Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker
|Author||Alan Dean Foster (Credited to George Lucas)|
|Cover artist||Ralph McQuarrie|
|November 12, 1976|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Followed by||Splinter of the Mind's Eye|
Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker is the original title of the novelization of the 1977 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.
At the time of writing and publishing (which were prior to the film's release), the source material for the Star Wars story, and its universe in general, was still somewhat undefined and fluid. As a result, the story in the book differs from the movie's storyline in several ways. It also contains some continuity errors in light of the film's sequels.
The book was written by Foster and 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's 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." Lucas, for his part, has always been open about the fact that Foster ghost-wrote the novel, noting this fact in his introduction to later editions of the book.
The book was first published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, with later editions such as A New Hope: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, reflecting the title of the film as it has been known since 1981. Some later editions contain sixteen pages of full-color photos from the motion picture.
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, substituted by the similar, "Another galaxy, another time ..."
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' 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 The Empire Strikes Back and 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 film version's open cockpit. In the novel, Obi-Wan Kenobi lives in a cave instead of a hut, and he 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 (referencing Lucas' directorial debut), 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 (whose film equivalent is Red 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 fighter is damaged by Darth Vader and his wing men, forcing him to leave the battle, and then Biggs is killed outright by the pursuing 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 must strain to do so.
After the massive success of the film, Alan Dean Foster released a novel called Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which was originally commissioned by George Lucas for the purpose of being filmed as a low-budget sequel, as a fallback plan in the event that Star Wars did not do well. It was published in 1978, a year after the movie's release. This made it the first full-length original novel to be published in the Star Wars expanded universe. The next official novelization of a Star Wars movie was The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut.
- "Interview with Alan Dean Foster". SFFWorld.
- "A New Hope: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker". googlebooks.
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- "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope". Lucasfilm.
- Burns, Kevin (director) (2004). Empire of Dreams (DVD). USA: Lucasfilm.
- "Weird Differences Between the First Star Wars Movie and Its Preceding Novelization". Tor.com.