HOW STAR WARS CONQUERED THE UNIVERSE: THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR FRANCHISE
Mashable’s deputy editor Chris Taylor has painstakingly compiled the definitive guide to Star Wars and its much maligned creator George Lucas. From the informative and witty introduction which taps into Navajo culture making for a surprising vantage point to dissect the franchise. By conjuring some of the spirit of ’77 with all the self-assured style of a novelist, Taylor lets readers glean a little bit of that magic for themselves.
The prose is smart, but never overwhelmingly so; potentially dense, but written in a way that is neither solely academic nor journalistic. Instead it’s an honest and welcoming style that feels like conversation between fans. The book is exhaustive at well over 400 pages, but the quality of the writing and impressive research and wit will keep you committed. Crucially, Taylor makes clear that Star Wars, nay sci-fi, was counter cultural, and that sci-fi was as embryonic of youth culture as much as rock ‘n’ roll. It’s hard to imagine after the CGI daze of the prequel trilogies, but then there’s the five stages of prequel grief to help you work that out.
The book takes a worldly view, uncovering all pockets of fandom in perhaps the only true global cultural phenomenon. Taylor puts Star Wars in a historical context as far back as the 1800s. Much of the early chapters explode the formative years and crucial early influences of Lucas. At its core, the book is a comprehensive biography of The Creator, but as always, Star Wars was more than just the brainchild of one individual.
Chapter 3 is all but dedicated to the tragic birth of the 501st legion and its surprising and meteoric rise. Chapter 4 is particularly fascinating as it explicitly outlines the 12 key influences and factors that informed Star Wars. Chapter 5 is a theological exploration of the force and the spread of Jedi as a religion on the census and beyond. Spoof Wars, Chapter 9, is a heady and exhaustive look at the slew of Star Wars parodies. Chapter 16, Being Boba, is an intimate insight into the beloved and fleeting character. Even Ghyslain Raza, AKA Star Wars Kid, gets a look in and, as always, there was much more to the story than a kid practicing his lightsaber moves.
But perhaps Taylor’s greatest accomplishment with the book is granting a new found respect for Lucas, or just a greater understanding of a man who has worn a Star Wars-shaped shackle around his ankle for almost 40 years. With the incessant speed of the web, there’s already parts of the book that feel out of date, pre-empting, no doubt, a series of re-issues and revisions to come.
INFO: HOW STAR WARS CONQUERED THE UNIVERSE: THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR FRANCHISE / AUTHOR: CHRIS TAYLOR / PUBLISHER: HEAD OF ZEUS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW