|Jim Sledge||Brooks, Terry: Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Brooks, Terry: Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. New York: Lucas Books: The Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999.
First Edition May 1999.
First Mass Market International Edition: March 2000
First Mass Market Domestic Edition: March 2000
Copyright: Lucasfilm Ltd & TM.
First Printing 725,000 copies.
Sources: First Edition, WorldCat, Amazon.com, abebooks.com, www.theforce.net
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American edition was published in hardcover.
Source: First Edition
|3. Image of Cover Art||A13191060215221957.jpg|
|4. Pagination||168 leaves, pp. [1-3]4-1113-2325-3941-5355-6365-7081-9294-106108-122124-138140-153155-166168-178180-194196-206208-218220-231233-243245-260262-271273-282284-297299-313315-324
Source: Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The book is neither edited nor introduced.
Dedication is transcribed below in number 15.
|6. Illustrated?||The book is not illustrated.|
|8. General Appearance||Pages measure 23.5 cm by 15 cm. The text measures 17 cm by 10.5 cm. Top margin measures 3.5 cm. Side margin measures 2.5 cm. Bottom margin measures 2.5 cm.
The size of type measures 109R.
Colophon states, "This book was set in Galliard, a typeface designed by Matthew Carter for the Merganthaler Linotype Company in 1978. Galliard is based on the sixteenth-century typefaces of Robert Granjon."
|9. Image of Sample Chapter Page||A19191060215130616.jpg|
|10. Description of Paper||The pages are white and fairly smooth. The same stock, relatively sturdy, is used throughout. Top, bottom, and side edges are straight. The paper on the examined copy, at seven years of age, is holding up well. There are few signs of foxing or stains, and there are no tears.
Source: First Edition
|11. Description of Binding||The book is bound in paper with hard cover. The spine is made to look like cloth, embossed calico grain according to Gaskell. The color of the spine and covers is deep black. Stamped in silver on the spine is the title, author, and publisher logo. There are no illustrations. End papers are the same color as all other pages.
The Lucas Books logo appears vertically at the top of the spine. Next, the title runs horizontally, "Star Wars" printed in its trademark font. "Episode I" appears horizontally over "The Phantom Menace." The author's name appears horizontally, "Terry" over "Brooks." The DelRey logo appears vertically at the bottom of the spine.
Sources: First Edition, Gaskell
|12. Title Page Transcription||Recto:
STAR|WARS|EPISODE I|THE PHANTOM MENACE|TERRY BROOKS|BASED ON THE STORY AND SCREENPLAY|BY GEORGE LUCAS|[Lucas Books logo]|[publisher's crest]|THE BALLANTINE PUBLISHING GROUP|NEW YORK
A Del Rey BookR|Published by The Ballantine Publishing Group|Copyright 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.|All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.|All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright|Conventions. Publishing Group, a division of Random House of Canada Limited,|Toronto.|Del Rey and colophon are registered trademarks of|The Ballantine Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.|www.randomhouse.com/delrey/ |www.starwars.com|Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 98-96827|ISBN 0-345-42765-3|Interior design by Michaelis/Carpelis Design Assoc. Inc.|First Edition: May 1999|10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Sources: First Edition, Gaskell
|13. Image of Title Page||A113191060215132418.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||Search of Google, RLIN, National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections revealed no information.|
|15. Other||Transcription of dedication:
To Lisa, Jill, & Alex,|the kids who grew up with the story| &| to Hunter,| the first of the next generation
The first edition of The Phantom Menace shipped with four different dust jackets for readers to choose from. Each dust jacket simply sported a close up picture of one of the following characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul, Anakin Skywalker, or Queen Amidala. Because the book was released before the long awaited movie, these covers gave people a chance to see some of the new characters. It could also be viewed as a ploy by Lucas and the publisher to boost sales since many fans would purchase multiple copies of this book as a collectible set thereby increasing sales and revenue.
While the book contains no illustrations, each page of text is topped with three horizontal lines. On even numbered pages, the lines run from the page number to the author's name. On odd numbered pages, the lines run from the book's title to the page number.
