Against the Sith
|Title:||Against the Sith|
|Publisher:||Nancy Duncan and Tracy Duncan out of Eugene, OR|
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Against the Sith is one of the first Star Wars zines. It contains stories by multiple authors, has black and white and color covers, interior illustrations by various fan artists, letters of comment and articles. It ran for nine issues from April 1978 to October 1980.
From a 1979 ad in The Clipper Trade Ship #24: "A fanzine devoted to STAR WARS: stories, articles, art, serial, and always plenty of surprizes! [sic]."
In the spring of 1980, the editors proposed, via an ad in Pastaklan Vesla #6, a Star Wars information zine called "Alliance Intelligence" about the actor activities, news clippings, ads, interview transcripts, and reviews. This zine was never published.
The two editorials in the last issue of "Against the Sith" gives no hint that it was to be the last issue.
Its Place in Star Wars Zine History
- Hyper Space (fiction and non-fiction) ties with The Force (non-fiction) as the first Star Wars zines published (both June 1977)
- Warped Space #26/27 (July 1977) cover was a Star Wars one, artist was Gordon Carleton
- Warped Space #28 published the first Star Wars story in a multimedia zine in July 1977
- Moonbeam #3 (fiction)  and the letterzine, Alderaan, were both published in February 1978
- Against the Sith (fiction and non-fiction) and Skywalker (fiction) were published in April 1978, though Against the Sith beat Skywalker by a few weeks.
Description from an Ad
"A fanzine devoted to Star Wars and focusing on the relationships between the three human characters as derived directly and solely from the evidence presented in the film." 
A 1981 Interview
The "Eugene Register-Guard," a newspaper in Oregon, ran an article about the Duncans and "Against the Sith."
Tracy and Nancy Duncan “… found themselves immersed in the printing, copyrights, postal regulations, and layout…. Neither sister was prepared for the mass of decisions, details, and work. “We didn’t know how much it would cost or how to print it – it was like a shot in the dark,” says Nancy. “But I like to experiment,” adds Tracy, “ and I thought I’d have fun with it.”
The sisters drew $200 from their savings, found a printer, wrote copy, wrestled with reluctant typewriters, and chose a name for their joint effort. In April 1978, “Against the Sith” joined the ranks of existing Star Wars fanzines… One of only three Star Wars fanzines when it was begun, “Against the Sith” is now the longest running of the 10 magazines currently being published. Its 200 subscribers contribute artwork, cartoons, critical commentary, fiction and poetry. Star Wars creator Lucas himself is on the subscription list.
In the past two years, the Duncans have published seven magazines and one special issue –roughly one magazine every three months. “A lot of fanzines are like anthologies,” says Tracy. “I wanted to put out magazines with a variety of material – like a real magazine.” As a consequence, “Against the Sith” contains features carefully selected from the contributions of readers. Although many of their competitors publish everything submitted to them, the Duncans screen material, printing only half the copy sent to them.
Tracy and Nancy believe they have an edge over other fanzine producers because there are two of them working together in the same house. “We work great together, “ says Tracy, “and we depend on each other for help and suggestions. I wouldn’t be able to do it without Nancy.” Production of each issue takes about one month. The sisters share most chores equally, although at first, laughs Tracy, “I made Nancy do most of the typing.” Between issues, they plan, correspond with contributors, keep up with other fanzines, and record subscription requests…The July issue of “Against the Sith” will deal exclusively with “The Empire Strikes Back.” Since their first elegant viewing, the Duncans have seen Empire seven times, but they don’t like to compare it to its predecessor. “They’re like two parts of a whole,” says Tracy. “Empire is like the second act.”… Like other followers of the Star Wars phenomenon, Nancy and Tracy Duncan are looking forward to further acts in the drama… It’s a saga Tracy and Nancy Duncan have not tired of. As long as others share that interest, they say “Against the Sith” will continue to be an important part of their lives.” 
The zine folded after The Duncan Scandal
Against the Sith 1 was published in April 1978 and is 24 pages.
- Escape from Vestarine by Tracy & Nancy Duncan (20 pgs) (The Rebels strike against the Empire in more ways that one.)
- Man's Best Friend by Nancy Duncan (10 pgs) (Han got a lot more than he bargained for on a lawless planet.)
- Change (poem] by Tracy Duncan (1 pg)
- A Glossary, part one
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1
This is a first effort by Tracy and Nancy Duncan, and everything inside this zine is written, drawn, or perpetrated in one way or another by one of the two sisters. In all there is a lot of room for improvement in a number of small areas, but I probably could not have produced anything as good-looking for my first publishing effort. There are only two major stories inside; "Han's Best Friend," written by Nancy, is a short, but charming story of one way in which Han and Chewbacca meet and become comrades. "Escape from Vestarine," written by both authors, is a longer story that will be continued in subsequent issues of this zine. There are a few different sub-plots going on through this story which interrelate well. I suppose the major action revolves around Luke's mission to the planet Vestarine in order to find dissidents at the Empire's space academy who wish to join the rebel forces. On his way there, however, he is stopped and searched by the commander of an Imperial ship. Princess Leia is discovered as a stowaway and is taken prisoner. Luke continues on his mission to Vestarine, returns the new recruits to the new rebel base and then takes off immediately to find Leia. Of course there are other characters involved in other things. Leia, Han, Darth and a few others all get their chance at a part of the story. The rest of the zine contains a varied selection of small features, editorials, trivia quizzes, and even a Star wars Lexicon which goes up through D in the alphabet, and to be continued in other issues. All in all the zine is a fair effort for a first try. It might have been better with some outside material and better visuals. Gratefully Tracy and Nancy managed to make everything legible, which many first-time zines can't claim. It should be interesting to see how the zine progresses and improves.
