|Jeremy Williams||Zahn, Timothy: Star Wars: Dark Force Rising|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Timothy Zahn. Star Wars: Dark Force Rising. Published by Bantam Books, New York, New York, June 1992.
Trade and text Copyright 1992 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Parallel First Edition:
-In Canada: Bantam Hardcover first edition was printed simultaneously in the United States and Canada.
-Limited Edition: Bantam released a limited edition with hardcover edition in June, 1992.
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American edition is published in hardcover cardboard, covered in a dust jacket. The binding of the spine is a cloth cover.|
|3. Image of Cover Art||A13191020923235132.jpg|
|4. Pagination||192 leaves, pp.   2-18  20-30  32-42  44-55 [56-57] 58-69 [70-71] 72-79 [80-81] 82-96  98-110  112-121 [122-123] 124-134  136-147 [148-149] 150-160  162-168  170-184  186-194  196-206  208-220  222-232  234-244  246-253 [254-255] 256-266  268-279 [280-281] 282-296  298-313 [314-315] 316-326  328-337 [338-339] 340-354  356-372  374-376 
-Page numbers are 1.5" from top on outside corner of page.
-Chapter pages are unnumbered, and they always appear on the front side of the leaf. If a chapter ends on the front side of a leaf, there is a blank page between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next chapter.
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The first edition is neither edited or introduced.
The publisher does, however, list other novels by Timothy Zahn before the title page.
|6. Illustrated?||The first edition is not illustrated.|
|8. General Appearance||-Size of page: 22.8 cm high X 15.1 cm wide
-Size of text (area on the page): 18.1 cm high X 10.5 cm wide
-Size of type: 90R
-Size of margins: 2.2 cm on left and right side of the page. 2.2 cm on top and bottom of the page.
-Type Style: Serif
-Type Name: ITC Garamond
-The book is in terrific shape and is spaced well for terrific readability.
-The margins are wide for good readability, with the type dark and medium sized.
-The book was very well printed as the text is not worn and the pages are in great condition.
|9. Image of Sample Chapter Page||A19191020923235132.jpg|
|10. Description of Paper||-The paper is of medium thickness and creamy white in color. It is a smooth and cut evenly on both the bottom, top, and sides of the paper. The texture of the paper appears to be woven, with all of the actual leaves made of the same stock, except for the endpapers which are heavier and part of the bindings.
-The paper is still in great condition for being 10 years old, as there are no tears, stains, or major bends. The paper is semi-transparent, as you can barely see through it when it is held against a light.
|11. Description of Binding||-The binding is a black trade cloth with dotted line grain around the spine that extends 1.5 inches to over cardboard that is then exposed.
-The binding is black cloth, with gold stamping on spine, and a maroon board extending from the cloth binding around the spine.
-The spine has the trademark identifications of the publishing company stamped in foiled gold at the bottom. There is an illustrated 'S' for Spectra (a part of bantam books) and a rooster (which is the trademark of Bantam) for Bantam Books. STAR WARS is stamped in gold along with the title of the novel and the authors name.
-There are no stampings or illustrations on the front or back of the book.
-There are two endpapers, neither of which have any illustrations or markings. Both are the same color of the printed pages.
-The pages are adhesively glued to the binding, and the binding and adhesive is still in great condition.
-The spine is 1.25 inches wide.
-Transcription of the spine:
STAR | WARS | DARK FORCE RISING | TIMOTHY ZAHN
(The above transcription was stamped vertically on the spine from top to bottom)
BANTAM | SPECTRA
(The above transcription was stamped horizontally on the bottom of the spine)
|12. Title Page Transcription||-Recto:
DARK FORCE RISING | STAR | WARS | VOLUME 2 | TIMOTHY ZAHN | BANTAM BOOKS | NEW YORK TORONTO LONDON SYDNEY AUCKLAND
STAR WARS: DARK FORCE RISING | A Bantam Book | Bantam hardcover edition / June 1992 | Bantam limited edition / June 1992 | All rights reserved. | Trademark and text copyright © 1992 by Lucasfilm Ltd. | All Rights Reserved. | Used Under Authorization. | No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted | in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, | including photocopying, recording, or by any information | storage and retrieval system, without permission in | writing from the publisher. | For information address: Bantam Books | Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data | Zahn, Timothy. | Dark force rising / by Timothy Zahn. | p. cm. -- (Star wars ; v. 2) | ISBN 0-553-08574-3 | ISBN 0-553-08907-2 (Limited Edition) | I. Title. II. Series: Zahn, Timothy. Star wars ; v. 2. | PS3576.A33D37 1992 | 813'.54--dc20 92-743 | CIP | Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada | Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam | Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting | of the words "Bantam Books" and the portrayal of a rooster, is | Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other | countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, | New York, New York 10103. | PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA | BVG 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
|13. Image of Title Page||A113191020923235132.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||No information was available.|
|15. Other||Dark Force Rising is Volume 2 in the "Thrawn" trilogy which was describe as a "Three Book Cycle."
