Shadowstar/Issues 14-15

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Issue 14

Shadowstar 14 was published in Spring 1984 and contains 136 pages.

front cover of issue #14, Mark Wallace and Mary Jean Holmes
back cover of issue #14, Wanda Lybarger
flyer for issue #14, printed in Far Realms #6

From the editorial:

This next announcement is unique in the history of this fanzine, and is probably the one and only time I'll ever find it necessary to make it. We don't need prose contributors for #15. We seem to have gotten a rather large influx of new writers just after issue #14 filled up, not to mention stuff from our regular contributors (including L.J. Juliano and Kathryn Sullivan, whom some readers may have missed these past few issues). Now, poetry is still fine, as is anything very short, and we do need illustrators and cartoonists, so please, if you're interested in trying your hand at illustrating something, let me know ASAP. With summer approaching, I look forward to "vacation' (meaning the longest gap between issues), and would just as soon see everything dealt with early, so I can enjoy the break.

This does NOT mean we aren't taking submissions; indeed, come #16, I'm sure to find myself at a lack again. All it means is that anything sent between now and July will probably be held for the Christmastime issue. The #15 deadline for art and short pieces will remain July 20. Okay?

Also, I'm promising myself- that my next novel, Lost in the Shuffle (which is maybe two-thirds complete), will be finished and ready for serialization by next issue. The odds are good that it will be, so, if there's an artist out there who might be interested in illustrating a Han and Lando story, in whole or in part, please let me know.

  • A Letter from the Editor (1)
  • Shady Thoughts: Another Look at "On Being Edited, A Reaction", by Wanda Lybarger (2)
  • Penumbra (4)
  • Night Moves by Misty Lackey ("Diana Tregarde faces a nameless horror who stalks and kills in the streets of New York, and her only help is a benevolent vampire...") (10)
  • The Contest (18)
  • Winner #1: The Black Mountain by Roberta Stuemke (20)
  • Everything in Life is Temporary, Ain't It? by Marci Ewin (28)
  • Field Promotion by Mary Jean Holmes ("The battle is over, the Emperor destroyed, but, two days later, not all is quiet on the Alliance front...") (29)
  • Haiku by Kathryn Agel (45)
  • High Line by Misty Lackey ("In their endless search for a Patrol Base and employment, Darla and the Dawntreader meet an unusual man...and his even more unusual stories...") (Dawntreader) (46)
  • Shadowed Sight by Linda Knights ("Captured by a former Imperial Jedi-killer, can Luke hope to escape before he himself is destroyed?") (52)
  • The Wedding Trip by Joyce Devine and Lynda Vandiver (61)
  • The Lykonian, part one by Mike Winkle (65)
  • Obligatory Sick Cartoon (72)
  • Valley of the Shadow, part one by Pat Molitor ("Following the death of his father in the battle over Endor, Jorann Piett finds himself besieged by nightmares, and his quest to explain it takes him first to Luke Skywalker, then, ultimately, to the world of the Sith, where a terrible secret awaits him...") (78)
  • Limericks by Ann Huizenga (84)
  • Worldwalker by Misty Lackey (Diana Tregarde/Star Wars) (98)
  • "Decoy". Archived from the original on 2002-03-10. Part 3 (the conclusion) by Linda Ruth Pfonner (After being rescued from the carbon freeze, Han is accused of being an Imperial spy, and his past is revealed.) (103)
  • Puzzles by Lynda Vandiver and Marci Erwin (101)
  • ads (136)
  • Jean Danielsen, Marci Erwin, Mary Jean Holmes (front cover), Wanda Lybarger (back cover and one illo that previously appeared in Jundland Wastes), Martynn, Karen Pauli, Carol Paulson, John Sies, Mark Wallace (back cover), Mary Wood

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 14

I enjoyed Roberta Stuemke's "The Black Mountain." I can understand why it was one of your winners. It was creative, and it was an interesting sequel to her "Last Dark Lord." I liked "Field Promotion," too. Wedge deserved his new appointment and promotion. My favorite story in #14 was Pat Molitor's "Valley of the Shadow." I can't wait to read the next part of the story. Jorann Piett and Ariel Merriad are likeable characters. It was nice that Leia finally found a friend she could talk with and share a project with (Ariel and her plans to reintroduce plants and animals on the planet Damaris). I enjoyed Luke's conversation with his father, too. "Worldwalker" by Misty Lackey was cute. It was a different kind of Mary Sue story. (Gee, what did you say to Luke, Mary Jean?)

