- "I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second."
- ―Han Solo
Han Solo at Stars' End is the first novel of The Han Solo Adventures trilogy, written by Brian Daley. It was first released in hardcover format on March 12, 1979, and later in paperback on September 12 of that same year. A sequel, entitled Han Solo's Revenge, was published on October 12, 1979. The whole trilogy was reprinted together on April 22, 1992.
In 1980, a comic strip adaptation was written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. The strip was collected and colorized in three issues of Dark Horse Comics's Classic Star Wars in 1997 and then was re-released in trade paperback form later that year.
Han Solo trusts no one, and does no favors. But when the best illegal ship rebuilder in the galaxy disappears, Han and Chewbacca agree to go after him—after all, the Millennium Falcon needs some very special repairs. Their search pits them against powerful and ruthless enemies out to destroy them, and finally leads them to an airless speck of desolate asteroid—the Authority prison planet known as Stars' End.
- "Next time I fall for one of these tempting offers, sit on me till the urge passes."
- ―Han Solo, to Chewbacca
While in the process of ending their affairs with a loan shark named Ploovo Two-For-One, Han Solo and Chewbacca are informed by the Corporate Sector Authority's Security Police that the Millennium Falcon is not allowed to fly within the boundaries of Corporate Sector Authority space unless it is added to the Authority's Waivers List. They break the Falcon out of impoundment and make their way to a group of outlaw technicians headed by a man called Doc in hopes of procuring a Waiver and repairing some damage suffered by the Falcon during their last smuggling run. Upon landing at the outlaw techs' base of operations, they find Doc's daughter, Jessa—instead of Doc himself—in charge.
Jessa tells Han that Doc has disappeared and that she is willing to give him what he came there for despite the fact that she knows that Han isn't flush with money at the moment. They cut a deal in which Han and Chewbacca will extract some individuals from the agriworld of Orron III in exchange for repairs, upgrades and a Waiver for the Falcon. Since Orron III also serves as a base for one of the Authority's Data Centers, the techs begin work on disguising it so that it can slip in without alerting the watchful eyes of the Authority.
Before the work on the Falcon can be finished, however, the outlaw techs' base comes under attack by four Authority IRD starfighters. Because he is unable to leave before the Falcon's camouflage job is done, Han, along with Jessa and four other techs, fly against the Authority starfighters in outdated Z-95 Headhunters. Han, Jessa and the other pilots prevent the base from being destroyed, but they lose three of their own and the base takes some damage during the course of the dogfight.
The outlaw techs put their finishing touches on the Falcon, which is now camouflaged as part of a drone barge and Han and Chewbacca depart for Orron III. The techs send two droids with them to assist the passengers in infiltrating the Authority's data interfaces on Orron III. The first droid, Bollux, is an outmoded labor droid with a special hidden emplacement within his chest for the other droid, Blue Max. Blue Max is a state-of-the-art but immobile computer probe who relies upon Bollux to get around.
They land on Orron III undetected and meet with Rekkon, one of their passengers and a leader of a group of people who are trying to find loved ones who vanished after criticizing the Authority. Han, Chewbacca and the droids accompany Rekkon to the Data Center to pick up the Waiver for the Falcon and to meet the other members of Rekkon's group. During the ride, Rekkon confesses to Han that he had another reason for asking Jessa to get Han to help him: There is a traitor among the core members of his group, and he needs Han to discover who it is.
Once they reach Rekkon's office at the Data Center, Rekkon gives Han the Waiver and sets Blue Max upon the problem of where the Authority is holding the missing individuals. As Blue Max sorts out the data, Rekkon's companions arrive at his office. Torm—the first one to arrive—is a Human male from Kail who says that he suspects that his father and brother were kidnapped by the Authority. The next two are a Trianii female named Atuarre and her mute cub Pakka. They are both looking for her mate, who had been captured by the Authority and had never been heard from since. In Rekkon's case, his nephew was far too vocal in his criticism of the Authority and also disappeared without explanation.
Atuarre bears the news that they have lost contact with Engret, another member of the group and Rekkon comes to the conclusion that Engret has been silenced by the Authority. Shortly thereafter, Blue Max finishes his analysis of the data and copies it to a data plaque. He also informs them that the Authority's Security Police have been alerted to their presence within the Data Center. Following Han's advice, Blue Max activates a series of false alarms across Orron III to aid their escape from the Authority's forces.
