The Stolen Data Tapes
Tales from Jabba’s Palace edited by Kevin J. Anderson (1995, Bantam)
If you’ve read Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina or Tales of the Bounty Hunters (or at least my reviews of those volumes), you can probably guess at what you’ll find in Tales from Jabba’s Palace. This is the second of three books featuring short stories by a variety of authors about incidental or background characters from the films (I chose to review them in chronological, rather than publication, order).

This collection contains nineteen stories and comes in at 420 pages. Because discussing each of these stories in depth would make for a very long review that would take a very long time to write—and because I should really be doing schoolwork right now—I’m going to go over what I consider to be the highlights and then talk about the collection as a whole.



I haven’t read a ton of Kevin J. Anderson’s work; only the stories in these Star Wars anthologies and a Starjammers mini-series he wrote for Marvel back in 2004. In general, I’ve found that body of work to be perfectly readable, but nothing earth-shattering. While I wouldn’t call “A Boy and His Monster: The Rancor Keeper’s Tale” an “earth-shattering” story, either, I would call it the best example I’ve seen of Anderson’s writing and one of the better stories in this anthology. He quickly makes Malakili sympathetic through his compassion for the rancor, and even engenders some sympathy for that vicious monster in the process. Anderson really made me want Malakili’s plan to escape Jabba’s palace with the rancor to succeed, despite knowing all along that it was doomed to failure.



This ridiculous creature has long been a favorite among my friends. I saw Return of the Jedi for the first time over a decade and a half ago, but I still can’t look at Salacious Crumb without, at the very least, an amused smirk. My pal Chris does a near spot-on imitation of Crumb’s cackle; perhaps I’ll record him doing it and put it up sometime if he’s amenable.

Anyway, Esther M. Friesner’s “That’s Entertainment: The Tale of Salacious Crumb” follows a stodgy professor called Melvosh Bloor who is seeking an interview with Jabba the Hutt for an academic paper on the crime lord. Instead of meeting with his arranged contact, however, Bloor runs afoul of everyone’s favorite Kowakian lizard-monkey, and sadistic—and highly amusing—antics ensue. The story functions as a wonderful satire on the politics of academia.



Timothy Zahn is possibly the only expanded universe author to create a character whose name is known even to many casual Star Wars fans. While I wish that were the case with more EU characters, Mara Jade is certainly worthy of her notoriety. In “Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade,” the Emperor’s hand is dispatched by her master to Jabba’s palace in order to kill Luke Skywalker (what else?). A number of circumstances conspire to rob Mara of her goal, but at least she gets to see her future husband and current assassination target kill Jabba’s rancor.

Tales from Jabba’s Palace was published before the Return of the Jedi Special Edition was released, so my arch-nemesis, Joh Yowza, is blessedly absent from the line-up of the Max Rebo Band in the somewhat redundantly titled “And the Band Played On: The Band’s Tale.”



John Gregory Betancourt gives the reader an entertaining band dynamic on par with that presented in Kathy Tyers’s story about Figrin D’an and the Modal nodes in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Sy Snoodles is actually the brains of the outfit, Snit (A.K.A. “Droopy McCool”) is the quiet one, and Max loves to eat. It’s a lot of fun.



“Of the Day’s Annoyances: Bib Fortuna’s Tale” is notable not only for its exploration of the Twi’lek Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s Machiavellian scumbag of a majordomo, but also of the B’omarr monks, a religious order dedicated to seeking enlightenment through the shedding of their bodies. To this end, their brains are extracted and placed in droid walkers. M. Shayne Bell weaves a gritty tale of cloak-and-dagger intrigue as Fortuna attempts to use the monks to further his own ends, only to have the tables turned on him. There are a number of twists that keep things interesting, and I found the story’s conclusion extremely satisfying.



Several of the stories in this collection revolve around, or at least mention, a series of killings in the palace by an unknown culprit with no conclusive motivations. I was quite pleased to discover that the killer was Dannik Jerriko, the pipe-smoking Anzati brain-vampire from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Jennifer Roberson, author of the Dannik Jerriko story from Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina returns here to write “Out of the Closet: The Assassin’s Tale,” which mostly consists of Jerriko prowling around and pontificating on various qualities of “soup” (that is to say, “brains”).

Han Solo, whose soup Jerriko has been craving for four years now, slips through his fingers again, and he throws a tantrum, killing several folks at the palace. What surprises me is that this is the last we hear of him. I love this guy, and really wish somebody would use him in a book. I wanna see him and Han throw down, dammit!



