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Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
David West Reynolds
DK Publishing, 64 pages

Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
David West Reynolds
Dr. David West Reynolds earned his Ph.D. in archeology at the University of Michigan. A lecturer, veteran of field expeditions on three continents, and author of scientific archeological papers, he also enjoys the world of Star Wars, considering it "like ancient Rome or Egypt, a culture from another time and place to explore." Having previously worked as a location scout for Lucasfilm, he is presently a writer at Skywalker Ranch in California. Reynolds brings to Star Wars his background in culture, history, and technology studies, and has written four Star Wars books, including Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections, a companion volume to this book from Dorling Kindersley.

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A review by Steve Lazarowitz

Star Wars has made such an impression on the world of pop science fiction that one could say it almost single-handedly brought the genre into the mainstream. At very least, George Lucas proved to Hollywood that a SF movie could generate an awful lot of income. Considering that it encompassed only three movies (thus far), the amount of continued interest is nothing short of astonishing. Star Wars has become an icon, a science fantasy against which all new SF movies must be measured.

Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary is perhaps an inaccurate title for this volume. For one thing, the entries are not in alphabetical order. For another, it is in no way comprehensive.

Still, it is a great visual representation of the Star Wars characters and creatures from all three movies. There are approximately six pictures per page, each of which highlights one of the main characters, or a group of minor characters. Take as an example Luke Skywalker. There are four pages dedicated to him. The text is informative, but bland, just what you might expect from a dictionary. However, the sheer number of pictures makes this a volume worth owning.

There are several large, full length photos of Luke dressed in various garb worn throughout the movies. Each page is also adorned with smaller pictures that are actual scenes from the movies, as well as photos of the devices he's used, the vehicles he's driven and small "fact" boxes that inform you of trivia tidbits that you might have missed along the way.

The book also covers in some detail Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2D2, Lando Calrissian, Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine (bet you didn't know his name!), Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. There are also sections on rebel leaders, tauntauns (one of my favorite creatures from The Empire Strikes Back!), medical droids, a rather detailed section on imperial stormtroopers, imperial droids, sand people, jawas, ewoks and more.

If you think you know everything there is to know about Star Wars, here's just a sampling of information that has gotten by me:
Who is Biggs Darklighter?
Who is the youngest person to ever hold a seat in the imperial senate?
What planet is Chewbacca from?
How many masters did C-3PO have before Luke Skywalker?
What is the Bothan spynet?
I found the book pleasing to the eye, but arranged illogically. For example, the early part of the book consists of the main characters, yet the article on Darth Vader is sandwiched between medical droids and imperial leaders. For that matter, C-3PO and R2D2 appear in the beginning and the medical droid section in the middle. Yet the section on droids in general is the last in the book. If there is any reason for this rather odd order of presentation, I was unable to unravel it. Fortunately, you can find your way about easily enough from a quick glance at the contents page.

This book is not for everyone, but it is a must for anyone who considers himself a hard-core Star Wars fan.

Copyright © 1999 Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz reads and writes fantasy and SF. His work has been published in a number of online 'zines and he is the editor of the Dragonclaw Showcase. His short story anthology A Creative Edge: Tales of Speculation is due out from Domhan books in 1999.

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