In Retro-Review: Star Wars: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away–Aliens, Volume 1

Worthy of being checked out by Star Wars fans.

Star Wars: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away–Aliens, Volume 1 by Landry Q. Walker

Published by Disney*Lucasfilm Press on April 5, 2016. Hardcover of 346 pages at $12.99

The cover: Constable Zuvio is between the Frigosians Thromba and Lapro, while on the left Bobbajo the Crittermonger smiles and on the left Sidon Ithano, the Crimson Crusader, has his solemn mask protrude on this brown-gray cover. This cover is by Tyler Scarlet who’s credited for the illustrations that begin each chapter of this book and they’ve been cut and pasted to create this. These five characters are the focus of this book intended for young readers. The cover is what drew me to picking up this book and purchasing it. If it can do that, it must be good. Overall grade: A 

The premise: From the inside jacket cover, “Learn more about some of the fascinating aliens from the blockbuster movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this collection of exciting stories. Constable Zuvio must get to the bottom of things when a faithful droid commits a bank robbery in ‘High Noon on Jakku.’ The Frigosian cryptosurgeions of Takodana give a criminal on the run just what she asks for in ‘The Face of Evil.’ The repugnant scrap trader Unkar Plutt may finally have met his match in the twisty tale ‘True Love.’ Bobbajo the Crittermonger spins a tale of bravery against impossible odds in the fable ‘All Creatures Great and Small.’ When his sous chef turns up dead, the cook at Maz Kanata’s castle holds an unusual competition to find the culprit in ‘A Recipe for Death.’ And pirates, gangs, and bounty hunters alike race to find precious cargo in ‘The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku.'” I didn’t read this information until after I had read the book. These brief summaries give the basic premise of each story, but there are plenty of surprises not revealed in this text. Overall grade: B+

Rather than do my usual breakdown for a novel, I’ll focus on each story. Every story begins with a two paged color illustration by Tyler Scarlet. Every story is written Landry Q. Walker. The chapters average just three pages. An adult could read each tale very quickly, while readers 8 – 12 would take a bit longer, especially with the names of the characters, races, and planets. Some knowledge of The Force Awakens would help.

“High Noon on Jakku” has Constable Zuvio investigating a crime that appears to have been committed by a droid that he knows. Zuvio was quickly shown in the film, so it was neat to have him fleshed out in this tale, showing that he’s an intelligent detective. The setting is the desert, because it is Jakku, but it’s when the story moves into Zuvio’s office that I was most interested, as there weren’t many interiors shown in the film. The twist at the end is good and this had me enjoying Zuvio and wishing to read more about him before his quick death. Overall grade: A

“A Recipe For Death” was not as enjoyable. It’s essentially Top Chef to the death in the kitchen of Max Kanata’s castle. The cook with the best recipes is murdered and a contest is held among the competitors who want to replace him, with one of them being the killer. It goes as one would expect with odd and disgusting foods described. The climax was terrible, involving antigravity and being somewhat similar to the previous tale. I don’t need to return to Takodana’s kitchens any time soon. Overall grade: D

“All Creatures Great and Small” is a sweet tale given the terrors beyond the reader’s sight. A small city, Reestkii which is 400 kilometers from Niima Outpost, is invaded by slavers. Some people that haven’t been captured are taking refuge in a small building, still able to hear the horrors occurring outside. To calm the children Bobbajo the Crittermonger, also known as the Storyteller, tells them how some of the creatures he carries helped him escape the first Death Star. Really. Bobbajo was a prisoner held on the Death Star while Luke, Han, Leia, and Ben were trying to escape from it. Did this happen or didn’t it? I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. Overall grade: A

“The Face of Evil” features two of the worst visual characters: Thromba and Laparo. They are giant baby chickens with goggles over their eyes. Wait. And they’re super smart. And they’re super evil. And they like to perform unnecessary operations as experiments. To make this pair palpable, Ryn Biggleston is introduced as a criminal on the run, fresh from a robbery and betraying her partner. She goes to the the pair, holed up in Maz’s castle, to have them restructure her face and body. Faster than you can say “Frankenstein” they do. The twist is good, but I just couldn’t believe this pair. Overall grade: D

“True Love” is the best tale in the book. Two thieves want to steal from Unkar Plott and they find the best way to do so: have him be approached by a woman of his species online. While he’s pitching woo, they can break in and enrich themselves. The dialogue is great and the twists exceptionally strong. By the end of this tale I found Plott to be as merciless as Jabba the Hutt or Darth Vader. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+

The final tale is “The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku.” A garbled transmission from a ship reveals the location of a downed Separatist ship containing cargo meant for Count Dooku was lost. A group of six (Sidon Ithano, Quiggold, Pendewquell, Reeg Brosna, Reveth, and Squeaky) decide to go for it. Unfortunately, others learn of this supposed treasure and it becomes a free for all as to who will get it first. Characters, all unsavory, drop left and right until the prize is revealed and it’s an excellent one. This was just fun and would make a perfect story for Star Wars Adventures. Overall grade: A 

The final line: As with any collection of short stories, some are better than others. More are better than not and all will have the hardcore fan reading to glean any new nugget of backstory to these background characters and young readers will have a smooth reading experience due to the short chapters and excellent action. Certainly worthy of being checked out by Star Wars fans. Overall grade: B 

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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