A STAR WARS Fan Interviews
Brian Daley

by Alex Newborn

Hello, my name is Alex Newborn, and like yourself, I am a fan of great Science Fiction Literature... and therefore an admirer of the works of the late Brian Daley. I was also blessed enough to conduct an interview with Brian via mail and telephone just months before he passed away, which some have called the last one he ever gave.

    Originally written for a newsletter devoted to collecting Star Wars memoribilia, I have rewritten my own parts slightly, using less abbreviations and insider lingo to make it more accessible to Brian's mainstream fans. I have not changed the wording or even the punctuation on many of Brian's replies.

    Rest assured, we covered more than just his Star Wars contributions. I spent a few heady months re-reading everything of his I owned, as well as tracking down and devouring voraciously nearly everything else I could lay my hands on. Although some of our discussions are dated now, especially the frenzied anticipation over the then-iffy Return of the Jedi Radio Drama, where necessary I have included footnotes in brackets for today's audience.

    I hope you enjoy this trip to the past as much as I have enjoyed reformatting it for your perusal. Special thanks to Martin Thurn for his blessing, Jim Luceno for his encouragement, and Lucia St. Clair Robson for her assistance.

Alex Newborn

October 1999

[with additional questions by John Hansen, Peter Iorillo, Mike Jasman,
Marlene Karkoska, Hans Kummer, and Dan Wallace]

Originally appeared in Martin Thurn's STAR WARS COLLECTOR. Used with permission.



In April 1995, the front page of SWCollector #10 ran a blurb for an upcoming "interview contest" with Brian Daley, and invited subscribers to submit additional questions for inclusion:

ANNOUNCING! BRIAN DALEY INTERVIEW CONTEST!

by Alex Newborn

If you're like me, your original paperback copies of Han Solo at Stars' End, Han Solo's Revenge, and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy are tattered and dog-eared from frequent re-readings. Or perhaps you think that the National Public Radio Dramas of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back (considered canon by Lucasfilm) are the best adaptations of the stories ever written. Or maybe- just maybe- you actually own two copies of the Disney/Buena Vista audio tape "Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell", in case anything ever happens to the one you always listen to.

    If so, consider yourself a fan of author Brian Daley, because he penned all of these beloved "further adventures" in the SW universe. Second only to Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster, Brian Daley was one of the first authors to expand upon George Lucas' characters and settings, and his creations reappear regularly in SW Role-Playing Game sourcebooks and the more recent novels. His early expansions permeate the fabric of the interwoven continuity of the SW universe at a level which is almost subconscious. Timothy Zahn's popular character Mara Jade could never fly a Z-95 Headhunter if Brian Daley hadn't invented the fighter craft in the late 1970's.

    Recently, Brian Daley consented to an interview for STAR WARS COLLECTOR, but he warned me that he had just conducted one for SW Galaxy Magazine (see issue #2 of that publication). SWC's publisher Martin Thurn and I decided to try something a little different, more in keeping with the collecting aspect of SW fandom. The result is what we call an interactive interview. Here's the best part: the winner will receive copies of the SW and ESB radio drama script compilations, autographed by Mr. Daley himself!

P.S.: Brian Daley informed me of an interesting variation in his Han Solo novels, which may be of special interest to completists: In the British editions of the books, the name of the character Bollux was changed to Zollux, to avoid being a homonym of a Cockney slang word for male genitalia. [Great, kid, don't get Cockney!] So, you may want to track down a few foreign editions of these decade-plus-old books for your already overcrowded bookshelves!

Vis vobiscum.

A STAR WARS Fan Interviews
Brian Daley

by Alex Newborn


In October of 1995, SWCollector #13 ran the first installment of this two-part interview with Brian Daley.

How many of you subscribers talked yourselves out of entering the Brian Daley Interview Contest announced in STAR WARS COLLECTOR #10 back in April? It must have been the majority of you, because this interviewer only received postcards from a handful of people. All of the questions were intriguing, so I wound up using several of them, at least one from each contestant. So, you could say that everyone was a winner, since they get their name in print and a response from Mr. Daley. But there could only be one prize awarded, and there was one question that I'd had in mind since the contest's inception that I promised myself would be the automatic winner (if nobody'd thought of it, I'd have been hard pressed to choose any other!) That question *was* asked, by Marlene Karkoska, and she will soon be enjoying her autographed copies of the Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back Radio Dramatizations. Congratulations, Marlene- the fact that Brian Daley evades *answering* the question should not diminish your joy!

