The cover art for Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe was created by Jen Bartel and depicts Rey ready for action

I Am so Excited for Star Wars’ Women of the Galaxy I Could Cry

The Force is female.

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While I have been openly critical of certain parts of the Star Wars saga when it comes to aspects of the franchise, never doubt for a moment that my complaints are not based out of love and a genuine knowledge that the stories can do better. Slowly, surely, Star Wars is becoming more and more inclusive on many fronts. There is work to be done, but we should celebrate the progress as well. And that is why, when the announcement first broke about Amy Ratcliffe’s anthology Women of the Galaxy, I cried.

Growing up, I loved Star Wars, but it was always branded a “boy’s thing,” even if I had my Padmé Barbie and paper dolls (despite growing up in a decently anti-prequel household, the lure of her outfits was too strong for me). I would make up stories about my own character in Star Wars, back before I knew what a self-insert was; I guess you can say I have always been a Mary Sue. My character was a Jedi, because Jedi are awesome and I wanted to be one.

In 2015, as the Skywalker saber flew into Rey’s hand, I felt like my childhood dreams had come true.

Since the Star Wars renaissance began, Lucasfilm has been trying to include more women at the forefront of their stories. I would even argue that this began years before Disney bought Star Wars, with The Clone Wars, which gave us Padmé in her element, a fantastic Sith witch turned bounty hunter in Asajj Ventress, and, of course, Ahsoka Tano, who might be the most beloved Star Wars character of all time.

While the representation has stumbled on several fronts, with the continued casting of mostly white brunettes in lead roles in the films and bad moments such as the fridging of Val and L3-37, we are still seeing a resurgence of brilliant women in every corner of the Star Wars media universe.

And this is why Amy Ratcliffe’s book is so necessary. These women, spread across canon, all matter. From the big names like Leia and Rey to cult characters like Sabine Wren and Doctor Aphra, these women deserve to have their stories told by a woman. Ratcliffe, a gifted writer, is the perfect choice to tackle the 75 stories of the different women present in the book. Plus, the stunning full-color illustrations were all done by female-identifying or non-binary artists, further showcasing a diverse array of talent behind the scenes.

The book’s summary reads: “They are heroes and villains, Sith and Jedi, senators and scoundrels, mothers, mercenaries, artists, pilots…they are the women of the Star Wars galaxy, and they drive its stories and saga forward at every level.” Truly, this book encompasses all of them, even including an Ewok princess (which is the name of my future Star Wars band and also what I want to be when I grow up). Some of the art has been posted online, and it is absolutely breathtaking. The vivid colors and array of styles capture the unique personalities of these different women in stunning fashion.

This book matters for fans of all ages. Older fans can find the stories of their favorite heroines in these pages, and young fans can see themselves reflected in the characters found within. This matters, because these women are powerful figures who inspire audiences; we need their stories of courage, leadership, genius, and empathy. Even villains like the unstoppable Captain Phasma or the brilliant and calculating Grand Admiral Rae Sloane matter because they show women in roles of power where they are not demeaned simply because of their gender.

I have been avoiding spoilers like the plague because I want to be surprised by the book and whether or not certain characters are included. If my Aftermath babes Jas Emari and Norra Wexley show up, you’ll hear my shriek of glee in space, and I hope we find out more about Val, Tallie, and Paige Tico. I cannot wait to see my favorite women’s stories told by a woman who understands Star Wars so beautifully, and depicted by amazingly talented artists. Who knows, if you pick up a copy, you might walk away with a new favorite space queen.

So grab this book. Share it with the old and young Star Wars fans in your life. Celebrate these women, and celebrate that they are hopefully only the beginning of the future of Star Wars storytelling. After all, we could all use some hope today.

(Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe, image: Jen Bartel/Chronicle Books)

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Author
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.