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How Star Wars Conquered the Universe
Cover of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe
How Star Wars Conquered the Universe
The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
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In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. Some forty years and 37 billion later, Star Wars — related products outnumber human beings, a...
In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. Some forty years and 37 billion later, Star Wars — related products outnumber human beings, a...
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  • In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. Some forty years and 37 billion later, Star Wars — related products outnumber human beings, a growing stormtrooper army spans the globe, and "Jediism" has become a religion in its own right. Lucas's creation has grown into far more than a cinematic classic; it is, quite simply, one of the most lucrative, influential, and interactive franchises of all time. Yet incredibly, until now the complete history of Star Wars — its influences and impact, the controversies it has spawned, its financial growth and long-term prospects — has never been told.
    In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, veteran journalist Chris Taylor traces the series from the difficult birth of the original film through its sequels, the franchise's death and rebirth, the prequels, and the preparations for a new trilogy. Providing portraits of the friends, writers, artists, producers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to turn Lucas's idea into a legend, Taylor also jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fett's helmet, all to find out how Star Wars has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.
    Since the first film's release in 1977, Taylor shows, Star Wars has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics in far-flung countries and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike. Controversial digital upgrades and poorly received prequels have actually made the franchise stronger than ever. Now, with a savvy new set of bosses holding the reins and Episode VII on the horizon, it looks like Star Wars is just getting started.
    An energetic, fast-moving account of this creative and commercial phenomenon, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe explains how a young filmmaker's fragile dream beat out a surprising number of rivals to gain a diehard, multigenerational fan base — and why it will be galvanizing our imaginations and minting money for generations to come.

About the Author-

  • Chris Taylor is the deputy editor of Mashable, one of the world's largest independent news websites. He has covered the intersection of business and culture for two decades as a writer and editor for Time, Business 2.0, Fortune Small Business, and Fast Company. He is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 25, 2014
    As deputy editor at news website Mashable, Taylor brings a genuine love of pop and nerd culture to this comprehensive retrospective on one of the 20th century's most popular film series. The book takes a scholarly look at Star Wars, yet remains accessible. Readers digging through chapters on science fantasy, independent filmmakers, and legal maneuvering will also discover delightful tales of Taylor's own experiences visiting the world's largest Star Wars museum and witnessing a Navajo tribe's introduction to the movies. Though, at times, these asides interrupt the chronology of Taylor's history, they're intriguing and never out of place. Taylor has compiled an impressive collection of background research and insider info that any fan would be glad to own.

  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2014
    Help us, Obi-wan: There's a Star Wars sequel looming, and it may just feature-shudder-Jar Jar Binks.If you're a real fan of the Star Wars series, observes Mashable deputy editor Taylor, then you're likely a hater, whether of Jar Jar or of "the whiny delivery of Mark Hamill" or of those damnably cute Ewoks. George Lucas has given us plenty to hate, though the spectacle of a young, bikini-clad Carrie Fisher lashed to the post is probably not one of those things, even if, in that garb, she's been turned into a doll for sale to the perverted and the innocent-minded alike. More to the point, as Taylor notes in his opening pages, there's scarcely a corner of the world that isn't aware at least dimly of Star Wars; one of the series has even been dubbed into Navajo in time for one of the last of the old-time Code Talkers to see it before moving on to another galaxy. Taylor's book feels occasionally like an assemblage of oddments and statistics, but mostly he stays right on track in charting how Star Wars moved from film to meme to near universal standard cultural referent. (Say, "I'm your father" in a James Earl Jones voice in just about any language, and the audience will get it.) Better than that is the author's account of the origins of the series and his look at what Star Wars has wrought over the last four decades, including a true revolution in many aspects of filmmaking. If Lucas had died in the car crash he suffered in 1962, Taylor notes, then among other things, Hollywood would be "without much of a special effects industry." A smart, engaging book for the completist that only suffers from being a touch too complete; it could have lost 100 pages easily. Still, welcome reading for fans of Star Wars-or, for that matter, of THX 1138.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2014

    When American filmmaker George Lucas set out to create a space fantasy for the big screen nearly 40 years ago, he never dreamed that Star Wars would become a beloved global phenomenon and one of the most profitable entertainment franchises today. Taylor (deputy editor, mashable.com) explores how the movie, its sequels and prequels, toys and merchandise, and the "expanded universe" of books, comics, video games, and role-playing organizations became infused into our cultural lexicon. Through extensive interviews, in-depth analysis, and exhaustive research, Taylor sheds light on Lucas's life, the entertainment business, and the influences the movie has had on society. Star Wars, with its groundbreaking visual effects, not only changed the way movies are made but the way people experience them--its myth-based storytelling and the immersive fandom that sprang up in the decades following the film's debut were both departures from movies of the past. VERDICT Taylor's fan-boy enthusiasm coupled with his inviting narrative style make this a fun and informative read for sf enthusiasts, media studies and marketing students, film industry professionals, and aspiring Jedi Knights. [See "Books That Buzzed at BEA," Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.--Ed.]--Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2014
    It's impossible to imagine a Star Wars fan who wouldn't love this book. If you're big into making-of books, this one has plenty of behind-the-scenes stories about the six films. If you're interested in George Lucas' inspirations, the book goes into that, too. If you're looking for a study of the cultural impact of Star Warsits fans, its spin-offs and rip-offs, its effect on the motion-picture businessthat's here as well. Heck, there's even a mini-bio of Lucas himself, tracing the years leading up to his unexpected smash hit (and we're talking about American Graffiti now, the movie that made it possible for Lucas to get the original Star Wars made). It really is hard to imagine a book about Star Wars being any more comprehensive than this one. It's full of information and insight and analysis, and it's so engagingly written that it's a pure joy to read. There are also a few surprises, as the author busts some long-held myths about Lucas and his now-iconic series. There are plenty of books about Star Wars, but very few of them are essential reading. This one goes directly to the top of the pile.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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How Star Wars Conquered the Universe
How Star Wars Conquered the Universe
The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
Chris Taylor
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The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
Chris Taylor
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