I didn't like Linda Ruth Pfonner's novel. Decoy. It started out well enough in #12. It was an interesting idea to have Han marked with an Imperial code number. Unfortuantely, it went downhill from there, in my eyes. It ended up following the same, old, much over-done pattern that so many other stories in other 'zines do: that, despite terrible injury, Han manages to 1). save the day, 2). win the girl, 3). discover his hidden Force talents, and 4). make Luke look foolish. In addition to looking foolish in this story, Luke is also made to look very self-centered and rather nasty. Near the end of the story, Pfonner has Luke say to Han, "Up until yesterday, I was so jealous of you, I could've cheerfully killed you — except that it would've hurt Leia, and I love her." I believe that line is totally out of character for Luke! I can believe that he could be jealous, but jealous enough to "cheerfully" kill?!! Ho way!!! I don't think Han, Leia, Lando, Chewie, or most especially Luke could have "cheerfully" killed anyone — not even an enemy, let alone a best friend! I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that this story was another example of where Luke's character gets dumped on in order to further build up Han's character, and I DON'T APPRECIATE THOSE STORIES!! If you want to build up a character, fine, but don't tear down another character to do so!

[Editor: I find this situation rather interesting, since the two authors you seem to be fond of (Pat Molitor and Mary Wood) are both Lake fans whom I had to brow-beat a bit in order to stop them from portraying Luke as in infallible person. At any rate, I have this to say in defense of Linda's story: first off hers is an alternate universe taking off from the end of TESB and going on into the future^ Now, while I firmly believe that the Luke we know at the end of ROTJ would not behave in quite this manner, Luke at the beginning of Decoy has yet to go through the confrontation with his inner Dark Side. Since, in Linda's tale, it is plainly not to be his battle with Vader, I have always believed that it was his almost consuming Jealousy that took its place, in this story. Look at Luke on the DEATH STAR in ROTJ; we see any of a number of moments when he is poised on the brink of falling into the Dark, very obviously of a mind that he could cheerfully do away with either Vader or the Emperor or both. To me, it has never been a sign of nastiness or denigration on the author's part when Luke makes that statement to Han rather, it's a sign of personal growth and inner maturity that he could and does admit to his blackest thoughts. He faces his Dark Side, and goes past it.
Secondly, this was not intended as . a story of Luke's quest to vanquish Vader, Luke's personal growth, Luke's acceptance of loss in love. Linda intended it to be Han's story, and, since that was her intention — and her right — that is the basis on which we, the readers, should accept it. If personal tastes and preference don't coincide, then I recommend the reader just skip over it. At any rate, virtually nothing is known of Han Solo's past. That very sense of the unknown, of mystery, makes him a very fertile ground for the imagination. He has that same 'je ne sais quoi' that many characters both past and present have to spark imaginations. There's nothing wrong with it, and that very lack of concrete knowledge is bound to produce some very wild speculations. Regardless of my oersonal beliefs (which I express in this issue's SHADY THOUGHTS), as an editor, I try to divorce myself from the controversy and simply look for the merit of the story itself, and I found this one well-written and well-considered, from a rather technical point of view. Whether or not Linda's speculation is Lucas-truth is beside the point; it is internally consistent, and the characters behave, for the most part, as they would, given the circumstances and context of the story. It doesn't really matter what the fans choose to believe. For all we know, Han may turn out to be nothing more than he appears — a common pilot and smuggler who throws in with the rebellion — perhaps much more. This is up to Lucas to decide. Meanwhile, I find it neither harmful nor disturbing to see healthy debate and "what if?"s circulate, especially those that are presented with talent and interest.
Lastly, Linda's Decoy draws a great deal of its flavor from Frank Herbert's Dune. This is not at all objectionable, since, by his own admission, Lucas was also influenced by this classic. The fact that Linda chose to tell the tale of the leader of the Sardaukar rather than that of Muad'dib is her prerogative. The reader's is to pick and choose from what is offered. If, however, a reader happens to dislike it because of personal bias, that in no way lessens the writer's effort. The only other suggestion I can offer is: if you don't like what's being published, why not try writing some of your own? Perhaps your point of view could best expressed that way, and others could appreciate it better.
I do not offer these comments out of sarcastic, angry, or malicious intentt if any offense is taken from them, I sincerely apologize. Howevers since the items presented in any publication are ultimately the choice of the editor, I feel compelled to defend my selection of what I found to be an excellent story. Had I deemed Decoy objectionable on either the basis of character or plot, I would not have hesitated to reject it. However, in my readings of other 'zines, I have seen equal guilt on both sides of this question. Supporters of Han who portray Luke as a hick, or want him to fall to the Dark so that Han can save the universet and fans of Luke who either ignore the character of Han completely, or portray him as habitually drunken, dense as a black star, or, in general, crude in comparison to shining Luke. I prefer neither situationt hence, the stories I will choose to present in SHADOWSTAR offer, in my opinion, acceptable depictions of both characters. Individual story emphasis, however, remains the domain of the author.] [1]

