Scoundrel (Star Wars letterzine)/Issues 07-10
Scoundrel 7 (v.2 n.7) was published in summer 1985 and contains 70 pages. It has illos and cartoons by Nancy Stasulis, Suzy Sansom, Barbara Kreuz, and Peggy Dixon.
- from the editorial: I'd like to use this issue's editiorial to try to answer, in general, some grievances set out in a letter (not a LoC) to me from a person who has purchased one issue of Scoundrel. The author complained about a "bias", that is, she felt there were more "Han-fan" letters than "Luke-fan" letters in the zine. I disagree and think it is more balanced but, assuming she is correct, she is complaining to the wrong person. She should be writing to fellow Luke-fans. There is nothing I can do if those fans won't write. (The same is true of fans of any of the other characters.) The author of the letter is herself an example: she did not write either. As you are aware, I have asked in my editorials several times for more people to write (only about 1/3 of my subscribers do so, probably the same percentage as every other letterzine, give or take a few points) and I can only print what I receive. If fans wish to see their opinions expressed in print, they have to write them. They cannot rely on others to argue their points for them! The letter also indicated that the author is bored with topics like "droid rights" and "Han-as-Jedi" and "Leia-as-Han's-woman", etc. First, a letterzine has something in common with TV: a channel selector. You don't have to read a letter or a part of a letter that does not interest you. However, of course, you are equally entitled to write about topics you consider important. Those people writing about droid rights and slavery, obviously consider these issues worthwhile. Their position is that as the issue was raised in ROTJ, ANH, and Skywalking, Lucas himself, obviously believes it to be important! Second, if fans find the topics under discussion boring then, by all means, they should raise some topics they want to discuss! We are back to what I said before: I can only print what I get. If you will not write about topics in which you are interested, you cannot complain if other people write about topics in which they are interested. The author also claimed that Han-fans are "Luke-haters", putting Luke down all the time, while Luke fans do not do this in return and that Han-fans are close-minded and have "tunnel vision". Let me deal with this in reverse. I have found both sides equally close-minded and set in their opinions. There has not been noticeable give from either side. This author contends that Luke fans are not set in their opinions because they are 'right'. But that is exactly the same position Han fans are taking. Reasonableness is in the mind of each invididual. I have not observed Luke fans or Leia fans or Vader fans or amy fans to be any more open-minded or tractable, or to display any less tunnel-vision than this person claims Han fans do. It would seem that the active one-third of a letterzine's subscribers who do write, do so because they generally hold strong opinions that require a bombshell to shake. To be honest, I have yet to see a Luke fan change her/his mind about something Luke said or did because of something a Han-fan wrote, or vice versa! ...Diversity is what makes the human race so interesting. It challenges us to grow. Sometimes our opinions change after input from another individual who, seeing things with different eyes, saw something we might have missed. Sometimes our opinions are confirmed. Defending them may make us more sure of our reasoning. To insulate ourselves from differing opinions is detrimental. The person who wrote the letter did not even want to read Scoundrel because of what she felt were too many of these differing opinions. It strikes me that she is not interested in discussion or debate, but in reassurance, in reading only those opinions that agree with her, so that she can feel confirmed in them, rather than challenged. Has fandom reached the point where each subgroup speaks only to itself? I do not think most fans feel this way.
- fan, Bev Clark, writes an essay called The Return of Anakin Skywalker: The Eschatology of the Star Wars Universe, later reprinted in Southern Enclave #19. From the beginning of this long article: As I write this, it is almost two years since Return of the Jedi premiered and about three weeks until its rerelease. At the film's climactic moment, Anakin Skywalker, until now overwhelmed by and subsumed in his dark side, Darth Vader, overthrows Vader's dark dominion and saves the life of his son, Luke Skywalker. In so doing, he is himself mortally injured. He dies, is given a hero's funeral pyre by his son and, at the film's end, reappears in the company of the other two fully-trained Jedi, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. A happy ending, and one that opened the way to controversy about its nature and meaning—and not just in active fandom, either. I heard the same arguments among decidedly nonfannish co-workers and from fannish, but not media-oriented members of my apa (amateur press association). While the crux of the argument is a very specific worldview, I have heard it advanced by people who claim to reject the worldview on which their argument is based. This basic argument is that Anakin Skywalker didn't deserve a happy ending because his crimes as Darth Vader were too heinous to be atoned for by the single act of saving his son's life or killing the Emperor. Discussions have tended to focus on whether Anakin did, in fact, deserve to be "saved", to use the word he himself used.
- fan, Linda Boster, writes an essay called "Who is Obi-Wan and What is His Role in the Star Wars Universe?" -- some excerpts: I remember when I first saw ANH. It was a hypnotizing experience. The more I saw it and talked to others who saw it, the more interesting it became to see who liked whom—what the general reaction to characters was. One of the characters who I felt .was most beloved was Obi-Wan Kenobi. He seemed to be a wise old man, a Gandolf-type figure, a Jedi Knight extraordinaire. As Luke's instructor, you tended to hang on his every word—after all it was from Ben that you were learning the tenents of the Jedi, the evils they faced, the power of the Force. Ben was the cornucopia of knowledge, the encyclopedia you turned to to find out how Jedi dealt with their universe..... Very quickly it was three years later and I was faced with a new vision of the Star Wars universe. It wasn't just good guys versus bad guys; it wasn't just a good time where you knew that if the character wore a 'white hat' he as a 'goodie' and would be guaranteed survival. Suddenly, a simple statement—"I want to be a Jedi, like my father"—wasn't so simple. The more I saw TESB, the more I wondered about some of those old friends of mine. The one character who had seemed so dependable, stable and inherently trustworthy, developed an ominous undertone. We learned from a new character, Yoda the Jedi Master, that anger, fear and aggression were not believed in by the Jedi; the use of the Force was for knowledge and defense, and adventure and excitement were not things a Jedi craved.... So, I watch the movies and I wonder. I must admit Ben's behavior puzzles me so much, I haven't gotten to the finer points of the film yet such as: Can Darth be turned to good so easily? Does Luke fall or is he faced with a character dichotomy of his own? Is Han blind or does carbon freeze impact your mental processes? And, worst of all—where did Leia get those shoes??
- Jean L. Stevenson writes "True Fantasia (a speculation on the Star Wars Saga)" -- in it she explains how Jabba has the Force... I offer a short explanation and analysis of the fairy tale aspects of Jabba's court—especially the miraculous transformation and tragic death of Oola.
- a fan, Maggie Nowakowska, addresses one of the current discussion topics -- Leia's reaction to her biological paternity: I think she would be angry—angry at the intrusion of this uncomfortable fact into " her life, angry at the denial of Bail Organa's total link with her, angry at what she may well first see as a compromise of everything she has stood and worked for. Eventually, I can see the emotion sliding into resignation and a cool determination to ignore any "assumed" consequences of the fact, save for the good result of her fraternity with Luke. After all, her name is Organa, not Skywalker; Anakin only sired her while Bail Organa loved and raised and fathered her. A good corollary to this inquiry is: Will Leia (or Luke) try to ferret out the story of what happened twenty years earlier, and should they?
- another view on Leia's revelation about her father: How will Leia respond to knowing that Darth Vader is her natural father? I think she'll be less traumatized than Luke was. She hasn't invested a lot of emotional energy in an idealized, unknown father who represents all her hopes and dreams, and with whom she half-consciously identifies, as Luke has. Her opposition to Vader has been political and principled, whereas Luke's has been a gut hatred of the man who "killed" his father; i.e., Leia has been rationally opposed to Vader (though presumably with some revulsion for his more nasty actions), while Luke has been emotionally opposed to him. This is not to say that Leia?won't be somewhat horrified, but I don't think the knowledge will threaten to destroy her, as it did Luke. I also suspect that, when she hears the full story from Luke, including Obi-Wan's part, she will have much less trouble understanding Obi-Wan's position, given her background.
- another discussion topic is "Who is Boba Fett?" one answer: Actually, I think Boba Fett is just a very, VERY smart bounty hunter, and one who is so sure of him/herself that he/she doesn't fear Vader, or anyone else, for that matter. The mask could hide a woman...and another story idea is born. It would also explain why Darth Vader deals with her, rather than the rest of the scummy lot.
- more about Boba Fett: Aha! He was another ex-military man now making his living as a bounty hunter. He was obviously skilled as a bounty hunter, and ALSO KNEW MILITARY PROCEDURES of the Imperial ships just like Han Solo did. He knew their "radar" had a blind spot and simply waited for Han Solo to leave his hiding place. There is slim chance of seeing the beginning of the SW trilogy, but if we did, Boba Fett might be introduced as a fighter against the Jedi.
