Open Letters to Star Wars Zine Publishers (1981)

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Open Letter
Title: Open Letters to Star Wars Zine Publishers
From: Maureen Garrett, director of the Official Star Wars Fan Club
Addressed To: fans
Date(s): late summer/early fall 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
Topic: fanworks
External Links: PDF
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Open Letters to Star Wars Zine Publishers were a series of letters sent in 1981 to many Star Wars fanzine publishers/editors by the director of the Official Star Wars Fan Club, Maureen Garrett.

text of first letter sent by Lucasfilm
first page of another letter sent by Lucasfilm to Warped Space #46 and many other zines
second page of another letter sent by Lucasfilm to Warped Space #46 and many other zines
1982 commentary on George Lucas' fanwork restrictions, illo in Twin Suns #3, illo by eluki bes shahar for the editorial by Jani Hicks

The letters, responding to the publishing of a few explicit fanfics, warned zines not to publish "X-Rated" content under threat of legal action. One letter stated that continued violations might result in Star Wars zine-making being prohibited entirely. Fans were upset in part because they had previously asked for clarification on Lucasfilm's zine policy but had not gotten a clear answer.

First, A Little History

Fans learned early on that George Lucas was no Gene Roddenberry. While Roddenberry had been a willing and entertaining convention guest and had given approval (both verbal and tacit) to fanworks, George Lucas was a completely different animal. Lucas made no convention appearances, no Roddenberry Phone Calls, and he didn't submit chatty updates to fan-created newsletters. Distant, detached, and non-communicative, Lucas remained a mystery to most fans.


It was as early as 1977 when George Lucas and 20th Century Fox began making attempts to corral and contain zines their fanwork creators.

Star Wars had debuted on May 24, 1977, and representatives from 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm were at Space-Con #4 the third week in June of that year: "At Space-Con 4 in LA, they came prepared and told dealers that they could not sell unlicensed Star Wars merchandise." [1]

One fan stated that:

I have letters from Craig Miller, former fan liaison for Lucasfilm Ltd., concerning their proposed fanzine policy, the earliest letter was dated October 29, 1977. [2]

In December 1977, a fan asked:

Would someone care to detail the EXACT position of 20th Century Fox on SW zines? Allyson has some info, so do others. Let's get it together for mutual advantage. [3]

When the editor of a zine, Hyper Space, sent a 1977 issue of his zine to George Lucas, he received this reply, dated December 20, 1977:

Thank you for sending us a copy of the fanzine, HYPERSPACE. It is quite a creative accomplishment. Gary Kurtz read your letter and the fanzine, and asked me to send you a note, expressing how he felt. Right now we're working out a policy about fanzines. Basically, a problem with copyrights has to be resolved. Once that is accomplished, I'll be able to send a presskit, with photos and articles and biographies. I hope that material will be of use. [4]


In a January 1978 letter to Interstat, Sharon Emily wrote:

Something with the STAR WARS question. I made a statement in SC4 that though I love the movie and would love to do something along that line, I will not make any concrete plans in that direction until STW releases word that the go-ahead has been given by the proper authorities. So, the interesting rumors that have been getting back to me are just that — rumors. At present, I am not starting a SW zine, for I have no desire to get into any more complicated situations than I am at present. [5]

In the February 1978 issue of Probe, the editor wrote:

OF "STAR WARS" AND COPYRIGHTS: Not so long ago, in a galaxy not too far away, Ye Editor's own major contribution to this issue was supposed to be "Four-Sided Game", a "STAR WARS" story about what happened to the farm after Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were slaughtered and Luke Skywalker left for Alderaan.

The only reason the story -- and a sequel -- was even considered was because of unofficial word received last September [1977] from Very Official Sources that Twentieth Century Studios and the STAR WARS Corporation were about to give sanction to SW fan fiction and fanzines. This hope was fueled by further written communication from the SW Corp., communications which could not be published, but were permitted to be circulated underground. The main message was, in effect, "Hang on. Sanction should be coming shortly, as soon as we get some legal points ironed out."

But now -- as of this writing -- the Corporation is looking for people who have already started publishing SW fan fiction The Corporation's stated intention is "not to hassle" these persons, but merely to inform them that they are in violation of copyrights.

So much for the hinted-at sanction.

Said sanction may eventually come. At least one member of the Corporation is trying to convince Twentieth Century's legal department that fanzines are "a good thing". But while all the haggling is going on, we thought it would be better for PROBE to stay out of the mess until the matter is settled, one way or the other. PROBE has said a lot about the sanctity of copyrights, and we try to practice what we preach.

The one SW story that Mpingo Press has published -- "The Prometheus Pattern" in SPIRIT 1 -- went to press long before this new turn of events. So be it. Other than that, our SW efforts have remained in safe areas, like satire, for which anything is fair game. We are not sure if "Ballad of the New Rebel" is 'legal'; we may soon find out...the hard way… [6]

Another example of this early control was mentioned by Allyson Whitfield in several 1978 letters to zines:

I have some information concerning Star Wars zines...I am in direct contact with the Star Wars Corp... 'As of February 14, 1978, this is the official status of Star Wars fanzines. The Star Wars Corp. wants to keep track of what SW zines are coming out. They are not out to hassle, sue, etc., anybody. They just want to convince 20th Century Fox's legal department that there are more than five SW fans who are interested in publishing zines. Even if you are planning a zine, they would like to know about it. For those of you who have already published zines, I was told in a phone call -- Craig Miller stated that he was "certain nothing would happen". Craig Miller, c/o The Star Wars Corp, PO Box 8669, Universal City, CA 91608.' [7] [8]

In June 1978, Leslie Fish alluded to underground Han/Luke, with a gleeful hope for even more diversity:

A Han/Chewie relationship story??? Heh! Why not? I've already seen one underground SW in which Han gets Luke (Luke compares him favorably to the Princess!), and he strikes me as the sort who takes his fun wherever he can get it, and Chewie's a trustworthy old buddy, after all. Ho! Ho! Let's give George Lucas nightmares about that one! The S.O.B. deserves it for strangling his own fandom. Heh! Hee! [9]

In August 1978, Carol Mularski commented on the issue of Star Wars fiction and sex:

I do have a comment on [Eileen R's] statement [in Interstat #9] that we should keep George Lucas happy by not letting him "see" SW stories that are other than GP rated. I do hope she was being facetious. G.R. and Paramount have been more than kind in allowing us to take the ST characters and make them our own...They've held still while we've killed them off, "got-um", given them various sexual habits, etc. If they had asked us to refrain from any of this, it would have been our moral duty (I hope everyone's morality agrees with this) to respect their right to control their own characters. So, G.L. comes along and asks fans to "keep it clean" with his characters, and I think we should respect his wishes. I'm sure he didn't mean that we should completely leave sex (as apart of life) out of the picture altogether, but I suppose he means no' porn-type ditties. [10]

In November 1978, Lori Chapek-Carleton mentioned a letter she had received from Lucasfilm regarding her zine Warped Space:

[Linda M's] letter (1#12) concerning DREADNOUGHT EXPLORATIONS vs. Paramount Pictures was succinct and interesting. I'm sorry I haven't seen any issues of her 'zine. It was particularly timely in my case, because I just received a letter from Lucas-film Limited, wanting to buy any past, present and future issues of WARPED SPACE dealing with STAR WARS. The contrast between the friendly letter I received, and the threatening letter(s) Linda received is striking. [11]

The letter sent to fans during 1978 (one example was printed in the January 1979 issue of Against the Sith #3 said:

letter by Craig Miller, published in Against the Sith #3 (January 1979)

We're trying to get copies of all fanzines dealing with Star Wars to put into our archives. Especially the high quality ones.

Allyson Whitfield recommended Against the Sith as one of the better zines being produced, and one we should get for our files.

If available, we'd like to get four copies of each issue, past, current, and when available, future. If that many are not available, please send however many are, and we'll xerox the rest. The copies will be divided with one copy going to the company's archives, one copy going into George Lucas's archives/collection, one copy going into Gary Kurtz's archives/collection, and one copy into our file on fan activities.

Please send me whatever you have available, at the address given below, along with a bill for the cost. We'll send you a check for the fanzines.

Thank you for your time and trouble, and, especially, for your interest in Star Wars.

May the Force be with you,


Craig Miller

Director of Fan Relations

Several fans, however, did not receive payment for the zines they sent to Miller. In Warped Space #41, the editor describes having to pursue payment, and speculated about some company reorganization:

Craig Miller of Chapter II Co. (a division of Lucasfilms) is apparently no longer at Chapter II Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA, 91608. Concerned fans might also try writing to the Star Wars Fan Club, c/o Factors. Does anyone know if there's been some sort of shake-up in the company? Those fanzine editors who answered the call of Craig Miller to send their 'zines (containing "Star Wars" related material) to the Star Wars Corp. who have had difficulty obtaining payment (which was promised) for those 'zines should write to the Black Falcon Ltd. address given above. It look five months for me to get paid for WARPED SPACE 39. I've told the company that I'll only send them further issues upon advance payment." -- comment in "Warped Space" #41.


In May 1979, Pam Kowalski responded to Leslie Fish's comments that were in Warped Space #38 that Lucas was "strangling" Star Wars fandom:

Well, the first thing that hit me in this ish was Leslie Fish's s.o.b. comment on Lucas. Looking back now, my initial anger has dissipated into just exasperation. C'mon, Leslie, if GL were 'strangling his own fandom' none of us would be getting any ST fanfic published at all for he would have loosed the Fox dogs on us long ago. Somehow, I can't help but believe that Lucas has every right to ask that certain things not be done with his characters, and if he doesn't care for Han/Luke, or whatever, stories — and has taken the trouble to acknowledge that fanfic even exists and to pass the words through the fans rather than through lawyers — we should at least have the courtesy to respect that request. The SW people are GL's babies. I would be just as concerned if people took a character from one of my upcoming stories — a woman who is not inclined toward permanent relationships — and changed her into a homebody simply because they like chose kind of stories. GL has stated that Luke and Han are not inclined toward each other, that their characters that point quite strongly, but it's the only point he's made regarding fanfic. So, go ahead and do whatever you want with your own SW characters, but let's maintain the courtesy of allowing the creator to define his characters his own way.
[Leslie Fish]: My comment about Lucas strangling his own fandom was written at a time when Lucas's office was demanding to see SW fan stories before publication — and you can imagine what a bottle neck that would have created. Shortly thereafter, LucasFilms Inc. changed to simply asking for SW stories after the 'zines have been printed — but even so, as Lori noted on p. 3 of WS 41, they're some what lax about paying for those 'zines. I still think it's a bad way to deal with one's fandom. (Also, Lucas's somewhat premature claim that he didn't want to hear about any Han-gets-Luke stories has inspired more such tales than if he'd kept quiet. I've seen several underground SW stories wherein Han gets everybody from Luke to Chewbacca — and if they keep circulating at the current rate, they'll soon be more widespread than 'straight" (!) SW fan fiction. [12]

the first page of a 1979 flyer for the newly-reorganized club under Black Falcon Ltd. and Craig Miller
the second page of a 1979 flyer for the newly-reorganized club under Black Falcon Ltd. and Craig Miller

Meanwhile, in the "official" George Lucas galaxy, there was mention of some disarray in an early-to-mid 1979 flyer for The Official Star Wars Fan Club. In it, Craig Miller told fans that there had been some heavy thinking going on:

...the last few months have found us busily restructuring our entire club organization, trying new things, in an all-out effort to serve the fans better.

