Monday, March 10, 2014

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

Even if you think Iambic Pentameter is the name of an Imperial Stormtrooper (and it totally should be), you will still enjoy William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back, Ian Doescher’s second book in the Shakespearean Star Wars series. But the true measure of your enjoyment can be gauged by this two-item quiz:

1) How do you respond to hearing Princess Leia refer to Hans as “Thou who herd’st nerfs”?
A) Blank stare
B) Confusion about whether a “nerf” was a kind of Smurf
C) Wry chuckle
D) Nerdgasm

2) When Darth Vader says “…dead for a ducat, dead!”, do you
A) Think that you can never keep up with all of these Internet cat memes?
B) Mentally try to convert ducats to dollars?
C) Remember Cypress Hill lyrics?
D) Cry out, “O, I am slain!”?

If, like me, your answer to both questions is D, then you will enjoy The Empire Striketh Back enough to finish it in one sitting, even if that sitting is on a school bus traveling over roads filled with potholes so large they could only have been made by AT-ATs. Or, in other words, the more background knowledge you have about Shakespeare and Star Wars, the more you will appreciate Doescher’s many textual references.

For me, the greatest pleasure comes not in how Doescher depicts the better-known characters (although he is quite creative in rendering Yoda’s speech as suitably different than the rest of the characters), but rather in how he presents the lesser characters: Wampas, Ugnaughts, the aforementioned AT-ATs, and Boba Fett. I’m not sure who trained Doescher, but the Force is strong in this one (and if that reference escapes you, this book is not for you). I await future volumes, if only to see what Doescher does with the conundrum that is Jar Jar Binks.

Let’s be honest: Did you somehow miss the publication of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars last summer? If so, get thee to a nunnery bookstore, why wouldst thou be a breeder of ignorance? Or, if you are nobler in the mind for having read the first book, set your phasers to “pre-order,” as the latest volume is published March 18. (I know, wrong science fiction universe, but who wouldn’t want to hear Kirk and Spock declaim in Shakespearean verse?).

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