Enough about the contest, let's get into some of the revelations Brian gave us! Things like: Citizen Kane considered as Star Wars narrator! Woody Allen's influence on Han Solo! Vice Prex Hirken's common qualities with Rush Limbaugh! The Sljee Strikes Back! A possible Return of the Jedi radio drama! And the stormtrooper stroking Han's butt? (If that doesn't get your attention, nothing will!) It's all true, in this exclusive interview.

A STAR WARS Q&A

AN: First up, let's address some continuity issues. Contestant John Hansen asks whether your Ord Mantell adventure or the comic strip version was first, and might they be separate adventures?

BD: Of course, both projects were drawn from the line in Empire regarding Han's need to leave the Rebels. My recollection is that I was completely unaware of the comic story when I pitched Disney on my version- otherwise, I'd have steered clear or tried to integrate and align the projects somehow. To this day, I haven't seen the strip version. If you want to consider them discrete incidents, feel free. Fortunately, Lucy Wilson has Allan Kausch, at LucasArts, keeping an eye on that sort of thing now.

(Listen, you pays your money and gets the tale; any personal constructs or revisions you want to do are your business and your right. I recall one fan zine story early on that had Leia wearing bluejeans and enjoying a good look at Luke when he was coming out of the shower bare-ass... back before we knew anything about their siblinghood, of course. My point is, don't get all exercised about discrepancies. Accept them or rationalize them, then move on. Why spoil your own fun?)

AN: Hansen also asks if you ever considered writing the story of the famous Sabacc game in which Han won the Falcon from Lando?

[[Author Ann Crispin included such a scene in her Han Solo novels from Bantam in the years since Brian's death. Rebel Dawn, her third novel in that trilogy, which has continuity to Brian's novels and uses some of his characters, is dedicated to Brian's memory.]]

BD: It's a story I'd love to take a cut at, although I suspect that L. Neil Smith has his own take on it.

AN: That prompts me to ask you about your mention of L. Neil Smith in the "thanks to" of Fall of the White Ship Avatar, since he authored del Rey's Lando Calrissian trilogy.

BD: Neil's been a long-distance acquaintance since he sold his first novel, The Probability Broach, to Owen Lock at del Rey. We came to be friends by telephone and correspondence. He's been kind not only in lending me his expertise but also counseling my dear one, Lucia St. Clair Robson, on certain details in one of her best-selling historical novels.

AN: Contestant Hans Kummer asks if Return of the Jedi's non-adaptation for radio was politically motivated by the NEA controversy at the time or lack of funding?

BD: It was about politics, not money. When Ronald Reagan was elected, he slashed NET and NPR- National Educational TV and National Public Radio. NPR began laying people off immediately, by the dozen. For Jedi there was not a penny.

Reagan of course went on to personally champion the S&L ripoff and waste defense money like a drunken generalissimo (we're still servicing the debt he ran up). But by thunder he kept us from frittering away a few bucks on any more godless, socialist radio serials!

AN: Contestant Peter Iorillo wonders if your character Heater was neat and trim in contrast to Jabba's slovenly, gross appearance.

BD: Since Heater was played by Joel Brooks, a fit, handsome young actor, that's how I tend to think of Heater.

AN: Iorillo asks: Do you think Lucas might consult your canon Star Wars: A New Hope (ANH) radio drama while adding scenes for the Special Edition?

BD: You have it somewhat backwards. I consulted his original script for some of the scenes I included. Footage that didn't make it into the original version will in all likelihood be included in the reissued Hope. As for George's going out and shooting new footage of the scenes I created, that would be expensive and time consuming, even if he were so inclined, which I think unlikely.

AN: Iorillo asks: Do you wish you'd been allowed more freedom by Lucasfilm Limited (LFL) "way back when"?

