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Nigel J. L. Willis (Paignton, Devonshire, England)

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The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
by Terryl Whitlatch
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Star Wars book in ages., 12 Nov. 2001
A MUST-HAVE! Not only is this tome THE book of the year -- if not the decade -- for Star Wars enthusiasts (such as myself), but it will also go down well with biologists (such as myself).
Extremely well thought out, the authors draw parallels with animals found on Earth to make the creatures of the Star Wars universe realistically believable. For example, the size relation of the nuna's egg to the adult female is also found in the kiwi, and the multiple embryos coming from that single egg are similar to the multi-spawning eggs of some parasitic wasps. The similarities between banthas and elephants are copious, and the mouth-breeding behaviour of the opee sea killer will be familiar to any avid aquarist.
There are also many wonderful and enchanting "background" details in many of the drawings, like Bib Fortuna looking to purchase a Nightsister's rancor, an Ewok being carried off by a condor-dragon, and some Tatooine anoobas picking over the remains of the late podracer Teemto Pagalies (those are DEFINITELY his goggles).
The book is arranged in chapters by planet. (Naboo has three chapters for its various macroenvironments: terrestrial, deep aquatic, and swamp.) The ecologies of the worlds and the niches of the native creatures are all highly detailed and superbly explained. Great care and effort was put into expanding the range of Star Wars wildlife knowledge, using conceptual sketches and some apparently original animals to flesh out the bestiary to a fantastic extent. The images of the creatures themselves are -- and I have NEVER before used this term outside of describing food before, but it is now necessary -- sumptuous. The people responsible for the content of this book deserve to win awards. Lots of 'em.
Understandably, there are a few creatures which push the credibility envelope, such as the thrantids and practically anything over 40 meters in length. But they're all still nifty, and even the mind-boggling space slug was given a decently credible internal anatomy. And considering that here on Earth, there are bacteria which live miles below the crust, eat rock, breathe iron, and excrete gold, a little leeway for plausibility is permitted. };D
This would not be a Star Wars book review without the requisite bitching that any such work seems to engender. So here it is. The book's too short. It would have been nice to learn more about the creatures that were marginalized, like the oft-mentioned but never focused-upon snapping bivalve nyorks of the Naboo swamps and the tiger-striped giraffe-like creature which appears in the endpapers and at the Coruscant Livestock Exchange and Exhibition; an animal which is visually arresting, but not even so much as named. There are a few beasts in the size-comparison endpapers which do not appear in the text (which is a shame, because they look quite interesting), such as the fin-backed, tusk-jawed crocodile-thing at the front of the book. While variant species of bantha, krayt dragon, thranta, mynock, and tauntaun were presented, it would also have been nice to see the differing forms of nerf. Another whole chapter devoted to "exotics" such as Kowakian monkey-lizards, ghests, and the various types of gundark (only two kinds are shown, and only one of those is labelled as a gundark) would have been very well-received and worth the extra price such a section would require. As far as mistakes go, I could only spot two: the rock wart described as an "unknown" species of worrt prey, and a representation of a Dug diplomat. (Dugs are definitely NOT the diplomatic type.)
So, to sum up, any Star Wars library is woefully incomplete without the superlative "The Wildlife of Star Wars". This is the best Star Wars book to come along in quite a while. BUY IT THIS INSTANT.

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