||Better written than all the other
Galaxy of Fear novels, but a sloppy ending requires a demotion in the
After reading the first six books, I
want to stress that this book is the best of them. It really does
deserve a demotion due to the sloppy nature of the ending, but after
reading the rest of the books in this segment, I really need to keep it
at a higher ranking.
Once again, the story
was fairly predictable, but somehow it was more enjoyable than the
previous adventures. As in the three other stories so far, there is a
visitor from the Classic Trilogy, this time Lando (I was joking when I
mentioned him in my review of Planet Plague). We also meet yet another
untrustworthy local, the administrator of the park. In this case,
however, the author doesn't care to tell us whether this is the real
administrator or if he was replaced by the evil scientist, as in
We finally get a name for the evil
scientist, Borborygmus Gog, whose first name I will not likely be
repeating again! Yet Hoole doesn't see fit to reveal any more to the
youngsters. He discovers that they are in more danger than he thought,
so sends Tash and Zak on a vacation to Hologram Fun World. I believe
this is the same place where Han and Leia got married in the
non-continuity books that recount the story of
Ken, grandson of the
Like a Star Trek holodeck, everything
here is made of holograms, from the rides even to so many other people
visiting the place. The rancor that greeted them upon arrival was so
obviously a hologram, just like the giant Jaws in the second Back to the
Future movie. It was also very predictable that it would return in a
non-hologram function later in the book. The largest question was why
didn't Deevee say anything before the kids were scared by it? Contrived
It really looks like this is the first
time Zak has seen many of these types of rides, like a Hall of Mirrors.
I don't understand why he would be so freaked out by it. But that's when
they meet Lando, who eventually teaches Zak a little about Sabaac.
Unfortunately, this is not the Sabaac that we see in all the other Star
Wars novels. Why do they need a traditional card shuffler (which comes in handy
later as an escape device), when Sabaac cards don't hold their face
value? Where was the randomizer, which would have made it unimportant
that Lando show his hand to Dengar -the cards would have shifted face by
that time. Sabaac is treated as a normal Earth card game, which is very
sloppy on the writer's part.
Lando is thinking of investing in
Hologram Fun World, and asks Tash and Zak for their opinions on various
rides. Zak tries out The Nightmare Machine, a new haunted-house type
attraction that has not opened yet. The administrator of the theme park
shows them how it reads their minds and forces the participants through
their own nightmares. Maybe I've watched too much Star Trek, but I knew
right away that Zak and Tash hadn't left the Nightmare Machine,
especially since things seemed a little strange. When Lando was eaten by
the Rancor, it simply confirmed my suspicions.
As they went from nightmare to
nightmare, I was just more and more sure that I was right. The machine
seemed to be more of a hero maker, though, since every time they faced
death, one of the kids got to be a hero and remove them from the situation
(with help from the holographic Deevee, of course).
I couldn't figure out why we could see
Tash's thoughts (for example, about the lightsaber) if we were in Zak's
dream, until they found their way out of the device, and it was shown
that they were attached through that mind-reading creature. Also shown
were many other "participants", though they were never encountered. If
attached to the same creature, wouldn't they be in the same dream? So
what happened to them after Lando finally destroyed the creature? This
was very sloppy plotting.
Strangely enough, the dream sequence
was very well written, and quite exciting, and I enjoyed it thoroughly,
especially knowing that it was a dream. Unlike many other "it was all a
dream" types of stories, this one made sense. I thought the author went on
a little too long in the dream world, though, since I figured it out so
early. I liked the little touch of Tash's Force intuition knowing the
solution to the Nightmare Machine: that one of them must die to get out.
As usual, Hoole reappears just at the
right time, this time in the guise of a stormtrooper in Gog's army (how
did he replicate the radios troopers use to communicate?). I still think
that Shi'ido should be able to recognize one another, even in
shape-shifted form, if they grew up with their own species. Gog should
have known that Hoole was there.
The ending was also typical, in that
Tash and Zak escape, but the author instills some sort of cliff-hanger
ending, having Hoole tell them that their danger is really just
beginning! At least now, they will be wary. Lando, who was not part of
the dream sequence (and thus didn't get eaten by the rancor), escapes
with them. But there is no way I can believe that he is just now going
to check out Cloud City. How the heck can he check it out, decide to
invest, work his way to Baron Administrator, and become so powerful,
respected, and influential by the time of
The Empire Strikes Back?!
The evil scientist Gog only has two
stages left in his Starscream project, and I hope he disappears after
that. While it's interesting for a short time to have a recurring
villain, I think this one's time is up. Hopefully we can put him to rest
in the next couple of books.