Monday, May 23, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Tales of the Bounty Hunters

Star Wars: Tales of the Bounty Hunters (Various)




Like my previous anthology review, I will do a shorter, individual review of each story, then a review of the collection as a whole. The scoring will be slightly different, with a maximum of 16 points for each story, and 20 for the overall review.

Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88 (Kevin J. Anderson)
The story of IG-88's background as a prototype assassin droid, Therefore I Am quickly takes a turn for the worst when, after escaping from the Imperial research facility that was formerly their home, they decide to take over the galaxy using droids from an automated foundry world. This plot point is both tired and boring, and made this story fall apart in my eyes. In addition, the main villain, Imperial Supervisor Gurdun, is absolutely laughable. Most of the time spent in his point of view portrays him as being overly obsessed with fixing his nose (described in atleast six different ways as being enormous), he even asks Darth Vader if he will pay for his cosmetic surgery, easily one of the worst scenes I have ever read. The author does a credible job of using a "droid" voice while in IG-88's point of view, but awful villains and cliche plot points make this a tale to avoid.
Sub Score 4/16

Payback: The Tale of Dengar (Dave Wolverton)
Payback tells of Dengar's relationship with Manaroo, and provides several insights into his character. Unlike the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, in Payback Dengar is depicted as being an assassin without all but a handful of basic feelings. This change is welcome considering Dengar's character in those novels was absolutely awful and very unlike a bounty hunter important enough to be noticed by Vader himself. Also a plus about this story is the insight into Dengar's origins as a bounty hunter, his injuries and motives are explained in a way that the Bounty Hunter Wars never touched on, and as a result Dengar's relationship with Manaroo is, if somewhat unrealistic, still relate able. Payback is not particularly exciting, and the romance is definately questionable in some places, but decent characterization and plot make it a solid work.
Sub Score 9/16

Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk (Kathy Tyers)
The principle failing of this story is the over reliance on two original characters to tell the tale. Bossk is the antagonist in this story, and our hero is a young bounty hunter under the employ of the Rebellion. This hero is adequate, but Bossk is never really explained beyond some basic Trandoshan beliefs, you get no sense of who he is and where he came from. The plot was kind of silly, I don't see why they needed Bossk's ship to play a part in rescuing the wookies, and I definitely don't understand why they went after Bossk in the way they did, both tasks could have been accomplished independently, from the comfort of their own ship if so desired. The plot was incredibly hard to follow, with plans being poorly explained to the reader until they were under effect. The man-eating sand was a clever idea, and the heroes were adequate, but a difficult to follow plot and the lack of an origin story or meaningful characterization for Bossk significantly impacted this piece.
Sub Score 7/16

Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM (M. Shayne Bell)
This tale's primary strength lies in its portrayal of the dynamics between 4-LOM and Zuckuss. 4-LOM, a modified protocol droid, is attempting to learn the secrets of intuition from Zuckuss, a Gand findsman that relies on meditation to learn about his prey (and is largely successful). The relationship is very well done, even if 4-LOM's quest for intuition seems a bit far-fetched, his care for Zuckuss feels sincere, it was nice to read a bounty hunter story where the relationship is simply two bloodthirsty killers ready to turn against one another as soon as they capture their prey. The story of the Hoth survivors was well written, and its importance in the overall scheme of things was unexpected in its nature, though Zuckuss and 4-LOM are not exactly the usual bounty hunter characters. Overall this is probably the best story in the collection, its non traditional take on bounty hunter partnerships, interesting characters, and satisfying (though not extraordinary) conclusion separate it from the other works in the anthology.
Sub Score 14/16

Last Man Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett (Daniel Keys Moran)
While this tale does a great job of getting into Boba Fett's origins, most of it has been rendered completely irrelevant by Del Rey's EU. Among the many inconsistencies with today's Boba Fett include his chaste lifestyle, his inability to have kids, his background as a stormtrooper, and banishment from the Mandalorian ranks. Looking at it in retrospect, it reads much like fan fiction because of these now obsolete characterizations, however some of it actually works. I find Boba Fett being chaste to make plenty of sense given his cautious nature and lack of emotions, and having him be a disgraced Mandalorian works much better than his new backstory as a clone trooper. The tale itself was alright, the reference to Tales From The Mos Eisley Cantina in the form of Labria's character making an appearance was welcome, and the standoff between Han and Boba was fantastic. I didn't like the way the plot was structured, with numerous flash-forwards and repeated scenes from the movies that could've been done without. We don't need to be told about what happened in Episode 5 and 6 to understand why Boba Fett hates Han, because we watched it. The plot would've been better served just starting 15 years after Return of the Jedi. Despite the over complicated plot and character inconsistencies (which, while no fault of the author, still hamper the story quality in retrospect), this is a very good tale due to the strength of the final scene and Boba Fett's interactions with Labria.
Sub Score 12/16

Conclusion
Overall a somewhat middling anthology, compared to Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, the stories just aren't as good, nor are they varied. It lacks the varied characters that made Mos Eisley Cantina so interesting. The characters (with the exception of 4-LOM and Zuckuss) are far too similar in all but appearances, being nothing more than bloodthirsty bounty hunters who want to capture Han Solo. Speaking of which, this anthology suffers from a similar drawback as Mos Eisley Cantina in that the same scene is repeated in every tale, and not only is it repetitive, its also pointless. Bossk's and Boba Fett's story, in particular, could've done without the entire Empire Strikes Back reference and still remained intact. A few original/EU bounty hunters, and more varied plotlines among the existing characters would have made this a much better collection but as it is Tales of the Bounty Hunters is merely average.
Sub Score 7/20

Final Score
53/100

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