Here’s Part 12 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 16: SHOWDOWN AT ENDOR
Showdown in the Outer Rim: The makeup of the Imperial forces we see at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi is one of the strongest arguments for the so-called minimalist point of view, discussed earlier in these endnotes. As far as the Galactic Civil War is concerned, Endor is the whole shooting match: Sidious has woven a trap meant to simultaneously destroy the Rebellion and turn the Jedi’s last hope into the Sith’s ultimate triumph. So why does Palpatine use only the Executor and a relatively paltry task force to pin the Rebels at Endor?
It’s a good question. Unless you want to wish away the entire EU (which you’re free to do, though please remember your humble author was not), it’s clear that the Empire has lots of Executor-class dreadnoughts, some number of battlecruisers and thousands and thousands of Imperial Star Destroyers. So why are the still-vulnerable Death Star II and the Emperor so poorly guarded?
Late in the writing of Warfare, I decided that question deserved an answer that would fit within the philosophical framework I’d worked out for the book. So here it is: Palpatine had two massive invasion fleets elsewhere, waiting for his signal to ravage Mon Calamari Space and Chandrila. And of course plenty of warships were needed to keep rebellious worlds pacified, guard the frontier against external menaces Sidious had known about for decades, and so forth. Throw in a bit of the usual mustache-twisting overconfidence that every villain’s master plan needs and I think the explanation seems plausible.
How I Won the Battle of Taanab: West End Games’ Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook has a number of amusing as-told-to pieces starring Han and Voren Na’al. For Warfare, I knew early on that I wanted Lando explaining the Battle of Taanab, in inimitable Lando style. This draws on the account from the Star Wars Adventure Journal #5, with a few touches of my own. “Mama Tried” is a Merle Haggard song (“one and only rebel child/from a family meek and mild”) that I thought would make a perfect name for one of Lando’s ships.
B-wing: Paul Urquhart writes: “The B-wing is simply an over-the-top stat block, but it can also be read as the result of Rebel experience with the X-wing and Y-wing, completely surrendering dogfighting for formation attack; and because it’s designed to destroy big ships without using big ships, it’s designed to make the Empire (and the people of the galaxy) question the very concept of a Star Destroyer fleet.
“The claim that the power core is the ‘same as that used by the Millennium Falcon’ is intended to illustrate the power of the design, and references the fact that both have been attributed to the same manufacturer, and so can be envisaged as having a lot of common components. But it shouldn’t be read as indicating that they use identical drives with the same serial number and completely interchangeable parts. For comparison, the USS Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s major new surface warship, uses what’s technically the same engine as the Typhoon fighter jets of the British Royal Air Force - but obviously, the version that turns propellors and drives a 500-foot destroyer up towards 40 mph is very different from the one that jets a small aircraft past the speed of sound.”
Manufacturer: Mon Calamari & Mon Cal Star Cruiser: Paul writes: “The Rendili connection is based on the fact that Mon Cal use Rendili dock modules, as well as the visual resemblence between the Dreadnaught Cruiser and the Providence. The idea of the Providence as a lengthened and modified Dreadnaught is based on the resemblance between their forward hulls (particularly obvious if you remove the galley-style ram bow seen in The Clone Wars TV version). For all I know, the connection may even be deliberate; be that as it may, this was pretty much the first thing I knew I wanted to propose for Warfare. The other was a 10-mile-long Hutt dreadnought with an axial superlaser….
“The three phases of the MC80 class are designed to correspond with the three VFX models we see in the movies: the big, leviathan-like Home One, which has been established in obscure corners of canon as a relatively old starfighter carrier; the elegant winged Liberty, which has regularly been identified explicitly as the ‘cruise liner’ design derived from a specific prototype ship; and the simplified ‘wingless’ variant of the same design, interpreted as a later development of the better-documented Liberty. That said, because every Mon Cal ship is meant to be unique, that typology shouldn’t be interpreted too strictly. Other liner designs could easily be wingless, for example.
“The cruise operators Kaliida & Rimward are new continuity, with the name an homage to ‘Pacific & Orient’ or P&O.
“The difference in the size of the Viscount and her sister ships is designed to resolve a contradiction in existing canon, but it also pokes fun at fanboy debates about the sizes of Mon Cal Star Cruisers and Super Star Destroyers, while tying in with the ‘every ship is individual’ philosophy of Mon Cal design, and a long-established canon principle that Mon Cal and SSD class designations cover ships of wildly differing sizes.
