By George Bate
A morally questionable archaeologist that embodies the term organized chaos, while having a hell of a time and conversing with the likes of Darth Vader and even Emperor Palpatine himself?!? Count us in. Sarah Kuhn’s Doctor Aphra audiobook drama takes on a new life with the upcoming scriptbook version of the story published by Del Rey. The exciting and engrossing script follows the titular character soon after the destruction of the first Death Star. Aphra is on a job and suddenly finds herself in peril, only to be saved by none other than the dark lord of the Sith Darth Vader. This rescue comes at a cost, however, as Aphra is recruited by Vader and soon finds herself wrapped up in a conflict with galaxy-wide implications.
Following Dooku: Jedi Lost, Doctor Aphra marks the second script adaptation of an original audio drama released by Penguin Random House’s Del Rey. Similar to Cavan Scott’s audio drama turned script, the script adaptation of author Sarah Kuhn’s work really adds a different dimension to the previously told story. For those who are eager to get their hands on any and all Star Wars content like us, it’s really neat to take in a story in an alternate medium, similar to how the saga films are always furthered by their novelizations. Indeed, reading a scripted drama feels like a relatively novel way (pun intended) to immerse oneself within the Star Wars universe and, in the case of Kuhn’s work, we were all for it.
The script, as is its audiobook predecessor, covers events seen in the 2015 Marvel comics Star Wars and Star Wars: Darth Vader. In this sense, Doctor Aphra is a great entry point for newcomers to one of the best characters to be introduced in extended canon in recent years. The story is entirely told from Aphra’s perspective and, as such, the reader really gets inside the wacky, adventurous, brilliant mind of our hero throughout her escapades. Aphra is an immediately likable and relatable character, in large part due to Kuhn’s engaging dialogue and the emotional undercurrent running throughout the entire project. And, from Aphra’s unique perspective, we also get some insight into the inner-workings and struggles of Darth Vader as he struggles with his past traumas while operating under the iron grip of Palpatine. There’s an intriguing juxtaposition running throughout the script in regards to the ways in which Vader and Aphra are grappling with their pasts, but don a mask (in one way literal, and in another metaphorical) to persevere forward.
Beyond the character work, it’s really interesting for the reader to go along with Aphra on this journey as major events occur and revelations unfold. For those who are familiar with the Marvel comics or audiobook, these events and revelations won’t come as a surprise, but are, nonetheless, still gripping to behold. One of the best aspects of canon material outside of films and television is its ability to add details that enhance your perception of characters and events seen elsewhere, and Doctor Aphra certainly does that. Expect plenty of your favorite characters to pop up in this drama in fun and unexpected ways.
It’s also important to note that Aphra’s burgeoning romance with Sana Starros is explored in the script. Beyond being notable in its brilliant representation of an LGBTQ+ relationship in the Star Wars relationship, the moments between Aphra and Sana are some of the script’s most intimate sequences. And, for readers of the comics, it’s cool to see the past of Aphra and Sana’s relationship explored more intricately.
The script of Doctor Aphra, similar to the audio drama, tells a thrilling, unexpected story filled with significant characters that also provides a deep, fun, and emotional examination of our titular character. Fans of the Dooku: Jedi Lost script will also enjoy consuming this story in a new way. And, for those who have yet to be exposed to the tales of Doctor Aphra, this is a fantastic entrypoint into one of canon’s most interesting characters.
Doctor Aphra is available on April 6, 2021 wherever books are sold.
Image courtesy of Del Rey