- about females in Star Wars: Sexism has been mentioned in several letters between Scoundrel No. 5 and No. 6. As a viewer, it never occurred to me that one sex was overriding another in any of the Lucas films. In the case of SW the lead female character was Leia, and she obviously was held in high regard by her male officers as well as Vader and others in the Imperial forces. If those who have indicated sexism meant there were very few female characters in the SW movies, that is nothing new. There have been few female characters in any war story, mythological or contemporary. The Indy movies are of the same caliber. However, in this instance the theme is more contemporary, and adjusting to that '30's era, I found them right on target. The character of Marion in Raiders could be viewed as that era's typical "liberated" woman. The character of Willie in TOD was typical of the "dumb blonde" type very prevelant in stories written at that time. I don't believe that sexism was meant nor intended in any of these films.
- about droid rights: I don't believe the droids in SW were badly treated. They were, after all, machines, not human entities and were made to serve their "masters", whomever they might be. I think of them in the same light as a toaster or a refrigerator or a dishwasher. As a for instance, how many times have you cleaned your refrigerator cooling units in the past year, or your toaster? We have dishwashers and stoves, and cars that can tell us when something is amiss right now, but that doesn't classify them as human. The SW droids were a deeper application of these same kinds of "droids". Luke's and Han's reactions to them were nothing more than what we would now give our refrigerator or talking dishwasher. Just what have you said or done to your car the last time it didn't start?... Of course, we had become very attached to C3PO and R2D2, but there were dozens of other droids exactly like them throughout SW. Has anyone questioned how well they were treated?
- more on droid rights: As to your comment on the droids as mere mechanicals, NO WAY! This is an old debate in SF—are robots alive? Are they people? There are even stories that ask the question about whether they have souls. Even my very mundane posslq (who says these interfaith liaisons don't work out?) is of the opinion that the droids are people, have feelings, etc.; and they seem to have been "made" with a great deal of free will—one of the requirements for humanity. If the droids and nonhumans are symbols of the oppressed people in today's society (and according to Lucas they are) then in his universe, you don't have to be organic to have a soul.
- about control, canon and fanon: Lucasfilm is keeping a much tighter rein on professional fiction than the Star Trek/Pocket Books staff is. The result is that most of the Star Wars fiction being produced is fannish, and as such, is NOT under Lucas's direct control. Therefore, it belongs to the "Alternate" end of things as far as I'm concerned. I do not incorporate other fan universes or concepts into my stories unless I have their approval. In Writing! (Of course, collaborations are always possible...?)
One of the ideas that seems to surface frequently, is what I call the 'Black doesn't mean black in the SW universe'. My reaction to that is...well, perhaps it doesn't, but... It seems to me that, as an American, George Lucas grew up with those values. Now, while I realize that there have been other influences on him, including the study of myths, etc., you need some sort of stepping stone upon which to build. So, while black may mean 'more than' black, it's just as easy to start with a well-known, easily understood concept and build from there. (In the first film we do have the typical division of: White/Good/Luke-Leia; Beige-Brown/Neutral/Ben; and Black/Bad/Darth.) I grant that in later films and in reviewing the original, we are given the grounds to question those concepts, but the original viewings of the first film works with standard archetypes. Besides, you need some kind of standard or we would have to view the film and question: 'Are Luke and Han male? Leia female? Could it be that droids rule this land? Just because we view Tattooine as a desert, does that mean families there don't have swimming pools?' What I'm really saying is that you have to start somewhere in order to have any idea of what is going on!
- about labels: A friend recently told me, when I finally decided to become 'involved' that I was 'rabid' enough to be Church of Ford. That's nice. To me, it's a term without meaning, like 'BNF' (I might as well annoy everyone in one swell foop and say that I've never liked acronyms, because they exclude too many people and seem childish).
- regarding ancillary sources: What I, and others, have said is that anything that is not in the movies as screened is alternate. My sources were Gary Kurtz at Noreascon II (WorldCon) in 1980, and Howard Kazanjian at Norwescon in 1983. "Alternate" is obviously different from "approved". Obviously the novels, novelizations, scripts, comics and so on are approved (not to mention copyrighted and trademarked) by Lucasfilm. But there's a problem in taking all the approved sources as equally authoritative: some of them contradict each other. Perhaps the most glaring example comes from the SW comic strip that ran for a few months. It was approved and copyrighted by Lucasfilm (and reportedly well liked by Lucas), but in it Luke's father's name is Tan Skywalker, and he and Darth Vader are not the same person. The Marvel comic is also copyrighted by Lucasfilm but generally goes off in a completely different direction, dealing with some of the more mature themes implicit in SW that may not be suitable for the movies themselves. I suspect that all these different versions give the Lucasfilm folks (and one in particular) a chance to explore the different ways of treating the same subject matter. (In fact, I have good reason to believe this, based on a personal conversation Maggie Nowakowska and I had with Gary Kurtz in 1979.) They could also be using the different presentations as trial balloons—see which ideas go over and which don't, without committing ^ themselves to anything as far as future films are concerned. As far as the movies themselves are concerned, we don't know Han's background, who Mon Mothma is, that Luke and Leia are different ages, or what Obi-Wan's relation to Owen Lars is. Besides all this, we all pick and choose among the ancillary sources in fandom, and why not? We're writing alternates, too. Most of what we accept as true comes from the novelization of SW and then from the Han Solo novels; interesting "alternate" information in the novelization of ROTJ is generally ignored—the prime example to me being that in the novelization, Obi-Wan and Owen are brothers. Methinks there is a good story in that relationship but it hasn't been written yet. The script of ROTJ has even more interesting information about what happened at Luke and Leia's birth; this never made it into the film, probably because it gives away too much of the plot of the last film of the first trilogy (and also because it's three pages of exposition that stops the story dead while Obi-Wan becomes a talking head).
- regarding incest and values: While I don't buy the notion that mores could be all that different than ours in the SW universe, the incest-theme stories do not bother me. Lucas left the door open, whether he intended to or not, by not dealing with Luke's adjustment to his sibling relationship with Leia. No, I don't think they would "really" develop an incestuous relationship, but I can appreciate such stories as alternates. Your morals are your own, but please don't freak-out when others actually consider things that you find offensive.
- one true character not necessarily an excuse for trashing: People who live in straw houses shouldn't throw cheap shots. It is perfectly true that I am most interested in Leia, as everyone here seems to know from my reputation (what is it? Do I have a flashing red neon sign hovering above my head that says "Tim is a Leia-fan?"). However, I have not developed any weird and elaborate theories to justify moving her to the center position. I have not tried to present Leia as bieng some sort of "hidden goddess/Supreme Intelligence". I have not pathologically set out to tear one character down to build up another. I will go so far as to state, with absolute confidence, that if the gender of all the main characters had been reversed, then Ms. Solo and Ms. Skywalker wouldYt be getting nearly as much attention as Mr. Organa!
- an example of some of the hostility in these letters: It's rather hard to respond to your letter, it is so hostile and so full of redundancy and irrelevancy that a point-by-point rebuttle would be exhausting and probably futile anyway. I don't have my copy of the last issue handy, but I can see that you have read things into [name redacted] comment that simply were not there. You are the one with the absolutist, authoritarian attitude. The statement that Luke didn't care if Leia got off Hoth safely is unbelievably petty. And your statement that Luke ignored R2 is absurd. [Name redacted] is clearly a subscriber of the Han Solo School of Public Debate: Charge screaming into the opposition and hope they turn and run. [Two names redacted] I can deal with; they clearly think about what they say. You merely repeat after them and use their words like a bludgeon. Please think about what you say and how you say it.
- a male fan explains: Are you one of those women who think men only go to Cons because they couldn't pick up women at the laundromats or supermarkets? Women-fen don't go to conventions with romance/sex prominent on their agendas. I don't go to conventions with that on my mind, either. There are, indeed, lots of eligible women there that I wouldn't mind getting closer to. But, as none of them live close by me, it's rather pointless to try to start a relationship. So I consider my energy better spent running myself ragged and whooping it up, rather than looking for romance. But I still want to see more cheesecake in the art show.
- regarding one true character and the boxes fans put them in: On the matter of Han vs. Luke in fan stories and who trashed whose character first, I note the following. I have always found certain fan series and one-shots fascinating for the manner in which the nominal hero, Luke, actually performed in what I would call a sidekick role to Solo. For instance, in the early "Continuator" series (I haven't read much of it recently), Luke did do a lot of thinking about the situation and moralizing about what should or should not be done in any given situation. Solo just went out and did it, and at the end of almost every story, Luke was standing by Han's bedside (with droids and Leia and Chewie) and saying "Thanks". Now, who is trashing who? Is anyone being trashed? Still, I don't think the writers of Continuator think of Han as their main man—at least they don't seem to. One of the problems I see in the continuing evolution of fan stories has been the fact that many fans placed both Luke and Han in assigned boxes with A New Hope and never realized that the characters had already surpassed those boundaries by the end of that film. Then when Empire came along and ail the relationships had continued to grow in the space between the films, many fans were locked into given interpretations and got all shook up. Now, nobody says one can't continue writing a given universe. Nowakowska has done so with apparent success. The Continuator folks seem to be giving it the old college try. But I'm thinking of that famous flap with the Duncans in which they tried to tell George Lucas he couldn't do what he wanted with his characters because, in essence, they thought he'd trashed Luke and made Han something he shouldn't be (this after Empire). As I've said before, I think, maybe they were right. But also, maybe they left the game before the final whistle.
