Welcome to the endnotes for Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare. After Dan Wallace and I wrote The Essential Atlas, we had a ball putting together endnotes for the book, explaining some of the references, our thinking for certain decisions, and revealing an Easter egg or two. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do the same for Warfare. Let’s just plunge right in, shall we?
Teshik’s speech: The book originally began with a transcript of a briefing featuring Admiral Motti, Bevel Lemelisk, a general from the Department of Military Research and Dr. Insmot Bowen, a pre-Republic specialist from the Obroan Institute. Dr. Bowen explained that some of the odd characteristics of the galaxy — including that barrier west of the Core — were the remnants of Celestial technology, and told the panel of an ancient war between the Celestials and the Rakata. (Motti, as you might imagine, wasn’t believing it.)
The section was fun, but my editor at Del Rey, Erich Schoeneweiss, felt it wasn’t the best beginning for the book. He felt we needed something that put the reader in a dynamic scene rather than a briefing room, and that had some actual warfare in it, instead of a discussion of it. I fumed about that for a bit, then fumed a lot more because I realized Erich was right.
A couple of days later I was in the audience at the confirmation of a friend’s daughter and a member of the congregation sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I was struck, as tons of folks have been before, by its mix of beauty and despair – a sort of bleak transcendence. By the end of the song I knew what I wanted – an officer bearing witness to scenes that were terrible and yet somehow beautiful, and led to a strange vision. (Without the Force being involved – it can’t all be midichlorians.)
Osvald Teshik and the Battle of Endor fit the bill, and I had my opening – as well as a framing device for the book.
By the way, I love the transition from Teshik’s last words to the title page of the book and Ian Fullwood’s ancient, deadly-looking Tionese warships. That bit of nice design conveyed the exact feeling I wanted from Teshik’s speech: a sense that war has always been with us and always will be, and is horrifying but also majestic.
For those who’ve asked if this section was inspired by Mass Effect 2, I’ve never played the game. So any similarities are coincidental.
CHAPTER 1: BEFORE THE REPUBLIC
Tionese ships: We’d never seen Tionese craft, and I was determined to show some of them – and equally determined that they’d look cool and iconic. So I got to brainstorming notes for Ian, John VanFleet and Darren Tan. Essentially, I reverse-engineered the Tionese ships from their later influences. Here’s the note I sent Erich and the artists:
This is the era of armor, not shields. That should be clear in the look. And the armor is really just armor — it doesn’t have portholes or sensors or guns. That stuff is separate.
The armor is chromed, a la Padmé’s royal ship, which is an homage to this era.
I envisioned Dark Horse’s strange, spiny KOTOR era ships are Xim-style ships with the “sails” down on all sides — the sails being massive plates of armor bolted onto the ships with a latticework of girders, or a honeycomb, or something along those lines, and recalling the sails of Jabba’s barge. Another element I’d like to see is a keel that recalls the “paddleboat” look of the Malevolence, as well as the back of Hutt designs like the sail barge and skiff.
So you have these ships that essentially look like exploded diagrams, with an outer shell of chrome, sail-like armor plates around a spiny, spiky interior that extrudes from between the sails.
DH KOTOR + Malevolence “paddleboat” + Hutt sails + chrome armor = Xim ships
And then I attached some really horrible sketches. Happily, Ian and John got what I was after, and produced renderings that were pretty cool. We married the strengths of their two designs and the results, I think, are awesome – the Tionese ships look different than anything we’ve seen before in Star Wars, but you can see familiar elements in them, and they work as predecessors of later craft.
By the way, Galuch isn’t a new planet. Kudos to you if you know its other, more-familiar name.
Quotes: I decided that I wanted little bits of wisdom related to war and military matters to open each chapter, so I went hunting through a number of compilations of quotations in search of real-world quotes I liked, then changed them around or used them as inspiration for my own. You’ll hear echoes of Sun Tzu, Sherman, Eisenhower and even Joe Torre in there. Originally they were unattributed, but Lucasfilm wanted that changed. It was kind of fun matching up the various quotes with my roster of generals, admirals and political leaders, figuring out who was the best choice to say what.
Notron in Flames: Star Wars continuity can be really bizarre – Dha Werda Verda began as a song (with lyrics by the great Ben Burtt) on the Shadows of the Empire soundtrack, then got turned into a Mandalorian war dance in Karen Traviss’s novels. I added the idea that it was a sprawling, epic poem whose most famous stanzas would be far better known than the rest – an echo of the Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata.
I wrote the translation to sound stylized and slightly awkward, as if the translator were struggling to present a worldview that was fundamentally alien – you get the same feeling reading a good translation of Gilgamesh.
Notron is from the old Marvel comics, believe it or not – Dan and I made it an ancient name for Coruscant in the Atlas.
The Hutts and Xim: Ah, two of my favorite things about Star Wars. I worked hard to make the Hutts genuinely frightening and dreadful here – it’s fun to play them for laughs, but they’re criminal masterminds who’ve thrived for 25,000 years, which demands a fair amount of ruthlessness. And I’ve loved filling in the history of Xim and the Hutts in a number of projects, starting with the Atlas extras done for the official site.
Note that the Hutts are thieves and copycats when it comes to technology. That “Hutt look” of sails and rounded wedges and chevron-like patterns? Pure Tionese, baby.
The Despotica is Michael Kogge’s awesomer-than-awesome examination of Xim in galactic lore, a bravura kaleidoscope of poetry, Greek tragedy and tale-telling that also appeared on the official site as part of what was billed as Xim week. Michael was kind enough to write a new Xim poem for Warfare, which sadly got cut after I realized I’d spent way too many pages on the ancient galaxy. It’s great stuff that I hope we can get out there someday, along with other Xim material that wound up on the cutting-room floor.
The idea that Xim would take the old Rakatan title Daritha came from Modi, the master mapmaker of the Atlas.
Tionese technology: A lot of this material dates all the way back to Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, by the great Brian Daley. It was a lot of fun taking the names of ancient seagoing vessels and adapting them to Star Wars.
Shield technology: Taken in aggregate, the “Armory” sections tell a story of technological progress in galactic warfare. Here we learn that the ancient galaxy was principally an age of armor – and that armor was mirror-bright to dissipate energy weapons. (Padmé’s royal starship would thus be a stylistic nod to this era, though its shields were perfectly good – at least as long as R2-D2 was handy.) Shields first appeared as a guard against the hazards of travel, and for a long time were limited to ships big enough to carry immense power plants.
Boonta the Hutt: The Moralan Parliament was first mentioned in an article in Polyhedron, and further developed in the Xim tie-ins with the Atlas. You’ll also find a nod to it in DK’s revised Episode I Visual Dictionary, my 2012 expansion of David West Reynolds’ very cool 1999 book. Note that here we learn the origins of the Boonta race, and Drew Baker’s sketch shows us what’s essentially an early podrace. I hope the backstory gives some resonance to Shmi’s hatred of the podraces and makes the stakes for Anakin feel even higher: Slaves have been racing and dying to amuse Hutts for millennia.
(On to Part 2)