Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Alan Dean Foster interviews

I've refrained from posting the unexpurgated transcripts from my Making of STAR WARS interviews because my separation contract from LFL returned the transcribed content rights of said interviews to LFL in exchange for residuals on any earning derived from said materials. There was one clause which allowed me to use my work, and that was if the material was a necessity in establishing my professional credentials.

I haven't wanted to push the envelope by publishing the interviews, but there are segments in this first Alan Dean Foster interview done on July 27, 1976, which are really important both in terms of showing how my relationship with George and Star Wars went beyond being publicist, and also as a prelude to my write up on the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

There are 3 audio tape interviews with ADF. This first is 45 pages long. As I've decided to upload in it's full, raw form. I might run out of steam before I finish. The pertinent points I need to show to you becomes fairly clear early on. I mean, I got tired cleaning up the formatting, typos, etc. at the half way mark, and it's taken me several hours. Is there really any point dumping on you guys and gals the unexpurgated contents?

In all fairness, the salient points of the interview can be found in Star Wars Insider.


GL: I'm not completely finished going through it again. It's all down about, page 200 so I've got about 50 pages to go. Most of the things are very little, words, and things like that.

ADF: Stuff like that can always be changed in galleys.

GL: Yea. I told Judy Lynn that -- The only thing I told her was that D-2, which in the film we call R-2. So I just changed all the D-2s to R-2s.

ADF: So you did that already?

GL: I told her. I don't know... I'm going through and I'm trying to do it. It's one of those fairly typical things, it keeps slipping over. We all do it.

ADF: When the galleys come, and I proof the galleys, I can do that

GL: Yea. We can all just sort of check through it.

ADF: That was something I didn't know about and I had no way to catch it..

GL: Most everything I've got is real teeny. You know, it's a word here and there. The one thing that I came....

ADF: The reason I did that is it was Threepios

GL: Yes, I know. It's one of those very hard things to describe why that happens. But it did. It's hard enough to get them organized, anyway, and if some of the people can at least read the novel and remember that R-2 is R-2, it's going to be a little tricky in the movie, 'cause we keep referring to him all the time. I'm afraid some people won't realize what it is. Ah, most of the stuff is... You had one thing, too, Charley.

CML: Well, I had several things.

GL: You had one thing about the fighter.

CML: Yes. Page 4... that first ship when we talk about her and the ship, it's at the bottom of the page, third line from the bottom, It's described as a fighter.

ADF: Yes. Originally, I had it down as a freighter.

GL: Well, it's bigger than a fighter. It's a big ship.

ADF: But would it be a destroyer? A cruiser?

GL: It's been a problem in the script. I called it a blockade runner but it's a... maybe we could call it a frigate. How's that?

ADF: Well, it's funny you mentioned blockade runner. I was thinking like the German Q ships. They look like freighters but they are war ships.

GL: Well, this is like a -- it's like in the 747 class. When you think of fighter, you think of the two-man.

ADF: Well, you could get around it completely and just call it the rebel ship.

GL: Fine.

CML: I don't think so. I think you ought to have a description. I think you're at a point where you call it the rebel ship at the beginning of the first page, and you don't describe the size of the ship, because people are going to be into it right away, . . . You're calling things rebel ships at the other point, we know there's a larger ship, right?

GL: We could call it a cruiser. A star-cruiser.

CML: Yes.

GL: Something that denotes that it's a substantial size, but isn't like a freighter. It's got class. It's more of a slick ship.

ADF: If it isn't a freighter, than it's a war ship. I could call it blockade runner. It's not running any blockades, though, so let's just call it a cruiser.

GL: Ok, that's fine. Wonderful.

CML: There's something Alan and I talked about... that I hadn't talked to you about too much. But the whole idea of the dark lords. Do you see them as many dark lords and he's only one still?

GL: Ah... the way we've got it now is that he's the only one left. But that's what you had, right?

ADF: OK. He's the only one left that we know about which means that we can bring in other lords if we want to.

GL: I think that's all right.

CML: Yea. because the only reference you made was on Page 13, "Fear followed the footsteps of all the dark lords."

