Sunday, 17 January 2016


Versatile, dependable and an all-round very safe pair of hands, both then and now, Alan Dean Foster is the genuine go-to talent when it comes to adapting films to novel form, as well as an accomplished and hugely published original author in his own right. In 1976 he launched the original STAR WARS into the hearts and minds of fans months before the release of the actual film, ghost writing that rousing first book for George Lucas, becoming one of the few to know from the start how the saga and its characters were born (via constant communication with their creator), and helped launch a publishing empire that's continuing rosily to this day. Now, in 2015, he's back, penning the most important STAR WARS film since that original in terms of its gigantic behind the scenes shifting and re-imagining of the franchise for old and new generations alike, once again showcasing his creative mettle with this elegant and exciting adaptation of THE FORCE AWAKENS- of which it gives me, and I'm sure many, many others, a happy glow to finally see his name born on the jacket of an official STAR WARS movie adaptation.

The new heroine of STAR WARS: the enchanting Rey.

Foster's flair for his work, and his obvious enjoyment in returning to the saga, is clear- the storytelling feels rights and comes across as a warm sequel to that original 1976 book in so many ways (even down to the all-new Journal of the Whills quote that subtly launches things in style) - the adaptation is precise and turn-the-page memorable, his knowledge of the old characters palpable (Han Solo is exceptionally good here), his development of the new ones full of potential (Rey, who seems a little bit harsher in her Jakku scenes, and the on-the brink villainy of Kylo Ren), alongside a crisp prose coming to the mind's eye (forgive the pun) with a rich and experienced love and command of the written word that puts many of today's SW book world, needlessly overwritten authors to shame. Foster remain unchallenged as the ultimate STAR WARS film-to-book translator.

Kylo Ren's mission to destroy the missing Luke Skywalker gathers momentum.

As with the tradition of all the previous STAR WARS books of the films- not just his work but others- Foster adapts from the original yet still evolving shooting script (and/or likely even a near-final production cut), so there's obviously lots of nice extended moments of deleted dialogue/lost sequences to savour, as well as some quiet foreshadowing to future sequels if you know where to look (Kylo Ren's finale lightsaber duel with Rey having a subtle revelation). In story terms, welcome clarity is given to Princess Leia and the Resistance's battle against the mysterious alien leader Snoke (whose origins and his relationship to the Dark Side-turned Ren get some brief teasing) and the First Order (who aren't the incompetents here that they often seem to be on screen). Plot holes that are more noticeable in printed form (where did pirate bartender Maz Kanata disappear to?), specific rationales and unanswered technological questions (how the Starkiller's unique system killing weapon travels beyond Hyperspace) are also cleverly worked out and resolved. Foster, clearly a Classic Trilogy aficionado, also puts in some fun references and in-jokes of his own, and some additionally touching moments to a story already brimming with nostalgia and high emotion (Chewbacca's wanting Rey to have the Falcon's main pilot seat bringing a tear or two to this reader's eyes). My only complaint with the book is its tight 272 page count- this is one of the few times these last ten years that I could have happily consumed another fifty pages!

Putting STAR WARS confidently back at the Number One slot of the New York Times Bestseller List, here's hoping that Mister Foster will also be the ultimate choice in adapting EPISODEs VIII and IX, in much the same way that he so pleasingly worked on J.J. Abrams two STAR TREK movie books in recent years.

AFICIONADO RATING. A refreshing read to a re-invigorated franchise. If this isn't on your bookshelf already, go get it! 4.5 out of 5

Get the UK CENTURY PUBLISHING hardcover book, which includes eight pages of lovely photo content, here: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Alan Dean Foster: 9781780894768: Books

Alan Dean Foster official site: ALAN DEAN FOSTER

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