After getting into a firefight with a group of Security Police, the group flees for the spaceport in a stolen skimmer with troopers pursuing them. Before they arrive at the spaceport, however, their pursuers manage to cause Han to crash the skimmer. Thinking quickly, Chewbacca takes Blue Max with him and hooks up the small computer to a large agrirobot. After the connection is made, however, Chewbacca is attacked by a group of troopers who manage to pull him off of the large harvesting machine. A larger group of troopers manage to subdue and capture him.
Han tries to run to his aid, but is prevented from throwing his life away by Rekkon, who disables him with a single blow. Blue Max does all that he can to help Chewbacca but the clumsiness of the harvester prevents him from doing little more than killing some troopers. He settles upon using it to provide transport to the spaceport for Han and Rekkon's group. They make it safely to the Falcon after Blue Max programs the harvester to run wild within the confines of the spaceport to provide another distraction for their escape.
With the Falcon still camouflaged as a drone barge, Han and Rekkon's group depart from Orron III. However, an obstacle in the form of the Shannador's Revenge, an Authority dreadnaught, still stands in their way. The Shannador's Revenge locks a tractor beam onto the drone barge that the Falcon is attached to, but Han—alone in the cockpit save for Bollux—finds a way to use that to his advantage. First, he empties thousands of tons of grain that had been loaded onto the barge during their brief stay on Orron III into the dreadnaught's path. He then reverses the barge's acceleration as he detaches the Falcon from the barge. The barge collides with the Shannador's Revenge, allowing the Falcon to escape to the relative safety of hyperspace.
Han leaves the cockpit and finds Rekkon's dead body slumped on the Falcon's gameboard. Han also finds the melted remnants of the data plaque that held the information pointing to the location of the Authority's detention facility. Figuring that everyone besides himself and the droids are suspects, Han disarms Torm, Atuarre and Pakka. He warns them that he will kill whoever provokes the slightest suspicion from him and then dismisses all of them to the cargo hold while he jettisons Rekkon's corpse. Han then discovers that in the last moments of his life, Rekkon had written the location of the secret detention facility on the gameboard: "Stars' End, Mytus VII." Han renders the words unreadable and decides to take up the deceased man's cause.
Han sets a trap involving the location of the detention facility for the traitor and causes Torm to out himself as the traitor. A scuffle ensues and Torm breaks free and tries to find anything that will serve as a weapon. He enters a compartment and realizes that it is the Falcon's emergency airlock. He tries to cut a deal with Han, but Han turns down his offer and ejects him into hyperspace without any protective gear.
The Falcon arrives in the Mytus system, but Han is unsure how to infiltrate Stars' End until the Falcon's communications system eavesdrops on a message from the Imperial Entertainers' Guild to the detention facility. The message states that the originally scheduled troupe was unable to come and that a replacement act would be scheduled immediately. Billing themselves as Madame Atuarre's Roving Performers, Han, Atuarre, Pakka and the droids land at Stars' End.
The group of ersatz entertainers are taken immediately to Vice President Hirken, head of the facility. During the course of their conversation with him, Han learns that Hirken was expecting them to bring a gladiator droid, a role for which Bollux is ill-suited. Adding further to the problem, Hirken's bodyguard, Uul-Rha-Shan, appears to be skeptical of their story. In order to buy more time and locate the prisoners, Han tells Hirken that Bollux had been damaged prior to their arrival at Stars' End and passes Blue Max off as a component that needs attention.
Hirken grants Han permission to make his repairs while Atuarre and Pakka perform for him and his wife. However, he grows impatient at Han's absence and decides that he will have Bollux destroyed by his state-of-the-art gladiator droid in retribution for what he believes to be a fraud perpetrated against him. To make things more interesting, Hirken has Bollux equipped with a simple handheld shield and sets his Mark X Executioner upon the old labor droid.
Meanwhile, Han is escorted to Stars' End's general maintenance section. Once there, he cons the technician who brought him there into revealing the location of the facility's central computer section and then knocks him out. After acquiring the man's identification, he carries Blue Max to the central computer section unmolested.
Blue Max taps into the Authority's network and after some searching, he discovers that Chewbacca is being held prisoner in a stasis booth—the same fate as the other lost ones Han asks Blue Max if he is able to deactivate the prison's defense systems. Blue Max says that he can't, since the primary control systems can only be accessed through Hirken's master-control unit. However, if the master-control unit can be deactivated, the secondary control systems—which Blue Max has access to—will take over. Han tells Blue Max to set up Stars' End for self-destruction in order to force Hirken to choose between letting the prisoners free or the deaths of everyone within the facility.