- regarding a lack of females in Star Wars: About the number of women in Lucas's films. You seem to equate numbers with importance. Now me, I reckon that if Leia is the center of the Universe (shown by her uniqueness, only partially threatened by Mon Mothma, and her importance to the stories of Luke, Han and Vader), if Marion's more important than the Ark ("All I want is the girl") and Willie can't reach Ind/s heart because he thinks Mola Ram stole hers, then they're all damned important characters by being women. On the other hand, it was, I think, Devra Langsam—an original Trek fan who has been writing and editing since the Sixties—who once proposed the idea that the very scarcity of women is the problem in the SWars universe. Her idea, if I remember correctly, was that—like those societies which acknowledge the fact one can only know his/her mother's identity for sure—Jediness is something passed through a maternal line. (Boy, what this might do to Luke's Daddy fixation or Leia's new identity.) Therefore, the Empire killed off not only existing Jedi but anyone who could bring more into existence, which may have meant nearly every woman in the universe. How precious this makes Leia and all those women who are still in the fighting forces of the Alliance (and not made to go hide somewhere and have babies). Then there are women in the Imperial ranks as well in Jedi. Last thought, this is Luke's point of view. Maybe women don't have that much importance to him. Have you ever thought of that?
- regarding "little jungle fighters": Finally, on the Ewoks, I loved [name redacted] article of defense. I am so tired of people calling them cute money-machines for the purpose of selling toys to children. In light of the recent 10-year anniversary celebration in Ho Chi Minh City (once Saigon) of the defeat of a technological giant at the hands of the little jungle fighters, I find the Ewoks to be very like the Vietnamese. In addition, the documentary "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception" (which caused General Westmoreland to sue CBS) was an investigation of why we lost Vietnam, in general, and specifically, why the Tet offensive (a decisive defeat) was such a surprise. The documentary centered on a group within the Vietnamese culture that was fighting steadily against the Americans but whom nobody on our side counted because they weren't members of the regular army or the Viet Cong guerrillas or anything else. As I see it, that's the way the Ewoks fit into Jedi: the Emperor didn't include them in his calculations or in his threats to Luke—because Luke didn't know the/d be part of the battle. And as it turns out, they're the Most Valuable Players on the team. Thanks, Nancy, for a needed article, well done.
- more on The Duncan Scandal: A few other notes on this: after ANH, a number of women may have fantacized about Han Solo, but I know of almost no one, myself included, who did not assume the mating couple would be Leia and Luke, probably because we were not then thinking in fairy tale terms or (and I do disagree that Luke fandom was small; check out the stories) picking up on the clues. Interestingly enough, it was the Duncans who did pick up on them, though they tried to deny them. Read "Princess Leia: Should She Ever Have Been Liberated?". As a Leia fan (and a believer in women's equality) the article annoyed me so much when I first read it that I threw it away. However, reading it a few years later (a friend had a copy), something became clear. It was not really Leia's qualities they were attacking; that was a smokescreen. The real problem was set out in a few paragraphs in the center: they were mad as hell that Leia, presented with the shining Savior of the Galaxy, was ignoring him, stepping around him to fight with that dumb-cluck smuggler! At first they said it made them lose respect for Luke, but they decided that it really could not be his fault, so it had to be hers. The point is, they saw the Han-Leia attraction long before most people did. They also saw exactly where TESB was heading, and they hated it for that reason. They tried to live with it for a while, but finally were honest enough to say that they could not take it and got out. Interesting to note that the Duncans were born-again Fundamentalists, and they made a point, in an article following TESB, that it would be Luke's damnation if he tried to save Vader, because that was what evil would want; it could use that (Kenobi says the same thing). He would have to face Vader as a force of evil (and they were sure, of course, that he would. Right!). This is exactly the conflict in ROTJ: the evil wants Luke to come to Darth Vader as a father; the good warns him he must confront and face Vader down. They are not simply referring to the physical Vader; the point of the cave was that Luke has a Vader within him he must destroy. (I have a feeling, by the way, that if ROTJ were as some Luke fans claim, and Luke the perfect, shining moral hero, the Duncans might have rekindled an interest—and they have not!)
Scoundrel 8 (v.2 n.8) was published in fall 1985 and contains 68 pages. Illos are by Ronda Henderson, Suzy Sansom, Maggie Nowakowska, and Barbara J. Kreuz.
- "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Conundrum" by Jean L. Stevenson is outline, perhaps a parody, for a story
- a fan named Barbara I contributes a con report for MediaWest, see that page
- this issue has 14 black and white photos (two to a page) of convention guests
- this issue has a clipping of a newspaper article by Alan Dean Foster in which he reviews "Return of the Jedi" (source unknown)
- from the editorial: I'm delighted to tell you, if you haven't already found out, that the newest crop of fanzines which debuted at MW are outstanding! There are many new zines whose quality and content will delight. If one thing is certain, it's that fans are a resilient and open-minded group of people. There are many new fandoms represented and the writing and stories are excellent! The existing universes are also well-represented and there are some new and exciting stories about our old favorites, particularly in the Star Wars universe. So. if you haven't gotten around to ordering any new zines yet, I think you'll really be pleased with this year's offerings.
- from the editorial: Regarding the Saga, I am reprinting the editorial written by Maureen Garrett which appeared in the last issue of Bantha Tracks [the Official SW Fan Club], regarding future movies. Unfortunately, there was nothing concrete and a very vague promise of things to come. I guess it's up to us to keep SW fandom alive with our stories, poetry and letterzines. Just a passing thought, I wonder if we all wrote directly to George Lucas asking for a definite reply as to when and if he is going to make any more movies, something would have to come of it? I know, dream on, Joan. And, as I read over the last issue of Bantha Tracks, I was disappointed to see that it was again geared for the 3-10 year-old set! I wonder when Lucasfilm will begin to take us seriously? [Huge sigh].
- Maggie Nowakowska writes "The Quantum Leap of Star Wars" -- an excerpt: THE TROUBLE WITH STAR WARS is that it works, and no one can explain why or how. For eight years people have tried to define it only to find the Saga slipping through their reasoning, blithely defying efforts to capture it in a traditional structure. Even the catch-all excuse of "it's only escapism" has faltered through the years; too many adults take the films seriously, and all too often references to the Saga appear in totally unrelated articles, books and illustrations, assuming knowledge and understanding of more than just Luke's name or the fact that Darth Vader likes power. The most common ways of approaching SW. in the mundane world and in fandom. are 1] the search for the proper genre, and 2] the literary/cinematic analysis. Both run into problems. SW fits imperfectly—sometimes glaringly so—into either. Lucas has mixed his genres and his sources freely [promiscuously, some say]; and when put under literary critical analysis, the films seem to whither, leaving the critic with the conclusion that the movies can't possibly work. I would like to suggest a way of looking at SW that has not been tried yet. a nontraditional approach that can include all the exceptions to genre stereotypes that Lucas insists on using, and that can transcend all the holes and inconsistencies familiar analytical data can turn up. I suggest that the traditional methods of defining something are inappropriate in this case because they are based on thought processes inadequate to the reality of SW in the same way that Newtonian physics does not apply in the reality of the subatomic world. Instead. I propose that SW is best understood within the philosophic framework of Quantum Mechanics.
- a fan, Pat M, writes a very long, very detailed article/review called "Celebrating the Love: An Exploration into the Songs of Jean L. Stevenson" [it is unclear if these are printed filks, audio cassettes, an official collection...] -- the opening paragraph: This started out to be a fairly straightforward and [in keeping with my mind] simple, review: a few brief comments on the music, compliment or two on the poetry, couple, three more detailed discussions of songs I particularly liked and maybe a few comparisons to let you know if you'll want to get the tape. With this intention firmly in mind I sat down, adjusted Yoda on the corner of the desk, put on the tape and started taking notes.
