Face To Face With The Masters
Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.
Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+
R. A. Salvatore
December 1999, by Helen Keier
Part 2 of 4
This is Part 2 of our multi-part interview with R. A. Salvatore. Click Here for Part 1 of this interview!
Our own Helen Keier recently had the pleasure of meeting R. A. Salvatore
at a book signing in New York. After the meeting, she was fortunate
to be able to chat on the phone for quite a while with Salvatore. This
is the first in a multiple part interview with the author of Vector Prime. The interview below is transcribed directly from the tape of the conversation. This is probably one of the most in depth and honest interviews we've posted on the site, and we very much appreciate Helen and Salvatore for taking the time on it.
Salvatore has visited the TF.N forums and even addresses
particular concerns, praises, questions, and criticisms. Also, when
you're done here, be sure to visit
On with the interview!
Be warned that spoilers from the Vector Prime novel are discussed openly in this interview. If you haven't read the book, go read it, then come back here!
TF.N: Let's get to the big one.
RAS: The big one?
TF.N: The big one.
RAS: You're not going for the science first? Damn, I was all
ready for that one.
TF.N: Ok. We'll talk about the science. How would you address
some of the
criticisms that the science of Vector Prime wasn't accurate?
RAS: Ok. Which particular parts? I've heard everything from how
can a staff
block a lightsaber to how can you inject energy and cool something
down? ...I don't
know if you're familiar with them... but I've been questioned on this
on emails. Pick one
and I'll answer it.
TF.N: How does Kyp manage to keep his ship together in hyperspace
when it's just
falling apart whereas physics should have dictated that this ship
RAS: Everything that happened with Kyp, on that journey back
from the wipe-
out of his Dozen and Two, came straight from documentation of the Star
Encyclopedia, the Essential Guides, and previous material. I don't
remember the exact
specifics, but every thing that happened in that journey, when he lost
the canopy and the
way he flew after he lost the canopy, every bit of it, came right out
of those manuals. I
was very careful to follow along with the reasoning, the logic,
and the precedents
of those books. Again, I don't know the specifics on that flight, when
he was in
hyperspace, when he wasn't. But everything that happened there came
right out of the
material I was given...about the things a Jedi can do while flying, the
trance if you will,
and what you can or can not do without canopy. Every bit of it.
That's my only defense
on that one because honestly I don't know if you can fly in hyperspace
without a canopy
or not. I don't remember that he did, but if he did, I don't know if
you can or not. In fact,
I don't think he did. He came out of hyperspace.
TF.N: He made tiny, short jumps because he didn't think it could
last the whole
RAS: Right... and that was right out of the manual if you will,
on what you can
and can't do.
TF.N: I'll admit I read VECTOR PRIME a couple times already. I
find as much difficulty with the science because...Star Wars and
Science Fiction in
general...[is] a very different kind of world...
RAS: Of course it's a very different kind of world.
TF.N: ...and some of the laws of science that apply here on Earth
going to apply there.
RAS: Right. Right. One of my other ones was how can a staff
lightsaber, if a lightsaber is pure energy? I guess my answer to that
is how can a
lightsaber block a lightsaber? How could Luke in THE EMPIRE STRIKES
BACK use his
lightsaber to parry the items that Darth Vader was telekenesing at him
on the railway?
RAS: Luke was parrying those. How could he, if it's just
energy? Why didn't
he shear right through and get hit by two pieces? How could Darth
Vader parry Luke's
blade and bring the both over to the side and they crash down on the
didn't they shear right through, keep going, and cut right through the
walkway as well?
TF.N: That's an interesting point, because if someone's going to go
to a very deep
level of detail, in the ESB novelization, Yoda makes a point of Luke
being able to cut
multiple pieces through rods that he throws at him. So...
RAS: So maybe it's in the control of the wielder. I know
there's an explanation
of why it doesn't work on the Vong living creatures and it's got to do
transfer, but I don't know that explanation. ...One of the editors told
[that]...That's a very ambiguous thing through the movies. When Darth
Vader gets rid of
Ben Kenobi, he does not shear that cloak into two pieces. The cloak
folds down to the
floor. Do you remember that?