GL: I don't think I really caught that.

CML: Third sentence from the top.

GL: Oh. Well, why don't we just go through it page by page? Most of the stuff is so little. The only thing I've got is actual size. Because it’s the first thing. It's this prologue. The only thing... I think we started off on the wrong foot. I was going to try to just write something up, but I didn't get to it -- yet. So maybe we can discuss it. Rather than do a explanation of the -- it's the excerpt from the Journal of the Whills. Rather than saying the Emperor was... and all of that stuff... some of it was, to me, it's the logic of it was different from what I was going for. I noticed in the script, you sort of used just a little bit but it wasn't enough to make any difference. 'Cause I had it where what happened was like -- well, vaguely, like Nazi Germany. Or like Richard Nixon. It's like a Republic and Senate, and at one point, the President decided he would rather be called the Emperor than the President, and it sort of passed. And as people began to realize it, a lot of the senators began to be bought off and were intimidated and pretty soon there wasn't any Senate anymore. There was still a Senate, but it wasn't as strong and pretty soon the Emperor was becoming a Fuhrer. And nobody could stop him. It was like when they had a minor revolution when he branded all the Jedi as traitors. Had them electrocuted to get rid of them, and he began to get more fascist, using cruder techniques. Pretty soon the Republic was no longer a republic. And then he decided not to call it the Republic anymore. He decided to call it the New Empire.


This is the important relevant quote in this second section -- "I was thinking of how to start the film in a knoll-like hobbit hole kind of thing. And you go in and there's a Wookie family. Mama Wookie, Papa Wookie, and Baby Wookie. You know where I'm coming at... (laughs) ... And Daddy Wookie was going to sit down the Baby Wookie on his knee and tell, him the story."

Remind you of anything? The STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, which, when I asked folks what they wanted me to write about, came up as the most favored topic... There are a lot of underground rivers which lead to the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. As you can see from this quote, it was an idea George had since 1976.

ADF: This is the present Emperor?

GL: Yes. It just happened within Ben's lifetime. He was the last of what remains of the Jedi which was the Big Betrayal when Luke's father was killed. It all happened very quickly. Now the Emperor is quickly trying to consolidate and come down on -- he does get rid of the Senate completely, he lets the Imperial Governors take over. So it's a point when Empire's really coming down, and a few little mice are off in the corner, causing trouble. But he's making official what has been going on for the last -- say, four years. He's been saying... it's sort of the last run of the Republic instead.

ADF: No problem. In the absence of that, I couldn't make this up.

GL ; No, I realize that. The other thing is, I wanted to take it out of the spacey science-fiction thing, and turn it more into 'Once upon a time, in faraway land' rather than, in a different galaxy. That happens more during the time of William Shakespeare.... something that gives it sort of -- I don't know how to approach it. And we can approach it in several different ways... We can either go into a...

CML: You mean the quality of the Conan Doyle quote?

GL: No, not really. Maybe it's...

ADF: What you want is -- is, you want the fantasy. Give it that tone -- of much more of the once

GL: I want more of a fairy tale quality.

ADF: OK. Then I'll rewrite this three pages.

GL: I had an idea -- as a joke -- which usually ends up being my best ideas — I don't know whether we dare try it. It might be interesting. I thought of doing it in the movie, actually, and then I chickened out. But I was thinking of how to start the film in a knoll-like hobbit hole kind of thing. And you go in and there's a Wookiee family. Mama Wookiee, Papa Wookiee, and Baby Wookiee. You know where I'm coming at... (laughs) ... And Daddy Wookiee was going to sit down the Baby Wookiee on his knee and tell, him the story. That isn't quite it, but it is more in the level of -- rather than a hard thing -- you know, much more of a -- I don't know. The idea sort of intrigued me a lot and you open with a big old journal, a leather-bound... "Well, now, Uncle Chewbacca brought this back from his adventures, just before he died, and .. whatever... What do you think of something like that?

ADF: I think it's a lovely idea but it's sort of distracting.

GL: For the rest of the movie.

