I’d figure I would give the crew of the Enterprise a bit of a break, and dig into the Expanded Universe of the Star Wars stories, or as they are now known, Star Wars: Legends.
Ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, the adaptation of Star Wars came out in paperback in 1976, while the production was still underway in an attempt by 20th Century Fox to build up some awareness of the coming picture.
Based off of an earlier draft there are differences throughout the book, including a sequence with Biggs, Luke, Windy, Fixer and Camie at Anchorhead station, the fact that Jabba the Hutt isn’t quite a slug yet, nor has a second ‘t’ on Hut, and there’s tons of dialogue which the stars told Lucas you can write it, but you sure can’t say it.
It’s obvious from the adaptation that there were a number of changes to be wrought between film, and established canon, though Palpatine is mentioned right at the beginning. There’s an offhanded remark of emperors, plural, but that only happens once, as well as stormtrooper helmets having a retractable face shield.
Descriptions for a variety of things, from Chewbacca straight through to the Death Star, are slightly different from what we would see on the screen in 1977.
And yet, all the beats are there, you can hear certain pieces of dialogue in your head, you can hear the swell of the John Williams orchestra. But I imagine in ’76 when the book first came out, it didn’t do much in the way of numbers.
Of, course, once the film hit, and exploded, the novel when through a number of reprintings, as it followed young Luke Skywalker on his hero’s journey, the mythological quest story, set against the stars, as he faces an evil menace in Darth Vader, has a friend in the scoundrel Han Solo and Chewbacca, saves the princess, Leia, is advised by an old wizard, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
At it’s core, Star Wars is a fairy tale, at least this incarnation of it. It’s grown, within the trappings of its creation, but it is high space fantasy, and sometimes we, the viewers, and the readers, forget that. It so redefined everything that came after it, that we often forget how groundbreaking the film was, though the story was recognisable to anyone who saw it.
I’ve read other Alan Dean Foster adaptations, and honestly, felt they were written better. I’m not sure if it was the draft of the script he was working on, or he hadn’t perfected his style (or his ghost-writing) yet, but there are slips in details, that change from one chapter to another.
But all this was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, and this was a reader’s first introduction to it. So it’s bound to be a little shakey. Let’s see what happens when I read (for the first time since it came out, not counting the Dark Horse Comics adaptation) Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Coming soon!
May the Force be with you.