Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

12/11/20 -- Vol. 39, No. 24, Whole Number 2149

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Alan Dean Foster and STAR WARS (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (letter of comment

by Gary McGath)

This Week's Reading (science fiction of Rudyard Kipling)

(book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Alan Dean Foster and STAR WARS (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

There is an article on at

**, which says in part:

"... it appears that Disney is not paying artists.  While the

details are a bit fuzzy, yesterday the Science Fiction & Fantasy

Writers of America (SFWA) and famed author Alan Dean Foster

announced that Disney was no longer paying him royalties for the

various Star Wars books he wrote (including the novelization of the

very first film back in 1976), along with his novelizations of the

Aliens movies.  He claims he'd always received royalties before,

but they suddenly disappeared."

The article quotes a letter from Foster to Disney, which says in


"When you purchased Lucasfilm you acquired the rights to some books

I wrote. STAR WARS, the novelization of the very first film.

SPLINTER OF THE MIND'S EYE, the first sequel novel.  You owe me

royalties on these books.  You stopped paying them."

This is not the first time it was admitted that Foster wrote the

novelization of STAR WARS (I cannot find exactly when Lucas

admitted it, but it was quite a few years ago); this is just the

latest chapter in that saga.

The following piece by Mark originally appeared in "Lan's Latern"

#6, Autumn 1977.  The editor's note is from that "Lan's Lantern"


Who Wrote STAR WARS?

by Mark R. Leeper

[Editor's note: This piece was written before the appearance of the

STAR WARS article in the July 1977 issue of DELAPS, in which the

contention of Foster as the author of the book is made in a


The film STAR WARS is certainly a remarkable film and a remarkable

achievement for George Lucas.  The popularity of the book STAR WARS

has proved as much a success for Ballantine Books as the film has

proven for 20th Century Fox.  I read the book and enjoyed it a

great deal, due in major part in its evocation of the film, but the

more I heard of Lucas' insistence that he wrote the book the more I

began to feel that the man "doth protest too much."

I would like to present an hypothesis on the writing of the book

STAR WARS, for what it's worth, and my evidence for the hypothesis.

In all probability I am wrong, and if so, I apologize to Mr. Lucas,

not that he's likely  to care one way or the other.  I would guess

that at some point in the production of the film, when the script

was firmed up, Lucas gave a copy to Alan Dean Foster and told him

to transform it into a novel that Lucas would sign his name to.

Foster went ahead and ghost-wrote the book for Lucas.  Let me go

into some of the reasons that this arrangement may have been made

and why I feel that this possibility is likely.

Lucas put four years into the making of STAR WARS and by all

accounts he was extremely busy on the film alone.  Virtually every

piece of work on the film was very closely supervised by Lucas.

This would have had to be an extremely time-consuming project that

made Lucas' time more valuable than money.  Lucas seems unlikely to

have been able to spare the time to write a novel, particularly a

first novel which surely would have been an extremely time-

consuming project in itself.  Just to get the words on paper for a

first professional piece, most authors must put in a great deal of

time merely experimenting with writing style.  This is somewhat

less true of Lucas than it would be of most other people since he

was already adept at script-writing, but still the transition to

novel-writing should not be minimized.  It would have been a major

effort on a secondary project by a man whose every spare minute was

required on his primary project.

The novel STAR WARS is not a classic piece of science fiction by

any means, but it is not amateurish either.  Even with Lucas'

experience in screenwriting and assuming an availability of time

Lucas was not likely to have, the resulting novel was surprisingly

polished for an author's first attempt.  Any author who did as well

with his first novel as Lucas appears to have done with STAR WARS

is someone who could stand on his own as a science fiction writer.

The probability that Lucas has this talent on top of his talents as

a film-maker is not great.

So it seems unlikely that Lucas wrote the book STAR WARS.  Why

should I suspect that the actual author is Foster?  There is one

primary reason.  It has already been announced that the second STAR

WARS book will be authored by Foster.  Obviously Lucas sees Foster

as a man capable of writing in the style Lucas visualizes for STAR


I cannot claim to have read a great deal of Foster.  To date, I

have only read TAR-AYIM KRANG, but in reading that book, I was

struck by how much this book could have influenced STAR WARS.  The

main character is a boy about Luke Skywalker's age who is also just

learning to develop psychic talents not highly different from the

Force.  We have barroom scenes; we have virtually the same

interstellar technology and trader economy.  We have extremely non-

anthropomorphic aliens living in close co-existence with humans.

And if other authors have used the same elements, note that this

book was published in 1972 when Lucas was likely to have been just

starting the serious consideration of a giant space opera.  It is

also written in a style that Lucas might well have appreciated.

