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Read an excerpt (potentially) from my novel and help me not get sued by George Lucas

July 20, 2011

I like it when things get interactive up in here, and I wrote something today that I’m looking for some feedback on. It’s a very small piece of my unfinished novel.

There are people who say that one should be careful allowing unfinished work out into the wild, and in many cases I would agree with them; but I have some specific questions about this particular passage that I’m curious to get a few answers to.

A little set up. The main character, a man called Numbers (which is for some reason the name that jumped into my head when I first pictured him and has just kind of stuck), is on a sort of road trip with a stranger named Sam. Sam obviously has some pretty weird secrets, and Numbers isn’t the most trusting guy in the world; so the trip has been a bit, let’s say, uncomfortable for the both of them…

The pair traveled in near silence for the better part of an hour. A fine, dirty mist thrown up by the other cars and trucks speeding over the freshly soaked highway glazed the windshield. The screech and thumps of wipers on the glass were just loud enough to keep Numbers from falling into a fitful sleep; or maybe it was all the memories that kept coming back to him, unwanted. Either way, the drive was long and unpleasant.

Just after sunset, Sam finally spoke again. “Luke Skywalker,” he said.

Numbers had been squinting to read the next road sign by the faint glow of headlights. He hesitated for just a moment as he processed what Sam had said, trying to puzzle out what his strange companion meant. When he finally realized that he had no clue, he simply said, “What?”

“You asked before about the Angel of Death,” said Sam. “It’s Luke Skywalker.”

Numbers stared blankly at him.

“Think about it,” said Sam. “Everywhere that guy went, death and destruction were soon to follow. Everyone looks at Darth Vader or the Emperor and thinks, ‘well there’s the bad guys. They’re about domination, and they kill whoever gets in their way.’ But no one ever stops to think about Luke.

“First he was born, and then right after that his mother dies. He killed the first person he ever saw. Not a good start, if you ask me.

“Then you don’t hear about him for a while – he was busy murdering poor defenseless whomp-rats apparently. But soon he starts whining to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru about going off to fight the Empire, which they don’t like. And then one day he leaves the farm for a while and by the next time he sees them, they’re smoking corpses.

“Fast forward to when he meets up with Han Solo. The kid can’t keep out of trouble even for a few minutes and Obi-wan has to chop up a couple of space goons to protect him. Then the bunch of them then fly off to Alderan, but by the time they get there it has literally been blown to pieces – fatalities likely in the billions.

“They all get captured, have a little adventure on the Death Star, and Obi-wan Kenobi – the bad-ass, nearly last of the Jedi, who already beat Darth Vader once – gets himself cut down right before Luke’s eyes. It was terrible, off course, so Luke seeks revenge and blows up the Death Star killing another few hundred thousand people.”

“I’m not following,” said Numbers, his relief that the silence had been broken was fading fast.

“All through the rest of the movies,” continued Sam, “everywhere Luke Skywalker goes, people die.

Yoda dies. Jabba-the-Hut and, through no fault of their own, all of his slaves die. Ewoks die, though I’m honestly ok with that. Another Death Star and all of the inhabitants there get taken out. Even his father – the one who he supposedly saved – doesn’t last more than a couple of minutes of screen time in his presence.”

Sam seemed proud of himself. “Luke Skywalker was a walking plague,” he smirked. “Death itself, personified.”

“You’re making fun of me,” growled Numbers when he was sure Sam had finished. “And I don’t like it.”

“Nor should you,” said Sam. “But I wasn’t. Not this time anyway.”

“Then you’re being foolish. Either way I liked it better when you were giving me the silent treatment.”

“Have it your way,” said Sam. “But don’t say I never gave you answers just because you’re too dumb to take the meaning of them.”

Numbers sat back in his seat and stared out the window again. He welcomed back the silence, though not the memories that came with it.

So there we have it. The first draft of a conversation.

My questions are, in no particular order: Does this work at all, or do you think it’s too geeky for an average reader? (I understand that the context of this – which you don’t have – will go a long way to determining that) What, if anything, do you take from it? Do you get a sense of the characters at all? I’m just curious about that kind of stuff. Also, and perhaps more importantly, what’s the fair use rules on something like this? Do you think I’d need to get permission from George Lucas for something like this? I have to admit that I’m not really sure.

Anyway, thanks everyone for all the great comments I’m sure you’re going to leave. I appreciate it!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2011 8:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this. Don’t think this is problematic. Seems to be more than covered under the fair use act, although I have as much legal training as those Ewoks Sam and I dislike. It reads well, especially if this sits is the flow of a relevant context. Best of luck to you.


    • July 21, 2011 12:37 pm

      Thanks. There’s certainly more to the context of this conversion than I present here. The main point I hope to make with all off it is that our conception of what it a hero is may need a bit of revision. As Obi-wan might agree, it’s almost all in the point of view.


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