TF.N: Yes. Yet Darth Maul is cleaved in half.
RAS: Did he get cleaved in half?
TF.N: [In] the very, very last scene [of the fight between Qui-Gon
Kenobi and Darth Maul in TPM], as he's falling down the pit, Darth Maul
is cut in half,
with a lightsaber.
RAS: Darth Maul is cut in half, but when Darth Vader took out
Ben Kenobi, the
cloak just kind of falls down to the floor. Why didn't it just shear
right through? That's a
TF.N: So would you say then...more than being ambiguous, it's just
not possible to
explain some of these things? Some of the science [in VP]?
RAS: Yeah, I would say that exactly, particularly when you're
talking about a
lightsaber. I know that there was a scene - I think it was in one of
books - where...[it's] described how a lightsaber works, but...a
lightsaber can't work, by
any mechanics or physics that I know of. To contain that amount of
energy into a form
like that, even through movement and impact...makes no physical or
logical sense to
me, but it happens. Again, it is ambiguous. I saw them cutting
through the door in
PHANTOM MENACE, right? They cut right through the hatch with the
did it take them as long as it did? Why wasn't it one clean swipe and
the hatch falls
TF.N: The Stackpole book you're referring to is I, JEDI...
RAS: I read that.
TF.N: ...when the character Corran Horn builds his own.
RAS: That's right. That's where I read that. One other thing
on the lightsabers
is I was instructed to stay away from them...
RAS: ...in terms of creation and description, because...the
creation of a
lightsaber had become such a ritual, and it had been done too many
times. ...[I was
instructed] don't show the creation of any lightsabers and don't get
too much into the
description of lightsabers, only because there's all sort of things
going on now,
with...[why] Darth Maul's was red, why should Leia's be red, and things
was a decision I don't think anyone was prepared to make...In the
weren't that important, in terms of color and things like that. Now
have taken on an importance, and I don't know if that's sorted out at
any level at this
point. I haven't heard any sorting of it. So I was instructed to stay
TF.N: That's an interesting point. Would you say the importance
lightsabers something from Lucasfilm, or is it something that's come
out of the fan
RAS: I think it's come out of the fan community more than
be 100% wrong about that. Probably [am].... I know when I wrote my
first book one of
the best scenes was the creation of Wulgar's magical hammer,
that authors like doing things...[such as the creation of lightsabers],
so maybe some of
the authors have...[included them]. I know Mike Stackpole did in I,
ritualistic, important events [as part of] the creation of the
lightsaber. It's like the
samurai sword, [and] the wrapping of the metal. With the samurai
sword...[there is a]
whole ritual involved in creating a sword for a Samurai. It is an
exciting thing, so I
suspect it's a little of both. ...[The color of a character's]
lightsaber...never struck me as
important until I was told don't really get into those kind of
TF.N: It is portrayed in several of the novels as a right of
passage for a new Jedi to
build his lightsaber...
TF.N: ...and to some extent, it would have been out of place in VP.
You don't have
the companion event of someone achieving Jedi status or Jedi Knight
building a lightsaber would have fit in the story...[However, the
creation of a lightsaber]
is given a [certain] level of detail and description [in the EU]. In
CHILDREN OF THE JEDI, she goes into detail about the shells of
crustaceans that are
built into the handle of Callista's lightsaber, and that it's yellow.
TF.N: So I tend to believe it is both ways, it is from the fan
community, and from
some of the authors. It's a neat little thing to talk about.
RAS: Sure it is...I'm just not sure that everyone's sorted that
out, what the
implications of all of that are yet, in terms of :"Oh my God... Leia
had a red blade, so did
Darth Maul! It must be an evil sword!" I don't think anyone's sorted
out all those
TF.N: I guess I just know too many of the details too. The reason
Leia has a red
lightsaber is because it was actually built for her by Luke and Luke
gave it to her.
