April 18, 2005

The Apporaching Storm

I've read a couple of prequel books lately, the first one of which is "The Approaching Storm" by Alan Dean Foster. Part of the reason I picked this up at the library is because I still remember Foster's "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" fondly (reviewed about a year ago here), one of the first (if not the first) books set in the Star Wars milieu, outside of the movie books. I still don't know if the book was all that great, but I read it as a kid sometime shortly after it came out when I was starved for anything Star Wars (first LP I ever bought was the Star Wars soundtrack, 2nd was the actual movie sound, with dialogue and everything), so my memory is probably very biased.

Anyway, there are two books out right now that take place between Episode I and II. One is Greg Bear's "Rogue Planet", which I'll probably pick up at some point, just because Bear has some great stuff to his credit, and I would like to see what he does with this material. The other is "Storm", which takes place about 6 months before events in Episode II. In this book, Anakin and Obi-Wan are sent off to the planet Ansion to try to prevent it from seceding from the Republic.

Of course, the bad guys want it to secede, because it will trigger a bunch of other planets to secede and the ensuing war will give Palpatine a reason to centralize more power, take away more rights from people, build up the war machine, bypass the legislative process, etc. Just as an aside, doesn't this all sound familiar to real life? Well, Anakin and Obi-Wan are accompanied by another Jedi and her female padawan (Luminara and Barriss), but there are no romantic sparks or anything because they're all Jedi or Jedi-in-training and that's verboten. The other Jedi are ok characters, no complaints.

While on Ansion, the foursome has to overcome the usual incredibly dangerous obstacles by the skin of their teeth, etc. In that sense, this is true to the Star Wars spirit, but still, what comes off good and makes an exciting movie gets a little boring and predictable when spread out into book form. I could do with about half as many amazing escapes and so forth because I could really feel my suspension of disbelief start to weaken.

The four has to negotiate a peace treaty between the urban and the nomadic cultures on this planet to convince them to stay in the Republic. Convincing the city-dwellers is pretty quick work, but convincing the nomads means finding them first. And high-tech methods are a no-no. They have to ride around what are essentially high-speed llamas with native guides, so that results in many adventures and trials.

Basically, if you can get around the boundary conditions in the book (whatever happens must allow the plot points in Episode II to proceed correctly, which means a lot of things are kinda spoiled), it's not bad mind candy. I found it about on par with Perry's book I reviewed yesterday, in the upper half of what I've read in the genre.

Posted by Observer at April 18, 2005 07:14 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

I'll have to admit I don't see the facination with the genre. The only thing I liked about it was talking to William C Dietz (who was B's boss back in the day) about his trip to Skywalker Ranch when he got approved to write one. They get a huge Bible of Thou Shalt Nots, seemed rediculous.

But then again, I think most licensed crap (ie games, other tie-ins) is nearly devoid of entertainment by definition. Licensed games are pretty much driving all others out of the marketplace, I'd hate to see that happen to books.

Posted by: Humbaba on April 18, 2005 09:59 AM