Picking Nits in Fan Fiction

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Title: Picking Nits in Fan Fiction
Creator: Karen Pauli
Date(s): summer 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
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Picking Nits in Fan Fiction is a 1981 Star Wars essay by Karen Pauli.

It was printed in Shadowstar #3.

The topic is one fan's irritation at other fans' inability to use the correct names and titles of characters and planets. It also illustrates authorial intent, the fan belief that George Lucas had a control of his own canon, and desire to make fanworks match up with changing and elusive information.


In the world of SF fandom, I lean more towards the TV and movies than straight literature. I eagerly grab up the books based on my favorites, but since I can go through the average paperback in one afternoon, I find the wait between books most annoying. So I turn to fan fiction to fill the gaps. l've read a lot of fanzines; good, bad, and indifferent. A number of the stories are good reading, and even the bad ones are good for a laugh. The thing that drives me up the wall are the inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

The two most popular areas of fannish interest seem to be Star Trek, and Star Wars. The first gives you three seasons' worth of TV episodes as background material to work from, not to mention books on how the series was conceived, written, and filmed. Also, rank in the Federation seems to be based on the U.S. Navy and is therefore easy to research. So Trek Fiction fiction seems to be relatively free from gross inconsistencies.

But Star Wars... Oh, brother!

The most commonly occurring inaccuracy I have noticed seems to be the name of Luke's father. One story I read called him David, another Matthew; another, believe it or not, called him Lucas! These names (and others) are wrong. A nationally syndicated comic strip would have to have Lucasfilm approval, if not assistance, to be printed, because of copyrights and company policy. So, I therefore feel that it could be considered an accurate and official source. The first installment of the Sunday comic strip clearly stated that Luke Skywalker is the son of Tan Skywalker. If you never saw the strip, you might have written the Official Star Wars Fan Club. Part of their purpose is to answer questions like this so the fans won't bug Lucas with them.

As for Han and Chewie: it Is my feeling that Han Solo comes from the planet Corellia, not Corell, since he is referred to as a Corellian, not a Corellan. I have found no confirmation of this, however. That Chewbacca comes from Kashyyyk and not Wooka is official. Now, it could be that their name for their planet translates into Standard as Kashyyyk, while the name for their species comes out as "Wookiee." I personally like one fan writer's theory better; in her opinion, Wooka is their planet of origin, while Kashyyyk is a colony world. It always seemed a little odd to me that a heavily furred, obviously carnivorous species lived in a rainforest environment more condusive to the development of herbivores. But whatever the reason behind it, we have at least had the name documented in both the Holiday Special and "The Wookiee Storybook": the name of Chewbacca's homeworld is Kashyyyk.