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.)
The Face of Evil 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.
The Face of Evil
Short stories in Star Wars tend to be fairly straightforward, and horror/thriller tales in Star Wars rarely actually creep me out or surprise me. The Face of Evil managed to pull off that rare experience, while seemingly being just another straightforward tale as it began.
The story follows criminal Ryn Biggleston, partner of BeeLee Amdas. During a recent job, BeeLee was spotted by security cameras, leading Ryn to steal her part of their loot and leave her to die. Now, Ryn has come to Takodana with her identity and most-wanted status revealed to the sector in one last act of defiance by her dying former partner.
Escaping the many individuals on her tail means a change of identity, and no one at Maz Kanata’s castle is better at giving clients a new identity than the Frigosian “mad scientist” cryptosurgeons, Thromba and Laparo.
To go into any more detail would spoil some great moments in this story that make it feel straight out of an old episode of Tales from the Crypt. It is a fairly simple premise to start, and the Frigosians are rather strange, which can make them tough to get interested in at first. Stick with the story past the first couple of chapters, though, and you are in for a treat.
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 some of the aliens seen in Maz’s castle 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.
The Face of Evil was a pleasant surprise and certainly the high point of the four ebooks released that will later be among the six in Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens. At only $1.99 currently in ebook form (or as part of the upcoming anthology), fans who enjoy a good Tales from the Crypt-esque story now and then should definitely check it out.
Recommended for: Those interested in a creepy Star Wars tale that is reminiscent of the old Tales from the Crypt series.
Not recommended for: Those looking for something that truly ties directly into The Force Awakens or those who are squeamish.
A retail purchase ebook (on Nook) was used for this review.