The arrival of a new Star Wars movie is heralded by several things: Breathless anticipation, piles of ancillary merchandise, and the release of a new Visual Dictionary. Written by the Lucasfilm Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo (who also did books for Rogue One and The Force Awakens), The Last Jedi's guidebook is not only filled with intriguing details about the places and people seen in the film, but a few potential hints about the future of the Star Wars galaxy, too.
How Bombers Work in Space
Of the many nitpicks some people have with The Last Jedi this one is pretty minimal, but some fans have questioned how the Resistance's bomber squadrons in the opening battle of the movie were meant to deliver their explosive payloads, considering, well... you can't just "drop" bombs on top of a gigantic dreadnought in microgravity, after all. So how did Paige Tico eventually (and tragically) deliver her final bombing run? The answer, of course, is pretty simple: science. Well, magnets, more specifically, but they basically are science. According to the book, the MG-100 Starfortress pushes its payload out of its containment rack with "sequenced electromagnetic plates," and the proton bombs then are "drawn magnetically to their unfortunate targets."
The Mystery of Snoke's Ring, Solved
Ever since Snoke's glam look for The Last Jedi was revealed, there's been theories (hilariously, er, cut short by Snoke's end in the film) about the giant black crystal in his ring. Could it be a new kind of Kyber Crystal, powered with the dark side and blackened by Snoke's evil? Well, it's not, but it does have a major dark side connection. The stone is actually obsidian, but it comes from a surprising place: the catacombs beneath Darth Vader's castle on Mustafar, as seen in Rogue One. Makes sense, given Snoke's fascination with sources of dark side power.
What Happened to Black Squadron?
The Resistance takes one hell of a beating in The Last Jedi. They're scattered, isolated, and slowly but surely reduced to little more than a handful of battered survivors. But not all hope is lost for their numbers: and just because we didn't see them in The Last Jedi doesn't mean Poe's former comrades in Black Squadron are toast. According to the Visual Dictionary, most of the pilots who remained after the Starkiller Base attack were sent to other evacuation points across the galaxy, or on other missions at the time of the fleet's escape from D'Qar. So yes, there's a good chance the likes of Snap Wexley and Jess Pava are still alive -- and maybe not everything is quite so dire for the Resistance's numbers heading into Episode IX.
The Sentimentality of Leia's Hair
I've noted before the Visual Dictionary series' admirable dedication to the most extreme minutiae, even hair. But The Last Jedi's book adds an extra layer of sadness to the fabulous coifs of Leia Organa in the movie. As well as describing her clothes as being suitably muted to reflect the dire circumstances of the Resistance, an annotated image pointing to the braid atop Leia's hairstyle describes it as an "Alderaanian mourning braid," presumably being worn in remembrance of the still-raw pain of Han's passing in The Force Awakens. Sniff.
Teräs Käsi Lives
An offhand mention in the list of fighting styles Snoke's red-clad Praetorian Guard are trained in inadvertently re-canonizes one aspect of one of the most infamously terrible Star Wars games ever: the 3D fighting game Masters of Teräs Käsi, for the original Playstation. Teräs Käsi was an unarmed combat style practiced by a character created for the widely-panned game, Arden Lyn, an assassin recruited by the Emperor to hunt down Luke Skywalker and the heroes of the Alliance after Yavin IV to... challenge them to a fistfight, basically. At least Masters of Teräs Käsi also gave us Hoar, one of the most delightful excesses of the old Expanded Universe.
The Unspecific Love Life of Poe Dameron
While The Last Jedi may have the honour of the first appearance of an LGBTQ character on-screen (although it's never acknowledged in the film, a previous novel appearance for Laura Dern's Resistance Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo hints at the character being pansexual), many have hoped that Poe Dameron would be revealed as being LGBTQ, alongside Finn, thanks to Oscar Isaac and John Boyega's excellent chemistry in The Force Awakens.
In The Last Jedi Finn might find himself drawn towards Rose romantically, but Poe's desires are left to the imagination once more... although The Visual Dictionary does hint that the X-Wing flyboy has some romantic aspirations. A brief description reveals that Poe wears the ring of his mother, Shara Bey -- first seen in the Shattered Empire comic miniseries -- around his neck, and Poe is "waiting to share it someday with the right partner." Note the gender-neutral wording there playing it safe, but you can keep dreaming for now.
As an adorable aside that's potentially related, another annotation in the book states that the patched-up needlework on Finn's jacket in the movie was done by Poe, repairing the lightsaber slashes left in the jacket while Finn was comatose. Somewhere there has to be fan art of this extremely canonical moment already, surely?
The Weird Way Hux's Hyperspace Tracker Works
The Last Jedi utilises everything from Hyperspace to the Force in new and surprising ways for a Star Wars movie, but at least when it comes to hyperspace, the advanced tracking system used to hunt the Resistance down through lightspeed jumps isn't the only weird way the technology is used. The book describes the physical housing of the Hyperpsace Tracker on Snoke's flagship as being flanked by computers insulated in their own localised hyperspace field -- bending light and time in such a manner that it essentially hypercharges the computational power of the computers, letting them work fast enough to handle the number of calculations needed to track another vessel at faster-than-light speeds. Maybe that's what the Empire thinktanks at the time of Rogue One hadn't figured out yet!
Those Resistance Ships Weren't as Empty as You Thought
Part of the primary storyline of The Last Jedi sees the Resistance Fleet slowly lose ship after ship while being hunted by the First Order, indicating that when each ship was about to run out of fuel and drift back into range of the First Order's weapons, all but its pilot would abandon ship and escape to another (and, eventually, Crait). But not all those ships were run by just one remaining heroic commander. A passage in The Visual Dictionary touching on the sentimental loyalty of Resistance Droids -- treated as equals by the Resistance to the point that they were allowed spaces on the evacuation ships -- notes that, when the situation the ragtag group found themselves in turned truly dire, many droids chose to give up their spaces on the lifeboats shuttled down the Resistance Fleet in order to maximise space for their biological crewmates. So when you see those ships explode, know that tons of poor droids went kamblammo with them too.
The First Order's Kids Actually Serve
With Finn, it was established that the First Order swiped kids at a young age to become brainwashed members of the Stormtrooper corps in The Force Awakens. But not every member of the Order is taken and programmed against their will -- some are simply people who believe in the need for strength and order in a chaotic galaxy, or people swept up in the propaganda of the old Empire. That includes children, who are often considered the most zealous adherents of the First Order having been brought up with its teachings from a young age -- and then put into military service, unlike the Imperial youth organisations of the Empire.
Although indoctrinated trainees for the Stormtrooper corps were only allowed into combat upon reaching adulthood, First Order children can serve in non-combat roles across the Navy and military, leading to a bunch of teens -- or "subadults," a term usually reserved for animals, as the Visual Dictionary creepily refers to them as -- being in operation aboard the vessels seen in the movie.
Everyone's Wrong About How to Eat Porg, According to Chewbacca
The closer we got to The Last Jedi's release, the more the Porg discourse -- the disporgse, if you will -- turned to the bizarre question of "What does Porg taste like?" because on the inside, we're all depraved monsters. But according to The Visual Dictionary, the meat is not the part of the Ahch-To bird's body we should be eating. An annotation on an image of Chewbacca's improvised Porg-spit seen briefly in the movie claims that, at least to Wookiees, the most delicious and nutritious part of a Porg is the crunchy, roasted Porg feet. We assume these will be added to the menus of Disneyland's restaurants shortly.