BD: Sure, but I don't in the least blame them for being cautious. Remember, Hope had just hit, bigger than anybody except George Lucas and a few others had ever dreamed of. People were scrambling to map out where the saga would go from there, and continuity was a primary concern. As a writer who's been down the sequel road myself, I assume George didn't have the details completely ironed out (and in any case, ideas change on their way from your brain to the final draft.)

When I was hired to do the first Han Solo I was told that it had to take place before, not after Hope. I could not use The Force or any other mental or PSI powers. I could not use Vader, the Empire, TIE fighters, the Rebellion, or any of the other major characters from the movie save Han and Chewie. Nothing about a gambling or resort planet because the comic strip types were developing ideas along that line. You get the idea: I was very much hemmed in, but I understood why. If some of the tie-in folks had gotten the bit in their teeth, they'd have been all over the galactic landscape. Some ran wild anyway.

AN: Contestant Mike Jasman asks about your interest in doing more SW books if you could, and if any projects with LFL are in the works.

BD: I've accumulated lots of notes over the years for various LucasArts-related ideas. I'd like to do more novels in due course, when time and circumstances are right. As for other works-- read on.

AN: Jasman asks, "Did you get to work with George Lucas directly on any of you projects?"

BD: No, although I always received guidance and overview from his organization. When you realize that Geroge is running a business empire, doing his own projects, trying for some kind of personal life and standing at the center of a universe of tie-in projects, it's not surprising that he's busy frying his own fish. What I've heard from him and others about his reaction to my various works has been very positive, however-- very gracious.

AN: Jasman wonders if you had any input in the casting of the radio drama?

BD: No, casting is a specialty in and of itself and Mary Lylah ("Mel") Sahr did a great job.

There was one suggestion I tried to make because a PR writer sitting in on the recording sessions of ANH was also doing an authorized biography at the time with Orson Welles. I suggested to some of the higher-ups that getting Welles to do the narration would be a fantastic coup for a modern SF radio serial, a kind of closing of the circle that started with the Mercury Theater's famous War of the Worlds broadcast-- which panicked a lot of Americans.

That notion was shot down not by Mel but by others, owing to Welles' reputation of being difficult to work with. The series narrator did a great job, but Mother of God would I have loved to hear Welles have a go at what I'd written.

AN: Were you consulted on West End Games' Han Solo and the Corporate Sector sourcebook? You are listed as a "special thanks to" in the credits.

BD: I was unaware of that, and I appreciate the nod. But while West End inquired about my helping them promote that project, they wanted me to do it *gratis*. Sorry, but they were already about to turn a profit on my work-for-hire. No complaints; that was in the contract. But common respect and justice decree that for anything extra, "the workman is worthy of his hire."

AN: Mike Jasman asks if there are any new non-SW projects in the works.

BD: I'm now trying to bring home rewrites on a very long novel, GammaLAW, that I've been writing for years (in between other projects) and thinking about for more than a decade. Owen Lock and Ballantine del Rey has already seen 1600 pages of manuscript and I hope to have the last 5-600 in to him by the end of '95.

[[GammaLAW was published posthumously in 1998, broken into four books. The subtitle of the first, Smoke on the Water, also happens to be a spiritual sung at Brian's memorial service.]]

After that I've a backlog of ideas to get to-- particularly another cycle of books about Hobart Floyt and Alacrity Fitzhugh. There's also an adventure-horror novel and a number of other things including, at least at the time of this writing, a possible comic book effort-- something I've never tried before.

[[These are sadly merely tantalizing glimpses into what might have been, with the exception of the comic book, which eventually became Dark Horse's The Protocol Offensive, cowritten by Anthony "C-3PO" Daniels. Daniels also took over Brian's normal duty of penning the foreword to his collected radio scripts when the scriptbook for Return of the Jedi came out after Brian's passing.]]

AN: Jasman asks what you liked most about the SW universe?

BD: That George Lucas plainly, straight from the jump, knew what he was doing and how to do it right. It was a fully detailed and thought-out place. It looked lived-in. It spurned all those unspeakably spam-brained silver-lame-jumpsuit cliches from TV and movie SF. You could see the effort and the expertise, right from that opening shot. You could tell he'd done a lot of reading, and brought tremendous fidelity to the movie.