RAS: Right. I knew that... Now, with the Darth Maul character,
of the red lightsaber, I think, has changed a little bit.
TF.N: ...Vader's was also red. I can see where that goes.
RAS: Of course, the big science question is the destruction of
TF.N: So how did the gravity well work?
RAS: Oh, you're talking about Sernpidal, the dovin basal?
That's from a
science fiction movie of the 1950s, where scientists stumble upon...an
I don't remember if it was under the North Pole. Probably was
[because] that's where
they usually find them. They found out that the propulsion system of
this ship was
actually the ability to lock on to gravitational fields from as far
away as they wanted to.
They could pick a star and isolate that gravitational field. I don't
remember the name of
the movie. Excellent movie...[The use of gravity fields] was how the
TF.N: Was including this in VECTOR PRIME your idea, or something
RAS: No, that was my idea. I thought the dovin basals as a
propulsion, along with solar sails, was needed. Remember, I couldn't
[and] wasn't going
to use technology with the Vong. I can't have jellyfish puffing and
huffing and puffing
because they're pushing into a vacuum, so they're not really pushing
anywhere. I don't know how else that these ships could get around. I
don't have a clue
as to how else these ships could have gotten around without using some
kind of gravity
well, unless I had creatures that ate other creatures for fuel, or ate
fuel and lit fires out
their butts...So when the...dovin basal is down the hole and pulling
down the moon, it's
locking onto the gravity of the planet and focusing a segment of that
directly upon the moon. Can it be done? I don't know. I suppose the
answer to that lies
in the...gravity well mechanics of a lightsaber. If you can figure out
exactly how to shape
that energy blade using force fields, gravity wells, [or] whatever
you're using, then I
suppose you'll have the answer to how the dovin basal did it. But of
course you can't,
because it's Star Wars.
TF.N: So what is the big science question of VP?
RAS: The big science question is how did they freeze the
TF.N: So, how did they do it?
RAS: ...I saw this on [The Discovery Channel] right around the
same time I was
plotting VP. I was thinking how can I have a Death Star-like ending,
because we really
wanted a Death Star-like ending...Scientists had actually approached
absolute zero in a
laboratory, to the point of molecular breakdown. It's called the
effect...The way they super-cooled...to that level of molecular
breakdown was through
evaporation, which is the highest form of energy stealing that we have.
Could you then
reflect yammosk energy at the vapor field around an ice planet to
and freeze the planet? Probably not, but at least in theory, it's been
done. To some
thermal dynamics people that makes no sense, unless you go look at
Bose...Again, it's Star Wars, it's not 2001, A Space Odyssey. How does
make the jump to lightspeed, and if ships as small as an X-Wing have
the power to
make that jump, why was the Death Star such a big deal? Do you realize
energy you have to be talking about? If you can harness that kind of
something as small as an X-Wing the Death Star should have just been a
TF.N: I think you're going to send people rushing to find out what
Wave effect is.
RAS: It's on the Net. They can look it up. I looked it up
several times before I
wrote the book...Again, could you use the Einstein-Bose wave effect and
Jupiter's moon? I doubt it very much, any more than you could fire
flame out the back of
your engine and jump to lightspeed.
TF.N: The big controversy. Chewie's death.
TF.N: Part I think of the reaction to this is, as I said to Michael
Stackpole in the
interview with him, is that people don't understand large events are
Lucasfilm. You can't put anything in a novel, a comic book, anything
about Star Wars,
without it being approved by their licensing division. I think some of
the criticisms of
RAS: Chewie's death was approved of at a higher level than the
TF.N: How high?
RAS: How high? How high can you go in Star Wars?
TF.N: Would you say the idea originated that high?
TF.N: Where do you think the idea of Chewie's death originated?
RAS: My understanding...[was] that in those meetings to put
together NJO, an
awful lot was bantered about. How do we put tension in these novels?
Who do we
kidnap next? Who's got the new superweapon?...I've seen a lot of
cynical remarks and
posts [suggesting] that this was a marketing decision designed to sell
books. That's a
whole different issue. Of course you design things to sell books.