I never really got into the fanzine "scene." What little I knew about those fan-to-fan publications came from articles in the book Star Trek Lives! and Starlog magazine. However, on an impulse, I packed two bucks into an envelope and ordered the first issue of a Star Wars 'zine called Against the Sith out of the Starlog classifieds back in '78.T he first issue is pretty amateurish, if ambitious, with a couple of fan fiction pieces, a poem or two, and some scratchy illustrations. One of the stories purported to tell of Han Solo & Chewbacca's first meeting! The issue also includes a pretty harsh review of Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye - young Nancy Duncan was quite put out by the absence of Han Solo, it seems. Looking through it again tonight, I note with some amusement that the issue is dedicated to "Ficus, our favorite vegeton," from Quark! As a kid,though, I thought Against the Sith was rather marvelous, and it did inspire me to "publish" my own short-lived (and essentially uncirculated outside of some supportive relatives) 'zine, Outer Space/Inner Mind, which was more of a general sci-fi mag.
Against the Sith 2 was published in July 1978 and is 36 pages long.
- The Noble Servant by Tracy Duncan (7 pages)
- The Truth About Yavin by Nikki White (4 pgs)
- Crash on Zanderine by Nancy & Tracy Duncan (20 pgs)
- Songs for the Exiled (poem) by Candace Wiggins
Against the Sith 3 was published in January 1979 and contains 32 pages.
- editorials by Tracy and Nancy Duncan (2)
- Parsecs (2)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (5)
- The Corellian Factor by Nikki White (6)
- Star Wars Holiday Special - review by Nancy (8)
- Wedding March by Susan Matthews (9)
- One Morning for E.V.L. 2 by Gail Courtney (11)
- A Visit with the Cantina Aliens by Tracy (12)
- Painful Memories, Future Dreams by Melanie Dickson (14)
- Two Heroes, One Purpose bt Tract (16)
- Darth Vader's Christmas by Paula Nutter (19)
- John William's Discography by Bob Buchtel (19)
- Discovery on Seytan by Tracy (29)
- zines (29)
- Star Wars Lexicon (30)
- Thee Contest (31)
- Seduction (31)
- Kenobi's Calling by Robert Frazier (32)
- Darth Vader by M.R. Little (32)
- art by L.A. Adolf, Robert Frazier, Angela-Marie Varesano (cover), Irene Loughlin (inside front and back covers), Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan and Becky Aulenbach
Against the Sith 4 was published in April 1979 and is 44 pages. It is offset reduced.
- Bunkies by L.A. Adolf (4 pgs) (Luke and Han must share a bed for the night when no double accommodation is available.)
- The Chosen One (poem) by Tracy Duncan (3 pgs) ("An epic style poem using the above theme." ["Princess Leia -- Should She Ever Have Been Liberated"])
- The Brothers by Tracy Duncan (2 pgs)
- Mission to Ashderaan by Nancy Duncan (36 pgs) (Leia and a female acquaintance of Han's find themselves in the midst of a confusing triangle of emotions on the eve of a great battle for freedom from the Empire's oppression on Chewbacca's home plane, where Luke and Han have been enslaved. Continued in the next issue.)
- From the Journal of the Whills by Ross Johnson (2 pgs)
- an article called "Princess Leia -- Should She Ever Have Been Liberated" by Tracy Duncan ("An in-depth look at a less than admirable heroine. Speculates on why she is what she is.")
- poetry, cartoons, art
Against the Sith 5 was published in July 1979 and is 48 pages long.
- editorial by Nancy and Tracy (2)
- Parsecs by Nancy (2)
- more zines (3)
- Comlink (4-6)
- Forum (7)
- The Prometheus Pattern by Winston A. Howlett (8) (a new look at an old story)
- A Review by Bob Buchtel (10)
- zine businesss (10)
- Reflections from a Maintenance Workshop by M.H. Loughlin (10)
- Map of Tatooine by Ross Johnson (11) (graphic)
- Stars End, Good Solo, Fair Plot by Nancy (12)
- The Stars in Our Hearts, a Critical Commentary on George Lucas by Denis Wood (14) (article)
- Thee Contest (18)
- After the Battle by Anne Davenport (19) (contest winner)
- Payoff by Curtis Cole (21) (contest winner)
- Something Nasty This Way Comes by Bob Buchtel (23) (Mork meets Vader.)
- Han and Chewie Centerspread by Beckey Aulenback (24)
- Battle on Wooka by Nancy and Tracy (26) (a continuation of "Mission to Ashderaan" in the previous issue—Luke, Leia, Han and company battle the evil foe on the Wookiee's home planet in an effort to liberate the region for the Rebel Alliance and the forces of Good)
- Many Mourned Moff, Services Held Today by Empire Times (47)
- The Attack, Twin Suns by Scot Noel (48)
- art by Beckey Aulenbach (centerfold of Han and Chewie), Anne Davenport (inside back cover), Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan, Jon Heilman, Ross Johnson, Dave Smith and Angela-Marie Varesano (front cover)
Against the Sith 6 was published in November 1979 and is 48 pages long.
- Maybe George Will Kill Us (Includes 3 cartoons) (3 pages)
- Del-Ac Model Ii Freedom Fire (Article and illustrations) (1.5 pages) We So Love Our Dolls
- The Empire Strikes Back Special Section
- (1) Cast and Credits
- (2) Slide Show (1/2 page)
- (3) Daniels Speaks (1/2 page)
- (4) Preview Trailer (1 page)
- (5) Behind The Baron—It’s Billy Dee (1/2 page)
- (6) Bibliography (1/2 page)
- (7) George Lucas Meets The Force or Not Only The Empire Strikes Back (2 pages)
- (8) Ken Do—The Jedi Way (1 page)
- At The Rebel Base (22 pages)
Against the Sith 7 was published in March 1980 and is 40 pages long.