Chapter pages contain the chapter number, centered, with three shortened lines running horizontally through the digit. Also, the first letter of the first word in each chapter is printed in a large, oversized block capital letter.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||Ballantine released a Book Club Edition in 1999 with the same number of pages as the First Edition (324), only it measured 20 cm., instead of the original 25 cm. ISBN: 0345427653
In 2000, the First Mass Market Domestic Edition was released. 330p.; 18 cm. ISBN: 0345434110
Also in 2000, a 330p.; 25 cm. paperback edition was released. ISBN: 0345439287
|2. Image of Cover Art||A22191060227133327.jpg|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||The novel had 1.3 million copies in print after two reprintings in 1999.
|5. Editions from other publishers?||1999 - London: Century. ISBN: 0712680578
2000, 1999 - London: Arrow. ISBN: 0099409968
|6. Last date in print?||Bowker's Books in Print lists the item status of this book as out of stock indefinitely. It was last printed in the United States in 2000. The latest printing of the book took place in China in 2002. The bibliographic citation of this Chinese printing is listed in question 13.|
|7. Total copies sold?||While no figures for The Phantom Menace alone were found, some interesting numbers on the Star Wars saga were available.
3.1 million copies of narrative (non-illustrated) second trilogy (1999-2004) Star Wars books were sold as of May 2005.
13.7 million copies of narrative original trilogy (1976-1983) Star Wars books were sold as of May 2005.
UK based publishing house Dorling Kindersley (commonly known as DK) sold over 3 million copies of Star Wars tie-ins in 1999, the year that The Phantom Menace was released; however, it was left with 10 million copies unsold. The excess in supply was a miscalculation that resulted in a $41 million loss that nearly led ownership to sell the company.
|8. Sales by year?||Not available|
|9. Advertising copy:||In publishing books related to The Phantom Menace, it would appear that the licensees have become players in what is, for them, a whole new ball game. In effect, they're publishing blockbusters without being able to promote them in advance (although one could argue that these blockbusters scarcely require promotion).
Since none of the new movie's artwork was able to be shown, sell sheets and other promotional material could depict only dummy book jackets, or else had to rely on images from the earlier films; phrases such as "not final cover" became the order of the day. And floor and counter displays, an integral part of this program, were not pictured at all or, in the case of one catalogue, draped with a protective shroud.
Dick Donohue - Publishers Weekly
|10. Image of sample advertisement||A210191060227201157.jpg|
|11. Other promotion?||Del Rey associate publisher, Kuo-Yo Liang comments on the release of The Phantom Menace having four different covers for consumers to choose from. (The close up photos of characters from the feature film were among the first pictures from the movie to be released to the public.)
"We wanted to underscore the fact that The Phantom Menace is a rich, diverse story with wide appeal. Because of its many interesting characters and elements, we felt that one cover wouldn't do it justice."
The Force's second coming has also been trumpeted on the covers of such magazines as Entertainment Weekly, Premiere, Vanity Fair, and Time ("George Lucas talks to Bill Moyers about the spiritual side of the Force"). Five weeks ago, the customarily reclusive Lucas was interviewed on 60 Minutes as part of a major Phantom Menace segment.
Dick Donohue - Publishers Weekly
Not relying solely on the film's incredible publicity blitz, Del Rey will send bestselling author Terry Brooks on a six-city tour starting May 24; media coverage includes appearances on Access Hollywood, CNN's Showbiz Today, a USA Today feature and lots more.
Daisy Maryles - Publishers Weekly
|12. Performances in other media?||Audio:
Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom Menace. Terry Brooks, George Lucas, read by Alexander Adams. Library ed. English Sound Recording: Non-music: Fiction: Cassette tape 7 sound cassettes ( 1 1/2 hr.each): analog, Dolby processed. Newport Beach, CA. Books on Tape: Published by arrangement with Random House Audio Pub., 1999. ISBN: 073664511X
Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. Terry Brooks, George Lucas, read by Michal Cumpsty. Library ed. English Sound Recording: Non-music: Fiction: Compact disc 9 sound discs (ca. 10 hr.): [S.I.]: Random House Audiobooks, 1999.
Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. George Lucas; Liam Neeson; Ewan McGregor; Natalie Portman; Jake Lloyd; Samuel L. Jackson; John Williams. English Visual Material: Videorecording: VHS tape 1 videocassette (133 min.): sd., col.; 1/2in. Beverly Hills, CA: Distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2000, 1999.
Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. George Lucas; Rick McCallum; Liam Neeson; Ewan McGregor; Natalie Portman; Jake Lloyd; Ian McDiarmid. English Visual Material: Videorecording: DVD video 2 videodiscs: sd., col.; 4 3/4 in. Beverly Hills, CA: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2001.
Star Wars: Episode I, Insider's Guide. LucasArts, 1999. Platform: Nintendo 64, PC Windows.
Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. LucasArts, 1999. Platform: PlayStation, PC Windows.
Star Wars: Episode I Racer. LucasArts, 1999. Platform: Nintendo 64, PC Windows, Macintosh.