J.D. Montgomery has the distinction of chronicling Boba Fett’s triumphant escape from the Sarlacc pit in “A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett.” This gets a little more metaphysical than one might expect in a story about Fett. The bounty hunter, trapped and temporarily paralyzed, speaks to the Sarlacc’s first victim and now controller, Susejo, and other still-(quasi)living people who had also become Sarlacc snacks. The story’s narrative structure is built around long conversations between Boba Fett and Susejo and the mournful testimonies of other Sarlaac victims, including a millennia-old Jedi.




The denizens of Jabba’s palace are less interesting to me than those of Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley. This may be in part because of the simple fact that the camera’s eye lingers on the bar patrons in A New Hope longer than it does on the creatures found in Jedi. Nevertheless, this book has a sense of cohesion among the stories, references to this volume’s predecessor, and some very funny moments and ideas (see “The Great God Quay: The Tale of Barada and the Weequays”) to its credit. This collection is a worthy entry in the Tales series, despite not being quite as good as its two trilogy-focused counterparts.

Tales from Jabba’s Palace edited by Kevin J. Anderson (1995, Bantam)

If you’ve read Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina or Tales of the Bounty Hunters (or at least my reviews of those volumes), you can probably guess at what you’ll find in Tales from Jabba’s Palace. This is the second of three books featuring short stories by a variety of authors about incidental or background characters from the films (I chose to review them in chronological, rather than publication, order).

This collection contains nineteen stories and comes in at 420 pages. Because discussing each of these stories in depth would make for a very long review that would take a very long time to write—and because I should really be doing schoolwork right now—I’m going to go over what I consider to be the highlights and then talk about the collection as a whole.

I haven’t read a ton of Kevin J. Anderson’s work; only the stories in these Star Wars anthologies and a Starjammers mini-series he wrote for Marvel back in 2004. In general, I’ve found that body of work to be perfectly readable, but nothing earth-shattering. While I wouldn’t call “A Boy and His Monster: The Rancor Keeper’s Tale” an “earth-shattering” story, either, I would call it the best example I’ve seen of Anderson’s writing and one of the better stories in this anthology. He quickly makes Malakili sympathetic through his compassion for the rancor, and even engenders some sympathy for that vicious monster in the process. Anderson really made me want Malakili’s plan to escape Jabba’s palace with the rancor to succeed, despite knowing all along that it was doomed to failure.

This ridiculous creature has long been a favorite among my friends. I saw Return of the Jedi for the first time over a decade and a half ago, but I still can’t look at Salacious Crumb without, at the very least, an amused smirk. My pal Chris does a near spot-on imitation of Crumb’s cackle; perhaps I’ll record him doing it and put it up sometime if he’s amenable.

Anyway, Esther M. Friesner’s “That’s Entertainment: The Tale of Salacious Crumb” follows a stodgy professor called Melvosh Bloor who is seeking an interview with Jabba the Hutt for an academic paper on the crime lord. Instead of meeting with his arranged contact, however, Bloor runs afoul of everyone’s favorite Kowakian lizard-monkey, and sadistic—and highly amusing—antics ensue. The story functions as a wonderful satire on the politics of academia.

Timothy Zahn is possibly the only expanded universe author to create a character whose name is known even to many casual Star Wars fans. While I wish that were the case with more EU characters, Mara Jade is certainly worthy of her notoriety. In “Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade,” the Emperor’s hand is dispatched by her master to Jabba’s palace in order to kill Luke Skywalker (what else?). A number of circumstances conspire to rob Mara of her goal, but at least she gets to see her future husband and current assassination target kill Jabba’s rancor.


Tales from Jabba’s Palace was published before the Return of the Jedi Special Edition was released, so my arch-nemesis, Joh Yowza, is blessedly absent from the line-up of the Max Rebo Band in the somewhat redundantly titled “And the Band Played On: The Band’s Tale.”

John Gregory Betancourt gives the reader an entertaining band dynamic on par with that presented in Kathy Tyers’s story about Figrin D’an and the Modal nodes in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Sy Snoodles is actually the brains of the outfit, Snit (A.K.A. “Droopy McCool”) is the quiet one, and Max loves to eat. It’s a lot of fun.