I refuse to comment on the Lykoniad, because I'm already several chapters ahead of you folk — Mike brings us the new ones every other week. I'll just say you're in for a lot more than you realize, at the moment.

I also refuse to comment on this Lackey person — why do you print her stuff, anyway? If anybody is slightly confused, though, chronologically, "High Line" comes before "Masks."

"The Black Mountain" had me fooled for a bit. I never pegged Han as an exorcist — or would "medium" be a better term, I wonder? Can't wait to see the other contest winner, since this was first-rate.

Justice triumphs in "Field Promotion." A good tight story, and a darn good read. "Wedding Trip" was absolutely priceless. It's very hard to write humor, and this was pulled off beautifully. Threepio's character come through clear as anything — the fussbudget!

And finally, the last part of Decoy! Good work, good ending. Very satisfactory. But what I'd like to know is how Han managed to get Leia preggers when he seemed to spend so much of his time in sickbay. Is there something about that sickbay you're not telling us, hmm?

I may not be able to live until September and #15. [2]

You truly amaze me! I know I have said this before, but the more I read of your SW writing, the more I enjoy it. Your story lines and characters just fit right into George Lucas' universe so well. I know you get embarrassed easily, but you have become my favorite writer of SW fiction. I hope you never stop writing. Just like George, your writing has humor without being slapstick; suspense with believability; you stir the imagination, and always leave the reader wanting more. I can hardly wait until this coming winter for your Illuminations. I'm sure I won't be disappointed, as I do favor that good-looking Corellian.

"Field Promotion" was extremely clever, and proved that, even when you're dealing with a minor character from the SF universe, you make them believable and human. The conclusion to Decoy was quite enjoyable, even if Han seems to get quite black and blue in all of Linda's writings. [You noticed that, too...?] Actually, I enjoy it; my tastes run along the same lines as Linda's, and she does always have a happy ending.

I think you made an excellent decision by adding your Junior Editor to your staff. However, I do wish he would take a line from his Senior Editor and write a story or two on his adventures with Dad, Han, and Company. His point of view is quite enjoyable. [1]