Dust Jacket Description:
Front cover and back cover is a drawing/painting illustrated by Tom Jung. The illustration shows the primary characters in the novel, along with a picturesque space scene in the background. The theme is a black and maroon coloring which mirrors the color of the spine and cardboard binding. The STAR WARS lettering at top center is the same as all Star Wars novels. It is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.
Front dust jacket transcription:
THE #1 BESTSELLING SAGA CONTINUES! | STAR | WARS | VOLUME 2 OF A THREE BOOK CYCLE | DARK FORCE RISING | BY THE HUGO AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR | TIMOTHY ZAHN
Back dust jacket contains critics reviews of the first book in the series: Heir to the Empire
Spine of dust jacket contains title, author, and Bantam trademark
The inner flap of the dust jacket contains a summary of what happened in the first book of the series, and a preview to what will be read in this book. The back inside flap of the jacket includes a picture of Timothy Zahn and a description of his former writings and works. Bantam also provides its address on the back inside flap.
There is a bar code on the upper left hand portion of the front dust jacket from the Longwood University Library. There is also a library stamp on the Verso side of the title page.
Bantam appears to have released a simultaneous 'limited' edition with the first edition hardcover, but details or available copies are impossibly scarce. The limited edition is listed 'with' the first edition hardcover when searched for in WorldCat. It seems that no one has the edition readily available to see, and it is truely scarce.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||Star Wars: Dark Force Rising was issued in a limited edition and book club edition in addition to the original first edition. The limited edition was released simultaneously with the first edition hardcover in June 1992. Very little information is available for either the book club or limited edition, and they are very difficult to find in any bookstore. The limited edition has a trade cloth binding, like the first edition, but has 384 pages, 8 more pages than the first edition hardcover. The book club edition has 376 pages, which is the same as the first edition hardcover. No other information was readily available about either the book club edition or the book club or limited editions.|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||-As of June 15, 1992 there was one printing of the first edition with Bantam going back to press for two more printings, which equals at least three printings.
-The first printing of the first edition produced over 300,000 copies, which was almost as many as total hardcover printings for Heir to the Empire, which is the first novel in the "Thrawn Trilogy."
-The second and third printing of the first edition produced 25,000 printings each.
|5. Editions from other publishers?||Dark Horse Comics:
-Star Wars: Dark Force Rising Comic Book Serialization - 1997 (Periodical)
-Star Wars: Dark Force Rising Comic Book Collection: Issues 1-6 of comic book serialization - 1998 (Book)
|6. Last date in print?||Star Wars: Dark Force Rising was still in print as of October 11, 2002. The hardcover edition was no longer in print when information was queried, though the last date in print for the hardcover was unavailable.|
|7. Total copies sold?||-Publishers Weekly indicated that according to Bantam mass market publisher Lou Aronica, Star Wars: Dark Force Rising has been selling almost twice as fast in the first three weeks as Heir to the Empire, the first title.
-The three book "Thrawn" series, which includes Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command has sold over 15 million copies together according to the official Star Wars website when checked on October 5, 2002.
|8. Sales by year?||No information available.|
|9. Advertising copy:||No information available.|
|11. Other promotion?||No information available.|
|12. Performances in other media?||Audio editions as of October 2002:
-Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, Read by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). Abridged version. 1992. Random House Audio Publishing, New York, NY. 2 audio cassette tapes (180 mins) (dolby processed)
-Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, Read by Larry McKeever. Unabridged version. 1995. Books on Tape, Newport Beach, CA. 12 Audio Cassette tapes (1080 mins) (Books on Tape library edition)
-Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, Read by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). Abridged version. 1992. Bantam Audio Publishing, New York, NY. 2 audio cassette tapes (stereo)
-Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Read by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). Abridged version. 1993. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, New York, NY. 6 audio cassette tapes (540 mins) (dolby processed) - This abridged cassette recording was a boxed set that featured all three novels in the series. This title was published again in March 2000.
-Star Wars: Three book cycle, Features performances by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Denis Lawson. Also featuring Laura Esterman. 1994. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, New York, NY. 7 audio cassette tapes (dolby processed - "Includes a special collector's cassette available only in this set, an unabridged recording of T. Zahn's short story, Hammertong." - This cassette recording was a boxed set that featured all three novels in the series.
-Publication information: Sankt-Peterburg: Izd-vo "Azbuka": Izdatelískii tsentr "Terra." 1996.
-Translated by A. Tokareva.
-Ciemna strona mocy
-Publication information: Warszawa: Amber, Edition: Wyd. 1. 1994.
-Translated by Anna and Jan Mickiewicz.
-Odum ui panran
-Publication information: Soul: Koryown Midio. 1993.
-Translated by Yi Hui-jae olmkim.
-El resurgir de la Fuerza Oscura
-Publication information: Barcelona : Ediciones MartÌnez Roca. 1993.
-Translated by Eduardo G. Murillo.
-La bataille des Jedi
-Paris : Fleuve noir, 1999 impr. en Grande-Bretagne
-Translated by Michel Demuth.
|14. Serialization?||No Serializations as of October 2002.|
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||The following are all of the major novels in the Star Wars "extended universe." There are other novels for young adults, and after Timothy Zahns second set of books, but I only listed the novels that are more directly in the Dark Force Rising timeline. In addition, there are several other resource books and comic books, but the ones listed are all novels.
Novels preceding Dark Force Rising
-Cloak of Deception by James Luceno (Ballantine Books, 2002)
-Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves (Ballantine Books, 2001)
-Rogue Planet by Greg Bear (Ballantine Books, 2000)
-The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster (Ballantine Books, 2002)
The Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin (Bantam Books, 1998)
-The Paradise Snare
-The Hutt Gambit
The Lando Calrissian Adventures by L. Neil Smith (Ballantine Books, 1983)
-Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu
-Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon
-Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka
The Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley (Ballantine Books, 1979)
-Han Solo at Star's End
-Han Solo's Revenge
-Han Solo and the Lost Legacy
-Star Wars IV: A New Hope by George Lucas (Del Rey Ballantine Books, 1976)
-Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey Ballantine Books, 1978)
The Bounty Hunter Wars by K.W. Jeter (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998)
-The Mandalorian Armor
-Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back by Donald Glut (Del Rey Ballantine Books, 1980)
-Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry (Bantam Books, 1998)
-Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi by James Kahn (Del Rey Ballantine Books, 1983)
-The Truce At Bakura by Kathy Tyers (Bantam Spectra, 1994)
X-Wing, Series I by Michael A. Stackpole (Bantam Books)
-Rogue Squadron (1995)
-Wedge's Gamble (1996)
-The Krytos Trap (1996)
-The Bacta War (1996)
X-Wing, Series II by Aaron Allston
-Wraith Squadron (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998)
-Iron Fist (Bantam Books, 1998)
-Solo Command (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998)
-The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994)
The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
-Heir to the Empire (Bantam Books, 1991)
Novels following Dark Force Rising
-The Last Command (Bantam Books, 1993)
X-Wing, Series III by Michael A. Stackpole (Random House, 1999)
The Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson (Bantam Spectra, 1994)
-Champions of the Force
-I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole (Bantam Books, 1999)
X-Wing, Series IV by Aaron Allston (Random House, 1999)
-Starfighters of Adumar
-Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly (Bantam Spectra 1995)
-Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson (Bantam Spectra, 1996)
-Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly (Bantam Books, 1997)
-The Crystal Star by Vonda N. McIntyre (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994)
Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy by Michael P. Kube-McDowell (Bantam Spectra)
-Before the Storm (1996)
-Shield of Lies (1996)
-Tyrant's Test (1997)
-The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Bantam Spectra, 1996)
The Corellian Trilogy by Roger MacBride Allen (Bantam Spectra, 1998)
-Ambush at Corellia
-Assault at Selonia
-Showdown at Centerpoint
The Hand of Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn (Bantam Spectra)
-Specter of the Past (1997)
-Vision of the Future (1998)
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
|September 1, 1951 is a date that many “Extended Universe” Star Wars fans should hold dear, as it was the day Timothy Zahn, savior of the extended Star Wars galaxy, was born. It was on one fateful Monday afternoon, 4 p.m. phone call in the middle of 1990 when Zahn was given the opportunity to continue the Star Wars universe, which had been off-limits until that time. When the first novel in “The Thrawn Trilogy,” Heir to the Empire, came out in mid 1991, it was the beginning of a new Star Wars era, one that has turned out over 80 novels in only 11 years (http://www.mrs.umn.edu/~swl/is1001/f00/jamboree/ Ender /bio.html).
