Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell

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Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A visually inventive, but limited, book-with-extras for the young aspiring galactic governor.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780230741041

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As we found out at quite painful length and horrid detail, even Darth Vader was young once. Alright, he didn't start out that evil, but other space supremoes and galactic governors do – and chances are you know a child that would like nothing more than to romp around destroying planets and completely and utterly having their way, with no-one daring to call 'bedtime!' for fear of being grabbed by the unmentionables. With ten(-ish) tips for that child, and several asides, diversions and added frivolity, is this large book, all with the intention of filling the black hole of ignorance in the wannabe ruler of worlds.

Here then is how to give your skull that oversized, evil emperor look – it's through rice pudding (of a sort). Here is where to put your unmentionables – which are of course those huge, ugly, enslaved behemoths that just sit idly waiting for a meal, and nobody in the history of science fiction ever explained how they got captured in the first place if they're so powerful and nasty. And here is a collection of inspirational death stars – all complete with completely pointless ventilation shafts acting as the sole way for someone to come along and destroy them.

You've guessed by now there is an irreverent fondness for sci-fi in these pages, with spoofs of Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, some films by George Lucas, and more. The instances of twisting well-known names to funny original variants is broad enough for the young, but there are other examples of comedy for you to find, and the book, however slight-seeming, gives itself the best of chances at hitting the mark with everyone, of whatever age, at least once. Not all the time is it a complete success however – the tip structure leads off into unheralded distractions. Amusingly, thankfully, with a Dan Dare rip-off, less successfully when it's just an excuse for Chris Riddell to get his pens out and give us another detailed, daffy, world or two. Choosing a throne from which to rule jumps needlessly into different planets, with a vaguely interesting humour and little else.

There is however, more to the book, in that the publishers, wisely realising a book is just too, like, old-fashioned, for the high-energy, multi-tasking youth of today, have given us added extras – a mini-comic, flaps here, a fold-out there, and a Top Trumps-inspired card game. It certainly goes a long way to making the book a bit more memorable. Yes, the large format, all perfectly designed and cleverly illustrated, has appeal, and the detail in the characters, spacecraft and planet surfaces all inspires more than a glance, but the short reading time and limited subject matter does almost beg the inclusion of more to keep the audience with it. It's been carefully created by an evident fan of sci-fi, but the comedy and pastiches weren't enough to give the pictures what they deserved – and even now it might not be a book to conquer the planet.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

More successful, in content and the surfeit of extras, was Illusionology by Emily Hawkins along similar lines.

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Buy Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants by Chris Riddell at


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