My first comment goes to Pat Molitor — and it's "sorry." I know how frustrating it is to work in a vacuum, and I should have commented before this. My first point is this: anyone who would call anyone else an "Impie-lover" in tones of disgust ought to be taken out and shot. It smacks too closely of other similar epithets ("Commie-lover," for one — you get my drift) and for the same reasons. You can't lump everyone who happens to be in the same governmental/geographic area under the same umbrella. It is possible to be an honorable person in a society without honor. Case in point: Rommel. There are few who will not admit to admiration for the man, yet look at the regime he served! Now, some critique (don't hit! You said you wanted it); your prose would be a great deal more powerful if you stopped taking the easy way out with cliches. (Look, I do it, too; it took somebody else to tell me to get Obi-wan Kenobi out of my fantasy novel for me to see that it was a weakness). You've got several: the Perfect Self-Sacrificing Friend, who is nothing and no one outside of the crutch-service he performs for the main character; the Adoring Mate (can't she yell at him even once?); the Evil Mother, who doesn't seem to have any motivation for her evil; the Seductress, who doesn't have much of a motive, either. None of this is unhealable! You have to take the time to think things through, to ask yourself who these people really are and uhy they're doing these things — and then tell the rest of us. It's hard; I know, none better (more rewrites than I care to think about on my prostuff). I keep forgetting that the rest of you can't read my mind; after all, I know what's going on, so uhy shouldn't you? Get behind the cardboard and give us reasons. That's what makes good writing. Tlie technical part, the structure, grammar, syntax, and the ability to generate a story-line are things you already have. Now take the last step.

And lest you didn't get the idea, I enjoyed "Valley of the Shadow," despite the above-mentioned problem. [3]

Issue 15

front cover #15, L.J. Juliano, Mary Wood, Mary Jean Holmes, Wanda Lybarger
back cover of issue #15, Martynn

Shadowstar 15 was published in Summer 1984 and contains 157 pages.

From the editorial:

You may note a general lack of illustrations this time. This is not entirely due to the long delays, but primarily because this monster was getting out of hand. Since I have vowed to never publish an issue with an in-person price of more than $10, it was a tough task keeping the length (and cost) down. I hope no one's terribly disappointed. We've tried to make up for the general dearth with some top-notch stuff. I hope we succeeded.

This issue may also have one of the shortest PENUMBRAs to date. It's rather puzzled me that we've had virtually no LOCs, of late. I hope that doesn't mean interest is flagging...?

  • Letter from the Editor (1)
  • Shady Thoughts: A Theory to Explain the Universe (According to George Lucas) by Mary Jean Holmes (2)
  • Fuzzy Thoughts: On Wookiees and Fan Fiction by Lumpawarrump, Junior Editor (4)
  • Penumbra (7)
  • Sundering by Jeanine Hennig (Star Wars) (12)
  • Valley of the Shadow, conclusion by Pat Molitor (original fantasy) (16)
  • The Lykoniad, part two by Mike Winkle (original fiction) (40)
  • Setting Up Housekeeping by Joyce Devine and Lynda Vandiver (Star Wars) (45)
  • Nightblade, the Continuing Adventures of the Dragon by L.J. Juliano (original comic) (49)
  • After Endor by Kathryn Agel (contest winner) (part of Starbird's Children Universe) (Star Wars) (56)
  • Crossword Puzzle by Marci Erwin (68)
  • Flashback to a Nightmare by Linda Ruth Pfonner (contest winner) (Star Wars) (69)
  • Conversation with a Unicorn, poem by Karin Sygowicz (101)
  • Dreams and Nightmares by Misty Lackey (Dawntreader and Darla) (102)
  • The Crocked Corellian by Karen Klinck (Star Wars) (115)
  • The Proconsul by Sean Linderman (original science fiction) (119)
  • Aros by Rosalinda Arias (original fantasy) (122)
  • Obligatory Sick Cartoon: "If I only had a hand." (129)
  • Change of Heart, vignette by Ann Wortham (Star Wars) (130)
  • three poems by Chris Smith (131)
  • The Oklahoma Weedwhacker Massacree, filk by Misty Lackey (132)
  • Lost in the Shuffle, part one of a Star Wars novel by Mary Jean Holmes (133)
  • ads (158)
  • art by Martynn (back cover), Jean Danielsen, Anne Davenport, Marci Erwin, Mary Jean Holmes (front cover), Jenni, L.J. Juliano (front cover), Wanda Lybarger (front cover), Virginia Rogers, John Rides, Mark Wallace, Mary Wood (front cover)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 15

SHADOWSTAR #15 is, as usual, excellent, and if I don't necessarily agree with every storyline, I do feel all the stories are well-written and enjoyable. Anyway, if all fan fiction read with the same point of view, it would get pretty boring. I enjoy diversity when it is well-written, with believable characters.