ANH also re-popularized pulp fiction, old-time comic and classic Hollywood conventions of heroism and romance and wonder-- things that had been somewhat downplayed in SF literature in the wake of the New Wave writers.

AN: Jasman asks if there was sufficient info about Han "to learn and expand on" when you wrote Solo & Co. [[that's what Brian called his three Han Solo novels for del Rey]], or did the insights into the character come from your own experience?

BD: I eventually saw some material George had generated about Han, Wookiees, the Falcon, droids and so on, but that wasn't until the radio serials. For the books, it was more a matter, I feel certain, of my being familiar with the paradigms George drew on for Han. You know the roster: Terry & the Pirates (the original, that is); the great SF and Western heroes; flawed fliers and quixotic gangsters from 30's and 40's flicks.

(I would add here that, if you want to see what I believe may have been a *visual* influence, take a look at the John Ford western Red River, starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. About twenty minutes into the movie there's Monty as a young gunslinger complete with white shirt, dark vest, low-slung holster and lean, saturnine look. A close match to Solo.

And while we're talking visuals, check out the Frank Sinatra movie The Devil at Four O'Clock. If Spencer Tracy framed there in the cockpit of the French seaplane, as they fly a scouting mission over the volcano, doesn't remind you of Obi-Wan in the cockpit of the Falcon, you're not looking hard enough.)

Back to Han. I took the Hope and Crosby "road" movies as a natural influence too, though that seems to surprise people. But go back and have a look: Bing & Bob constantly used humor to cope with the fact that life's often a string of perils, disasters and enigmas interspersed with opportunities for lechery-- which is pretty much how Han often sees things.

There's also the Woody Allen influence: you can't overcome the absurdities of life, but you can maintain your sanity by cracking wise, by letting the irony flow. A good punch line is itself a victory over those who would destroy you. Anybody who's been to high school knows this on a cellular level.

AN: There was a SW Galaxy Series 2 card by Topps which showed the artwork for the original cover of Han Solo and the Lost Legacy; the caption said the Xim skull on the cover "was substituted for the mask of Darth Vader when permission wasn't granted to use the Dark Lord's image." Obviously Vader doesn't even figure into your pre-ANH settings, so Mike Jasman wonders if the art was intended for another project originally.

BD: I don't remember having heard that story. Someone at del Rey or the Ballantine art department-- or LucasArts-- *might* be able to tell you. But with both Judy-Lynn and Lester del Rey gone, I doubt you'll ever get the full details. Judy was unlikely to OK any Vader cover proposal for a novel that didn't feature the Dark Lord.

AN: On a related note, is it just me, or does one of said skull's eye sockets look like a pirate's eye patch?

BD: I'm inclined to letting the paying customers decide.

AN: Contest winner Marlene Karkoska is obviously no stranger to your works; she also is very curious regarding your personal favorites in the following SW categories:

a) Which alien from the films?

b) What setting from the films?

c) Which character (besides Luke, Leia, and Han) and why?

d) Which film of the trilogy?

e) Which of your own Solo & Co. novels, and why?

BD: [[a la Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna]] "Mr. Faderman, you ask a lotta questions for somebody from New Jersey!" Just kidding; thanks for your interest, Marlene.

a) Chewie

b) The Falcon, not only because I spent so much time inside her in my mind over the years, but because if you've got a starship, most of the other places are accessible.

c) 3PO, in part because I like the character and the surprising virtues he can muster, and in part because I admire Tony Daniels' talent and dedication to his craft.

d) A New Hope, because there'd never been anything like it and nothing, even a second and third viewing of the movie, ever had the same impact as my first.

e) I don't favor any one over the others. If I can apologize for the novels' faults and presume to claim a little merit in them, I'm fond of a scene in Legacy where the ingenue, Hasti, remonstrates with Solo over his shortcomings as a human being. It's only a few lines but I felt got something said about what makes Han tick.

AN: I've noticed that many of your contributions to Han Solo were later echoed by similar themes in Lucas' later films, both the SW sequels and the Indiana Jones trilogy. To name a few: the eventual explanation of Harrison Ford's chin scar; the "useful lieutenant"/ "shadowy reflection" taunts from Gallandro/Belloq; hiding behind a gong in Legacy and Temple of Doom. And the image of Han in dusty vaults evokes the later Indy films. Even Bollux informing the expedition in HLL of their impending sacrifice by the primitive Survivors eerily predates 3PO's embarassment at Han's potential consumption by the ewoks in ROJ.

