It’s been years since I’ve read a Star Wars novel. They don’t have the same flair the films have. Which is natural being that they are an entirely different medium. I also feel as though the novels do little to enhance my appreciation for the franchise.
Shakespeare, on the other hand, has been a big thrill for me lately. Over the last few months I have been educating myself on how to read and fully appreciate his work. The experience has been truly rewarding. With all honesty I now understand why his work has lasted these many centuries.
This past Monday I went to Target. Though they rarely have anything in their book section that interests me I still make sure to browse just in case. Thank Yoda I did. What I found perfectly blended my recent passion for Billy the Bard and years absence from enjoying the classic space opera in print.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.
At once the concept made sense. “Of course someone would translate the Star Wars screenplay into iambic pentameter! If any story deserves the Bard’s treatment it’s Star Wars!” It was on sale. I bought it, of course.
From the very first page you are thrust into the fun of What if. What if Shakespeare had indeed crafted such archetypes of good and evil, introduced the world to the all encompassing power of The Force, and dreamed of droids, space battles, and laser swords? Other than the technology it’s much of a stretch to see him handling this material. As the author, Ian Doescher, pointed out in his afterword, the major themes inherit in both worlds mirror each other quite nicely. Shakespeare and Star Wars work so well separately because they are exploring universal truths and iconographies we have seen within ourselves for thousands of years. They work well together for the very same reason.
I will admit that some of it was a bit more tongue-in-cheek than I expected. Yes, the concept itself is meant to be a laugh, but there are moments of pretty legitimate drama, played completely strait, so effectively that it makes the jokier moments stick out more than they probably should. Similarly there are a few too many in-joke references directly to Shakespeare’s other work. “Hark! What light through yonder sensor breaks?” is the one which comes directly to mind. Also the overuse of a Chorus and overlong asides are a little distracting.
What matters is the overall, and overall it is well worth the read. More than that, I can not wait until someone finally gets the balls to perform it live. Imagine, the theater grows dim, the curtain rises, the chorus introduces:
“In time so long ago begins our play,
In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.”