What if Star Wars…had flopped?

I wouldn’t trade Yoda, not even for Princess Leia wielding a lightsaber against Darth Vader himself, but that may have been the deal fans were forced to make if the original Star Wars film had been a flop.

Back in the late 1970s, as George Lucas was preparing his space opera for theaters, sci-fi novelist Alan Dean Foster was doing his part, ghostwriting the novelization of the screenplay that would become A New Hope and penning its sequel. As the story goes, the second novel was envisioned as the framework for a possible low-budget film if the first movie tanked at the box office. Foster wrote the tale under strict guidelines to minimize costs, essentially eliminating high-flying space battles and editing out Han Solo entirely because Harrison Ford had not yet inked a deal to reprise his role.

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Book Review: Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

Unwavering dedication to continuity and fine detail is on full display in the new Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia hitting shelves April 4, where 40 years of saga history blend together seamlessly.

The latest in Star Wars reference compendiums is rife with fascinating tidbits, delivering on its promise to curate the weird, quirky and iconic into a single comprehensive volume. In Jabba the Hutt’s corner of Tatooine alone, we learn the name of his rancor (Pateesa!), the details of Max Rebo’s lifetime performance contract (free meals instead of money), and a few handy Huttese phrases. For logophiles, there’s also a primer on the Aurebesh alphabet and a few key sayings in Bocce, droid binary and Jawaese. (Sadly the exact meaning of “Utinni” remains a mystery on these pages.)

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