WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS (A Book Review)

Verily, a New Hope

Tear this blog apart until you have found that book!

VERILY, A NEW HOPE

This is a real book. Seriously. We here at MojoFiction couldn’t believe it either. Shakespeare AND Star Wars together? Break out the paper bags because we’re hyperventilating from too much excitement due to overexposure to a geek fantasy unlike any other. Sci-fi nuts, historians, and your college English professor together in one place? Beam us up, Scotty!

When we saw this book casually lying around at a Barnes and Noble, we didn’t think it could possibly be real, so we did the usual authenticity tests, including biting the edge and using the cover to cut glass. Neither test worked, but the annoyed looks we got from the bookstore staff told us all we needed to know. So we took the book over to the café that resides in every Barnes and Noble these days and accessed their free Wi-Fi (suckers!). Sure enough, the Shakespearian canon goes: Much Ado About Nothing, Henry the XXIII, Jurassic Park, Star Wars. Did you know that George Lucas is actually an anagram for Twelfth Night? Who knew? (besides Oliver Stone)

Since all of William Shakespeare’s Plays are in the public domain, a guy named Ian Doescher went ahead and claimed to be the author, knowing full well that there’s nothing we can do about. To Mr. Doescher’s credit, his reinterpretation of the opening salvo in the Star Wars saga (there’s really only three movies, right?) is nothing short of brilliant. You may think we’re lavishing high praise on a re-write of a screenplay, but we were a theatre major in college … and we’ve probably said enough.

Ever wonder what R2-D2 is really thinking when he makes all those beeps and whirs? You’ll find out, because the author uses every Shakespearian convention, including asides.

ExampleRD-D2, speaking to the audience about C-3PO:

This golden droid has been a friend, ‘tis true,

And yet I wish to still his prating tongue!

A imp, he calleth me? I’ll be reveng’d,

And merry pranks aplenty I shall play

Upon this pompous droid C-3PO!

You can’t make this stuff up! …Well, the author did, but that’s beside the point. First of all, he writes the entire story in iambic pentameter, which, as you know, is THX certified. That’s a feat in-and-of itself, but it’s how he uses it that reveals how good the author is. If you love Shakespeare AND Darth Vader, you’ll find the Sith Lord using rhyming couplets and emoting to the audience. Wondering how action scenes can play out at the Globe? Enter the Chorus! The author leaves no Elizabethan stone unturned in his quest to turn Star Wars into a play, and, in fact, we’re pretty sure an intrepid group could easily produce this play for the stage. Online you can even find study guides for high school and college classes.

There’s a thought. High school kids don’t want to read Hamlet, but might they read Star Wars?

Ultimately, though, the question comes to down to how good of a read the book is. We think it’s outstanding. Through the medium of iambic pentameter and the tropes of old Shakespearian plays, the author adds a surprising amount of depth and feeling to the characters. Famous lines take on another dimension, while the reader will see character motivations in a new light. This book isn’t just a gimmick. It’s a serious work of literature that is at times funny, insightful, and moving, while keeping true to the original material and even paying homage to previous works by Shakespeare. While “Is that a lightsaber I see before me” may be obvious, we won’t spoil the best ones for you.

Beyond that, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars does something that’s hard to do these days. It sheds light on a classical form of writing, making it accessible to today’s youth who deal primarily in LMAO, TL:DR, and other forms for internet / texting-speak.

Ian Doescher shows us that all the world really is a stage, even worlds that are far, far away.

And anyway, where else are you going to see Jabba the Hut wearing an Elizabethan hat?

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