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[ Greg Bear | 1999 ]


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Rogue Planet - Click to view!Executed with thrust and cogitation, Rogue Planet is the first Star Wars serial authored by renowned science fiction writer Greg Bear. To encapsulate my view on it: don't make this heavily-promoted book your first Star Wars novel—because, if you do, it will likely be your last. While an original thinker, Bear's Planet is not crafted with the same flow, pace, and ingenuity of Timothy Zahn's bestsellers, thus without a real 'trilogy-esque' color. Certainly the author has less to work with, and produced an escalating drama just the same. It begins on Coruscant, with Anakin three years into his Jedi training, and no less spirited than in Episode I. The introductory scene sets up the story's chemistry: Skywalker, never short on patency, running always-steady Obi-Wan ragged with his chance-taking and zest for being a 12-year-old. The roles of teacher and apprentice are often reversed, and Obi-Wan is seriously perplexed by what he senses in the dark corners of the boy's being. The master and his padawan are sent to an uncharted world, Zonoma Sekot, to find a missing Jedi and unknot the planet's customs, culture—and rumored construction of the galaxy's fastest ships. Meanwhile, Chancellor Palpatine has disbanded the Trade Federation, secretly stockpiling their resources for a strike force of his own. Seeing great benefit in a fleet of superfast ships, Wilhuff Tarkin (a younger, less tempered 'Governor Tarkin' of the 1977 film) contracts weapons designer Raith Sienar to overtake Zonoma Sekot forcibly. However, Sienar prefers subtlety to show of force, and their quibbling is classic military banter at it's best. The plot's gist—that a conscious spirit inhabits and controls all organisms of Sekot—becomes obvious to readers early on, but annoyingly, the intuitive Jedi take 200+ pages doing so. This premise isn't all that unfamiliar to sci-fi; the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation closely resembles Planet's story structure. Another objection is Bear's overplayed, verbose style which makes it impossible to decipher many of the key locales and interiors. However, the author's expertise brings readers closer to the internal rage and resentment of Anakin that later becomes Darth Vader; his interaction with Obi-Wan; and their different perceptions of certain events. Loose and decisive, the ending builds up to Raith Sienar's invasion, young Skywalker's exuviating starship escape, and Tarkin's defeat at the hands of the Sekotans. As an authorized addition to the Star Wars saga, Rogue Planet dissects the turbulent, interpolated adolescence of the prequel trilogy's main character—and offers foreknowledge of the terribly awaited Episodes II and III.
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