And you gave Han the quip "inspiration's my specialty" long before Indy cracked us up with "I'm making this up as I go along." Do you think that after you wrote the three Solo novels, they became part of Lucas' subconscious borrowing of themes?

BD: You forgot standing the Falcon on her side to squeak through a narrow rock cleft in Stars' End, as Han did to her later in Empire.

First of all, remember that George Lucas wasn't the only one scripting those movies. Whether Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, or whoever else even read the Solo novels, I couldn't tell you. But these story and character points are natural points of elaboration or exploration in action-adventure plots drawn from the original materials.

A gleaming mechanical man being hailed as a supernatural being by pre-tech indigs is an obvious device, hearkening back to a thousand exploreres' tales and any number of island-castaway flicks. The Falcon's physical design gives her certain characteristics that can be played upon. And so on.

Building on ANH had so many people in a ferment that parallel evolution of insights and ideas is to be expected.

AN: You told me once before that Blue Max was named after a VW Bug you once owned... Did you intentionally try to give Bollux a quite-literal surrogate mother relationship with the youthful Blue Max? Since R2 and 3PO are often compared to Laurel and Hardy, might Bollux and Max be the mechanical "Madonna and child"?

BD: Actually, I see Bollux as more paternal-- a "working man" who's learned life-lessons in the hard school. The real-life character he most resembles might be lonshoreman-humanist-philosopher Eric Hoffer.

AN: I've noticed several of your original concepts being bastardized in recent Bantam novels, with terms like "Wookiee Honor Family" and the itching associated with synthflesh being resurrected but slightly confused by the new author. Do you feel that such half-hearted attempts at continuity, possibly imposed on them by LFL, are worthwhile?

BD: I'd say no blame accrues to LFL, which has an enormous amount of marketing tie-in to keep track of.

(By the way, that "Wookiee Honor Family" isn't my invention but that of George Lucas, who put the concept forward in some in-house material he generated in the wake of ANH. I recall "Life-Debt" as being mine but, after all, the expression's only a natural take on, and extrapolation of, what he'd already put in place.)

[[Ironically, Brian's "Life-Debt" term/concept shows up in George Lucas' long-awaited Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.]]

BD: (cont'd) Authors and editors are inevitably working under deadlines due to the nature of licensing decisions, but there're some things that really burn my banana. High among these is the failure of some to do basic research on military, intelligence, and scientific subjects.

AN: Speaking of the military, wouldn't Hirken have loved to own a pair of Xim's war-robots to pit against ech other in his automated combat arena?

BD: He'd have loved to have the whole corps, to play general. Hirken would've made a great Hitler; he got off on watching destruction from a distance but fell apart when the feces impacted the life support outlets.

I guess he'd have made a perfect right wing militia type, too: some beer-bloated unemployed guy in duck hunting fatigues. Bragging about his patriotism and, more often than not, too wuss to enlist in the service of his country.

A chickenhawk-- like Dan Quayle, Phil Gramm, Patrick J. Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh.

AN: Does Gallandro's ship have a name, or is he unsentimental in that respect?

BD: Gallandro would have used whatever Corporate Sector ship or other resource was most convenient, with no emotional attachment at all. Undoubtedly, he'd commandeer the fastest vessel, best equipment and so forth, partly to assert his status but primarily because he wants every edge he can get.

He's not the kind of man to name his ship, his pistol or any of that. Too cold and unsentimental.

AN: My friend Dan Wallace [[who would go on to write Essential Guides and other works for the Star Wars franchise]] wants to know if there is any conscious connection between Lord Tion in your radio version of ANH and the Tion Hegemony in your Solo novels?

BD: You have to ask? I did it to give a little extra background texture to the mythos, make some of the details mesh.

AN: Your editor, you told me, felt Han was too harsh on the Sljee waiter in HSR; could you retell that anecdote?

