Face To Face With The Masters
Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.
Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+
We first had contact with Dan Wallace when we had some crazy man commenting about Steve and my "THE MANDALORIAN ARMOR" review via e-mail. :) We had complained that the story didn't fit into current Star Wars continuity well. However, the guy pointed out that that wasn't the case and he showed us the error of our ways. He was obviously very well informed which was our first clue that we might know him. The guy's name rang a bell. "Dan Wallace! Isn't he that crazy old man that lives out by the Dune Sea?" Actually, he's a fan turned writer who has his fingers in tons of cool projects. We asked him a few questions and he was cool enough to answer them. On with the interrogation!!!
TF.N - What Star Wars projects to you have lined up right now?
DW - Two new entries in the Essential Guide series: Planets and Moons
release) and Droids (early '99 release). Steve Sansweet, Josh Ling,
worked on a book together that will be packaged with an exclusive 12"
figure; look for that in the fall. Parker Brothers' Star Wars Trivial
should be in stores right now and I worked on that. There's also an
project I just got involved with but I don't think I'm cleared to
details yet. And on the side I've written some short fiction for the
TF.N - How did you first get involved working on Official Star Wars
projects? What would you recommend other fans do to break into the
DW - I'm going to mangle that old Chinese proverb about luck occurring when
preparation meets opportunity. The preparation part came about years
ago when I
put together a database of all the planets mentioned in the Star Wars
novels, and comics and dumped it on the Internet; just one of those
mildly-obsessive things that fans like to make for other fans.
The opportunity came about because Lucasfilm needed an author to write
Essential Guide to Planets and Moons, and they knew I had a writing
and could see I had at least a passing familiarity with the subject at
was asked to participate in a writers' audition and submitted a
piece on the planet Hoth. Lucasfilm liked the piece and picked me up,
then things have just snowballed.
Hmmm. In retrospect I guess it's still drop-dead stone-cold luck, no
what the Chinese say.
Given that my freelance career path is hardly typical, my advice on how
into the biz is admittedly of limited value. But I don't think you can
overemphasize the basics -- read everything from Ben Bova to bus signs,
practice writing whenever a paper, a pen, and a spare twenty minutes
coincide. Above all, put a very high priority on getting work
if it's in your cousin's poetry zine or the Adopt-A-Pet column in the
Observer. It's published! Who cares what the venue is? It'll help
better jobs, and those jobs will lead to even better ones.
TF.N - You wrote the questions for the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game.
How did you come up with the questions? How did you come up with the
prequel questions? Are they generic or do they discuss specific
details of Episode 1?
DW - The prequel questions? I didn't even know they existed until I saw an
special "prequel pack" of cards is included with each game of Star Wars
Pursuit, and I'm guessing they were put together by someone at
Someone with a higher security clearance than me!
The regular questions come in two boxes. Each box holds about 200
each card features six questions categorized into Characters,
Geography, History, Droids/Creatures, and Wild Card. That's almost
questions and answers in all, and the first thing Parker Brothers told
that none of the questions could be drawn from the spinoff books,
novelizations. No Tantive IV, no Bail Organa, no Sy Snootles. If it
somewhere in the films themselves, it was off limits.
This is actually a very wise decision. Many fans aren't familiar with
spinoff material, and in some cases it actually contradicts what's seen
screen. But as the game's researcher, I had really been counting on
"Rodian," "Bith," and "Tusken Raider." When the cantina scene passed
me by with
only a handful of useable questions, I realized I had to get creative.
Baba became "enraged walrus-faced alien in the Mos Eisley cantina" or
a catchall description that most everyone could recognize.
One of the nice things about this game is that one-quarter of the cards
photo cards taken from the Lucasfilm image archive. And Parker
some great designers work up a special Trivial Pursuit board and game
also believe that this is far and away the largest number of questions
for a Star Wars trivia project, ever.
I knocked myself out to make sure the questions were unquestionably
accurate...at one point I covered my TV screen with little dots of
I could count something during a freeze-framed image of a space scene.
Lucasfilm double-checked everything I submitted for accuracy. But if
happen to run across a question you think is incorrect, feel free to
call me up
and bite my head off.
TF.N - You've got the Guide to Planets coming out soon. Out of all the
planets mentioned in the Star Wars Universe, how did you decide which
ones to cover?
DW - Given the way the Essential Guide series is set up, an author can cover
100 items. 100 planets/ships/weapons/droids/smashball
Obviously, the first available slots went to the movie planets,
ones named but never visited such as Taanab and Dantooine. Believe it
there are 15, not counting Anoat.
