“Star Wars: Aftermath” suffers from what I refer to as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” syndrome. That is to say, you tune in because you’re a fan of the univ“Star Wars: Aftermath” suffers from what I refer to as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” syndrome. That is to say, you tune in because you’re a fan of the universe it takes place in, but you’re forced to follow storylines of secondary characters that you don’t really care about and only minimally effect the main cast. Like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” we’re given only passing mentions or brief cameos of the characters we want to see: Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie. There are no Jedi. No Sith. A lightsaber is tossed in there but never actually used. Thus, the pressure is put on Wendig to make his main cast of Temmin, Norra, Jas, and Sinjir compelling enough to pay attention to.
They’re fairly cookie cutter. Temmin, the teen tech genius. Norra, the long lost fighter pilot mother attempting to reconnect with her son. Jas, a not-as-cool-as-Boba-Fett bounty hunter. And Sinjir, an ex-Imperial loyalty officer who has turned on the Empire. There are glimpses of compelling narrative, especially those involving Sinjir and his past with the Empire. These promising excerpts, however, are buried under page after page of the formulaic “heroes get caught, heroes escape” padded action beats. There is no epic battle, but rather, a series of little skirmishes and close calls. After the third or fourth one, they become repetitive and a little boring. Exhaustion sets in under the duress of meaningless encounters with Stormtroopers and TIE fighters going pew-pew-pew in the direction of our heroes. “Aftermath” limps along to a less-than-thrilling conclusion with a tease of bigger and better things to come.
I’m not a diehard “Star Wars” fan, so my expectations were fairly level and I have no gripes about this being a reboot. I never got caught up in the EU controversy or the Sad Puppies controversy or the Gamer Gate controversy that have cluttered the author’s social media feeds. After reading the novel for myself, I feel like the one-star reviews can’t be so easily dismissed as “trollers trollin’” and “haters hating.” I didn’t know what to expect out of “Aftermath” but what I read didn’t get the job done. Not all the blame can go to Wendig. He’s a perfectly competent author working within the parameters of a universe that doesn’t belong to him. Certainly there’s things he is and is not allowed to do. For me though, as a passive fan of “Star Wars,” it didn’t work and I’ll more than likely take a pass on the next two installments. ...more
So when I got The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, a rare occurance happened in which I had already decided I loved the book before cracking the thing opeSo when I got The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, a rare occurance happened in which I had already decided I loved the book before cracking the thing open...then slowly but surely, reality crept in.
I'll start with the good. Quirk Books did a fantastic job with this. The layout, the photography, and how it all came together is a work of art. It's so aesthetically pleasing you can't help but want to pick this thing up and start flipping through it. Leave it out on a coffee table and your friends will indeed ask to borrow it...and possibly never return it. The publisher really came through on their end. I also can't deny that—at it's high points—it's one helluva read. I won't spoil anything, but Bill Murray is one of the most interesting people to ever work in film. Eccentric doesn't even begin to cover it.
Here's where the problems start. Aside from aesthetics and content, this isn't really the Bill Murray book you're expecting and probably not the one you want, either. The author tells you that up front: Bill Murray had nothing to do with this book. It's assembled from articles, quotes, and interviews with people that knew Bill in one capacity or another—but Bill himself had no actual involvement. Nothing hugely revealing or new is brought to the table. Most of the information is already out there on the interwebs, but I can't help but admit it's nice to have all that information in one beautiful package.
So here's where things get super dicey: the format. This book is put together like a Bill Murray encyclopedia—hence, not chronologically—which gives it this horribly disjointed feel. One page you're reading about Ghostbusters, and then a few pages later you're reading about golf, and then that's followed shortly thereafter by Cary Grant. The entire thing is a jumping of topics and time periods. I wondered if some of them were even worth mentioning. Maserati is Bill's favorite brand of car. "Summer Breeze" is one of Bill's most hated songs. These two topics each have their own very short sections. One page you're reading about a movie Bill was in during 2009 and the next you're reading about a movie he turned down years previous. For someone like me who has a pretty good understanding of his career, this was a little confusing. I can only imagine how it would read to a passive fan or someone not familiar with him at all.
Lastly, Robert Schnakenberg's non-objective approach might rub some poeple the wrong way. Schnakenberg gives each Murray film two different star ratings--one for the overall movie, and another regarding just Bill. When Schnakenberg calls Scrooged "...easily the worst film in [Murray's] career," it sort of makes you question the entire system. Take the ratings at face value and watch the movies for yourself.
All in all, I don't love this book; I love the idea of it. I love what it could have been, but there are plenty of anecdotes, quotes, and other factoids to carry the reader through. This is a nice reference guide that can easily be killed in one sitting. A hardcore fan should definitely own this....more