This was not a
gimmick. If it was a gimmick, it was a gimmick in the way to say to
people this is
different. Nothing is sacred anymore. Be scared. You should be very
decision was made - and now I've spoken with Mike Stackpole at length
on this because
he was in those meetings - and Mike...assured me...after I found out
what had to be in
the novel...that this was done because the tension was gone. You knew
were untouchable. If you know characters are untouchable, it's much
harder to put
people on the edge of their seats.
I'm going to go back to a show that premiered in the early 80s. It was
called TOUR OF
DUTY. It was about Vietnam, and the appeal of that show was that week
characters that you thought were stars on the show, would be killed, or
shipped home, and they'd be out of the show. It was an amazing
departure from what
you expect on shows where you have 10 stars, who each make $500,000 an
and you know they're not going anywhere [because] they're the star
power that drives
the show. TOUR OF DUTY didn't do that until the end. In the next to
last season, two
of the characters became untouchable...That show lasted one more season
didn't have the ratings to continue. It didn't have the ratings to
continue because the
tension was gone. You knew when LT and Sarge were put in the most
situation at the end of an episode that they would get out of it the
I think...[the] decision [to kill Chewie] was a painful one for
everybody in that room, [who
are] people who love this Star Wars galaxy as much as, or more than
anybody out there
reading the books. But they decided that we had to make the point
clear that when [the
main characters are] in a fight, you really should be on the edge of
your seat. In any
book, at any time, someone could go. My understanding is they then
with this, and he okayed it.
[When] I signed to do the book, I had no idea this was going to be in
the book. If I had
known at the beginning, it would have been much harder for them to get
me to sign...
Not because I love Chewie, but...because I don't want to be known as
the author who
killed Chewbacca. I've got a lot of other credits to my name that I'd
rather be known for.
However, when I was presented with it, my initial reaction was "Here's
back." Several phone calls later, I came to understand, and agree
with, the decision
that it was time to shake things up. It's time to put people on the
edge of their seats.
At the end of Star Wars, the first one, I really thought Han was going
away. I really did.
When [Han] was protecting Luke and Luke went down there and the Death
up, I thought Han was going away, but he didn't. He could've and I
knew he could've,
because it was a movie, and it made it that much more enjoyable for me.
Now, was [the
decision to kill Chewbacca] a smart move or not a smart move? We're
going to find out,
and the way we're going to find out, [is the way] every reader is going
to find out for
themselves when they're reading the future books and they think someone
going. Or indeed someone might be. I don't know. I'm not writing
them. If they're
sitting on the edge of their seats instead of sitting back comfortably,
then that was the
right decision to make. I guess the thing that bothers me about it is
this illusion that it's
some kind of gimmick and serves no plot point, or no plot purpose. Of
course it does,
as much as any death in any book does. Here's why. It is always the
choice of the
author, or the director, or in this case the creator of a work whether
or not to kill a
character. That is always the choice. It is always a choice and you
sit down and make
that decision. Sometimes you make it before you write it and sometimes
you make it as
the story [is] going along, but it is a conscious decision. It doesn't
happen by accident.
Here's a PRIVATE RYAN spoiler warning. Why did Tom Hanks die in that
What plot point did it serve in that movie for him to not get off that
bridge? The plot
points that it served were the emotional impact of the end of that
movie when Private
Ryan was standing by that grave...The plot point that Chewbacca dying
addition to a tension between Han and Anakin that's going to be there,
I believe, [is] guilt
on Anakin's shoulders. A whole new perspective of the way things can
happen to Han
Solo - who didn't believe anyone in that bubble could really die - was
impact of the ending of that novel, when Han Solo's looking at the
baseball cap and
seeing the hair. You can't have that emotional impact if they're all
there cheering and
putting medals on each other, and it's the seventieth time in a row
That's not emotional impact. I agree with the decision. I think it
was a courageous
decision on the part of everyone in that meeting. I know it hurt like
hell because I've
killed favorite characters of my own, and yet they had the guts to go
ahead and do it. I
applaud them for that, and I think it makes for a tenser series as we
TF.N: It's funny. When you were answering that, talking about
emotional tension in
the stories, I recalled one Star Wars rumor that Harrison Ford, at the
end of RETURN
OF THE JEDI, wanted Han Solo to die...
