With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon, Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)
All Creatures Great and Small by Landry Q. Walker (ebook, 2015)
In April 2016, a new anthology – something Star Wars fans have long been hoping for – will be released. The book, Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens will include six stories, four of which were recently released as separate ebooks, months before seeing physical print. Unlike in previous anthologies, all of the stories in this new tome will be written by a single author, Landry Q. Walker. Each story will feature alien characters from The Force Awakens. This review focuses on one of the four stories released in December 2015.
All Creatures Great and Small
At first glance, the strange character Bobbajo, the old Nu-Cosian with a long neck and containers of creatures on his back that we briefly see at Unkar Plutt’s “office” in The Force Awakens, seems like he would be a rather dull character to feature in his own short story. Instead, we get a short story here that is more “strange” than dull, a retelling of parts of A New Hope in a way that is almost as bizarre as Adam Gidwitz’s take on The Empire Strikes Back, So You Want to Be a Jedi?
The story takes place in two eras. The “present” is sometime presumably before The Force Awakens. Bobbajo visits a small town on Jakku just as a slaver raid occurs. To keep local children calm during the raid, he tells them a tale from decades earlier.
That earlier adventure takes up the rest of the short story and feaures Bobbajo as a prisoner on the Death Star during A New Hope. In his efforts to escape, we see three of his creatures engage in “missions” to help Bobbajo that essentially make Bobbajo and his animals the true heroes of the Battle of Yavin.
It is a strange story, but what would one expect from a story based around a strange old guy and his animals? I kept picturing the sentient helper mice in Cinderella.
Does the Label Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Actually Fit the Story?
Unfortunately, like most stories in our “journey” to the new film, this story has no real relevance to the movie at all. Like with other stories in the line, this is a Tales from Mos Eisley (et al) style short story to give us an adventure for one of the aliens seen on Jakku in The Force Awakens. Unlike the anthologies of the 1990s though, no attempt is made to actually tie the actual story into the film beyond shared characters. The label simply does not fit the content.
All Creatures Great and Small is an undeniably goofy story, playing out like so many Disney cartoons with animal heroes, while simultaneously altering our view of A New Hope (if any of Bobbajo’s story is actually true).
Most “serious” Star Wars fans will find the story too strange to bother with, but given that Bobbajo’s story is probably just that – a fictional story, even in-universe – it can be read for some mindless fun by those looking for something out of the ordinary.
Recommended for: Those looking for an odd story or those with an affinity for heroic animals.
Not recommended for: Those looking for something that truly ties directly into The Force Awakens or those who find cute animal tales annoying in Star Wars.
A retail purchase ebook (on Nook) was used for this review.