The Official Star Wars Fan Club is not being run to make money -- it's being run as a service to those fans of Star Wars who care enough and are interested enough to join. The money being taken in through membership fees will be going back otu as member benefits.

We're going to do everything possible to make this fan club work. We want it to be a forum of communication for Star Wars fans of all ages - not just for children; not just for adults.

The gathering of fanworks for Lucasfilm's personal files was mentioned in the June 1979 issue of Falcon's Flight: From that zine's editorial:

I might also mention the fact that Black Falcon, Ltd., a subsidiary company of Lucasfilm, ordered four copies of FF#2 and has a sort of unspoken request for future issues as they appear. I understand that one of those copies is for Mr. Lucas' personal file. I think I speak for all my contributors when I say that we are pleased with and honored by his interest. After all, it's a bit like having God take personal notice of one's flower garden. From all of us, Mr. Lucas, thank you.


Some 1980 anecdotal events and comments regarding fanworks and the uneasy relationship between fans and TPTB:

In April 1980, the editor of Twin Suns, Jani Hicks, wrote a essay called S'Our Wars, Too, that was critical of fan liaison "Craig Miller and his traveling medicine show." [13]

The 1980 how-to zine, Protocols, had this warning for prospective Star Wars zine eds: "The producers of Star Wars are very touchy about zines. They DON'T encourage them. Be very careful with a SW zine."

In May 1980, the editors of Galactic Flight made this statement in the third issue of their zine: "Galactic Flight is now in the collections of Gary Kurtz, George Lucas, Lucasfilms Inc., and Twentieth-Century Fox. Thank you, gentlemen, for your interest in our zine."

In May 1980, the Open Letter to Star Wars Fans by the Duncans was sent to fans, zine eds, and to George Lucas. This open letter was something that most certainly did not foster good relations between Lucas and fans.

From a June 1980 interview with Craig Miller (fan liaison for LucasFilm) for the zine Alderaan:

Allyson: What about fan-related material? Fanzines?
Miller: Technically fanzines are in violation of copyright.
A.: What about when you file for copyright [when you can cite] previous works. I understand you can do that.
M.: You can cite previous works and say, for example, if you have a fanzine that has one story that involves Han Solo and Chewbacca, and none of the other characters. You could file a copyright citing that "Han Solo and Chewbacca are copyrighted. Twentieth Century Fox," however you're supposed to give "received permission" before doing that sort of thing. And it's a very, very complicated situation. Right now we are unofficially "looking the other way."
A.: Oh, okay, if that's your official line, you're "looking the other way."
M.: Officially, we don't notice them.
A.: You don't notice them, but you get them through the office.
M.: Yeah, we see fanzines, but we're trying to come up with something that our lawyers can agree with that won't involve making people not publish fanzines. [14]

Early on, fans were researching and writing articles and essays about the legality of fanfiction. One example was by Carol Mularski in October 1980:

George Lucas and his corporation, Lucasfilm, allowed an announcement through the fan grapevine (at science fiction conventions and in fanzines) that they would not take action against Star Wars fan fiction writers and editors. Lucas made only one stipulation, that the fans avoid publishing sexually explicit SW stories. According to one SW fanzine editor, Beverly Clark, in a letter to me: "Lucasfilm is keeping tabs on people doing SW zines and satires...Lucas himself had let it be known that he did not like X-rated material; specifically he did not like gay stories, and he would personally hang the first person to write or print a gay SW story."

These types of stories have been published in Star Trek fanzines, and Lucas is within his rights to make this request, and expect it to be complied with, especially if one subscribes to the "moral rights" concept of copyright ownership. One area of moral rights In copyright states that the originator has the right to protect his work from what he considers to be mutilation, once the work is an expression of his persona or character. So far, the fans have honored Lucas' request. Although such stories have been circulating "underground," through the mail to individuals or in person, no fanzine, to my knowledge, has published pornographic SW literature.

The way Lucasfilm "keeps tabs" on fan activity is to openly buy four copies of each SW-related fanzine. Here again, this amounts to consent to the production of SW fanzines, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to legally stop such activity at a future date. Despite all the unofficial approval implied by these circumstances, I think that the producers and readers of ST and SW fanzines would breathe much easier if the powers-that-be would write official letters giving permission to use the copyrighted material for amateur publication purposes. I doubt that this will ever come about, however. The lack of official permission is probably one weapon being kept in Paramount's and 20th Century Fox's legal arsenal, just in case it is ever needed. [15]

Early 1981: In Which the Hive is Actively Poked

Another early fan article researching the legalities of fan fiction was by Judith Gran: Fandom vs The Courts: Fan Fiction and Fair Use, printed in the June 1981 issue of the letterzine Alderaan.

At least two fans had actively poked the hive in spring 1981, perhaps a bit earlier.

One of these fans was Jane Firmstone, author of a drawerfic called Moon Silver. In spring 1981, Firmstone explained:

Well, the latest thing on the burner is the issue of adult-oriented X-
rated SW storles/zines. We should be 
finding out from St. George's legal
 crew what they will and what they
 won't allow, very shortly. A fanzine
 that claims it's going to be an adult 
SW zine will make it's appearance very 
shortly at Media West Con [16] and it will
 be interesting to see what type of re
action to Organia is from both the fans 
and from Lucasfilm.

As an editor I was concerned when I first heard that
 there was going to be an X-rated zine. 
I had already heard the scuttlebutt 
that Lucas would make life unpleasant 
for anyone who committed such an act of
 outrage. (coff*coff) Then I started
 hearing really disturbing rumors like
 Lucas might try to close down all SW
 fanzines. So, I called Maureen Garrett
 at Lucasfilm and had an informative, 
if somewhat expensive, little chat.
 The upshot of the whole thing was that they had never seen an X-rated SW story and didn't know what they were getting upset about. Idiot that I am, I offered to send them Moon Silver my ancient X-rated Han and Silver Lady complete with R-rated illos. Now, this is a bit of erotic fluff that only contains one dirty word. How upset could they get? You don't wanna know. I got a letter from the Vice President of Lucasfilm demanding that I send him a signed statement that I would never have that story published anywhere! Now, I told them in the enclosed letter that I had no intention of publishing it. Why should I when it's already been around the world? If they get this upset about erotica, I don't want to see what they have to say about outright porn. While not having a particularly groveling attitude toward St. George, I can see his point in that these are his characters and he doesn't want to see them used in any way that would bastardize what he's done with them. Perhaps we should just keep the wonderfully smarmy stories under the table and continue to write a story this way if it keeps the dragon off our collective backs, perhaps it's worth it. [17]

This exchange between Firmstone and Maureen Garrett was known to some fans:

Through the grapevine, it is also learned that an unpublished story outlining the adventures of Han Solo and a highly paid courtesan has been sent to Lucasfilms with less than positive results. [18]

One of those fans was Jonas Soderblad, editor of The Dark Lord. In his editorial for the third issue of this zine, Soderblad wrote: (Note: T.R. is Eva Albertsson who was a co-editor, translator, and the author of many stories including The True Force):

There are certain limitations concerning what can be considered an acceptable submission; not too much of the sexy stuff, that is, gay stories or too explicitly heterosexual stories. This is because Lucasfilm Ltd apparently disapproves, and threats have been issued that all SW-zines would be banned, if that sort of thing went to extremes. (I could go on [for]ever about the non-existent wisdom of such a reaction, but having already done so at some length in a letter to Mr Lucas personally, I'll do my best to refrain since The Honored Editor will probably hit me if this extends beyond the two pages he sent me for translation. However, if anybody should feel inclined to discuss the subject, I'm sure we can find some column space for that— T.R.) These limitations concern STAR WARS material only. Non-SW material is gratefully accepted! Such material may contain X-rated things, but we would rather to avoid it. (WE??? T.R.) Those are the only limitations on submissions for TDL.

Strangely, despite the statement: "not too much of the sexy stuff, that is, gay stories or too explicitly heterosexual stories," Soderblad included a story in that issue of "The Dark Lord" that many fans felt was extreme and in poor taste. This was The True Force, and it, along with A Slow Boat to Bespin, triggered the letters that were sent to faneds about six months later.

It is very, very likely that if it weren't for Firmstone's willingness to openness and to "educate" Lucas and company, and without Soderblad's "lengthy" letter to Lucas that altered Lucas to his very amateurish zine printed in Sweden, that the topic, while not avoided, certainly could have been much more of minor blip.

Despite these warnings and worries, Lucasfilm had been more or less allowing Star Wars zines (all gen at this time) to flourish.

That all came to a head when a series of open letters by Lucasfilm via Maureen Garrett were sent to many fans beginning in August 1981.

Some Early Stories that Rocked the Boat

One fan sent the het underground story Moon Silver to Maureen Garrett, with less than positive results. That incident led to the Lucas uproar regarding two stories published in spring 1981: the PG-13 rated [19] het story Slow Boat to Bespin, which had been published in the multimedia zine Guardian #3 in May 1981, and The True Force, in The Dark Lord #3/4.

All these stories generated a series of letters from Maureen Garrett and began a complicated fandom journey.

One Controversial Story: Defused by Pizza

A Marketable Commodity, published in late summer 1981, squeaked under the wire regarding hassles with Lucasfilm, TPTB, and sexual content.

A fan wrote a LoC regarding this story, and the letter as well as the authors' response, was printed in April 1983 in the last issue of Pegasus.

The fan's comment:

My second [reaction] was that this was also a story that unfortunately Lucasfilm is going to disapprove of on several levels. I don't want to see you guys get into a hassle with Lucasfilms; I like your stuff too much.

The editor/authors' response lawsuits to date and no threats either. We were a bit concerned about their reaction to the story as well, but there've been no repercussions. It wasn't the Fan Club's Idea of Great Literature, but neither was it worth re-stirring the hornet's nest that had been precipitated by Lucasfilm's letter campaign prior to PEG V's publication [late summer/early fall 1981]. Which is not to say that we wrote and printed the story to spite them. Definitely not. The story had been written, typed and laid out prior to word of the controversy. It went to the printer the day before the Official Advisory Letter arrived in the mail. And by then it was far too late to rethink the more controversial aspects of the story. Which is what we told Fan Club Rep Maureen Garrett when we gave her her copies of the zine. A relaxed dialogue over deep dish pizza can do wonders for offsetting imminent bloodletting, name-calling, or whatever. Which, all in all, adds up to a long aside to those readers who were curious as to whether we'd been sitting in court for the past two years... [20]

Another Controversial Story: Printed in a Censored Form

Ships in the Night was very shortly after, and is a sequel to, A Marketable Commodity's.

The story was published in Warped Space #46 in September 1981. Originally, pages 107-112 were deleted from the story, and fans had to send an age statement to receive the missing pages. The full story was printed in subsequent reprints.

From the editor of Warped Space:

... for those of you who didn't hear how the Lucasfilm "censorship" flap has resolved itself — basically it was generally agreed that everyone over-reacted, and the matter has pretty much died away. Lucasfilm is depending on the editors' good taste and judgment in decid[ing] what is printable, and we haven't heard of any further furor. We heard nothing detrimental concerning "Ships in the Night" from Lucasfilm, and they did get their perquisite four copies of WARPED SPACE 46. - Lori Chapek-Carleton [21]

See Ships in the Night for more details.

Who Got the Letters?

Below is a list of some publishers who reported receiving the letters, some of whom printed them in their zines.

The First Letters: July and August 1981

Howard Roffman, Associate General Counsel for Lucasfilm

The editors of Guardian received the first letter. It was dated July 30, 1981.

Dear Ms Levine and Ms Deneroff: Maureen Garrett has forwarded you most recent publication, Guardian 3, to me with respect to a story contained therein entitled, 'Slow Boat to Bespin.' As you are aware a great deal of the infringing material published in small circulation fan publications has been overlooked by Lucasfilm because the costs of stopping such activities are often out of proportion to the amounts involved. This situation is tolerable to Lucasfilm only so long as the materials published are not harmful to the spirit of the Star Wars saga. The publication of Slow Boat to Bespin and the threat of publishing similar articles has caused us to re-evaluate our policy, and I can assure you that it will no longer be safe for publishers such as you to feel immune from enforcement action by Lucasfilm. I think you should seriously consider your responsibility to Lucasfilm, the copyright owner of these materials, and to the many loyal fans whose high regard fro the Star Wars saga is based in part on the wholesome character that everyone associates with it. Any damage that you do to this character hurts both Lucasfilm and the fans, and it would be irresponsible for you to act without a sense of duty you owe to both. Therefore, this letter is to put you to notice of our strong position against any x-rated treatment of Star Wars characters and to demand your written assurance that you will make no further use of the characters in this manner. Sincerely, Howard Roffman, Associate General Counsel. [22]

Linda Deneroff and Cynthia Levine: Zine Editors

This is Linda and Cynthia's response, dated August 4, 1981, a response "which we foolishly thought would put an end to the matter." [23]

Dear Mr. Roffman, First let me say that I was extremely surprised and hurt by the receipt of your letter. Cynthia Levine and I would never intentionally print anything we felt to be either damaging and hurtful to Star Wars, the characters or anyone connected with the same. The stories in question (there were two, they were printed as a set) we felt to be a beautifully romantic story of Han Solo and Princess Leia. We were concerned how Lucasfilm felt , and a friend of the authors who lives in California assured us that she had submitted the stories to Ms. Garrett in order to ensure that it was written within Lucasfilm's standards. Obviously there was a misunderstanding along the way. If it would not be too bold of me at this time, I would like to point out that fans of Star Wars have been hoping that Lucasfilm would print a set of guidelines for fan editors to follow. Just saying X-rated is too vague; I don't know anyone else who considers 'Slow Boat' to be X-rated. Or do you wish us to submit every story to you for your consideration? In any event, you may consider this the written assurance from Cynthia Levine and myself that you requested to make no further use of the characters in this manner. Yours truly, Linda Deneroff. [24]

The Form Letter Sent to Fanzines: August 1981: Maureen Garrett, Director, Star Wars Fan Club

text of first letter sent by Lucasfilm

This is the text of the form letter sent to general zines, dated August 1981:

Dear Fanzine Editor:

Despite our word-of-mouth warning to the contrary, some publishers have chosen to print stories with the Star Wars characters in X-Rated, pornographic situations. Attached is our letter to those publishers, no names are mentioned.

Lucasfilm Ltd. does own all rights to the Star Wars characters and we are going to insist upon no pornography. This may mean no fanzines if that measure is what is necessary to stop the few from darkening the reputation our company is so proud of. For now, the few who ignore the limits of good taste have been turned over to our legal department for legal action.

If you, the fanzine editors, have comments, know of other stories of this nature, or wish to speak in defense of these publishers, please send such correspondence to Lucasfilm...

Thanks, Maureen Garrett, Director, Star Wars Fan Club

A Letter Sent to "Warped Space", "Alderaan", "Comlink", and Others: August 1981: Maureen Garrett, Director, Star Wars Fan Club

first page of another letter sent by Lucasfilm to Warped Space #46 and many other zines
second page of another letter sent by Lucasfilm to Warped Space #46 and many other zines

Text of the letter sent to Warped Space. While the letter is undated here, it was sent at the same time as the first letter (August 1981), as both letters appeared in full in Alderaan #15 and Warped Space #46.

Dear Publisher:

It has come to my attention that your recent publication has included an X-Rated story about the characters and situations from the STAR WARS Saga. this is not O.K. with Lucasfilm Ltd. I'm taking this opportunity to inform you of our reaction to your story.

Previously, as the Assistant Director of the OSWFC, I circulated word that X-Rated STAR WARS material should not appear in printed form in fanzines, in cartoons, or in any other form. I assumed that since word was passed around fandom that all STAR WARS porno was unacceptable, publishers would have enough common sense not to print any such pornography. Now that you have, I, as the Director of the Official STAR WARS Fan Club have to establish a written, legal policy against such indcidents [sic] of published STAR WARS pornography.

As a general guideline, the publisher of the questionable STAR WARS material should realize that, since all of the STAR WARS Saga is PG rated, any story those publishers do print should also be PG. Lucasfilm does not produce any X-Rated STAR WARS episodes, so why should we be placed in a light where people think we do? You may quote us on this, we can and will take legal action, starting today, against any and all publications that ignore good taste and violate this reasonable cease and desist letter.

Nothing can stop anyone from writing anything they like about the STAR WARS characters, but those characters are owned and controled [sic] by Lucasfilm Ltd. and George Lucas. You don't own these charactres [sic] and can't publish anything about them without permission.

The word has come from George Lucas, himself, that STAR WARS pornography is unquestionable unacceptable. The damage done to the wholesomeness associated with the STAR WARS Sage and its characters by such irresponsible publishers is permanent and hurts both Lucasfilm and its fans. Pornography is directly opposed to the very ideals and the spirit that the STAR WARS Saga embodies.

Aside from being illegal, there are many reasons why Lucasfilm Ltd. does not want either explicit sex or X-Rated STAR WARS stories. Our main concern is now can you prevent underage enthusiasts from reading your fanzine containing STAR WARS pornography? If the parent of this underage fan found his or her child reading such questionable material, how might this parent react? The effects of such an angry parent going to the PTA, their church, the local news, or even the National Enquireer [sic] could tarnish the good name of Lucasfilm. We are very proud of our reputation and resent this attempt to darken it.

Your name has been removed from the mailing list of publishers that will receive our publicity mailings and press kits from Lucasfilm Ltd. Productions. We will request copies of your fanzine to check on further stories. A copy of your fanzine and appropriate data have been forwarded to our legal department and further action will be taken by them. Please write back with any reply to Lucasfilm Ltd, P.O. Box 2009, San Rafael, CA 94912, Attn: Legal Department.

Sincerely, Maureen Garrett, Director, STAR WARS Fan Club

Maureen Garrett Thanks a Zine Editor for Behaving Well

The editor of Archaeology 101 "lovingly" dedicated her zine to: "to George Lucas, a man with a Vision; Harrison Ford, the vehicle of the Vision; and Steven Spielberg, the pilot of the Vision."

She adds:

For those of you who don't know the material content policy set for this zine it is simply this: no explicit sex; innuendo is perfectly acceptable. This is in keeping with Lucasfilm Ltd.'s policy concerning STAR WARS pornography. (See EMPIRE REVIEW #4 for Official information.) I do realize that SW & TESB are not as "adult" and "mature" as RotLA, and I will take this into consideration, believe me. (After all, how can you handle a story about an affair between a 28 year old man and a 15 year old girl?)

Included in the zine is a letter of comment by Maureen Garrett:

Thanks for the flyers on the upcoming RAIDERS fanzine. I think you have some thing there...ARCHAEOLOGY 101. I might even paint 'I Love You' on my eyelids.

By the way, thanks for telling people that you will not print X-rated stuff.

Anything on upcoming RAIDERS films is inaccessible. I wish I knew! Cryptically speaking, and for goodness snakes, I dig Indy, too.

Response to the First Letter: Fall 1981: Linda Deneroff

In fall of 1981, Linda Deneroff wrote of the letter she received from George Lucas:

[printed in Universal Translator #3 and Jundland Wastes #4]: By the time this sees print, some of you will have heard about the letter I received from Lucasfilm on the 3rd of August, or may have even received a letter yourselves, but as I write this I am still very upset over the implications this letter contains for all of us. The letter I received is a warning that Lucasfilm has re-evaluated its policy 'and it will no longer be safe for publishers such as you to feel immune from enforcement action by Lucasfilm.' This is in reaction to having published 'Slow Boat to Bespin,' which Lucusfilm evidently considers X-rated... My co-editor and I were concerned about Lucasfilm's reaction to the story and we submitted it to Lucasfilm almost a year in advance... Word reached us back... that Lucasfilm had said the story was all right to print. What I resent is the attitude I perceive which says 'Go ahead and print; we'll tell you later if you've exceeded our standards.' ... Obviously, Lucas now considers 'Slow Boat to Bespin' to be x-rated (Lucasfilm's term, not ours) certainly Cynthia and myself do not, or we would not have printed it... It will be interesting to see what happens in the state of fannish publishing in the coming months. [25]

Another letter by Linda Deneroff, also in the fall of 1981:

[printed in Comlink #3]: By now, I guess, everyone has read Lucasfilm's form letter regarding standards for Star Wars stories. I certainly have no objections to keeping stories within the realm of PG, but I do resent the manner in which Lucasfilm has finally gotten around to putting pen to paper. Having read the form letter (which, by the way is far more caustic and no where near the same letter as the one personally addressed to Mazeltough Press) ((the letter has been printed in its entirety — Ed.)), I am appalled by Lucasfilm's attitude as expressed. Fandom has been asking for guidelines for over a year ((I have letters from Craig Miller, former fan liaison for Lucasfilm Ltd., concerning their proposed fanzine policy, the earliest letter was dated October 29, 1977 — AM)) and gotten no reply, yet they act as if the matter had never come up before, as if they hadn't had the slightest inkling that we had made such requests in the past. (I want to thank everyone who's dropped me a line or in other ways given moral support — aid and comfort to the enemy? — to both Cynthia and me. I regret that Lucasfilm targeted Guardian in the first place, but I believe we have settled that.) Obviously, Lucasfilm makes no distinction between sensual, erotic or pornographic and does not see the gray area between PG and X; they've obviously never heard of R. Yet they know that there are many adult fans of Star Wars (and by that I mean simple chronological age) and we create material of interest to ourselves. Children want the buttons, toys, games and puzzles. Some adults collect these too, but we're also interested in the literature of ideas. Star Wars is a perfect universe for speculation. Like anything else, some of these speculations are not for children, either because they're about violence, sex, or because the concepts are beyond a child's understanding and would confuse him or her. But I digress. I've always believed that Lucasfilm has the right to set standards for Star Wars stories and I don't mind maintaining a PG standard (my criterion has always been "Can I let my mother read this?" for printing stories in Guardian), but the issue boils down to what is PG? (I've read several professional articles arguing that Raiders of the Lost Ark should have been rated R for violence. Even "Sneak Previews" on PBS thought it was rated R and listed it as such when they reviewed it.) It comes down to taste and culture. And since Lucasfilm is holding all the cards, I firmly believe it is up to them to state their terms clearly — graphically, if necessary — so that we can follow them. The cards are stacked against us if we use our own judgement and then Lucasfilm decides to go ahead and sue.[26]

Response to the First Letter: Fall 1981: Lori Chapek-Carleton

Lori Chapek-Carleton, editor of Warped Space, included copies of the first two letters by Garrett in an insert to "Warped Space" #46, and included her response, one which touched upon "Warped Space's" inclusion of the story Ships in the Night, albeit with some text removed.

It was preceded by:It preceded by:

response by Lori Chapek-Carleton printed on an insert to Warped Space #46; Chapek-Carleton also included the text of the first two letters by Garrett

Ahem ... You're probably wondering what happened to pages 107^112 of "Ships in the Night" which have been left out of your copy of WARPED SPACE 46. By way of explanation, we are reprinting a set of letters below which we received after we'd already gone to press.

[the two Garrett letters]

While we do not consider anything we've published, including this story, to be "pornographic", we've withheld those pages containing some mildly explicit descriptions. As the wording in Ms. Garrett's letters is rather vague, we can only hope we've accurately second-guessed her intended meaning.

Since the main concern expressed in these letters seems to be that objectionable SW material stay out of the hands of underage readers, we will only make the deleted pages available to those subscribers who send us a legal size s.a.s.e. (with 18? postage) and a signed statement that they are eighteen years old or older. Anyone wishing the missing pages to be mailed flat must provide appropriate materials for packing and stiffening as well as the appropriate additional postage.

We will attempt to obtain more specific guidelines from Ms. Garrett so that we may avoid awkward situations of this sort in future issues. While we do not fully agree with Ms. Garrett's descriptions of the legal aspects of various points, we believe George Lucas has certain moral rights concerning the characters he created. If he or his representatives will provide specific guidelines as to what he finds objectionable, we will"attempt to comply with such standards.

We are also interested in the opinions of our subscribers concerning the use of STAR WARS-saga characters in adult situations.

Letters Sent to "Jundland Wastes" and "News of the Rebellion": September 1981: Maureen Garrett, Director, Star Wars Fan Club

Maureen Garrett wrote a letter that was published in the November issue of Jundland Wastes #5/6. It was dated September 17, 1981 and addressed a later by Chris Callahan.[27]

Thank you for your letter of 10 September, 1981. I am glad that you took time to read the imfamous [sic] "Dear publisher" letter, that ALDERAAN published it and that you responded with your comments.

More thanks for your support on this touchy issue. Note; Most of what I have read I would not consider pornographic either, but there are some stories in which authors went too far. A Lucasfilm employee who forwarded one such story to my desk was profoundly shocked, in her words, "It was like it was happening to friends of mine!" I will continue to decline to name names, but I will tell you that the infamous "Dear Publisher" letter was not drafted in response to the "Slow Boat to Bespin" stories. We objected to elements in the story in a polite legal letter to the publishers. They quickly responded with a polite "ok" and, as far as I know, we are on good terms. As to the friend of a friend asking for an opinion on the "Slow Boat to Bespin" stories, she did. She received a firm, but polite "No", not as they stand. I don't doubt Linda Deneroff's statement as to her conversation via the friend of a friend, but if she truly wanted to check our opinion she should have written us directly and asked. I don't see any misunderstanding, but must agree about some "altering" somewhere.

The legal requirements upon fan editors is that under copyright law publishing without permission is illegal. The cumbersome legal system makes the effort required to stop a low-circulation fanzine disproportionately large, but when such copyright infringement includes material we feel is unacceptable and tarnishprove relations with that editor in my let-tier, only stop his questionable stories. The points made in my letter might have been vague and the attitude imperfect, but so far the majority of everyone who has responded has shown that they understood what I was trying to say.

Our legal policy is now being written. Copies will be sent to our entire listing of STAR WARS Fanzines and to those contributors who have written in requesting copies as well. Just like the "Dear Publisher" letter, I had hoped to avoid this Herculean task by circulating informal word as to the unacceptability of certain topics. Now, everything must be cleared through legal and rewritten in terms a lay person can understand. The legal point of copyright infringement is simple ask permission before you publish anyone's copyrighted material and only publish after you receive written permission. Our interest lies in the ceasing of X-rated or questionable publications, not in legal action for damages on previously-published material. However, now that we are aware of the stories we feel it is necessary to stress that they must not be reprinted without our prior approval. The removal of anyone from our mailing list for press mailings and kits was a last minute tack on and probably should have been omitted. No one is currently off that list I can name. We would only remove a name under the most flagrant of cases and then reluctantly.

Thank you for your response to the letter. You brought up several good points. I will forward our policy as soon as it is ready. I am sending a copy of my reply to you to both COMLINK and JUNDLAND WASTES.

Sincerely, Maureen Garrett, Director STAR WARS Fan Club, Fan Relations

Letters Sent to "Jundland Wastes" and "News of the Rebellion": October 1981: Maureen Garrett, Director, Star Wars Fan Club

This letter, dated October 7, 1981, was published in Jundland Wastes #5/6 (November 1981) and in News of the Rebellion #10 (December 1981):

Dear STAR WARS Fanzine Publishers and Contributor: As you may have heard, Lucasfilms Ltd. recently sent letters to a number of fan publications expressing our concern about the unacceptability of certain material in STAR Wars Fan Fiction. This letter raised many questions from fan editors and contributors. Our policy is as follows:

The key factor which we would like all fanzine publishers and contributors to keep in mind is the wholesome nature and broad-based appeal of the STAR WARS Saga. The character of the films and all the authorized literature themselves best illustrate the manner in which we believe the STAR WARS Saga should be depicted. Lucasfilm can only appeal to your sense of decency and respect for the STAR WARS characters in asking that you consider our desires. Lucasfilm objects to material that contains: pornography, vulgarity, or explicit gore and violence. -- The kind of writing which 99.9% of you have already labeled as "garbage."

Our wish is perhaps best expressed by a letter from an understanding fan. 'I suppose I have a rather simplistic view of the subject. If George Lucas and his friends come to my house and went out to play in my backyard, I'd expect them to abide by my rules that you don't stamp on the fuchsias, play basketball in the vegetable garden or tear fronds off my eight foot tall Tasmanian tree fern. If they choose to ignore my request, they would suffer the consequences of that choice. I guess I figure that when we publish fanzines or write fan stories for publication that involve the STAR WARS characters, we are, in essence, "playing" in George's yard. Therefore, out of courtesy and respect for him, I will abide by his rule not to publish or write for publication explicit sexual material that uses his characters.

We hope you understand that our policy is an exercise in OWNERSHIP not censorship. The law enumerates certain privileges which belong to any copyright owner; one of these privileges is the exclusive right to reproduce in any medium, the characters, plot, setting, and any other elements of his story and to prevent third parties from publishing unauthorized work substantially similar to his own.

Lucasfilm supports the publication of STAR WARS Fanzines. We value your interest, appreciate your opinions"and trust your intentions. If you have any questions, please write or call. Maureen Garrett: Director - Star Wars Fan Club, Frances Smith: Legal Counsel.

[The letter in News of the Rebellion #10 was identical to the one in Jundland Wastes #5/6 except for the addition of "P.O. Box 2009, San Rafael, California -94912- Telephone, (415) 457-5282."]

The editor of News of the Rebellion #10 prefaced Garrett's letter in her zine with:

Thanks to Lucasfilm Ltd. for being interested in 'News Of The Rebellion', and to Maureen Garrett (Director of the Star Wars Fan Club). Hey, folks, this is one fantastic lady and we should all be glad that she cares about the fans, even going out of her way to help when she can... Please pay close attention to the announcement following all this as it is very important.

Another Response Letter: November 1981: Lucasfilm

copy of letter dated November 1, 1981, click to read

When two editors of a proposed zine, "Excelsior" [28], wrote Garrett asking for clarification, they received a letter in response, one that did a fair amount of waffling about what constituted offensive content.

We decided that there would not be a set of 'guidlines' [sic] because any attempt on our part to prejudge the totality of what might be unacceptable would be woefully inadequate and would contain as many words as an average encyclopedia... We like to receive four issues of a fanzine. Bill us for three and send one gratuitously. The latter becomes part of the Lucasfilm Archives.

Later Comments by Linda Deneroff: 1982, 1993

In 1982, Linda Deneroff, editor of Guardian, wrote of the phone call between Maureen Garrett and herself:

...regarding this matter, Maureen called me some time toward the end of September. I don't remember the date, but it was before the guidelines were sent out, and we had a very interesting conversation. Basically, Maureen apologized about 'Slow Boat', saying, in effect, that she had spoken to my friend and realized that there had been a lack of communication between them regarding "Slow Boat", and that certainly in relation to the story for which the original two form letters were intended, 'Slow Boat' was small potatoes. Incidentally, as I pointed out to Maureen, for a story that was printed in a foreign country and which very, few fans in this country are ever going to see, they indeed had overreacted and I was glad to see a more level-headed policy emerging. [29]

In 1993, Linda Deneroff recounted the whole affair to fans:

Allyson has asked me to comment on the Lucasfilm flap of 1981 regarding their policy on fan stories... The short and skinny is this: In the summer of 1981, an English-language zine was published in Sweden called Dark Lord (not to be confused with the American zine of the same name that appeared later). The zine contained a story (title unknown to me) in which Han Solo was brutalized by Darth Vader in a sadistic, sexual manner. At approximately the same time, Guardian 3, of which was co-editor, premiered, and featured two vignettes both titled, Slow Boat to Bespin. Each story told a different view of what happened on that journey. The accompanying artwork by Martynn featured a picture of Han and Leia in bed with one of her breasts exposed, but otherwise rather discreet, all things considered. In any event, it is my impression that both zines reached Lucasfilm at approximately the same time, and they apparently saw this as damaging to their reputation trend. Now, I don't have first-hand knowledge of what the Swedish editor received from Lucasfilm, although I later received (through the fannish grapevine) a purported copy of that letter. On the other hand, I have copy of the correspondence we received from the Lucasfilm attorney, our reply to that letter, and the response to that letter from Maureen Garrett. Mazeltough Press's correspondence with Lucasfilm has never been published (I checked my back issues of Alderaan, Jundland Wastes, and Comlink. If we published it elsewhere, I've forgotten where. [30]

In 1993, Linda Deneroff commented on these two letters:

Please note that nowhere in the attorney's letter is there any cease-and-desist. Obviously, the attorney considered our reply acceptable, because we never heard from him again. I should also point out that the attorney was absolutely correct when he said we should have submitted the stories to Lucasfilm ourselves, not to trust a third party. Like I said, we foolishly thought the situation would end there. After all, this was between us and them, we agreed to be more discreet in our our choice of stories, and we were totally unaware of the situation regarding Dark Lord. However, things got worse. Maureen Garrett, then the SW fan club president, decided to go public and address a letter to fandom in general. And thus was created the Lucasfilm flap, as we called it. It all blew over, eventually, but Lucasfilm never did issue any clear guidelines and left fans feeling very bitter. [31]

A Small Band of Rebels

from Kessel Run #3 (1983), Eluki bes Shahar's artistic commentary: Three men ponder a zine, the middle figure is George Lucas: The first man says, "Hm... It's tasteful... It's Well-Done... Beautiful..." Lucas says, "I'd say it's art..." The third man says, "But is it wholesome?"
from Kessel Run #3 (1983), Eluki bes Shahar's artistic commentary: A fan opens the door and several stormtroopers are there holding brief cases. The fan says, "Um...? The lawyers from Lucasfilm are here."

Not all fans accepted the thematic restrictions imposed by the Star Wars fan club and Lucasfilm.

In the summer of 1981, the editor of the zine Imperial Entanglements submitted a non-explicit slash story written by Barbara T and another author to Lucasfilm for their review and consideration.[32] This story was called Hoth Admiral.

In September 1981, Maureen Garrett and Lucasfilm's legal counsel rejected the story, saying:

We're terribly sorry, but we cannot authorize homosexual expression of love among the characters created by George Lucas. This controversial subject must remain detached from the world created by Lucasfilm in order to preserve the innocence even Imperial crew members must be imagined to have.

