It's hard to remember that there was ever a time when Star Wars
was not that popular, but that's exactly the terrifying world nerds lived in during the Presidency of George H.W. Bush. People born in the mid-'80s could not buy a new Star Wars
toy for the first decade of their life, nor know the joy/disappointment of seeing a Star Wars
film on the big screen until the end of middle school. If you'd somehow discovered the out-of-favor saga of a farmboy-turned-space-samurai, you didn't have many options to enjoy Star Wars in 1991 other than re-watching the VHS tapes. Sure, G.I. Joes went nicely with your inherited Kenner Star Wars figures, and you could read the words you understand in Timothy Zahn's newly released adult fiction epic Heir to the Empire
, but that's about it. Otherwise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruled and Darth Vader drooled.
So in that context, the six-part young adult Jedi Prince
series of novels by Paul and Hollace Davids (with illustrations by Karl Kesel) was the inhaler to many a lack-of-Star Wars
-induced asthma attack in '91. It had everything it needed to be a success -- namely, the Star Wars logo on it, words like Jedi and Darth Vader in the titles, and pictures Luke and Han and Leia on the covers! We thought these books totally ruled because we had virtually no competition for young Star Wars
fans -- but a closer look at them reveals that their ruling is actually highly questionable. In fact, they're kind of terrible. Sure, they might not be Holiday Specia
l level bad, but lord, they aren't good.10) It's a Ridiculous Star Wars Rerun
Just in case you forget you're reading a Star Wars
book between all the princes, zoochberries, planetary concerns and mutants that pop up in this series, pretty much every iconic plot point or image is either referenced or straight-up reenacted. They visit Bespin, Dagobah and Tatooine numerous times, a character gets frozen in Carbonite, the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive breaks, the Rebel headquarters is on Mount Yoda (Mount. Yoda.), the Emperor ('s son) tries to woo a Jedi (Leia) to the Dark Side, the heroes wear Stormtrooper outfits and the hero (Ken) finds out he's related to an evil Jedi (the Emperor). Also the speakers on Hologram Fun World, the amusement park that Han and Leia elope to, are 1,138 THX Ultrasound Speakers. I know there has to be a Howard the Duck
reference in here somewhere, but I missed it.
9) M.O.A. (Massive Overuse of Acronyms)
s and acronyms go hand in hand, much like Bib Fortuna and an economy-sized tub of tentacle moisturizer. The original trilogy gave us the acronyms AT-AT and AT-ST and gave nerds across the country a means to measure trivia cred ("All-Terrain Armored Transport, duh!"). The authors took the trilogy's passing interest in acronyms and ran with it until their feet blistered. The core group of Rebels work for SPIN (Senate's Planetary Intelligence Network) and operate out of DRAPAC (Defense Research and Planetary Assistance Center), the Imperials have a group called COMPNOR (Commission for the Preservation of the New Order) and use TNT vehicles (Treaded Neutron Torch) and CAVs (Compact Assault Vehicles). Luke even references Jawas as JDTs, which is short for Jawa Droid Traders. You really need to differentiate the JDTs from the JDAs (Jawa Defense Attorneys) and JDHs (Jawa Dental Hygienists). But the award for most ridiculous use of an acronym goes to the following quote from Zorba the Hutt:
"CB-99, show Lando the hologram of your file called JTHW -- Jabba the Hutt's Will!"
8) There's a Hutt with Hair
A full decade before we were subjected to the flamboyant, Truman Capote-esque Ziro the Hutt from the Star Wars: Clone Wars
animated feature film, a similarly offensive Hutt was introduced into the Star Wars
canon and somehow made Jabba seem well-mannered. His name is Zorba the Hutt and he's never met a plate of food that he can't spit up all over his scaly chest. More disgustingly, Zorba has a rare genetic malformity that makes him one of the few Hutts ever who is covered in hair; indeed, this hair is so long that it can be tied in dreadlocks. Yes, he's a massive, hairy space slug who vomits a lot -- who wouldn't want to see that, right? Luckily, the illustrations in the book depict him in positions that not even the creepiest of online fetishists would find appealing. If you always wondered what a Hutt's undercarriage looked like then these books are for you. To top it all off, his spaceship is named the Zorba Express, which sounds like the one restaurant in the food court that can give you both the runs and tetanus.
7) The Inherent Shame of Identifying with Ken, the Jedi Prince
The titular Jedi Prince was shamelessly included as an entry-point character for kids. His bedroom is filled with Star Wars
action figures and vehicle playsets and thanks to his schooling, he's as big of a Star Wars
nerd as the readers. HC-100, Ken's homework correcting droid (I know) has this to say about Ken's schoolwork:
"You've learned to spell Emperor Palpatine's name correctly. He certainly was a horrible emperor, no doubt about it...but, oh no, you've made a serious mistake in your quiz on the Rebel Alliance. Luke Skywalker didn't pilot the Millennium Falcon in the first battle against the Death Star. It was Han Solo, and Chewbacca was his copilot. I thought you knew that, Ken!"
"I thought you knew that, Ken" is what every person he sees ever in his adult life is going to say about anything they ask him about any subject that isn't Death Star-related. "No, two plus two is not Nien Nunb." Even though he's the titular character, Ken does nothing for the five books he appears in aside from withhold pertinent information from his allies and complain about his mooka. A mooka is like a cat or a dog, by the way. Also, Ken knows what cats and dogs are.
6) The Bad Guys Make Darth Maul and General Grievous Seem Subtle
Return of the Jedi
ended with the Empire leaderless and on the verge of dissolving. So in continuing the space opera, the Davids had every right to come up with a whole new rogues gallery to terrorize our heroes. What we get are bearded and dwarfish Sith Prophets in glittery robes, two three-eyed mutants with the painfully obvious names Trioculous and Triclops, and a half dozen new Grand Moffs with one personality between them. Everyone in the Empire bids each other "dark greetings," vaporizing any shades of gray in their morality. You don't say "dark greetings" and then think you are doing charity work. The most evil of all the Grand Moffs has to be Grand Moff Dunhausen, who wears earrings shaped like laser pistols.
Also, the Grand Moffs hold secret conferences called Mofferences. I wish
I was joking.