ADF: For the rest of the movie. People would start... particularly if you made people -- in any way -- your hero would automatically become Chewbacca. It would be a fascinating way of telling the story, from the standpoint of a non-human. But unfortunately, it would be a shock.

GL: Well, the original idea. -- The way the whole movie has gone, -- and it still is there -- is to tell it from the point of view of the robot. They are the ones who get told. In the process of the movie, I sort of fell in love with the Wookiee. They are so big and fuzzy and so on. But it's the tone of that. The big, fuzzy storybook quality rather than the hard-edged steel sort of science fiction... The interesting thing about doing something like that is... I don't know. It's only -- it's not really relevant to the rest of the world, but it's a thing that would bring Chewie out. Right now, the story is more or less told from the robot's point of view, but obviously Luke and Hans come forward and it really becomes Luke's point of view. The story is more interior on him and he's the one who feels and does the stuff. Well, I don't know, it was just something I was thinking of.

ADF: I'll do anything you want, George. But I really think that

CML: I think you would lose a sense of what you've done in the film. And the style.... it would be working against the style of the film.

ADF: I'm just worried that everyone will begin to wonder about Chewbacca and the little family, and what will happen in the future.

CML: If your film was really more Disneyesque, then you've got Uncle Remus and the Tales of Briar Rabbit right there.

GL: The film really is very Disneyesque.

CML: I know you can say that but from what I saw, I don't think

GL: It's much more than you can possibly imagine. Believe me.

CML: But it ain't science fiction

GL: It was also depending more on that kind of... But maybe we can put that kind of quality in without actually doing that. It's just a matter of... I do want to establish that it takes place in another galaxy, far away from us and in another time. A time that could have been -- maybe somewhere, something, maybe it was in that Calender article -- it takes place in a time maybe in the past, maybe in the future, but it was written sort of interestingly, the way he phrased it. You know, something that establishes that this is a story that just -- I want to try to get the thing out of the science fiction thing and more into a fantasy kind of thing, cause I think more than anything else, that's where our trouble is going to be. No matter what we do, no matter what we write, it's still going to be a science fiction thing. But if we try to take the edge off the thing, I think it will help us...

ADF: I'll try something. Look, if you don't like it, I can rewrite it. We're only talking about a couple of pages here. At the very worst, you can always start on page four.

GL: Yea. That's what I thought.

ADF: What about the quote from?

GL: I think that's all right. It's a little . . .

CML: This is where he got it. It's right out of that material.

GL: Did you write this or did Brian write this?

CML: I wrote it and then Brian rewrote it a little bit. So then I rewrote it again.

GL: It isn't really that interesting. I thought it was nice to cut out?

ADF: Well, since we're eliminating all of this history about a succession of Emperors, and this is the first Emperor — an offstage character — who suddenly makes himself Emperor, President or whatever he makes himself, then I can't have (garbled) Empress...

GL: Yea. No, that was another thing. I was ... I don't want... The idea is that she doesn't become an Empress. I have to sort of work that whole thing out. She becomes, maybe a Senator in the New Republic. I know she is a Senator, but she's been ex-communicated. The Princess is, that her father is the King of Alderaan which — He's an elected ruler but he's also part of the royal family of elected, and everyone's very fond of her. It's like the Kennedy sort of thing... If it is not in the future, we are in some galactic past. Or some alternative, extra-temporal present. Well, anyway, it's something just to set off the whole thing. Say, this is a story that took place in another time and another place.

ADF: Just enough to divorce it from the present.

GL: Yeah, from the present. and to give it a little bit of... you come away with this quality... you forget about trying to figure out why the laser swords can't possibly work at four feet and all that stuff.

ADF: The main question I've got to ask is -- why are the laser swords four feet long, and how they work. That's why I didn't call them laser swords, I call them lifesavers.

GL: Yea. They are called lightsabers, they aren't called laser swords, ever... I noticed that for Judy Lynn, the fact that she had written laser swords, I told her to change it to lifesavers. But that was the only thing I caught.

CML: Yes, that was probably better.. . .

