SKYWALKER: A FAMILY AT WAR: I would have loved this book when I was 13 years old. I still remember going to the library and asking about "The Adventures of Luke Skywalker" because the Star Wars paperback said that's where it was "from." S:AFAW details the "adventures" of three generations of the Skywalker family. If you've never seen "Star Wars" and don't feel like sitting through nine movies, then this is the book for you. Or, if you have seen all nine "Star Wars" movies and just want a refresher, this book may be for you as well.
What I found most interesting were the "interstitial" bits, the story fragments which occurred between the three trilogies. Author Kristen Baver draws on the movies, of course, but also the "Clone Wars" cartoon and (I suspect) comic books as well. She does a good job of "smoothing over" the inconsistencies and ignoring the outright discrepancies. [Also good at that are the "Star Wars: A Musical Journey" DVD included with the Revenge of the Sith soundtrack, and "William Shakespeare's" series of adaptations.]
Looking at just the movies, I cannot credit that the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy take place in the same universe, and honestly, I have my doubts about the final trilogy as well. I didn't want to believe that the former rebels FURBARed the New Republic so badly that the First Order rose to power in only 30 years, but this novel details how that happened. Back in the "old days," it was possible to glean additional information from the novelizations of the movies (although, admittedly, some of that information turned out to be apocryphal do to the "by the seat of his pants" plotting George Lucas employed in the original trilogy), but that kind of information was noticeably absent from the recent novelizations. S:AFAW includes much of the background information I missed from the adaptations of those movies.
On second thought, I don't know how entertaining this book would be to someone who has never seen the movies; when I got to the sections which summarized sources with which I am unfamiliar (i.e., cartoons and comics books), those didn't hold much interest for me. I loved the chapters dealing with Rey and Ben Solo's respective childhood, however. Also, this book is "Star Wars" as seen from the perspective of the Skywalker family: Anakin and Padme, Luke and Leia, Rey and Ben. If you're interested in bounty hunters and all that other peripheral crap, look elsewhere. Yeah, I would have loved this book when I was 13.
On a side note, the appeal of the "bounty hunter" characters has always eluded me.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
If you're interested in bounty hunters and all that other peripheral crap, look elsewhere. Yeah, I would have loved this book when I was 13.
I agree. Having said that, though, The Mandalorian is better than some of the movies. (It does seem to try, at least for a while, to make Boba Fett a sympathetic character, though.) You know, I can talk Marvel vs. DC on this board calmly and rationally (I think), but when it comes to following cars that have "Imperial" rather than "Alliance" icons on their back windows to represent the driver's family, I just want to run them off the road.
"I didn't want to believe that the former rebels FURBARed the New Republic..."
Of course I meant "FUBAR"...
That's what I would have said if someone else pointed it out first.
JAMES BOND, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (by Christopher Wood): This may well have been the first James Bond book I ever read. I think it is safe to say that, in junior high school, the kind of literature I read most often was "movie tie-ins." I'd go see a movie and, if I liked it, I would then read the paperback adaptation to glean more details before I would go to see the movie again. Many such adaptations were strictly hack-work, but quite a few (the Rocky ones, the Star Trek ones, the Star Wars ones) were quite entertaining.
It would not have been too long after reading James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me by Christopher Wood (the writer of the screenplay), that I went on to read all of Ian Fleming's originals. The Spy Who Loved Me (the movie) was unique at the time in that it was the first one which wasn't ostensibly based on one of Fleming's novels. [Yes, there was a book with the same title, but the plot of the movie had nothing to do with the plot of the book.] By the time I had finished all of the Fleming ones, I became quite snobbish about my James Bond books.
The Spy Who Loved Me happened to be the first James Bond movie I saw in the theater, and it was something of a disappointment. The James Bond I was familiar with (from TV, starting with Goldfinger), was a hard-edged spy (played by Sean Connery). This new Bond, Roger Moore, played the role strictly for laughs. I was disappointed that "Jaws" was an pale and obvious imitation of such classic henchmen as "Oddjob." By the time I completed my collection of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, I got rid of the two by Christopher Wood (including Moonraker). From that point on, I stopped buying "movie tie-ins" of James Bond movies.
