Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2013)|
|Author||Alan Dean Foster (Credited to George Lucas)|
|Cover artist||Ralph McQuarrie|
12 November 1976
|Media type||Hardcover & Paperback|
|Preceded by||Death Star|
Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker is the original title of the novelization of the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Credited to George Lucas, but actually ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, it was first published on November 12, 1976 by Ballantine Books.
The book was based upon Lucas's original screenplay for the first Star Wars film. On how he got the job, Foster said, "My agent got a call from Lucas lawyer of the time, Tom Pollock (now one of the most powerful men in Hollywood). Someone had read a book of mine, Icerigger, knew that I had already done novelizations, and thought I might be the writer to do the novelization of Lucas’ new film. I already knew his work through THX 1138 and American Graffiti. I accepted the offer to meet with George, and did so at Industrial Light and Magic, then in a small warehouse in Van Nuys, California (part of greater Los Angeles, and conveniently near my family home). We hit it off well, I got the assignment (for two books), and that’s how it happened."  Foster not only adapted the film's events, but also fleshed out the backstory of time, place, planets, races, history and technology. When asked if it was difficult for him to see Lucas get all the credit for the novelization, Foster said, "Not at all. It was George's story idea. I was merely expanding upon it. Not having my name on the cover didn't bother me in the least. It would be akin to a contractor demanding to have his name on a Frank Lloyd Wright house."
The book has been published under several titles, first as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, later as simply Star Wars, and most recently as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, reflecting the re-titling of the film that occurred following the announcement that Lucas would film the Prequel Trilogy. Some editions contain sixteen pages of full-color photos from the motion picture.
This book was published about six months before the original Star Wars movie was released; at that point, the source material for this story in particular, and the whole Star Wars universe in general, was still somewhat fluid. As a result, the story in the book differs slightly from the story that ended up in the movie in several ways, and contains some continuity errors in light of the sequels. By February 1977, still three months before the film was released, the novelization sold out its initial print run of 125,000 copies.
Differences from the film
The famous words that open each Star Wars film, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." are absent from this novelization.
The novelization bears a major difference in the form of a prologue explaining the backstory behind the film's events. It is presented as an entry of the Journal of the Whills. This prologue contains the first-ever reference to the Emperor's true name, Palpatine. The section dealing with Palpatine says, "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. 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." This implies that the Emperor is merely a victim of manipulation by Imperial bureaucrats rather than the true string-puller, which is at odds with Palpatine's depiction in later films in the series. This is because George Lucas had not fully developed the character at this point in time, allowing Alan Dean Foster to expand upon the Emperor as he saw fit. Lucas's conception of the character continued to evolve, until he eventually determined that Palpatine was Darth Vader's master and the true personification of evil in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Several other portions of the novel deviate from the film, including scenes that were filmed but not inserted into the final cut of the movie. Most notable of these are scenes with Luke Skywalker and his friends at Tosche Station on Tatooine. Also included is the scene with Jabba that was re-inserted into the Special Edition of the film; however, in this novelization he is written as a fat biped with an ugly, "shaggy skull" and "jowels" that shake with his head, and he has scars that are a sign of his ferocious reputation in combat. This differs both from the script's version of Jabba (which is described as a creature with "eyes on stalks"), and the version that finally appeared in Return of the Jedi, a giant slug with no ability to partake in combat.
Various small details throughout, such as the call-signs used by the Rebels in the Death Star assault, are different (e.g. Luke is "Blue Five" instead of "Red Five", and his team is part of Blue Squadron as well). The official term for "Droids" in the novelization is "mechanicals", and it's implied that the word "Droids" is a slang term. "Droid" is also spelled with an apostrophe in the front, because the term was used as a contraction of the word "android". The word "Rebels" is never capitalized, instead listed as "rebels". The Imperial Stormtroopers board the Tantive IV through the ceiling rather than blasting apart a door. Luke's landspeeder has an enclosed cockpit, unlike the open cockpit in the film. Obi-Wan Kenobi lives in a cave instead of a hut and smokes a pipe. The scene in the cantina where Obi-Wan defends Luke involves three aliens, as opposed to two in the film, and Obi-Wan cuts one of them in half before severing the arm of another, unlike in the film where he merely hacks one's arm off. Chewbacca is described as having bright, yellow eyes. Admiral Motti, the man Darth Vader chokes in the conference room in the movie, is not included in the novel, instead replaced by a character named Romodi, who has severe facial scarring. The call-sign of the Stormtroopers guarding the Millennium Falcon is THX-1138, as opposed to TK-421 in the film. Grand Moff Tarkin is present during Princess Leia's torture. The destruction of Alderaan is not described in the book, nor does Obi-Wan sense the planet's destruction.
The death of Obi-Wan Kenobi is also different in the book in that Darth Vader succeeds in defeating him during their lightsaber duel, while in the film Obi-Wan allows Vader to strike him down, in order to provide Luke and the others a diversion to escape the Death Star. The novel also refers to Darth Vader as a Sith Lord. Although he was referenced as such in various merchandising tie-ins at the time of the original film, he is not referred to as a Sith Lord in the movie. In fact, the term Sith Lord is not mentioned in the films until 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The order of events in the final dogfight over the Death Star is also somewhat different. In the novel, Blue Leader makes two bombing runs down the trench toward the exhaust port. In the film, he only manages to make one before being shot down. In the film, Wedge's X-Wing is damaged by Darth Vader and his wing men, forcing him to leave the battle since he can't stay with Luke, and then Biggs is killed outright by the pursuing Darth Vader and his fighters. In the novelization, Biggs is killed, and then Wedge must retreat due to a malfunction caused in the battle with the enemy fighters.
And at the end of the novel, in addition to Han and Luke receiving medals, Leia also gives Chewbacca a medal, though she has to strain to do so.