BD: Actually it was Arleen Lock, wife of my editor Owen Lock. She said it was just awful what Solo put that poor little creature through. I agreed; I'd been a waiter, and my heart was with the Sljee. But I wrote the scene to use Han's tag line "It's every life from for himself," and to show that he could be an SOB at times-- especially when broke.

At any rate, Arleen was so unhappy that I told her the unwritten part of the story: the Sljee made out all right, eventually got home and never left its planet again. Lived quite contentedly and even prospered... probably writing "Accidental Tourist" books.

Alex Newborn: Any chance of del Rey joining the audiobooks clique? Ideally, who would you pick to read aloud your Han Solo books? Perry King?

Brian Daley: Perry would be great and has already done some terrific books-on-tape. I'd be intrigued to hear Harrison Ford do them. About Random House audio's tape plans, I couldn't say. I'd be all for recordings.

AN: If Dark Horse Comics eventually reprints Alfredo Alcala's comic strip version of Stars' End, are there any changes you would like to see them make while they reformat and colorize it?

BD: Frankly, I'd like to see the thing redrawn if they do that at all. As it was explained to me, Stars' End was a rush job, created to fill a gap that had arisen in the daily-&-Sunday strip's available material.

I admire a lot of Alfredo's work, and even mentioned it to him one time at a screening in L.A., but the job he did on HSE just wasn't up to his usual standards. I was especially disappointed in the way Bollux and Blue Max were depicted. Too-- this may sound petty-- the portrayal of the Headhunter snub fighters was off. I saw them as a Lucasfilm version of the P-38 Lightning, America's renowned "Fork-Tailed Devil" of WWII, but the strip didn't come close.

[[The Han Solo at Stars' End comic strip by Alfredo Alcala was eventually reprinted by Dark Horse comics after Brian's death, but it was not redrawn as he'd hoped.]]

AN: I have to ask, are the scripts for the Radio version of ROTJ written yet?

BD: No, although as I've said I've got mounds of notes, script synopses and so on.

AN: How long have you and Jim Luceno been writing under the name Jack McKinney? Are you aware that a spelling variation (McKinny) pops up in your very first novel, The Doomfarers of Coramonde?

BD: Actually, Jack comes from Jim's first book, Head Hunters, a mainstream novel about young gringo expatriates in South America. I mentioned McKinney (with a typo) in Doomfarers, and Jim gives Gil MacDonald, from Doomfarers, a passing mention in Head Hunters. It was just a little "nod to a friend" kind of thing.

In the mid-eighties, Risa Kessler, at Ballantine Books, asked us to do the ROBOTECH books, adapting the 85-part TV anime epic. We weren't sure what kind of dumbing-down the books would face from either Ballantine higher-ups or Harmony Gold, which owned the rights, so we picked Jack McK. as a joint pen name.

The books did very well and there was very little messing with them. I like to think that an adult SF reader could enjoy them passably well. Ballantine was so pleased that Jack went on to do the Sentinels series, End of the Circle, and a number of other books, including our own series, The Black Hole Travel Agency.

AN: In HSE, Atuarre describes a form of torture called "the burning." Is this possibly what stormtroopers did to Luke's family, Owen and Beru Lars, in the unfilmed events of ANH?

BD: That was exactly what I had in mind when I wrote those lines. Given what we're shown of the two corpses in ANH, the nature of Imperial atrocities, and the energy weapons in the SW universe, it's an obvious extrapolation-- a quick and dirty interrogation technique to be used in the field.

[[Star Wars fans familiar with Kevin Rubio's fanmade film TROOPS from 1997 know there is now yet another interpretation of how Luke's aunt and uncle died...]]

BD: (cont'd) While we're on HSE I'll get something off my chest. I came up with the name "Stars' End" without consciously recalling Isaac Asimov's use of "Star's End", virtually the same words, in the Foundation books. I'd extrapolated from the final section-- "Land's End"-- of a novel I admire a lot, Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn.

AN: Since you've got a good insight into the characters, let me ask you one more question on SW interrogation techniques that I've always wondered about... Why does Vader physically strangle Antilles aboard the Blockade Runner, since he later demonstrates the ability to strangle Motti *psy*chically aboard the Death Star? It would seem to me that killing without touching would be the more terrifying method to use when interrogating a prisoner...

