WITH ROGUE PLANET, Greg Bear becomes the second noted Seattle science-fiction author to sign on with the mighty Star Wars franchise (Terry Brooks wrote the best-selling novelization of The Phantom Menace). And, even though this book runs the risk of getting lost in a forest of titles ranging from Dark Tide: Onslaught to The Captive Temple, Bear has done a nice job creating a character-driven book that looks in on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker three years after the events of The Phantom Menace take place. The action, while well-sketched, is relatively understated, although George Lucas might consider creating the visual version of Bear's exciting opening sequence, a battle in which Anakin and Obi-Wan joust with an enemy while wearing jet-tipped wings and plunging down a huge underground shaft. The main storyline follows the Jedi knight and his apprentice as they explore a far-off planet whose inhabitants create impressive spaceships that are actually living beings (while battling evil invaders determined to steal the secret of the ships for their own profit). Bear puts most of his effort into probing the thoughts of uncertain master Obi-Wan and his rebellious junior Jedi partner, providing just a hint of Anakin's coming transformation into the evil Darth Vader. Better still, there's no sign of Jar Jar Binks and Bear has left himself plenty of room for a sequel.