“Of the Day’s Annoyances: Bib Fortuna’s Tale” is notable not only for its exploration of the Twi’lek Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s Machiavellian scumbag of a majordomo, but also of the B’omarr monks, a religious order dedicated to seeking enlightenment through the shedding of their bodies. To this end, their brains are extracted and placed in droid walkers. M. Shayne Bell weaves a gritty tale of cloak-and-dagger intrigue as Fortuna attempts to use the monks to further his own ends, only to have the tables turned on him. There are a number of twists that keep things interesting, and I found the story’s conclusion extremely satisfying.

Several of the stories in this collection revolve around, or at least mention, a series of killings in the palace by an unknown culprit with no conclusive motivations. I was quite pleased to discover that the killer was Dannik Jerriko, the pipe-smoking Anzati brain-vampire from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Jennifer Roberson, author of the Dannik Jerriko story from Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina returns here to write “Out of the Closet: The Assassin’s Tale,” which mostly consists of Jerriko prowling around and pontificating on various qualities of “soup” (that is to say, “brains”).

Han Solo, whose soup Jerriko has been craving for four years now, slips through his fingers again, and he throws a tantrum, killing several folks at the palace. What surprises me is that this is the last we hear of him. I love this guy, and really wish somebody would use him in a book. I wanna see him and Han throw down, dammit!

J.D. Montgomery has the distinction of chronicling Boba Fett’s triumphant escape from the Sarlacc pit in “A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett.” This gets a little more metaphysical than one might expect in a story about Fett. The bounty hunter, trapped and temporarily paralyzed, speaks to the Sarlacc’s first victim and now controller, Susejo, and other still-(quasi)living people who had also become Sarlacc snacks. The story’s narrative structure is built around long conversations between Boba Fett and Susejo and the mournful testimonies of other Sarlaac victims, including a millennia-old Jedi.

The denizens of Jabba’s palace are less interesting to me than those of Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley. This may be in part because of the simple fact that the camera’s eye lingers on the bar patrons in A New Hope longer than it does on the creatures found in Jedi. Nevertheless, this book has a sense of cohesion among the stories, references to this volume’s predecessor, and some very funny moments and ideas (see “The Great God Quay: The Tale of Barada and the Weequays”) to its credit. This collection is a worthy entry in the Tales series, despite not being quite as good as its two trilogy-focused counterparts.

Tales of the Bounty Hunters, edited by Kevin J. Anderson (1996, Bantam)
Like Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina and Tales from Jabba’s Palace, Tales of the Bounty Hunters is an anthology of stories by different authors set during and around the events of one of the films. This one, of course, follows the exploits of the bounty hunters that Darth Vader sicked on Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.
Unlike the other two collections mentioned above, this one has only five stories (as opposed to sixteen or nineteen). The trade-off is that each is significantly longer, still managing to fill your standard three-hundred plus pages for a Star Wars paperback.



The collection opens with “Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88” by Kevin J. Anderson. The story reveals that the assassin droid showed up on the Executor (Vader’s Super Star Destroyer) partially to raise funds for his ultimate goal and partially to divert attention from that goal: complete destruction of all organic life in the galaxy, ushering in an era of droid supremacy.
Anderson writes serviceable, quick-paced prose, but he indulges in a little bit of cheese here when IG-88 and his duplicates start killing folks. In my mind’s eye, I could see a ‘90s holofoil super-special-awesome collector’s edition comic book cover for this story with the words “ROBOT CARNAGE!!!” emblazoned on it. That said, this isn’t a bad story. It’s reasonably entertaining, and its conclusion is immensely satisfying. IG-88 is foiled by his arrogance, a trait that is, of course, all too human.




You know, Boba Fett gets all the love. When I read this book years ago, I became just as fascinated with Dengar because of Dave Wolverton’s “Payback: The Tale of Dengar.” It turns out that Dengar’s head is all bandaged up because of a nasty swoop bike crash—the result of a race with none other than Han Solo. Dengar’s life was saved by Imperial doctors, who made him into an ideal government assassin by burning out several of the emotional centers in his brain. This left Dengar with few emotions save for rage, the likely false hope that his situation might improve, and loneliness.
This begins to change when he meets Manaroo, a member of a race whose members share a cybernetic empathic link with those closest to them through a device called an attanni. Through brief glimpses Manaroo provides, Dengar slowly relearns to make decisions for the wellbeing of another person, to distinguish from right and wrong, and to love. The last thing most folks would expect from this collection is for any of the stories to tug at the heartstrings, but Wolverton does so here, and to good effect. The story is romantic and even heart-warming, but Wolverton remembers that Dengar has spent years as a cold-blooded killer, and doesn’t let the bounty hunter’s transformation stray into the realm of schmaltz.




