Sunday, April 21, 2019

REVIEW: Star Wars Alien Archive

Discover hundreds of aliens from the Star Wars galaxy in this follow-up to Star Wars: Galactic Maps. Featuring detailed illustrations of the fascinating aliens and creatures that fill the Star Wars universe, this collectible gift book is a must-have for fans across the galaxy.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Star Wars Alien Archive courtesy of Disney Books.
Opinions are my own.

This book originally came out in the UK back in October but it’s finally hitting the states this month. It’s an oversized big coffee table book that’s light on text and heavier on big, beautiful illustrations that covers both sentient characters and background creatures. Aliens featured originate from the theatrically released films as well as the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. Everything from banthas and womp rats to porgs and loth rats.

In the interest in remaining as pure to the cannon as possible, the book is presented as an in-universe guide created by archivists within the galaxy far, far away. In addition to their own database information, the guide also includes snippets from an unknown traveler’s journal.

The unknown traveler documented the creatures and aliens they encountered on their journey. Interestingly, these journeys put the traveler just slightly off screen during every major scene in Star Wars history. If he didn’t directly meet a character from the films, he overheard their conversations or witnessed their exploits. The unnamed traveler might as well be R2-D2.

Because “aliens” in the Star Wars universe can refer to both sophisticated people and wild animals, the transition from one page to the next can get a bit bizarre. There’s sort of a Jane Goodall or Newt Scamander approach to the book and that’s great, but it feels like they’re writing about Jews and black people in the same book as tree frogs and kangaroos. What makes it especially weird is that there is no entry on humans.

The book also calls out famous members of certain species, but they’re not so much “famous” as they are “in the movies.” I understand mentioning Chewbacca in the entry on Wookies since he was a war hero, but Dexter Jetser? Zam Wessel? Greedo? Greedo’s the most famous Rodian in-universe? He was an underworld gangster, how do these archivists even know who he was?

This is a great book for new and younger fans to flip through as their getting interested in the franchise, but older fans might not get anything out of it. Because each section is brief, there isn’t much to learn about Jawas or Tusken Raiders that you don’t already get out of A New Hope. I’d love to see a series of books that went more in-depth on planets or categories of aliens instead of trying to cover every single species in the galaxy in one book.

While the book is kind of weirdly constructed, it’s still a great coffee table book for any Star Wars fan. The entries are fun to read and the unknown travelers notes can be cheesy but in a fun way. And the illustrations by Tim McDonagh are phenomenal, especially the full page ones you get for some of the galaxy’s most noteworthy alien species.

Click here to pre-order your copy of the Star Wars Alien Archive and explore the aliens of the galaxy far, far away.