Sunday, May 22, 2005

More Star Wars

Enough? Never! I'm finally around and coherent for the ending of a movie series that has been present in my entertainment world since the Carter Administration, and there's no way that it'll ever be rivalled. Four out of six were solid pictures, and I could, during a moment of weakness, find something nice to say about Attack of the Clones, pushing the ratio to 5:6. That's got the original Star Trek cast beat, and that's sayin' a lot. Besides, I'd rather write about Star Wars than Senate nuclear options or Social Security reform, because lots of other people whose lives revolve around Karl Rove's checklists are doing that for fun, profit, and traffic. Revenge of the Sith beats Republicans led by Frist any day, if you will. Having perused a list of the little action figures from the current movie, I saw that Hasbro Kenner's released Governor Tarkin. Yeeeeeeee haw. A buddy of mine invited me over to his house to watch a VHS copy of the original Star Wars cut, and I was reminded of just how cool Wilhuf Tarkin is. We could use him against the Islamists. Of course, I'll have to get one or two of 'em for the collection. Ith over at Absinthe & Cookies is reminiscing about Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the very first Star Wars novel other than the one penned by Lucas himself as part of the Star Wars marketing effort. It was written by Alan Dean Foster, a 1970s sci-fi heavyweight, and was reportedly so poorly received that it took Lucas another twelve years or so to greenlight another Star Wars novel. (That novel would be Heir to the Empire, which was written by a guy whose jacket photo had him in a Colonial warrior's jacket from Battlestar Galactica. Sweet.) I found a copy of it several years ago in a flea market, and didn't share in the majority opinion. If I remember correctly, the novel was clearly a product of the post-Star Wars, pre-Empire universe, so things weren't so fleshed out that Foster couldn't maneuver a bit. I do seem to recall a bit of Luke trying to figure out how best to score points with Leia, which at the time made all the sense in the world. The novel certainly wasn't high literature, but from Foster, what could you expect? He had a style all his own, and I remember the thing reading similarly to his novelization of The Black Hole, which would have been published about the same time. And yes, our resident Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader, was a right monster in it. None of this touchy feely compassionate stuff about him; this was the Vader fully on His Majesty's Sith Service, and thus at least one or two all-out slaughters ensued. In summation, it was a decent novel that, while not being on par with Timothy Zahn's work in Heir to the Empire, was a good read for a trip or something. I doubt it deserves the whole part of opprobrium that's dumped upon it nowadays. I dare the modern fans to stand it against The Courtship of Princess Leia and tell me that Splinter is bad writing. That particular work, in my opinion, started the long slide that Star Wars books have been in for quite some time. The first batch of "academy" novels by K.J. Anderson didn't help much either---except for Admiral Daala, huh huh huh---and the X-Wing series was too uneven to really sustain a lasting interest. Tremendous savings on my part, though. In related news, a recent purchase---support the war economy!---was the current model of Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber. Wal-Mart (boo hiss!) had them for fifteen bucks, so I couldn't refuse. It's a solid low-cost toy, with color-changing blades. That little feature sold me on it over a Kenobi saber, but now I've still got to get one of those, too. I'm not entirely sure why I'm so fond of the Anakin Skywalker model. It's probably because the thing was the first 'saber I ever saw, and so I've had an attraction to it as a result. Conversely, I've never really been fond of the one made by his son; the thing looks too fragile. Qui-Gon Jinn's was also pretty nifty, but it seems like you could lose it pretty easily. Darth Vader's is just unwieldly, in my opinion. However, the ones made in the late 1990s, prior to the release of Phantom Menace, were superior; they were scaled more for people of my age group, as opposed to children. Nowadays, the lightsabers are made for kids, not fully-grown adults. (There's something uncomplimentary in there, but I'm not going to say any more.) What I need is an adult-scale lightsaber that can be fiddled around with, instead of costing $500 or so. Suggestions are, of course, welcome. Thus ends yet another long post in the blogging world on Star Wars. Now, where's my statute of Admiral Piett?


At 12:51 AM, Blogger Ith said...

Which novel did Lucas write? If I knew, I forgot :)

At 11:11 AM, Blogger The Country Pundit said...

His name was attached to the novelization of Star Wars. I don't know if it was ghost-written or not. The title itself is something like Star Wars: From The Adventures of Luke Skywalker or something like that. The copy I have was printed some time around 1978, and I don't believe that the thing itself ever got to market until after the movie had become huge.

I could be wrong.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger The Country Pundit said...

Bah. I was wrong on a variety of counts. Alan Dean Foster (he of Splinter of the Mind's Eye fame) ghost-wrote the thing from a late draft of the movie script. It was also released in late 1976, apparently. That is, according to the Amazon entry for one of them.

Reading more of these reviews from Amazon, I don't know what I have. Will definitely have to check some day.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Ith said...

Ah, I see what you meant :) Yes, Alan Dean Foster did ghost write the movie novelization. He wrote several movie novelizations in that time period. I remember the running SF fandom joke at the time was that he was going to do the novelization for Dune :)

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Ith said...

Oh, BTW, AFAIK the gold cover with the movie poster on the front is the one released with the movie. The one with the stylized Vader helmet is the one released prior to the movie coming out.

At 12:30 AM, Blogger The Country Pundit said...

Heh, the novelization for Dune. I've read that about two or three times, and it seems like Battlefield Earth in that both of these are virtually unfilmable.

I haven't seen either movie---I hear BE is poorly made---but novelizing Dune is funny. If you're a Firefox user, there's a plug-in that gives you Paul's "I must not fear" speech on demand.

My copy of the Star Wars novel is definitely a post-movie version; it's got one of the posters on it and says something about several tens of thousands in print.


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