Then you've got all the planets that are never named on screen but
can't in good conscience leave out. These are mostly alien homeworlds
Kashyyyk, Mon Calamari, Ryloth, and Bothawui.
After this, Lucasfilm and I went down through the novels and comics and
several planets from each major storyline. A few worlds from Tales of
a half-dozen from a longer series such as the Thrawn trilogy, no more
planets from a one-shot hardcover like The Courtship of Princess Leia.
pretty much maxed out our roster of 100. There are so many planets in
Wars galaxy it's inevitable that some fans will find a missing one, but
it our best shot.
TF.N - In writing the guides to Droids or Planets, what do you do when
there's a conflict in the backgrounds from two different stories? For
example, a conflict in descriptions of Tatooine from the Marvel Comics
and the novels.
DW - Good question. I'm not aware of any major conflicts between the Marvel
novel versions of Tatooine. But a pretty good example of what you're
is whether Endor is a planet or moon. The Return of the Jedi
Endor's mother planet just "disappeared" at some point, which is a
notion when you think about it. Where exactly does a massive orbital
enough to have an inhabited satellite disappear to? Lucasfilm has
abandoned this theory in recent years in favor of the idea that Endor
forested moon still orbiting a large gas giant.
In other cases, it's a matter of mixing different ingredients together
in a big
continuity blender and seeing what pours out. This was a common
the droids guide, since various authors had often given the same droid
capabilities, features, and job functions. Wherever possible I tried
contradictory accounts by inventing specialized models, limited
after-market alterations. It ended up looking a bit like the
TF.N - Was there anything you were told by Lucasfilm that you couldn't
cover in any of your projects?
DW - No one ever gave me a concrete list of do's and don'ts, but I knew
things I had to steer clear of if I wanted to avoid editorial
didn't even try to get into the early history of Yoda and Dagobah, the
Emperor Palpatine, or the circumstances behind Luke's placement on
Everyone will have the answers in about eight years.
TF.N - You mentioned that you're working on the long awaited Star Wars
Chronology. What's the story on the progress of that project and when
can we hope to see it?
DW - The indefatigable Star Wars Chronology has had a long and tortuous
period. Originally a Bantam project championed by Kevin J. Anderson,
over at Del Rey as a possible addition to their Essential Guide line.
involved about two years ago and Kevin and I have since worked up a
It's looking like this will be the definitive Star Wars history book
hopefully be a '99 release, but various details are still being worked
I'll provide you with concrete information when I have it.
TF.N - Do you have any interesting Star Wars related stories from growing
up as a fan or doing your research for the books?
DW - Everyone's got at least one story! As a young kid, I clearly remember
about a new movie called "Star Wars" and imagining it to be a two-hour
helmeted WWII infantrymen lugging machine guns and charging up a smoky
like the endless "Sands of Iwo Jima" reruns that aired every Saturday
on my local UHF station. (It had the word war in the title, didn't
my best friend came back from a matinee screening as ecstatic as if
seen Erik Estrada riding a motorcycle with the California Highway
Patrol, I was
even more confused. "It's this cool movie about space people," my
started blathering, "and they fly around, and they get stuck in this
disposal and somebody turns it on." My second-grade brain chewed on
this for a
while and came back with a mental image of a family of whimsical
"space people" with antennae and wings who fly around a little boy's
in the sink, and immediately get shredded by the disposal unit. As
as this sounded, it still took a mandatory family movie outing to get
into the theater. Considering the die-hard love for Star Wars that
parents have probably regretted that decision ever since.
TF.N - What Star Wars toy would you most like to see made that hasn't
shown up yet?
DW - A evil version of R5-D4 that shoots missiles at people! No wait,
already thought of that.
For a long time I was hoping to see a decent Greedo Halloween mask, but
one just came out. I suppose the only things still left unproduced are
Owen and Aunt Beru Smoky Skeleton action figures! With Ash Attack
TF.N - What do you think are the biggest differences between becoming a
Star Wars fan because of the prequels and being a fan who grew up on
the original trilogy?
DW - Do differences even exist? I hate the snobbish theory that says today's
thirty-year olds are the only ones capable of "appreciating" the
they were impressionable youngsters during the original release. Star
are Star Wars fans; it's an awfully big tent. I hope my sons grow up
same enthusiasm for the films that I have today.