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It’s Official! – ‘Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye’ Was Indeed Meant To Be Star Wars 2!

May 6, 2016

splinter of the mind's eye

As there really is nothing more that can be said about Star Wars, I’ve pretty much held off posting any thoughts on the subject of Lucas and his saga. Until now.

I remember the first time I saw Alan Dean Foster’s novel Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye on bookstore shelves in 1978 – the sequel to Star Wars – or so I thought. It’s what we all thought – right? ‘From The Adventures Of Luke Skywalker’ – that’s what it said on the cover. But no, two years later, The Empire Strikes Back was released.

So where does SOTME fit into the scheme of things? Why does it even exist? If Lucas never intended it to be the official sequel, was it nothing more than a grab     for cash?

splinter of the mind's eye - crashed x-wing

Well now, finally, the truth can be told …

In 2010, a 2 disk remastered dvd edition of Dark Star (The Hyperdrive Edition) was released. It has over two hours worth of extras including a 116 min doco on the making of John Carpenter & Dan O’Bannon’s seminal movie.

dark star - hyperdrive edition

There is also an informative half hour interview with Alan Dean Foster, who wrote a novelization of the movie, which was originally published in 1974. Yes, believe it or not, there was indeed a novelization!

dark star novelization 1978 printing

My own copy of the Dark Star novelization is a reprint which came out after Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye was published in 1978.

Incidentally, if you’re seriously thinking about novelizing your scripts you might wanna check out the Dark Star 2 disk Hyperdrive Edition – if only for Alan Dean Foster’s insights on writing novelizations. He talks at length about the pros and cons and his general approach to adapting screenplay format to prose. He explains it’s not just a matter of changing present tense to past tense – as there is also added scope to flesh out character’s thoughts and feelings and motivations (and back-stories).

So what’s this got to do with Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye I hear you ask?

alan dean foster

During the interview, Foster also talks at length about his involvement in ghost-writing the Star Wars novelization (credited to George Lucas) and its literary sequel. It turns out that Foster was instructed to keep SOTME ‘low budget’ just in case SW was successful enough to warrant a sequel. This is why only one planetary locale is featured in SOTME – the bog planet Mimban (as opposed to the three distinctly different locales featured in the original SW – Tatooine, Death Star, Yavin and in each of the sequels – Hoth, Dagobah, Bespin in Empire and Tatooine, Death Star Mk II, Endor in Return of the Jedi). So it appears SOTME was indeed intended to have     been the basis for Star Wars 2 all along. And it is possibly for this reason particular elements from earlier drafts of Star Wars were utilized in Foster’s novel – the bog planet, the Yuzzem (precursors to the Ewoks), Luke’s confrontation with Vader and the Kaiburr crystal (the original treatment’s McGuffin). Of course, when the original SW became such a surprise box office hit – the idea for a low-rent sequel was nixed with the result being SOTME has been unfairly looked down upon (by some at least) as an unconnected curiosity piece ever since.

Oh yeah, and the hinted-at sexual tension between Luke and Leia in SOTME only goes to show what is now apparent – that George made it up as he went along.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.


From → unsung trivia

  1. I bought this back in 1978 and really enjoyed it, though I’ve never read it again since (my excuse, its up in the loft. Somewhere.) its incredible to think how ‘small’ Star Wars was back then. Sure the film was a box office triumph but no-one knew if it was a one-off or not. TESB was still years away and its quality/success uncertain. How things would soon change!

    Did you know Foster got the gig to write SOTME because he’d been told to keep quiet about writing the Star Wars novelization ( it was credited to George Lucas only)? Foster wrote the novelizations of several films around that time. I think his 1982 book of The Thing was one of the very best.

    • gregory moss permalink

      His novelization of THE THING is right up there … along with his take on ALIEN … I’ve always loved his prose – really kinetic and visceral …

      • Hmm, its actually weird that I’ve never bothered trying his original, non-adaption stuff. As you say, his Alien book was terrific. He had a way of expanding on the films, the character motivations etc.

        I was only thinking back on that Alien book the other day whilst walking our dog in a park near where my nan used to live. It was the summer of 1979 and I was taking that book with me everywhere as I read it. On Saturdays we’d go see my nan, take her shopping, and it was on those shopping trips I picked up stuff like that Splinter of the Minds Eye paperback and those Fantastic Films mags (remember those issues featuring Alien, those Ridley Scott interviews?), or the latest Starburst. Whenever I think of the film Alien I remember that book, the Fantastic Films mags, that summer and the park. And whenever we ride out to that park to walk our dog there, I always tell my wife about those old times. She must be bored of my stories about all those books and magazines and stuff I loved as a kid. Happy times.

      • gregory moss permalink

        Yeah, totally agree. I still have all that stuff – and still revisit it every now and then (with fond memories flooding back). That issue of Fantastic Films which had the image of a space suit from ALIEN on the front cover (with its samurai armor-style shoulder plates) was actually the very first image I saw from the movie prior to its release – and I was immediately excited by the expectation of it. After loving Foster’s ALIEN and SOTME so much, I read his earlier original novel ICERIGGER – which would make a truly fantastic movie. Well worth checking out. Yep – happy times indeed. 🙂

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