“A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away,” it may have been a bit easier to know all things Star Wars. But with movies, television shows and books it can quickly become overwhelming to keep track of some 2,500 characters, vehicles, droids, creatures and objects. Until now with the latest tome of all things Star Wars.
Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia is the work of author, historian and game industry professional Cole Horton. The author of multiple Star Wars books including the award-winning and bestselling Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know and Star Wars: Chronicles of the Force, his new book is seen as a vital guide on the complex history of Star Wars while helping fans and newbies to the franchise with all things in the Star Wars universe. Assisted by co-writers Tricia Barr and Adam Bray, it took the trio about four months to string all the items together after an editorial team from DK Publishing spent about nine months compiling all of the information from A-wing aircraft to Ziro the Hutt.
“It is absolutely massive, because it is not only the things you’ve seen before like Darth Vadar and lightsabers,” observes Horton but that he and his co-authors “tried to shine a light on things that people have never seen before and subjects that you really never thing about like what people in Star Wars eat? How do they travel? What is their luggage like?” As a matter of fact an entire spread in the book features luggage from Rey’s Survival Satchel to Chewbacca’s Carry Pouch to Bobbajoe’s Homemade Backpack.
But this new book is not your parents or grandparents encyclopedia. It is definitely a resource for the 21st century paying homage to the past and navigating the way to the future.
Horton says whether you are a loyal fan, new to the franchise or have never seen a Star Wars movie ever (where have been living all these years on an asteroid?), this book answers questions and provides insight regarding characters, storylines and key battles. “There is something for everyone in the book,” Horton teases. “We cover the entire galactic history for people who have seen some of the films but aren’t fully caught up on everything, all the way to the super-fan who really wants to know every knook and cranny of the universe,” reveals the author.
“Everything going back 40 years and so the original films, the original prequel trilogies are included in there, also the animated series that have come out over the last decade or so and even the latest film Rogue One content is in the book as well,” says Horton. The writers have left no lava field, grasslands or rocky landscape unturned when it comes to content.
Horton promises there is new information in the book that hardcore fans will have never seen before. “In fact, we wound up writing a lot of new content. And so things about the plant life on some of these planets, a detail that had never been explored before,” Horton adds, is in the book along with details about some of the cultures and societies that have never been examined before.
Written to be entertaining, Horton touts his encyclopedia is also an educational tool that can be used to hook a whole new generation on the Star Wars universe as well as a teaching resource for parents of reluctant readers. “We really focus on young readers who maybe have a hard time reading or have not found other books that interesting.” The author hopes the new book might provide that spark to their imagination and get them into reading.
The new resource is organized into five chapters: Geography, Nature, History, Culture and Science and Technology. So if you are looking for an answer to a trivia question on Star Wars fashion, food or the design of military helmets, this book is for you. At 200 pages it is unlike any DK Visual Guide that has been published before. Don’t let the word encyclopedia scare you or worry you that the experience will be information overload. With stunning visuals and easy to read descriptions you will be able to travel the galaxy at your own pace and level whether just venturing into the world of droids, Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi. DK has worked with the world of Star Wars since 1998.
As for Star Wars overload, you are preaching to the choir. Horton admits that even working 16 hours a day full-time, and as a hobby, there is no such thing as “too much Star Wars.” By day he works on Star Wars games at Electronic Arts while spending the rest of his time immersed in a multitude of Star Wars projects. “It is my job to consume all Star Wars media.”
So why is it that four decades into the franchise Star Wars continues to attract fans of all ages? “The beauty of Star Wars is that it is always expanding, there is always something new to write about,” Horton says. “Every new creature, place and story is going to need to be told,” adding that for him that means job security.
At the core it is a great story according to Horton. “Nothing in the encyclopedia matters if people don’t invest or are interested in those characters and stories that are so universal.” Horton says it is no wonder the franchise offers stories of hope, empowerment and taking on great challenges. “I think all of us can find something in that to enjoy and it just goes from there.”