Organized Rambling: A Novel Mission

Organized Rambling

Mea culpa for going so long without a new installment of
Organized Rambling.

An opportunity arose to have my WIP read in a university setting. With a manuscript editing course taking place at my alma mater and with a professor I learned under, I couldn’t pass up having college-age writers and editors assessing my work. I quickly finished revising a draft of my novel and had to write a synopsis, so those endeavors took precedence. Again, mea culpa, my readers—I know you were surely awaiting my thoughts on novelizations and Star Wars with bated breath. So, without further ado, let us shift from the topic of my potential novel to the subject of novelizations. 

First and foremost, to novelize means to convert into the form of a novel. Succinct. Straightforward. No need for argument or clarification. According to our esteemed friends at Wikipedia, a novelization is a derivative novel that adapts the story of a work created for another medium, such as film, TV series, comic book, or video game. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll be focusing on the novelization of films, which began over 100 years ago with silent films in the 1910s and 1920s.

A novelization was a means of enjoying a film again and again without having to go see it in the theater again and again. They also served as marketing materials to drum up excitement for an impending big-screen release. In the 1970s, before the ability to rent, and dare I say own, and watch films at home became a widespread, everyday occurrence, novelization popularity boomed. (Fun fact: Novelizations are usually based on earlier versions of the script or screenplay, which can lead to differences between the book and film versions.)

Reading the novel based on a movie was one of the only ways to re-experience the story until the film aired on television or was re-released in theaters. And one of the most popular novelizations of the era happened to be 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.

Now, before we go any further, I want to take a moment and address the Wookiee in the room. Historically, but perhaps more so during recent decades, novelizations have gotten a bad rap as being a lesser form of literary art. I’m not here to debate that opinion. What I will say, though, is that novelizations have the ability to turn someone into a reader, to ease them into the world of literature without smacking them over the head with the phone book that is War and Peace or my nemesis The Catcher in the Rye. (Full disclosure, I tried reading Salinger’s book three times, and I gave up three times.)

Personally, I enjoyed reading the novelization of Return of the Jedi in my sophomore English class for our independent reading log, and the novelization of Ron Howard’s Willow helped me get my side gig writing book reviews for Foreword Reviews. Suffice it to say that novelizations have a place on the shelves of libraries, bookshops, and homes. And they aren’t a thing of the past either. I learned this by finding out that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) was also novelized, just like its predecessors.

Prior to delving into the specific novelization at hand, let’s fast forward from May of 1977, when the scrolling yellow letters—EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE—first graced the big screen, to sometime in 1997 when the films were re-released as part of the twenty-anniversary celebration, marketing extravaganza, and rebranding to the children of the OG Star Wars viewers. So naturally, with my dad being a 12-year-old when the first film was released, he was gung-ho about taking my brother and me to the theater as a 32-year-old father.

Original Star Wars trilogy VHS tapes.
25-year-old VHS tapes whose sleeves have been well-loved.

As a family, we viewed the original trilogy and invested in action figures, telescoping lightsabers, video games, themed birthday party accouterments, and the special edition boxed VHS tape set. But, amidst all of the galactic glory, I developed a deep-rooted yet short-lived childhood fear. Enter slightly tangential aside…

I was afraid of Yoda. After watching The Empire Strikes Back, he had joined the ranks of my nightmare terrors. Much like the animated Gollum, who I thought lurked beneath my bed, I believed Yoda, the benevolent Jedi Master himself, was waiting under my basement stairs. Let me give you the deets about these stairs.

The basement of the house my family and I lived in was a Michigan basement, and in it lived the washer and dryer and the walk-in cinder block shower—the only shower in the one-bathroom 1920s structure. To get down into this subterranean cement space, one had to descend a set of stairs, of course, but these stairs were the kind whose steps didn’t have backs—perfect for a muppet or murderer to grab hold of an unsuspecting ankle.

And no, you can’t see his pointy teeth in this gif, but trust me, they are there.

Yes, my second-grade self was convinced that Yoda was waiting for me in the basement and that his pointy little triangle teeth had nefarious plans. Subsequently, after reassurances that Yoda was indeed a good guy and also not under our basement stairs, I accepted his teeth to be not nefarious, and Episode V became, and remains, my favorite Star Wars film. (Who doesn’t lose their shipping mind over Han and Leia’s “I love you/I know exchange”? Exactly. We all do.)

*No caption necessary.*

So why fall down this black hole of Star Wars experiences whilst also divulging my irrational childhood fear of a Dagobah System inhabitant? Well, all these memories rose to the forefront of my mind during October of last year, when an artist friend tasked me with a research mission. He owned a hardcover novelization of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas and was looking for more information about the book. I bit and ended up exploring the depths of eBay, Etsy, Biblio, and Del Rey, researching gutter codes, and reading through several forums dedicated to Star Wars books. ‘Twas the perfect task for a nerdy reader like myself.

I learned a lot during this internet-based journey: 

  • Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas was actually written by Alan Dean Foster and adapted from Lucas’ original screenplay. 
  • Depending on the condition, the novelization goes for anywhere from $12 to $300. 
  • Published by Del Rey/Ballantine Books, there is debate about which year this book was printed. The book lists 1976 as the print year, but great minds question the validity of that claim, believing that this particular book was printed in 1977. There is no true consensus on a definitive print year, and I will not muddy the waters with my unscholarly assumptions. 
  • Contrary to most printing situations, the paperback rolled out before the hardcover version. 
  • And the gutter code on page 183 reads “T14,” signifying this as being a first book club edition/early printing of the hardcover book, not a first edition hardcover. 

So, yeah, I’ve added more Star Wars knowledge to my brain, and I think my artist friend was pleased with the information found—a win-win.

As noted above, this mission brought me to Etsy, where I found a book I couldn’t live without. During my research, Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) by Dave Wolverton, a Star Wars Legends novel caught my eye while perusing InkandPaperVintage, a shop specializing in vintage and antique books. Guilty as charged for shopping while working, but this was a pro bono mission anyway. Mea culpa?

Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
A stellar Etsy find.

I also possess From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, a collection of short stories by 40 authors writing from unusual perspectives in the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, I have been robbed of this book, or perhaps I misplaced it (the downside to having several TBR piles), but once I relocate it, I’ll delve in. There’s much Star Wars reading to occur in my future—both novelizations and fresh content from various points of view.

So, to wrap up: an admittance of prioritization, a lightspeed trip down memory lane, a brief history of novelizations, and Star Wars rambling—all in all, a moderately successful blog post about random details, facts, and opinions, rudimentarily organized. And, a woman of my word, I brought back the amphibious animated Gollum, as promised last month. You’re welcome.

Coming up next:

Valentine’s Day & Book Crushes


2 responses to “Organized Rambling: A Novel Mission”

  1. …if it makes you feel any better, I was afraid of Spiderman as a kid. 😂 *Queue that one song by The Cure…Lullaby?*

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