Tales of the Bounty Hunters, by Kevin J. Anderson (ed.)

June 9, 2012 at 21:49 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Science Fiction, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , )

8/10

It is to be expected when reading anthologies that there will be worthless dross amongst the entries. This expectation is almost shattered in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, which marks a surprising halfway point in the Star Wars universe. Earlier authors had more freedom in what they wrote, which led to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy and Stackpole’s X-Wing series, but also to bizarre sidetracks like The Crystal Star and the Corellian trilogy. Later authors were kept on a tighter leash by Lucasfilm, and it shows.

“Her head was shaven completely bald and glistened with perspiration under harsh white recording lights that gave her lantern-jawed face a cadaverous look. Her teeth were spaced with broad gaps, and she spoke by opening her mouth wide and clicking down on the words, gnashing her teeth on every consonant.”

-Tales of the Bounty Hunters

In Tales of the Bounty Hunters, there is clear evidence that the authors had a larger storyline in mind, and were not just writing for the sake of good stories.  This is not necessarily a bad thing: Dengar’s story, for instance, held the germ of the occasionally exciting Bounty Hunters trilogy. As standalone stories, none of these are especially poor. Dave Wolverton’s entry with Dengar suffers from clunky and ugly writing. Anderson’s own story about IG-88 is well told and exhibits some of his best writing, but is unoriginal and shallow. Daniel Keys Moran submits one of the most mature and thoughtful Star Wars stories in the franchise, daring to question the credentials of Han Solo as a hero, exploring varying and conflicting motivations in his story’s heroes and villains alike, and bringing up issues including war crimes, trafficking and the death penalty, of all things.

This anthology is a relic, and fits rather badly with the books it fits between. It contains some bland and some poor writing, but also some of the most speculative Star Wars literature in the franchise. If any book in the Star Wars series is worth reading, this one is.

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