Literature: Galaxy of Fear
Galaxy of Fear
The whole galaxy seemed to stretch out before them. It was dark, and dangerous, and full of fear. But it was also full of stars, and the stars burned brightly.
— The Hunger
, written by John Whitman, is a series of children's sci-fi horror novels set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe
. The series is centered on the Force-sensitive Tash Arranda and her brother Zak, who travel with their Uncle Hoole, a shapeshifting
Shi'ido, and their protocol droid tutor
DV-9, or Deevee. Tash and Zak were survivors of the Death Star's attack on Alderaan as they had been in an off-planet field trip. They were taken in by Hoole, an anthropologist with a mysterious past, who travels the galaxy for his work.
There are twelve books in the series. The first six books deal with the mysterious Project Starscream, a series of experiments in biological weapons conducted by the Galactic Empire. The other six have more independent storylines with the main characters fleeing the Empire as fugitives.List of novels
- Eaten Alive: Our heroes crash-land on the planet D'vouran and deal with several mysterious disappearances. Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, and their droids make an appearance.
- City of the Dead: The family visits the planet Necropolis, where Zak befriends some local kids who dare him to sneak into a cemetery. Boba Fett and Doctor Evazan make an appearance.
- Planet Plague: The family visits Gobindi, where Tash learns that the Empire is experimenting with viruses. And she might be infected. Wedge Antilles makes an appearance.
- The Nightmare Machine: Zak and Tash visit Hologram Fun World, which includes a simulator that brings their worst fears to life. Lando Calrissian makes an appearance.
- Ghost of the Jedi: Fleeing Borborygmus Gog, the family hides out in an abandoned space station that houses an ancient Jedi library. However, the library also houses the spirit of a Jedi.
- Army of Terror: The Arrandas visit Kiva to investigate Project Starscream where they encounter a spectral army and rescue an infant named Eppon from an Abandoned Laboratory. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and C-3PO all make an appearance, as does Darth Vader.
- The Brain Spiders: Hoole visits Jabba's Palace so that he can study the B'omarr monks. Meanwhile, the kids investigate a series of murders whose killer leaves a K carved into his victims' bodies.
- The Swarm: The gang visits the Sikadian Garden, where they run into Imperial officers and a swarm of carnivorous insects whose numbers have mysteriously skyrocketed. Captain (and future Grand Admiral) Thrawn makes an appearance.
- Spore: The family travels to a mining colony in the middle of an asteroid belt looking for fuel for their ship. However, the miners may have Dug Too Deep. Jerec makes an appearance.
- The Doomsday Ship: The Arrandas are relaxing on a luxury space yacht when passengers are ordered to abandon ship due to an imminent meltdown. Zak and Tash are stuck onboard but the meltdown never happens. The Arrandas are now trapped onboard with no communications and no way out. Dash Rendar makes an appearance.
- Clones: The family lands on Dantooine, where they are tricked into visiting some old Jedi ruins. They run into a gang of Rebels but Tash senses the Dark Side in the ruins. Darth Vader appears.
- The Hunger: Their ship destroyed by Boba Fett, the family is stranded on a swamp planet with a strange tribe calling themselves the Children. Boba Fett, Yoda, and Platt Okeefe make appearances.
In 2009 Adrian Tolliver wrote Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd, or What I Did On My Inter-Term Break
, an essay from the perspective of Tash Arranda. Set between Army of Terror
and The Brain Spiders
, it has the kids wandering Lorrd and finding a wicked plot. Face Loran
This series provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: The fear of losing family members is a quiet constant.
- Affably Evil: Eppon in his child form is eager to eat people but cuddly and affectionate otherwise. The two modes aren't mutually exclusive. Tash believes he's good and that what he does is separate from his personality.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: SIM in The Doomsday Ship.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Wingsong isn't comprehensible to our heroes, but it's pretty.
- All There in the Manual: The notes for Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd claims that Tash's change in attitude towards her brother and life in general between Army of Terror and The Brain Spiders is due to infatuation.
- All Your Powers Combined: Eppon is the culmination of Gog's Super Soldier project, and he possesses traits from all of the previous threats in the series.
- An Aesop: Several books have them, sometime more obvious than others.