Zahn was born in Chicago, Illinois, though he spent most of his early days in the nearby suburb of Lombard. He attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, where he earned a B.S. in Physics in 1973. Zahn, who figured that he might try his hands in the mathematical field, studied at the University of Illinois graduate school, where he received a M.S., also in Physics, in 1975. It was there, in Champaign-Urbana, when Timothy Zahn decided to put down the calculator, and pick up the pen.
While working on a mathematical project that was going nowhere in 1978, Zahn decided to start writing as a hobby when his advisor left on long work-related trips. When he finished his first short story, entitled Ernie, he sold it to Analog magazine in December of 1978. Zahn turned 27 years old the next September, which was the month his short story was first published in the magazine. Soon after he decided that “I was having more fun writing, and decided in January of 1980 to kind of "take the plunge, quit grad school and start writing full-time” (http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml).
Zahn married his wife Anna in August of 1978, and while he began his writing career with numerous short stories, she supported the newfound marriage with a small savings account and a full-time job. Zahn, who started out only writing short stories, made only 2000 dollars in his first year as a full-time writer selling 18 short stories. Although when he looks back, it probably seemed like a gold mine, as “he only expected to make one thousand in his first year” (http://www. theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml).
Timothy quickly became well-known in the writing world for his novellas and short stories, as he was awarded the 1982 Analog award for his novella Pawn's Gambit. In 1983 Zahn wrote his first novel, The Blackcollar, which was part of his first duology. He didn’t stay in the novel world for very long, however, as he made a collection of short stories entitled Cascade Point, which won the Hugo award for novellas in 1984. One year later, he won another Analog award for Spinneret, which was only his second novel.
Though Zahn had received two of science fiction's greatest awards, he didn’t really become well known throughout the literature medium until Bantam Spectra approached his editor and asked if he would like to continue the Star Wars saga, eight years after George Lucas’ world renowned trilogy came to an end. The Star Wars legacy was considered all but dead before Zahn penned “The Thrawn Trilogy,” which was comprised of the books Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993). His New York Times #1 selling trilogy quickly captured the imaginations of millions, reviving a dormant series. However, Zahn is quick to point out he is no savior. He says, “I hardly consider myself to be the "savior" of Star Wars in any respect. I didn’t revive Star Wars so much as I simply tapped into the interest that was already simmering below the surface” (http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm).
After “The Thrawn Trilogy” and a new trilogy entitled “Conquerors” in the middle of the 1990’s, Zahn went back into the short story realm, and soon received another Analog award for Starsong in 1997. He wasn’t done with the Star Wars universe, however, as he wrote the “Hand of Thrawn” duology in 1997-8, which included the novels Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future. In his words, the books were supposed “to sort of bookend the Bantam series” (http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml).
During the late 1990’s through October 2002, Zahn focused mainly on novels, as he stopped writing as frequently, spending most of his time in his home on the Oregon coast. Zahn is still married to Anna, with whom he had one son, who was 21 as of October 2002.