- regarding religion: I have the opinion that there may be a form of prejudice against any Christian interpretation of SW. I have the feeling that since the Moral Majority has raised its ultra-conservative head there is a knee-jerk reaction anytime anything Christian is brought up. My religious beliefs are very basic but they are diametrically opposed to most of their views. GL had stated that he wanted to wrap up the "Christ story" of Luke in TESB. Luke had gone through a near-death on Bespin and a form of resurrection. His hanging on the weathervane can even be viewed as a symbolic crucifiction. GL invisioned Luke's confrontation with Vader in the cave as similar to Christ's temptation in the desert. I also view the confrontation on the Bespin gantry as symbolic of Christ's temptation. Luke was brought to a high place and offered the galaxy if he would just bow down and worship evil. In Skywalking Pollack says "The Force embraces passive Oriental philosophies and Judeo-Christian ethic of responsibility and self-sacrifice" (emphasis mine). Who was more passive as he stood before his executioner and accepted his responsibility as he prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice? This statement can be applied to both Christ and Luke. Now, before you all start pulling your hair out and think you have some fanatic on your hands, I will make the statement that in no way do I think that Luke is a god or anything like that, but he is a messianic figure, just as Paul Atreides was in Dune. I believe that Lucas has drawn on a great many sources and philosophies and if he is going to get his message across to the audience he is aiming at, he has to use some forms of symbolism that the majority can relate to. We are not all as familiar with eastern philosophies as some of the far more learned inviduals who frequent these pages.
- this fan feels Ben's not all that: I am not too thrilled with Ben Kenobi either...his motives leave a LOT to be desired. I've never really cottoned to the Jedi philosophy, which seems to boil down to the Elitism of those with ESP vs. those who don't (in other words, you either have the Force or you don't...and where does that leave the vast majority who don't?). In all the fan-written stuff I've been reading over the last 10 years, where is the person who writes for the Underdogs...those poor slobs who have to struggle along on their own, without either Kenobi or the Force to help them out of nasty spots? I guess that's why there are so many who identify with Han Solo...who actively denies the Force, and who manages as best he can without it!
- fannish opportunity: There is so much latitude in the Star Wars Universe, that a fannish writer can find a niche for almost any kind of character...although a few of us really WANT to write about shoe salesmen or real estate brokers (unless someone's going to speculate as to where Jabba got the Sarlacc pit?) Naturally, the romantic, dashing bounty hunters and Jedi Knights get most of the play, but what about the people behind the scenes? There's a doctor in the "Continuator" series who's pretty interesting...but isn't there a story somewhere about the guys who make the 'Droids? Do they design themselves? How about the anthropologists who make contact with Ewoks? Is there a Miss Jane Goodall to sit in a tree for twelve years or so and write or film it? How about that Senate...how did it work? And how could it have been junked so easily? These are the essence of LIFE, if not great Tragic Drama...and one of the reasons thatStar Wars 'worked' was that you got the impression of a living Universe'. It wasn't all glitz and flash...people had to eat, they had to work, there were economic factors involved.
- more on droid rights: Getting back to droids, are they not a form of artificial intelligence? They are not—strictly speaking—the same as toasters or refrigerators. They can reason things out and take action. In this way, they are also different than present-day computers. For these are only information processing machines and do not possess the capabilities of independent thought and action which R2 and 3PO do. Mankind has made them in what could be viewed as in his mental image. Now if you consider the concept that man was made in the image of his creator, how does this let us view our own rights concerning our creator? We are thought to have free will. Does this mean this will should be inherent in our own creations of this type of intelligence? Questions. Always questions.
- a fan has this cheeky proposition: Just an idea. Having noticed the heat rising in fannish letters again it struck me that there are an awful lot of wounded egos out there on the subscription lists. It appears that a lot of people seem to be using their letters to expose their own personal angst and take up the club against those whom they feel have slighted them, without ever noticing that they themselves are doing exactly the same thing. Increasingly we seem to be engaging in our own private little Star Wars and for the life of me I can't figure out who's on the side of the rebellion. So I had this idea of how we could all come to some sort of a truce without giving up expressing our ideas and opinions. Before I pass along this gem let me say that I have not really done any hard thinking on the logistics; therefore, I have avoided scrutinizing and playing through any of the negative factors that I know must exist. Anyway. Here goes. Joan and fellow writers. Wadda you think of the idea of dropping names and substituting numbers or fictional aliases to identify letters in future editions of Scoundrel? Numbers arbitrarily assigned and changed with every subsequent issue so that nobody can identify with a surety who they're reacting to, and therefore in theory, they would be able to react cleanly to the opinions and ideas expressed. That way, we may be able to avoid the ail-too frequent occurrence of late that seems to be taking on the strains of: Original letter: "Hi. Yours, Marcia Brin". Reply: "How dare you say 'hi' in that tone; why you've just insulted my mother, my father, my entire moral code and all my hoped-for grandchildren, who may someday populate this very earth! Now you've gone too far; you have really proven yourself a donkey's backside this time. Yours, Melody Corbett" Now, wouldn't we all feel a lot better if the letters were identified in code. Just think of this scenario: "Hi. Yours, #4". Reply: "How dare you say 'hi' with that tone, why you've just insulted my mother, my father, my entire moral code and all my hoped-for grandchildren, who may someday populate this earth. Now you've gone too far. You have really proven yourself a donkey's backside this time. Yours, #17." Of course the beauty of this system is that in replying to #4 the person assigned #17 thought that she had gotten even with the much-dreaded Marcia Brin, but barring an intimate knowledge of another's fan's writing style, what she has chanced—if at anytime she, herself, revealed which was her letter—was alienating some completely allied party, perhaps a close friend. Goodness, she could have even stepped on the toes of her second cousin or long-lost twin, Tillie, who had finally, after all these years worked up the courage to drop a line now that she felt assured her ideas were to be received as just that—ideas, and not personal identification pieces, forever tied to her persona. Anyway. This suggestion on my part is only directed towards the letters. Certainly not toward the essays, Forum Questions and answers, etc. which, by nature, deal much more with the overall filmic events and in most instances seem to represent much research, time and thought. Pieces that are assuredly not to be denied their author's mark.I present this idea, not in hope of a drop in the lively debates and heated discussions that exist in your zine, but to perhaps direct that heat away from some of the more personal attacks.In bringing up this notion I realize that what I am proposing is the possible loss of your entire writing audience and maybe your readers as well. I've long suspected that the reasons a lot of us write letters in the first place is for ego-boo, and the reason many subscribe is strictly to watch the dog-fights.
- about being human: I remember being so glad that Lucas had given us 'ordinary people' heroes: Han was sceptical and broad with his definition of acceptable behavior; Luke jumped to conclusions and had a stubborn temper; Leia was not glittery and gracious; Obi-Wan was not a kindly, old infallable mentor; etc.
- Bev Clark describes a conversation she and Maggie Nowakowska had with with Gary Kurtz was at Seacon, the world science fiction convention in 1979, after a panel he and Craig Miller (then fan liaison at the Star Wars Corp.) did on the SW phenomenon and SW fandom: We hand delivered Gary's copy of Skywalker; he looked through it, noticed the "ThousandWorlds" story, and recognized Maggie's name on the nametag. Then he said, "George and I really like the way you've been developing our ideas". One implication was that George Lucas (and others) did like to see the different ways different people would develop the same set of ideas. Lucas said as much in interviews in Rolling Stone and elsewhere—one of the side benefits of having other people direct SW movies was that he would get to see how they interpreted the material differently than he did. (Another implication of Kurtz's comment, which he himself obviously realized as soon as he said it, was that George Lucas was actually reading fan fiction. This was ironic and amusing, because earlier in the panel, Kurtz and Miller had explained how no one directly involved in the production of the movies read the fan fiction, for legal reasons. Kurtz shut up as soon as he made his comment and looked very embarrassed. Then there was the "our" ideas, which I still wonder about.)
- a male fan comments on the dating possibilities provided by fandom: Actually, if any (intelligent) male "would-a-hunting-go", fen country is far from the worst place to start looking. Provided, of course, he's looking for an equal partner and not a doormat. Fen as a class (and I'm not sure I'll grant you very many individual exceptions aside from myself) are more intelligent, more open to new ideas, more independent (and more opinionated) than any similar group or subculture I've ever come across. To mix the metaphor, a con could be considered a Fifth Avenue specialty shop in contrast to a supermarket.
Scoundrel 9 (v.2 n.9) was published in 1986 (most likely spring) and contains 57 pages. It has illos by Maggie Nowakowska, Barbara J. Kreuz, Suzi Sansom, and Ronda Henderson.
- from the editorial: Welcome to the next to the last issue of Scoundrel—yes, it's true. The next issue will be the last. I promised myself when I started this letterzine that if it became too much of a chore, if I couldn't give it at least 88% of my time and if I felt I was letting my subscribers down, I would stop. Well, that's exactly what has happened. As some of you know, I co-edit three other fanzines with two more looming on the horizon. In doing these other projects other things have had to suffer. Unfortunately, Scoundrel has been one of them. It has been a wonderful experience and I wish to now thank everyone who has contributed generously of their time—artists, writers and, most of all, the faithful LoCers. I have said it before and I'll keep on saying it—Scoundrel has had some of the most literate, thought-provoking, controverisal, animated -- and all the other superlatives you can apply -- articles and letters. Well, the subject matter has been inspirational, hasn't it? Thanks again so much for your wonderful support and for all the hours you've spent thinking about the Star Wars Saga, and putting those thoughts down so we were all able to share them. It's been fun, but I feel I have to move on to other things.
