Sunday, November 29, 2009

Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Foster, Alan Dean)

Rating: 3
Year: 1978
Genre: Sci / Star Wars
Read again? Ask me in 10 years.

I took nearly 5 pages of notes for this one. Woof.

This was the first "Star Wars" spin-off book to pop up after the original movie. I ate it up, like many "Star Wars"-hungry kids of the time. I suppose Foster--and Brian Daley, with his "Han Solo" books--knew their audience. At least, I hope they were deliberately writing for 11-year-olds. It would explain a few things.

As with Daley's "Solo" books, you won't find "Star Wars" anywhere in or on the book, just the "from the Adventures of Luke Skywalker" note beneath the title. But you know it's SW because it's got SW words--Luke Skywalker! Princess Leia! R2-D2! C-3PO!

And Darth Vader!

That was all this 11-year-old needed.

Luke & Leia are sneaking from the outskirts of the Circarpous system to a meeting with possible Rebel sympathizers on the 4th planet. Instead of them driving something sensible like a shuttle or courier ship, Luke's in his trusty X-Wing (with Artoo) and Leia's flying a Y-Wing (with 3PO).

Leia's ship develops convenient engine trouble and they make a forced landing on Dagobah Circarpous V, aka Mimban, a swampy, slimy mudhole that Yoda would love. Both ships are wrecked (convenient lightning-like disruption in the upper atmosphere), and the four of them make their way to a landing beacon, hoping for passage off-planet.

They find an Imperial mining colony, complete with Stormtroopers and rowdy miners. Luke & Leia steal some clothes and try to fit in. They meet an old woman and strike a deal with her: help her find the fabled Kaiburr crystal, she'll help them steal a ship.

--Leia's engine trouble is in her upper-right engine...on a Y-Wing? They only HAVE two engines. I'm not gonna be out-geeked by this hack!

--The lightning-like disruption doesn't damage Artoo, even though the droid's exposed outside Luke's ship.

--Landing beacon, colony--but no one picked up all the radio chatter between Luke & Leia before and during the crisis. After he crashes, Luke refrains from yelling while he looks for Leia--might attract attention.

--The Big Battle near the end features a primitive tribe of critters that demolish a company of Stormtroopers without using energy weapons. The Coway aren't ewoks, but the parallels between this and "Jedi" are amusing. Obviously (if we take this book as canon) the Empire didn't learn a thing from the encounter.

--The Kaiburr crystal: a honking big glowing ruby that magnifies the Force. And we never see it again once the book's done.

This is another B-grade sci-fi book like Daley's "Han Solo" trio and the horrible epic series "New Jedi Order." The plot doesn't twist much at all, and we plod half-awake from situation to situation--oh, look, they're gonna crash. Oh, she fell into quicksand. Look, Stormtroopers. Oh, now she fell through a hole in the ground. That guy's gonna kill Luke. Oh no, Stormtroopers are coming. Hey, that's that Darth Vader guy, he's not very nice. What? The book's done? Yay.

Where Daley relies on the longer words in his thesaurus to remind us that he's being sophisticated, Foster tends to go for word-count.

Characterization isn't great; Leia is just the girl-in-distress, screaming and crying hysterically at times. She gets mad at Luke after the crash-landing for not pulling a miracle out of his ass and saving the mission...WHOSE ship had engine trouble? Then she gets mad at him for being right about not trying to land on Mimban. She gets mad a lot. She does the Space Bitch thing a lot. Meh.

Foster DOES play lightly with the sexual tension between pre-sibling Luke and Leia (remember, it's not until "Return of the Jedi" that we learn about that), but they still never do more than exhange significant stares. There was some attempt at character development, but none of them are interesting people for the reader to identify with.

Dialog is laughable at best; none of the Big Names sounds like him- or herself. They all sound like Foster's writing.

If you want GOOD "Star Wars," find Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn" books--a trilogy and a pair--and skip this one.

1 comment:

zahareeel said...
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