Star Wars: Battle for Naboo. LucasArts, 2001. Platform: Nintendo 64, PC Windows.
Star Wars: Racer Revenge. LucasArts, 2002. Platform: PlayStation 2.
First Star Wars Ebook was this tie-in:
Luceno, James. Star Wars: Darth Maul: Sabotuer. Del Rey/ LucasBooks (www.randomhouse.com/delrey),$1.99 (47p) 2001.
World Cat, Publishers Weekly, www.starwars.com, www.lucasarts.com, www.imdb.com, www.google.com
|13. Translations?||[Spanish] Brooks, Terry and George Lucas. Star Wars: Episodio I, La Amenaza Fantasma; La Guerra de las Galaxies. Barcelona: Plaza & Janes Editores, 1999. ISBN: 8401013003
[Spanish] Brooks, Terry, Joaquim Dorca, Salvador Tintore, and Xavier Garriga. La Amenaza Fantasma. Barcelona: Ediciones Martinez Roca, 1999. ISBN: 8427024851
[Japanese] Brooks, Terry, George Lucas and Kazuko Tominaga. Suta Wozu: Episodo 1: Fantomou Menasu. Tokyo: Soni Magajinzu, 1999. ISBN: 4789713679
[German] Brooks, Terry, and George Lucas. Star Wars: Episode I: Die Dunkle Bedrohung. Germany: Blanvalet, 1999. ISBN: 8401013003
[German] Brooks, Terry, and George Lucas. Star Wars: Episode I: Die Dunkle Bedrohung. Munchen: Blanvalet, 1999. ISBN: 3442352436
[Finnish] Brooks, Terry, and Ilkka Aarela. Star Wars: Episodi I, Pimea Uhka. Porvoo: Helsinki; Juva: WSOY, 1999. ISBN: 9510234958
[Russian] Brooks, Terry, and George Lucas. Star Wars: Epizod I, Prizrachnaia Ugroza. Moskva: EKSMO-Press; Sankt-Peterburg: Terra Fantastica, 2000. ISBN: 5792102899 (Terra Fantastica) 5040043244 (EKSMO-Press)
[Chinese] Brooks, Terry. Xing Qui da Zahn: Quin Zhuan I, You Ling de Wei Xie. Beijing: Ren min wen xue chu ban she, 2002. ISBN:7020039278
|14. Serialization?||These might be considered more accurately as tie-ins rather than serials, but they involve the same characters around the same plot as in Phantom Menace. The first three offer unique first person point-of-view perspectives from the narrating character. All of the books target a juvenile audience.
Strasser, Todd. Star Wars: Episode I, Journal: Anakin Skywalker. New York: Scholastic, 1999. ISBN: 0590520938
Watson, Jude. Star Wars: Episode I, Journal: Queen Amidala. New York: Scholastic, 1999. ISBN: 0590521012
Watson, Jude. Star Wars: Episode I, Journal: Darth Maul. New York: Scholastic, 2000. ISBN: 0439139414
Arnold, Eric. Darth Maul's Revenge. New York: Random House, 2000. ISBN: 0375904328
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||The Phantom Menace itself is the first of a trilogy of prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. Thus the remaining five volumes of the entire six volume story run in the following order.
Salvatore, R.A., George Lucas and Johnathan Hales. Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones. New York: Del Rey, 2002. ISBN: 0345428811
Stover, Matthew Woodring, and George Lucas. Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. New York: Lucas Books / Del Rey, 2005. ISBN: 0345428838
Lucas, George. Star Wars: from the Adventures of Luke Skywalker: a Novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 1976. ISBN: 0345260791
Glut, Donald F., and George Lucas. The Empire Strikes Back. New York: Ballantine, 1980. ISBN: 0345283929
Kahn, James, Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. New York: Ballantine Books, 1983. ISBN: 0345307674
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
|Terry Brooks was born on January 8, 1944, in Sterling, Illinois, where he spent the larger part of his childhood and early adult years. He is the son of Dean Oliver Brooks and Marjorie Iantha Gleason. His father was a printer and his mother was a homemaker. Brooks married his first wife Barbara Ann Groth on April 23, 1972. From this marriage, children Amanda Leigh and Alexander Stephen were born. Later Brooks would marry bookseller, Judine Elaine Alba on December 11, 1987 (3). As of December 2005, the two are still together and plan to return to their home in the Pacific Northwest after spending some time in Hawaii (4).
Brooks received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York in 1966. He then earned his law degree from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia in 1969. After graduation, Brooks returned to Sterling to become a practicing attorney with Besse, Frye, Arnold, Brooks & Miller, Attorneys at Law where he remained until 1986 (1).
