Sunday, June 7, 2015

Never Before Released "Legends" Novel Being Made Available Online

By: Dominic Jones

A very interesting piece of Star Wars history has made its way online recently, by way of  The team over there are posting the never before released Star Wars novel The Heart of the Jedi in four chapter increments every week.  The novel was approved by Lucasfilm back in 1993, with George Lucas himself reportedly selected author Kenneth C. Flint, and was suppose to kick off a new series in the Expanded Universe.  

Unfortunately, the book was never released and vanished into the archive of never released Star Wars stories.  The reason why, according to Flint, does not make Spectra (who published the novels at the time) look very good.  Flint writes in the "behind the scenes" section on Star Wars Timeline,

"I spent most of the next year writing that book, putting my own books aside.  My primary sources were the movies themselves, which I watched over-and-over (often in slo-mo), and a Star Wars Sourcebook for game players from West End Games that Lucasfilm supplied.  By the end of 1992 I had a draft ready.  I sent it in and waited… and waited. When I inquired as to how it was going, my editor said that the process of the Star Wars project had stalled as they developed the rest of the series.  And she still had to go through it herself before sending it to Lucasfilm for their assessment.  I believed her.  Why not?  I finally got a list of mostly minor stuff and started revisions.

After more months passed, I heard from my editor that “things were moving ahead again with the Star Wars project.”  I finished my revisions and submitted it.  Again, I was told the Lucas people approved it.  In fact, they said they “quite liked it.”

Then I waited.  Yet more months went by.  I heard nothing.  Stupidly, I had no agent through all this.  I didn’t think I needed one, as I’d always dealt directly with Spectra and been fairly treated. Finally, growing concerned, I contacted an agent who contacted Spectra.  He discovered only then that Spectra had determined my book couldn’t be published because it “no longer fit into the sequence for the new series.”

I was told that this happened because of my Spectra editor.  She had supposedly promised another author of the group (a friend of hers, according to one source) that her book would be placed in Position One.  This apparently accounted for the “delays” that I had been told about, while she wrote her own book to slip into my slot while I sat idle and ignorant of what was happening for months.  I have made a point of not knowing who this other author is, and I have never been able to bring myself to read her book, or any other of the subsequent series, saddened that this so violated my love of everything Star Wars.

Did I confront Lucasfilm and try to fight this situation?  Nope.  I didn’t know who to contact or how, remember.  I worked for Spectra.  I had no resources of my own, I was pitifully naïve, and I felt pretty much powerless by that point.

Oh, they graciously let me keep the ten thousand dollar advance.  And they threw me a bone letting me still do two Star Wars short stories (for Tales from Jabba’s Palace and Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina), but I was done otherwise.  None of my own books came out as the debacle went on (I would normally have published four new ones during this time).  I lost my backlist of Irish books.  Because of the long delay, my family pretty much lived on my advance for two years on expectation of the eventual payday from the Star Wars book.

The first eight chapters of The Heart of the Jedi are available online now for anyone to read for free, and we can expect the rest of the book to be released over the coming weeks and months.  The book is Legends, meaning it doesn't fit in with the current canon of movies, TV shows, and books (and whether it fits in with the "Legends-verse," aka the old Expanded Universe, either is somewhat dubious seeing as it seems Spectra and Lucasfilm went in a different direction after this debacle), but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the story and this rare glimpse at the direction the EU may have gone.

And we want to thank Kenneth C. Flint for choosing to put his novel out this way.  Obviously this was a painful experience for him and nobody would blame him at if he had wanted to just forget about it.  Instead he's making The Heart of the Jedi available online for free for everyone! 

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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