RAS: Right. I've heard that actually...
TF.N: ...for many of the reasons you've just cited. It would make
the story carry
that much more emotional resonance, if Han would have died...The rumor
as I've always
heard it, continues on that there was a first rough cut of RoTJ shown
RAS: And they didn't like it.
TF.N: ...where at the end of RoTJ Lando and Nien Nunb are piloting
the Falcon out
of the Death Star, [and] it actually does explode. The Falcon never
makes it out.
Wedge makes it out in the X-Wing, but then the Falcon doesn't.
seeing this cut of [RoTJ], really didn't like the ending. (Editor - For
the record, all of this was considered, but never filmed. ROTJ
was not screened for audiences.)
RAS: Sure, and I understand that. I also understand the
context of it, but let's
talk about who the Star wars novels are particularly aimed at now.
They are particularly
aimed at people who loved those movies. Those movies are twenty years
was a mistake made at the ranch...[in] the decision that they made to
go ahead and do
this, the mistake was that they over-estimated the sophistication of
TF.N: Do you think they have?
RAS: I hope not...This is funny because we've spent a lot of
time talking about
criticisms of the book. But the truth of it is, and I wanted
particularly to do that in this
interview, where we're on THEFORCE.NET because that was...one of the
boards I was originally guided to when I was coming into Star Wars.
One of the things
Mike [Stackpole] said to me was that you should get a feel for the
community. Now I
think it's been my hugest mistake keeping up with that after the book
came out because
I don't know how representative of the general audience that the small
really is...The only reason I'm saying that is the book is selling like
TF.N: Last time I looked, you were number 9 on the New York Times
fiction best seller list.
RAS: It is still, which is two weeks in advance of now, on the
York Times list...That includes all the big Christmas books that are
coming out. The
book is selling extremely well. My understanding was that it outpaced
in its first weeks
even VISION OF THE FUTURE, and if you can come close to Tim Zahn in
got to be happy with Star Wars....I don't know how representative of
audience the core group is. I'm answering the criticisms of the core
group. I think they
need to be answered, only because now I'm seeing those criticisms
judgments of people who have already made judgments on the book, and
me crazy. The truth of it is...my email cache fills up nightly from
people saying "Wow,
thank you. What a great book." I see twenty of those for every one
that's negative, and
I think on Amazon.com for example, we've got I don't know how many
reviews. I'm sure
it's more than 50, and it's a four star rating. That includes many one
star reviews from
people screaming about the big event. So I'm not sure how
representative that group is
of the general audience that isn't...[so] involved with Star Wars that
they watch the
movies weekly, or read every book that comes out or every comic book
that comes out.
I think there's this big distinction there.
TF.N: It does seem that some of the more sophisticated fans, to use
don't have the same criticisms.
RAS: There are several very, very sophisticated readers out
there that have
incredible criticisms of the book that I've seen.
TF.N: What were some of the criticisms you didn't have a problem
with, that you
maybe thought were valid?
RAS: (long pause) I'm still thinking. The reason I'm saying
that is because any
author ...[who] writes a book gets very used to getting criticism, and
any author that's
been in this business for any amount of time knows...you can't please
all the readers.
You can't. Any author that's involved in a series knows that's even
now you've got people who've got their own visions, and anything of the
series, of the
characters, and anything that you do that deviates from their
perception is going to
cause them grief, and they in turn will cause you grief. Having said
that, [I remember
something said by] my very first editor, Mary Kirchoff, over at TSR. I
ran into the same
problem with my Drizzt series. It's 12 books along, and if I try to do
anything different, a
lot of times I'll be getting an uproar from people. Certain segments
of the audience don't
like the direction shift...I think it's probably the wisest thing I've
heard when it comes to
this new phenomenon of "series." It's a fairly new phenomenon in
literature. Mary said
to me "What they really want is their Drizzt virginity back, and you
can't give that to
them." There's truth in that. Virginity in Star Wars means seeing the
movies for the first
time, and then reading HEIR TO THE EMPIRE, in...[the old] series, which
is why that
series is going to get much, much less flack than subsequent series.