Jeanine Hennig's "Sundering" — I am also a fan of Jeanine's. In fact, her 'zine (FAR REALMS) was the very first fanzine I ever read. I innocently picked it up one time, the cover caught my interest, not even knowing what was in it. Jeanine and her "Catalyst!" series got me hooked from that moment I Not being a part of that universe, "Sundering" presented a different point of view. I have read a few stories of late dealing with Luke's and Leia's birth, but this was the first one that presented an interesting twist of fate; it starts one to thinking. Although it is hard to imagine that Ben would deceive his own daughter, who would have believed that he would've lied to Luke about his father? [Ed: I would've. Jedi or not. Obi-wan, like all the others, is only a fallible mortal -- like Anakin, like Luke.., Of course, I know not everyone thinks the way I do...] I like Jeanine's concept that Ben is Luke's maternal grandfather, which therefore makes Owen Lars Luke's real uncle. It makes sense.

As of this date, I have not finished reading part two of "Valley of the Shadow" by Pat Molitor. As the majority of this story deals with a character that is not in SW, I have a little difficulty finishing it, although I do plan on reading it, since I enjoyed part one. I'll therefore hold my comments on it. [Ed: Hm. Y'know, I'm beginning to get more and more comments of this type coming across my desk, SW fans who have little interest or difficulty in reading SW stories that do not deal with the characters we all know and love (or hate). I've always thought this was so the fans are more Interested in reading about the people they already love, and aren't always interested in hearing tales about people they don't know at all-- which is why my own fan fiction has and will always deal with those people and/or characters who are somehow intrinsically connected with them. This is not to say I dislike peripheral stories, such as Pat's (obviously, or I wouldn't print 'em); it's just interesting to see my assumption proved true. As Mr. Spock would say, fascinating.

I really enjoyed "After Endor" by Kathryn Agel. She uses her own character, Cara, very well, and fits her in with the other SW characters, as if she belongs. I look forward to her "Starbird's Children" stories in 'zines whenever they appear. She has taken ROTJ and has gone on. I enjoy it when writers develop their own universe, as it enables me to get to know the characters better with each new story I read — kind of like Star Wars. Another thing that I admire is that, although it is clear that Han is perhaps the main emphasis in her universe, she keeps each character on target and shows a respect for their strengths and humor. Although I doubt that we will find that Han has a sister in George Lucas' version, Cara brings with her an extension of Han's prior life and lets us see the "marshmallow" middle of Corellians in general! Though this story did not have a great deal of real action or plot, it did let us see the growing love and friendship between all the SW characters, particularly Luke's and Han's mutual respect and caring, not only for Leia, but for each other. I do feel that the relationships revealed in ROTJ are viable and important. The only problem is that the film did not expand on the emotional sides of those relationships. That is where fanzines can do so much for the Saga and add the depth that George Lucas did not. Kathy does this well, with a light hand and a sense of humor.

"Flashback to a Nightmare" (aka "N'ot a Scratch" — good subtitle; Linda showed great restraint this time around in keeping our Corellian in one piece!), was a good selection for your co-winner. Linda took your rendering and used her unusual imagination to make it come alive. Sometimes, I think Linda has a little devil in her pen. Ogrini — how despicable, UGH! By the way, are they any relation to your Phryllian monks in A Light from the Dark? [Not as far as I know; Linda's got a nasty streak all her own...] If there is anything to quibble with in the story, it's that I can't quite picture Han as a politician or Senator. Tact was not his strong point. I'd think more along the lines of him playing an active role in the new Republic's starfleet (can't you just see a whole fleet of souped-up x-wings?), as opposed to arguing with a lot of stuffy politicians. I would think his verbal battles with Leia would be enough! However, the rest of the story did hold up well and were, for the most part, in character. Although Linda's Han may seem a little too sentimental for some, I feel that softer side has always been there, even in the movies; he just keeps it covered up, and Linda lets it out. I particularly liked his quiet and awed reaction to Leia's pregnancy.

My personal view is that, if George Lucas does favor us with a final trilogy, it will be this child/children of Han's and Leia's that will be the focus.

