Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Star Wars! (As in: A New Hope!)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The 181st Imperial Discussion Group is back with another novel from the vast back catalogue of Star Wars fiction. By popular demand, we'll discuss the very first book there ever was about Star Wars: Star Wars. The adaptation of the original movie's script, sold as a novel by George Lucas but ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster.

    - As with the Episode 1 novel discussion last Feburary, I'd like to start with a fundamental question: Wherefore do we need an adaptation novel of a movie? And more to the point, why would we need this novel of a movie that'll be 36 years old this May, and which has entered the collective memory of civilization with every scene?

    - And looking at it from that angle, what is in here that you can't get from collective movie memory?

    - What's more, what's your "strategy" when reading this book? Do you see it as a treasured artifact, written when the movie wasn't even finished? Or as a sub-standard piece of fiction from SW continuity that's got some stuff in it that was "wrong" already at the time the movie came out (Blue Squadron; also, C-3PO is meant to be bronze, or is that just my copy?)?

    - What's your personal highlight from the novel? Maybe a scene that was done better here than in the movie?

    - And what could you do without? Which scene clearly doesn't get what the movie tries to achieve?

    - Finally, let's take a special look at the opening entry from the Journal of the Whills. It's interesting how that turned out, isn't it?

    Next month, we'll get some more rebellion era Alan Dean Foster by discussing Splinter of the Mind's Eye. In addition, our Tales of the Jedi discussion is still open for business. In fact, feel free to dig up any old 181st thread that you might want to comment on.
  2. fett 4 Chosen One

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    A fascinating story it's particuarly interesting because back then Darth Vader and Anakin were not the same person and the Emperor was not the all knowing, most Powerful force user in the galaxy but just a guy who was isolated and kept used by the boot lickers and beaurecrats that got him into power.

    Always wondered how that charachter would have came across as in the books and what could Vaders motivation have been for joining the Non-force using crowd when they clearly despise it and he worships it.

    btw do you have the link to the TPM discussion thread
    Last edited by fett 4, Feb 3, 2013
  3. Robimus Force Ghost

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    The first couple pages are pretty interesting. It almost paints Palpatine as a hero, a good leader being manipulated by those around him. As always Lucas's original intent remains muddled. Did he always envision the Emperor as a villian? Or did he at first plan on the Emperor as a more tragic figure? The good King locked away and unable to help his people.
    Last edited by Robimus, Feb 3, 2013
  4. _Catherine_ Chosen One

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    This book is really only worth reading for the prologue and the duck line. It's not very well written, which is probably due in part to Foster's writing style but also largely to the draft of the screenplay it was based on. It's interesting for nostalgia value and that feeling of sci-fi pulp adventure from the movie that only the Daley books and SOTME matched, but I didn't enjoy reading it and it took me forever to get through. The dialogue is very rough and dry and needlessly ostentatious at times, and outside of the prologue Foster's prose doesn't do much to spice things up or make the story seem more interesting than a disposable sci-fi summer popcorn adventure. Which, to be fair, maybe it didn't have to, because the simplicity of its story was a big part of Star Wars's success, but the movie was also something more than that that the novelization doesn't really capture.

    The ROTS and ROTJ novelizations I would recommend on their own merits, and the TPM, AOTC, and ESB novelizations I wouldn't recommend at all. The ANH novelization I would only recommend to people interested in the very early days of Star Wars, because if nothing else it does offer an interesting glimpse at Star Wars was like back then and what it could have become.
  5. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.

    Once secure in office, he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace.

    Seems pretty clear that those promises were just to get him into power.

    From Ben, of the Jedi:

    "In many ways they were too good, too trusting for their own health. They put too much trust in the stability of the Republic, failing to realise that while the body might be sound, the head was growing diseased and feeble, leaving it open to manipulation by such as the Emperor."

    Oddly, it also implies that Palpatine was only the first of several:

    "Vader used the training I gave him and the Force within him for evil, to help the later corrupt Emperors. With the Jedi Knights disbanded, disorganized, or dead, there were too few to oppose Vader. Today they are all but extinct."
  6. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    The last segment, at least, is a remnant from earlier drafts of the script, when there had been multiple emperors. Actually, I think "Prince Valorum" was one of them.
  7. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    I'm too lazy to pull out one of my 3 copies right now(yeah, I got the awesome leather bound one from B&N to make it 3 copies in my collection), but this novelization actually has my favorite lines about the Force from Obi-Wan. His initial explanation for the Force to Luke is much longer and conveys a grander and more mysterious Force than does the quick line in the movie. And his discussion with Vader during their duel is amazing. When Vader claims to be more powerful, Obi-Wan tells him(paraphrasing): You feel only part of the Force, Darth. You perceive as little as a fork tastes food. Amazing stuff.
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  8. _Catherine_ Chosen One

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    "You sense only a part of the force, Darth," Kenobi murmured with the assurance of one to whom death is merely another sensation, like sleeping or making love or touching a candle. "As always, you perceive its reality as little as a utensil perceives the taste of food."
  9. Lugija Force Ghost

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    Another thing that seems weird now, being on last name basis with Obi-Wan. And what does he mean with that sentence? That Darth is just spooning with the Force whereas Obi-Wan is soon "having a sensation" with it?
    Last edited by Lugija, Feb 4, 2013
  10. Robimus Force Ghost

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    He may have wanted power for certain, that deosn't mean he was a terrible guy. The very next line after you cut off your quote from the book was:

    Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.