- editorial by Nancy and Tracy (2)
- contributor info (3)
- PARSECS (3)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (6)
- Little Boy Lost by Laura M. Campbell (7) (Luke, at age 8, is quite determined to find adventure.)
- more zines (10)
- The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly by Tim Blaes (11)
- More Marvel Star Was and The Long Hunt - a review by Bob Buchtel (13)
- A Revelation According to Han by Lee Kottner, art by A-M Varesano (14) (Han learns that there is a power beyond the blaster, as he and Luke confront Darth Vader in a terrifying duel.)
- Revenge by Gene Trumbo, art by P. Nutter (18) (Vader and his fellow Dark Lords hatch evil plans with Emperor Palpatine to destroy the rebels once and for all.)
- STOP the Action! by Nancy (17)
- Darth Vader by Paula Nutter (centerspread)
- At the Rebel Base, part 2 by Tracy, art by Nancy (22) (The continued goings on of Luke, Han, Leia, Wedge, and the rest of the personnel on the snowy planet Hoth before the Empire strikes back.)
- What Every Woman Should Have by Nancy, art by Tracy (22)
- Son of Something Nasty or Mr. Bill Meets Darth Vader by Bob Buchtel (38)
- Thee Contest (38)
- Alliance Intelligence (39-40)
- art by Anne Davenport, Paula Nutter (cover), Angela-Marie Varesano (inside front cover), Nancy and Tracy (back cover)
Against the Sith 8 was published in Summer 1980 and is 45 pages long.
- Reflections On The Empire Strikes Back (Article) (1 page)
- The Mythmakers: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Gary Kurtz and Lawrence Kasdan (2 pages)
- Galactic Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels (2 pages)
- Luke Skywalker Visits The Forbidden Planet (Article) (1 page)
- What The Critics Think: Rona Barrett and Gene Shalit, (1 page)
- Mark & Harry Visit TODAY (2 pages)
- John Williams (1/4 page)
- Production Of A Saga (1&1/2 pages)
- Meet The Magicians: Norman Reynolds (Production Designer), Peter Suschitzsky (Cinematographer), Paul Hirsch (Film Editor), Brian Johnson (Special Visual Effects), Richard Edlund (Special Visual Effects), Robert Watts (Associate Producer), Ralph McQuarrie (Design Consultant & Conceptual Artist), Stuart Freeborn (Make-Up Supervisor), John Mollo (Costume Designer), Ben Burtt (Sound Effects Editor), Dennis Murren (Effects Director Of Photography) and Harrison Ellenshaw (Matte Painting Supervisor) (2 pages)
- An Excerpt From Once Upon a Galaxy—A Journal On the Making Of The Empire Strikes Back (1/2 page)
- Frank Oz (1/4 page)
- Our Heroes Return: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO and R2-D2 (3 pages)
- Most Wanted: Dead Or Alive—Luke Skywalker (1 page)
- That’s Impossible (Question if Darth Vader is really Luke’s father) (5 pages)
- A Fannish Adventure or Who Did You Say Was Striking Back? (1 page)
- Subject: Giant Space Slug (1 page)
- The 6th Contest Final Nominees (1 page)
- Novel Review: Star Wars Lives! (2 pages)
- Preview Trailer 2 (1/2 page)
- Comics: A Review Of The Marvel Super Special Magazine) (1/2 page)
- A Shocking Expose (1 page)
- Bibliography (1/2 page)
- Album Notes: Sounds Of The Empires (3 pages)
- Empire Jazz (1/2 page)
- Secrets Of The Force (3 pages)
- The Tao That Can Be Spoken (2 pages)
- The Miraculous Birth Of Luke Skywalker (1 page)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 8
Issue #8 was great. Everyone really has some interesting speculations. I do have some comments to make on this myself, but first three cheers for [S S's] letter '. I'm glad I'm not the only person crusading for Luke and Leia's future together. Well said . . I'm not sure I could have calmed myself down enough to put it into words. This is my biggest complaint about EMPIRE, aside from the obvious cliff hanger ending - that Luke and Leia still haven't gotten it together. As for Han and Leia - well, I can buy into the fact Han loves Leia a lot easier than the fact Leia loves Han, which I still, despite Carrie Fisher's wonderful performance, cannot believe. I believe she felt something, but not love.
Against the Sith 9 was published in October 1980 and is 48 pages long. While this was the last issue, there is no hint in either editorial of this zine's demise.
- editorials by Nancy and Tracy (2) (Some of Tracy's editorial is all about how much she dislikes Leia, tolerates Han, and adores Luke): I could see in black and white why it is impossible for me to admire the character of Princess Leia, and why I conversely admire Luke so much. People keep saying, "Oh, but Leia's strong and independent." But these qualities are optional. What counts is what's in the heart. Leia's just not someone I can look up to because she's not better than myself, or probably than any of you... It has nothing to do with her being dedicated, courageous, or tough. It has to do with her being mean.... Just because she's in my favorite movie (STAR WARS) and is put up as a heroine doesn't mean I have to like her. I can't. I hope she's given only a cameo role at best in the next STAR WARS film, a scene at the end, perhaps. Thank goodness she can be easily ignored in TESB.") [Nancy's editorial suggests that she'd like to see some some sexual situations for Luke] "We could use a little warmth, tenderness and passion to offset the harsh realities of the War. TESB proved that not only fanfiction has a monopoly on the get 'em story. Maybe we'll quit hearing all those outcrys over blood and mayhem in the future. After all, what's good enough for Lucas... Then there's that other staple of fanfic—the lay story. All legitimate myths have sex. For ROTJ a nice tasteful PG-rated love scene for Luke—in bed, perhaps? How 'bout it, George? ('m serious). Now that they've shown us what Luke's got, he should have the opportunity to use it (now cut out that giggling.) I know Mark Hamill would approve.
