Showdown at Centerpoint by Roger MacBride Allen (1995, Bantam)
In The Corellian Trilogy’s conclusion, author Roger MacBride Allen provides the answers to some nagging questions from the previous two books, your standard-issue climactic space battle, and a somewhat surprising character death.
The novel’s plot—and really, the plot of all three books—hinges on Centerpoint Station, an ancient and massive space station designed by the mysterious alien architects of the Correllian star system. Corellians have been living inside of the station for generations, but, as the protagonists discover, it was originally an unimaginably powerful tractor beam, designed to pull planets through hyperspace and into the Corellian System.
This is a really wild premise, and it’s likely to automatically rub you the wrong way if you’re one of those Star Wars fans who dislike over-the-top elements in their stories about wizards with laser swords. The existence of Centerpoint Station bothers me, too, but the implausibility of a planetary tractor beam isn’t the reason. The problem with Centerpoint is its size. It’s explicitly mentioned in the previous book, Assault at Selonia, that Centerpoint Station is larger than the first Death Star. One would think, then, that Han Solo would’ve remembered Centerpoint—a pretty big landmark in his own home system—when he was telling Obi-Wan Kenobi that the Death Star was “too big to be a space station.”
It turns out that the masterminds behind the Corellian Insurrection have been pointing Centerpoint’s tractor beam at stars, causing them to go nova. I’ll grant Allen that this is a slight twist on the extremely tired superweapon plot device. The execution of this story is better than those in which the Galaxy Gun, the Sun Crusher, or especially the Darksaber appear, but when one takes those other books into account, Showdown at Centerpoint’s big reveal can’t help but elicit a big groan from me. The threat of planetary or system-wide annihilation should be special, is all I’m trying to say.
Despite my bellyaching, Showdown at Centerpoint is a pretty fun book. Its climax is especially effective. There’s an exciting large-scale space battle, Gaeriel Captison meets her end in self-sacrifice, and Anakin Solo ultimately saves the day in a passage that evokes Luke’s Skywalker’s final victory in A New Hope.
The Corellian Trilogy gets off to a fine start, but some serious flaws in plausibility, the neglect of some great opportunities for character development, and the reliance on yet another doomsday weapon scenario to drive the plot create problems for it as a whole. Good characterizations all around and a lot of unorthodox, creative ideas keep these books readable and provide a reasonably entertaining experience, but the net result remains very uneven. I wouldn’t actively discourage the casual Star Wars reader from checking out the Corellian Trilogy, but it wouldn’t be on my short list of recommendations.