There are tons of Star Wars books out there, starting with the novelization of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (just called Star Wars back then) released in 1976, six months before the movie opened on May 25, 1977. A literal literary universe exists, dubbed the “Expanded Universe”, now called “Legends” under Disney. The books are the most revered fan fiction stories of any fandom. The creator, George Lucas, has even borrowed from what others wrote and made it canon in his far, far away galaxy.
I am here to talk about one book in particular. It isn’t fan fiction. It’s fan nonfiction. I have never read or watched anything on Star Wars as reflective and in-depth on the cultural impact it has had over the decades. The documentary Empire of Dreams included on the Special Features disc of the 2004 DVD release of the Original Trilogy was the most comprehensive biography of the conception, birth, and lifespan of a little thing called Star Wars. I still remember using that documentary as the primary source for my junior high research paper. As an 8th grader, I couldn’t think of anything better than being able to spend school time reading and watching Star Wars things. I even got a grade for spending time with my beloved Star Wars . That’s basically the school yard equivalent of getting paid for doing what you love.
Chris Taylor has taken that to the extreme by writing what I am calling the definitive Star Wars nonfiction epic.
How Star Wars Conquered the Universe‘s tagline “The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise” expresses better than I can what the book thoroughly covers. If you are a fan at all of Star Wars, you can find multiple chapters that will make you fall in love all over again. There were a couple of spots where I got chills down my spine as I read what Taylor described. The first was an in-depth analysis of the first ten minutes of A New Hope. The second was a description of what it will be like for millions of Star Wars fans to sit in the theater as Episode VII shoots us back into the stars.
Taylor’s book covers such a wide range of topics and points of view, not just how Lucas accomplished everything. For instance, I was surprised at how much time he spent on Star Wars’ impact on YouTube. He mentioned two Star Wars critique videos that I have seen over and over as well: Red Letter Media’s Mr. Plinkett’s Reviews of the Prequels and BelatedMedia’s “What if ‘Star Wars: Episode 1′ was good?”. He also talks about Family Guy spoofs, Robot Chicken, and the hundreds of other fan-made replicas whether it be on film, life-sized models, or actual legions of real-life stormtroopers.
I loved reading How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. I’ll love it even more the second, third and fourth time I read it. I’ve had to revise my top 5 book list to include Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe at #2 (behind The Bible).
Rating: 5 out of 5 Beards