Echo Station Website Interview. Interview by Jeff Carter. 23 October 2002. [http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm]
Farris Systems Website. 23 October 2002. [http://www.farris.co.uk/books/author.asp?authorid=62]
Random House Author Profile. 23 October 2002. [http://www.randomhouse.com/author/results.pperl?authorid=34041]
TheForce.net Star Wars Website Interview. Interview by Chris Knight. 23 October 2002. [http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml]
Science Fiction Website. 23 October 2002. [http://www.sfsite.com/isfdb-bin/exact_author.cgi?Timothy_Zahn]
University of Missouri Website. 23 October 2002. [http://www.mrs.umn.edu/~swl/is1001/f00/jamboree/Ender/bio.html]
|Following the novel that led to the resurgence of the Star Wars legacy, Timothy Zahn’s Dark Force Rising was destined to capture rave review from fans and journalists alike when it went to the presses in June 1992. It didn’t disappoint. After this novel’s predecessor, Heir to the Empire, brought the dormant Star Wars community back to life, it would have been difficult for Zahn’s second novel in “The Thrawn Trilogy” in either the fans of the Star Wars community or the journalist who reviewed the work. The reviews that were written soon after the book was published were synonymous in praising the novel.
The reviews for Dark Force Rising followed the fan sentiment that helped produce a 250,000 first printing. From Publisher’s Weekly to the Library Journal, praise was widespread for the author who had won an Analog and Hugo award 10 years previous. Reviews commented on the fast-paced action and twisting, complicated plots as the books overall strong points. The reviews agree that Zahn’s use of George Lucas’ Star Wars environments and characters add to the depth and entertainment for the long time fans of the series. Booklist’s Roland Green agreed with the fans around the country giving the book a “B” grade, while Publisher’s Weekly gave the book an “A” grade, saying that “fans can expect [a] lively tale.” The fact that the series had been dead for almost 10 years helped add to the allure and mysticism of the book, which made it a more enjoyable read. The Library Journal says, “Zahn's snappy prose and cinematic style capture the feel of the popular Star Wars films as he weaves together a lightweight but exciting tale of high adventure.”
Typical passages from reviews showed the might of Zahn’s pen, and the strength of the ongoing trilogy. Some reviews praise it and expect big things (see excerpt #1), while others thought it was somewhat lacking in some areas, though overall producing a strong work. Some excerpts go as follows:
“Expect demand.” – Library Journal – Short and to the point.
“It adds nothing of its own to the tradition of media-driven fiction.” – Kirkus Reviews – This excerpt comes from a review that praised the work, but found some flaws.
“Fans can expect Zahn's lively tale to spill over to the next and final installment of his series. 250,000 first printing.” – Publisher’s Weekly – Reviewers a great ending to the trilogy after two tremendous novels.
Some reviews went away from the general feeling displayed by fans and most reviewers, saying that the novel used “typical” characters and situations that distract from Dark Force Rising in some aspects. But even as a review found a flaw in the novel, they couldn’t help but praise other aspects. Kirkus Reviews said, “Despite stereotyped characters, supervillain posturing, last- instant escapes, and overall predictability, this is thundering melodrama, with a satisfyingly complicated plot.” Through a series that was already made famous in the film medium, the consensus among fans and reviewers alike, is that Timothy Zahn did a spectacular job picking up where George Lucas left off in his 1992 novel Dark Force Rising.
Cassada, Jackie. “Dark Force Rising.” Library Journal. April 15, 1992. v117 n7 p125.
“Dark Force Rising.” Publishers Weekly. March 23, 1992. v239 n15 p64.
“Dark Force Rising.” Kirkus Reviews. April 1, 1992.
Green Roland. “Dark Force Rising.” Booklist. April 1, 1992. v88 n15 p1413.
|Ten years and over 60 Star Wars novels later, Timothy Zahn’s Dark Force Rising and the rest of “The Thrawn Trilogy” is still considered the best of the Star Wars “Extended Universe.” Though he has only written two more novels in timeline, Zahn is considered the authority in the novel side of the Star Wars universe. In a review of A Specter to the Past, one of Zahn’s later Star Wars novels, Booklist speaks to Zahn’s writing both in this novel and in “The Thrawn Trilogy.” It says, “Fiction in which the reader knows who is going to survive inevitably lacks the highest degree of emotional impact; however, in the hands of a writer of Zahn's calibre, the result is certainly absorbing reading.” This excerpt shows that Zahn had a tough task in writing in a franchise that very much set in stone by George Lucas, but he did a marvelous job writing Dark Force Rising, and the other novels in the trilogy.
Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” is still popular and used as a “source of knowledge” amongst the thousands of Star Wars fans that wish to enter the “extended universe,” which includes every novel or comic book written outside of George Lucas’ movies. Though reviewers don’t take much mention of Zahn’s “The Thrawn Trilogy,” unless it is in reviews of his later two Star Wars novels as I showed above, he is still wildly popular with the fans, and that is evidenced by the fact that he attends Star Wars conventions year after year, though his days of writing Star Wars are done for the foreseeable future. The fact that the book is still in print eleven years (as of November 2002) after publication speaks to the rousing success of the novel, and series, among the critics, and the fans that both loved the Star Wars fans, and followed the rousing reviews.
Because there are over 60 works of literature, comic books, and source books in the Star Wars universe and due to the fact that it was only published eleven years ago (as of November 2002) there are not many recent reviews available to show the continued love of his series. What you do see, however, is interview after interview from Zahn, with passionate fans wanting to know every intricacy of “The Thrawn Trilogy” from the “savior” himself.
Being the modest man he is, however, Zahn is quick to point out that it was not necessarily his writing style that brought in the great reviews and fan reaction, but more due to the fact that he had a strong base to write upon, in an interview in 1999 he said, “I appreciate your praise, I hardly consider myself to be the "savior" of Star Wars in any respect. I didn’t revive Star Wars so much as I simply tapped into the interest that was already simmering below the surface. The fact that the first 60,000 copy printing vanished within a week shows that it wasn’t the quality of writing that people were first buying, but the name "Star Wars" on the cover. I’d like to think that the quality helped the sales later on, but the fact remains that the audience was hungry for anything that dealt with Star Wars” (http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm). Though some of his statement is true, most of the success can only be contributed to the writing style that he used when he adopted Lucas’ characters eight years after the movies were completed. Like most of the reviewers have said, it is his writing style and ability to control and create characters that has prolonged the success of Dark Force Rising, and the rest of Zahn’s Star Wars ventures.
Carver, Jeff. Timothy Zahn Interview. 7 November 2002. <www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm>
Cassada, Jackie. “Dark Force Rising.” Library Journal. April 15, 1992. v117 n7 p125.
“Dark Force Rising.” Publishers Weekly. March 23, 1992. v239 n15 p64.
“Dark Force Rising.” Kirkus Reviews. April 1, 1992.
Green Roland. “Dark Force Rising.” Booklist. Sept 15, 1997 v94 n2 p181.
Timothy Zahn’s second novel in the “Thrawn Trilogy,” Dark Force Rising, showed the literary and publishing world how a well-written sequel in the Star Wars canon could become a top seller before the book was even published. Zahn’s ability to “revive” the Star Wars series in Heir to the Empire, the first novel in the “Thrawn Trilogy,” and further develop and infuse elements of the Star Wars world in Dark Force Rising set up the trilogy for an extensive amount of copies sold and fans of Zahn’s work worldwide. Critics argue that Zahn’s capacity to recreate characters seen in Lucas’ ever-popular films and create new characters unseen in the movies shape Dark Force Rising into a bestseller. The Star Wars name was fundamental in becoming a bestseller in the first novel of the three, but terrific writing and character development/creation contributed to the sales of all three books, especially Dark Force Rising. Zahn’s mastery of characters and pacing in a book of gigantic scale make the novel ever popular among Star Wars fans and fans of the space opera/science fiction genre.
Star Wars phenomenon
After George Lucas made his original Star Wars Trilogy in the late 70’s and early 80’s he didn’t intend to have anyone else work on anything in the Star Wars Universe outside of the movies, much to the chagrin of thousands of fans. For almost 7 years the world of Star Wars was dormant before Timothy Zahn was offered the chance to continue the derelict universe and become a Star Wars “savior.” Jeff Carver of the website Echo Station phrased in wonderfully saying, “Timothy Zahn’s [Thrawn Trilogy] quickly became an enormous wake-up call to the Star Wars-starved masses to rise from their 6 year slumber and usher in a new era for George Lucas’ beloved space saga” (http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm). There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that because the words “STAR WARS” were embroidered across the front of the book, it would automatically sell well to a large audience of Star Wars enthusiasts. Even Zahn acknowledged the fact that Lucas’ movies helped sell his books saying, “I didn’t revive Star Wars so much as I simply tapped into the interest that was already simmering below the surface. The fact that the first 60,000 copy printing vanished within a week shows that it wasn’t the quality of writing that people were first buying, but the name "Star Wars" on the cover” (http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm).
