A Novel Discovery

There weren’t any back-to-school folders, backpacks, or lunchboxes in the fall of 1977, so I didn’t have anything to show for my new-found fandom when I started the third grade. Nor did I get any Star Wars presents for my eighth birthday that August. There was relatively little merchandise released around the time the movie came out. The big bonanza was yet to come in 1978.

However, there was one item I got soon after starting third grade that I treasured for years afterward. It was the Star Wars novelization by George Lucas. You know, the one I’d peeked through for the pictures prior to the film’s release. Little did I know that Alan Dean Foster ghostwrote the book, but it could’ve been written by Philip Roth for all I cared. It was Star Wars and a book, a grown-up book at that. I’d gone with my parents to what was one of my favorite school events, the annual book fair. Seriously, I LIVED for the book fair all of the way through my K-12 career. Another geeky trait, I’m afraid.

Did I ever go nuts for that novelization. It was the first one I’d ever read for any movie and right off the bat I picked up on an aspect of novelizations that bugs a lot of readers…the book was different! There were scenes in the book not in the movie and some of the dialogue was different from what was uttered in the film. I’d wondered why Lucas would do that. Could it be the book was based on a rough draft?

Since it was a book written above the third grade reading level, I ran into all kinds of phrases and words I’d never seen before. I frequently bothered my dad with these new words, asking, “What does this mean?” After a while my dad would just say, “Go look it up in the dictionary.” So, the dictionary became my reading companion.

Reading comprehension issues aside, I loved the book all of the same and re-read it several times. It created more questions about what was going on in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Who were the Whills and why did they write that Journal? Will we ever see this Emperor mentioned a few times? I still have that copy, though the cover is gone and “dogeared” doesn’t even begin to describe the yellowed pages.

Moreover, in 2004 I found at used book sale an original 1976 edition published before the film’s release with different cover art. It wasn’t in great shape but it was also only a quarter.

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2 Responses to A Novel Discovery

  1. Mindless-droid says:

    Wow I could have written the exact same thing. I remember my mom bought me that book and I was enthralled by it especially the prologue. Like you say who were the Whills and could I read the rest of their journal who was Senator Palpatine what was the Old Republic and how were the Jedi Knights exterminated. I recently took it along to Star Wars Weekends and had it signed by James Arnold Taylor and Dee Bradley Baker. I thought it was a neat way to bookend my fandom. Dee Bradley Baker also recognized the book as he was a fan from that time as well it was a cool moment. My book still has the cover and is a prized possession.

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  2. Keith Palmer says:

    While I had not just the “Star Wars Storybook” but also a different young-readers adaptation in two volumes (with “reading comprehension” questions on the opposing pages), I remember getting to the full novelization fairly early on, including one moment where my mother read from it as we sat at the local park. We kept signing copies of it out of the library until I happened on a hardcover omnibus of science fiction movie novelizations in the discount pile at a bookstore, containing not just Star Wars but also, as I recall, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan…

    Really, most of the “fantastic movies” of the 1980s I first experienced through their novelizations, and occasionally their comic-book adaptations too.

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