- Parsecs (3)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (7)
- The TESB Run-Off by Jon Heilman (8)
- Thee Sixth and Seventh Contests (9)
- classified ads (9)
- The Death of Star Wars by Tracy Duncan (10) (This is an long, impassioned article explains this fan's relative disinterest with George Lucas' plans regarding further movies. It cites her total alliance with Luke Skywalker, and how any other movie or topic is not, in her opinion, what Star Wars is really about.)
- More Marvel Star Wars by Bob Buchtel (13)
- He and Another by M.C. Loughlin (15)
- The Westercon Survey by Anne Davenport (16)
- What Price, Friendship? by Laura M. Campbell (18)
- I am Jedi by Jacque Fashcing, The Other by M.H. Loughlin (21)
- The Chart Explained by Tracy (23)
- The AtS Virtue-Chart of Heroic Characters (24)
- A Brighter Future by V.J. Nelson (30)
- TESB Premium Products (34)
- A Royal Pain by Nancy (35)
- A Look at Leia and a Look at Luke by Rhonda Fasching (40)
- The Dark Path by Tracy (42)
- TESB Goes Digital by Jon Heilman (44)
- Book Review by Tim Blaes (45)
- more zines (46)
- The Cosmic Destiny of Luke Skywalker (47-48)
- art by Anne Davenport (inside front cover), Steven Fox (front and back covers), Jon Heilman (inside back cover), Irene Loughlin, Carol McPherson, Kathy Moore, Angela-Marie Baresano, Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan
Reactions and Reviews from "Against the Sith": Issue 9
Some excerpts from LoCs in the tenth (and last) issue of "Against the Sith":
The Force? We have the Force! We don't call it that; we call it God. I don't mean for that to sound blasphemous; I believe that God is a man and that his spirit can be with us always if we will but let it.
Now for the greatest controversy since whoever it was shot J.R. Ewing. I'd like to go on record as saying that I don't believe that Darth Vader is Luke's father. Everytime I hear that line, my mind screams, "No, Luke, don't listen to him." To Luke's credit, he doesn't. He would rather throw himself off the ledge and trust his luck to the Force or to fate than to choose the wrong and join the Dark Side. And he does it quite calmly. He knows what he's doing. Luke has the courage of hie convictions. Darth only told him that to get Luke to join the Dark Side, There could never be an alliance between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; the kid's just too powerful for the Dark Lord. Vader would kill him off for sure. You see, Vader is a Satan figure. He'll show his noble side to entice people; he'll even present them with some of the truth. But, it's the part that's not truth that will ultimately prove to be their undoing. Sure, Darth knows what happened to Luke's father . . but he won't tell Luke the truth. He'll plant that seed of doubt in the boy's head and make him doubt Ben, Yoda, and the Force.
Yes, I'd really like to see the article about you in the paper - That must've been fun. Now you're local celebrities! It's nice seeing people who do the whole thing credit get publicity. We live in an area where there are a lot of cons, and the TV crews always turn out - and they never fail to pick the most bizarre people they can find to put before the cameras who then turn around and say even more bizarre things - so all fans come out looking like they're nuts, I'd like to see the rest of us getting equal time, so to speak.
From this corner as to whether TESB was worth the wait? How about a resounding YES, every second of it. The truth is that had you asked me that ques tion upon leaving the theatre for the first time I would have hedged on it. I mean I liked the film immensely but I really didn't fall in love with it until my second viewing later that evening and the next day when I had a chance to sort out my feelings. Not that it was ever a disappointment in any way, if anything it's a film technically superior to SW, but it's lacking slightly in some subtle, undefinr able quality that differentiates a truly great film of the first rank (which I personally consid er SW to be...)... But who could really expect lightning to strike twice...
I had guessed TESB would bring some mixed reactions from SW fans. The movie is flawed. The quantum leap in the Han/Leia relationship is never explained, we're simply presented with some rather adolescent dialogue at the beginning of the film with no background. To be honest, my first suspicion when I saw that scene the first time was, "Oh, they've been sleeping together." (You can see I did not read the book beforehand). Where did Han get the idea the princess cares for him personally as more than a friend? At this point he's never even kissed her.
It's possible that I just don't want Leia to be the way so many people think she is, cuz I really don't want to see a nasty woman in such a wonderful movie. To be perfectly honest, after hearing that George Lucas created a liberated heroine for his movie, then seeing the movie, I thought he was unconsciously trying to put Women's Liberation back several decades: showing libecated women as unfeninine, tough, raucous, etc. et al, and so forth.
OK, let me offer my own speculations. Let's look into the future. Luke will no doubt get married someday. If not to Leia then to someone else, I'm sure. In their wedded bliss the Skywalkers will give birth to a male child. Now, if the Force is truly hereditary (as some have speculated) then Luke's offspring will be the new hope. There! You see, Yoda? It pays to "look into the future."
As to who is the other, I hope it is a new character and hopefully female, perhaps someone for Luke. A lot of people feel it is Leia. Well, I don't think so. She may have heard Luke near Cloud City, but through Luke's power, not hers. Many facts do point towards her, however. She resisted the mind probe on the Death Star, something few people are able to do, has great spirit and strength and through the film kept getting "bad feelings about all this." If she is the other, look out Yoda! He said Luke was angry and impatient? He sure wouldn't like Leia, let alone teach her. Luke would have to do it. Poor Luke, he always gets the dirty work. He is not a Jedi yet, and really not capable to teach. Anyway, after what he's been through he wouldn't want to. Leia can't be the other, Lucas wouldn't do that to us, or would he? Granted he's done a lot of unorthodox things, but Leia isn't the right type for a Jedi. Besides, we need a new female character, and if the other isn't a girl other than Leia, Lucas will hear from me (veiled threat).
