Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Real Book, or a Fandom's Dream? - Star Wars versus Star Trek

I need to start this review with a confession and/or disclaimer.  When I first read Star Wars vs Star Trek, I was at a bad time in my life.  There were a lot of things going on, and by the time I realized I hadn’t reviewed the book, several months had passed, and I had loaned it to another reviewer for the possibility of it being showcased on Youtube.  I’m writing this all off of memory; luckily, this is a very simple book and memory will suffice.

The full title of the book, written by Matt Forbeck, is Star Wars vs Star Trek: Could the Empire kick the Federation’s ass? And other galaxy-shaking enigmas.  The book is a series of short pieces consisting of pitting elements of the Star Wars universe- generally the films- against elements of the Star Trek films and shows.  Think of it as a condensed version of The Deadliest Warrior, with stats and histories of each combatant being listed prior to the battle.

The words “combatant” and “battle” are perhaps the problem.  This isn’t a very deep book: it’s designed to pit two well-known characters against one another and prevent schoolyard fights over the outcome.  Sometimes that concept is taken to extremes, however, when two individuals that were never sent to occupy the same niche are pitted against one another.  Just because two villains are both headstrong, arrogant and driven by rage, that  doesn’t mean that they’re both suited for one on one combat.  And just because two things are both space stations doesn’t mean that one has a remotely planet-destroying laser.  This is coupled with the fact that the book makes sacrifices in order to link all mainstream eras of each series, inserting characters from newer installments of both series simply for the sake of referencing them.

I am not the target audience of this book.  I am a serious Science Fiction fan, a Star Wars fan of the sort that views the films to be peripherals of a massive novel series that is condensed into a single “battle” in this book.  This book isn’t intended for someone who will scour the respective universes to pit the most evenly matched opponents against one another.  This book is about taking a list of iconic figures from the most popular entries of two great series and pitting them against  one another.

For what it is, this is an entertaining book.  It’s eye-roll inducing when two individuals with drastically different or unmatched skill sets are pitted against one another, and Forbeck doesn’t avoid that quite as well as the oft-criticized Deadliest Warrior does, but it’s fun to read his take on these characters and what makes them a victor or a loser- perhaps more importantly, it’s a fun ride to read the abbreviated war between the Empire and the Federation that was worked into the title.

It’s both easy and hard to pin this book down.  It’s easy because it’s simple to say “a fan like me will likely give this book a once over and move on”.  It’s difficult because I’m in no way saying that this is not a book for the hardcore fan.  It’s all based on how you look at the fandom, and what appeals to you.  This was a labor of love, and besides that probably a hobby between better paying books, and if you enjoy seeing your movie heroes pitted against one another in this way, this will probably be something you share with your friends and come back to from time to time.  If you prefer something a bit more critical and expansive, comparing the economic feasibility of the Federation versus that of Coruscant, or the martial arts styles of a Klingon warrior compared to a Teras Kasi adept, this book may skim the the top of your interests but ultimately leave you looking for more.  The plus side is that if you’re in the latter camp, you can always give it to your kids or friends and come out looking really awesome.


Charles Gramlich said...

Say what!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't know this book existed. I'm kind of like you. I take my SF pretty seriously, and am definitely more Trekker than Warrior.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Say What!!!!!!!!!!!!! (my opening salvo is different from Charles' in that it has more exclamation points)

I am so going to get this book. Thanks for making me aware of it.