‘Galaxy of Fear’: Remembering ‘Star Wars” all-but-forgotten YA horror series

12.22.15 3 years ago

In case you hadn't heard, it's been a pretty big week for “Star Wars.” Not only has JJ Abrams' “The Force Awakens” crushed every box office record in its path, critics love it and today it even received a nomination for Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards despite missing the eligible screening period. This movie is unstoppable, and woe be unto those who just don't get it.

With “Star Wars” fervor in full swing, today I'll be taking a brief, nostalgic look back at a little-remembered “YA series entitled “Galaxy of Fear.” Between 1997 and 1998, this 12-book series (one of the few outings in the “Star Wars” extended universe to traffic directly in the horror genre) chronicled the adventures of Tash and Zak Arranda, a brother-sister duo who navigated “Goosebumps”-style terrors within the “Star Wars” universe. Here are seven things you need to know about the all-but-forgotten series.

1. All 12 books were penned by John Whitman, who was charged with tapping into the demo that made R.L. Stine's “Goosebumps” series so successful.

“‘Goosebumps” was popular and Lucasfilm was looking to expand the Star Wars market,” Whitman told YodasNews.com in a recent interview. “The licensing people I spoke with were fairly clear they were looking for a way to revitalize Star Wars for a younger generation. The request I got was to tap into that same market, which was scary books for kids, and try to set them in the 'Star Wars' universe.”

And then the prequels came around and mucked up everything.

Photo Credit: Bantam Skylark

2. The books' other main characters were Tash and Zak's uncle, Mamoon Hoole, and his droid DV-9 (a.k.a. Deevee).

Hoole, a member of the shapeshifting Shi'ido race, was previously referenced in the 1995 book “The Illustrated Star Wars Universe.” If you already knew this, that is some deep “Star Wars” knowledge and we bow to you.

Photo Credit: Bantam Skylark

3. A number of pre-existing “Star Wars” characters made cameos.

“Guest stars” in the series included such A-listers as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Darth Vader, Yoda, C-3PO, R2D2, Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt, the “giant slug” who would later be strangled by Carrie Fisher for daring to objectify her.

Photo Credit: Bantam Skylark

4. The books took place three years after the events of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”

i.e. 6 to 18 months ABY, if that means anything to you.

Photo Credit: Bantam Skylark

5. The first six books focus on the intrigue surrounding a series of Empire-conducted biological weapons experiments known as Project Starscream.

The main villain of the first half of the series was a Shi'ido scientist named Borborygmus Gog, a former colleague of Hoole's with the best name imaginable.

Photo Credit: Bantam Skylark

6. Horror sub-genres covered by the books include the zombie film (#2 “City of the Dead”), body horror (#3 “Planet Plague”), supernatural horror (#5 “Ghost of the Jedi”), the creature feature (#6 “Army of Terror”) and nature-run-amok (#8 “The Swarm”).

Torture porn, not so much.

7. Whitman had ideas for two more “Star Wars” books that would have featured the “Solo twins” Jaina and Jacen.

“The concept came up, and I don”t know if it was our idea internally or Lucasfilm”s, to do fairy tales,” Whitman explained to YodasNews.com. “They never were published, but we came up with some concepts. I loved the idea. The vision was: fairy tales that Leia would end up telling her kids.”

Jaina and Jacen sound like Nickelodeon stars from the early 2000s, and they have the looks to prove it:

You can check out the rest of the series here.

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