When he learns of Bollux's duel with the Mark X Executioner, Blue Max tells Han that they must intervene for Bollux's sake. Han disagrees and tells Blue Max to get on with his work. Blue Max, who has befriended Bollux, continues to refuse even in the face of threats of physical violence from Han and insists that there is time for the two of them to help Bollux. Han relents and takes Blue Max to the amphitheater where Bollux is facing the Executioner. In the process of getting to the amphitheater, Han encounters Atuarre and Pakka, who are on their way to the Falcon, and tells them of his plan. They then continue on their separate ways.
Coming into the amphitheater, Han and Blue Max find Bollux waging a losing battle against the Mark X Executioner. However, Blue Max manages to inform Bollux of the Executioner's one weakness and Bollux takes his advice. Dodging the Executioner's attacks, Bollux gets beneath the Executioner and sabotages its cooling circuitry. The Executioner, unable to reach Bollux, races around the arena and overheats in the process. The excess heat causes further damage to the Executioner's other components, which leads to it behaving erratically and its eventual self-destruction.
Enraged by the destruction of his toy, Hirken demands that Han agree to a duel with Uul-Rha-Shan. Believing his fate to be sealed, Han tricks his opponent into destroying the primary control systems, which results in the overload spiral that he and Blue Max had set up earlier and Stars' End's power plant explodes. However, Han had failed to take the combination of the facility's exterior deflector shields, its enhanced-bonding armor plate, anticoncussion field and the depleted overhead deflector shield. When the power plant exploded, these various factors, along with Mytus VII's weak gravity, caused Stars' End to be blown like a rocket from the planet's surface.
However, there is a limited time before the airborne prison facility must come crashing back down to Mytus VII. With Hirken and his subordinates still confused, Han, Bollux and Blue Max make their way down to the lower levels of Stars' End, to find Chewbacca and Doc—the one man who Han believes will be able to get everyone out of this mess. On the main prison level Han finds that quite a few of the prisoners have been freed from stasis due to the dwindling power supply, and he aids them in subduing their captors. He finds Chewbacca and Doc shortly thereafter and informs the grizzled outlaw tech about their current predicament.
Their only chance for survival of the impending crash is to get down to the engineering levels and re-energize Stars' End's anti-concussion field. Han and some other prisoners will try to hold Hirken and his forces at bay while Doc and others try to make their way down to the engineering section. However, Doc comes back without having fixed the anti-concussion field. He tells Han that Authority reinforcements have arrived at Stars' End from an assault craft that has docked at the tower's lower airlock to rescue Hirken.
Han decides that the only option left is for himself and the prisoners to rush the Authority forces on the upper levels and to take Hirken hostage. Just before they are about to do that, however, they find that Atuarre has docked the Falcon to the detention-level airlock. Not all of the prisoners can fit aboard the Falcon, but Atuarre had secured one of the facility's tunnel-tube junctions to the Falcon, and the Authority assault craft docked at Stars' End's lower airlock, nearly emptied of any Authority troops, serves as a convenient escape vessel.
While covering the evacuation of the remaining prisoners, Han discovers Bollux, who had been left behind. He helps the ancient droid up and then is fired upon by Uul-Rha-Shan. Bollux pushes Han out of the way and is hit in the head by the disruptor beam. With no time to spare, Han fires from the hip and kills Hirken's reptilian bodyguard. Han drags Bollux back to the tunnel-tube to the Falcon and receives help in doing so from Keeheen, Atuarre's mate.
Once Han gets inside the tube, Hirken tries to make it to the airlock alone, imploring Han to let him aboard. He is cut off in mid-sentence when he is shot in the back by his wife. Han seals the tube and detaches it, leaving them and the tower of Stars' End behind. The tower crashes to the surface of Mytus VII as the Falcon and the captured Authority assault ship escape safely.
The two ships land on the planet Urdur, the new site of the outlaw techs' base. Although Bollux's body is unsalvageable, Blue Max managed to save his personality, and Doc promises a new body for Bollux. Han becomes angry at Jessa when she merely thanks him verbally for risking his life to save her father and the others. She reminds him that he was only fulfilling his part of a deal, but stops him before he leaves. Jessa suggests that she and Han could strike another deal, listing various upgrades to the Falcon. Hearing this, Chewbacca becomes so happy that he kisses the Falcon's landing gear and then watches as Han and Jessa snuggle, walking away to discuss Han's end of the arrangement.
- ISBN 9780345282514; March 12, 1979; Del Rey; US hardcover
- (No ISBN) 3356; 1979; Del Rey; Science Fiction Book Club Edition
- ISBN 0-345-28355-4; October 12, 1979, Del Rey, 183-page paperback
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Notes and referencesEdit
- (1979 paperback)
- (1997 paperback)