Brooks’ earlier writings, beginning in high school, were experiments in science fiction, westerns, and non-fiction. It wasn’t until he discovered Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” that he realized the “one genre where [he] could explore ideas about life, love, truth, redemption and the wonder that fills the world” (4).
While studying at Washington and Lee, Brooks began writing his first novel “The Sword of Shannara” which was later published by Ballentine in 1977. It was followed by “The Elfstones of Shannara” in 1982 and “The Wishsong of Shannara” in 1985, both published by Ballantine/Del Rey. The first book was an success with readers but was panned by critics as being a plagiarized version of “The Lord of the Rings”, a claim that Brooks disagrees with. “The chief similarity is that it is a heroic fantasy featuring various races who form an alliance against a dark lord and set out on a quest to defeat him” (2).
After completing his first trilogy, Brooks quit his career as a lawyer and became a fulltime writer. He moved to Seattle (4) and began work on his Magic Kingdom of Landover Series, which began with “Magic Kingdom for Sale – SOLD!” in 1986. It was followed by “The Black Unicorn” (1987), “Wizard at Large” (1988), “The Tangle Box” (1994), and “Witches’ Brew” (1995) (2). All of these titles were published by Ballantine/Del Rey as would be almost all of his books to date.
Brooks returned to the successful world of Shannara in 1990 with “The Scions of Shannara.” This marked the beginning of the Heritage of Shannara Series. Titles that followed include “The Druid of Shannara” (1991), “The Elf Queen of Shannara” (1992), “The Talismans of Shannara” (1993), and “The First King of Shannara” (1996).
Other trilogies by Brooks are the Demon Series: “Running with the Demon” (1997), “A Knight of the Word” (1998), “Angel Fire East” (1999); the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series: “Ilse Witch” (2000), “Antrax” (2001), “Morgawr” (2002); and the High Druid of Shannara Series: “Jarka Ruus” (2003), “Tanequil” (2004), “Straken” (2005) (3).
Having had experience in novelization with his work on “Hook” (1992), published by Fawcett Columbine, Brooks was approached by George Lucas to write the novel based on the screenplay for “Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace.” He cited this as being “both a career-enhancing and creatively stimulating opportunity” (3). Brooks commented in a 1999 Washington Post interview that writing “Phantom Menace” was like taking a vacation, with most of the characters, settings, dialogue, and plot already created. He accepted the project not for his “love of the craft of writing” but to increase his fan base and media exposure by being linked to the work of George Lucas. It proved to be a good move for him although he says he makes more money on his own novels (5).
With his Shannara Series being compared to the works of Tolkien from the beginning, Brooks also concedes, “There are some very strong similarities between Shannara and Star Wars: the light and dark sides, flawed family histories impact on future generations, (and) the usage of magical powers” (3).
Brooks defends “Menace,” saying it serves a purpose as there are background chapters in the book that are not in the movie, but also admits it is not the next great American novel. Anyone looking for that “should be in the fantasy department, in front of the ‘Brooks’ section” (5).
Brooks’ 2006 projects include his next novel, a Shannara prequel titled “Armageddon’s Children” and a possible deal with Universal to film a movie adaptation of the Magic Kingom Series (4).
1. Biography Resource Center: http://galenet.galegroup.com
3. Literature Resource Center: http://galenet.galegroup.com
4. The Wondrous Worlds of Terry Brooks: http://www.terrybrooks.net
5. Weingarten, Gene. Instant ‘Menace.’ Washington Post. Friday, May 21, 1999; C 1.
|Reception history for Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace is different from most other bestsellers on the list because it is a novelization. Essentially, there are fewer reviews for the Terry Brooks’ book itself, while there is a large amount of mixed criticism aimed at George Lucas, his story, and of course the movie. This is likely due to the fact that the story is not the creation of Brooks and the film was arguably the most anticipated release in history. Movie reviews will be discussed here, but only as they pertain to the story.
Terry Brooks' novelization did not receive reviews in the way of a typical bestseller. Some of the writers who gave it attention merely recognized it as a Lucas product that hit the shelves shortly before the release of the movie.
Guinn of the Times Union writes, “Read 'The Phantom Menace' any time and you’ll be settling for paste-and-cut pap. It isn’t in any sense, except print on paper, a 'real' book. It’s a Lucas moneymaker, just like those plastic action figures that’ll sell in the millions come Christmas.”
