AN: Jasman asks what you liked mostabout the SW universe?
BD: That George Lucas plainly,straight from the jump, knew what he was doing and how to do it right. It was afully detailed and thought-out place. It looked lived-in. It spurned all thoseunspeakably spam-brained silver-lame-jumpsuit clichés from TV and movie SF. Youcould see the effort and the expertise, right from that opening shot. You couldtell he'd done a lot of reading, and brought tremendous fidelity to the movie.
ANH also re-popularized pulp fiction,old-time comic and classic Hollywood conventions of heroism and romance andwonder-- things that had been somewhat downplayed in SF literature in the wakeof the New Wave writers.
AN: Jasman asks if there wassufficient info about Han "to learn and expand on" when you wroteSolo & Co. [[that's what Brian called his three Han Solo novels for delRey]], or did the insights into the character come from your own experience?
BD: I eventually saw some materialGeorge had generated about Han, Wookiees, the Falcon, droids and so on, butthat wasn't until the radio serials. For the books, it was more a matter, Ifeel certain, of my being familiar with the paradigms George drew on for Han.You know the roster: Terry & the Pirates (the original, that is); the greatSF and Western heroes; flawed fliers and quixotic gangsters from 30's and 40'sflicks.
(I would add herethat, if you want to see what I believe may have been a *visual* influence,take a look at the John Ford western Red River, starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. About twenty minutes intothe movie there's Monty as a young gunslinger complete with white shirt, darkvest, low-slung holster and lean, saturnine look. A close match to Solo.
And while we'retalking visuals, check out the Frank Sinatra movie The Devil at Four O'Clock.If Spencer Tracy framed there in the cockpit of the French seaplane, as theyfly a scouting mission over the volcano, doesn't remind you of Obi-Wan in thecockpit of the Falcon, you're not looking hard enough.)
Back to Han. I took theHope and Crosby "road" movies as a natural influence too, though thatseems to surprise people. But go back and have a look: Bing & Bobconstantly used humor to cope with the fact that life's often a string ofperils, disasters and enigmas interspersed with opportunities for lechery--which is pretty much how Han often sees things.
There's also the WoodyAllen influence: you can't overcome the absurdities of life, but you canmaintain your sanity by cracking wise, by letting the irony flow. A good punch lineis itself a victory over those who would destroy you. Anybody who's been tohigh school knows this on a cellular level.
AN: There was a SW Galaxy Series 2 cardby Topps which showed the artwork for the original cover of Han Solo and theLost Legacy; the caption said the Xim skull on the cover "was substitutedfor the mask of Darth Vader when permission wasn't granted to use the DarkLord's image." Obviously Vader doesn't even figure into your pre-ANH settings, so Mike Jasman wonders ifthe art was intended for another project originally.
BD: I don't remember having heard thatstory. Someone at del Rey or the Ballantine art department-- or LucasArts--*might* be able to tell you. But with both Judy-Lynn and Lester del Rey gone, Idoubt you'll ever get the full details. Judy was unlikely to OK any Vader coverproposal for a novel that didn't feature the Dark
AN: On a related note, is it just me,or does one of said skull's eye sockets look like a pirate's eye patch?
BD: I'm inclined to letting the payingcustomers decide.
AN: Contest winner Marlene Karkoska isobviously no stranger to your works; she also is very curious regarding yourpersonal favorites in the following SW categories:
a) Which alien fromthe films?
b) What settingfrom the films?
c) Which character(besides Luke, Leia, and Han) and why?
d) Which film ofthe trilogy?
e) Which of yourown Solo & Co. novels, and why?
BD: [[a la Gilda Radner as RoseanneRoseannadanna]] "Mr. Faderman, you ask a lotta questions for somebodyfrom New Jersey!" Just kidding; thanks foryour interest, Marlene.
b) The Falcon, notonly because I spent so much time inside her in my mind over the years, butbecause if you've got a starship, most of the other places are accessible.
c) 3PO, in partbecause I like the character and the surprising virtues he can muster, and inpart because I admire Tony Daniels' talent and dedication to his craft.
d) A New Hope, because there'd never beenanything like it and nothing, even a second and third viewing of the movie,ever had the same impact as my first.
e) I don't favor anyone over the others. If I can apologize for the novels' faults and presume toclaim a little merit in them, I'm fond of a scene in Legacy where the ingénue, Hasti,remonstrates with Solo over his shortcomings as a human being. It's only a fewlines but I felt got something said about what makes Han tick.