Reviewers and critics are quick to turn around and say that while the named helped sell, it was the quality of the writing brought fans back for more. Publisher’s Weekly picked up on what made this book bestseller quality as far as writing was concerned soon after the book was published. They said, “Hugo Award winner Zahn follows up Heir to the Empire with still more adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and their merry band, adroitly juggling an abundance of plot lines to produce skillfully paced entertainment.” While Lucas’ seal was critical in initial sales, it is Zahn’s ability to work with characters and “skillfully pace” a gigantic space opera that helps inform us of the “Thrawn Trilogy’s” affect on the bestseller world.
Developing and Creating Characters
Zahn has become so well known and critically acclaimed over the years (two analog awards and one hugo award) because of his ability to craft and cultivate characters in any universe he creates or writes in. This is his strongest feature in Dark Force Rising and what makes the novel so popular among the masses. The fact that Zahn’s new characters and character development is so well known puts the novel in a category that could be called famous author book, in addition to the idea of a “follow on book” and “co-dependent bestseller,” which are two categories this books fits into as well. While it is important that Zahn uses Lucas’ universe and previous works, a book like Dark Force Rising could have been extremely popular and exciting to read, though sales and acclaim might not have been as high without Lucas’ name sprayed across the work.
As is stated above, Zahn’s so called “fame” among science fiction enthusiasts comes from his ability to create and develop terrific new characters, as well as keeping main characters used in Lucas’ movies sounding and feeling like they are out of the movie. In his review of Dark Force Rising David Ziebart from Theforce.net says that “every character is written in character. I can actually picture Leia doing/saying the things she does/says, the same for all the characters” (http://www.theforce.net/books/reviews/ttt_dfr.shtml). In reviewing another one of Zahn’s novels in the Star Wars universe, Specter of the Past, Chris Kivlehan agrees with this train of thought saying, “with his first trilogy, Zahn rendered the characters of the novel in a way that made me feel like I was meeting dear, old friends again. Character development is a beautiful thing and Zahn recognizes the beauty in it” (http://www.theforce.net/books/reviews/hot_sotp.shtml). Zahn understands how crucial engaging characters are when going for a bestseller in today’s market. Action and adventure is fine and dandy, but if the reader doesn’t believe in the characters they are following, the novel simply won’t have the same amount of intensity.
In addition to the development of other characters, Zahn introduces several new characters in this series, mainly in Dark Force Rising. This was a make or break feature for Zahn in his trilogy as these were the first characters to hit the Star Wars universe that were not introduced by George Lucas, and if they were not done well, it could wreck people’s impressions of Zahn’s novels and kept them from being the bestsellers that they could become. Luckily for Bantam Books, who published the novels, Zahn was dead on with his new characters, ones that would later become just as much a part of the Star Wars universe as those created by George Lucas. Zahn’s main creations, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Talon Karrde are still used prominently in Star Wars novels today (December 2002), 10 years later. Mara Jade, who has become the most well known of the group, eventually marries Luke Skywalker (the Star Wars universe’s ‘main’ protagonist), which means her character development was so strong in this trilogy that other authors would want to use her so prominently. Jeff Carter says, “two of [his] creations, Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn, have become so popular and entrenched in the Star Wars mythos, that you’d think they had been around since the inception. They appear alongside Luke, Han, and Leia in CD-ROM’s, video games, and even action figures. Characters from subsequent novels have not been as enduring” (http://www.echostation.com/interview/zahn.htm). The characters that Zahn created had a personality of their own and ability to “wow” the Star Wars crowd with something new interacting with everything that the fans of the series were used to. Pulling off new characters was right up Zahn’s alley, which helped Dark Force Rising go into the category of famous author novel.
Making the Novel Fit the Movie
The importance of the Star Wars label cannot be stressed enough, but license that Star Wars brings means nothing if the author doesn’t do a good job of transposing the characters of Luke, Han, Leia, the ships, the worlds, the ideals, and the continuity from film to novel, Dark Force Rising simply doesn’t work as well and become as popular as it is. I classify Dark Force Rising as a “follow-on” and “co-dependent” bestseller because it does indeed rely heavily on the Star Wars myth and universe. Though it is relying on a lot of material not created by the author, I don’t think that is a deterrent for Dark Force Rising as it could be seen in some novels. I think the fact that it relies on the Star Wars canon helps the book tremendously, especially considering that Zahn does such a fine job translating what fans have seen on the film into the novels.
