Friday, May 15, 2015

A Guide to the Star Wars Universe

I don't think I truly started to appreciate Star Wars until the early to mid 90's. That's when I finally saw The Empire Strikes Back, and I managed to catch an old "Making of" special on the Sci-Fi channel. It gave me a new appreciation for just how much work went into creating the creatures and ships of the original trilogy. It's also when I discovered a handy little guide, hiding on a friend's bookshelves.



You see, the internet was barely a thing in those days, especially in my backwoods part of the world. I knew one person that had access to the World Wide Web, and even then I'm not sure there was really much to see or do at that point. I honestly can't remember much about those early forays into the internet, other than a bit of excitement when we stumbled across some naughty pictures that had been posted on a random bulletin board. It certainly wasn't the resource that it is now, and if you wanted to know stuff about junk, you were still better off trying to find a book about it. 

One random afternoon, I was hanging out with my buddies Carl and Scott at Carl's grandfather's house, watching them play Doom or Tie Fighter. I usually watched more than I played back then since I was more used to a controller than I was a keyboard and mouse. Toss a joystick in there too, and I was way out of my league. So, while they played games, I usually browsed the bookshelves. As I was looking through the titles, there was one that happened to catch my eye: A Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Second Edition. With my re-discovery of the original trilogy, I was starving for more information on my new favorite films. Here was a book that could tell me everything I needed to know about the characters of the original trilogy, and then some. 

Wait! What do you mean Solo disposed of me? Did I die?
As I flipped through its pages, it made me realize just how extensive the Star Wars universe had become.That was one of the best parts about the GTTSWU; not only did it cover the first three films, it also contained information about characters, ships and creatures introduced in the books, comics, and cartoons that came after Return of the Jedi. I often spent my entire time at my friend's house engrossed in the book, learning the backstories of some of the more famous characters, and being introduced to many new ones. There weren't any book stores around here, so this was pretty much the only way I was going to learn anything about the new characters at the time. 

See?! I told you I was in here!
This newer edition contains even more information, due to the enormous amount of material that had been produced since the printing of the last edition. Even material from The Phantom Menace made it in here, as well as several of the video games that had been released in the intervening years. A lot of it was random stuff too. For example, did you know that the Oswaft is a species of intelligent manta ray-like beings that live in the ThonBoka nebula?  Or, that Boba Fett's real name was Jaster Mereel, and that he started out as a law enforcement officer on the planet Concord Dawn? Okay, so that last one isn't exactly true anymore, but I guess that's one of the downsides of printed guides. You can't edit something once it's been put to paper. 

Awww..are you afwaid of the cuddly wittle bears?
Even if some of the entries are outdated, it's still a handy little guide to fall back on. Even now, I stumbled across an entry that I don't remember, or some little tidbit that I forgot. Sure, you could always just go to a Star Wars Wikia and get up to date info on anything and everything, but there's something comforting about being able to sit back and relax with an honest to goodness book in your hands. Besides, if you ever end up in the Star Wars Universe, it might be helpful to know which of the Hutts you can trust. Hint: It's none of them.



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