But I recently reconsidered when I came across a battered paperback of James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me in a used bookstore. My original copy had the movie poster as a cover, but this one had a close-up photograph of Roger Moore. (I just made sure to avoid looking at the cover as I read it.) The Spy Who Loved Me is my third least favorite of all the James Bond movies (not including No Time to Die, which I have not seen). Even as a 13 year-old kid I recognized that the movie was aimed to appeal to children in a way that none of the previous James Bond movies I had seen (I had not seen them all at that point) were.
I was really very pleasantly surprised to discover that the movie adaptation was far better than the movie it was based on. If I didn't know better, I would almost guess that the movie was based on this book. Wood's writing style is nearly indistinguishable from Fleming's, and this book is even better than some of Fleming's later, lesser novels. All of the slapstick from the movie have been eliminated, including Anya Amatsova's ridiculaoud code name. Wood even provides a plausible backstory for "Jaws." It just goes to show (if further proof be needed): I didn't know everything when I was 13 years old.
Addendum: I just finished watching the movie (and will be posting shortly to the "movie" thread), but a couple of more things occurred to me about the book. For one thing, Wood is obviously knowledgeable and respectful of the Fleming books, peppering his with references to Tracy Draco, Rosa Klebb and the like. Also, not only has all slapstick been removed, but it has been replaced with more explicit scenes of sex and torture. Details vary throughout, notably the final fate of Stromberg (which is more gruesome in the book) and the fate of Jaws (which is more final).
Since last I posted I finished Whisky Sour, and it was really good.
I also read Blood of Amber, it was the next book in the Amber series. I just love how fast paced, these novels are. This one was a tight 215 pages, and nary a dull moment.
Yesterday,I finished The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollack. This book kind of reads like James Ellroy novel. Very few likable characters, and then a few different storylines that all come together in the end. Except taking place in LA, this mostly takes place in rural Ohio. I thought this was just great.
Next up it the next Amber novel, Sign of Chaos.
(On a side note, I'm happy to report I found the last 2 novels of this cycle at 2 different Half-Price Books this weekend, both in hardback)
JAMES BOND AND MOONRAKER (by Christopher Wood): Last week, I re-read James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me (the movie tie-in) for the first time in 44 years and was quite impressed by how closely Wood hued to Fleming's style and that he basically eliminated all the slapstick comedy so prevalent in the movie. It was with renewed hope that this week I re-read the "Moonraker" tie-in for the first time in 42 years. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed. I thought the "Spy" novelization read very much like a 15th Ian Fleming novel (truly I did), but presumably someone at some point in the chain of command instructed Wood to hew closer to screenplay of the movie itself than to Fleming. Consequently, the tie-in is just as I remember it, nearly identical to the movie itself, with all the silly bits intact.
Wood's version of Moonraker couldn't very well serve as a "16th" novel in the series, not only because of the differences in style, but because James Bond already encountered a "Hugo Drax" and a "Moonraker" in the Fleming book (although Moonraker was a conventional rocket rather than a space shuttle, as in the Wood version). I must admit that, as a pre-teen, I sometimes had difficulty following the plots of James Bond movies. They often seemed to me to be a series of set pieces loosely strung together. After reading this novelization I understand why: that what they are (this book/movie, anyway). My recommendations are these: for The Spy who Loved Me, read the Wood version (unless you are in the mood for a pulpy gangster novel with threats of sexual violence), and for Moonraker read the Fleming version.
I'll be back to the "movie" thread in a day or so with my thoughts on the film.
"By the time I had finished all of the Fleming ones, I became quite snobbish about my James Bond books."
By that I meant to imply that James Bond and Moonraker was the last movie tie-in/adaptation I bought, but that is not true! (Read, maybe, but not bought.) After I finished Christopher Wood's version of Moonraker, I decided to read Fleming's For Your Eyes Only collection of short stories while I decided what longer work I was going to move on to. I have first edition hardcovers of all of Fleming's Bonds (only two with dustjackets, unfortunately, and one of those badly water damaged), but I decided to read the first Jove paperback edition of For Your Eyes Only (1981) because that's what I would have read back when I read The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and the Moonraker (1979) tie-ins.
It was while going through my paperback trunk (I have long since run out of shelf space for paperbacks) I found three James Bond movie tie-ins I forgot I owned: Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is not Enough. The first is by John Gardner and the other two by Raymond Benson, both of whom have written an original Bond novel or two in their time. I have never read them before, but have always believed it's better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. I still plan to read For Your Eyes Only next, but who knows? If my mood holds, I may well read/watch the first three of the Pierce Brosnan Bonds.