That's a very good
series, by the way. You can't give them back their virginity. You
can't give them back
that feeling they had when the Imperial Star Destroyer crossed that
screen in the
opening of Star Wars: ANH. You can't do that. It doesn't happen.
TF.N: Do you think NEW JEDI ORDER might just come close?
RAS: I think NEW JEDI ORDER is one of the most ambitious and
I have seen in the publishing industry in my entire time in the
publishing industry. A
twenty-plus book series with each one building on the events of the
previous one is an
enormous undertaking. I do not envy the authors of books 17, 18, [or]
21 because it is
going to be a huge undertaking to keep things moving in a consistent
VECTOR PRIME on out. I do not in any shape or form envy the editors of
It is incredibly ambitious and gutsy. It goes against all the safe
conditions of putting
together a series of books. Safe would have said copy what's happened
would have said don't do anything bigger than a trilogy. They chose a
approach. I salute them for it. I am going to read every NEW JEDI
ORDER book. I am
going to make time in my schedule to honestly see...if they can pull
this off. I've written
a five book series. My DARK ELF books are twelve books, but they were
as a twelve book series. I wrote what was planned as a five book
series with my
CLERIC QUINTET. Let me tell you something - on book 4 I was
struggling. It was a lot
of work to get it right through five books, and they're going to do it
for four-plus times
that number. And I'm going to read all those books. For those people
who are going to
read that in this interview, I'm going to put a disclaimer up here
right now because I
know I'm going to see it. For those people who are going to say "He's
company line," there is no company line for me to take. Okay? I do
not work for
Lucasfilm, I am a freelance author. I'm not trying to score any
brownie points here. I
have no reason to score brownie points here. I want to see if they can
pull this off, and
if they can, it's going to be real hard for what comes next to equal
it. So I'm in awe that
they're even trying.
TF.N: You've mentioned [Star Wars] virginity. I was wondering if
VECTOR PRIME, perhaps in newness and the departure it's taking from
Wars books, almost standing the Star Wars Universe on its head, will
some of that sense of wonder?
RAS: That was the hope...I don't think it's going to do that
for people who want
their old EU back. I don't think it's going to do that for people who
want to see Palpatine
come back and fight them again, because they're not going to give it
the chance to do
that...VECTOR PRIME was designed to stand things up on end and spin
real fast. Sure. Will it succeed? I think it has, for a lot of
people. I think it has for a lot
TF.N: What were you most proudest of with VECTOR PRIME?
RAS: That I wrote a Star Wars book, that went through 10
editors - who were
incredibly scrupulous despite what some people may say to the contrary
- who had
certain expectations that had to be there, and that the book went
flying through. That I
pulled it off. As far as specifics in the book? The best part of that
book is the last
TF.N: Han's epilogue?
RAS: Absolutely. In my opinion that is the best part of that
book. I think it
sums up NEW JEDI ORDER very well. I got a call from my editor at Del
Rey, when she
had first read it and she said "I'm crying." I like that. I like
making people cry. I like that
a lot. Why wouldn't I?
TF.N: I'll admit, I sat there numb. I felt a sense of emotional
when you find out something that really takes you by surprise.
RAS: When you read he ending?
TF.N: When I read Chewie's death, and then again when I read the
RAS: The other part of that is...[as] I said before, you can't
blame me for
making the decision to kill him. It wasn't my decision. I was
commanded - with a contract I had signed waved in front my face,
that yeah, I
was really going to do this...I will take responsibility for whether or
death] was done right...That death and the scene immediately afterward
when Han is
just fuming and looking for somebody to punch, I liked the way they
were done. I'm
proud of that. But I still think the ending of that book though, the
last chapter, sums up
NEW JEDI ORDER very well.