Weingarten of The Washington Post gives Brooks and his bestseller tongue-in-cheek treatment. A precursor to his article states, “what our story lacks in effort, originality and insight, it makes up for in the sheer speed and thoughtlessness with which it was produced.” Brooks is described as, “a man in his fifties, with a head, and a torso, and feet. As he talks, his mouth moves and, from time to time, he blinks, his eyelashes spanking each other the way eyelashes do when you blink.” In what little criticism Weingarten offers, he states the book “is pleasantly written, in the sense that words are placed together to form intelligible if sometimes promiscuously picturesque sentences.”
Perhaps the sharpest comment that Weingarten makes is that, “Typically, a novel is produced by a writer working alone with his talent and his demons, fired by desperation, poisoned by ambition, enslaved and empowered in equal measure by a life of bad decisions, good adventures, and despair.” It is implied that Phantom Menace is a book that required neither talent nor ambition to write.
Other reviews briefly discuss what the book offers to readers who have or have not seen the movie. The general consensus is that to those who have not yet seen the film, the book is a “spoiler.” To those who have seen the film, the book will “fill in the gaps” with insights towards Anakin Skywalker’s moral views and Qui-Gon Jinn’s interest in finding some usefulness in Jar Jar Binks. Brooks told USA Today that Lucas “want[ed] to expand on the movie and make a companion piece for the moviegoer.” Snider of USA Today describes the book as “a quick read” and says “the background Brooks provides helped me follow the fast-paced beginning of the film. I already knew enough about the political situation… That allowed me to attempt to take in the sweeping scenes of Lucas’ digitally enhanced film.”
Brown of the National Post adds that, “Part of the demand can be attributed to the book’s author, Terry Brooks. Unlike the first three Star Wars adaptations, Lucas this time called on an established writer to turn his screenplay into a novel. [Brooks] brings his own readers with him to the Star Wars fold.” He also points out that “Although it doesn’t offer the same experience as seeing a motion picture with computer generated characters and backdrops, the book represents the best Lucas-sanctioned source of Phantom Menace information available. It is, in effect, a 324-page-long flyer for the movie.”
As to why this novelization would be a bestseller, Cling of the Las Vegas Review interviews Barnes and Noble merchandising assistant manager, Chris Cantwell, who says, “The energy for the whole ‘Star Wars’ cult – it’s just going to increase till the movie comes out.” She notes the bookstore took dozens of advance orders, “so the minute the book was released, [customers] would have it in their hands. People were ready to read anything, buy anything. With Star Wars you have a bigger furor, because it has a longer history.” Cling also mentions the fact that the book was released with four different covers. This, essentially, guarantees increased sales as hardcore fans and collectors will purchase multiple copies.
Movie reviews of Phantom Menace can be found by the dozens in the ProQuest Newspapers database. In general the movie received rave reviews for its special effects, state of the art technology, and visual wonders, but the critics were not so kind to Lucas and his writing. The following are some excerpts from reviews as they pertain to Lucas’ story, essentially the novel Brooks elaborates upon.
“The lack of suspense is burdened by a plot that is at once overly complicated and utterly uninteresting. Lucas’s chief error was in writing the script himself.” Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.
“Complex as it is – and as good as most of the actors are – reducing this movie to its plot misses its full impact. ‘The Phantom Menace’ is a hokey tale.” Chicago Tribune
“Even die-hard fans of the heretofore awe-inspiring saga are bound to be disappointed with this joyless, overly reverential and impenetrably plotted prequel. ‘Phantom Menace’ has more of everything, except compelling characters.” Washington Post
“The characters are bland, the script too chatty, the humor too infantile.” Los Angeles Daily News
“Behind the dreary, deadpan dialogue that passes for exposition, pay close heed as George Lucas’ all-powerful market machine whispers to the masses: ‘S-s-sucker.’ ‘The Phantom Menace’ is merely a ghost of a space epic, a hint of a myth in the making.” Tampa Tribune
“It’s got the hardware but neither the characters, the imagination, nor the resonance one had hoped for. In short, there’s a lot that’s eye-filling but not much that’s brain-filling.” Boston Globe
“George Lucas has left a lot of room for improvement, particularly for character development and emotional juice.” San Francisco Chronicle
“The film is heavy with technology but short on humanity.” It has “little narrative depth or coherence” and “seems less like a satisfying story than a sketchy prologue to Episodes II and III.” Tulsa World
“Though Mr. Lucas’s screenplay carries far more baggage in the form of interplanetary turf wars and highly ceremonial political wrangling, the basics will suffice. What matters is that the series’ sense of good and evil is still quaintly naïve, just as its notion of heroism remains rooted in movie traditions much less nihilistic than today’s. The big battles are crisply staged and sadism-free.” The New York Times
Some mass market magazine reviews follow.