BD: That's really a question for George Lucas. My observation is that the Antilles scene takes place "on the battlefield", so to speak. Vader's act would be more visible and comprehensible to other prisoners amid the noise and confusion of the embattled ship.

But Vader doesn't really much care if Antilles answers, does he? He seems confident he'll find Leia and get the Death Star plans back, no sweat. I wouldn't be surprised if his failure to achieve that throws him somewhat-- lets him know that *something* in the Force is suddenly teasing the rug out from under him.

Incidentally, that act of lifting a prisoner or an enemy clear off the floor and shaking him one-handed: I can't think of a cinematic precedent for it, but it certainly became *de rigeur* for villains of a certain stature thereafter, didn't it? I've seen it copied so many times since then.

(The nearest precursor I can think of offhand in SF is a passage in Foundation and Empire. It's Magnifico Giganticus' story of the mutant conqueror The Mule holding Magnifico over an abyss by one finger while forcing him to extemporize poetry... but that may not count, since Magnifico turns out to be The Mule.)

AN: Star Wars fans like myself know that Alan Dean Foster got the nod to begin the "further adventures" novels with his Splinter of the Mind's Eye because he'd ghosted the novelization of SW for Lucas. How did you get the plum assignment of the Solo novels? Might you have been the first draft choice if not for Foster?

BD: I'd just finished The Starfollowers of Coramonde for Lester del Rey, going through the classic second novel curse-- it took a long time to write and let me know I had a lot to learn about writing.

I stopped by Judy-Lynn's office and asked if she had any for-hire work I might take on; I thought that would be a good way to get some quick cash while working the writer's trade. Owen Lock was standing nearby hiding a grin, because he knew what was coming: Judy-Lynn said, "Pick me somebody from Star Wras and write a proposal for a character novel about them."

The keys to the candy store. A young lady I was dating happened to be with me and she said later she was very happy she'd been there since it was the only time she'd ever seen me unable to find anything to say.

At that time, Jack Chalker was preparing to write about Solo, and Leigh Brackett [[co-screenwriter with Lawrence Kasdan on ESB]] was scheduled to take on at least one Princess Leia novel. But all that changed very quickly, since Jack decided to finish the series he was working on and Leigh passed away.

Solo was the obvious choice because he undergoes a moral transformation in the course of the movie; everybody else starts out either good or bad, and stays that way.

So into the bargain of getting to do Solo, mine was the only new SW book to appear at that time, which was a tremendous break for me. However, if we're talking might-have-beens about novelizing SW, remember how many famous authors Judy and Lester had in their growing stable. I would have been, at best, a long shot.

AN: Were you consulted by Raymond Velsaco for his Guide to the Star Wars Universe? It gave us many radio-drama-only proper noun spellings and Solo-novel pronunciations years before your script compilation books came out.

BD: At Judy's request I looked through Velasco's manuscript. I filled two or three typewritten pages with mistakes I spotted, relating to my books, the movies and other sources. I still have my copy of the editorial letter. Clearly, Velasco was making things up, hadn't bothered to do his homework.

AN: I adore the fast-talking character Squeak in the SW:ANH radio episode "The Han Solo Solution". Velasco's Guide makes the claim that Squeak's race is Tin-Tin dwarf, another of your creations from Luke Skywalker's dialogue elsewhere in the radio drama, a race of aliens mentioned but never described. Was this your intention or did he just marry the two throwaway details himslef?

BD: The latter, I believe. And a fair enough invention on his part.

AN: In your recent interview by Bob Woods in SW Galaxy Magazine, you describe writing the radio episodes as freer than the Han books. Wouldn't it be more constrictive to write "inside the lines," as it were, of a tale already plotted?

BD: In the greater sense everything in the SW universe is "inside the lines." But I had a lot of latitude to add and elaborate during the radio series, and by the time I got to them, a certain guardedness at Lucasfilm had eased up a bit, at least as far as I was concerned. They trusted me to treat their material responsibly.

AN: How does it feel to be on the short list of works that LFL deems canon? (The three films, their novelizations by Foster/Lucas, Glut, and Kahn, and your two radio series-- that's all!) It's ironic that your Han Solo books and radio scripts have internal continuity and agree 100%, yet the guide for all the new novelists is the role-playing game, which all too often contradicts your canon radio details. How would you feel if LFL ever added your Solo novels to the "canonade"?

