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Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Alien Species
Ann Margaret Lewis, Illustrations by R.K. Post
Lucas Books, Del Rey, 176 pages

Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Alien Species
Additional Information
Here is a detailed look at more than 150 of the most fascinating alien species that inhabit this vast galaxy. Who these creatures are, how others see them, how they evolved, where they can be found... it's all here thoroughly researched, brilliantly illustrated, packed with surprising facts, and featuring an exclusive pronunciation guide to the names of the key Star Wars species.
-- discover the only alien species that can make the savage Tusken Raiders run for cover;
-- learn why the Hutts think they are gods and why their infants spend the first fifty years in the dark;
-- compare the tracking skills of the Ewok hunters, the legendary Wookiees, and the secretive Shistavanen wolfmen;
-- explore the powerful bond between the amphibious Gungan and the fiercely loyal kaadu.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

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Ever wonder why the Ugnaughts ended up on Cloud City? Or how the Gungan language developed? Well, someone did and now all those Star Wars questions you have (and dozens upon dozens you never knew you did) will be answered in the new Star Wars: Essential Guide to Alien Species.

Joining Lucas Books' six other Essential Guides, such as the Essential Guide to Characters and The Essential Guide to Droids, this new 176-page volume gives detailed information on over 160 separate Star Wars races. Not only are species from Episode I and the Classic Trilogy included, but every novel, role-playing game, cartoon series, and all Dark Horse Comics are referenced. Now that's some thorough research.

The book has a nice layout with text by SF/fantasy/comic consultant Ann Margaret Lewis who, in addition to her work with Star Wars, has written for DC Comics' properties and Babylon 5. Giving a face to each race are the expressive illustrations by R.K. Post, best known for his work on countless Magic: The Gathering cards.

The book is supposedly put together by the "much-lauded Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole, member of the Shi'ido species." Hoole has apparently scoured the cosmos researching as many alien species as possible for this book which begins with a general time-line of alien history, then presents each species in alphabetical order. Hoole gives a brief bio of the race, their homeworld and society, followed by an anecdotal quote from a well known Star Wars character, such as Boba Fett, Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker (did you know Luke had a pet Dewback on Tatooine?).

But it doesn't stop there. The Appendices feature a pronunciation guide for all characters and planets (and it is needed), about 25 more races of note (including the Duloks, the Ewoks' arch rivals from their animated series) and an alphabetical listing of all planets and the races which hail from them. And if that's not enough, try locating a Star Wars property that's not included in the Bibliography (and the much-reviled Christmas Special doesn't count).

Really designed for hard-core Star Wars fans, the book gives information so in-depth that the casual reader (perhaps even the casual Star Wars fan) might consider it excessive. For instance Sebulba, the Pod Racing Dug of Episode I is from Gran, the same world as Ree-Yees, the three eyed goat-thing from Jabba's sail barge in Return of the Jedi. Who knew? But it does give faces to certain aliens and long-time novel readers will be pleased to see how menacingly eerie the Yevetha of the New Rebellion Trilogy look.

The main drawback of this "reference material" is that it tends to group entire species together as having the same personality, based on the one example seen in the feature films. Take Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt's Twi'lek majordomo. By reading the Twi'lek entry, one would assume that all males of the species are as conniving and ruthless as he and never realize that they could be as noble as Tott Doneeta, Twi'lek Jedi Knight from Dark Horse Comics' Tales of the Jedi Knights series. It would also have been nice to see some of the illustrations in colour.

However, for anyone looking to find the back-story and history of the multitude of George Lucas' creature creations, this guide will definitely prove useful. All in all, it's the sort of book that's easy to pick up, flip through and learn some interesting and fun facts about the Star Wars Universe.

Copyright © 2001 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories as well as acting in any venue he can. Residing in Los Angeles, he continues to be part of this wacky business called show.


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