- a fan, Bill VandeWater, writes a very humorous con report called "(A Review of More Eastly and an Expose of an Evil Plot that Took Place There), see More Eastly for the full con report-- he introduces it with: I have a fairly strong ego. It survived being defended for a mistake I did make (I left Deneroff's first name off by accident). It even survived when Pat Morgan called me a half-wit and no one rose up to correct him on his error. But being the subject of an experiment—a failed experiment at that—is too much. I offer the following "manuscript found on a diskett" for the edification of your readers in the hope that they will put an end to such activities in fandom.
- "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by Linda Boster is a essay which starts, and ends, with: You say 'Lee-ya' and I say 'Lay-ah'; you say 'H-anne' and I say "Hahn"; 'Lee-ya', 'Lay-ah', 'H-anne', 'Hahn'; let's call the whole thing off! Did anyone happen to catch that fabulous showing of the Battle of Endor? Wasn't it grand? I mean the way Wicket spoke English so clearly and communicated so effectively with both Cyndel and Noah! My, my what a silly goose Wicket is to have forgotten all of that wonderful knowledge just when the rebels would have found it so, shall we say, handy? And, isn't it propitious that, on this planet that appears to be inhabited by a tribe of 'goodies' and uncounted types of 'baddies', the Empire didn't make use of the local heavies. After all, had the local 'mafia' kept the Ewoks busy during Jedi, it would have been a much more simplistic task for the Empire to defeat our small band of rebels. But... Someone I know asked somewhere else, "What is George doing? What is really going on with Jedi?" Being of generous bent, I opined that good, old George had taken us all down the proverbial garden path; that perhaps he didn't have the wits about him to be able to deliver a clear, concise, logically constructed story. It was then pointed out to me that I was being both ungenerous (which was true, I was very upset at the time) and fool-hardy. Taking into consideration the man created the Wars legacy and runs Lucasfilm, he cannot be a 'bozo'. O.K. I guess you could be right. That kind of business acumen is not generated by a 'bozo'. I still wonder about creating ROTJ and following it with Caravan of Courage and the Battle of Endor... The other day, I made the mistake of turning on the TV set. And, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a commercial for "Ewoks on Ice", coming soon to Madison Square Garden. I think George has, very clearly, indicated his chosen audiencc.it just isn't us. Or, not us as represented by a body of people who deal with his work as an allegory and something to be analyzed. Maybe there is a childlike wonder to it and it goes no further. No, that can't be right. Anyone who is the founder of Lucasfilm must be...never mind. As I said in the beginning, let's call the whole thing off. I'm confused, but o.k. I've still got the Book.
- Marcia Brin writes an article called "What Do We Know About the Force from the Films?" -- Well, that's an easy question to answer: not a whole hell of a lot! In fact, the title is probably longer than the article! George Lucas has played it close to his vest. Still he has told us a few things and we can extrapolate further information from the little we have been given. (Which, it should be noted, puts us way ahead of where we are with the Jedi. Lucas has told us nothing at all about them except that they were "guardians of truth and justice". Hey, so was Rin Tin Tin! We have no idea how they were organized, what it really took to be one, if there can be Dark as well as Light—there's an endless list. Fans have speculated or worked out their own ideas—some, such as Jeanine Hennig's article, very extensive and carefully thought out. But they remain solely fan speculation, mine included. Might some of these speculations turn out to be right? Only time will tell. Are any of them supported by the films we have? Nope.)
- Ellen Randolph writes an article called "How Do They Do That?" -- The Force is described, variously, as a "mystical energy field", something that penetrates and surrounds everything, a thing that binds the galaxy together. Life creates it and makes it grow. A Jedi can feel/sense the Force flowing through the body and, presumably the mind. It both controls one's actions and obeys one's commands. Some can sense the Force very strongly and others, by implication, not at all. Its use appears to be highly influenced by emotions. But how is it used? What does a Force-sensitive do or have that allows its use? In the four books of her Pliocene Saga (The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Tore, The Nonborn King and The Adversary), Julian May systematically organizes what she terms the "metaphysic" powers.
- a fan addresses another: Well I see it's time for another fun-filled issue of Scoundrel. I've been storing up all sorts of little notes on what to bring up this time, but first I'd like to address one, [name redacted]. Over all I find her to be a very sweet and gentle person. Perhaps a trifle dim and, on occasion, awfully wrongheaded in her opinions on the Saga and its related esoterica. It makes me absolutely giggle (mind you, not without a twinge of pity) at the thought that there have been times that she has questioned the clarity of my perceptions of Lucas' creation. Case in point, The Ewok Special. Why she had the nerve to still insist on the lack of merit of this presentation even after I had spent countless hours explaining the deeper, spiritual meaning of George's televised masterpiece (a show, for my money, that was even better than Jedi itself!). Well, [name redacted], all I can say in the face of your stubbornness in rejecting my wisdom about this show, is don't expect an invitation from me to see Ewoks on Ice. YOU DONT DESERVE THIS TREAT!!!
- a fan describes a comment at a film studies lecture she has just been to: One comment the instructor made spontaneously very early on was that he didn't consider Star Wars (presumably both ANH and the entire saga) a "fantasy", like Superman or the James Bond films or even things like Commando, because in SW Luke, the hero (emphasis mine), starts out very powerless and naive, and changes and grows radically during the course of the story, in order to fulfil his destiny and achieve his goal. And yes, fellow fans, as remarkable as it seems, not a single soul in that room of some 100 film lovers ever questioned that Luke is the hero of the SW Saga!! I know this seems truly amazing to those of us who would find this belief belligerently questioned (along with our own sanity, morality and, perhaps even our sexual preferences) if we were to advance it in a group of SW fans! But there is the view from the outside, so to speak. Here was a man who obviously loves film, and who confessed to a weakness for things like SW, who would in no way be able to comprehend just what the dickens all this Luke-Han feuding is about. Of course Luke is the hero of the SW Saga—to nonfan(atic)s it's the only thing makes any sense! It made me stop and think: Have we all become so obsessed with this saga that we can no longer see the forest for the trees?? It also reiterated to me the futility of arguing with the Han-ls-the-Hidden-God faction. It would be like arguing theories of kidney filtration with your vacuum cleaner: There is no basis for mutual understanding; it's like speaking a foreign language.... it was a refreshing change to see the saga through the eyes of people who were fans of the film, and even fans of specific films like the SW Saga—but who haven't made such an obsession out of the analysis of every little minute detail, every little nuance, every name and number, every little burp and grunt in the soundtrack!! Whew—I really needed that! I was beginning to think that fan fans were the only people left, and that some of us were getting quite a bit out of hand! Nice to lift the lid and let a little peek of sanity sneak in now and then!
- a fan complains about what she feels the exclusionary tone of some of the articles in this letterzine: I love to watch each person trying to out-write the next guy. I'm only sorry that my purple prose isn't up to par with some of the 'old timers'...! have to admit, most articles I end up reading with my faithful dictionary by my side. I can see that I am very old-fashioned in my idea of trying to express oneself in as clear a manner as possible in order to allow people to look at and examine your ideas. Some of the articles I've read herein, I've gotten the impression (and I'm sure it is really a 'mis-impression') that people are writing to exclude as many people as possible. It could be that I'm dumb (would Mensa allow a dummy to become a member? Anything is possible.), but really...Levantine? Ancillary? Granted a degree in English isn't much these days, but I'd like to know what's really going on.