As the numbers serve to show, Zahn did a wonderful job taking the elements from the film and making them sound so familiar and believable in the novel. The pacing and characters fill out the novel so well that it had reviewers raving about how well Zahn had made the transformation from film. The Providence Sunday Journal said that the Thrawn Trilogy “moves with a speed-of-light pace that captures the spirit of the movie trilogy so well, you can almost hear John Williams’ soundtrack…This novel should feel like a reunion with old friends.” Quotes like this one go to show how well Zahn was able to capture the magic that Lucas displayed on the cinema medium.
The process wasn’t thrown together in a few minutes however, as Zahn did plenty of research to capture this “aura.” At one point, he listened to audiotapes of the movie trilogy over and over to be able to visualize what happened without actually seeing the movie. It was in this way that Zahn was able to capture the essence of the Star Wars characters. In an interview he said, “But the point of that was that where I'd seen all the Star Wars movies ‘X’ number of times, I'd heard them without seeing them ‘X plus five or ten’ times. Which meant that without the distraction of the visuals, I listened to Han and Leia and Luke talk, and I think that kind of ingrained itself in my mind such that when I started writing the Star Wars books, I had a very good feel as to how they sounded, how they phrased things, and I could put that into the dialogue” (http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml). It is hard to question the quality of writing that Zahn has displayed throughout his writings in the Star Wars universe, especially in his first “reviving” trilogy, and I contend that while the Star Wars name did a terrific job in original sales, Zahn’s masterful prose helped carry the book for the long haul, as Dark Force Rising continues to sell all over.
A Successful Phenomenon
Timothy Zahn’s first foray into the Star Wars universe is still in print and continues to sell in decent quantities 11 years (December 2002) after it was originally published. There are a couple reasons for the trilogies continued success, and most of those are found within the pages of Dark Force Rising. First, and most importantly is the fact that Zahn has created characters that have been used heavily throughout 12 years of extended universe expansion through novels, comic books, and source books. One character, Mara Jade, was one of the main features in Dark Force Rising, as she was the suspicious, cunning character who goes through tremendous changes over the three novels. Because her character was created and written so well, she is a primary character in most of the recent Star Wars novels. Authors have gone to Zahn to make sure that they portray her correctly, because she is just as important as those characters from the film. With Jade featured so prominently in so many Star Wars novels, people go back to Dark Force Rising, and other novels in the trilogy to learn about her character.
The second point is similar to the first in that Zahn is one of the authoritative voices in the expanded universe. Many fans and authors alike return to Zahn for ideas and thoughts about the Star Wars universe that isn’t directly dealing with the films. This is a tribute to Zahn’s writing, and Dark Force Rising in particular. People continue to buy Dark Force Rising for this reason, as it is the beginning (as far as it being the first novel written) of the “extended universe.”
Timothy Zahn had quite the challenge when Lucas Film Limited came and asked him to “revive” the Star Wars universe in 1988. He had to stay true to the movie, as thousands of Star Wars fans wouldn’t appreciate a novel that strayed from George Lucas’ vision, as well has formulating his own style and flavor in the Star Wars universe. His continued success 12 years after the fact speaks volumes of Zahn’s triumph over a very difficult assignment. While there is no doubt that the co-dependency on the Star Wars name sold many copies of Dark Force Rising and helped propel it to bestseller status, Zahn’s skill and style made it stay there and have the continued success it has enjoyed over the years.
Carver, Jeff. Timothy Zahn Interview. 29 November 2002.
“Dark Force Rising.” Publishers Weekly. March 23, 1992. v239 n15 p64.
Kivlehan, Chris. Specter of the Past Review. 29 November 2002. < http://www.theforce.net/books/reviews/hot_sotp.shtml >
Knight, Chris. Timothy Zahn Interview. 29 November 2002. < http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/zahn.shtml >
Providence Sunday Journal quote from Dark Force Rising paperback edition.
Zahn, Timothy. Dark Force Rising. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
Ziebart, David. Dark Force Rising Review. 29 November 2002. < http://www.theforce.net/books/reviews/ttt_dfr.shtml >
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
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