“One suspects that Lucas was more interested in the aliens than the humans...” Time
“...the jokes are juvenile, there’s no romance and the dialogue lands with the thud of a computer instruction manual.” Rolling Stone
“Some of ‘The Phantom Menace’ is fun, but it’s also skittery and overstuffed, too intent on keeping the audience wired into a state of sense-crackling excitement.” Entertainment Weekly
Amid all the criticism of poor characterization, Jar Jar Binks is by far the most targeted. If “Phantom Menace” was the most anticipated film of all time, Jar Jar may be the most disappointing character of all time. Few reviewers have anything positive to say about him. The following excerpts offer common opinion.
“And there is an allegedly ‘cute’ creature called Jar Jar Binks, a floppy-eared lizardlike thing with stand-up eyes, a flickering tongue, awkward body movements and an annoying vocabulary of mangled-English baby talk. It’s an attempt at a new Chewbacca, but it’s as if Barney, instead of Harrison Ford, played Han Solo.” Denver Post
“Comic relief – supposedly – comes from a toy-friendly creature called Jar Jar Binks, who looks like Joe Camel with bug eyes and floppy bunny ears and speaks in an irritating pidgin English (me-sa, you-sa, we-sa) that sounds vaguely Caribbean and constitutes one of several racially and culturally questionable stereotypes in the film. As sidekicks go, he’s mostly grating and a poor substitute for the inscrutable Chewbacca.” Tulsa World
“The only indelible creature in ‘Menace’ is Jar Jar, in the worst way. He’s a computer-generated creation whose role as clumsy comic relief grows grating fast. Plus, his Rastafarian-inflected pidgin English is often incomprehensible.” The Atlanta Constitution
Finally, Jerome Weeks of the Dallas Morning News reports that Jar Jar “provoked a great many film fans who have found him less racially insensitive than simply maddeningly irritating. There’s already and International Society for the Extermination of Jar Jar. In response, there are already a half-dozen anti-Jar Jar Web sites, including a Jar Jar job hunt (maybe he’ll be too busy for any future films) and a page that features audio clips from Phantom that, when reversed, reveal Jar Jar killed Paul McCartney.”
Brown, Dan. “Phantom Menace Book Reveals All to Faithful: Read it While Waiting in Line.” National Post 7 May 1999, Nat. ed.: B3.
Cling, Carol. “Feel the Force.” Las Vegas Review – Journal 18 May 1999: 1E.
Guinn, Jeff. “’Phantom Menace’ a Spoiler Not a Book, But Another Moneymaker.” Time Union 30 May 1999, One Star ed.: J5.
Kimmel, Daniel M. “Score ‘Star Wars’ High on Special Effects, Low on Originality.” Telegram & Gazette [Worcester, Mass.] 19 May 1999, ALL ed.: C5.
King, Dennis. “The Force – Off Course ‘Phantom Menace’ Won’t Levitate You From Your Seat.” Tusla World 19 May 1999, Final Home ed.: 3.
Maslin, Janet. “In the Beginning, the Future.” New York Times 19 May 1999, East Coast late ed.: E1.
“Menacing Reviews.” Pittsburgh Post – Gazette 13 May 1999: 3.
Murray, Steve. “Episode 1: The Review Lucas’ ‘Phantom’ Empire Strikes Out Heart and Fun of 1977 Original Strangely Missing in Effects-laden ‘Menace’ Prequel.” Atlanta Constitution 18 May 1999, home ed.: B1.
Rosen, Steven. “’Phantom’ Lacks Respect for Elders.” Denver Post 19 May 1999, Rockies ed.: F10.
Seavey, Todd. “Science Fiction.” New York Post 30 May 1999: 48.
Snider, Mike. “’Star’ Author Hopes Film Fans Follow Him.” USA Today 20 May 1999, final ed.: 06D.
Snider, Mike. “Uncovering the Plot of ‘Phantom Menace’ Book Fills in Background While You Wait for Tickets.” USA Today 13 May 1999, final ed.: 04D.
Weingarten, Gene. “Instant ‘Menace’; ‘Star Wars’ Author Rockets to Top of Bestseller List.” Washington Post 21 May 1999, final ed.: C01.
“What Some Other Critics Say About it.” Richmond Times – Dispatch 19 May 1999, city ed.: D2.
Weeks, Jerome. “Putting a Lid on Jar Jar Filgoers Don’t Bottle Up Feelings Toward ‘Phantom Menace’ Character.” Dallas Morning News 10 Jun 1999, third ed.: 1C.
