I could go on and on about my Star Wars fan credentials but, honestly, nobody wants to hear that. A) Bragging about the depth of your fandom is kind of a condescending way to start an article, and we as a society maybe need to tone that down a bit, and B) if you found your way here, chances are you’re a Star Wars fan yourself.
When I heard the FAQ series was releasing a Star Wars edition, it certainly had my interest — and not just because I’m a fan. I couldn’t help but wonder how many stories about Star Wars could be dug up that we hadn’t heard already in some way shape or form.
Turns out, there are a lot.
Author Mark Clark dug deep on this one. He’s scoured books, interviews, magazines, websites, press junkets, found every DVD “Easter egg” possible, and put it all into one enlightening, educational, and easy-to-digest book. Stories from the original trilogy range from the rocky pre-production of the first film (New Hope, naturally, not Phantom Menace); to Lucas’s feuds with the Directors’ Guild to do the films “his way;” to the aftermath of Return of The Jedi; all the way until Timothy Zahn’s novels brought the series back from the dead.
It’s no secret that Star Wars wasn’t expected to be any kind of hit, much less the hit it became, but Clark managed to dig up enough info to show why Fox wasn’t comfortable, and it makes a degree of sense. He’s not afraid to portray the series as one that succeeded in spite of studio meddling and outside forces (which is most definitely not a pun), but it’s not hard to see what they were thinking. In particular, he brings up several other films released (or, at least, planned for release) at about the same time with superior pedigrees — better known actors, most established screenwriters, et al. — that failed. Ever hear of Damnation Alley? I didn’t think so, but the books makes the case about how this was expected to be the bigger hit.
Clark brings this same care and attention to detail to every single chapter. Every facet of each film’s creation that could possibly be covered through research is covered. And, while informative, Clark writes in a casual manner. Even at its most detailed, Star Wars FAQ comes across less like a pedant and more like that friend you can always count on to tell you some cool trivia.
One of the big highlights of the book, and one that perfectly demonstrates the book’s strengths, is the chapter on the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Titled “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” — as you can see, I do not use the phrase “perfectly” lightly above — it goes into all of the available production information, including how the special came to fruition and the blowback from it.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the chapter was Clark giving a synopsis of the special from the perspective of someone who watched it live. Confessing that he was one of the 13 million who viewed it when it first aired, he relays how pathetic it was (even to his twelve-year-old brain), how his family reacted, and how, when he tracked it down years later, it was worse than he remembered. Besides being a trove of information on the worst thing to ever happen to the franchise — and I’m including midi-chlorians in that statement — it relates the human side of this. Clark’s not just a reporter or a researcher; he’s a fan who loves Star Wars as much as you or I do.
Here’s a phrase I thought I’d never say, even a few years ago: Star Wars has a bright future. If you want to learn more about it’s bright and/or not-so-bright past, or you just want to kill time until every box office record in existence is broken, check out Star Wars FAQ.
You can purchase a copy of Star Wars FAQ on Amazon!