TFN: What do you think of the upcoming New Jedi Order books, the
have been chosen, etc.?
RAS: I can't comment about the books, because I don't know. I
know the general story
arc, but I know very little about what goes on after my book...That's
because I want to read them like a reader, instead of like an editor.
Mike Stackpole's books are next. I respect his work tremendously. I really wasn't familiar
with Mike's work until we
did a book signing together down in Mississippi....He had a line and I
didn't have anyone
there, and then I had a line and he didn't have anyone there, so it
gave us both an
opportunity to listen to what people were saying...The comments I heard
to Mike Stackpole were all the right comments that you make to a good
were comments about characters, not about any neat, cute plot twists.
comments about characters, and an author who can do characters right
has to be good.
I've since read some of Mike's work, Star Wars and otherwise. I think
his Star Wars
work is very, very good. I think his non-Star Wars work, [especially]
his Hero series that
he just completed, I believe - I hope he's doing another one - is even
stronger. The guy
"gets" it. He knows what he is doing.
Jim Luceno, I don't know that well. He's been in the business a long
time. I've spoken
with him a few times. His credentials are impeccable. He is
incredibly thoughtful when
we talk, email-wise, and on the phone. Wait, have I talked to Jim? I
don't think I've
even talked to Jim in person, just through emails, but he's incredibly
meticulous and he pays attention to what he's doing, takes pride in
what he's doing. He
knows this galaxy far, far, away. He knew it before most of us did,
and I've heard
nothing but good things about him.
The only other person I'm very familiar with is Troy Denning...Shelly
Shapiro over at Del
Rey got a submittal from Troy Denning. He sent one of his books and
she read it...She
called me up because she knew I knew Troy from our TSR days, and asked
you think of Troy Denning."...I told her she would never meet a more
She said "No, no, what do you think of him as a writer?" I think he is
fantastic. He is
fantastic. Troy Denning, to me, is a writer who has never realized his
potential. He has
written some fantastic books, but I know he that one day in the not too
Troy Denning is going to write a book...I'm going to read that book,
and I'm going to hate
him for ever after, because it's going to be the book I wish I could
write. He is a super,
super writer, and person.
TFN: I can't think of a higher compliment than that.
RAS: Well, I love Troy's work, and it's been a pleasure
working in the FORGOTTEN
REALMS with him all these years. I love his work...There are several
over there in the
FORGOTTEN REALMS whose work I love, but Troy I think, he just hits me
that few authors ever do...I think he is going to be a tremendous
addition to Star Wars...Those
are the only three I really know who've been signed up to do books.
TFN: How do you think they're going to impact Star Wars? What do
they'll bring to it?
RAS: I hope they stay true to the vision of NEW JEDI ORDER. I
hope that Lucasfilm,
and Del Rey and the authors have the guts to finish what they started.
I would hate very much
for them to cop out, clone an Emperor, kidnap some kids, bring Chewie
back, and start writing
the Bantam Doubleday books again...I'm not criticizing the Bantam
Doubleday Dell books, I'm
really not. It's just that they've been done. It's time for something
a little different. They've
started something a little different that could be something
magnificent. I hope that they get by
the screaming people who've had different expectations - always keep in
mind that's a minority
at least in sales as a measure of a book's success - and stay true to
the vision of NEW JEDI
ORDER that was put together up at the ranch in those meetings. If they
do that, when all is said
and done, this is going to be a series that people are going to look
back on and go "WOW".
TF.N: Before we move away from discussing VECTOR PRIME, is there
would care to comment on about NEW JEDI ORDER or VECTOR PRIME, that we
covered thus far?