“The contrasting roles of the Krakana and the Bounty are inspired by the roles of battleships in World War II. For the Krakana, think Yamato; for the Bounty, a major inspiration is the Russian battleship Marat, which was in dock at Leningrad when the Nazis arrived, and was used as a super-heavy artillery platform during the resulting siege. The reason the Vong were able to destroy Krakana when they didn’t dare attack the Bounty is simple: On her run from Mon Cala to Kuat, she was outside the system-based air cover that could defend against a massed fighter attack.
“In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to identify the MC80B and the Republic-class Star Destroyer as the same ship under different names. But I guess we can’t fit everything into 246 pages.”
War Portrait: Admiral Ackbar: Paul writes: “This one practically wrote itself. I just went all-out with the Ackbar’s heroism and leadership - the tone is set by the awestruck attitude towards him in books such as the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy and Destiny’s Way. Giving him a first name was one of those things we weren’t sure we should risk, but it was the enthusiasm of fandom’s greatest Ackbar fan, test reader AdmiralNick22, that kept that little detail in the final draft. The name is borrowed from that of the heroic Mon Cal Senator Gial Gahan — who is now, in a sort of continuity paradox, named after Ackbar.”
A Soldier’s Story: Death in the Woods: I was proud of how this section came out (and think Chris Scalf’s savage Ewok picture is a great accompaniment), so will risk self-indulgence by exploring the elements I think make it work for both casual and hardcore fans.
First off, of course, you need to anchor Hume Tarl’s account in the action of Return of the Jedi. So the reader gets touch points for that story: the Emperor’s arrival, the missing scout troopers, Luke’s surrender, Vader’s arrival, the space battle.
Casual fans will also recognize phrases from the other movies, or at least sense the echoes. Tarl thinks Luke is a little short to be an infamous Rebel (A New Hope), refers to Luke’s laser sword (The Phantom Menace), has an officer remark that they’ll remember the day the Rebellion ended (A New Hope, again), and angrily tells Cindel Towani that his fellow troopers were slaughtered like animals (Attack of the Clones). This meshes Tarl’s story more deeply with the rest of the saga, without being too obvious about it — the language rhymes rather being a direct lift.
You also want to give the story depth — Tarl is a veteran of Tempest Force, an established Imperial unit. He’s served in battles that are a mix of existing locations and new ones, which ensures the galaxy feels big. He mentions Annaj, a system near Endor from the EU. His references to holo-thrillers and the New Republic bring the story forward in time, letting us imagine a retired trooper still fuming about having been on the losing side of history. Hardcore fans will know and appreciate some of the specifics; more casual fans will register the various names as color and move on.
Next, a different point of view helps keep what’s very familiar ground for Star Wars fans interesting. There are two such points of view here: Tarl’s and the overall narrator’s. (They’re not quite the same, though we only hear one voice.)
Tarl’s language tells us he’s not a nice guy — he blithely declares that most native species beg or steal, is chillingly casual about when and why the Empire wipes them out, and makes assumptions about Cindel’s background that a hardcore fan knows are unfounded. We don’t trust him and shouldn’t trust him — but at the same time, his account of the Ewoks’ tactics is so detailed and specific that we sense its truth.
This is where the POV blends with the overall narrator’s, and we get a nastier version of Return of the Jedi, one we can imagine seeing if the cameras had stayed on a while longer, or been aimed at slightly different places. (And didn’t you always wonder why more of the Ewoks didn’t use blasters?) A whole book of such stuff would be a downer — I always keep in mind George Lucas’s warning about fans who want their Star Wars grim, “like Terminator” — but I think it works in small doses, and this was a logical place for such a dose.
Finally, Cindel Towani is of course an established character, from the Ewok movies. I think the best Easter eggs are the ones hidden in plain sight. A casual fan takes Tarl’s assumption that Towani’s unfamiliar with Endor at face value and still gets a good tale, but a hardcore fan knows Cindel spent years on Endor, and gets a deeper story — he or she can’t help imagining Cindel’s reaction as Tarl rants and raves. What, if anything, did Cindel say? That’s up to the reader; I like to think she furrowed her brow like Natalie Portman and muttered to herself, “You assume too much.”
(On to Pt. 13)