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Entertaining travel guide to the Star Wars galaxy.....
on April 12, 2004
Take the artistic talents of acclaimed production artist Ralph McQuarrie and the writing skills of prolific author Kevin J. Anderson (The Jedi Academy Trilogy) and you get The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, a coffee table book that gives readers a glimpse of the various planets showcased in George Lucas' original Star Wars Trilogy (1977-83).
Using McQuarrie's production sketches and paintings for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and other Lucasfilm projects (including the Endor-based television specials of the mid-1980s plus preliminary sketches for the 1997 Special Edition updates), Anderson takes readers on a grand tour of the most important planets seen in the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader half of the Star Wars Saga. Starting with Tatooine, the desert world that is the home world to both Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke and ending with Alderaan, the planet where Princess Leia was hidden from her father and was doomed to be destroyed by the Death Star, eight planets are described in individual chapters, each told not by one omniscient narrator but by eight different observers, each with his or her point of view and/or political agenda.
For instance, while the chapter on Tatooine is an anthropologist's dispassionate and scientific report on the desert planet's hostile environment and its hardy inhabitants (ranging from the nomadic and hostile Tusken Raiders and scavenging Jawas to the resilient human moisture farmers and their homesteads), the description of Coruscant, the massive city-planet which was once the seat of power of the Old Republic and is the capital of Emperor Palpatine's Galactic Empire, is a pro-Imperial propaganda article authored by Pollus Hax, the Emperor's chief public relations expert and "spin doctor."
Although much of the artwork featured in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe has been published elsewhere (either in the various Art of Star Wars books relating to the Classic Trilogy or in McQuarrie's Star Wars Portfolios), this combination of production paintings and Anderson's vivid and imaginative text works wonderfully and adds detail and background to both the movies and the post-Episode VI Expanded Universe novels, including Anderson's own JedI Academy trilogy and Darksaber.