Luke Skywalker, in as much as the story/plot has yet been developed, is supposedly an only child, whether that father be Darth Vader or another now dead young Jedi knight. But, what if young Skywalker does indeed have a sibling? Could not this individual, boy or girl, be the other hope? Skywalker's own birth and young life up to the age of 20 is a blank, except for the fact that somehow he came to live with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. It is entirely possible that he was one of twins or that he had a slightly older or younger sibling. And since, at the time of his birth and toddler years the Republic (turned Empire) was in such a period of upheaval, a separation and complete loss of contact or even knowledge of each other is entirely conceivable.
Who is the other? Han? No, Han would deny there is a Force at every turn, so it seems very unlikely that he is the other. Also, he'd have to do a lot of changing as a character to start Jedi training. Lando? Nope, too similar to Han in character. Leia? Somehow I believe her destiny points in another way. Chewbacca? Why not?? But seriously, I think the other will be an entirely new character who will appear in REVENGE OF THE JEDI. Also, I think this character will be a female Jedi, and that she will become the love that Luke has been looking for. Why do I think this? Well, I'm an incurable romantic for one thing I And for another I just love happy endings.
Reactions and Reviews from Other Zines: Issue 9Southern Enclave: -- regarding the "Virtue Chart":
Does anyone remember Against the Sith? Nancy and Tracy Duncan's zine was a text-book on pathological character assassination. Their final issue had a "Virtue Chart" that "proved" Leia was as deplorable as they said she was. The way they had it, Leia was just barely above Vader (she -35, he -39), and Tarkin was better than both of them (-21). Obi-Wan came out the most virtuous, ranking 49 (a perfect score is 50). Y'know I can't help but wonder what they thought of ROTJ. Then again... Why bring this up? Well, lately, I've been having these attacks of deja vu while reading some letterzines. Yes, I've definitely been there before.
Kessel Run: "The following responses were collected in rebuttal to the violent anti-Leia sentiment expressed in Against The Sith #9."
I'm glad you'll be doing an article on Leia. It's time we rose to her defense! First, I really dislike the criticism of her character in SW. I think they're dead wrong. I think they are forgetting they are dealing with a fictional character. What the character does and says is Leia; how she does and says it is the actress who portrays her. There isn't anything wrong with what Leia actually does and says. First, she refuses to be broken by Vader and Tarkin, demonstrating courage, determination and strength. I refuse to apologise for her talking back to the enemy. Then, there's the rescue. There's been a lot of criticism for her reaction. Well,
damn it, if she'd acted any other way, I wouldn't have considered her human. She's been under interrogation, capture and threat of death, she's been forced to watch the destruction of her home and family - and all for one purpose: to get the plans to the Death Star into the hands of the Alliance. Now, along come these two clowns whr did not bother to think of an escape route and, not only are they blowing the rescue to bits, but they've brought the plans back into the hands of the enemy! Everything was for nothing! No wonder she's mad; I would have been furious! Then, on top of everything, there's this damned arrogant Corellian telling her how he amazes himself. There's no doubt that Solo was asking for everything he got! What do her critics want? Perhaps she should have swooned gracefully at Tarkin's feet? Or, kissed the toes of those turkeys bungling the rescue? Even more, I get a feeling that a lot of the resentment stems from the fact that it's a woman behaving in this fashion. Instead of applauding the breakthrough - a strong woman in video SF - they suddenly reveal themselves as Phylis Schafley clones! I believe that Han would have acted in much the same fashion (under the same circumstances) and that he would not have been criticized for it.. Leia has been called selfish, argumentative and cold. Huh? The only people-she argues with are the Empire's minions (three cheers for that) and Han Solo. And, in the first movie she argues with Han because she doesn't like him, while in the second movie she argues with him because she does.Selfish?! suppose that's why she's sacrificing everything for a cause she may not live to see triumph. She could have remained a pampered Princess. If she had not cared about others more than herself, she would still be living on Alderaan. Selfish people do not spend their lives living in caves and constantly on the run. And, cold? Twice in SW, she goes out of her way to try to comfort Luke, a total stranger. In both movies, she treats him with warm affection and deep concern. It's obvious that the Rebellion holds her in high regard and deep affection: witness her welcome She could not be an effective leader if she were truly as her critics claim- no one would follow her. As for Han: well, she argues with him in SW because she thinks he's uncaring and selfish; in TESB, she knows better, but is afraid of her feelings. Afraid, too, of being hurt. She really doesn't know where he stands. A critic asked why, if she cares, she doesn't want him to leave to make his peace with Jabba. Why? Because she's afraid that he won't come back; that she'll lose him. You'll notice that the bitter arguments end after she realizes that he really does care.In short, in Leia we have a strong, dynamic, assertive, intelligent, independent leader - who also happens to be a woman. We really should be cheering about this, but apparently, some fans believe women should either be inspiring Barbie dolls or Machiavellian manipulators behind the throne, as long as they don't try to sit on the throne itself! 
Leia Organa is in some ways the most interesting of the Big Three because she presents something of an enigma. She can't be summed up in one line—"idealistic young hero awakening to his talents" or "cynical smuggler with a heart of gold." Leia's inner emotions and motivations are less obvious than Han's or Luke's, and her actions often give conflicting clues as to the Alderaani Princess' real feelings. This makes her difficult to understand and difficult for some people to like, but it's those quirks, inconsistencies and faults that make Leia a real person.
