Tales of the Bounty Hunters
edited by Kevin J. Anderson
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
Darin's Rating: 3 out of 4
"Bounty Hunters. We don't need that scum." Well, maybe Imperials don't, but we really love 'em! Never has a group of characters had so little screen time and so large a following. (Except for the Stormtrooper who hit his head.) Anyway, this book follows the tradition of Tales from Jabba's Palace and Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Here we have five short stories about the bounty hunters who are hired by Vader in ESB to catch Han Solo.
IG-88's tale is written by Kevin J Anderson. IG-88 is the SW Universe's answer to the Terminator. He is an assassin droid who quickly becomes self aware and writes his own adgenda. With the help of identical copies of himself, they hatch a plot to try to take over the world! Are you pondering what I'm pondering? What does that have to do with him being a bounty hunter? And what about that droid who looks a lot like him in Cloud City? You'll find out!
Dengar's tale is written by Dave Wolverton. Dengar is the SW Universes answer to the Bionic Man/Robocop. In Dengar's youth, he had a nasty spill off a swoop in a race with Han Solo. The Empire scraped up what was left of him and made him into a big bad supersoldier for them, without the excess baggage of human emotion (except for hate). As you would expect, he is more than happy to take a job hunting Solo down. However, can a young woman who tags along with him help him find his human side again? And how does Boba Fett come into play?
Bossk's tale is written by Kathy Tyers. Bossk is a well known Wookiee hunter, one of the few species who is a physical match for a Wookiee. As Bossk is about to hunt Solo and Chewie down, another couple of bounty hunters offer to team up. Oh, yeah. One's a Wookiee! Of course they have a hidden agenda to set Bossk up for a trap, but will he fall for it?
Zuckuss and 4-LOM's tale is written by, I believe, Daniel Keys Moran? (Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm doing this from memory!) Zuckuss is an ammonia breathing Force sensitive alien who is teamed up with the rogue droid 4-LOM. 4-LOM has teamed up with Zuckuss in order to learn how to predict the future like his partner. Unfortunately, Zuckuss has had a nasty incident in which he breathed oxygen and his lungs are burnt. He needs cash to get medical help, so he is more than willing to hunt Solo down. How is their future tied with a Rebel controller fleeing Hoth? Read the book!
Boba Fett's tale was written by a gentleman who's name I can't recall at the moment. In this story, we find out Boba Fett's real name, a part of his background, and how he was introduced to Han Solo. We follow Fett from his youth to the near end of his career. We also see Fett on a few of his hunts and a little of the Bounty Hunters Guild. The end of the story is marked by the inevitable showdown between Solo and Fett. Who will walk away from the confrontation?
IG-88: This story was really good because of the sub story Anderson created. We find out that IG-88 is even more dangerous than imagined, not only because of his speed and strength, but because of his ability to manipulate droids, the backbone of SW technology. There is a really cool background created with the probe droids and a well done cameo with Darth Vader. This was an enjoyable story for me.
Dengar: I met Dave Wolverton in March '95 and asked him about his SW projects. He said something like, "I wrote a story about that bounty hunter with the bandages, uh, what's his name?" I said, "Dengar." He said, "Yeah, that's him." I thought, uh oh, I wonder what the story is going to be like! It was really good! Dengar is a cool character with a lot of potential. I like the man-machine character. After all, there are cyborgs in the SW Universe. Is Lobot the only one? I like the back story on Han and Dengar's relationship. I also liked the new race that Wolverton created. The scenes with Dengar in Jabba's Palace were also well done. By the way, it turned out that Dave was really sick that day and a little woozy. He still was kind enough to come and hang out with us SW fans. No wonder he momentarily forgot the character's name! He's a good writer and a nice guy.
Bossk: Once this story really got rolling, it was a lot of fun. Action, cool scenes, cool droids. Really enjoyable. I liked Bossk's ship, the Hounds Tooth. The new Wookiee Bounty Hunter, Chen, and his sidekick Tinian were really nice additions to SW. I thought the droid Flirt was a clever addition as well. This is a unique droid that I would like to see more of. The man-eating sand was also cool.
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: I really liked these two characters. They were both unique, cool, and entertaining. I liked the addition of having Zuckuss Force sensitive. 4-LOM's background story was very interesting, too. I also liked their tie in with the Rebels fleeing Hoth. 2-1B's appearance was also a nice addition. This was a very good story. Now how the ending fits in with Shadows of the Empire is going to be an interesting thing to sort out!
Boba Fett: You learn lots of cool things about the Man behind the Mask. It was cool to learn a few details about Boba Fett without revealing too much about him. It was cool to see him in some action, too. I really loved his hunting scenes. It was also good to see Han Solo addressed in the story. You know Han has to miss his old days as a smuggler, and this story covers that. Finally, it was good to learn about how Boba Fett is dealing with age. After all, he is human under the armor, so learning about him dealing with his weaknesses was good to see. There's also a really nice scene between Fett and Leia in Jabba's Palace.
IG-88: IG-88 has always been one of my favorite characters. I don't know why, maybe because he just looks cool. Anyway, it was nice to finally get to read about him (especially after KJA told me I would get to). There are some good "blood and guts" sequences at the first of this tale. This one was entertaining.
Dengar: Well, we finally get a little explanation of that brief scene in Jedi. I do like the introduction of more cyborgs in the Star Wars universe, and the "artificial group mind" thing was a unique concept. I didn't neccessarily like all the stuff to do with Solo (see below), but the story was fun to read. Hey, if Dengar can get a babe, maybe there's hope for me yet!
