Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andrew's Review of Death Troopers


3/5 Rancors - Joe Schreiber's Death Troopers took me by surprise. I am not particularly fond of the horror genre, at least in its gorier aspects. I do enjoy a good thriller, though. So my initial reaction when I heard that Star Wars would be getting its first horror story was quite mixed. I enjoy seeing the saga taken in new directions and stay open-minded as it mutates through many permutations of what I first saw on the big screen in 1977. However, I really wasn't convinced that horror would be an appropriate choice for a universe that has stayed rather, for lack of a better term, family-friendly to date.

It turns out I'm glad I took a chance on Mr. Schreiber's first Star Wars contribution (his second, a Death Troopers prequel, is already underway as I write this). There were points where the gore factor was excessive for my sensibilities, and a particular scene involving a toddler Wookiee didn't sit well with me. Fortunately, these qualms were allayed by a very fast-paced and gripping story that didn't pause to take a breath between chases and creeping around in the dark.

The size and creep-factor of a seemingly deserted Imperial Star Destroyer adrift in space is well underscored. I also enjoyed the time spent on the prison barge Purge in the opening chapters: penal vessels and procedures aren't an aspect of the Expanded Universe that has received much focus in prior novels. The method by which Death Troopers introduces its version of zombies to the Star Wars universe is believable. I liked that the zombies weren't the sole drivers of the horror elements of the story: the actions the prisoners take against each other early on and the choices a group of Imperial survivors on the Star Destroyer have made to stay alive are good examples of things as unsettling or more as the creatures themselves.

The characters are on the thin side, mostly subservient to the action. They filled their purposes well enough, although there isn't much about them that stands out to me after finishing the book. Captain Jareth Sartoris has a nice little character arc at the end, although it is fairly predictable. The Longo brothers and Dr. Cody act as the reader's primary lens on the outbreak, since they have the least life experience and react with presumably the same horror as the reader to what is taking place.

In what is not a well-kept secret at this point, two movie characters materialize midway in the story and have key roles. I recognize that their presence undermines a general principle of a horror story, in that we as the reader know these two will come out relatively unscathed. However, as a Star Wars fan first and foremost, I confess I was pleased to see them arrive on the scene and they helped greatly in establishing this tale as one set in that galaxy far, far away.

Although the darkness of Death Troopers did not remind me of the Original Trilogy, the excitement of Mr. Schreiber's rapid storytelling and focus on dynamic action sequences did, and for me that's high praise. Although I'm not likely to track down his non-Star Wars horror stories, I will be ready for the Death Troopers prequel and look forward to it with much more confidence than I did this first one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

David's Review of Book Three of The Corellian Trilogy: Showdown at Centerpoint


4/5 Rancors - Showdown at Centerpoint is the final book in Roger Macbride Allen's Corellian Trilogy. In the first two books we followed Han, Leia, and their kids along with Chewie, Lando, Luke, and our two favorite droids as they all took various paths to end up in the middle of what appeared to be a rebellion in the Corellian sector. In this book, Luke and Lando uncover the Starbuster that is part of Centerpoint Station and that is programmed to explode the star Bovo Yagen and destroy millions of people. The Sacorrian Triad started rebellions on each of the five planets in the Corellian system and gained control of Centerpoint Station as part of a master plan to force the New Republic to acknowledge the Corellian sector as an independent state.

Centerpoint St
ation is an enormous gray-white space station in the Corellian system located at the balance point between the twin worlds of Talus and Tralus. Approximately 350 kilometers long, it is even larger than the original Death Star and can fire a tractor-repulsor hyperspace burst. The Sacorrian Triad discovered that the station could destroy stars, but it had been stable for thousands of years until suddenly two stars were destroyed. The Triad activated massive interdiction and jamming fields over the entire Corellian system and had a fleet of ships ready to do battle with New Republic and Bakuran forces.

All of our heroes were involved with foiling the Triad's plan with different ones of them coming at the problem from entirely different approaches. They were assisted in their efforts by Gaerial Captison, who had been an Imperial Senator from Bakura during the final years of the rebellion and led her planet to freedom. Admiral Hotel Ossilege commanded the Bakuran fleet. Mara Jade also offered valuable assistance.


Some of the most interesting roles in the tale are played by the Solo kids - Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin. We find that, even at their young ages, they are skilled enough to fly the Millennium Falcon, at least well enough to escape from the clutches of Han's evil cousin Thracken Sal-Solo on the planet Drall. Plus, Anakin's force powers enable him to control the planetary repulsor that is on Drall. Pretty impressive kids.


Showdown at Centerpoint
is the best book in the trilogy and tells a tale that moves right along. My only real quibble with the book is that I felt it could have been severely edited in a few places.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

David: Rancor Spotting #17

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Ultimate Sticker Book, page 8

Clearly, rancors appeal to all ages, and when you use the sticker
book, you get to place the rancor yourself. What fun! Here's what the book says.

Jungle rancor These ferocious monsters are covered in rough armor-like skin, which can withstand blaster fire.





David's Review of Book Two of The Corellian Trilogy: Assault at Selonia


3/5 Rancors - Assault at Selonia is the second book in The Corellian Trilogy. It continues the travails of our well-known and much loved Star Wars heroes as they travel several different paths. Han Solo has been imprisoned on Corellia by his cousin Thracken Sal-Solo and appears to be in serious trouble. Sal-Solo plans to reinstate the Imperial system and seize total power himself. Han must join forces with a female alien in order to escape and warn Luke, Leia, and Lando. Leia is under house arrest in what used to be the Governor's residence and must work with Mara Jade to escape and search for her family. Luke and Lando have returned to Coruscant and are now on their way to Bakura to convince Gaeriel Captison to let them borrow the Bakuran fleet to put down a revolt in the Corellian system. At the same time, Han and Leia's children are with Chewie on yet another world. Serious problems exist everywhere.

T
he book is an improvement over the first book Ambush at Corellia. We have more action, more plot, and no story involving Lando's search for a rich wife. That particular search was a real weakness in the first book. A number of major questions still remain. Who is trying to use Corellia's powerful repulsors and why? What is going on at the mysterious Centerpoint Station? Who is causing major stars to explode? There is plenty still left to lead one to look forward to the third book in the trilogy.