The first Star Wars® film, written and directed by George Lucas, debuted in 1977 was a block buster hit. It spawned additional Star Wars® films, gave birth to a science fiction category called space operas, and made millionaires of Star Wars® merchandizers.
In 1999, 22 years and three Star Wars® films later, Lucas produced a fourth film that’s a prequel to the Star Wars® series. Terry Brooks made Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace into a novel of the same name.
The novel’s first chapter’s first paragraph is one word: Tatoonine.
The rest of chapter 1 is about a pod race. Pods are some kind of mechanical vehicles. A nine-year-old slave boy named Anakin Skywalker, who hopes one day to fly with the Jedi Knights, is cheated out of winning the pod race. Anakin and his mother are slaves owned by Watto, a “pudgy, blue Toydarian” who speaks Huttese.
I have no idea what happens after that.
Reading The Phantom Menace without having seen the film is like trying to decipher King Lear by consulting a printed copy of the alphabet.
Return of the Jedi by Joan D. Vinge has two strikes against it before readers even crack the cover.
First, it’s a book based on an action-fantasy-adventure movie packed with special effects.
Second, it’s a sequel to two previous storybooks, The Star Wars Storybook and The Empire Strikes Back Storybook, both of which were based on action-fantasy-adventure movies packed with special effects.
The storybook doesn’t have any special effects.
When readers to the first page, Return strikes out.
Here’s a paragraph from page 1:
An Imperial Star Destroyer moved toward the monstrous superstructure of the half-finished Death Star. Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, was on board the destroyer. He had come to check on the progress of construction at the battle station. He boarded a shuttle and flew toward the waiting Death Star.
Don’t those lines sound like something read aloud by a fifth grader in a special ed class?
Return of the Jedi does have some good points. It’s short—about 60 pages—and every page has one or more stills from movie.
Unfortunately, the photos have no captions, so they are meaningless to anyone who didn’t see the movie.
If you didn’t see the movie, get the DVD instead of reading its appalling storybook.