GL: Yes, it is lifesaver, it doesn't work... whatever. Anyway, that is the main thing.. If you want to go into some of the background about how -- which may be valuable -- what it is more or less the way I described it -- which is the way it was originally thought of -- as it's like Nixon or Hitler, how it took over. They just started corroding the system to the point where they were functioning, and the system wasn't.

ADF: It's a narration from the Thief of Bagdad.

GL: Yea.

ADF: There was an evil lord and so forth and so on and

GL: Pretty soon the Senate found they didn't have any powers anymore... The thing of it is they used to think the galaxy was so big, the only way they could really control the galaxy -- just on a simpleminded level -- was just to keep contact through the Senate. The only reason the Senate stayed as long as it has — assume that the Emperor got elected chairman, then the chairman decided that first of all the Jedi were out to plot the overthrow of the Empire and he had them all killed, and then he decided that he would call himself the Emperor and say that we don't need to call it the Republic and we change the name of the Empire, cause it's stronger. Then he starts to circumvent the election system. The only reason he's let the Senate stay as long as he did was because he needs the bureaucracy to keep things running. But in its place, he puts in the Imperial Governors to sort of control various systems. So once they got situated, and became powerful then he -- as he's just done in the middle of the movie, really -- he eliminates the Senate and lets the Governors take over. But it's so big that the Governors, being like him -- cruel and ambitious men, too -- it's like Nazi Germany, everyone's out for themselves. And they all care for their own little departments, and the Emperor is up there as the ultimate power but Goebbels has got his own little army over here and he doesn't even know it.


If I was more organized, I'd upload jpgs of the book covers I have in my collection, but think correcting and cleaning up the interview wore me out. Time for a nap... YAY!!!

ADF: I will try to make some political setup without getting technical about it.

GL: And it's the same thing as the Haldeman-Erlichman and Jaeger.... Everyone's got their own little thing. They've circumvented all the laws and all the honest things and they're just running roughshod without anybody knowing it yet. Once he declared that there was an Empire, a group of systems decided they weren't very happy with it. So they're revolting in a very quiet underground way. Nobody really knew about them and then the Rebels started attacking the Imperial things and just built this thing and that's why the Princess is really a Senator rather than a Princess.

ADF: Everything is fine in the book, as far as that goes.

GL: Essentially, that's how the script was laid out originally. So it all sort of matches. But... so it's the same thing with Darth Vader, which is described also... The reason I left him... He started out... there were a lot of Dark Lords and I sort of pared them down to where he was the Disciple as I described. And he just went to the Dark Side of the Force and used that to betray all of the other ones, to kill them and he's the only one left. And he is essentially working as an agent of the Force. Which he sort of got in there really well. And you say, who knows what his intentions are?

ADF: Well, that's sort of because... The whole thing I liked about Darth Vader was that Tarkin thinks that he's using Darth Vader and Vader... And there's that one sequence where Vader stands there and contemplates... because you always have... It's like there's really a big shark out there. We've seen the shark but now there's a really big one out there that no one knows anything about. A really monstrous inhuman evil that nobody knows anything about. Above and beyond the more mundane evils.

GL: I like that a lot. I like that. because it's really The Force. It's a struggle of The Force. It's like Lord of the Rings. There's the good and the bad. And The Force that exists around everything. And if the bad gets control, they'll have control of everything and it will really have control and it'll be dark times and evil people and distorted by The Force and it is essentially.... it's like using Vader as the son of the devil. He is the Antichrist. He is the one who1s come to spread The Force , the evil side of The Force among -- out across the galaxies. Whereas we have been in a time where there are lots of agents of good. And the good was very strong and that's what his thing is. He's really an agent of The Force. Which has nothing to do with the Empire. The Empire is just a means of beginning to transfer the evil. His whole thing is just to bring chaos to the structure of the entire galaxy.

ADF: That's the whole thing. We never know. And I hope I never want to know. We will always keep people wondering what's behind Vader.

GL: Right.

ADF: Is Vader the end of the chain or is there something else?