Leia's strong points are many: she's courageous, decisive and intelligent. She's an administrator, a politician, a diplomat; she can fire a blaster, fly a starship and even work on one, as well. In SW, she undertakes a dangerous mission to get the Death Star plans to the Rebels, courageously defies Imperial villains when captured and stands up to their most sophisticated torture devices without breaking. In TESB, she obviously works long and hard in the command center on Hoth and is one of the last to abandon it when the Imperials enter the base. Her talents must be impressive to land her so many leadership positions at such a tender age. Prior to the beginning of SW, Leia was a member of the Imperial Senate and, apparently, an active one who had been involved in a number of missions for the Senate (Vader says to her, "You aren't on any mercy mission this time." indicating that she had been on mercy missions before.) It seems logical that she may have been on secret missions for the Rebels, as well. At any rate, once the Senate is dissolved, she becomes one of the Alliance's top leaders, and it is apparent that she is no mere figurehead. In TESB, she is working at the command center boards alongside General Rieekan and participating in command decisions on evacuation. It's unlikely that Leia has landed these top positions merely because she is hereditary Princess of Alderaan. That might have carried weight on her own world, but it is doubtful that the Rebels would be too impressed by the royalty of a single world which, at any rate, no longer exists. To keep a leader of a destroyed world around as a symbol would be one thing; to give her a top administrative and decision-making role suggests considerable ability. An impressive young woman, she nonetheless has human faults—impatience, a tendency to take command, a sharp tongue and, in TESB, for a time, an inability to face up to her real feelings. These faults are tempered by very real virtues and are outgrowths of just those vulnerabilities and uncertainties that make Leia so interesting. Leia might be impatient and sarcastic, but she can also show great sympathy and understanding, as she did in SW, particularly with Luke. She might have a tendency to try to take over (and sometimes be very justified in doing so,) but this should be balanced against her willingness to take on heavy responsibilities on her very young shoulders. I personally see Leia's famed sarcasm as her protection against a harsh universe. She uses it that way against Vader and Tarkin. And, Leia has other things to protect herself against besides Imperials. Alife spent in preparing to be a political leader could have left hardly any time to learn much about 'relations between the sexes" and, considering who receives the brunt of most of her famous witticisms, it is possible that Leia's use of her tongue is more in the nature or a defense than an attack. Well, that sort of thing is open to individual interpretation. But, that is what makes Leia such a good character; just like a real person, she is open to individual interpretation. She is not Superwoman, a mass of virtues with no faults, no bad moments, no inconsistencies, but a real woman, courageous, strong-minded, quick-witted, sarcastic, stubborn— a contradictory bag of virtues and faults.No, Leia Organa is not the perfect woman some would hope to inflict upon our heroes. But, she's not dull, either. And, in the long run, maybe that's more important.
Feelings about Leia? Hmmm...that's hard. I like her instinctively and don't often put it into words. I admired Leia from my first viewing of SW. Here was a female character I could identify with - strong-willed - self-sufficient - not dependent on the nearest man to do her thinking. She didn't faint or fall to the ground and kiss the feet of her rescuers - and that's two points in her favor. All respects to our beloved Han and Luke, it wasn't that impressive a rescue. She was a change - a refreshing breath of sanity, as far as film heroines go. In TESB, Leia's grown - become more full-bodied and even more identifiable. Her insecurities about her relationship with Han make her more human. Her bravery before Darth Vader, her courage in proclaiming her love to Han in the presence of their deadliest enemies make her more admirable in my eyes. I don't wonder that Han Solo loves Princess Leia. I consider him a man of remarkable perception and excellent taste.
Let's see, my reactions to Leia . . . well, the best and most complete way to sum it up would be to remind everyone about the William of Orange fugue in the Susan Solution.
I really see her in terms of William of Orange; her noble rank is hereditary, but largely ceremonial or just polite like present-day counts and such in England (come to think of it, I don't think they have counts in England!) and less important by far than her civil rank, which is elective, but which is also more or less traditional in her family. Like William of Orange's position. I see her as a young woman who has been raised to lead, who has been force into a role rather prematurely, and, whereas she knows how to lead effectively, how to plot and planand take advice, she is not yet a fully matured human being. She still makes mistakes. Not silly, childish, petty, immature behavior such as the people who don't like her like to force on her, but the mistakes that any statesman that young would make when put in such a position of constant ferocious pressure. She is presently a more effective leader than adult—I mean by that her leadership skills are much more highly developed at this stage than her emotional coping mechanisms. She reacts to Han from her public persona—that's the most effective way she knows how to respond, and she can be sure that as far as the public sector of her life is concerned, she doesn't need to worry about not doing it right. When Han refuses to take public-Leia for an answer, she must search out the more effective personal response. And, this is confusing—she may come up with an inappropriate response—or her response may seem, on the face of it, to be childish or petty. Like a child, she must run through her previous theories for personal relations to find the proper one. Does that make any sense? Leia, in my mind, when she seems most unlikable, most shrill, is none of those things; she is simply in a situation that confuses her. And, I identify with her a great deal. Leia and I are so much alike in some ways— I especially identified with her when I was in the Army, and not making the same mistake twice, but making every mistake in the book, nevertheless. I knew the answers. But, you have to learn to fit the answers into the situational context. I hope that some coherent opinion about Leia manages to emerge from all that! 