Back to "Flashback." I enjoyed the action, and found Leia's and Han's growing relationship to be tender and full of mutual admiration. Linda did a remarkable job of bringing your illustration to life, and fit all the pieces of the picture into the story in a natural, unforced way. Wanda's illos, while different from yours, fit well with the story; I was grateful that Linda recruited her. Her art always adds so much to a story.

I love both yours and Wanda's art, and, although your styles are different, they both always display emotions and action, and the characters are identifiable. It's a tribute to you, Mary Jean, as an artist and storyteller that your contest could come up with two such well-written, thought out, and different storylines to one illustration. I've seen other such contests in 'zines that received little or no entries. Your art, like your writing, spurs the imagination and leaves the reader wanting more.

Talking about illos, the back cover by Martynn was beautiful. It caught the essence of the ending of ROTJ.

"The Crocked Corellian" and "Setting Up Housekeeping" were both good pieces of humor and easy reading. In regards to "Setting Up Housekeeping" — Leia can get a little pushy at times, but then, can't we all! Although I don't see Han giving in so easily — he may have a soft center, but he's not a pushover — I did enjoy the way that C3P0 actually looked to him for salvation — another first!

"Change of Heart" by Ann Wortham was an extremely well-written and touching vignette. At times, many such short pieces leave me feeling unsatisfied, but when they are good, they are very, very good. It isn't often someone can say so much with so little — a true sign of talent.

I'll leave most of my comments on Lost in the Shuffle until I've read more. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that, before your novel is over, we might be meeting Lando and the Falcon. Although we've all read many stories featuring the young, impulsive, reckless, and foolish Han Solo, I have a feeling that LITS isn't just another adventure, but will show us one of those experiences that made him into the man we see in the SW Saga; not perfect, but someone who has always learned things the hard way. Those are usually the lessons we learn best, anyway; thinking with out hearts instead of our heads — such as Han does in LITS when he signs the contract to help Chewie — can sometimes get one into trouble, but it's what makes us human (thank God!). I guess the trick is learning the right balance. Han's later cynicism is most likely the result of bouts with "heart-over-head" that left him hurting as an older Solo. But it's that same kind of emotion that compelled him to stay with Luke and Leia, and finally showed him that yes, it can hurt, but it's also what leads to the best things in life. To roe, this is what all the SW characters are learning. The main thing is to remember, perhaps, is that as soon as we think we've got the balance right, something or someone else will probably come along and teach us a new lesson!

Finally, I would like to say that, to bring such love, thoughtfulness, and humor (humor is the ingredient that keeps us all sane) to your writing, it has to be there in abundance in the first place. And thank God you have the talent that allows people like me — who may never meet you in person — to share it!

Well, this is about the longest LoC I've ever written, and I hope I didn't embarrass myself by going on and on. I don't always express myself in words as well as others do. I guess that's why you write and I buy. Thank you all for sharing![4]

I really liked your editorial in #15; I like your opinion of the Lucas/official version of the SW universe. It's very consistent with the films, and that's all that really counts. It's our job as writers to match our stories to his world, and not vice-versa. Your chemistry-set analogy actually set the characters in their proper places very neatly. It's often difficult to recall that the Saga is equally co-dependent on all its major characters. We could have had an equally ubstantial tale without the droids (the Lady knows I cheered when they blasted C3P0 on Bespin!), or without Admiral Piett, or without Lando being quite the person he is. But the Saga without Han? or Luke? or Leia, or Chewie, or Vader, or Ben? or the Emperor? or even Uncle Owen? No, it would have been much diminished. All are needed. It does a writer good to re-examine this fact periodically. Sometimes, for the sake of a particular story, certain characters are intentionally shuffled offstage — see my story in #15 for a prime example. Not every scene in the Trilogy has all the characters in it. But the shuffling-off must be consistent with the characters, and their presence in the lives of the people they're not with must be preserved.

