The power of Ian Doescher’s contribution to the zeitgeist of Star Wars culture is a marvelous thing to behold, particularly when it accomplishes something many educators spend a lifetime trying to accomplish: getting students to invest in the power of Shakespeare’s figurative language. This was on display in my classroom recently, as Ian visited my freshmen students via Skype to discuss his contributions to Star Wars literature, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back.
Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars Books’
As we move into the next era of Star Wars, easing from the end of The Clone Wars toward Star Wars Rebels and Episode VII, it’s an opportune time to take a look back over two decades to a landmark 1991 release that led us out of The Dark Times. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn brought us into a decade that produced Star Wars Galaxy Magazine, Star Wars Insider, Shadows of the Empire, the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, and The Phantom Menace. It jumpstarted a publishing program that endures to this day and formalized the Expanded Universe — stories set outside of the canon established by the films and TV shows of George Lucas that make the galaxy deeper and richer.
Welcome to the sixth of 12 articles revealing — for the first time ever — material cut from The Essential Guide to Warfare before its April 2012 publication. Each section will be preceded by brief comments discussing why the material wound up on the cutting-room floor.
THEY’RE AFTER OUR CREDITS!
Jason Fry: In Episode I the Trade Federation are the bad guys, but to amass the power they had in the Senate they had to have been a force for good at some point. This piece was an effort to illustrate that, showing the Trade Federation playing a positive and much-needed role in sectors of the Outer Rim that the Republic was too weak and distracted to effectively control. This piece accomplishes that, but it doesn’t accomplish much else – the character speaking isn’t very interesting, and you need a master’s degree in the Expanded Universe to decipher the blizzard of names. This was an easy cut. (So why include it in this Author’s Cut at all? Keep reading.)
Did anyone else participate in summer reading programs as a kid? Sitting down with an engaging book was enough of a reward then (and still is), but I remember feeling excited and incentivized by earning points for stickers, bookmarks, and the best prize of all — free pizza. Nothing could keep me from burning through stories when there was pizza on the line. Del Rey’s Star Wars Action Team (SWAT) has brought those feelings back with their Fancorps Community. I might not get pizza, but I can earn neat Star Wars loot and connect with fellow fans while I’m racking up points. I call that a win.
SWAT was announced last summer and has been up and running for about eight months; they’ve recruited over 1,500 fans. Programs like this are one of the reasons Star Wars fandom is terrific. Sure, Del Rey gets word-of-mouth advertising from those participating, but it’s also another way to build and reinforce the community. I talked with some fans enrolled in SWAT to get their feelings about the project.
As an educator at the Secondary level, it’s imperative that you keep your students engaged and interested in the curriculum, as you navigate the distractions that life may provide at any given moment. While attending college to become certified as a high school English teacher, I was constantly told that students need to be met where they are at in their lives, and heard catch phrases like “edutainment” to describe the pedagogical approach that many are encouraged to pursue.
This is one of many reasons why incorporating Star Wars into the curriculum is all at once gratifying, exciting, and rewarding. It’s wonderful to see how integrating the saga can inspire students to explore other worlds, analyze complex themes, examine characters and characterization, and think critically about that galaxy far, far away. Navigating the saga encourages empathy and creativity that is essential to molding young minds to become something greater than themselves. Just as Luke Skywalker looked into the twin suns of Tatooine for an outlet to other worlds, and to find his place in the universe, each student is encouraged to make similar connections for the betterment of his or her own world. Star Wars is an excellent avenue for this.
What subject could possibly persuade five webmasters, podscasters, and bloggers to congregate on a Sunday via Google Hangout and chat throughout the day (or until the early hours of the morning for some)? Star Wars, of course, and that’s exactly what Randy Lo Gudice, Johnamarie Macias, Jeremy Conrad, Jason Ward, and I did on January 12 as we embarked on the very first Kessel Run, to raise funds for Rancho Obi-Wan.
The galaxy is vast and filled with wonders. There are ancient wonders, like Belgoth’s Beacon, which predates the Republic. There are massive wonders, like the Shawken Spire, which stood freely on the ground and reached low orbit. There are mysterious wonders, like the 35,000 Brass Soldiers of Axum. However, there are very few wonders in the galaxy that are ancient, massive, and mysterious all at once, like Centerpoint Station.
Throughout galactic history, Centerpoint Station has been many things to many beings. For the Killik hives, it was a religious duty. To cosmic threats, it was a prison. Colonists called it home, while criminals called it good for business. Governments have viewed it as a doomsday device, while Jedi thought it as a threat to galactic peace. For the Corellians, its power represented true independence. Centerpoint has been all of these things and more.
For those of us who were there in the beginning (myself being a member of the “age seven in ’77″ club), Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars Portfolio holds a very special place in our hearts. And yet as familiar as Star Wars fans have become with the 21 paintings within the portfolio, few know that many of them had gone through numerous revisions during the film’s production. In the 16 years I knew Ralph, and particularly during the period when we were working on The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (Dreams and Visions Press, 2007), we had several opportunities to speak at length about those original paintings, and the Ballantine portfolio that introduced so many of us to Ralph and his work.
As beautiful as Ralph’s paintings are, he was always quick to point out they were never intended to be seen by anyone beyond those involved in bringing the film to life. He often said that had he known, he would have tried to put more of a polish on them (as if they needed it). But the success of Star Wars, and the resulting clamoring from the fans for any and all Star Wars merchandise they could get their hands on, would ultimately change Ralph’s life.
Judy Lynn Del Rey, who had been with Ballantine since 1973, saw Ralph’s art early in the negotiations to acquire the film’s publishing license, and recognized its potential as commercial art. She hired Ralph to paint the cover of the Star Wars novelization released in fall 1976, launching a relationship that would result in Ralph’s providing 22 additional cover paintings for Del Rey books from 1978-1987.
The first printing of the Star Wars novelization sold out its entire run prior to the film’s release (one can safely assume in some part thanks to Ralph’s amazing, evocative cover illustration). Once the film was released and an unparalleled success, Del Rey had further plans as how to capitalize on Ralph’s art.