Bev Lorenstein mentioned putting together a pro-Leia rebuttal - I think it's great! Leia's never been one of my favorite characters in SW, but I don't go around downgrading her. The way I see it, Leia's cold and tough because she has to be and not because she wants to be. If she worried about every Rebel who'd been sent out on a mission/might be killed/grieved over every pilot killed, she'd be in the nuthouse on Kessel by now. And, I personally think we're going to see a warmer,more responsive Leia in "Revenge of the Jedi." She had certainly changed by the end of TESB. Me, I chalk it up to good Corellian lovin' - the very best there is! 
Princess Leia,of royal birth and sophisticated political training, seems to me to be an excellent choice for the pressures she must bear as Senator and Symbol for the people of Alderaan and the free Galaxy. Granted that princesses in a war-wracked universe are reared to lead their people through the difficulties of constant uncertainly. Granted, also, that politicians serving on interplanetary decision-making bodies must have the strength and stubbornness to uphold the culture of the people they represent. The Empire, her enemy, threatens to annihilate the freedom of her people and the people of other planets. Leia represents her people to the leaders of other worlds. Under the circumstances, Leia is forced to be rock-hard, centered on her own culture and accerbic with anything that may make her people weak. This loyalty goes to the Alliance as much as to her own people. When her world is destroyed, it goes completely to the Alliance.
Remember that this woman is not yet 20 and, if given an upper class education (as Earthlings know of it,) likely has had little direct contact with 'ordinary' people. How then would she respond to important, close physical and emotional contact with men like Han and Luke? It seems to me that she would initially be frightened by a growing sense of involvement that threatened her sense of duty to the reason for her life. She would insist that the objects of her interest behave as she expects the people near to her to behave. She would expect them to give her the support and respect befitting a person of her station. As her situation changes and she becomes more interested in her companions- after her world, her centerpost is destroyed - she feels a great conflict and a need to grasp at anything to lean on in order to be able to continue her fight for the things she believes in. And, of course, she refuses to show or admit this.We are all creatures of our past. Leia behaves very well under the circumstances.
The very first comment that I would like to make would be that I think that she is the most maligned character in the aeries. I, for myself, am very interested in her, since she is the motivating force behind this rebellion. Even Vader, with all his obvious evil and unsavory characteristics rates more attention than this young woman involved in trying to overturn galactic tyranny. It surprises me, but I know there is an explanation. Fan women don't like rivals and would rather see Mary Sue Skywalker get the man. I don't think because of the limitations of the series that we'll ever find out, definitively, what makes Leia Organa run. What can be done, however, is we can try to put together a working set of constants based on her actions one one movie to another. Unfortunately, we can only work with reactions to known situations. Anything other than that is pure fiction. (Besides, as Gary Kurtz has said, "what's on celluloid is fact. The rest is fiction.") We know that she is a princess (a holdover from the old Republic?)
and a senator from the planet Alderaan, and a young one at that. Was she elected or was the post given to her? We don't know, but one might think that she was elected. Her statement to Tarkin - "Alderaan is peaceful - we have no weapons." would indicates to me that it is a well developed planet in all ways; understanding of themselves and human rights. The fact that Alderaan is peaceful does not mean that Eden did exist in its form, because our heroine picked up a heavy dose of caustic wit, sarcasm and disdain for Imperial authority somewhere. Perhaps not from the court, but from incidents involving the court. Bail Organa fought in the Clone Wars, and I would imagine that relations with the Empire have been slightly less than cordial as time wandered on. Leia would have observed these happenings, and they no doubt would have affected.,So, she runs for senator thinking, perhaps, she can work to right the injustice from the inside? Possible. But, that sours, so she's now obvious a Rebel, But, the really confusing question that remains is - who else is? Her father, without a doubt. After all, he's the one who sends Leia to Ben in the first place. Without knowing what kind of government ran Alderaan, we can go no farther in the chain of command. But, did the people of Alderaan know? I think that the answer there is a definite no, which now leaves us in the wake of serious moral decisions for her and her father. They're working for truth, justice and the Jedi way, right? - but with the awful risk of the punishment of a planetful of people on their shoulders. Not just a city or country - but a planet. That is a tough decision and not one that I would make readily. She obviously has strong moral convictions and a strong sense of duty to the 'ultimate right! to be willing to risk not only herself but also her people. This leads me to the consequences of that decision - the destruction of Alderaan. A slight regression for a moment. - People often accuse the Princess of being bitchy the whole time she is being rescued. I would think that the fact that she is functioning at all is a miracle!The mental strain she had been under from the moment her ship was attacked must have been phenomenal. Let's consider this in order and then, perhaps, tally with a mental score of your own of how you would have been under the same circumstances: a. ) Your ship is attacked by a Dark Lord of the Sith and captured. b) In a moment of desperation, you program an R2 unit with stolen data and pray that he gets off the commandeered ship to complete the mission you failed, ( Add to that the addition of a neurotic protocol droid, and she probably would have done herself in on the spot!) c) You're hauled off (quite rudely at that!!!) to the Death Star and 'questioned' for awhile, while thoughts of dead, dying and captured friends/lovers in the Rebellion are still flitting around in your head. After all, your blockade runner was probably crewed with members of the Rebellion, and you can't miss the bodies as you walk through the corridors. d) You watch helplessly as your father, your Bee Gees poster, record collection and a planetful of innocent sheep are destroyed as an example to the rest of the populated Galaxy. e) You are rudely awakened by a dumb blond kid who has problems formulating complete escape plans and has a pessimist and a walking carpet for sidekicks. f) You watch the man you were sent to bring home die at the hands of Vader. g) You are almost killed in the trash masher by the stench and the walls.In view of all that happening in less than two days, I would think that catatonia would be more along the lines of survival! In this case, I think that her sarcasm was a mental defense mechanism that helped her survive the mental strain that she was under. Without a retreat into regal superiority, she probably would have collapsed from the shock.