RAS: We've been pretty thorough. I have gotten away from the
message boards, so I
don't know...the [current discussion of VP] with the exception of the
post someone else directed
me to, [and] ones concerning Mike's interview and the reaction to it -
a very cynical reaction I
might add on the part of some people and they really should take a good
look at themselves
when they make that kind of reaction to someone who is coming on here
and being more candid
than he ever had to be - but when I was directed toward that or to the
post from the person who
had changed "I really like the book, but I saw your criticisms and now
I really can't like the
book" type of thing...[it was] just ridiculous to me. I've gotten away
from the message boards,
and the reason I have is I came to realize those message boards aren't
for me. Those message
boards are for the people who want to voice their opinion and want to
scream and want to be
right and will go to great lengths to prove they're right. I do have a
problem with the Internet in
general and a problem with the proprietizing of series's...What I mean
by that is that you can like
or not like any book or movie that you choose to like or not like but
always you should keep in mind that it's not your book, or your
movie. It's someone else's.
The level of assumption that I have seen on these boards, turned into
fact, leading to errant
conclusion, is amazing to me. There is a novel just in writing reviews
of message boards. I've
seen it on all kinds of message boards. People make a comment and then
that comment, which
is an opinion or a guess, is subsequently turned into fact.
I have been told that my Vong creatures come from everything from the
Zergans in Starcraft to
GI Joe, The Movie, with 10 other movies [thrown in]. [Some claim] "You
took these right from
this movie", and on a Bible I'll tell you, I hadn't seen any of the
movies they're talking about. I
heard someone else tell me that the yammosk was too much like the bug
thing in Starship
Troopers. The yammosk was nothing like the bug. That is one movie I
did see, but it was
nothing like the bug thing from Starship Troopers...I got asked this in
a chat the other night, and
I didn't answer it truthfully. Someone asked me if there are any
inside jokes in VECTOR
PRIME, like spelling someone's name backwards and making a different
name out of it. There
was one inside joke in VECTOR PRIME, and I don't generally like inside
jokes, which is why I
just said there weren't any. But there was one inside joke in VECTOR
TF.N: What was it?
RAS: It has always struck me as very funny that the name of the
water planet is Mon
Calamari. As an Italian, that makes me howl, because calamari is my
favorite appetizer. So the
yammosk is not the bug thing from Starship Troopers. The yammosk is
a giant squid.
TF.N: (Helen laughs) Because of Mon Calamari?
RAS: That's where I got the idea. I love calamari.
Whenever we go to
restaurants with friends, we say "Uh, are we going to get appetizers?
Oh yeah, we'll get
appetizers." As soon as my wife opens the menu, "Oh, they've got
calamari. We've got
to get that for Bob."
TF.N: Fried, with a little marinara on the side?
RAS: Absolutely... absolutely!
TF.N: I'm not Italian myself...
RAS: It's not the bug thing from Starship Troopers. As to it
being the Zerg in Starcraft?
In truth, if you look at the Yuuzhan Vong, they're more like the
Protoss than the Zerg. Maybe
they use...their own Zerg weaponry, if you will. Starcraft is a very
cool game. I have to give a
plug for my friends over at Blizzard and Starcraft. It is a very cool
game. It is the one game that
makes me late for deadlines. The Vong would be more like the Protoss,
but they're not really
based on that either. The Vong are based on many of the warrior
cultures of our own world.
TF.N: Like which?
RAS: [Such as] the Norse [and] the American Indians, several
different tribes. Battle is
exalted and worshiped in many of our cultures. I saw a long
dissertation on the boards months
ago, when the book first came out about the Vong, and comparing them to
the Romans. I'm sure
to the people the Romans conquered there is that comparison to be made.
They seem like this
dispassionate force that just overwhelms them, without rhyme or reason.
For the Vong, warfare
is religious. It is sacred. Scars denote rank.
TF.N: That was one element of the novel that personally, I think I
latched onto, for lack of a
better word...It seemed very clear to me that a completely different
culture was being
portrayed...I personally thought that came through very clearly.
RAS: Well, I think the culture of the Vong is an extreme
version of cultures we've seen
on Earth. I mean, one of the highest things you can do is put your own
eye out for the Gods of
war. That's insane.
Click here for Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4