I have a passion for collecting vintage Star Wars merchandise from the late 70's. Action figures, comics, trading cards etc - anything related to the first Star Wars movie. But why only until 1980? It's not that I don't love The Empire Strikes Back and beyond (I really do), but there is something about that first wave of Star Wars mania that really grips me, back when it was all fresh and exciting...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Han Solo at Stars' End by Brian Daley

Today, Star Wars novels number in the hundred's. But back in the late 70's there was Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the Han Solo adventures by Brian Daley, and that was it. Daley wrote three, beginning with the above, a tale of Han and Chewie before they met up with Luke, Ben and the Droids in the Mos Eisley Cantina and their lives (and ours) were forever changed.

Published on 1st April, 1979, Han Solo at Stars' End eschews the usual hordes of Stormtroopers, TIE Fighters and Imperial Cruisers that form the villains in most Star Wars works, and instead Daley creates the 'Corporate Sector Authority' (usually shortened to the 'Authority') as a foil for our heroes. This is my main disappointment in the novel. I like Stormtroopers. I like TIE Fighters. They're a huge part of Star Wars (especially in the early days of '79), and without them, the book feels a little like it's set somewhere else, like Han and Chewie have crossed over into a different Galaxy.

Anyway, the story begins with this all-powerful Authority trying to impound the Millennium Falcon, insisting that Han needs a special waiver to operate in its sector. So Han and Chewie bust out and jet off to find 'Doc' a shady technician that can do the job on the cheap. Upon arrival, they meet Doc's daughter, Jessa (an old flame of Han's, naturally) who tells them that her father has gone missing. She'll agree to do the job on the Falcon if they head off to Orron III and pick up a search party that has been looking for Doc and some other troublemakers who are believed to have been captured by the Authority.

Of course the mission goes totally balls-up with betrayal and murder in their midst and Chewbacca is captured and hauled off to Stars' End, the Authority's ultra-secure prison camp. Cue daring rescue with Han and his new found chums masquerading as an entertainment troupe to sneak in and bust everybody out.

Being a veteran EU reader from my teenage years, I noticed many terms in this book like 'vibroblades', 'holocubes' and 'Z-95 Headhunters' that later became EU staples. As they were never mentioned in the movie or novelisation, I am led to wonder if they were all inventions of Brian Daley and have since become regular pieces of the Star Wars universe. If so that's pretty impressive. One other thing that put a smile on my face is the name of one of the droids in the book. Now, maybe this is only funny to British people, but calling a character 'Bollux' is just asking for unintentional hilarity. I read somewhere that when the book was published in Britain, the name was changed to 'Zollux' to avoid testicular connections.

All in all, it's not a bad book. I honestly didn't know what to expect as some of this early EU stuff can be pretty bizarre. It's not nearly as off model as some of the Marvel comics. The plot is ok, nothing special, and the lack of pretty much all things Star Wars other than Han and Chewie just makes it all feel a bit mediocre. Being a first paperback edition, I bought it as a collectible, not for its reading value and I'll be picking the sequels up as and when they appear on ebay for reasonable prices.


Darrin.. said...

Man.. I loved these books. Didn't think anyone else remembered them!!

Will Errickson said...

I never read any of the STAR WARS spin-off works, though once when I was about 11 or 12 I wrote a short story based on what happened between the first and second films. Remember in EMPIRE Han says something about running into a bounty hunger in "Ord Mantell" so I used that as a starting point. Wish I could find it today!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog!