Contraband (Star Wars zine)

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For other uses of "Contraband," see Contraband.

Title: Contraband
Publisher: Unknown Press
Editor(s): Liz S., Chris Callahan, and L.C. Wells
Date(s): 1983-1984
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links:
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cover issue #1, L.C. Wells

Contraband is a gen Star Wars zine. It ran for three issues.

Issue 1

Contraband 1 was published in May 1983 and is 188 pages long.

flyer for issue #1, printed in Crossed Sabers #3
  • Ghosts by Chris Callahan (Maeve Solo's past comes back to haunt her... and nearly prevents her from having a future. (4)
  • The Perils of Publishing by L.C. Wells (18)
  • Diplomatic Exchange by Liz S. (An atypical Corellian, an unsophisticated rebel, and an irate traveling salesman inadvertently join forces to baffle the intelligence networks of two worlds and the Empire.) (24)
  • Corellian Culinary Delights by Georg (126)
  • How to Do a Mary Sue by Liz S. (128)
  • Wanderer in the Ruins by Pat Nussman (134)
  • Payment Deferred by L.C. Wells (136)
  • Maze (183)
  • Mary Sue Filk by Liz S. (187)
  • art by Sharon Palmer, SLS, Liz S. and L.C. Wells (cover)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

This first issue of Contraband is mostly the, work, in authorship and art work as well as production, of the three members of Unknown Press: Chris Callahan, [Liz S.], and [L.C. Wells]. (Only one literary piece in the zine is by an "outsider"-a chilling prose poem about what might have been after TESB for Lando, by Pat Nussman.) This zine does have drawbacks of other "do it yourself" zines I have read, such as some need for a more objective edit on the stories, and a sort of "ingrown" feeling resulting from a major portion of the zine's fiction being in the same fannish universe. However, the problems are fairly minimal here, since all three ladies can write well and seem to be sufficiently self-critical, the results of their efforts make entertaining reading for the SW fanzine fan. There is not a lot of art work in this issue. The cartoons by Sharon Palmer are neither hilarious nor dull; I rather enjoyed the two sets of unicorn cartoons. Most story illos are by [L.C. Wells]. To my inexperienced eyes they were satisfactory for their purpose, though not destined to go down in the annals of great SW fan art. In some of the illos, the lines seemed a bit blurred and the shading a tad dark, giving the effect of a photograph out-of-focus. Perhaps future illos could have some sharper pen strokes. (Or maybe that's not the problem-l'm no art expert, Force knows.) Of the three fiction offerings, two are set in Chris Callahan's "Maeve Solo" universe. "Ghosts," by Callahan, has Maeve and her first partner Nila taking temporary jobs on ships not their own to earn money for a new one. On hers, Maeve encounters an old enemy and is nearly murdered by him. Back on Corellia, she and Nila (naturally) swear revenge. I enjoyed the story until the end, which left me feeling rather unsatisfied, since the two women don't get revenge-unforeseen circumstances do it for them-when the whole plot seemed to be leading to that event. Perhaps, in "real life," chance would take over, but sometimes "real life" doesn't ring true in fiction.The other story, "Payment Deferred" by [L.C. Wells], was interesting in many respects, but often seemed to me to ramble all around the galaxy. I don't know how much of this was due to my own basic unfamiliarity with the series and how much was because the author put so many plot twists in one story. The story's main character is Wells' Dyannis Carmathan, who knows Maeve Solo and her family, including of course young Han Solo and his twin sister Val, who manage to stowaway on Dyannis' ship when she runs some errands for the Jedi. Along the way, Dyannis runs into, another enemy of Maeve's, who mistakes Val for her mother and tries to kill her, so Dyannis leaves the twins with members of the Organa family before meeting Kenobi and Vader in the course of her mission, and helping them during an attack by the Clones during the Wars... then is given another mission, to infiltrate the Imperial military as a double agent. I did perceive that Wells had both series backgrounding and foreshadowing of events to come in this story, and a second reading would probably make it a whole lot more cohesive in my mind. I suppose my main objection to this piece is the proliferation of plot elements and something of a failure to recognize that not all readers would be able to keep track of them with ease. I found the third and longest piece, "Diplomatic Exchange" by Liz [S.], to be my favorite of the zine. The lady smuggler/rebel sympathizer of the story, Trav Leggett, is indisputably something of a Mary Sue, but a light-hearted, engaging one. "I am not a suicidal maniac! I'm a Corellian!" She cries as she single-handedly wrecks the enforcement of a treaty between the Empire and a planetary government, incidentally turning a diplomatic reception into a shambles while she's at it. There is plenty of action in this story, in something of a Brian Daley tradition; and [Liz S.] writes vivid descriptions-I had no trouble following events, seeing them clearly in my mind. Two criticisms: while there were many times when I was genuinely amused by the story's events, as the author intended, several times the plot descended temporarily into silliness and slapstick. This could have been remedied by some judicious cutting. Also, there is a tag on the story which brings in the "canon" SW characters, after the plot is essentially resolved. While' certainly have no objection to seeing Luke, Han and Leia, and while this part did wrap up a few minor story points, I felt that it drew the story on past its natural end, and might have been better if it had been fleshed out a little to become a separate story in the series. But these are, perhaps, minor quibbles to bring up about a story as entertaining as "Diplomatic Exchange." There are also two non-fiction pieces 'in Contraband, both on subjects already covered many times in other zines, but both well-written and with some unique viewpoints which freshen the subject matter. Wells' 'The Perils of Publishing' is a "how-to" on publishing a fanzine for the first time, full of the Fear and Trembling a new zined feels at the thoughts of criticism from the general fannish public, especially in the form of reviews. (It makes me feel a bit guilty about every less-than-complimentary word I've put into this critique!) [Liz S.]'s "How to do a Mary Sue" has some very interesting ideas on why we women fanfic writers often start out by writing the Mary Sue stereotype. The article then goes on to a fairly detailed description of both the Mary Sue character, in her several variations, and the kinds of plots in which she usually finds herself. My enjoyment of the article was marred only by the tiny and hard to read print- the only incidence of this problem in the whole zine. I needed a ruler to read tne darned article. Conclusion: although have some reservations, Contraband is recommended especially for the two articles and "Diplomatic Exchange." Not bad at all for a first zine. [1]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2, L.C. Wells

Contraband 2 was published in March 1984 and is 148 pages long.

  • Old Tresaures, Niew Finds by Candy Streuli, art by Sharon Palmer (6)
  • Logic Strikes Back by Susanna Betzl, art by Lin Stack (11)
  • Shore Leave by Carol Mularski, art by L.C. Wells (in the Desert Seed Series) (12)
  • In Retrospect by Susan Voll, art by Voll (22)
  • Net Worth by L.C. Wells, art by Wells (26)
  • Recipes by Georg, art by Sharon M. Palmer (42)
  • Star Wars Word Search by JoAnn Callahan (47)
  • Not a Kid Anymore by Rebecca Walker (48)
  • At the Emerald Phoenix by Pat Nussman (50)
  • Forged from the Flame by Ann Wortham, art by Lin Stack (52)
  • Burned Out by Sharon Palmer (57)
  • Alliances by Chris Callahan, art by L.C. Wells (75)
  • The Perils of Publishing by L.C. Wells (75)
  • Bonds of Affection by Liz S., art by Liz S. (82)
  • Answers to Word Search (145)
  • front and back cover by L.C. Wells, inside front cover by Lin Stack, inside back over by Kurt Griffin, cartoons by Sharon M. Palmer and Tian

Issue 3

cover of issue #3

Contraband 3 was published in 1984 and is 144 pages long.

  • Dreams by Jenna Bruce (3 pages)
  • Family Matters by Chris Callahan (10 pages)
  • Acceptance by Bayne and Danneberger (3 pages)
  • War of the Stars by Barbara Tennison (8 pages)
  • Recipes (4 pages)
  • Shadows of the Night (24 pages) by L.C. Wells (In the three years before the Empire is declared, Dyannis Carmathan, free-trader and spy, runs afoul of a plot against the government of Orril by Imperial and Commercial interests as she tries to find safe refuge for the soon-to-be proscribed Jedi.)
  • Dedication by Carolyn Kinkead (4 pages)
  • Among the Missing by Chris Callahan (10 pages)
  • The Good Soldier by Mimi Newcastle (4 pages)
  • Steele Looking From The Outside In (REMINGTON STEELE) (17 pages)
  • Father and Sons by Ellen Rudolph (6 pages)
  • A Long Way from Home by Kelly Hill (3 pages)
  • Reflections on the News by Chris Callahan(2 pages)
  • Nightmare by Jane Firmstone (3 pages)
  • Bonds of Affection Part 2 by Liz Sharpe (28 pages)


  1. from Jundland Wastes #15/16