    It also then further mentions how the Jedi were wiped out by Imperial Governors and bureaucrats, then:

    Many used the imperial forces and the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions.

    I really find it quite ambiguous. If he was "controlled" by others then he wasn't calling the shots. Though the book also states specifically that he assigned Vader to the Death Star, which makes him seem in control. Was the book trying to imply that Vader was in control, somehow manipulating the Emperor? I'm not sure.
  11. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Vader's certainly implied to have big ambitions in the book.

    Could (back then) have been a case of him being more interested in being "at the top" than "doing the right thing" and as a result being entrapped by his own advisors.
  12. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    I have my copy stashed... somewhere. I should go hunt it down.

    Basically, when it comes to any movie adaptation, I read it to see a different interpretation. I'm not expecting anything to be the same, I want to see how someone else interprets the script. I want to see how someone else interprets the characters. I want to see what they imagined. I want to read about a different experience.
  13. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    He means that Vader, having turned to the dark side of the Force, has limited his perception of Reality for the sake of a more crude form of power. It's a fascinating juxtaposition with Sidious' baiting Anakin in ROTS with the idea that from the Sith he can learn the "whole Force" rather than being limited. Here, Obi-Wan clearly believes this not to be true.... and I'd say he kind of proves his point when his body just dematerializes upon death and Vader is like :eek:
    Last edited by Dawud786, Feb 5, 2013
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  14. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    He means what he's saying. That he's in communion with the Force in its entirety whereas Vader -- and by extension all dark siders -- can't see the forest for the trees.

    EDIT: Well this is what happens when I open up a window to reply then get myself distracted by other things. Damn Dawud beating me to the punch by ten minutes! :p
    Last edited by Ulicus, Feb 5, 2013
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  15. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    You know I've used this particular line for discussions on the Force and the light and the dark sides in the past, Uli. I seriously love the ANH novelization just for the Force discussion and how, to me, it broadens it far beyond the typical "the Force is an energy field created by living things."
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  16. The_Phantom_Calamari Force Ghost

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    He clearly means that Vader is simply picking up the Force with a spoon and then flinging it at people across the table. Very immature of him.
  17. Lugija Force Ghost

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    One more thing that I have to mention from those two sentences: "Kenobi murmured with the assurance of one to whom death is merely another sensation, like sleeping or making love or touching a candle". That Obi-Wan so casually compares making love to sleeping or touching a candle... Proof that later canon was right in making him the Man of Many Tragic Romances.
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  18. fett 4 Chosen One

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    Either that or he is a bit of a masochist with the whole candle flame thing. Which has further credence as he was telling Anakin he loves him as he was burning
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  19. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I'm not really noticing anything particularly bad about the novel - but just as worse, I notice nothing much at all about it. It's basically the stroll down nostalgia alley back to a time when I just got my third SW book after HTTE and DFR, and when there was nothing much to question about the existence of movie adaptations.

    So, yeah, I guess the best part is finding out about the "deleted scenes", about the "story background". Finding out that Ewan McGregor's character in A Life Less Ordinary was meant to be a scottish immigrant. Finding out that the evil Admiral in Star Trek 9 was confused and embittered by the recent death of his wife. And finding out that Sky Captain has been saving New York from outrageous B-movie villains at least once per week for the last few years.

    Foster really injects more talk into some of the dialogues, and a far as I can remember the annotated screenplays, the shooting scripts weren't that talky. But, by the way, to concentrate on one scene: How about Luke just falling unconscious "because" when he's attacked by the Tusken? As I said, I'm pretty neutral/indifferent to the book's quality, but wouldn't it be Foster's job to imagine something happening there?

    Read carefully - it's not Obi-Wan comparing this, but the narrator.

    Well, read Wild Space by Karen Miller. We'll talk about the masochist angle afterwards.
    Last edited by Grey1, Feb 7, 2013
  20. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Foster's handling of Vader in Splinter of the Mind's Eye seemed similar to Wild Space in some respects (spoilered for next month)

    (Vader, to Leia) "One can do some interesting things with a lightsaber, you know. I'll do my best to show you them all, if you'll cooperate by not passing out."
    Last edited by Iron_lord, Feb 7, 2013
  21. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Shh, don't spoil next month's discussion ;)
  22. Iron_lord Chosen One

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  23. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    ...Yeah, out of context, that spoiler is just... yeah.
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  24. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Well, I didn't mean actual content spoiling. It was nothing more than a joke because we'll talk about that book next month, and that talking about it now might end up in lots of talk now and little new to say next month. But by all means, if it has relevance to Foster's character work or style in the Star Wars novel, plase bring it up.

    Another thing I'd like to bring up for discussion is Luke's thoughts during his first jump to lightspeed. A dog? What's that all about? Aside from the absurdity of the moment, which could be meant (but isn't explained) as hyperjumps messing with one's mind, digging up memories for no reason at all and disorienting space travellers - what is Foster's motive here? What does he want to tell us about Luke, especially about Luke at this special moment in his life?
  25. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    That he has nostalgia, maybe- he's leaping into his new life as a Rebel and his last thoughts before the leap are those of his old one.