- there is MUCH discussion of the role of religion in the movies, one fan writes: I was going to reply to some of [name redacted] responses to my article. Then I decided that her comments stood by themselves and, in fact, I agree with most of them. While one point I wanted to make was that the internal universe of SW did not appear to be Western, Judeo-Christian, Levantine (or whatever term you want to use), SW certainly has elements borrowed from that tradition, specifically Christian. A couple of friends to whom I showed the article pointed out that it was possible to interpret SWfrom the outside in Christian terms. Luke has Christ-like elements; so does Obi-Wan in ANH (as critics pointed out at the time of that movie). One of the main themes of the trilogy, the overwhelming power of love, is also a main theme of Christianity (even if a lot of versions of Christianity seem to have forgotten it)—it's called "caritas", from which we get the word "charity" and also "caring". But SW isn't only Christian, and even the theme of love is not confined to Christianity. As an important doctrine, it also shows up in Buddhism, where it's called "karuna". A good analogy is Lord of the Rings. The internal world of LOTR is not Christian, even though J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic all his life. It has Christian elements, but it also borrows a lot of things from other traditions. In the case of LOTR, the main borrowed tradition, and the one that shapes most of its internal ethos, is the Pagan Northern (Scandinavian) one. SW does the same thing, except that its main borrowings are from the Eastern traditions, and its internal ethos seems to be more Eastern than Western. It also owes a lot to Carlos Castaneda, as Dale Pollock points out in Skywalking. But Castaneda himself borrowed from all over the world. SW is its own self, but the self is an amalgam of a variety of traditions. (For that matter, so is Christianity, but don't tell some of the more narrow-minded fundamentalists!)What's amusing, in a way, about dislike of SW (especially ROTJ) based to some extent on its not adhering strictly to Western ideas of morality is that some people, mostly in Australia, disliked TESB just as intensely because they thought it betrayed the Eastern morality they saw in ANH. At the same time, the Duncans of Oregon thought TESB was evil because it did use Eastern ideas of ethics. And some strange people at the fringes of the fundmentalist movement think SW is inspired by Satan because it presents "magic" in a positive light, and everyone (who agrees with them, anyway) knows that magic is Satanic and Evil.
- more on the Luke-Han debate: Ultimately, it boils down to the yardstick by which you judge what is going on. Those criticizing Luke are judging by the actions, attitudes and words—i.e. X is wrong, and it doesn't matter who does it. Luke's defenders, though, are basing their stand solely on who the actor is—i.e. if Luke does (or says or thinks) it, then it will be deemed right, just, moral, etc. regardless of what the action actually is, what anyone else says or does, or what is going on around him. And while any number of Luke fans have been vehemently denying they are treating Luke as a god, what else is it when you declare everything an individual does is right, simply because he does it? When you hold him to no standards or morality beyond his desires? When everyone else must be wrong, stupid or venal so that he can be right? When you will justify his every action no matter what it is, simply because he did it? Of course you're treating him like a god!! Which, equally of course, makes it impossible to truly debate the film. One does not, after all challenge a god.
- more on fannish opinion: SW does stand just fine on its own. And I don't need all the various comparisons hung on it by various researchers, both in and out of fandom. But all this leaves me with a problem. Because I like all the comparisons, metaphors, interpretations, even if neither I nor SW needs them. I think I found the answer to this paradox. It's like music. The more voices, the more instruments, the more fun a piece of music can be. With only one voice and one song you may have something very beautiful. But add another voice and you can expand to include harmony and counterpoint. Add an orchestra and chorus and you can do all sorts of things. It's still the same song, but much more as well. Same with SW. Knowing the various Jungian, Freudian, Political, Religious, etc. echos that the Saga awakes in my own and other minds does not endanger the integrity or unity of the story. It just makes it more fun. Which is why I have anything to do with fandom to begin with—it's fun. And challenging. But then who said fun has to be easy. [Name redacted], please note. Yes, it does take work to read Bev Clark. To paraphrase our comment to [name redacted] in the last issue: Are you LAZY?! It takes work because we're learning something new and/or different. If I only wanted to hear what I already know, I'll only read my own letters in this zine. The fun of Scoundrel is the clash of ideas. By the way, in spite of Auden's amatory injunction, I prefer my fen washed. I am, however, prepared to defend the rights of any and all who consider themselves part of the "Great Unwashed"—provided, of course, that they maintain a position at least six feet downwind of me.
- Star Wars sexist? As for the Jedi being sexist, I really think the subject is laid to rest with the scene between Luke and Leia outside the Ewok hut in Jedi. Luke certainly assumes Leia can be "forceful" and does so without any between-the-lines insinuation of "even though you're a girl"; and Leia's negative reaction is based on her perception of their personalities and innate talents, not their sex. We've only seen male Jedi so far (and one can wonder about Yoda; does he have any sex at all and is the pronoun "he" used with him simply because "he" is the English neuter?), but that can mean that only male Jedi were involved with this part of the story, nothing more. For example, if a person had walked into my art office in certain times over the past eight years and had listened to someone discussing the politics of the local art group, that person might have thought that all Boeing graphic artists were female simply because at that time, only females were involved—if that person judged such situations merely by those present. In fact, the only person I remember making anything remotely like a sexist remark in the movies is Han, in ANH, when he cracks wise about "any more female advice"; but I suspect that remark merely reflects Han's tendency to describe what he sees. If Luke had been the "advisor" in question, Han probably would've been sarcastic about "farmer's advice". Thinking about the various attacks of sexism that have been leveled against the Saga led me to this possibility: if, after being cited for lack of females in fighting ranks and after Kurtz (NoreasCon '80) admitted they had goofed and would repair the damages, women did appear in Alliance ranks in TESB and Jedi, does the continuing absence of women in Imperial ranks indicate a political statement on GL's part? Or was it an unconscious development as in "we have to look better in this area so of course it's the good guys who get the fix and not the bad guys"?
- a fan writes: George Lucas wrote a fable, a fairy tale, and an entertainment. He did it with the praiseworthy motive of making some money. He happened to luck out, and hit on the right fable at the right time, with the right people to make it "work". The rest is what WE read into it, not what's there. And that can be argued back and forth from now till the aforesaid Armageddon...until George makes another movie and proves all of us wrong....AGAIN!!... With all this search for the Inner Meanings, we tend to lose sight of the actual achievement of Star Wars—that it's given us all these characters and a story that we can still argue about after ten years. And if there's a Hidden Meaning in that—I guess it's that a really great piece of art, in film or paint or music, generates its own life—and that's Fandom, folks.
- "Outward Bound" by Martie Benedict-O'Brien is a review of Songs for Star Voyagers, a filk tape by Jean Stevenson, see that page
- It is unclear if "Excerpt from America, 4:50 PM, EST, 11/21/85" is an actual transcript of a show, or a fan-written parody of the same ("above transcript was provided to Scoundrel by Jean L. Stevenson).
- a fan, starting off a comment, gives folks a heads up regarding slash in a very mention of the subject, a sort of nudge, nudge, wink, wink: "..the ever-popular Luke/Han (better make that Luke-Han! Much as I enjoy Luke/Han, I don't want to open another can of worms here!!)"
- a filk, "Fly Falcon," by Loren Eiseley
Scoundrel 10 (v.2 n.10) was published in fall of 1986. The submission deadline for the last issue was August 1986. This issue contains 13 black and white photos (taken at MediaWest 1986) of the fans who contributed to the letterzine over the years.
- "Han & Luke Fans - Compare & Contrast -- A panel at MediaWest*Con VI, Saturday, May 24, 1986 Transcribed by Linda Deneroff" is accompanied by a photo of the panelists (Marcia Brin, Melanie R, Jean Stevenson & Jeanine Hennig) -- the transcript is fourteen pages long
- there is a review of Guardian #7, see that page
- there is a review of Please Stand By, see that page
- a number of fans, even down to the last wire here, write long, detailed letters defending and attacking Han and Luke... a fan sends in a second LONG letter to this issue detailing why Han is the hero of Star Wars: "Han is the Other", the returning Jedi. the supreme intellect—the WHOLE enchilada!" Another fan, also doesn't take this last issue without a last parting shot: "Luke is the hero. No amount of criticism by some of you will ever change that no matter how hard you try."
- "Return of the Jedi — dissertation and discussion a panel at MediaWest*Con VI, Saturday, May 24, 1986" -- transcribed by Jean L. Stevenson -- panelists are Anne Elizabeth Zeek, Joyce Yasner, Jean L. Stevenson, and Juanita Salicrup -- the transcript is fourteen pages long
- from the editor: How does the line go? "It is with mixed emotions..." Well, that is no lie. How can one not have mixed emotions concerning one's creation — especially when that creation centered on the Star Wars Saga? I wanted to provide a forum for ideas, theories, opinions and the like, for one of our favorite universes. Admittedly, the going always hasn't been smooth sailing, especially when the opinions became heated and the preparation and typing threatened to do me in. However, out of all that, I have come away—and I hope all of you have—with something special, something I will always treasure. It is a feeling of accomplishment, of fellowship, of friendship and the knowledge that for a little while I helped prolong the life of the Saga through the forum of this letterzine. I don't know what the future will bring or what George Lucas has in mind, but if we never see another Star Wars movie, if we never read another Star Wars book, we will still have something special, something wonderful. We will still have the euphoria, the togetherness, the special friendships spawned by these movies. Nothing will ever take that away! Fans are special people. They see beyond the mundane word [world?] n which we live and work. They see something to hope for, to strive for in this crazy world of ours, and if that's not worth the hours, months and years devoted to our fan pursuits, nothing is!
