Yesterday, EW broke the news that Benicio Del Toro’s Last Jedi character is a “slicer” that Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are tracking down. Despite the fact that you may never have heard the word slicer in a Star Wars movie, they have a long and important history in that universe.
First of all, it’s remarkable that the term slicer—a shortening of code-slicer—survived to be used in the new canon at all. It’s the Star Wars equivalent of a hacker and it first popped up in Heir to the Empire. (Although, to be fair, so much of the Star Wars universe had its first appearance in that book.) And Heir to the Empire, despite being the book that kicked off the EU and rejuvenated Star Wars for a lot of people, is technically no longer canon. Moreover, there’s been a concerted effort to clear out parallelisms like this from the Star Wars vernacular.
Second of all, even if you haven’t heard the word before, you’ve definitely heard about some of the most famous slicers in Star Wars history: the Bothans who acquired the Death Star II plans, and many of whom died to bring us this information. Spies are mentioned a lot, but the information itself was taken from Imperial computers by Bothan slicers. This incident is so famous—despite the fact that the Emperor wanted that information leaked—that it was once a plot point in the old EU that the Bothan stereotype was that they were all slicers. (I wouldn’t have objected to Del Toro’s DJ being a Bothan, by the way. It would be nice to have another important non-human character. Plus, he’s supposedly “the best in the galaxy;” what I wouldn’t give for him to be one of the few Bothans who didn’t die.)
Save for slicer droids, most slicers we’ve come across before have either been the anti-Empire crusading kinds or the ones working on the black market for basically anyone who could pay them. The former kind of slicer shows up in the books as either the Star Wars equivalent of a white hat hacker or people who join the Rebellion/New Republic out of a distaste for the Empire. Grinder (a nickname; he was actually a Bothan named Eurrsk Thri’ag because, again, Bothans = slicers) appeared in Aaron Allston’s Wraith Squadron as a very good, very arrogant, and very mischievous slicer who happened to work for the New Republic. Another Wraith named…
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