Your story does not need our characters in order to portray homosexuality among certain crew members of an other-worldly vessel in galactic space and time. There are deeper, psychological themes which should be creatively explored here, in fact you are unnecessary restricting yourself by forcing the story into the confines of the characters you have chosen to copy.

If you rework your story using characters of your own imagination, rather than being forced to abandon your ideas, you will find your self with a work entirely your own and increase its value ten-fold.

Thank you for forwarding your story. Please do not publish your story with our characters. [33]

an illo by Contessa from The Sith Yearbook #1 (1983) which comments on the controversy

regarding The Executor Cycle: "Good grief, Serzho ... what did we DO!?"]]

The editor of Imperial Entanglements wrote a letter of protest directly to Lucasfilm. In the letter, she explained that the proposed story contained no physical expressions of any kind of sexual activity and lacked reference to anatomical details. By excluding non-explicit homosexual fan fiction while allowing non-explicit heterosexual fanfiction, Lucasfilm would be adopting a prejudicial and offensive attitude towards gays and lesbians. She also took issue with the concept that "even Imperial crew members" must be allowed to maintain their "innocence" by pointing out that these same Imperial crew members had committed acts of genocide, mutilation and torture. And by setting "homosexual expressions of love" in opposition to "innocence" Lucasfilm would be implying that homosexuality was morally undesirable. The letter ended with the editor somewhat wryly commenting that previously published slash fan fiction in the Star Wars universe had not harmed the Star Wars brand. An official policy of prejudice against an organized minority might, however. The editor then distributed the two letters amongst Star Wars fanzine publishers. [34]

A month passed, and soon second-hand reports began circulating that perhaps Lucasfilm might be reconsidering their stance against slash fan fiction. On October 21, 1981 one of the authors, Barbara T wrote directly to Maureen Garrett seeking confirmation of the rumors:

Thank you very much for the several statements I have heard of that you've made to the effect that you've reconsidered the Executor stories...sent to you in mid-September by [the editor], and that you no longer intend to object to their being published. I hope this also applies to other fan-written stories involving homosexual characters, as long as they, too, remain non-explicit about sex and within the rather nebulous bounds of good taste. May I have your confirmation of these secondhand reports? I have received no reply to my original letter, and as one of the authors of this material, I am naturally rather anxious to know, directly from you, what your intentions are.[35]

The response was brief and to the point:

This is to confirm our conversation that we do not object to fan-written stories involving homosexual characters, as long as they, too, remain non-explicit about sex and within the rather nebulous bounds of good taste. [36]

And so the first "officially sanctioned" non-explicit and, yes, in the rather nebulously bounds of good taste, Star Wars slash story was published. Also see: Hoth Admiral.

These Letters' Effect on Other Fandoms

Very shortly before the seminal Starsky & Hutch slash zine,"Trace Elements," was printed, a fan wrote:

On a more serious note, the open publication of TRACE ELEMENTS should shortly tell us what, if any, practical consequences are involved In the writing and distribution of S/H. Here's to courage.

I only hope that the anti's are aware by now that legal action stands to damage the gentlemen we all respect and admire so deeply at least as much as it might harm the publishers. Possibly more; the information I've tried to pass on in these pages comes from a copyright lawyer as well as from experience with Trek, and I've no reason to believe it unsound. I think these self-appointed censors should be aware, too, that it's been some time since they were anonymous. It's a matter of courtesy and an abhorrence of vigilante tactics that's prevented their being publicly named and called to account. They've been given the benefit of a forbearance they've neither earned nor practiced themselves. Let's hope they learn something from it.

One more thing, and I apologize to Leslie for drawing on our private correspondence here, but I think this is important. Fish was given some misinformation at Z-Con, and told that the way to protect S/H writers and publishers was to "take on LucasFilm and beard (Lucas' censor) in her den." Which Is a load of damp catcrap. It looks to me very much as If person or persons who do have cause to be worried about Lucas' rumored crack-down are trying to use S&H, S&F fandom and the S/H debate to take the pressure off themselves. To take, too, the brunt of any unpleasant consequences. I object to this, quite strenuously. Our own internal differences are potentially destructive enough; let's not get drafted into somebody else's war. [37]

Fan Reaction

The reactions of individual fans, of course, were varied.

Some fans didn't have a problem with Lucasfilm's policy, stating they didn't like to read about explicit sex anyway, or that Lucasfilm had the perfect right to dictate what was written as Star Wars was his creation. Some fans cited the Star Trek fandom's supposed decline into fanfiction debauchery and didn't want Star Wars to take a similar route. Other fans wrote that they would write fanfic with sex, but would keep the material "tasteful." Some fans were extremely upset, cried censorship and stifled creativity, and they questioned the ownership of the Star Wars creative world. And yes, some fans openly declared that they would write and draw whatever they pleased, regardless of George Lucas' preferences.

After the first of these letters, a common unique disclaimer in early Star Wars zines noted in their submission requests that "Lucas's standards will be followed" or 'Please observe Lucas Film guidelines" or "All stories must conform to Lucasfilm guidelines."

One thing to keep in mind: at the time of these letters from LucasFilm, there hadn't been any Star Wars slash fiction printed at all in zines, making George Lucas' objections based solely on explicit het pass-around and drawerfic material that was being casually mailed from fan to fan.

K.S. Boyd noted that:

...these guidelines were vague and overall were considered to be fairly useless, but they had the desired effect of squashing the budding slash community working in the Star Wars universe. Adult fiction was published, but it remained deeply underground. Over the years a few cease-and-desist orders have been sent out in other fandoms, but none with the same widespread repercussions as the Lucasfilm letters. [38]


Sunday's highlight [of Denvention]: — I think that's what it should be called, if only out of the true charitableness of my heart — was the meeting between the editors of Star Wars zines (We did The Lighter Side of the Force, and will be doing The Lighter Side Strikes Back... Real Soon Now) and Maureen Garrett, representing Lucasfilms. It was truly... an experience. Maureen seems like a fairly nice person caught between her personal opinions and the ones she is being paid to promote. The meeting was called to discuss the recent appearance of *GASP* Pornographic Star Wars stories! It seems Lucasfilms fears some member of the Moral Majority will leaf through an x-rated zine their kid picked up at a con, decide the entire SWars Saga and all folk involved therein are in league with the devil, and call up the National Enquirer posthaste, all to the detriment of the pure and wholesome reputation Star Wars now enjoys.

The meeting did not result in bloodshed, or even unnecessary harshness from either side. Unfortunately, neither did it result in any clear cut resolution, at least at that time. The editors were given no useful guidelines (though I hear some are at last being drawn up) on what was OK/Not OK. For instance, we learned that a cartoon showing two Imperial walkers mating like dogs was acceptable, but a story scene with Han tonguing Leia's nipple was not. All things considered, I'm really glad I'm not interested in writing adult material in the SWars universe, because it sounds like endless heartaches. [39]

Submission Guidelines [for Far Horizons] :

SEX: If it serves a purpose in the story, isn't too graphic, and is tastefully written, then it's probably okay. There's no hard and fast rule here. Each story will be judged on its own merit. Just remember, FH is not an X-rated zinel Also, no SW stories with any homosexual content. It is my understanding that Lucasfilm does not like such stories, and I do not want to put FH in bad odor with Lucasfilm! [40]

Star Wars porn has gotten out of hand — should never have existed in the first place — and Lucasfilm has wisely stepped in and asked us, the editors, to improve our product. X-rated stuff — or any kind of excess — doesn't help George Lucas in his artistic efforts. It embarrasses him and the actors we all like so much. And it doesn't help us to get the kind of Star Wars films we want. What's more, it may invite outside forces such as the PTA or the Enquirer to stick their paws in our business and favorite hobby—writing good Star Wars stories. (Believe me, one headline like "Cult Magazines Encourage Immorality — Lucas Blasted!" is more frightening than a thousand Wampas.)

We're not suggesting that sex does not exist in the Star Wars universe, and we're not saying it has no place in your stories. We simply feel that the level of fantasy in many stories has gotten spastic, uncontrolled. Many writers have gotten carried away and are asking others to enjoy the spectacle. It's a matter of style rather than content; you can make sexuality, love and flirtation much more powerful by suggesting it, and thus your characters will come across much more powerfully.


Lucasfilm has suggested a useful guideline: imagine that your story is a complete feature-length film, part of the Star Wars series. Is there anything up on that screen that embarrasses you or looks out of place? Remember, once it's printed up and distributed, your story is no longer a private dream or an idea shared among a few friends; it's out there in the light of day. Just like Lucas' movies. And believe me, that shouldn't scare you into not writing; it's a blessing. [41]

I must say something about this censorship charge which some fans are making against Lucasfilm Ltd. — It's a general statement, not to be considered a condemnation of "Slow Boat to Bespin" 1 & 2, neither of which I consider "X-rated." I know I'm on very shaky legal ground here (and, unfortunately, "legal" does not equal "ethical" in our system) but I feel that an author has the moral right to say what should or should not be done with his/her characters. As a writer, I know how I'd feel if someone took my characters and used them in stories without regard to my wishes. It would be like attacks on my children. (If I had children.) Some fans mention fair use. What about being "fair" to Mr. Lucas? If he asks us not to publish certain types of situations involving his characters, we owe him the creator of a fictional universe which has given us all literally years of enjoyment, the respect and consideration which we ourselves would appreciate if our positions were reversed. After standards are published, I certainly cannot consider it "censorship" if Lucasfilm finds it necessary to enforce them. It seems that many people need to learn the difference between censorship and protection of one's intellectual property from what amounts to vandalism. "Grab mentality" and the "anything goes" attitude are just as distasteful and extremist as literary suppression is. [42]

... I've heard about the mess with Lucasfilm's nebulous little "no-no" letter. I just hope people don't try to force the issue (e.g., demand that Lucasfilm be specific-to-the-nth-degree, about what they mean by the PG rating), because that's a very sticky situation (you'll not even get 2 official movie censors to agree on their own rating systems, it's so subjective) and if the Lucasfilm people get peeved at being backed to a wall by the fans, I can see them just eliminating the whole problem by saying, "No fanzines at all, anymore, period." Which could have serious repercussions for other fandoms, as well. ((Amen, I don't think that fans realize the magnitude of the situation — what we do now may very well effect those fandoms in existence and those to come. This issue and our reaction should be seriously considered before things can get out of hand — AM))- People should use common sense and tread softly: Keep the sex-oriented stuff to themselves, for their private, small-group enjoyment and not publish in any form. Surely there are plenty of other interesting themes in the SW universe than who's lusting after whom. Gonads do not necessarily make the cosmos turn; ask any amoebae and they'll say it's fission! Seriously folks, I know that sounds autocratic, saying what people "should" do with their sexually-oriented material, and I share the writers' disgruntlement with having to relegate it to private distribution. It is most certainly a legitimate theme in any universe that has sexual reproduction, and it's virtually impossible to eliminate it completely from the lives, thoughts, and choices made by sexual beings (and I have no doubt that the SW characters, with the possible exception of the droids — and I'm not too sure about C3P0! — are sexual beings). But to have sexuality as the central theme of any story seems like asking for trouble, how, so I feel that "should not" must apply here in terms of each writer/editor's responsibility to the rest of fandom(s). Like it or not, each of us represents — in the non-fans' minds — the rest of fandom. Disconcerting thought, isn't it? (It goes both ways. The Softball jerks at MediaWest Con will forever represent Softball "fandom" and its drunken obnoxiousness for me. Not fair, as probably most of the Softball players in the hotel were not involved in the hullaballoo, the pickled few created, but there is an almost irresistible human tendency ((and I suffer from it as much as the next person)) to generalize from a sample even as small as one, if it's noisy enough. This is why I wince at the thoughtlessness of such fen as the Duncans, Barbara Gordon... Foot-in-mouth disease of one of us inevitably affects how the mundane world perceives us as a whole. [43]