GL: But I think we can use that -- especially in going on. We can say... we can begin to develop the idea that he is what he's working at-- not really what he's working at -- but I think that's the direction that he was... He's always been sort of the evil thing in The Force but as I got into it more, I realized that he is really the devil and your basic force which is good and evil... which Ben is the agent of good and Vader is the agent of evil.

ADF: There's all kind of things that can be done with Kenobi. There are lots of possibilities... Big brother kind of stuff where slavery is freedom... all kinds of stuff. That will always be Vader's argument.

GL: Well, it's just bringing in the supernatural end of it. Vader being the agent of that side, and Luke — since Ben's gone — being the agent of the other side. And there, so it becomes in the end... so that Luke and Vader are really the two agents of this larger force field.

ADF: When we got through all this, I was going to ask you a couple of questions about the sequel.

GL: Well, let's go through this. Alright, we know -- on that, that is essentially the only thing — major thing. Now on page one or four.

ADF: Page four.

GL: Yea. I had one general comment which I don't know how this works out or who does it. . . Were the chapters... I was a little confused about how they were going to lay the book out. I noticed on some books, they put four spaces on the sequence changes, are they going to do that?

ADF: Yea. I do that when I -- quadruple spacing -- that is what they do in the book.

GL: Cause there's a lot of .... like when we shift from one sequence to another

ADF: Within a chapter?

GL: Within a chapter... I think we ought to space it.

ADF: The whole purpose is -- when I started, when I wrote my first book, I had the chapters in it. Ballantine was the editor at the time and he said, "People like chapters. It gives them a place to stop for dinner.

GL: People do like that.

ADF: And that's not necessarily. People could go fifty pages in one continuous sequence, and then have eighteen different sequences, jumping all around... which should all properly be divided in eighteen different chapters. But what I do is put a chapter every twenty pages which seems to be a convenient length, every 2500 words and then I use those other — with a certain amount of variations. In other words, if there is a natural break on page 23, then I break there and use the quadruple spacing for the rest of my natural breaks. But no, in the layout of the book, they will break (garbled).

GL: Yea. The one thing I noticed in the beginning... let me make a note of it... it's in the first chapter, there's a lot of cutting back and forth. I thought we might be able to lift one of the -- I think it's the Luke section -- and maybe lift the first Luke section and put it with the second one, so that we get a little more robots and then a little more Luke, so that it doesn't jump around quite as much as it does in the movie. I think it would make it easier to follow.

ADF: That's always the problem in converting the script, because you can jump around a lot more in film.

GL: I think there's a place in the beginning where we could... That's the only other general thing. Now, one thing I have here is.... I guess... "First of all nothing could exist on such a planet, least of all humans." I changed it from man to humans. I only use that in the interest of women's lib.

ADF: I think you’re overreacting.

GL: No, I don’t care. I mean it’s... I am aware of that stuff now so whenever I see that stuff, it sort of stands out in my mind.

ADF: But of course, this being a different galaxy and....

GL: Now, the only other thing, page 5. There is something I’m fairly concerned about here which was I didn't feel that we understood clearly the robots. "To look at them one would suppose the tall humanoids -- Threepio, to me, that reads as though he were human or he's like... If somewhere

ADF: That's... just make it the tall humanoid machine. Or the tall humanoid robot, Threepio...

GL: Humanoid-like machine

CML: Well, how did you interpret the sequence in the bar? With Han Solo in the cantina? When that girl was sitting on his lap and he described her as a humanoid?

GL: I thought she was a kind of android type creature, some kind of robotish android.

ADF: Just make it human-like

GL: Yea. Human-like machine. And was the master and the stubby tripedal robot -- If we put robot in there... At that point, I'd like to hit it fairly hard... So we sort of -- without any doubt know exactly that they're robots. No problem... On page 6, also in that line, "Threepio turned his smooth, human-like head" instead of 'human head.' In this chapter thing, I thought on 10 when we make the first shift from one place to another, I don't know whether this should be a chapter heading or take the sequence and....

ADF: You're right. It's not quadruple spaced there and it should have been.

GL: It's a real change of thought and if you run it together.

ADF: Probably the other's like that too.


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