Summer has hit, and though I’d like to say I’ve spent the last three weeks doing nothing but reading, instead it’s been a lot of cooking, cleaning, and errand running. Still, I have had time to go to the used book store, and I recently picked up Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. This is, of course, the novelization of the first Star Wars film, and George Lucas is credited as writing it, though in reality the author was Alan Dean Foster. I distinctly remember seeing this book when I was younger, and being blown away by the concept of a novelization—they actually can make books from movies? So finally I decided to read it.
You can read a lot on the internet about different drafts of Episode IV: A New Hope, or Adventures of the Starkiller, as it was once called. Here’s a tidbit: at one point Han Solo was an alien with gills. Also, when you read through the different drafts, each one changed so radically that it’s surprising that Lucas made so few alterations for the special edition films. For Leah’s birthday I bought her a projector, so now we have a portable, fifteen-foot “television” screen, aka a white sheet tacked to our wall. And this ties into Star Wars because the other day we watched A New Hope. Honestly (unpopular opinion, I know), the updated edition isn’t bad at all.
Anyway, the novelization is clearly based on a later version of the A New Hope script. You can tell since Foster follows what is mostly in the film—Han Solo is now a man, for example—though the descriptions don’t always align with the movie. R2D2 is constantly described as walking on legs in Foster’s work, but never rolling, and Foster’s C3PO is very smart, but in A New Hope the droid’s bumbling nature comes from the juxtaposition of his dialogue with on-screen danger—the comic obliviousness is visual. Also, in print Jabba is a man, not a space slug, and that’s a bit glaring.
When Lucas re-released A New Hope, he restored a scene of Harrison Ford talking to a… Scottish man? The latter of which he later put a CGI Jabba on top of. Before 1997, however, the scene wasn’t in the film, yet Foster included it in the novelization. Other differences between the two are notable, such as the opening words of “Another galaxy, another time,” but are small-impact; Foster talks about numerous galactic emperors, not just one, he includes a more fleshed-out backstory regarding Luke’s father, who could not possibly be Darth Vader, his Obi-wan Kenobi constantly smokes a pipe, and in the end Chewbacca also gets a medal. Oh, and Luke and Leia REALLY eye one another.
Would I recommend reading this book? Absolutely not—it’s pretty bad. “It would take a microbreakdown of a portion of this map to reveal a slight reduction in spatial mass, caused by the disappearance of Alderaan,” Foster writes, which is a far cry emotionally from Princess Leia screaming as her home planet is destroyed, and that’s how the book goes. Oddly enough, I’ve only read one other novelization—The Phantom Menace, by Terry Brooks. And though I wouldn’t say it was high-fiction either, it was fun. But was this novelization still a neat find? Absolutely, and that’s what I hope for any time I go in a used book store.
–Jeff and Leah