- a fan writes of filk music: Ever since Leslie Fish's first album, "Filksongs for Filk Who Ain't Even Been Yet", fandom's music masters have been producing their own "audio fanzines"-the substantial combinations of their varying talents and their love for STWars and Star Trek. It's an old and noble tradition-aside from the real tradition of folk music in the world at large-this making up of songs of the people, by the people, for the people~for general SF fandom has been doing it for years. Just this past spring, in fact, the goliards and troubadours of the space age and its literature gathered in the San Francisco Bay area for the third annual convention devoted purely to filk music. Within STWars and Trek fandom, the years have produced: the aforementioned and deservedly well respected Leslie Fish, whose wonderful "Hope Eyrie", especially in the wake of the Challenger disaster, has become the anticipatory anthem of a second coming of the Shuttle Program and the rebirth of the U. S. reach for the stars; Omicron Ceti Three, of Baltimore/Washington fandom and the poignant "Song for an Angel"; Gemini People, ditto the location, perhaps their best song, the memorable "Sweet Survivor"; the self-styled Great Broads of the Galaxy, from the midwest, whose driving rendition of "Old Ben's Song" might chill the marrow; the one and only multi-talented and very prolific Martie Benedict-O'Brien, of "VHF" fame and Colorado; and oft happily represented in the pages of Scoundrel and countless othe fanzines fictional and non—Jean L. Stevenson. If you've been privileged to hear some of the music made by these very different but equally intriguing folk (or "filk", I suppose I ought to say), then your ears and minds have been soothed and tantalized by some of the most talented original musicianship available on tape anywhere. If you haven't heard much (or any) of it, run—do NOT walk—to your nearest tape-owning fan friend, or take a look at back issues of Scounorel for listings for Benedict-O'brien and Stevenson, get in touch with Poison Pen Press, which agents tapes for Stevenson and Technical Difficulties, or look for the Pegasus of Off Centaur Productions tables at the larger cons, for Fish, the other filk of fandom and the most wonderful general SF tapes you'll ever hear.
- "A Final Opinionated Statement" by Jean L. Stevenson is an essay comparing many aspects of Star Wars to Christianity -- three excerpts: There is one hero of Earth who has not yet reached the status of legend and myth, thougji he is considered divine by many. Many others simply say he was a man who exemplified the truths in men. As one brought up in the religion founded in his name, I feel brave enough to draw the analogies that exist in Star Wars and to fend offthepossibleprotestsoftheoutraged. In the simplest terms I can, I begin. For the first part of the story, we can only guess. Jesus of Nazareth was said to have been born to a maiden who had been visited by a messenger of God; about Han Solo, we don't know. (Given hero Luke's known parentage, increasingly concrete through the three films, Han's very mystery becomes interesting. As Luke asked himself in the children's book version of Return of the Jedi, just who is Han Solo?) We know Han was abandoned (could we read "hidden"?) on a planet of strange, wild, not-known-to-be-intelligent creatures who he at some later time helped rescue from slavery.... [snipped]... I was given pause when looking at the actual physicality of the crucifixion, which I here compare to being encased in carbon freeze. ("You put him in there, it could kill him", though about Luke, becomes applicable to Han because he is actually put through the carbon freeze in place of another, just as the crucifixion is seen by Christians as a sacrifice of one in place of all others.) The stigmata of Jesus, which played such a large part in the aftermath when his followers knew him by the marks and the doubter had to touch them before he could believe, are not at first glance repeated in Star Wars. But all five wounds are the outcome of crucifixion, even the merciful thrust into the side which should have shortened the agony. What are the marks of carbon freeze? They are blindness and a physical sickness, both of which Leia must have been told of, for she expected them. And his blindness becomes an after-factor when he can't see Boba Fett but takes care of him, when he can see neither Lando nor the Sarlacc but still shoots it dead on. And as recently discussed in Scoundrel, there's the "Father! Save him, Father!" I won't repeat the logic chain, but both Marcia Brin and I have attributed that line to Han, as it can be no one else. Is this a parallel to Jesus' words on the cross, a combination of the assurance to one of the thieves executed with him ("Today thou shalt be with me in paradise") and a cry of mercy for his killers ("Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.")?... [snipped] ... (Believer Beware! I must stress that this essay is not intended to say that Han is a god or the son of a god any more than it is necessarily intended to say that Jesus is not a Son of God. I propose this analogy, like any other, for the learning experience.)
- "P*L*O*T is a Four-Letter Word" By Ellen Randolph is an essay about writing: I suppose I should advertise this as, "Or, There She Goes, Pontificating Again." I'm not going to write about SW except through the use of examples. What I'm going to write about is writing. For the purposes of this ramble we will assume that there are four major elements to The Successful Story. They are: Plot, Characterization, Language and Pacing. (Having conceived a loathing for the term "theme" in English classes these many moons since, that subject will be left strictly alone.) Plot is what happens. Characterization defines the people it happens to. Language is what you use to do both. Pacing is how long it takes to get to the point. Now that everything has been grotesquely oversimplified, on to the details.
- "It's Not Fun Anymore, George" by Barbara A. Izzo is an essay by a fan who is upset at the commercialization of Star Wars and how things just aren't the same anymore: I then proceeded to reread my SWs zines and am still reading them. I used to be fussy and read only the stories about my favorites, but now, not knowing whether there will be another movie and/or movies, I've become almost paranoid about the characters and, consequently, I'm reading everything! I don't know what I am trying to prove, but I think I'm trying to recapture a time of enchantment, a time when a movie came from out of the blue and captured our imaginations; a time for fantasies and hopes and dreams. A time of fun, of getting together with friends, going to cons, and more movies to look forward to. It was fun! I've seen various and sundry annoucements from Lucasfilm concerning their future plans. One of the most ominous happenings was the disbanding of the OSWFC—not that I was too thrilled with it, but at least you knew someone was alive out there in Northern California! There was talk of future SW movies and future Indy movies. I even broke down and bought some of their merchandise! It was fun! However, I think someone got sidetracked along the way, lost sight of his great vision. And we all know who that someone was! It's not fun anymore, George! I have a vision of George Lucas wandering all alone through the halls and corridors of Skywalker ranch. No one is left. Here on one wall are story boards for Labyrinth, in one dark room, a mock-up of Howard the Duck, still in another, hidden somewhere in an underground cavern, the finished scripts of the first and third parts of the trilogy! There is a special lock on this particular door which is guarded by two Darth Vader look-alikes, breathing fire if anyone threatens to come close. Hopefully, one day, George will decide to unlock the door, take a look inside and decide to get things back to normal. I guess what I'm trying to say to George is, "Leave the 'think-tank' and get back to basics. You started something wonderful ten years ago and it can be wonderful again. Your audience—new and old—is out there just waiting for the final pieces to the puzzle." I have a great fear that interest in the Saga is fading fast. It will be a very sad and unnecessary thing if that really happens. I'm afraid the only thing keeping the idea alive is a small group of dedicated zine editors—and their number decreases every day! On September 8, 1986, Star Trek celebrated its 20th Anniversary. I can't help wondering if Star Wars will reach that pinnacle. As a "second generation" fan of Star Trek, I can say I liked the series because of the emphasis on people—human and alien. Special effects were left in the background and the series was better for it. The movies are trying to continue and refine that "magic" formula and I think, to a large part, the "powers that be" have succeeded. As bad as I thought the first movie was, I still get misty-eyed..when Scotty pilots Admiral Kirk—and me—to the orbital space dock and we get our first glimpse of the "new" Enterprise. So, as I look back over the past ten years of Star Wars, as I again watch the movies, read the zines and commiserate with fellow fans, I can only hope that somewhere on the Skywalker Ranch, while he's pondering future projects and past failures, George Lucas will do some serious thinking about the Saga. In the last "making of" special on PBS, Lucas said he'd like to go back to that world again. He felt comfortable there. It was like "going home".
- a fan, Maggie Nowakowska, asks: ...why are mediafen so reluctant to embrace female characters wholeheartedly? I know there's a strong percentage of fen who are in MF mainly because certain delightful members of the male sex have caught their eyes; nothing wrong with that. But, just as Uhura was more than a receptionist, opening hailing frequencies, Leia is more than Han's love interest, and Mon Mothma—for heaven's sake, MM is the reason the rebellion exists in the first place. All the literature released on Jedi states the MM began the Alliance, and yet I've heard many fans dismiss her as a mouthpiece. Is this simply because in our culture women are seldom the movers and shakers of political forces? If so, where are our imaginations lounging? Even if the politics of the situation are daunting to writers, I would think that the pressures, the dangers, the drama of MM's position over the years would inspire great soapy stories. At least there shouldn't have been the derth of discussion regarding MM since Jedi. With fans able to construct great fantasies out of the slightest suggestion of a trait or fact about Luke or Han, I have a hard time accepting the explanation that we don't know enough about her. Hey, that reality simply leaves the field wide open for speculation!
