40 Days Of DragonCon 2010 (Day 10) – Serv’s Roster Thoughts – The Unique Geek
Hello gentle reader. I have been gong to Dragon*Con in Atlanta GA now for quite a few years and one of the things that I have really grown to love is the attendance by celebrities and pseudo-celebrities. As a member of The Unique Geek, I have agreed highlight one (possibly more than one) of the Con attendees that qualifies for ‘celebrity’ status.
This time: Michael Stackpole & Timothy Zahn
There are a few authors that I really, really appreciate. Both of these gentlemen fit that bill.
First, let’s establish some background for my appreciation. My formative years were in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. As a kid who grew up in that time frame, I, of course, loved Star Wars. OK, upon further retrospect, love may be too light a term… I friggin’ lived and breathed Star Wars. I had all the toys; still have quite a few of them in fact. I had Star Wars sheets; more than one set. I had Star Wars Curtains. I had a Star Wars lunch box, posters, albums, comic adaptations of the films, picture books… I think you get the idea. If it was Star Wars, it was for me.
After Return of the Jedi, Star Wars sort of fell away. George Lucas was busy revolutionizing the way we listen to and see movies. Star Wars had just sort of…stopped. Jedi was released in 1983 and there was nothing happening in Star Wars much past 1984. That is until West End Games created the Star Wars Replaying Game in 1987. Yes, of course, I picked this up and played it. The role-playing game was all that was new in Star Wars… That was until 1991, when Timothy Zahn published his first Star Wars novel, ‘Heir to the Empire’. Mr. Zahn had been given all Star Wars RPG material published to that point to help him craft his novel and Mr. Zahn did not disappoint. He captured the essence of our favorite characters, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando, C-3PO & R2-D2. We had all the familiar items like lightsabres and The Millennium Falcon, and “new” items and personalities like Coruscant, Talon Karrde, Mara Jade, and Skipray Blastboats. Mr. Zahn wrote a trilogy (of course, if it’s Star Wars it has to come in 3’s) that revived Star Wars as a viable franchise and provided a known galaxy far, far away for writers to earn their stripes. For breathing new life into the galaxy far, far away, I appreciate and honor Timothy Zahn as an author.
Though Zahn may have unlocked the door for other writers to begin writing about the adventures in that galaxy far, far away, but in my opinion, it was Michael Stackpole who kicked it open!
For me, Michael Stackpole made me care about one (very) secondary character Wedge Antilles and his group of heroes. Mr. Stackpole made the Star Wars galaxy his own and created some of the best characters and most compelling story’s written within the Star Wars franchise. He made those of us who read his novels feel the depth of the Star Wars galaxy by completely staying away form the “traditional” heroes and heroines of the Star Wars mythos, and letting us experience other characters who had compelling stories to be told. It is my opinion, that the best Star Wars novels were penned by Mr. Stackpole, beginning with his X-wing books and culminating with his novel, ‘I Jedi’. If you are a Star Wars fan and have not read his X-wing series, please do. It is well worth the time.
One last thing regarding Mr. Stackpole, he is the only celebrity that I have ever asked for an autograph from, and of course I had to have him sign my hardcover edition of I, Jedi. A personal treasure.
It is with my humble appreciation that Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole return to Dragon*Con in 2010. Their contribution to the Star Wars mythos has been invaluable.
Gentlemen, my sincere thanks for the hours of entertainment you have provided so many of us.
Serv – Great post! I agree with everything you wrote here. Their books showed the world that there was still life and new adventures to be enjoyed in that galaxy far, far away.
The fact that they embraced the West End Games stuff just made it that much better.
Finally, without Zahn’s books I’m not sure we would have become lifelong friends. “Dark Force Rising” was the ice-breaker for us. Glad you’re my brother.