Despite the title of the third story—“The Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk”—Kathy Tyers chooses to make the big Trandoshan bounty hunter the antagonist of this tale. The protagonists are two original characters: A human woman called Tinian I’att and her Wookie partner, Chenlambec. Both sign on to help Bossk with the intention of capturing him and collecting the bounty on his head. Bossk, on the other hand, is interested in Chenlambec’s rare silver-tip pelt.
The story’s cat-and-mouse game works well enough, but its most interesting elements are its insights into Trandoshan culture. Bossk’s people worship a deity known as the Scorekeeper, who tallies point values based on kills made, pelts collected, and other lovely things, all to be rewarded in the afterlife. There’s something chilling and captivating to me about an alien race with a truly alien set of ethics. I would have liked to have seen more discussion of these ideas here, but the story is solid nevertheless.




Mysticism is something one would not be likely to associate with any of these characters, but I’m glad that M. Shayne Bell did in “Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM.” It turns out that Zuckuss has a gift he simply calls “intuition,” which allows him, through meditation, to discern the location and intentions of people, as well as the outcome of events. It is left relatively ambiguous as to whether this gift has anything to do with the Force, but either way, Zuckuss’s droid partner 4-LOM, who has a long history of exhibiting several very un-droid-like qualities (such as greed), has also decided that he can learn Zuckuss’s skill.
The story also follows Rebel Commander Toryn Farr, who is forced to make several tough decisions during the evacuation of Hoth. Her path crosses with that of Zuckuss and 4-LOM when the former intuits the Rebel rendezvous point outside the galaxy, and the bounty hunters rescue Farr and her crew as a gesture of good faith—a decision that later prompts the pair to begin working for the Alliance.

In this story, Bell explores the themes of choice and consequence and keeps things interesting by writing both Zuckuss and 4-LOM in a way that defies the expectations I imagine most readers had for those characters going in.




In compiling this volume, Kevin J. Anderson has saved the best for last. I don’t say this because Boba Fett is a fan favorite character. Boba Fett is pretty bad ass, to be sure, but this last story is the best simply because Daniel Keys Moran’s “The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett” is the most well-written story here. Its prose is thoughtfully considered and skillfully crafted, full of memorable lines and phrases that are repeated at appropriate moments throughout the story.
This one covers the greatest length of time, beginning with Boba Fett’s first from-a-distance encounter with Han Solo, tracing his activities through the trilogy and beyond, and ending with a confrontation between Fett and Solo, the conclusion of which is left ambiguous. Moran conveys the passage of time in poetic fashion, sometimes choosing to execute time skips with an isolated line reading “Fifteen years passed,” and other times doing so with several paragraphs describing the monumental changes taking place in the galaxy, and in Boba Fett and Han Solo. There is plenty of Boba Fett being a badass and exploration of his unique and uncompromising principles to be found here, but at its heart, this story is really about aging and change. It’s an excellent exploration of those themes, and I don’t just mean “for a Star Wars book.”

Tales of the Bounty Hunters isn’t quite as cohesive a collection as Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina or Tales from Jabba’s Palace, and the difference in quality between these stories is more noticeable because there are fewer of them, but for a fan of Star Wars books, they are all well worth reading. 

Tales of the Bounty Hunters, edited by Kevin J. Anderson (1996, Bantam)

Like Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina and Tales from Jabba’s Palace, Tales of the Bounty Hunters is an anthology of stories by different authors set during and around the events of one of the films. This one, of course, follows the exploits of the bounty hunters that Darth Vader sicked on Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.

Unlike the other two collections mentioned above, this one has only five stories (as opposed to sixteen or nineteen). The trade-off is that each is significantly longer, still managing to fill your standard three-hundred plus pages for a Star Wars paperback.

The collection opens with “Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88” by Kevin J. Anderson. The story reveals that the assassin droid showed up on the Executor (Vader’s Super Star Destroyer) partially to raise funds for his ultimate goal and partially to divert attention from that goal: complete destruction of all organic life in the galaxy, ushering in an era of droid supremacy.

Anderson writes serviceable, quick-paced prose, but he indulges in a little bit of cheese here when IG-88 and his duplicates start killing folks. In my mind’s eye, I could see a ‘90s holofoil super-special-awesome collector’s edition comic book cover for this story with the words “ROBOT CARNAGE!!!” emblazoned on it. That said, this isn’t a bad story. It’s reasonably entertaining, and its conclusion is immensely satisfying. IG-88 is foiled by his arrogance, a trait that is, of course, all too human.