- Maggie also comments on a fan's earlier complaint that some of the articles in Scoundrel were too academic and used difficult words, as well as the difficulties of combining emotion and logic: The squabble over vocabulary that [L B] brings up had its first rounds back in Jundland Wastes days when Jani Hicks complained about fiction writers who regularly sent her to the dictionary. In the discussion that followed, fandom seemed to divide into those who resented what they perceived as a grandstanding insult to their education, and those who delighted in the opportunity to learn new words and new ways of expressing themselves. For myself, neither of the recent articles that called down such complaint this time used any words that wouldn't turn up in a late party discussion of such subjects among the local group of fen. I know I had no intention of "grandstanding" in my piece; if anything, the complaints a few people had about my assessment of Schrodinger's cat can be directly blamed on my attempt to keep things simple. Moving on to comments on the article, I'd like to thank those writers who went into more detail on the quantum notions I played with two issues ago. I suspect that Pat Morgan is more of a rationalist about all science than I am. Still, I think it is just as legitimate to apply quantum perspectives to the larger world as it is to apply the stringencies of scientific method to (what seems like) everything in our current culture, from psychology to arguments over hero status in SW. (All the endless demands that people "prove" Luke is a hero, in a medium with subjectivity as one of its basic definitions, seem to me to be good examples of misapplication of scientific method.) Given that people often assign value to, and pass judgment on, that which they perceive as "properly proved", I would further argue that a quantum PoV is more applicable to human experience than scientific method because of its own inherent subjectivity.
- this fan is curious:
- this fan, like many, is not part of a passive audience and is full of questions: I said in my first letter to Jundland Wastes, after TESB and long before Jedi, that before asking who the Other was, we should ask what it was the Other had to do. Well, we've been told who is the Other. I suggest we can still ask, What is the Other to do? Or, what is it that the Other has done to solve that apparently weighty problem for which Kenobi saw only one solution and Yoda could see at least one other? In SW:ANH, there's a moment, as they leave the Death Star in the Millennium Falcon, with Han and Cbewie in the cockpit. Han sits quiet and pensive while Chewie says something to him. What is Chewie saying? What is Han thinking? Is he mourning—and is it Kenobi or Vader or both? And above all, why, in an action-packed first film about a kid who goes out and saves the galaxy, do we have an unexplained character-defining scene with the sidekick and his sidekick? How come Han uses a lightsaber? How come he can use a lightsaber? Conversely, why are we not shown that the average Jane or Joe can use a lightsaber and it's no big thing? Aha! New thought: we've never seen a Jane use a lightsaber. Why is it ironically wonderful that, in retrospect, when Leia says to Han, "From now on you take orders from just one person—me," she is absolutely right? And having chosen her mate in that scene, do the rod and staff have anything to do with it? George, you put the image there; am I reading it correctly? Okay. Vader is positive they're alive in the asteroid field—as positive as he was that Skywalker was on Hoth—but he can't find them sitting on Needa's backside. And how come Boba Fett can find them and doesn't tell Vader? How did Boba Fett sneak from the Executor—where he was lectured by Vader—to the Avenger? How 'bout that amazin' vest? Why is Han wearing it in two closeup shots in the carbon freeze sequence when it has not been seen in TESB at all—especially not when he entered this scene—and won't be seen in ROTJ until they get to the Alliance flagship? Why does Han on his tauntaun come riding right through the image of Ben Kenobi to rescue Luke? How come, in Jedi, the light goes out in Yoda's hut before Ben Kenobi appears on the scene? And why did they change the process of shooting "ghostly"—Ben so now he looks like bad television reception—or like any number of holograms we've already seen? Why do the Emperor and Luke appear in oversized holos while the imperial officers are normal size and Leia and Vader show up in the size of Star Wars dolls? Why is the "land of hope and glory" heard only as Han receives his medal from Leia in ANH and only at the very end of the final credits of Jedi? Why is Luke wearing black? Why is there no music for the heroic twins in action on Endor? How come, as much as Luke and Leia are in matching costumes on Endor, Luke and Han are in matching costumes—and looking very like, dare one say, brothers—on the Death Star in ANH? Why isn't there a scene with Han regaining his sight? (Thank you, Pauline Kael.) Alternatively, why doesn't Luke ask "Han, how are you?" or "Hey, you're okay! Great!" when he arrives from Dagobah? Why does Han turn first toward the sound of the Ewoks celebrating and then follow Leia's line of sight to the explosion of the Death Star? Ah, me! Life is so hard.
- a fan, Bev C, compares Star Wars and Star Trek and the fractures within each fandom: The one negative thing about having been in SW fandom since the very beginning is watching the perhaps inevitable fracturing of fandom into subgroups that are sometimes at each other's throats. Every other human organization eventually subdivides like this; it's probably naive to hope media fandom wouldn't do the same thing-SF fandom certainly did, and its internal politics can be worse than anything media fandom has yet experienced, and it happened in the mid-1970's with ST fandom when K/S became the hot topic. It's particularly likely to become a major issue when a fandom has nothing external to focus it energies on. That is, I lament the fracturing of SW fandom, but it probably became inevitable after ROTJ when we knew there would be no new SW for a while, if ever. The K/S split in ST fandom came when there had been no new ST for a while and it looked as if there wouldn't be, for instance. Although I'm not as involved in ST fandom as I used to be, my impression is that the K/S issue is much less hot than it used to be, and I suspect the reason is the ST fans now have an outside focus for their fandom again. (If nothing else, this means there can be villains other than other fans if there is something in a movie the fans dislike.) If there are no new SW mov.es, I expect fandom to become increasingly contentious, though I hope it doesn't. Id rather see it commit honorable suicide first.
- this fan has lost much of her respect for George Lucas: In the early part of the "Star Wars Decade" I would have staked my reputation on George as a filmmaker. That's not a hollow statement. I worked with 'reading' people and with TV people. I was the 'movie' person, and thanks to George (the discovery of whom lead to the find of Steven Spielberg, etc.), I always had something to recommend. No, not always. The latter part of the Star Wars decade has been difficult. Jedi was a disappointment and TOD was very poorly received. It appeared as though the rebellion didn't have to lash out. The "Empire" was crumbling on its own. This statement may sound harsh, but nowadays I cringe if George Lucas' name is on something. The trouble began with Jedi, followed by Ewok films and cartoons. Not a few critics would also include Labyrinth, Mishima and Latino as trouble. Now the latest is Howard the Duck. One critic put it this way, "Up there in Marin County, he's out of touch with the world, not just Hollywood...was in touch with the audience of the '70% but not at all...with the...'80's. Howard the Duck. Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but, it's an embarrassment. What an ignominous ending after such a brilliant beginning. It's really sad.... Maybe the common thread is distaste for strict authority and rules. In the past George (and here, Steven Spielberg is similar) has stated he didn't like the way things were done in Hollywood. He has done things his own way. Individuality is good... Let me digress for a minute. In a recent discussion I admitted that I just didn't have the anger or the caring for story details in the Wars Saga that my friends do. Once you say something like that, you have to be able to justify it. I admitted that the Luke/Han war was and is a puzzlement. But, why? A lot of thought finally supplied me with the answer. I don't like being jerked around. Let me rephrase that. I hate being jerked around. Know when George lost me? No, not Jedi. Long before that. A week before Empire opened. The novelization was released. God, the anticipation! A good friend (who is an extraordinarily fast reader-and a kind person) and I sat down and each read aloud every other chapter (so we would know the ending at the same time). I got the chapter when Han goes into carbon freeze. She (a Luke fan) got the chapter where Luke gets his hand cut off. Nice. That did it. Simple enough. If George can jerk you around like that -- great. He doesn't deserve my respect. I sat stunned. "How can I wait three years to see if Han lives?" My friend's response, "It's Harrison's fault, he may refuse to sign the contract." 'Oh, yeah? Then how come in every other article it says all three signed for a 3-film deal?" "Oh, yeah? Thanks, George. I love you, too. Maybe I shouldn't have taken it all so seriously. O.K. I stopped taking it seriously. It's George's baby. If it is supposed to mean something, I'll find that out when he tells me. No more Star Wars films? Good. It's all up to him. I can't care about it, if it is to be solely his.
- a fan thanks the editor: Finally, a few words of thanks to ye long suffering editor for letting us play in her backyard for so long. She's umpired our disputes and refrained from benching us even when we've argued her calls. She's put up with us trampling the garden and breaking a few windows and even missing deadlines by months. Through all this she has treated us with a kindly (if one were suicidally-inclined, one might say almost "grandmotherly") display of tolerance and encouragement. (You're pushin' it, Pat. Ed.) I can understand her desire to get out from under the pressure of this "no frills?!!!!?" zine. (I can understand it, but I don't have to like it.) For all of this, thanks to Ye Truly Remarkable Editor.