I have lots and lots of books in my Star Wars collection, both fiction and non-fiction for young and adult readers alike.
Star Wars: The Mystery of the Rebellious Robot was published by Random House in 1979. I remember checking his book out from our school’s library. This copy also came from a school library, although not my school.
Unsurprisingly the story begins with Han Solo piloting the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca and R2-D2 playing Planetary Poker, and C-3P0 running around like a maniac.
First it’s R2-D2 that begins acting rebellious, although soon many of the droids, robots and machines down on Tatooine begin malfunctioning as well. We learn that Luke Skywalker is working with a crew of scientists and engineers to build a super-vaporator because Tatooine was suffering from a severe drought. I hate to break it to them, but George Lucas only builds planets with one climate. Tatooine’s going to be a desert for a long, long time.
After our heroes safely land on Tatooine, they attend a meeting to discuss the rebellious droids. The meeting is led by Captain Egoreg, leader of the vaporator project. (“Egoreg” is suspiciously similar to “George” spelled backwards.) During the meeting, the conference room explodes. Everyone was unharmed except for C-3PO, who was wheeled out on a dolly for repairs.
Ultimately the source of the robot rebellion turns out to be tainted oil, provided by Jawas who were hoping the malfunctioning droids would be donated to them. Instead, Chewbacca scooped up all the Jawas and bonked them on the head.
On the final page of the book, Princess Leia awards Chewbacca with a reward while the others look on and C-3P0 photobombs the picture.
Star Wars: The Mystery of the Rebellious Robot was ghost-written by Eleanor Ehrhardt and illustrated by Mark Corcoran. A great interview with Mark about his memories of the book on its 30th anniversary can be found here.
When this book came out, I’m not sure if I was aware that The Empire Strikes Back was coming out the following year or not. As a kid, these books were a great way to peer into the daily lives of those Star Wars characters. The events captured in the Star Wars films were just a small part of what these characters went through during their lives. Books like these reminded us that there was lots of adventures and stories to be told.