BD: It's tremendously flattering to be in canon. But LFL can't afford to open that door too wide, and I don't blame them.

AN: Are there any Han Solo conecpts you wish you'd been allowed to pursue?

BD: Yes, and I'm saving them against the chance I'll get to use them.

[[Tragically, these ideas are now lost to us.]]

AN: Got any printable anecdotes about your radio experiences with then-unknowns David Alan Grier and Meshach Taylor? You hinted on the phone about some pretty hilarious antics...

BD: Example: when Solo is heaved into the clink on Cloud City, there's a sound-effects notation about how a stormtrooper hits him with a buttstroke-- a blow with the butt of a rifle. A common term in the Army, where I learned it, but you should've heard the fun David and Meshach had with the notion of some butt-stroking going on down at the hoosegow.

Almost everybody goofed around, especially Mark Hamill. When I referred to the medical droid at Hoth base, he ad-libbed a sitcom promo for Medical Droid. Something on the order of, "This week, Medical Droid brings his boss Mr. Credenza home for dinner and delivers a laugh riot..."

AN: Are there any other Disney/Buena Vista stories you wrote besides "Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell"?

BD: Yes, I wrote an adaptation of the movie "War Games" at about the same time.

AN: I read somewhere that you wrote for an animated series. Which one?

BD: It was called Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers and ran in the mid-80's. A number of writers and editors in the NYC area got to do scripts (Jim Luceno and I each took seven; Lucia did two). Because it wasn't toy-driven (the last series that wasn't, I guess) we had a lot of freedom to develop our own characters, settings, and storylines. Then again, because it wasn't toy-driven, Rangers also went bye-bye.

AN: Can you straighten out two conflicting blueprints of the Millennium Falcon?

BD: That's not my prerogative. I will say that some of the people who've done SW nomenclature articles don't seem to know a damn thing about SF or the military, or aircraft or marine design terms, the realities of traveling around inside a hunk of metal, or the possibilities of an expanded vocabulary.

AN: Here's another question from contest winner Marlene Karkoska: If you do a radio play for ROTJ, what new scene would you most like to add or expand upon?

BD: At this writing (August '95), it appears that there may very well be an audio series of ROTJ. I'm therefore going to hold out on this one except to say that I hope and fully intend that you and other fans will be pleased.

AN: And finally, Marlene's prize-winning question: In the foreword to the ANH NPR scripts book, you point out your choice to replace each film's stirring visual coda with dialogue for Luke, and state that you've got one ready for the victory party in that Endor forest canopy. You zing us by asking if we'd like to hear it. Would you be willing to share that line with us?

BD: What I wrote was, "Care to hear it? In that case, tune in if and when ROJ comes to radio." I believe you'll be able to in the not-too-distant future.

[[We were finally able to hear that line when the Return of the Jedi radio trilogy was completed, finishing the trilogy of adaptations Brian had begun so many years before... but sadly Brian himself did not live to hear the finished product. He passed away within hours of the recording of the final voice tracks. His circle was complete.]]

AN: I'd like to thank everyone who sent in questions... and thanks to Martin Thurn for giving me the forum to present this. Most of all, I'd like to thank Brian Daley, a genuine Nice Guy, for being so gracious about our intrusion into his busy schedule. May the Force continue to be with you, Brian, whether you're writing in the Star Wars galaxy or in some other realm far, far away.

[[That closing line is extremely eerie in hindsight. I was referring to his own setting of GammaLAW, but it can easily be re-interpreted as a prescient farewell. But I had no idea Brian was secretly battling the pancreatic cancer which would claim his life in scant months. He phoned me after seeing the galley form of the interview, which he'd asked to proofread, and told me how the last line had deeply touched him.

After all the ways his words on paper had moved me over the years, it was a distinct honor to reciprocate in kind.]]

 --Alex Newborn



Return to the main page

STAR WARS is ,TM, and Lucasfilm, Ltd. (LFL) All Rights Reserved.
This site is for entertainment purposes only. Please don't sue us!