Star Wars Encyclopedia
by Steve Sansweet
Published by Ballantine
Scott's Rating: (see below) out of 4
Imagine if you went to the library, opened up a World Book Encyclopedia, and it was nothing but Star Wars stuff. That's a fairly good description of the Star Wars Encyclopedia, which covers all things Star Wars. It is a hardback with a nice glossy dust jacket. It summarizes the contents of the ESSENTIAL GUIDE series as well as the Technical Journals and the GUIDE TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE books. It then goes well beyond what is covered in those books and has entries for items found in everything up to the most recent novels and comics. It has color and B&W pictures on every page which come from the CCG games, the books mentioned above, the comics, cartoons, and Lucasfilm archives.
This is a really tough book for me to rate. In order to do so fairly, I really need to look at it from two points of view. The first view is that of the casual Star Wars fan or book collector. As mentioned in the summary, the Encyclopedia covers all of the content of the previous guide books. If you didn't have all of those books, this would be the one and only one you'd want to buy. To get all of the previous paperback books, you'd have to spend over $100. The Encyclopedia gives you the same content in a nice hardback format, plus is even more up to date, for $50. It's nice to have all this info in one spot so you don't have to go to multiple sources to find it. It also has most of the cool Decipher CCG pictures in one spot. If you don't collect the cards, you might not have seen most of these beautiful shots. The book also conveniently states the first appearance of the entry. Definitely a great book. As the casual reader, I'd rate it 4 out of 4.
There's another point of view that I look at this from. That is the view of the die hard book collector that has every Star Wars book, comic, and guide that has come out in the last few years. From this point of view, there's nothing new in the Encyclopedia besides the updated content. The descriptions aren't anything that hasn't been done before and the pictures aren't new. In fact, they are the EXACT same pictures that are in the previous guide books from Del Rey. It's the same stuff, just in a different package. The book collector must ask themselves if this is worth completing their collection for and is it worth the new content. My answer was Yes, mainly because I'm a completist, not because it made me say "WOW!" And the $50 I spent on it really hit my pocketbook hard. I also had a VERY hard time finding a nice, undamaged copy. Book stores ordered so few because it was expensive, and there weren't many to pick and choose from. If I'm buying it for my collection, I want an unripped, unscratched dust jacket.
I wished they could have done something new. Maybe have pronunciations (how you say Joruus C'boath properly), new sketches, or new photos of old props. Possibly even have a real life model dress as Mara Jade (or other characters) and photograph them. Now THAT would be cool, but it would make the book more expensive. However, I would not have a problem paying more for something like that. One minor, final, nitpicky gripe. I've met John Morton, the actor who played Dack Ralter, and the guy they have in the photograph for him is not Dack Ralter. If you can't match the faces, then compare the helmets and you'll see. What happened? For all the reasons I mentioned above, as a die-hard book collector, I'd have to rate the Encyclopedia a 2.5 out of 4. Not spectacular, but a good effort.
Ugly? Hmmmm.....the thought of trying to find and buy all those CCG cards just to get a look at all the cool pictures. Thank the makers of the Encyclopedia for getting them together!!