Forty Years of Star Wars

It is not easy for me to accept how much time has passed since the release of the first Star Wars movie, 25 May 1977, forty years ago. I’m age 61 now. I saw it at age 21. Born 5 March 1956.

Star Wars – Wikipedia.

There has been some history revision regarding George Lucas and how Star Wars came to exist – how it was first written. The claim he jotted it down on a yellow legal pad, and from that rough draft the movie was made, is not the whole truth. Also the claim that the first Star Wars novel based on the movie came after the movie is not the whole truth. I read the first Star Wars novel before the movie was released. It was only published as a paperback, not first in hard cover and then paperback. In the front of the book it stated “Soon to be a major motion picture.”

From Wikipedia: Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker

  • …is the original title of the novelization of the 1977 Star Wars film -A New Hope. Credited to George Lucas, but ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, it was first published on November 12, 1976 by Ballantine Books.
  • 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, physics, planets, races, languages, 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.

I was already a fan of Alan Dean Foster. I considered the book to be so much better than the movie, that because of what I was expecting to see in the movie from having read the book,caused me to at first be disappointed in the movie. The book was more dramatic and serious than the movie. Comparable to the difference between the original Battlestar Galactica TV series in 1978 – at first considered to be a Star Wars rip-off per special effects, and the much better version on TV in 2004.

I can’t remark about the beginning of Star Wars without also remarking about being age 21 then during 1977 – having turned 21 on 5 March 1977.

Comes to mind, a quote from A Tale of Two Cities, a novel by Charles Dickens…

  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

My primary profession, which began at age 14 in 1970 – part time during school years full time summers, was the repair of coin operated amusement games – such as pinball games and video games. Also juke boxes, and I put new felt on pool tables. My employer was a next door neighbor who gave me my first real job. I did eventually attend college for a year 1974-1975, which I hated. I preferred apprenticeship, on-the-job training, hands-on experience, but for some weekend “factory schools” I attended for some of it. Better to earn while I learn, I figured, instead of building up a college debt.

On-the-side, during 1977, I was the owner and manage of a small arcade and snack bar. Most of the customers were young adults and teens. It was harder to maintain control over the teen customers than drunk adults in bars. No respect for the rules, which they violated, were then banned for, and then had revenge on me. The arcade was repeatedly broken into and vandalized until the business insurance was canceled and I was force to close it. By the end of 1977 it became necessary to file a form of bankruptcy.

I continued in the profession through 1986, mainly running night and weekend service calls at bars and nightclubs. Then the onset of bleeding stomach ulcers and no longer able to drink alcoholic beverages contributed to my decision to change professions. My second profession was in warehouse work, shipping and receiving, and parts department inventory control – my first experience using computer terminals for inventory. My third profession was as a hotel night auditor and then a motel manager.

I’ve been a fan of science fiction since first seeing on TV the movie of the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. The first science fiction novel I read was The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. Over the years, since 1976, my plan was to use some free time to write science fiction. It was not until my health failed, I could no longer work at a normal job, and qualified for Social Security Disability, that I finally had time to write a novel. It was first published as a paperback in May 2003, and then as an ebook in May 2004. The paperback didn’t do well and I was ripped off by the publisher not paying royalties owed to me from sales. The ebook version did better, enough money from my share of sales to buy a new personal desktop computer. Then the publisher bit the dust in 2006. Presently, a much longer version is free to read here – click on the Free Novel tab.

Reported by Jim Lantern in Norman Oklahoma USA

LANTERN TIMEGLASS JOURNAL

Thursday afternoon – 24 May 2017

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