Cohen’s debut, a reimagining of Star Wars set in the underworld of Las Vegas, is a page-turning adventure full of allusions for fans of the movie series.
What if, instead of battling “in a galaxy far, far away,” Luke went on his Jedi journey in the sands of Nevada and did battle with the vicious Empire Gaming instead of the Empire? Cohen’s novel gives the answer: It trades light sabers and blasters for brass knuckles and .38s, “the Force” for the Code, and Stormtroopers for suit-wearing thugs who complain about wearing jackets in the desert heat. Instead of Princess Leia, there’s Leanne—a beautiful madam fighting to protect the rights of the prostitutes who work for her. Artie, a code-cracking little person, plays R2-D2; the lecherous, smooth-talking Cecil is C-3PO. Darth Vader? He’s David, a monstrous former wise guy who suffers from asthma. Luke is still Luke, but in this incarnation, he has an unstoppable sex drive and an unfortunate penchant for getting beaten up. The rest of the cast is here as well, including the drug-running war vet Hank (Han Solo) and his growling, tongueless Samoan sidekick Charlie (Chewie). As in the movie, the characters do their best to stop an evil empire, but instead of saving planets, they’re protecting strip clubs, adult bookstores and other Vegas outposts. Empire’s plan is to legally outlaw pole dancing and limit prostitution to hotels with 10,000 or more rooms. It just so happens that it owns the Dark Star, the only establishment that meets the criteria. Cohen’s writing is crisp, and his dialogue snappy. Seeing elements of the classic space adventure adapted to Sin City is often hilariously entertaining. The novel sticks closely to the source material but deviates enough to maintain interest. While the plot begins to slow toward the end, Cohen’s writing holds the tension, while also preparing for possible sequels.
Delivers action and laughs with its memorable characters and dialogue, despite a dip in momentum before the finish.