Leia has many positive attributes, but the one that impresses me the most is her strength of will. Over the last few years, I have become increasingly disenchanted with many of the traditional types of heroines, like those who scream in terror at the slightest creak in the floor, who flood the scene with steamy tears at the slightest provocation, who cannot function independently for five minutes without the comforting support of the nearest good-looking male, and who are invariably sickeningly cute or silly, Leia, on the other hand, is a young woman of intelligence, ability and determination. One of Leia's most impressive scenes (for me) was her briefing of the Rebel pilots before the Battle of Hoth. In some of the fan fiction I have read, Leia is portrayed as a mere figurehead with no real power. I think that this scene as well as the following one in the control center of the Hoth station show that Leia is a genuine leader who has earned the respect and devotion of her fellow Rebels.
Leia does have a flaw in TESB. Several places in the novel, she is described as behaving coldly or wearing a 'tough mask.' She seems to have difficulty expressing emotion, as though she were attempting to destroy any vestige of a personal life and devote all of her energies to the Rebellion. I think it is important to point out that she does have feelings, but is suppressing them. What is the cause of this suppression? We can only guess. The first time we see Leia is when the crew of her ship has been mercilessly slaughtered. From then until the end of the first SW movie we see her caught in the most extraordinary circumstances. It is difficult to judge what she may have been like previous to this experience. It is my hypothesis that her cold stoicism is a recent development, a reaction to the destruction of her home planet, Alderaan. Some have criticized the lack of visible grief in Leia after viewing the destruction of Alderaan; however, I doubt that tears would be an immediate reaction to such an event. Reactions of shock, disbelief and denial seem more probable to me. The fact that Leia remained same and functioning after such a traumatic event indicates a woman of rare courage and strength. Perhaps it was in order to survive and maintain her sanity that she found it necessary to deny and suppress that part of her being that feels and grieves. This is not a healthy situation for Leia. The longer she suppresses her grief, the more damaging the consequences, Han seems to understand her problem; certainly many of his teases seemed to be aimed at ferreting out her true feelings and goading her into releasing them, as if he were aware that Leia must once again be a whole person or decay into a cold, unfeeling machine. Although Han wants to help her, his attempts seem to get tangled up in his growing attraction to her. Leia's defense towards Han's advances, of course, anger, as though she felt that by admitting affection for Han she might chip away the dam and release that part of her life that is still too painful to face yet. The problem is resolved, finally, at the end of the movie during the scene in the carbon freezing chamber. Throughout the movie we see a gradual softening of Leia, as if she is finally coming to terms with herself. A resolution is reached when, faced with the impending, traumatic loss of Han, Leia admits (perhaps more to herself than to Han) her love for Solo. She has decided to emerge from her self-imposed prison and to face life as a complete person. After this scene, we see a changed Leia, a Leia who has faced the devils of her own soul and has overcome them. She is more energetic, more passionate and capable of compassion, as her tender ministrations to an injured Luke illustrate as well as her frantic attempts to rescue Han. She is at last a whole person.There is one other line in the movie that I would like to comment on. In response to Leia's "I love you," Han says "I know." I like this line; I think it says much more about the growth of these characters than a trite "I love you, too." Han has witnessed the transformation of Leia from the early scenes on Hoth through the time they were together on the Falcon and to that tender moment in this carbon freezing chamber when she says "I love you." He recognizes her triumph and with a tone of pride and joy acknowledges her victory. At this moment, Han is not thinking of himself, but is totally caught up in Leia, which indicates that one slightly self-centered mercenary has done a bit of growing, too. But, that's another story, isn't it?
- The editor of "Moonbeam" says: "I believed for almost 30 years that it was in fact the first primarily Star Wars fiction fanzine, but I recently learned that Skywalker, the exceptional Star Wars zine edited by Bev Clark, was in fact first by a couple of weeks. Ah well. I was still one of the first, and probably the first on the East Coast.."Main Moonbeam Page, Archived version.
- Actually, according to the dates on the zines themselves, "Moonbeam" was first; perhaps there was an understood wiggle-room with the distribution?
- From Bev Clark in Southern Enclave #10: "AGAINST THE SITH came out a few weeks before SKYWALKER, no more than six. Neither was the first SW fanzine, exactly. The very first fanzine was a small, poorly produced effort out of Long Beach, called THE FORCE; it was more like a traditional 5F fanzine in that it didn't have much fiction. It was also what is bluntly called in SF fandom, a crudzine. The first fanzine to print all SW fiction, though admittedly as a single issue of a fanzine that was not devoted to SW to the exclusion of all else, was MOONBEAM 3, which came out in the late fall of 1977 or the early spring of 1978 before either AGAINST THE SITH or SKYWALKER, at any rate. SKYWALKER was certainly in preparation by then, however, it began in September, 1977."
- from Scuttlebutt #13
- from the Eugene Register-Guard, July 16, 1980 issue
- Southern Enclave Issue #22 pdf, page 47
- from Alderaan #3
- from Space 1970, posted February 11, 2011, accessed April 1, 2012
- from an LoC in issue #9
- Well, Lucas wouldn't -- fans first tried it in Slow Boat to Bespin and look where that got them -- *wink*
- a reference to the July 1980 article in the Eugene newspaper article, see Tracy Duncan
- from Southern Enclave #5
- from Marcia Brin in Kessel Run #1
- from Pat Nussman in Kessel Run #1
- from Lisa A in Kessel Run #1
- from Susan M in Kessel Run #1
- from Lynne T in Kessel Run #1
- from Dale H in Kessel Run #1
- from Dot S in Kessel Run #1
- from Sandy C in Kessel Run #1