A Few Not Exactly Fiction Reviews by Asta Sinusas
Most of the time science fiction is just that - fiction about other worlds or different takes on our own. However, there are a few books out this season that happen to relate to the science fiction field that will be of interest. They seem to be supplementary to a franchise, whether The Lord of the Rings books, the Star Wars trilogies, or the Worst Case Scenario phenomenon, that has given rise to interesting explanations of what to do in crisis situations (like dating).
The Magical Worlds of The Lord of the
by David Colbert
The Magical Worlds of The Lord of the Rings is a guide to Tolkein's books The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Simarillion. Rather than a detailed encyclopedia, labeling each species, character, language and setting, it is instead page tabbed to provide background on various subjects. It can be read by audiences whose level of familiarity with Tolkein will range from the new initiate to the college students who started the "Frodo lives" campaign. Considering the book is classified alphabetically by subject, the flow from one section to the next makes it a pleasant read from cover to cover and the bibliography is useful for those inspired to read further. A good companion for those reading the books for the first time, it is more helpful than the drier, highly academic reference books on Tolkein, that appeal to the scholar or seriously devoted fan. The page design with its fascinating fact sidebars, has the feel of a textbook, but without the mandatory purgatory associations of school. It is also a highly useful behind-the-pages look at Tolkein's sources and inspirations and an introduction for those who have seen the movies and want to know a bit more.
Star Wars Party Book
by Mikyla Bruder with photography by Frankie
Frankeny Chronicle Books, Spiral-Bound Hardcover ISBN 0811834913 1st edition (October 2002) 60 pages
No doubt published in response to the fans of Star Wars Cookbook and Star Wars Cookbook II, the Star Wars Party Book contains "Recipes and Ideas for Galactic Occasions". Set up into six theme nights, it covers decorations, games and recipes to make the party as good as seeing Star Wars on opening night. While most of the games are just adapted versions of other childhood favorites, instructions for making the Death Star piñata and other decorations as well as crafts like Amidala's Handmaiden pajamas are truly original. As in the cookbooks, some recipes are just retitled to fit in to the theme, like Jango's Jambalaya or Han Solo's Hoagies. Others, like Rancor Snacks, tell you how to make 'bones', 'rocks' and 'sticks' that resemble the monster's munchies and Clone Trooper Cakes show how one can transform simple cupcakes into an army of faces that are looking to take over Naboo. Part of the brilliance of the series is due to the food photographer, Frankie Frankeny, who uses action figures that fight and rescue their way around the food. A good guide for a kid's party, but will also help make adult movie-watching nights more in tune with the Force.
The Action Hero's Handbook by David Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht Quirk Books,
Trade Paperback ISBN: 193168605X 1st edition (October 2002) 192 pages
From the co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, comes a new guide with an interesting twist. The Action Hero's Handbook may have been thought up for laughs, but the information is from serious experts in the field. Most scenarios are taken from scenes from TV and the movies. Of interest to science fiction fans is the section on Paranormal Skills, which include how to communicate with an extraterrestrial, contacting the dead, fending off a ghost, performing the Jedi Mind Trick and Vulcan Nerve Pinch, as well as how to predict the future. Useful for writers who should get their facts straight, the other sections include: Good Guy Skills for all those good cop/bad cop situations; Love Skills because you've got to know how to romance the opposite sex; Fighting Skills which should be a brush-up for those with elite combat training; and Escape Skills for those times when you're captured by the enemy, either intentionally or not. As the introduction states, this book is for keeping up with the Indiana Joneses (although there is not much on keeping up with the Jackie Chans). Fascinating reading, whether you're planning to go into the hero business or not.