“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
-William Goldman, “The Princess Bride”
That quote sums up Christian Blauvelt’s new book, “Star Wars: How Not to Get Eaten by Ewoks and Other Galactic Survival Skills” quite nicely. With a mouthful of a title, his latest effort is very much about beating the odds and hopefully, just maybe, cheating death. Basically, if surviving the galaxy from a broad perspective was a video game, then Christian has just delivered to you the ultimate walkthrough guide.
Here’s the publisher’s summary…
The Star Wars galaxy is a dangerous place. From ruthless bounty hunters, ferocious beasts, and extreme weather, to hostile landscapes, social minefields, and backstabbing allies, perils and hazards are never far away! How do you flee an exploding Death Star? What's the best way to source a starship at a spaceport? How would you escape being kidnapped by Tusken Raiders on Tatooine? Survival means keeping your wits about you. This fun, practical Star Wars book teaches you how to recognize threats and learn what to do to stay alive in a galaxy far, far away.
Christian Blauvelt, author of Star Wars Made Easy, Be More Vader, and Be More Yoda, is back and he's more quippy than ever. And As with those other titles, this is a canon book which uses practical in-universe tips, tricks, hints, and pieces of advice, dressed up in very recognizable Star Wars vernacular and axioms.
In this case, Christian is not only showing us just how dangerous the galaxy is, but how to prepare for, and maybe even survive, the many pitfalls it presents. From travelling through hyperspace, encountering bounty hunters, and even maneuvering your way around a dicey cocktail party at the First Light, it’s all there to be mused upon.
Because as it turns out, there’s an almost infinite amount of ways one can shorten their lifespan in the Star Wars universe. And aside from laser swords, blaster bolts, and Death Stars, although all three are mentioned throughout, the odds are you’ll die from as asteroid collision, freeze to death on Hoth, or spend a lifetime of servitude at Jabba’s palace.
So, the altruistic Mr. Blauvelt has taken it upon himself to give us all 124 pages of sage advice and life-saving tips. Pointers like how to build a Tauntaun Tent, or, for the underdeveloped empaths out there, how to prep and cook a tasty Porg (sorry)!
Christian’s writing style is dry and no-nonsense, exactly as a survival guide should be, free of personal sentiments and full of pragmatism. But he does shift your mental balance by lifting your spirits once second, then letting them down the next. In once instance, he’ll tell you how beautiful and wondrous certain aspects of the galaxy are, then quickly remind you that you’re likely to die from them.
It’s a machinelike, cynical, mostly dispassionate list of “dos’” and “don’ts” where the business of living and dying, is all economical, it’s nothing personal. Take this passage for example in the “Hazards of Technology” section…
“If you’re on the surface of a planet blasted by a superlaser and no evacuation is possible, have some dignity in your demise. Share a tender moment with someone you care for while you wait for the hypersonic wave of super-heated matter to reduce to you to ash.”
Here, he turns a perfectly poetic, even romantic condition, into a stark cold reality with the bedside manner of a pathologist. Wonderful stuff.
As for the contents of the book, pretty much every topic under the twin suns of Tatooine, including the twin suns of Tatooine, is covered. It’s laid out into six risk categories: Dangerous Environments, Dangers of Travel, Hazards of Technology, Social Minefields (my favorite), Escape, Evasion, and Infiltration, and finally Dangerous Creatures.
Each category is filled with enough “Star Wars” to shake a Gaffi Stick at (also a danger) and there’s a ton of information squeezed into each small page. I mean it, the book is literally quite small, measuring only 5.25” x 7.25” which caught me off guard a little, because it contains lots of big ideas, so in my head I was expecting a physically larger book.
But then I thought about it for a second, and in truth, if you were traipsing around the galaxy surrounded by all sorts of inherent danger, would you want to be weighed down by a large book? No, you’d want a small, lightweight travel companion that could fit easily into the coat pocket of an Echo Base Han Solo Parka. I must assume that was the plan all along and as someone who cares about this type of stuff; it mirrors the layout, size, and shape of his “Be More…” series, so it looks great on the bookshelf alongside those.
Christian uses pretty much only familiar events and anecdotes, mostly from the films, to provide clear examples of how to stay alive. Whether it’s stealing coaxium from Kessel, sweet-talking Jabba the Hutt in his palace, or even how to negotiate with Boss Nass, Christian prepares you for every conceivable stinky situation.
And he does so with not only many facts and stratagem, but he familiarizes you with how to play many of the galaxy’s games, learn a few languages besides basic, and which currencies work best when bribing a check point or customs officer on Coruscant.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, this is an incredibly dense book and just about every character, planet, and major event is mentioned at one point or another. But thanks to the very handy index at the back, you can navigate your way through the book with relative ease. Kudos goes to the fine folks at DK for that one.
Like all good Star Wars reference type books, this one uses narrative to help get the point across and because of that the book is entirely in context. I’m not sure a casual fan will gleam much from it and kids won’t stand a chance, so I can’t help but feel Christian wrote this from his perspective entirely, that of the experienced and knowledgeable fan.
And speaking at FAN EXPO Canada recently, Christian mentioned he was able to not only sneak in a few old Expanded Universe references, making them canon, but also had the pleasure of naming a few things as well. Those types of Easter Eggs are littered throughout the book and are best left for you to discover if you can. Again, this speaks to a more knowledgeable Star Wars fan, picking out these subtle and sometimes obscure references.
Since these guidelines and instructions are not actually helpful in real-life, the gratification from this book will come from having a strong knowledge base of what he’s talking about. It’s only then you’re able to enjoy it strictly on a satirical level, the level it probably should be enjoyed on. The alternative is you’ll likely spend too much energy wondering what a Zygerrian slaver is, or who the heck is Sidon Ithano, and in turn missing the point.
This is not to dissuade someone from reading this book however, not at all, because while it’s draped in deep Star Wars minutiae, it’s practical in a way that makes it enjoyable on different, more instructive levels. And hey, if you’re looking to fast track your education, and dive into the deep end of Star Wars trivia, this is great place to start.
Ultimately, this is too much idea for one book really and would play better as a series, giving each risk category its own edition. The layout of the book would be greatly helped by giving all these wonderful factoids room to breath, but as it stands, feels a little cluttered. Ultimately, its only a problem if your trying to make your way through it, start to finish, but like Christian’s other titles, is an excellent reference book that should be easy to pull from time to time.
“…likely death always beats certain death.”
After reading it, it’s hard not to feel a little less hopeful as Christian compounds the bad news repeatedly, maybe altering your outlook on life. Sure, he offers respite by submitting solutions to many of the problems he presents, but if you set aside those helpful hints, tips, and bits of advice, Christian is basically the Debbie Downer of the Star Wars galaxy. And in some cases, there is no escaping death, only delaying it, or relishing your final moments, like on the beach in Scarif.
So, what are we left with? On one hand he’s given us a grim reminder that for many of the galaxy’s denizens, the good, bad, and ugly, an ending where you don’t end up bantha fodder is probably not in the cards. On the other more upbeat side of things, there’s an upside to this book that make’s it one of the most delightful and breezy reads you’ll likely get to this year!
And in case you’re wondering, yes, Christian does indeed tell us how NOT to get eaten by Ewoks.
"Star Wars: How Not to Get Eaten by Ewoks and Other Galactic Survival Skills" is published by DK Books and is available now. Get yours today by clicking HERE!
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