I was asked by one of the editors of
 this letterzine to look into the matter of "fair use" and copyright infringement because of recent developments concerning certain editors and zines involved in a dispute with Lucasfilm. Also I know that there are still many misconceptions concerning this matter and I hope that I can clear them up. According to what I read during my research, because we have created new adventures encompassing trademarked and copyrighted materials — characters, story lines, designs, et al, — we are not complying to the narrow band that "fair use" protects in this kind of case. Concerning the problem that occurred with certain zine "editors" and Lucasfilm, some people asked whether Lucas film has the rights to prosecute for infringement. Absolutely. The problem arose when a nice story was published concerning the characters of Han and Leia and a romantic encounter between Hoth and Bespin. What was written in the letters between editors and Lucasfilm is not important. The only thing that matters is that the many people said that no suit could be brought against anyone who published in fandom. Again, this is a misconception. Lucasfilm stated that it is infringement and wanted assurance that a story of the kind that was published would never be done so again. Because the Star Wars saga was made with a well-rounded audience in mind, because the story was, to them, not presentable to people who the original product was meant for, Lucasfilm felt that usage in context could threaten existing image of original product, and thus be harmful to the owner(s), it devalues property thus creating infringement. This is a prosecutable [sic] offense. "Fair use" is a very narrow band of protection. It does not apply in this case. Even though zines are non-profit, non-commercial enterprise, and we are not in competition with the original. Infringement still is applied because the way the rule is written. Since we have not actually copied parts of the original story, but taken the story, expanded, and speculated on characters and relationships to one another, we have created a new product, thus exceeding the boundaries of "fair use." It is still up to a judge, if this ever gets to court, but as stated before, it would be too costly and most unfavorable in public opinion if Lucasfilm ever tried to take this to court. Considering also that there is no precedent to a case like this. It is too early to tell. Let's hope that soon, Lucasfilm will make a policy statement as to what they feel is appropriate and what they feel is not. We as a group have been asking for guidelines? as to what they will allow for a long time. Let's hope that now this is over, they will do so. [44]

... regarding the current Lucasfilm flap about 'adult material/censorship': I have no intent to become a cause celebre, nor do I intend to be a defiant martyr. I appreciate all those who have gotten in touch with me to give me moral support. I think... that I will be able to continue writing in this universe, but I WILL go on record as saying that, if the SWARS saga is teaching children that love and creation and life (and yes, sex!) between two people who LOVE one another is wrong ('unwholesome' was the word used), but death and violence and destruction is NOT wrong, then maybe Lucasfilm should re-examine its priorities... [45]

Lucas doesn't appear to want to teach children that love and sex is wrong, but think about the way children see things. The more explicit you get, the more a child will say, 'Oh, sick, gross.' Shall we teach children that sex is sick and gross? [46]

... part of the reason Lucasfilm thinks its position is clear and fans think it isn't is that the two sides aren't talking about the same thing, and neither side has made perfectly clear what it IS talking about... My personal feeling is that I don't mind the ban on explicit sex, partly because... I don't want to see SW fan fiction go the way of ST fan fiction. My hope is that after the fracas has passed and the ruffled feathers have been smoothed down, fans will direct their attention outward. The SW universe is huge, and there are a thousand stories in; with so much wide-open space, why retreat to the caves so soon? [47]

I am a TREKfan, and I have even been involved in the whole 'K/S' bit, which is one of the things George Lucas does not want in SW. Why? Well, there are many good reasons, and without making any moral judgements, there are other things to look at. For example, take a real good look at the TREKfic being published today, and you see something over 25% of it is devoted to K/S. Now, there is nothing wrong with this per se, but I have been in TREKfandom long enough to see a change in the quality of fiction. Part of what has happened ties with K/S: people are writing scenes and vignettes; descritpions of relationships (with or without overt sex) and the good, old, interesting ST/Sf action story with a good plot and good pacing and interesting situations and characters have almost disappeared. [48]

I am very interested in seeing the effect of this sad occurrence ["The Controversy"] on fannish publications in the near future. What I hope WON'T happen is that editors will get so nervous that they refuse to touch a story with any sort of sexual situation in it. It would be a sad state of affairs if we were limited to simple/action adventure stories that are a little more than a rehash of the movies, since one of the nice things about fan fiction is that it can work on levels and examine issues the movies didn't. [49]

All they are asking is that we keep the book we borrowed from George in good condition... We are all book-readers and can appreciated Mr. Lucas' wishes; it is HIS book after all and we are his courteous borrowers. [50]

We ought to have a little respect for the man whose genius has created the SW saga. We ought to be willing to trust him, not be in a hurry to vilify him and to exploit his creations for our own egos and libidos... For myself, I am in favor of this move against pornography wholeheartedly. When I first heard about K/S I was shocked and saddened. I hate to think that there are those who want to do the same and similar things to SW characters. [51]

Everything George Lucas has done only serves to raise my opinion of him. Anyone who is too selfish to appreciate his efforts, is someone whose SW fannishness I can't understand in the first place. Three million cheers for George Lucas! [52]

We [one of the editors of Imperial Entanglements] have the tradition of fan fiction, a genre of its own. Fan fiction may not be, strictly speaking, more 'realistic' than the movies, but it is a fantasy of another kind, closer to the psychological definition than the fairy tale one. Fan fiction uses mythic violence, but seems to be noted for its use of erotic rather than violent catharsis, one of the origins of the venerable, if frequently criticized Mary Sue genre. Erotic catharsis, in the form of of explicit lay-stories involving characters from media productions, is a valuable and strongly defined function of fan fiction, one I think is quite valid, although it is... far from the ONLY valid one. In attempting to censor such fiction, Lucasfilm is violating a tradition of the fanfiction genre which, as a couple of the letters indicated, 'altering the deal' and unfair. So it is, from this pov and this tradition... My own sympathies lie with the fan fiction tradition group, and I strongly hope Lucasfilm can be persuaded to back down in the area of other specific no-nos, as it did in the case of my specifically prohibited no-no. (For the sake of the five or ten people out there who didn't hear about it through the underground grapevine, that specific no-no was the use of homosexual characters -- non-explicit -- in SWARS fiction, including one very minor Imperial from the movies.) [53]

Despite the light that Carol Mularski and Judith Gran [54] have attempted to shed on the subject, pornography is not the same as copyright infringement. I believe that both Lucasfilm and fandom would lose if this has to go to court. I would like to implore fandom to impose a voluntary ban on X-rated fanzines. While some might argue that this infringes on freedom of expression, Lucasfilm does have a big stake in the characters they have created. Falling out of their good graces would be damaging to all, and not just the few who feel they have the right to use the SW characters as they please. [55]

I really don't think Lucasfilm or 20th Century Fox or any other corporation has any call to interfere in fan activities. As far as I'm concerned, I've "bought" SW/TESB several times. Everytime I pay for the ticket, I "buy" a small part of the movie. This, and the fact that fanzines are a social tool and not produced for profit. Tell me, what do you think the reaction would be if a fanzine [editor] was sued, for whatever reason? Somehow I don't think that either party would profit from it, no matter who won or lost. [56]

... there is something here which goes beyond the question of legality. Whether or not fans may legally write these stories, is a question for the courts to decide if and when the question arises. But fans do have one obligation which transcends the question of legality. In this I am referring to Lucas' request that no sexually explicit Star Wars stories be published. It is my feeling that, since Lucas created the characters of Star Wars, and therefore they are best known to him, it is his decision to make whether or not such stories may be published. If enough pornographic stories appear in print, Lucasfilm will be forced to take some sort of action, if only because the cannot back down fr the earlier request. Whether or not Lucasfilm could win a court case (and I suspect they could) the entire affair could ruin the fanzine "industry". I, for one, would not put out a fanzine if I knew there was a case in court. I would not even write for one. Even if the case were not decided in Lucasfilm's favor, there would be enough fear in fandom that many zines would be put out of existence. So, this is a plea to all would-be writers of Star Wars pornography and the already-existing writers of such. Please, do not continue doing this! Most of us are having a wonderful time writing fiction and would be very unhappy to see it disappear. I know how much fun it is to write sexually explicit material; I've done so myself, but I don't plan to publish it. Writing it and publishing it are two different things altogether. If you want other people to see your lovingly assembled porn, show it around, but don't publish it "officially" or there may be trouble for which the vast majority of fandom would never forgive you. [57]

Due to these letters, at least one zined, Jani Hicks, said she would no longer publish or purchase Star Wars materials, citing fear as well as complete disillusionment:

I cannot, I will not live with censorship backed by threats of litigation when I have acted, and continue to act, in good faith with the copyright owners. I am willing to abide by voluntary controls; I will not comply with the Rule of Gold -- the one with the gold makes the rules. Therefore, and sadly, I announce the retirement of D'Ego-Boo Press from active fandom subsequent to the publication of Thunderbolt and Twin Suns #3. After that time, I will be writing, editing, publishing and buying no more professional or amateur Star Wars material, including fanzines. I would hope that a few hardy souls would make the break with me, but I advocate no boycott or other action against Lucasfilm, since that would not speak well of fandom and its intentions. Nor would I presume to dictate to the fannish conscience; we are more than capable of making our own individual moral decision. I have made mine, and I do invite anyone feeling likewise to follow the dictates of their own inner voices... In less formal terms, my decision to retire was influences by a comment from a friend. 'Remember the Clone Wars?' she asked. I nodded. She ended, 'The Clones won.' [58]

A fan writes an Open Letter to Lucas himself:

... I am returning the Raiders of the Lost Ark presskit that was sent to me unasked for, along with a letter that implies I owe you a copy of my fanzine, Kessel Run since the zine would not exist if not for Lucasfilm. Since I have paid full ticket price to see both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back over 25 times each... I am seriously question just exactly WHO owes WHOM! If not for the movie fans, none of these movies would have become as successful as they have... Your comment about underaged fans' parents catching their little darlings reading what you consider to be X-rated material and having a bad reaction is ridiculous. Not only have Star Trek editors been publishing fanzines with Kirk/Spock stories for over five years without such a thing ever happening, but these editors have all but carried out their moral and legal obligation to request their buyers to present some kind of proof or affirmation that they are of legal age for buying such material. Ar you going to imply that any Star Wars editor who chose to publish similar type material would not pay heed to the same moral obligation? And, speaking of the Star Trek zines, you could do well to take a lesson in open-mindedness from Gene Roddenberry himself. [59]

A fan writes that ST and SW are different in that, while ST is Gene Roddenberry's creation, there were many different writers of the show and that with SW, George Lucas is the only creator:

It is, afterall, George Lucas's game from step one. [60]

Addressing Lucas himself, a fan writes:

On to your threat of legal action... In view of your previous UNofficial request that no X-rated/porn material be published, writers and editors certainly had a moral obligation to respect your wishes, according to their interpretations of 'X-rated' or 'porn.' But moral and legal are not necessarily the same thing. [61]

A fan writes that accusing fans of writing X-rated fiction is an "attempt to darken Lucasfilm's reputation" is wrong.

