopers complete their mission and fighting side by side with them to reach their goal. Extreme circumstances can be very telling. They can turn macho men to mice, geeks into heroes and cowards into leaders.
The Pengalan Tradeoff was first published in Issue #65 of Star Wars Insider Magazine. Of course, that issue was released in January 2006 and may be rather difficult to find, but this is a story worth checking out. So, if you canít find Issue #65, I suggest you join the Star Wars Hyperspace Fan Club as the story can be found there in its entirety.