- Animal Wrongs Group: A sci-fi example. Vroon, a Sk'rrr (an Insectoid Alien), is part of a cult that worships drog beetles as they believe that drogs and Sk'rrr are related. As the gardener of Sikadian Garden, he kills the beetles' natural predators. This causes the drog beetle population to grow incredibly quickly.
- Ascended Fangirl: Tash idolizes Jedi and is Force-Sensitive. Long after the series, she's part of Luke's Jedi order.
- The Atoner: Hoole
- Big Bad: Borborygmus Gog for the first six books. Technically he works for the Emperor, but he has a lot of discretion.
- Big Damn Heroes: Many times. In Eaten Alive, the crew of the Falcon make a brief cameo early on, then leave the planet. Later the planet itself comes to life and prevents our heroes' ship from taking off, and the Falcon picks them up because Luke had wanted to check on them.
- Bigger Bad: The Emperor only appears once, in the Villain Opening Scene of Planet Plague. Gog is cowed at the transmission of him.
He [Gog] could order the deaths of hundreds if he wished. With his terrible knowledge he could engineer nightmares. But as powerful as the scientist was, the Emperor could snuff him out with little more than a thought.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The natives of D'vouran, the Enzeen, look like blue-skinned humanoids with spikes for hair. The planet is actually alive, and they are symbiotes which lure people to the surface so the world can eat them, then are fed themselves by plunging their hollow tongues into the dirt.
- Black and White Morality: Averted. Surprisingly for a kidlit book (especially one set in the Star Wars universe), The Empire isn't all evil. Led by an evil Emperor, yes, and there's a high number of evil plots rooted in it, but at the same time, it's stressed that it is a government.
"I know how you feel about the Empire, and you have a right to be angry. But you have to understand that the government has officers, soldiers, and fleets of ships all across the galaxy. Most of the time they are just beings going about their daily business. If you think that every time you see stormtroopers you have uncovered a wicked Imperial plot, you will go insane with worry."
- Blob Monster: The... blobs in Planet Plague.
- Bonding Over Missing Parents: The Arrandas and Luke.
- Bookworm: Tash.
- Brain in a Jar: The B'omarr monks.
- Buried Alive: City of the Dead.
- Calling Card: A serial killer in The Brain Spiders carves a "K" into the foreheads of his victims.
- The Cameo: Oh, loads of them. Even aside from the main characters listed above, more minor ones frequently play roles. Doctor Evazan is the villain of City of the Dead. Dengar has an extremely fleeting role in The Nightmare Machine. Dannik Jerriko is in Ghost of the Jedi. Even when he doesn't meet the heroes, Darth Vader often appears in the Villain Opening Scene.
- Care Bear Stare: Tash uses The Force to reach out to Eppon, who had just awakened his true nature as Gog's Living Weapon and bombards him with memories of their brief but happy time together. It works.
- Cliffhanger: Every book, several times. Daniel Wallace lampshaded it.
Every single chapter of those books had to end with a cliffhanger. It was the law. A chapter would finish with "Tash stepped off the spaceship and heard a blood-curdling scream!" Then you'd read the next chapter and it would say "But apparently it was just a bird."
- DV-9 also lampshaded it. Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd has him leaving a lot of comments in red on the essay.
"I must object to the false jeopardy and melodramatic suspense at the end of every section. This is an informative essay, not a holodrama."
- Closed Circle: Several of the books start with the characters' ship being rendered nonoperational for one reason or another.
- Continuity Nod: Many of them, to the movies and the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In The Planet Plague, DV-9 chatters about the Massassi of Yavin Four and the Ysanna of Ossus. Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd is absolutely thick with them.
- Hoole mentions in one book he'd done research on Tatooine and Jabba's palace before. A couple years before the series began, a book called The Illustrated Star Wars Universe was published, with Hoole cited as the "author" of the Tatooine chapter.
- Cool Starship: The Shroud.
- Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: While the Arranda's efforts in the first five books put a stop to the different parts of Project Starscream, Gog relies on this trope to preserve bits of his experiments to integrate into his final project.
- Spore has an entire plot like this: it took centuries for the Jedi to contain Spore but the Ithorians just locked it up because they're too peaceful to destroy anything, including their most dangerous creation.
- Debt Detester: In all fairness, owing Jabba the Hutt an unspecified favor is never good.
