I was not fully aware of the depths of my geekdom until I saw the look on a friendís face after I corrected the pronunciation of the name of a Star Wars expanded Universe character. We were watching the movie First Enterprise and the character who had just nearly been evicted from his apartment because he spent the rent on toys was correcting a kid on the pronunciation of Xizor. Is it my fault they got it wrong? I tell this story to make it absolutely clear that I spend way too much time "in a galaxy far, far away."
I did not want to buy the Star Wars Essential Chronology. Iím not even sure how it ended up in my hands. But by the time I had borrowed it from the store I work at, even before I spilled spaghetti sauce on page 45, I knew I could not go on without it. If you are convinced that people who dress up in Jedi robes are hopelessly insane, you should stop now. Iím sure Epinions has some very nice, non-Star Wars related reviews for you to read. If you are already into the Star Wars expanded universe you will love this book. The Essential Chronology is written by Kevin J. Anderson and Daniel Wallace. Kevin J. Anderson, among many other things, edited Tales From Jabbaís Palace, that most widely accessible tome of short stories. The Chronology begins with an "Introduction for Students of History" as if it were a real history text. From there it moves to a "Note On Dating Conventions," again, as if it were a real history. In the back of the book there is a map of the galaxy. These are wonderfully funny editions to what could have been an embarrassingly shallow effort to gain more money for special effects in the new trilogy. Less amusing and more useful to the true geek (of which I am one apparently) is a timeline which lists which books go where in the chronology, including notes on which ones were comics.
Of course, even with all these funny and entertaining additions, I didnít have to buy the book. And I wouldnít have even spilled the spaghetti sauce on page 45 if I hadnít noticed one strange and wonderful thing. Anderson and Wallace took the liberty of adding to the story. We are given no reason why Princess Leia is on Hoth (when Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar are not) in the original trilogy, not even in the books (trust me.) According to the Chronology, the Princess chose "safety over physical comfort" while Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar stayed with the main Rebel fleet preparing another strike. The book is littered with these little continuity fixes. Thereís back story where there was no back story before. And there was joy in geekville.
Ok, I have one huge problem with this book. A problem so great in scope and magnitude that I resisted even opening its cover for several months. The illustrations are positively ghastly. Maybe Iím a little sensitive because my husband is an illustrator and I spend a lot of time picking drawings apart trying to figure out whatís wrong with them. But. These drawings range for the merely mediocre to the positively painful. My most least favorite is on page 87. Princess Leia is holding two babies. These are supposed to be newborns, but if they are I feel very, very sorry for her because those babies look 15-20 pounds each. Ouch. And I do hope sheís sitting down because if she isnít, sheís in the process of dropping those kids. And she needs to wash her face, it looks like she has smudges all over it. And speaking of her face, we have a pretty good idea what the princess should look like at 28 (the age she should have been according to the chronology,) why doesnít she look like Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) at 28? This woman looks more like me than Carrie Fisher. Page 94 hosts a portrait of the resurrected Emperor (who also needs to wash his face) which is so awful I donít know where to begin. Then on page 96Ö I could go on. Thereís a terrible illustration on just about every other page. (I must mention page 148, poor Luke Skywalker has one eye thatís nearly swelled shut and another that seems to be floating on the bridge of his nose, painful.) My plan for the pictures is sticky notes. I am going to sit down with yellow sticky notes and cover the worst offenders. This will require a trip to OfficeMax and Iíll need a basket.
I really am entertained by this book. It reminds me what a geek I really am. I own my geekiness through this book. Iím having a really hard time forgiving the bad illos when there are excellent artists out there who would do 200% better, but Iíll learn to accept what I canít change. But, now I will know, beyond a shadow if a doubt when all the X-Wing novels take place within the greater soap opera of Star Wars and isn't that what man has been searching for through out time? If you are an all out, unapologetic Star Wars geek or you know one who hasnít bought the book already, get it and revel in the sheer ludicrousness of your affliction.
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