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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS: THE SECRET LIFE OF DROIDS' DK VISUAL GUIDEBOOK



STAR WARS: THE SECRET LIFE OF DROIDS

Written and compiled by Jason Fry

Published by DORLING KINDERSLEY


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Prior to the arrival of George Lucas’s grand space fantasy saga, the majority of robots and android devices seen throughout the relatively young history of film and TV science fiction and fantasy had, with rare exceptions, been mostly of the negative and malevolent kind-especially in the early seventies: mostly as emotionless humanoid servants that appeared as decorative additions to the genre ,and to convey the science fiction environs to the general audiences, whilst others were used as B-movie attractions to scare the hell out of us, showing them as killer automatons whose duties to serve man had either been damaged or over-ridden, and leading them to rampage against their masters or subjugate humanity. STAR WARS arrival, however, was to change all this in fascinating and compelling new ways, presenting a universe of robots and androids (now named droids) unlike anything ever seen before, and making them a vital part of the storytelling process with the creation of the droid partnership of protocol servant See-Threepio (as played with English butler charm by Anthony Daniels) and his squat but invaluable Astro Droid partner Artoo Detoo-probably one of the sagas greatest, and most effective, heroes.

Deliberately chosen to act as our subliminal galactic storytellers throughout the six film opus that is the STAR WARS saga, their association with our heroes leads them to visit many weird and wonderful climes, encounter and ally themselves with the greatest of friends and fight the deadliest of enemies, where, along the way, they also show us lots of humanistic character traits and observations that quickly make them a wonderful and enjoyably eccentric comedy partnership. Alongside all that, they show an endearing, relatable and beloved quality to their story involvement and inter-relations with the human counter-parts that would be enjoyed again and again by audiences of all ages, especially children, who saw, and continue to see, a lot of the droids on-screen inquisitive and playful qualities in themselves.

Now, regular DK books writer, and one of the masters of the STAR WARS information flame, Jason Fry, returns with a charming and insightful new visual guidebook that not only incorporates and tells the incredible story of our favourite droid heroes and their iconic journey of companionship, drama and comedy, but also shows us the entire compelling sphere of influence that droids play within the Lucas created universe- devices of all personalities, shapes, sizes and functions- working for both good and evil- inside the seemingly limitless and imaginatively created past, present and futures of the Republic, Separatists, Empire and Rebellion. Take a journey into THE SECRET LIFE OF DROIDS, one of a new and exciting range of DORLING KINDERSLEY STAR WARS books that’s specially written and designed so as to give younger readers a much easier understanding, and creative enjoyment, of the epic story and its many thematic events.

Of all the subject matters to be covered in this evolving book series, the choice of droids is easily one of the best for such an impressionable target audience. There’s just so much variety to be explored and enjoyed here. From the mass effective Battle Droids, Super Battle Droids, the evil cyborg hybrid General Grievous, and other mechanical weaponry of the duplicitous Trade Federation and Separatist armies, to the medical droids that save Luke Skywalker’s frozen life on Hoth, to the commercially operated servants that live out their daily functions on varying environment worlds like Bespin, Tatooine and Coruscant, to the dangerous and cruel ones that even torture their own inside Jabba the Hutt’s Palace, this diverse array of cybernetic creations are charmingly showcased and presented in a highly accessible and lively visual design style that’s also well documented with precise and revealing info and statistics, backed up with some terrific photo imagery that must have been painstaking to research. (Check out the books opening Types of Droid spread as an example.) This book, in some respects, also helps the younger readers understand what its like to ultimately live the life as a droid, and what its programmed responsibilities and duties would entail: such additional information helping to enrich theirs and our continuing enjoyment and appreciation of the iconic and revolutionary saga…

Whether you want to find out more about Threepio and Artoo’s adventures, who well deserve their time in the limelight here, or celebrate the rest of the saga’s stunning array of diverse metallic beings, THE SECRET LIFE OF DROIDS is easily one of the best modern STAR WARS books for the younger readers, or the youngest of heart, out there, and a wonderful tribute to some of the most lovable creations ever to be seen in the history of cinema and science fiction.


STAR WARS AFICIONADO RATING: 5 out of 5

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