- Defanged Horrors: The zombies in ''City of the Dead" are different. Sure, they're mostly ugly and many of them are decayed, and they are super strong and able to shrug off injuries, but they're also not infectious, don't bite or scratch, follow their Necromancer's commands completely, and some remain their own selves with intelligence.
- Dissonant Serenity: Uncle Hoole is calm in crises. He's less so when dealing with Tash and Zak. When the kids meet Thrawn, they note he's the same, if in a colder way.
- Evil All Along: ForceFlow, Grimpen.
- Explosive Breeder: Droog beetles. Hatchling to sexual maturity in a day, laying ten eggs a day.
- Fictional Document: Tash cites several of them at the bottom of Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd.
- Fictional Sport: Tash looks back on playing speed globe with her friends on Alderaan. She still has the ball and it still works - when activated it speeds away from people - but she doesn't have a team anymore.
- Finger Twitching Revival: After being killed by Gog, a headless Eppon's finger twitches. The narration states that it might be the wind. Then the novel ends.
- Body Twitching Revival in City of the Dead, where uncontrollable spasms serve as a Red Right Hand for those who have been reanimated by Dr. Evazan's serum. The end of the book suggests Zak himself might have been reanimated.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Tash does this a lot.
- Follow the Leader: Goosebumps IN STAR WARS. And with recurring characters who get developed.
- The Force: Being attacked in Eaten Alive triggers something in Tash, and never really leaves her.
She forgot about her fear. A warm tingle spread through her body. She imagined the energy field expanding, driving the shrieking creatures farther and farther away. As she did, the tingle in her body grew into a strong electric current, running from the top of her head down to her toes. For just an instant she felt a sense of connection with something larger than herself, larger even than the planet on which she stood.
- Genius Loci: D'Vouran
- Gender Bender: Karkas.
- Ghost Planet: Kiva.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Zak calls a somewhat deranged-seeming man "a few starships short of a fleet".
- Horrible Judge of Character: Sometimes Tash can tell if someone really is good and trustworthy even if they're acting sketchy, and likes them without quite knowing why... but she also has no idea when someone helpful and friendly is out to get her.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Tash was never given instruction on The Force.
- Iconic Outfit: On the cover of The Swarm, Captain Thrawn is wearing his white Grand Admiral outfit◊.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: D'vouran, a planet that eats people and Necropolis, a planet with zombies.
- I Know What You Fear: The Nightmare Machine.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Tash.
- It's a Small Net After All
- Karmic Death: Vroon killed by the drog beetles he worshiped, Gog killed by the wraiths of people he killed.
- Life Energy: One of Gog's interests.
- Mad Scientist: Borborygmus Gog and Mammon Hoole.
- Master Poisoner: In City of the Dead, a handful of swallowed cryptberries will kill someone almost instantly. After doing this to one twelve-year-old boy, the better to test his zombification serum, Dr. Evazan injects another with diluted cryptberry, which puts him into a deathlike coma for long enough that he can have a funeral and be Buried Alive.
- Man-Eating Plant: The alleth plant in Spore is more like the carnivorous plants of Earth than most instances of this trope. No mouths, no sounds, they usually don't move much, and the insides of their leaves are bright red. A sproutling will sting a hand that touches it, and grown samples are large enough to kill and eat small rodents. Scary! Don't worry, there are more fantastical dangerous plants later in the book.
- Similarly, the meat flowers of Dagobah in The Hunger have toothy petals and bite passersby, though if they've been fed they will only bite if bothered.
- Meaningful Name: Gog and Mammon are names from The Bible often associated with evil people or demons.
- Eppon's Pokémon Speak ("Eppon!") is merely stating his purpose: Weapon.
- More Than Meets the Eye: Luke says he knew Tash was this, to her pleasure.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Karkas. See, it sounds like "carcass".
- Necromancer: The legendary Sycorax. In a sense, Dr. Evazan.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Tash and Zak are kids from Alderaan. It weighs on both of them, but particularly Zak.
- No One Could Survive That: Pretty much word for word.
- Nostalgia Filter: In-universe, this is why The children of the exploration team that crashed on Dagobah don't realize that it's wrong To Serve Man until shown otherwise by Zak Arranda.
