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Star Wars Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away:  Aliens, Volume 1

                              review by Michael Fraley

By far, my favorite books in the old EU were the Tales books.  Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, From Jabba’s Palace, of the Bounty Hunters.  Each one brought those random, in the background characters to the forefront, and added some extra depth to the galaxy.  Did you know, for example, Wuher, our favorite blue drink slinging barkeep, used Greedo’s remains to create his greatest drink ever?  The overweight, ugly six-breasted dancer, Yarna d’al’ Gargan, in Jabba’s palace was actually very attractive and thin, but when Jabba learned her species could retain their water weight, he made her stay large and wear prosthetics on her face?  IG-88 was actually a group of three assassin droids, after the original took over the other two, the last of which implanted himself into the second Death Star’s computer core just moments before Lando and Wedge blew it up?

Each book was full of these interesting tidbits, some better than others of course, and the best part is that even if they aren’t canon anymore, it honestly doesn’t matter because they rarely affected what we saw on the screen.  Most of the character’s names have stayed canon, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes were first named here as well as our favorite Cantina song being named “Mad about Me.”  If you haven’t yet, I’d highly recommend seeking these out and enjoying them for yourself.

That brings us to this week’s book.  A new Tales compilation involving characters from the new EU, as seen in The Force Awakens.  Aliens Volume 1 contains six tales hailing from the wastelands of Jakku to the vibrant planet of Takodana which house’s Maz Kanata’s Castle and beyond.  Each of the six stories differ in tone greatly and as with the other Tales books, add a few more layers to our favorite galaxy.

We finally actually meet Constable Zuvio, who was everywhere in the marketing of the action figure line, but never appeared on screen, in a little western called “High Noon on Jakku.”  Unkar Plutt takes the forefront in a love story aptly named “True Love.”  The Crimson Corsair, the red armored pilot Finn almost leaves with, and his crew go on a treasure hunt in “The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku.”  The little Frigosians, basically Star Wars Minions, take the lead in the Frankensteinian tale “Faces of Evil.”  We get a good old fashioned murder mystery in “A Recipe for Death.”  And finally, we meet the alien we saw in our first ever glimpse of The Force Awakens during the Force for Change ad, Bobbajo the Crittermonger in “All Creatures Great and Small.”

While each tale offers up some fun, the two standouts were The Lost Treasure and All Creatures.  The Lost Treasure plays out like a Mad Max tale set in the Star Wars Galaxy.  Pirate gangs from all over converge on the planet Ponemah and race, fight, and blast their way towards their prize.  I said it's like Mad Max, but think more of Mad Max meets Pirates of the Caribbean. (one of the good ones)

My favorite, though, is “All Creatures Great and Small.” Set as a fable told to a group of villagers being held by bandits, it brings true laugh out loud moments and will cause you to never look and Luke and Han’s daring Death Star rescue of Princess Leia quite the same way again.  Of all the stories, it brought me back to the nostalgia of the original Tales books.

This book seemed to slip under most people’s radar.  It came out at the same time as the Path to the Force Awakens line, so it was easy to miss.  I truly hope they continue the line with whatever new creatures we meet in The Last Jedi because the EU needs these types of fun tales to bring peace and order to the Galaxy.

This is an easy 5 star must read!  Aliens Volume 1 is written by Landry Q Walker and published by Disney/Lucasfilm Press.  It is available at your favorite bookstore now.

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