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The Written Word

Paul's Rating

3.9 / 4


The Written Word: A Hyperspace Fan Club Exclusive

A brief introduction to the writing systems of Galactic Basic...


Paul: "The Written Word" is a fictional history of the alphabet in the Star Wars Galaxy. It's a delightful, clever piece of fiction, addressing the sort of questions that appeal to serious fanboys, but it does so with a charming playfulness that should also make it fun for readers who've never even heard of the Aurebesh.

Ever wondered why there are starfighter designs called "X-wing" and "Y-wing" if they're in an alien Galaxy? Noticed the weird scripts we see on Naboo and aboard the Empire's warships? Puzzled because Princess Leia's signature is written in English?

"The Written Word" answers all these questions, and a lot more beside. It takes most of the major forms of writing that have appeared in Star Wars continuity, and combines them into a single narrative, beginning before the birth of the Old Republic, and continuing into the movie era.

This is more than just a piece of continuity problem-solving: this is a miniature-portrait history of the civilizations of the "Galaxy far, far away"--their reach, their conflicts, their collapse, and their legacy.

Alongside this, it's clear that the author knows his scholarship. The presentation is lucid without losing any of its specialist poise, and captures the desired tone perfectly. I particularly enjoyed seeing the real-world alphabets that have found their way into Star Wars placed alongside some entirely fictional ones in a deadpan display of fun. There's a certain delight in seeing our own alphabet recontextualized as an encounter between Greek and the made-up script that appears on the screens of Star Wars spaceships.

Those readers who find this a little too cute shouldn't be discouraged either, as it's possible to imagine that there's a further game of translation going on here. In the same way as Tolkien put Westron into English and then used appropriate real-world relatives to represent the Middle-Earth languages of the Dwarves and Rohirrim, it's possible to see the use of the Greek and Aramaic alphabets here as part of a 'complex translation' from unrelated fictional scripts. And if it's good enough for Tolkien, it's surely good enough for Star Wars

Ultimately, what "The Written Word" reminds me of is the scholarly introduction that prefaces The Lord of the Rings--and in this game, there's little higher praise than that. I don't want to go into too much depth about every detail here, but it should be obvious that I really like "The Written Word": this is a splendid first contribution to Star Wars canon by John Hazlett.

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