Book Review – Star Wars: Alien Archive

Star Wars: Alien Archive, “A Guide to the Species of the Galaxy”, is a new reference book illustrated by Tim McDonagh, and published by Egmont Publishing UK. It is a wonderfully colourful book and a highly visual experience that is worth taking a closer look at, as it is a new format unlike many of the other Star Wars reference books currently on the market.

Alien Archive has 160 pages, full of detailed illustrations of creatures and sentient species from around the Star Wars galaxy. It is a physically large hardcover book, measuring 250mm x 310mm (and 25mm thick). There are double-page feature entries for key species (including full bleed artwork), but with most entries sharing a page with one or two other galactic inhabitants. The book is broken down into types of planetary climate (e.g., Dry Habitats, Wet Habitats), with further subdivision by planet (Tatooine, Jedha, etc), region, or famous location (Jedi Temple, Maz’s Castle, etc). All the imagery is new, so we see some cool renditions of well known characters and critters, as well as renderings of entities not frequently seen outside of their original source material. This dictionary of citizens and beasts draws on material from all of the movies to date, as well as animated series such as The Clone Wars (Karkarodon, Selkath, and more). Everything is described in world (“Deep in the stacks of the Graf Archive, an old traveller’s journal has been discovered and restored for public viewing. A long time ago this unknown traveller documented his stories about the many creatures found in each destination he explored”), so we don’t get information about appearances or behind-the-scenes details. And no… Star Wars: Alien Archive does not break Yoda’s anonymity, listing his species only as “Unknown” (Maz Kanata, incidentally, is also listed as “Unknown”).

I personally love this sort of publication – being able to read about Jawa culture, background details of all the holographic combatants in a Dejarik set, or the lifecycle and biology of the Sarlacc. The illustrations are very tidy, unencumbered by backgrounds, and the reading level is tailored to all ages (recommended from 7 years and up). Although my preview is based on a library copy (thanks Auckland Library system), I certainly intend to have this on my bookshelf in the near future.

Star Wars: Alien Archive is available to purchase now: