Star Wars Galaxy of Fear #4
The Nightmare Machine
by John Whitman
Published by Bantam
Scott's Rating: 1.5 out of 4
Tash and Zak are dropped off on Hologram Fun World by their Uncle Hoole. They are supposed to have fun while he runs off on some secret mission. This park is based entirely on realistic looking holograms, much like the Holodeck on Star Trek. While there, they run into Lando who is interested in the place as a possible business prospect. He asks the kids to look the place over for him and let him know if it is fun. Unfortunately, they run into the park's latest addition, the Nightmare Machine, which also happens to be a part of the mysterious evil Starscream Project. It is basically a creepy creature that finds your deepest fears and plants them in your brain. Will they all die???? Well, there are a bunch more books after this, so you figure it out.
Beautiful cover by Scott Chorney. Very well done, though it looks hauntingly like the cover to the paperback version of The Courtship of Princess Leia. Whitman also manages to break out of the familiar story mold a little bit. It's usually the kids going to a planet, they see something dangerous, nobody believes them, then everything goes down the toilet, then a character from the films saves the day. This time it's the same deal, but most of the plot is just one of the kid's nightmares, so technically it's new. :)
The story is very predictable. You know exactly what's going to happen fairly early on, then it's dragged out for a while. Second, the book seems to ignore important items like the fact that Sabacc does not require a card shuffler like we have in the real world. In this story, it is played like a card game on Earth with plastic cards. Kind of off. Plus, this story takes place right before Empire Strikes Back, however, Lando is not Baron Administrator of Cloud City yet. He mentions going to check that place out right at the end of this book, but that does not leave him a heck of a lot of time to become the most important person on Bespin, does it? Overall, not an impressive book in any way.
Hmmm. The mutations? The brain monster, the reappearance of Whaladons? Hard to say what is most ugly.