As part of my continuing obsession with all things Tom Bissell, I discovered that, during his time as a book editor, he commissioned A Galaxy Not So Far Away, a book of essays relating to Star Wars. Being a Wars fan too, I bought that muhfukka.
I was doubly delighted to find that Bissell also contributed to the collection. His article, Pale Starship, Pale Rider, about the strange attraction of Boba Fett, is the second-best in the book. It’s funny and well-researched (Fett features in a lot of Wars books and comics) and makes a valiant attempt at deducing why we find a mysterious, rarely-seen bounty hunter so engaging. Though the essay ends with a surprising turn into criticism of anti-abortionists and armchair anarchists, it remains one of the highlights.
Bissell’s article is second in the collection and gives the impression that the rest of A Galaxy will be a light-hearted look at cinema’s most iconic franchise. And it should be light-hearted, because this is Star Wars we’re dealing with. I love the original three films, but I can’t ignore the hammy dialogue, the corniness. In fact, that’s part of the appeal. Star Wars films are so watchable because they repackage classic themes of a hero’s journey, good and evil as family films. And fun family films shouldn’t be as dissected and applied to life in such a po-faced manner as subsequent writers do. From Bissell, until we reach Todd Hanson, Star Wars is overly-analysed and intellectualised.
Hanson rides to the book’s rescue but, like Luke returning home to charred remains, he’s too late. He applies common sense to show how pointless deep analysis is. Which is what most of the book’s previous 150 pages was spent on. Awkward. His essay, Struggling To Cope With the Phantom Menace, is the book’s best, telling the story of a grown man geeking out over a film release, and trying to fight off the disappointment of watching it.
If you can get A Galaxy Not So Far Away cheap, buy it. Read Bissell’s and Hanson’s articles and disregard the rest. Then fake George Lucas’ signature on it and sell it on eBay for a fortune. It’s what Solo would want.