I find myself more and more becoming irritated by the fan-writers who, for reasons of their own, must introduce facets from other universes, such as Pern or Elfquest, into the SW universe, and change all the personalities of the SW characters to fit the introductions. I especially object to stories that make our Trio helpless, while some new, introduced character sweeps in out of nowhere to save the day. That's cheating. If your introduced character is that powerful a personality, then he/she/it deserves a universe of his/her/its own. Don't clutter up the SW universe — it's cluttered enough as it is. [Ed: Oh my. It's good to hear someone who shares one of my opinions concerning fan fiction, I have no objection to stories that describe brief or humorous crossovers between universes -- again, I wouldn't print 'em, if I did — but I do object to those that require serious permanent alterations to one side or the other in order to accommodate the cross. My strongest objection to "new characters" in fan stories are those in which the writer has created a character of his or her own, and changes the already established personalities andlor relationships between the pre-existing characters to strengthen or permit the introduction of the newcomer(s), That smacks of Mary-Su-ishness. I have no qualms about stories set in the SW in which the created characters have adventures of their own — witness this issue's "Honor's Price"; the ability to craft an interesting story set in a known universe that does not require the pre-established characters in order to captivate an audience is its own art. But when the new comes in and outshines the. old at the old's expense... I do a slow burn every time I read such tales. Of course, this is only my opinion, but I find I can stomach only so many incursions into extreme "alternate universes."]

Whew. Forgive the soapboxing. I've been reading some extraordinarily peculiar 'zines lately. Of course, I may have been equally guilty of such things as I vehemently decry, but I hope not. I try to minimize such wholesale plagiarism. Of course, Mary Jean, you're convinced that I modeled the Sekadavar of Decoy after the Sardaukar of Herbert's Dune. The names are intentionally similarly sibilant; their functions as a group are clearly similar. Yet I think Herbert intentionally dehumanized both the Sardaukar and Fedaykin; they were both fanatically loyal groups of followers. My Sekadavar object to the label. Also, I cannot find any significant parallel between Han Tharsen and Captain Aramsham. I borrowed the concept of a clan of bodyguards, but I did not steal the Sardaukar. [Ed: And I don't believe you did, either. I merely meant to point out that you, like Lucas, have paid homage to Herbert's classic in your story; in fact, I find it singularly appropriate that you did, considering that Lucas himself admits to a certain influence and homage-paying in his universe. (Really, if one stops to think about it, one can find parallels between many of the Dune characters and those in Lucas Saga. But I will not get into that here; I could write a long dissertation on the matter.) There's nothing wrong in making nods to one's roots and influences in one's writings; I do it frequently, myself, and not always with finesse (take Skred in LITS, for instance).]

I think the reason I wrote Decoy as I did was in response to all those people who were getting so vehement about how Han was really just a petty criminal who got swept into the Rebellion by accident, and that Luke is the Prophesied Hero, so of course, Luke gets to save the day and get the girl. In reality, things never work out quite that neatly. Sure, SW is a fairy tale, but only in its structure. The detailing is modern. Han is the dash of strong reality, sharp as a handful of freshly-ground ginger root, against which Luke often perceives himself as a Pawn of Destiny. Han's successful attachment of Leia only encourages Luke's perception of himself as outside the bounds of normality.

Okay. Enough. Onward to the rest of the 'zine!

"Fuzzy Thoughts." Nicely done, for a first effort — which it isn't, really. And you know that I agree with Lumpy on this; I try to treat Chewie like the elder brother and foster father that he really is as much as I can. It's just that sometimes, it isn't always easy. Sometimes, I have to get rid of him (and Luke, and I nearly always dispense with the droids!) in order for Han to stumble around on his own. He'll never learn to watch out for sharp things if Chewie is always there to dull the danger. The best adventure stories are those in which the hero learns something, whether it be an external fact or a new potential within himself. Stress forces the learning, and security is the antithesis of stress.