...most of what I've read I would not consider pornography... I'm sure none of the writers or editors had any intention of [that] and most likely never even thought of their work as possibly having that effect. Accusing them of deliberately causing or trying to cause damage is neither ethical, legal, nor conducive to improving relations between Lucasfilm and fandom. [62]

A fan blames Star Trek for the censorship conflicts:

STAR TREK spoiled fandom. Because Paramount didn't choose to exercise their copyright rights with regard to fan fiction, some people in fandom choose to believe that those rights never existed, and because of that, that Lucasfilm has no right to restrict stories written about their characters. Wrong. See that little mark after the name Han Solo? See that little mark after the name Luke Skywalker? Those are copyright marks. [63]

From the editor of Warped Space:

...for those of you who didn't hear how the Lucasfilm "censorship" flap has resolved itself — basically it was generally agreed that everyone over-reacted, and the matter has pretty much died away. Lucasfilm is depending on the editors' good taste and judgment in decid[ing] what is printable, and we haven't heard of any further furor. We heard nothing detrimental concerning "Ships in the Night" from Lucasfilm, and they did get their perquisite four copies of WARPED SPACE 46. - Lori Chapek-Carleton [64]

From a fan commenting on a recent story, Ships in the Night:

...for those readers who sent in an age statement, is 'Ships in the Night.' [...] This story should be required reader for every aspiring writer of erotica, as an example of How To Do It Right. It is complemented by illos in Joni Wagner's best style, although the artist seems to have been inhibited by Lucasfilm's recent pronouncements into making the illos a bit more PG than the story really deserves.[65]

More comments about Ships in the Night:

"Ships in the Night" was adorable but I can see where Lucasfilm might get a little upset about it. It isn't a suitable story for kids and I approve of your policy of signing for it at the time of purchase. However ... how many fanzine readers are under eighteen? Speaking solely from personal experience. I've noticed less than 25% of 'zine readers are that young and even that may be a high estimate. Lucasfilm should get to know us better, maybe they'd have a better idea of what we consist of ...[66]

More comments about Ships in the Night:

Alas, poor "Ships in the Night"--an emergency appendectomy (or was that hysterectomy ... or the operation for the other sex?). Arrgh. (Of course, I'm grateful that you didn't castrate the copy you sent me [67], but I imagine there are going to be a lot of disgruntled readers. Hang in there.) Well, eventually, the mess with LF will be straightened out, I suppose. Meanwhile, thank you, Moral Majority. [68]

More comments about Ships in the Night:

Ms. Garrett states in her letter that STAR WARS pornography is unacceptable and does damage to the wholesomeness associated with the character. I do not consider what WARPED SPACE prints to be pornography. Porno is what you find in cheap, badly-written men's magazines. Besides, a person could do a paper on the multitude of sexual innuendos present in both SW movies. Luke is not young and blond, nor Han dark and fiery by mistake. The way I see it, all life is a struggle. In such a struggle, warmth and closeness become important factors in maintaining physical and emotional well-being. In the SW universe, the Rebel Alliance is in a tight situation. If its members can derive comfort from each other, then this is to their benefit and ultimate survival. Sex is apart of life. If the characters are going to appear to be real people, then they'll get laid from time to time. As long as the writing of it is tasteful and of good quality, there shouldn't be any conflict of morals. [69]

More comments about Ships in the Night:

The six missing pages in "Ships in the Night" were far more suggestive to my fertile mind than what was written on them. This is one of the problems of censorship ... With a clear-cut censorship, the crafty author may aptly avoid the specific words and details expressly forbidden, and achieve an expression of the same thing in a more subtle way. However, censors usually prefer a vague statement of what is forbidden emphasizing the penalties of stepping across very ill-defined and fuzzy boundaries. This I feel is done deliberately. If one is unsure as to what will be penalized, the timid or peaceable natures will avoid the area altogether while those who delight in shocking (or who have to use a bludgeon on the reader) will barge on in and create obscene garbage, to which the censor may point and say, "Can you honestly say that this is worth paying a fine for?" ... I don't have strong objections to censorship but I have a bitter hostility towards vague censorship, where it is up to the censor's whim, or the political situation of the moment, just what is to be picked out to be made an example of ... [70]


The editor of Empire Review addressed this topic with her own introduction, followed by the reprint of the three Garrett letters, and then some fan comments:

On the off-chance that not all of you who read this zine have heard of or seen what has become known as the 'Lucasfilm Flap', below are a few letters that were sent to all zineds on Lucasfilm Ltd.'s list of

zines regarding their policy on 'pornography' in "SW" fanfic when it deals with the characters created/owned by George Lucas. These letters have caused quite a flurry of responses from all comers of "SW" fandom, with every possible comment, question, and insult thrown back into Maureen Garrett's face. I don't expect to be running many letters in regards to this 'controversy', as most of the people involved are becoming quite bored with the whole thing. However, any letters I receive in regards to this 'Flap' will be run in Empire Review 5. If you're interested in seeing what some of your fellow fans have to say about this, I suggest you pick up a copy of Jundland Wastes and (when it's out), which has a fair cross section of opinions, or the future issue of Warped Space (#47). —Ed. [71]

From a fan in Empire Review #4:

I've been hearing all sorts of strange stories about that letter from Lucasfilm. For one thing, everyone is hopelessly confused — the suggestion is that the PG rating be used as a general guideline. This sure is a general general guideline; it's so general as to be useless. I can name lots of R movies which I feel should have been PG, and lots of PG movies which deserved R ratings. (Lucasfilm's own "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is one of the latter. It's a great film, but I don't think a child should be exposed to all that violence and horror.) Have you been able to learn anything more specific?

I wrote to Lucasfilm asking for details. About five people have already asked for copies of any responses I get (if any). If enough people ask, and if I receive an answer from Lucasfilm, I'll send it to Forum or perhaps to several zines for publication. I have a feeling that I won't get any reply; at best, it'll be a non-answer answer (which takes 500 words to say nothing). I suppose it's a sticky legal question, since pre-publication censorship might constitute prior restraint. Still, they could give us some idea of what they mean by "obscene" or "pornographic". From what I've heard, some very mild stories are bearing the brunt of this. I know that Lucas has the right to ask fan writers to "keep it clean", and I respect him and his wishes. However, I do not appreciate after-the-fact generalities and the hardline approach.

...I have yet another question - which I'd like to have answered. How will Lucasfilm view a sweet, innocuous "SW" story placed in a multi-universe zine in between two very explicit, pornographic non-"SW" stories? Part of the objection was that parents would see their children reading pornographic "SW" stories and hold this against Lucasfilm. What's the difference if it's "SW" porn or "SW" in a generally pornographic zine? The parent's reaction will be the same, won't it? (I'm almost afraid to ask this, because I don't think anyone at Lucasfilm has thought of it yet and I don't want to be responsible for telling them about it.)[72]

From a fan in Datazine #18:

I have read some of these stories and hardly find them [porn].... The failure to set a standard of what is and isn't porn is hardly likely to inspire fans to be willing to follow guidelines that do not exist. I have the impression that [Lucasfilm] expected to be allowed to judge what we write after it's published and then decide if it's porn or not. This won't do; you cannot expect fans to wait for you to decide on a whim what is and is not acceptable. Zine editors set standards for their zines, and [Lucasfilm] has to be will to do the same, not go after people when they refuse to follow guidelines that do not exist. Either give us a clear set of rules or give up of this talk of going after alleged porno stories. I would suggest the latter; any other action will only do severe damage to you. You will bet the one who started the attack on fandom and are doing everything you can to make it hard on us. It's you, and people like you, that do the most damage by trying to decide what we can and cannot read. This kind of attitude does not belong anywhere near fandom. [73]

Earth*Trash a Star-Wars-centric joke and parody zine, took a jab at the censorship issue by including in its first issue "the ultimate SW story, in which George has deleted all suspicious materials.[74]"


A fan wrote about a well-behaved zine, well-behaved fans, and the possibility of this good behavior leading to future employment:

SKYWALKER 6 meets the standards set by George Lucas for the fanzines. He has graciously permitted [fiction] to be written in his universe. It is hoped that written permission was obtained from Douglas Adams, author of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy before the editor of SKYWALKER printed Jody Lynn Nye's "File No. 15-760-42A." If such permission was neither asked nor granted, the vignette should not have been included. [snipped] Fandom can provide the best creative writing course available, if utilized properly but publishers, contributors, and readers alike. SKYWALKER 6 is worth purchasing for the artwork, as a potential collector's item, and to watch the inevitable growth of both writers and the editor. Who knows? Some of the contributors to this issue may wind up writing for Lucasfilm some day.[75]


"The Backlash Tango," a filk by Zeudi Nimn and Ann Onimous (to the tune of "Never Say No" from "The Fantastics" by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) was printed in A Tremor in the Force #2:

Why do the fans put Han into bed
Then send him Luke, not Leia instead
Giving him loads of blonde Jedi head?
They did it 'cause George said "no."
Why should the droids wear lacy silk pants?
Why should Piett ask Vader to dance?
Why do the fans write same-sex romance?
They do it 'cause George said "no."
The fans were once disposed to write of sexual excess
Until George said to keep it pure—
Now Chewie's in a dress!
(Now Chewie's in a dress!)
Sure as the Sarlacc digests its prey,
Sure as the Force makes weak minds obey,
Children, I guess, must get their own way.
They did it 'cause George said "no."


Once upon a time a zine-ed sent a story to Lucasfilm because the zine-ed feared they might object to it. But Lucasfilm said It was okay to print the story, and the zine-ed did. Enter a Swedish fanzine called DARK LORD that published a sado-masochistic Han/Vader story. Lucasfilm screamed. This stupid rag, not even an American zine, started a chain reaction that has muddied the waters between us and Lucasfilm to this day. Maureen Garrett sent out letters threatening to shut down all fanzines, not just the SW zines. They over-reacted terribly and the whole thing was just pathetic. A personal result of this mess. I don't trust Lucasfilm, could care less about the apparent dissolution of the OSWFC, and my opinion of George Lucas was tarnished, if not exactly damaged. George thinks he owns us, simply because he "permits" us to publish fanzines. Me just can't grasp the idea that he can't or shouldn't control everything about him. I really don't want to dredge up this debate again. Our legal status is debatable and uncertain; the only way to find out would be in court, and I'm not eager for that to happen. But I'll kick the dead dog just once more and say this. These movies are indeed GL's "toys", but this is our "backyard"! If George wants to throw a tantrum and run off with his toys, that's fine with me. There are other things in life. [76]


Re the Lucasfilms fanzine incident--I feel that over time (and it has been 25 years) we have seen that slash has not destroyed the family image of the SW franchise as Lucasfilms feared. It is still considered family friendly. There are millions of children and pre-teens who have seen Phantom Menace multiple times. I fail to see how Lucasfilms or the SW franchise has been adversely impacted by the success of that particular fan campaign. I fail to see how any franchise has ever been adversely affected by any form of fanfic. [77]


From The Incomparable Jundland Wastes (2009):

... Lucasfilms' lawyers sent fan editors a letter that threatens legal action against any zine editor who publishes SW-related material that could be considered obscene or pornographic. The letter is definitely not written in a user-friendly tone. Two stories in particular are said — in the fannish grapevine — to have inspired this action: a story from the Swedish fanzine, The Dark Lord, in which Vader captures and sexually tortures Han Solo, and "A Slow Boat to Bespin," (Guardian #3), as story that explores the personal relationship between Han and Leia as it might have developed while on their way to the Cloud City. Through the grapevine, it is also learned that an unpublished story outlining the adventures of Han Solo and a highly paid courtesan has been sent to Lucasfilms with less than positive results. [78] [79]


[stephrc79]: Welp, if I didn’t ship [Han/Luke] before…

[the-cimmerians]: True story from ancient fandom corner: people did ship it, and that shit was stomped on harder than any slash has ever been stomped on. There were lawsuits. SW slash went WAY underground–even in the days when all slash was underground. There were ‘zines, but they were precious as carbuncles and basically if you had one or wrote in one you were like a fucking badass slash bandit.

meeedeee: As far as we know, no one was sued for publishing a Star wars slash zine or fiction. The reason that Star Wars slash zine fandom went dark, had to do with one gen and one het story published in 1981: the Swedish zine The Dark Lord (sexual torture of Han) and then later Slow Boat To Bespin (Han/Leia). This led to Lucasfilm issuing a series of protocols requiring the publication of family friendly material]]. These protocols put a damper on Star Wars zine publishing overall because they were subjective and arbitrary.

