As part of an ongoing effort to prove Captain Comics can read books without pictures, he'll pretend to review the pile of related books that have stacked up in the Comics Cave:
- "All the Other Things I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation" (by Dave Marinaccio, Pocket Books, $20) is a book the Captain tried to like and just couldn't.Like his previous book, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek," Marinaccio attempts to show how events in the Trek universe can teach us lessons in our own. A cute idea if handled well.
Unfortunately, this book is little more than a tedious exercise in self-congratulation. Gee, see how clever Dave is. Listen to how successful Dave is. Admire Dave's wonderful career choices. Oh, and he can make puns about "Star Trek," too. What a great guy!
The Captain is very happy that Marinaccio is making a lot of money in his chosen field (advertising, if you must know). Really. But it's a bit annoying to read about him bragging about it while cashing in on a beloved TV show on which he's never worked, and only watched.
Well, he's watched some of them, anyway. Marinaccio doesn't know what the exchange rate is in the 24th century (it's gold-pressed latinum), for example, or how the Enterprise crew launders its clothes (they're recycled in the replicator). How can he not know these things - which hardly qualify as trivia to regular viewers - and pass himself off as an expert at $20 a pop?
Further, the book is only 165 pages, and the Captain read it at a sitting. He suspects that most "TNG" fans could have WRITTEN it in a sitting, too.
I suppose the next book will be "All the Money I Ever Wanted I Exploited Out of Star Trek." Nah. That would be too honest.
- Some people criticize "Star Wars" novels since they must perforce circle and feed on the original three movies in a manner closely akin to vultures. This is necessary, as the various authors are not allowed to tread on the areas reserved for the coming movies - in other words, anything before or after the original three films.
However, due to the ingenuity of the authors and editors, this unavoidable redundancy has become a great deal of fun for the Captain.
Take for example, "I, Jedi" (by Michael A. Stackpole, Bantam, $23.95). It stars Corran Horn, a fellow created for the novels and one the Captain had never previously warmed up to. In the "Jedi Academy Trilogy" he was a nice guy and incipient Jedi, like Luke Skywalker. In the "X-Wing: Rogue Squadron" books, he showed he was a "hot hand" as a fighter pilot, like Wedge Antilles. And in all his many other appearances, he's a tricky Correllian, like Han Solo. In other words, there seemed little unique about him, and his insertion into most of the books sometimes seemed forced.
Well, "I, Jedi" explains all that. Horn's full story - and a fine character arc - comprise the gist of the novel, which takes place simultaneously with all of Horn's other adventures! Throughout the novel we see clever takes on previous scenes from other points of view, and the deja vu is thick enough to cut with a lightsaber. For a comics fan who grew up on Stan Lee's overlapping universe, it's challenging, informative - and just a whole lot of fun.
- "The Mandalorian Armor" (Book 1 of 6 of "The Bounty Hunter Wars," by K. W. Jeter, Bantam Books, $5.95) is another example of this delightful effort.
"Tales of the Bounty Hunters" gave us the backstory of Boba Fett and his peers after Darth Vader set them on Han Solo's trail in the second movie ("The Empire Strikes Back"). We've seen Fett get eaten by the gigantic Sarlacc (in the third movie, "Return of the Jedi") and his subsequent escape (in "Tales from Jabba's Palace"). And we've learned some of Fett's background in "Tales From the Empire."
Judging from the first book, "The Bounty Hunter Wars" sextet seems intent on tying all these stories together in one coherent whole. And since it's written by the author of the two "Blade Runner" novels - which the Captain has raved about in previous columns - it's a darn fine show.
- The Captain approached "Fantastic Four: The Redemption of the Silver Surfer" (by Michael Jan Friedman, Byron Preiss Multimedia, $6.50) with something resembling dread.
When he pans one of these comics-as-novels, he gets mail explaining what an idiot he is. When he approves of one, he gets mail explaining what an idiot he is. And worst of all, just about every appearance of the Silver Surfer gives him a new origin inconsistent with his previous appearances.
Not this time. The Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer must enter the Negative Zone to do battle with what appears to be the polar opposite of our universe's world-devouring Galactus - at the side of archfiend Blastaar, no less. Everybody remains completely in character, the backstories remain consistent, the FF are heroic, Blastaar is nasty, the Galactus wannabe is majestic and mysterious, the Negative Zone is an exotic locale and the Surfer experiences romance - and disaster.
In short, it's an effective, page-turning adventure in the mighty Marvel style - but with more insight and fewer pictures.
Gee, I wonder what kind of mail I'll get this time?