"Penumbra." Well, the consensus on Decoy seems to be about two to one for, so I'm happy. Even the one letter that didn't express approval (I only cried a little, she fibbed) had a valid objection, not against my story individually, but against all the trash-the-hero stories she's been reading. But that's like someone who recently grumbled that there were too many matriarchies in fantasy literature, when there is not a scrap of evidence that there were ever such things in reality. The answer, of course, is that fiction often compensates for reality, if we can call the Lucasfilm productions "reality" of a sort. I write mostly about Han because there is so much space there to work with. We know almost nothing about him, except for what we actually saw on the screen. So the writers get to play with him. I'm hesitant to play so fast and loose with Luke, since he's Lucas' protagonist, and Lucas is obviously taking him somewhere. I don't like my stories to flagrantly violate what we see on the screen. Decoy and most of my fiction was written before ROTJ, and concerned what happened to Han when he was defrosted. I wrote them because we didn't know how Lucas was going to treat the rescue. One thing I'm rather proud of was that I, too, regularly made the defrosting 95% perfect — he usually suffered frost-damage blindness immediately after the melt, although I'm at a loss to explain how his vision could have healed itself, as Lucas said it did. But that's a minor point.

To the fiction!

"Sundering" by Jeanine Hennig. Lovely, lovely piece, so full of foreshadowing echoes... We've all read many versions of Luke's birth, and, since we found out about the twins, Leia's, too... Yet this one feels right, proper...

"Valley of the Shadow," part two by Pat Molitor. I've always had trouble with Pat's stories. They're good; there's no question that the girl can write. But they're all about Imperials that I really have no interest in, and I have so much difficulty dealing with that dichotomy — a good story about people I dislike — that I can't really give an honest evaluation. Sorry.

"Setting Up Housekeeping" by Joyce Devine and Lynda Vandiver. Hysterical. Utterly. 'Nuff said.

"Nightblade" by Larry Juliano. I'm confused. And that's all I'm going to say!

"After Endor" by Kathryn Agel. I like this cycle, and this story's fun to read. I just wish they were numbered or something, and I knew where they all were...

"People and Creatures Crossword" by Marci Erwin. This was fun. I xeroxed it at work, and we had loads of fun doing it. Good job!

"Flashback to a Nightmare" by me. Well, yes. I was rather pleased to be named a co-winner ("Black Mountain" was a neat story!). This one started as a series of fragments, and I decided as an exercise in self-control not to trash anyone, especially Han. Much to my amazement, I succeeded. You say you have a corps of Professional Naggers, Mary Jean? I have only two — you and Wanda Lybarger. But Wanda nags good. That's how she got to illo this story; I admitted to her that I was writing an entry in your contest, and she wanted to read it, so I sent her a copy of them.

"Conversation With a Unicorn" by Karin Zygowicz. Beautiful, just beautiful.

"Dreams and Nightmares" by Misty Lackey. This one is lots of fun! I love Duke! I sometimes wonder if Darla and Dawn and Derek and Duke isn't carrying alliteration a bit too far, but, hey, it's all fun!

"The Crocked Corellian" by Karen Klinck. Karen's my housemate, and I've read this story a lot over the past three or six years; it's been floating around here since 1978 or thereabouts. I don't think I'll say anything more than that.

"The Proconsul" by Sean Linderman. Sean is a good friend of mine, too, and I returned the arm-twisting it took to get me to submit by swiping this ms from her desk and mailing it to you. I think it's a neat piece, regardless of the fact that I cannot like Alaris any more than I can Jorann Piett.

"Aros" by Rosalinda Arias. Beautiful work; it seems a shame that the prozines really don't have a place for stories like this; it deserves professional publication. Obligatory Sick Cartoon. Very sick. Very.

"Change of Heart" by Ann Wortham. Except for the jarringly inappropriate phrase "in her heart of hearts," this is a magnificent story. Poetry by Chris Smith. Very nice.

"The Oklahoma Weedwhacker Massacree" by Misty Lackey. Lady, you are one warped person!

Lost in the Shuffle by Ye Editore. Hmph. If you hadn't sent me the entirety of this particularly vicious trash-Han piece, I'd've just had to come swoopin' down on you to snatch it right out o' your disk drive. That's a terrible place to end a segment! Gods, it hurts to see him hurting like that — and I don't mean the cracked jaw! And people tell me I torment the hapless Corellian — And it does go on for longer, too! [4]


  1. ^ a b Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named autogenerated8
  2. ^ from a letter of comment by Misty Lackey in "Shadowstar" #15
  3. ^ from Misty Lackey in "Shadowstar" #19
  4. ^ a b from a letter in "Shadowstar" #17