Of course given the homophobia of the times that classified any gay material, even G rated, as adult, this meant that published slash in Star Wars fandom pretty much dried up until the late 1990s, when brave slash fans r. Interestingly, even at the height of the Lucas anti-sexuality crusade, two slash writers were able to obtain permission to publish a slash story using original characters. It took some effort to get permission, including a letter of protest written directly to Lucasfilm.

One good thing that came out of the Star Wars fanzine crackdown - before the crackdown, Lucas had demanded that fans submit a copy of their zines to his offices. Eventually he grew tired of them and the collection was given to Ming Wathne, who added thousands of other fanzines from other fandoms and ran the Fanzine Archives, a fanzine lending library. In 2008, she donated the collection to the University of Iowa and is open to the public.

You can still read some of the late 1990s Han/Luke fic online.

[rachelsabotini]: Hopefully I will be able to find this post when I am debunking the ‘gosh, it was all the slash fans faults that star wars fanzines had to go underground’ discussion for the umpteeth time. That version is just so much truthier than reality. [80]

Fannish Commentary: Articles

from Well of the Souls #2 (1982)

A Short Note from Maureen Garrett in 1983

The 1983 Media West con program book had a short note from Maureen Garrett. Her contribution was written, in part, to publicize the new Star Wars movie. In it, she refers to past conflict with Star Wars fans and writes:

On behalf of LucasFilm I want you to know how much we appreciate your enthusiasm, support, and incredible talents regarding the STAR WARS Saga which you so lovingly share through your fanzines. We consider you our friends — and mind you even the best of friends disagree occasionally.

One End Result of the Conflicts? A Fanzine Archive!

For more, see The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material.

from Datazine #45, click to read

And what happened to all the zines that Lucasfilm collected?

The zines were turned over to First Terran Enclave, and they ran it as a lending library from summer 1986 to December 1987.

Boxed zines in Ming Wathne's huge outdoor shed
Part of the Fanzine Archives

Between January 1988 and sometime in 1989, the zines resided in an unknown location and were not circulated for two years.

In November 1989, Ming wrote a letter to Comlink and explained she was re-opening the fanzine lending library and hoped to have it up and running in the spring of 1990. Soon other fans asked if she'd take copies of non-Star Wars zines, and she started collecting them, too, eventually remodeling her house to make shelf space for the hundreds, then thousands of different fanzines she acquired and cataloged. Local fans helped log in new zines, but was Ming's show for more than 20 years. The final version of her library became known as The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material. The Fanzine Archives became a federally recognized, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and circulation of fanzines. The Archives maintained an active circulating library of over 300 fanzines, and a permanent collection of over 3,000 titles.

In August 2008, the library was closed due to Ming's poor health. Ming asked fans to help her find a permanent home for the 3,000 plus zines she carefully accumulated and indexed. [81]

In early 2009, the Open Doors committee of the Organization for Transformative Works helped to place the Fanzine Archives with the Special Collections department of the University of Iowa Libraries as part of the Fan Culture Preservation Project. [82]

No, George Lucas Didn't Collect Zines So He Could Loan Them to You...And Some Other Falsehoods

A fan in perhaps 2020 piped up in a Twitter conversation, and while they got some pieces of history right, got it all mixed up:

By about at least 1980, if your zine met a certain set of criteria designated by Lucasfilm, they would include it in their library. [83] Yes, you read that correctly, Lucasfilm actually held a SW zine library. [84]AND if you lived in the US or Canada, fans could actually borrow them like a lending library. [85] I cannot think of a single entertainment company that embraced their fan base (as long as the fans respected certain boundaries and met them halfway) in the same manner that Lucas decided to do. [86] Regardless of what some of the fan base feel towards him, we truly owe him a lot. [87] [88]


  1. ^ "That didn't stop fans of the film from making their own. They just couldn't sell it to each other. You name it, they had it. Homemade Wookie costumes and more. A Bay Area high school shop class even got into the act as students made their own Stormtrooper armor out of plastic just as the film crews had done." "Back to Space-Con" goes where no one has gone before, Archived version by Roger Colton, April 12, 2011 (you'll have to scroll down past the stupid ads)
  2. ^ a comment by Allyson Dyar in Comlink #3
  3. ^ from Interstat #2
  4. ^ from Hyper Space #3, signed by "Craig Miller, Director of Fan Relations"
  5. ^ from Interstat #3
  6. ^ from Probe #12
  7. ^ from Atavachron #1 (March) and Scuttlebutt #6 (April/May 1978)
  8. ^ It is difficult to know how many fans responded to this request!
  9. ^ from Warped Space #37
  10. ^ from Interstat #10
  11. ^ from Interstat #13
  12. ^ from a letter of comment in "Warped Space" #41 by Pam Kowalski, the reply is by Leslie Fish in "Warped Space" #42
  13. ^ By the time the second issue of that zine was published in March 1981, Hicks was stated that she was happy to see that Miller had been replaced by Maureen Garrett, "whom we can testify from personal experience is probably the most sympathetic-to-fans professionally involved SW's-er we have ever heard of, or dealt with..." The second issue was, in fact, dedicated to Garrett as a symbol of that appreciation. This appreciation, however, of Garrett didn't last long as Twin Suns ceased publication in response to concern over censorship from Lucasfilm that arose when Maureen Garrett sent cease and desist orders to many zine publishers.
  14. ^ from Alderaan Interview with Craig Miller
  15. ^ from The Quest for Legitimacy: Copyright Practices and Possible Infringement in Fan Fiction
  16. ^ Actually, Organia ended up not being published until June 1982.
  17. ^ from Alderaan #13 (June 1981)
  18. ^ “The Incomparable Jundland Wastes” by Maggie Nowakowska
  19. ^ rated this way by the author and editor when it was reprinted in The Collected Circle of Fire (1985)
  20. ^ from Pegasus #6
  21. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  22. ^ from Comlink # 55
  23. ^ from Comlink #55
  24. ^ from Comlink # 55
  25. ^ This letter was printed in Universal Translator #3 and Jundland Wastes #4
  26. ^ This letter was printed in Comlink #3, and dated August 26, 1981.
  27. ^ The reason there were two letters by Garrett in this issue of "Jundland Wastes" is because there had been a flurry of communication and many responses were collected and printed even though they were not always in chronological order. The editor of "Jundland Wastes" wrote: "These letters reached me at varying stages of the controversy, almost all prior to the letter just printed. Many of them are responses to an earlier set of letters from Lucasfilm, printed in Alderaan and Comlink."
  28. ^ appears to to not have been published
  29. ^ from Jundland Wastes #7
  30. ^ from Comlink #55
  31. ^ from Comlink #55
  32. ^ These are the names as used on this page per Barbara T's request.
  33. ^ Letter to the editor dated September 16, 1981, submitted by Barbara T.
  34. ^ Editor's letter to Lucasfilm, undated, submitted by Barbara T.
  35. ^ Barbara T's letter to Maureen Garrett at Lucasfilm dated October 21, 1981, submitted by Barbara T.
  36. ^ Maureen Garrett's October 30, 1981 letter on official letterhead, signed " Director - STAR WARS Fan Club, Lucasfilm Ltd.", submitted by Barbara T.
  37. ^ Penny Warren from S and H #30 (February 1982)
  38. ^ "One index finger on the mouse scroll bar and the other on my clit": slash writers' views on pornography, censorship, feminism and risk (2001)
  39. ^ from Susan Crites in Sufan #14 (December 1981)
  40. ^ from a 1981 flyer for Far Horizons, note: "odor" may have been a typo and the editor meant "order."
  41. ^ from the 1981 essay by Sara Campbell called Something X-tra
  42. ^ from Carol Mularski in Comlink #3 (1981)
  43. ^ from Comlink #3
  44. ^ from Comlink #3
  45. ^ from Jundland Wastes #4
  46. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  47. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  48. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  49. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  50. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  51. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  52. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  53. ^ from Jundland Wastes #7
  54. ^ referring to their articles on copyright and fanfic that were published in two issues of Alderaan
  55. ^ from Alderaan #14
  56. ^ from Alderaan #15
  57. ^ from Alderaan #15
  58. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  59. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  60. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  61. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  62. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6
  63. ^ from Jundland Wastes #7
  64. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  65. ^ from Jundland Wastes #5/6, reprinted in Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  66. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  67. ^ This is a comment regarding the pages that were deleted by the editors when it was sent to fans.
  68. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  69. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  70. ^ from Warped Space Supplement, LOCs for #46-#47 (letters were written in 1981-82, but not printed until 1983)
  71. ^ from the editor of Empire Review (February 1982)
  72. ^ from a letter in Empire Review #4 (February 1982)
  73. ^ from Datazine #18
  74. ^ From an ad in Datazine #20
  75. ^ by Leslye Lilker from Jundland Wastes #13
  76. ^ from Southern Enclave #12 (1986)
  77. ^ [1-25], April 14, 2002
  78. ^ “The Incomparable Jundland Wastes” by Maggie Nowakowska
  79. ^ This story was Moon Silver.
  80. ^ BLEEP BLEEP BLOP BLEEP - SAYS BB-8, dianmz: sabotini: meeedeee:..., Archived version, around December 2015
  81. ^ "Note: As of August 2008, the Fanzine Archives is closed due to health constraints of the Librarian. Thank you to all the fans whose creativity, effort and inspiration have made this project possible over the years. We are considering passing the library on to a new librarian, if we could find someone with the capacity to store the vast collection of zines, and the willingness to distribute them freely as a service to all fans. If you think you are this person, please send a real, paper letter to Ming Wathne" Closing note, August 2008.
  82. ^ 62 boxes of zines were transferred to the University, where they were cataloged. Ming's Finding Aid is here and the list of other fandom Finding Aids is here: Fandom related Zine Collections at the University Of Iowa.
  83. ^ Actually, Lucasfilm wanted all zines in their clutches.
  84. ^ Actually, it wasn't a library, but a private collection created to control and keep an eye on fans.
  85. ^ No. Fans could not borrow zines from Lucasfilm. Perhaps this fan has melded the Lucasfilm collection and The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material.
  86. ^ Well. That may true, but it wasn't a positive embrace! And it wasn't "halfway." And "embrace" is a strong word.
  87. ^ Yes. And no!
  88. ^ comments by webwych, unknown date at Where the distractions take my life for their own, Archived version