And speaking of publishing, STAR WARS was published by Ballantine

Bookms, who is Foster's exclusive publisher.  They might well have

accepted the book STAR WARS, when it had been rejected by a number

of other publishers, specifically because they knew it had been

written b y an author who had proved profitable for them in the


We know already that there has been an agreement between Lucas and

Foster that Foster would write one STAR WARS book.  It would be no

great stretch of the imagination to believe that the agreement was

for two books, one for Foster to write under his own name and one

that would appear under the name George Lucas.  One might wonder

why Foster would not insist on his name appearing on both books.

There are a number of reasons.  Foster may well have been impressed

with the whole STAR WARS project.  The project was, incidentally,

at 20th Century Fox's insistence, a two-film project.  It is not

likely that Lucas, knowing that two books would have to be written,

would decide to do one himself, and have someone else write the

other.  Foster was a man who had experience adapting scripts into

novels, having done both DARK STAR and LUANA based on scripts.  I

have been told, incidentally, that of all of Foster's books DARK

STAR is the closest in style to the book STAR WARS, as well it

might be if it too was written from a script.

And one final reason why Foster may have allowed Lucas to sign his

name to the book.  As anyone who has seen the movie and read the

book knows, the book could have almost been used as a script for

the film.  Take away the writing style that is reminiscent of

Foster and the book is the script of the film.  The main

differences are that the book contains a few unspectacular scenes

that may well have been cut out from the film in an effort to get

the film down to two hours.  Taking the totality of ideas that came

from the Lucas script, Lucas' contribution to the novel would have

been at least as great as any ghost-writer.  By rights, if Foster

had transformed a script into a book, the book should have been by

Lucas and Foster.  But if both names had appeared, every science

fiction reader would nod knowingly and say to himself, "I'll just

*bet* Lucas had a hand in the writing."  So instead of two books by

Lucas and Foster, the logical thing to do would be to agree that

Lucas takes the credit for the first book, Foster for the second.

I'm probably doing both men an injustice but my hypothesis is the

only explanation that seems to me to fit the facts.  [-mrl]

[Regarding who got the original credit, according to Wikipedia,

when Foster was asked if it was difficult for him to see Lucas get

all the credit for STAR WARS, 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


It is also worth pointing out that the second book that Foster

wrote turned out not to be the novelization of the second film--

that was done by Donald F. Glut--but a stand-alone novel, SPLINTER



TOPIC: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (letter of comment by Gary


In response to Mark's comments on THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL in

the 12/04/20 issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

I think the idea that the galaxy was run by robocops was supposed

to be disturbing, even if it was understated.  It strengthens the

Christ analogy.  Klaatu is himself peaceful, but he represents a

power that doesn't mind wiping out whole planets to keep the rest

in line.  Similarly, the Bible tells us Yahweh ordered the massacre

of entire cities and once drowned nearly the whole world.  Klaatu /

Jesus is there to tell us if we do the right thing, we can avoid

the wrath of the power he represents.  [-gmg]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

Our book discussion group read the science fiction stories of

Rudyard Kipling for November.

Wikipedia claims "With the Night Mail" (1905) and "As Easy as

A.B.C." (1912) are the only two science fiction stories that

Rudyard Kipling wrote.  (They are wrong.)  Both are about the

Aerial Board of Control and how air traffic will lead to a world

government.  This idea seems to inspire H. G. Wells with his "Wings

Over the World" in THINGS TO COME.  Someone pointed out that the

terminology for air travel seemed to be borrowed much more from

sailing than actually happened in reality.  I compared it to how

space flight and space battles, especially in films, is patterned

after atmospheric flight, complete with banking and noises in


One thing about all the technical detail in these--they would have

been perfect for ASTOUNDING if ASTOUNDING had existed then.

But several other Kipling stories are often classified as science

fiction as well.  "The Ship That Found Herself" and ".007" are

really marginal science fiction, with basically the same premise:

machines are sentient beings.  In "The Ship That Found Herself" it

is an ocean vessel and in ".007" it is a locomotive, but other than

that they two are very similar.  Whether these are science fiction

or merely a literary device is open to question.

"In the Same Boat" involves nightmares but the application of

medication in their treatment makes what might seem more a dark

fantasy story at least somewhat science fiction.

"A Matter of Fact" is more a journalism story, where a group of

reporters see a sea monster, but cannot figure out how to report


(There were two other stories, "Wireless" and "Unprofessional",

which I did not get to.)  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper

* *

          Politics are not my concern... they impressed me as

          a dog's life without a dog's decencies.

                                          --Rudyard Kipling