- Not Now, Kiddo
- OOC Is Serious Business: And when someone acts exactly the same under great pressure, they know something.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Hoole is not a very good primary guardian at first. Tendency to be distant and refusal to talk about himself aside, he drags the children along on his work across the galaxy, not telling them what he's doing and becoming irritable when they demand to know where they're headed. He warms eventually, but by then they're wanted by The Empire and on the run. Inevitably they end up wandering into hazardous and terrifying situations.
- Papa Wolf: Hoole gradually becomes more of one.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Tash has abandonment issues and knows it. Her parents left her and her brother in the care of strangers and died; whenever Uncle Hoole leaves her and Zak to go do whatever, she becomes antsy and anxious.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Eppon.
- Pokémon Speak: Eppon! Eppon!
- Precocious Crush: Tash, who is thirteen, towards Luke, who is nineteen or twenty. Tash would argue that she has outgrown crushes, she's just fascinated by his Jedi connections, but it certainly looks like a crush, being bold around most people but shy around him and feeling tingly when he shakes her hand.
Something about him made her feel strange. Not "strange" like the crushes she'd had on boys back on Alderaan - she had outgrown crushes anyway
. This was a sense of... relief. Tash felt as if she'd been waiting to meet someone like Luke Skywalker all her life.
He winked at Tash, and she felt the Force flow between them, just as she had during their first meeting. It was a warm, electric tingle, as though she were on one end of a wire with Luke at the other. Together, they made a connection.
- Pseudo Crisis: Constantly. If a chapter end isn't a real cliffhanger, it's this.
- Punny Name: The Don't Go Inn on D'vouran. And of course, D'Vouran itself.
- Put on a Bus: DV-9 after Army of Terror.
- Quicksand Sucks: Eaten Alive.
- The Scapegoat: The Emperor and Gog made Mammon Hoole the scapegoat for the destruction of Kiva. Hoole did start the experiment, but Gog was the one who told him that the experiment was safe when he knew that it would kill everyone on the planet.
- Scarecrow Solution: In Ghost of the Jedi.
- Scars Are Forever: Even for droids, apparently.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: Shi'ido have these. Hoole suggests that having his own form and identity keeps him from a Shapeshifter Identity Crisis.
- Share Phrase: Tash has a bad feeling about this. Lampshaded by her brother at the start of the series, who scornfully says she always has bad feelings. By the end of the series he's started having them himself.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Tash and Zak, a little.
- Shout-Out: The Don'tGoInn is a reference to Terry Pratchett's vampire count, who calls his lair on the Discworld Don'tGoNearThe Castle.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The history/mythology of Necropolis involves a witch named Sycorax.
- Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: Han uses one to escape the Genius Loci, calling it "the oldest trick in the manual."
- Spider-Sense: Tash is Force-Sensitive. She knows when she's Being Watched.
- Spooky Silent Library: Ghost of the Jedi.
- Stylistic Suck: Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd contains some drawings by Tash of some of the people and things they find. They look like they've been scribbled with colored pencil. Well, she is thirteen and never stated to have an interest in art.
- The Swarm: The beetles in, well, The Swarm.
- Taking Over the Town: The planet Ghobindi is found to be blockaded, with only Imperial ships able to come in or go out. There's only one settlement there, clustered around an elaborate medical clinic. The Empire is actually testing The Virus on it.
- Title Drop: Eaten Alive has this.
"Aaiiiiii!" the Gank screamed. It was terrifying to hear that sound come from the battle-scarred thug. "It's hurting me! It's hurting me!" His eyes were alive with terror. "I'm being eaten alive!"
- Think Nothing of It
- Tomato in the Mirror: In Clones, some characters wonder if they are actually clones. In City of the Dead, Zak may or may not be an intelligent zombie now.
- To Serve Man: The natives in The Hunger, the planet D'vouran in Eaten Alive, and Eppon in Army of Terror.
- Tyke Bomb: Eppon
- Undead Child: Kairn in City of the Dead.
- Unfinished Business: The wraiths of the ravaged planet Kiva cannot find rest until they get revenge on the Mad Scientist who destroyed their world Mammon Hoole. When they learn that Gog was the one who deceived Hoole and allowed the experiment to go forward knowing it would destroy Kiva, they pounce on their murderer as he screams for mercy. Only then do they vanish.
- The Virus: The Planet Plague, Spore.
- You Are Not Alone