Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy 20th Anniversary

A long time ago in a galaxy not quite so far away, I was given a set of books for my birthday. Thanks Dad! Little did you know how they would alter my life.

I’m going to back up just a touch. A year or so before this birthday (I remember the birthday vividly but I don’t actually remember how old I was) my dad discovered I’d never seen Star Wars. He was surprised and a little appalled… He promptly rented all three of them. That was back in the days of VHS and before the remastered versions came out. Then we set up the “movie” experience in my living room. That basically meant I got to eat dinner in the lazy chair that we pulled up in front of the TV. I proceeded to watch all three movies. I can’t remember if I watched them all at once or got through two of them and had to take a break, it was a while ago. Maybe even close to twenty years. I was hooked.

Now back to this birthday, and those books… Dad didn’t wrap my presents, he just put them in a bag. No big deal for me though. So they handed me my first gift, which was the VHS trilogy of the remastered Star Wars movies. I was thrilled. Then they handed me three books. I studied them, as I’m wont to do with books, noted the Star Wars big across the top of all of them, and was super excited. Those books were Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. (Looking at the dates of publication, it must have been 1994 or so. I was probably 13 or 14.)

still have those books. I love those books. They are still some of my favorite. Many of my favorite fictional characters stemmed from those books and Timothy Zahn is still my favorite author. I’ve read a ton of books since then, including a bazillion Star Wars books – but they still hold up as some of the best.

When I was in the bookstore the other day (Incidentally just a couple of days after my most recent birthday earlier this month) my boyfriend, the Irish Sailor, pointed out a hardback Star Wars book with a nice shiny silver cover and the words Heir to the Empire on it. I grabbed it of course and my hands almost started shaking – for several reasons. It was the 20th anniversary edition of a book that had literally changed my life, and I couldn’t believe it had been 20 years since it was published. That last bit kind of hurt my brain.

All else forgotten I sat down on the floor of the bookstore and started to read through the special introductions, the new novella, and the really interesting author/publisher notes in the margins of the book. I had to have it.

My copy arrived yesterday and I carried it around for a while, much like a kid does with a blanket, then I put it on my desk and gazed at it with tears in my eyes, then I carried it around a little more. I read the novella last night.

I’m a nerd, I know, but still… Books have the power to change lives… My first attempt at a real novel was set in the Star Wars universe. I had my own characters, but I used that huge setting. One of my all time favorite characters of my own (she’s making me say she is my favorite character ever, it’s true, I won’t deny it) started as a Star Wars character. I managed a few hyperspace accidents and brought her back to earth so I could actually write some of her stories too. I’m not sure I’d be on the writing path that I’m on without Star Wars and the ideas it has inspired.

So Happy Anniversary Heir to the Empire. Mr. Zahn, thank you for writing such an amazing book and propelling the Star Wars Universe into the written word.


Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

I actually have (somewhere) a book that was set in between two of the three original movies as well as the original three Han Solo books. No matter how badly the new movies messed with that universe, the original three films are still one of the best imagined dystopian stories. And the genre mashup! Dystopian-fantasy-space opera FTW!

Falcata Times said...

Wow, getting that experience is always a dream. My other half's Dad hadn't see the Lord of the Rings trilogy so I'd loaned him the two extended editions of the first two and then paid for him to go to the cinema with me for the third.

He was delighted as he'd loved the book growing up and it made my other halfs day to see her Dad so happy.

T. James said...

For pretty much my entire childhood the Star Wars movies were my favourites. I'm old enough to remember seeing them during their original run at the cinema!

Have I read a Star Wars book? I have to confess, not a single one, but I do like the current cartoon on the telly, that I watch with my four year old son (that's my excuse anyway :) ).

Kimber An said...

That triology is still my favorite Star Wars books too. I also like the other Timothy Zahn Star Wars books better than most others too. He's one of the rare male authors who does female characters very well. Princess Leia is pregnant, gives birth, and cares for her newborn twins in this triology, along with doting Daddy Han Solo and it was all done very believably. Compare that with Padme's tiny bump (uh, twins?) and running, not waddling, down the ramp in Revenge of the Sith. I'm one of the few Original Trilogy fans who also loves the Prequel Trilogy, but that pregnancy was so faky I wanted to chuck Anakin into the lava myself. In any case, Timothy Zahn remains one of my favorite authors. Besides his Star Wars books, he has tons of other Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

Anonymous said...

I grew up watching these movies and loved them so much I watched them again and again. I don't know anyone that didn't love them!

My eyes glazed over reading about the books your dad got you and then you finding that 20th anniversary edition. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it with us Julie! :)

Mardel said...

One the favorite things about my dad, (besides him being so liberal and pushing us to think for ourselves...) was the way that he would give us the gift of books whenever he could. Old or new, even if they were his very own, if you even looked at a book, he would offer it up. Unfortunately, my father and I have vastly different tastes in books, so I rarely take his...but he's read all of my Rachel Vincent Shifter series (and hasn't ever given them back, LOL). But he's always willing to buy books for us, and we share a great love of reading, though we don't share a love of genre. He's more into textbooks and heavy duty knowledge, I'm all for pleasure reading. :)

He's the one who had to re-teach himself how to read after a brain injury - so I really respect his love of reading. And I'll never forget the trips to the bookstores that he gave us, never flinching when we would pile the books on the counter. I think books are great gifts to give and receive. :)

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats revisiting an old friend. :)

J.A. Campbell said...

Julie - I have all of those books too. :) I totally agree that the original three SW movies are some of the best in all those genres.

Gareth - so cool that you were able to give him that experience with LOTR. I'm sure he'll remember it forever.

T.James - you don't have to read the books to be a huge fan, but there are some really good ones out there :) I highly recommend anything Timothy Zahn wrote.

Kimber - I never saw Revenge of the Sith... I couldn't take the pain after the other two. LOL. I knew what happened because I've read most of the books (at the time it came out I'd read all of the books) But you're right, Mr. Zahn writes women really well.

Pat - you are most welcome and thanks for reading. Such great movies.

Mardel - The gift of a book is like giving someone a whole new world to explore. Very awesome story. Thank you for sharing.

Tammy - you are so correct.