Wilmington, Michael. “At Long Last, In a Theater Not So Far Away the Good.” Chicago Tribune 18 May 1999, Chicagoland ed.: 1.
|Of the 426 reader reviews at Amazon.com, “Phantom Menace” receives an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Only 22 of the reviews came 5 years or more after its release in May of 1999. While the bulk of the earlier ratings (more than 200 within 2 months of the book’s release) are 5 star raves about the “greatest book ever” (with occasional disgruntled 1 star stinkers thrown in every so often), the subsequent reviews are evenly mixed. In fact, within the 10 most recent reviews there is at least one of each rating - highest, lowest, and all stars in between. Perhaps the excitement of a new Star Wars tale subsided and readers were able to read and think more subjectively. In any case, it is clear that the writers of the reviews have vastly different opinions.
Common disappointments are the lack of depth, character development, and emotion. Some feel the plot is boring and reads like a script. Others accuse Brooks of poor, even juvenile, writing while others blame Lucas for limiting his creativity. On the flipside of these sentiments, others simply say the opposite. Some people love the characters and the story and feel it contains enough background information and scenes not included in the movie to be a worthwhile read. Brooks is heralded as a great writer. The average ratings generally compare the book to the movie, both being nearly sub-par or lukewarm at best.
It is difficult, perhaps, to put much credence into Amazon reviews. One gets the feeling that these people would argue needlessly, yet vehemently, about the pronunciation of the word “tomato,” but they are afterall the people who helped put the book on the bestsellers list.
|What do we learn about bestsellers from Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks? A bestseller does not have to be a literary work replete with eloquent prose. A bestseller can succeed without complexity or intricacy of plot. Characters can run short on emotion, urgency, passion, and… well, character. A bestseller can be written by a bestselling author who considers the effort a vacation. In Brooks’ own words this is not the next great American novel (Weingarten).
But of course it’s not, it’s a novelization. So how did The Phantom Menace sell millions? It is the beginning of, arguably, the most famous story in the history of pop culture. It’s Star Wars. With all due respect to Brooks, George Lucas probably could have chosen any author, bestselling or not, to pen this novelization and it would have topped the charts regardless of inherent talent or lack thereof. Star Wars sells. It sold in the late 70’s and it will likely continue to sell when its own creation is referenced as a long time ago in a book store far, far away. “George Lucas tapped into universal stories that humans have repeated, in numerous versions, for thousands of years. These ‘monomyths,’ as the late cultural anthropologist Joseph Campbell dubbed them, take many forms. But one of the favorites involves a young hero – typically of hidden royal lineage – who goes on a quest to save his people, typically under the guidance of an older mentor. Sound familiar?” (Porter) Sure this is describes Episode IV, but it is the mold in which Episode I, The Phantom Menace was cast as well.
Since the book was released only a few weeks before the film debut, it is probable that most of its readers, within the seven years after its release, have seen the movie first. As to why the book topped the charts before the release of the film should be easy to answer. It was likely read as a spoiler by people hoping the book would fulfill the cliché of being the better of the two, and perhaps read by those people who can’t wait ‘til Christmas to open presents.
It may have also helped, in the grand scheme of sales, that Brooks’ book is a simple read. While one may find dozens of negative reader reviews at Amazon.com lambasting Brooks’ writing style, stunted vocabulary, and mediocre description, there are twice as many reviews heralding Brooks as a master. Maybe the author gave Lucas exactly what he ordered. As Mark Walker writes, “Star Wars is a simple formula. There is no room for the complexity found in works like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy or Peter Hamilton’s The Reality Dysfunction.”
The reason it continued to top the charts after the movie’s release is simple. Fans and movie-goers couldn’t get enough. It is likely they were looking for something more, something pertinent not found in the movie, part of the mystery of Darth Vader lost on the masses. The reality of it is that the book is so strikingly similar to the film one has to wonder how much creativity Brooks was allowed. The dialogue reads verbatim and the plot, by and large, unfolds exactly the same. In fact, it is a wonder Lucas didn’t claim authorship himself. But Brooks (or Lucas) does offer a handful interesting of scenes and information in the book that Lucas, with the film, let hit the cutting room floor.
Chapter one opens with Anakin Skywalker losing a Pod race and escaping disaster at the hands of Sebulba, a scene similar to the one in the film that ended with Anakin’s victory. Anakin afterwards meets an “old spacer” with a worn fighter corps insignia of The Republic who tells him, “You fly like your name,… You walk the sky like you own it” (18). The retired pilot tells Anakin stories of long ago much like Obi-Wan would later tell Luke, but most prophetically he tells the young Darth Vader, “in this life you’re often born one thing and die another. You don’t have to accept that what you’re given when you come in is all you’ll have when you leave” (20). The dramatic irony is enough to make a reader nod knowingly and wonder why this exchange didn’t make the final cut.
There are several acts of kindness and compassion on Anakin’s part that offer readers some character development that is absent from the movie. When Anakin leaves Tatooine he gives a handful of credits (money) to a childhood friend and also to an elderly woman in need. “I’m going away,” he says. “Use these for that cooling unit I promised you. Otherwise, I’ll worry” (193). Anakin’s mother tells a short tale of her son’s act of bravery at five years old chasing banthas away so that they would not be shot. “Remember how you collapsed several times in the heat, exhausted, thinking you couldn’t do it, that it was too hard?”(191) And the strangest and most intriguing act of compassion takes place in chapter 6 when Anakin, alone in the desert save only droids for companions, rescues a Tusken Raider.
These sand people, perhaps the nastiest of any Lucas characters, are notoriously ruthless and cold-blooded. “The Tuskens were a reclusive, fierce, nomadic people who claimed the desert as their own and lived off those foolish enough to venture into their territory unprepared… they traveled where they chose, pillaging outlying homes and way stations, waylaying caravans, stealing goods and equipment, and terrorizing everyone in general” 71-72). Yet when Anakin discovers one of these tribal creatures trapped, victim of a natural rockslide and with one leg crushed, he does not pass him by. He makes the Tusken as comfortable as possible and decides to spend the night sleeping beside him but just out of reach. When the Tusken questions Anakin’s intentions, Anakin tells C3PO to translate, “I’m just trying to help him get well” (76). Anakin awakes in the morning to find himself encircled by a tribe of Tuskens who have just freed their fallen friend. They offer no thanks, but they let the boy live and remarkably don’t steal his speeder or droids.
It is a strange and eerie scene, but one that displays the innocence and good heartedness of Anakin.
While fans of Star Wars might be surprised at what a polite and well mannered young boy the future Darth Vader is, it would only be natural for them to expect The Phantom Menace to provide some small character flaw or act of hostility that would foreshadow Anakin’s looming potential to turn to the Dark Side. The movie is devoid of any obvious hints, but Brooks provides one instance of the future Sith lord not only giving in to anger but to one of his greatest fears, losing his “angel” Padme. After being accused by a Rodian of cheating in the Podrace, he attacks instantly. “Anakin was on top of him so fast the bigger being barely had time to put his arms up in defense before he was on the ground. Anakin was hitting him as hard and fast as he could, not thinking about anything but how angry he was, not even aware that the source of his anger had nothing to do with his victim and everything to do with losing Padme” (184). One has to wonder what Lucas was thinking when he chose to cut this scene, but it is precisely the type of moment buyers of the book would be waiting for.
In addition to pieces of character development, the book also offers a brief background on the history of the Sith. At the end of the film, Yoda mentions that there are only two Sith lords at any time. The book further explains that, in their beginning, the Sith ranks grew to as many as fifty, but because of their inability to share power, they betrayed their leader and one another and ultimately destroyed themselves (135).
There is little more that Terry Brooks’ Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace has to offer. Gene Weingarten proposes the question to Brooks, “Deep down, what do you think of people who would buy a book that is basically a synopsis of a movie they will see in a few days? Would you call them zealots? Nuts? Half-wits? Children? Do you feel guilty exploiting this sort of audience?”
Brooks responds, “I guess I don’t have that jaded a view. I think the book serves a definite purpose. It provides background. But I’d have to say if [people are] going out to read the next great American novel, they’re in the wrong part of the store.”
Weingarten asks, “What advice would you give to a young, aspiring novelist who wants to know how to achieve what you have achieved with this book?”
Brooks’ reply: “I would say, first, write to George Lucas…”
Brooks, Terry. Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. New York: Lucas Books: The Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999.
Porter, William. “Forget the Action Figures, the Multimillion Dollar Digital Special Effects and the Deafening Marketing Campaign. The Real Appeal of ‘Star Wars’ Lies Deep in our Psyches, a Yearning for Stories of Quests, Trials and Triumphs that the Space Epic has Satisfied for Millions of Views. Ageless Myth “Star Wars’ Built on Sure-Fire Ancient Plots.” Denver Post 19 May 1999, Rockies ed.: F01.
Walker, Mark. Science Fiction Book Reviews. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue109/books/html#sw
Weingarten, Gene. “Instant ‘Menace’; ‘Star Wars’ Author Rockets to Top of Bestseller List.” Washington Post 21 May 1999, final ed.: C01.
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