Bossk: Again, a personal favorite character of mine. I liked this story the best out of all of these short stories. There wasn't too much history with the main characters, there was a cool droid (Flirt, kind of reminiscent of Blue Max from the Daley books), Wookiees, and a guy who sees in the infrared (like Predator). A lot of good plot development went into this one, and that makes a good story in my eyes.
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: Another well done story, that doesn't really depend too much on past relationships with Han. Nice work. I like the concept of a species that breathes Ammonia rather than Oxygen. I didn't get the impression, as Scott did, that Zuckuss' intuition had anything to do with Force sensitivity. I simply regarded it as "experience" and a contrast with the pure logic of 4-LOM. Kind of (I hate to bring up Star Trek, but there are some valid parallels) like Kirk showing Spock how humans come up with unique solutions to problems--"the ability to leap beyond logic". 4-LOM seems to be patterned after Data in that he desires to be more than just a droid. The concept of a droid desiring Force abilities has always been one of my favorite little games to play in my own mind. After all, our bodies are just bio-chemical machines. And the Force flows "even between the land and the ship." Hmmm... This story is definitely worth reading.
Boba Fett: Ahh, everyone's favorite bounty hunter! There were some nice tie-in's with the comics here, but this story was probably my least favorite of the bunch. We did get to see Boba and Han back in action again, though.
IG-88: One of the dumb things about the story was that the main Imperial bad guy whines because he wants a nose job. Seriously. On top of that, he asks Vader for a nose job. What would you expect Vader to do? Glare at him? Give him a Force nose honk? Shove his lightsaber up a nostril and ignite it? No. He says something like,"You think you're ugly? You want to see me without my helmet?" There's also a scene where IG-88 impales a man with a spare droid arm and the arm comes out the other side holding the beating heart. Sounds cool, but it just didn't work for me. I still thought this was a great story, though!
Dengar: I thought that Dengar's switch from hating Solo with a passion to being OK with him was a little fast. You could debate it, but that's just my opinion. Also, I thought Dengar was played up as a chump by Boba Fett. You'd think a bounty hunter would be a little more wary than Dengar acted. You could debate this, too. Other than that, I really enjoyed this story.
Bossk: The whole premise of this story was not very well set up or believable to me. What kind of idiot bounty hunter let's his mortal enemy onto a ship and thinks everything is under control? It was rather hard for me to swallow. Then the plot was a bit hard to figure out. What the heck is plan 1, 2 and 3? I didn't follow what their plan against Bossk was until it was already in effect. Ah, well. Like I said earlier, once the story stopped jumping around and got on track, it was really fun and enjoyable. It's just the setup I had a problem with. Now how does the ending fit in with Shadows of the Empire?
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: This was a very well written story and there's very little I had a problem with. If I had to say anything, it would be about the part where the bounty hunters enter the downed Rebel transport and try to negotiate with them. It was a bit clumsy, but I suppose believable considering the desperation of the situation. Overall, a great story!
Boba Fett: The story tended to jump around over major events in Fett's life. I suppose it was necessary for the author to mention them in passing, but it seemed to break up the continuity of the story. Maybe they should have been skipped. Also, I was able to swallow Boba Fett's view of Han Solo for the most part. However, he says, "I hate Solo because he's a criminal." Leia replies by saying, "But you work for Jabba the Hutt." Fett replies, "But that's different!" Uh, huh. Right. However, I can't really gripe about that because I've heard more contradictory statements from people in real life! So I'll let that one pass. The ending was not as satisfying as I would have hoped. It was good, but could have been better in my opinion.
IG-88: Well, though the story did have its good points and was entertaining, it seemed a little slow to me. There were action sequences, but with the exception of the first one, they didn't really get my blood pumping. The scene where IG-88 uses an appendage as a weapon reeks of "The Black Hole."
Dengar: There are some contradictions in this story. For example, Dengar isn't supposed to be able to feel, but he clearly does even in times when he doesn't have a cyberlink with his woman. Hmmm... Also, I'm starting to get tired of story treatments where all these people have some tremendous history with a main character. Why couldn't a story just be about a Bounty Hunter and how they got that way. Let Vader hire them and they take the job. They don't have to have a long history with Solo.
Bossk: Very little wrong with this story. In fact, I really can't think of anything!
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: Maybe a few too many coincidences, but other than that, a near-perfect story!
Boba Fett: Once again, too long a history with Han. It's a big galaxy, Boba Fett is a busy man. You're telling me that fate brought them together that much just out of pure coincidence? Nah! I don't buy it. I do like the ending though.
IG-88: IG-88 playing heart surgeon. He must have seen Temple of Doom!
Dengar: The swoop version of road rash or Dengar doing a face plant into razor blades. Ugh.
Bossk: Dead Wookiees aren't much fun! Also, Bossk's breakfast of Champions---worms! Eeech!
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: Zuckuss should have listened to Bill Clinton. See what happens when you inhale!!!!
Boba Fett: The Devaronian after Fett is done with him. Don't you hate those hamstring problems?
IG-88: The ski-ramp nosed Imp!
Dengar: Uhh, Dengar. What more needs saying?
Bossk: The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out...
Zuckuss & 4-LOM: Zuckuss without his mask, probably. Never seen that though...
Boba Fett: The Devaronian after the other Devaronians are through with him. Icky Icky, Ucky Ucky!