In May of 2014, DK Publishing editor Scarlett O’Hara (her real name, I’m not making this up) contacted me, asking if I’d be interested in working on a new book that they’d already titled Ultimate Star Wars. I immediately asked, “How is the book different from Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide and Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary?” The reason I asked was because I’m the author of the former and also wrote text for the latter, so I was especially curious about the concept and content of a new “ultimate” book.
Ms. O’Hara explained to me that Ultimate Star Wars would be the first fully illustrated reference guide to present canonical information about Star Wars characters, vehicles, locations, and technology in chronological order. More specifically, in chronological order with how the subjects were introduced in the Star Wars saga, not just in the movies but also Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Initially, I was intrigued. After I reviewed a few sample layouts for page spreads that had been prepared by DK designers, I knew the book would be a hit.
Why? Because the sample layouts convinced me that the book would be much more than just a considerable rearrangement of images and information. Not to dismiss traditional encyclopedic-format reference books with entries presented in alphabetical order, but the chronological order subtly compels readers to contemplate and consider the “historic” context for entries throughout the entire book.
Consider: Most fans of the Star Wars movies know that the X-wing and Y-wing starfighters first appeared in Star Wars. Alphabetically-minded fans know that X-wing starfighters come before Y-wing fighters. But in Ultimate Star Wars, readers will find the Y-wing presented in context with other vehicles during The Clone Wars, while the X-wing is subsequently introduced among vehicles that were introduced in Star Wars Rebels.
Ultimate Star Wars engages the memory in a fun way. Imagine you’re either hoping to identify or struggling to recall the name of a specific alien in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. If you can’t recall the alien’s name or species, finding the answer by way of thumbing through alphabetical listings may take some time. But with Ultimate Star Wars, if you can remember the scene in which you first saw that character, it’s relatively easy to thumb through a few easy-to-find pages. Granted, singer Sy Snootles appeared in Return of the Jedi but was retroactively introduced in The Clone Wars, so if you didn’t know that already, you may not find her right away.
But I guarantee you’ll have fun looking for her.
This May meet the authors of Ultimate Star Wars on DK’s 2015 Ultimate Star Wars Book Tour. Each tour stop will include a game of trivia, a Q&A with the author(s), a book signing, and in-store raffles and giveaways. Visit DK.com for more information.
Ryder Windham is the author of over 50 Star Wars books. He enjoys promoting voluntary blood donations with his many friends in the Star Wars costume clubs, and has personally donated more than nine gallons of blood to the Rhode Island Blood Center.