You know, Boba Fett gets all the love. When I read this book years ago, I became just as fascinated with Dengar because of Dave Wolverton’s “Payback: The Tale of Dengar.” It turns out that Dengar’s head is all bandaged up because of a nasty swoop bike crash—the result of a race with none other than Han Solo. Dengar’s life was saved by Imperial doctors, who made him into an ideal government assassin by burning out several of the emotional centers in his brain. This left Dengar with few emotions save for rage, the likely false hope that his situation might improve, and loneliness.

This begins to change when he meets Manaroo, a member of a race whose members share a cybernetic empathic link with those closest to them through a device called an attanni. Through brief glimpses Manaroo provides, Dengar slowly relearns to make decisions for the wellbeing of another person, to distinguish from right and wrong, and to love. The last thing most folks would expect from this collection is for any of the stories to tug at the heartstrings, but Wolverton does so here, and to good effect. The story is romantic and even heart-warming, but Wolverton remembers that Dengar has spent years as a cold-blooded killer, and doesn’t let the bounty hunter’s transformation stray into the realm of schmaltz.

Despite the title of the third story—“The Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk”—Kathy Tyers chooses to make the big Trandoshan bounty hunter the antagonist of this tale. The protagonists are two original characters: A human woman called Tinian I’att and her Wookie partner, Chenlambec. Both sign on to help Bossk with the intention of capturing him and collecting the bounty on his head. Bossk, on the other hand, is interested in Chenlambec’s rare silver-tip pelt.

The story’s cat-and-mouse game works well enough, but its most interesting elements are its insights into Trandoshan culture. Bossk’s people worship a deity known as the Scorekeeper, who tallies point values based on kills made, pelts collected, and other lovely things, all to be rewarded in the afterlife. There’s something chilling and captivating to me about an alien race with a truly alien set of ethics. I would have liked to have seen more discussion of these ideas here, but the story is solid nevertheless.

Mysticism is something one would not be likely to associate with any of these characters, but I’m glad that M. Shayne Bell did in “Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM.” It turns out that Zuckuss has a gift he simply calls “intuition,” which allows him, through meditation, to discern the location and intentions of people, as well as the outcome of events. It is left relatively ambiguous as to whether this gift has anything to do with the Force, but either way, Zuckuss’s droid partner 4-LOM, who has a long history of exhibiting several very un-droid-like qualities (such as greed), has also decided that he can learn Zuckuss’s skill.

The story also follows Rebel Commander Toryn Farr, who is forced to make several tough decisions during the evacuation of Hoth. Her path crosses with that of Zuckuss and 4-LOM when the former intuits the Rebel rendezvous point outside the galaxy, and the bounty hunters rescue Farr and her crew as a gesture of good faith—a decision that later prompts the pair to begin working for the Alliance.

In this story, Bell explores the themes of choice and consequence and keeps things interesting by writing both Zuckuss and 4-LOM in a way that defies the expectations I imagine most readers had for those characters going in.

In compiling this volume, Kevin J. Anderson has saved the best for last. I don’t say this because Boba Fett is a fan favorite character. Boba Fett is pretty bad ass, to be sure, but this last story is the best simply because Daniel Keys Moran’s “The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett” is the most well-written story here. Its prose is thoughtfully considered and skillfully crafted, full of memorable lines and phrases that are repeated at appropriate moments throughout the story.

This one covers the greatest length of time, beginning with Boba Fett’s first from-a-distance encounter with Han Solo, tracing his activities through the trilogy and beyond, and ending with a confrontation between Fett and Solo, the conclusion of which is left ambiguous. Moran conveys the passage of time in poetic fashion, sometimes choosing to execute time skips with an isolated line reading “Fifteen years passed,” and other times doing so with several paragraphs describing the monumental changes taking place in the galaxy, and in Boba Fett and Han Solo. There is plenty of Boba Fett being a badass and exploration of his unique and uncompromising principles to be found here, but at its heart, this story is really about aging and change. It’s an excellent exploration of those themes, and I don’t just mean “for a Star Wars book.”

Tales of the Bounty Hunters isn’t quite as cohesive a collection as Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina or Tales from Jabba’s Palace, and the difference in quality between these stories is more noticeable because there are fewer of them, but for a fan of Star Wars books, they are all well worth reading.