I’m going to the Philippines for a couple of weeks, so no posts for awhile. See ya soon!
This February, I will be honoring black history month here at this blog. I will be reviewing four haunted house novels written by black women. I could use the phrase “African American” women, but that technically would not be correct, because one of the authors is a British woman of African descent. This begs the question: is black history month primarily concerned with the history of people of color as it plays out on the American stage? I don’t know the answer.
I am a Caucasian; a white guy. As such it’s not my place to define what black history month is or isn’t. Likewise, I most certainly cannot claim a shared heritage and realistically identify with the struggles my black brothers and sisters have endured or the triumphs they have celebrated. Therefore, unlike previous reviews and articles that were grouped into a theme (i.e. Christmas Haunted Houses, Haunted Apartments), I do not begin with a central concept. I am not seeking to extract characteristics that define what a haunted house is from the black perspective. Rather, these four works stand alone. Perhaps when all is said and done, when I have completed the readings and written the reviews, I might have more to say about any possible interrelated themes. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, nor do I wish to engage in any inappropriate analysis for the sake of some sort of self-congratulatory intellectualism. I hope I will not do that anyway.
I guess the question is: Can we learn about authentic black history from mostly fictional novels that delve into the paranormal? I believe we can.
Of the four works, three are fictional stories and one is a factual account. The non-fiction book deals with popular “ghost tour” houses in the American south. This book uncovers a lot of African-American history and sets the record straight about the tourist-magnet fabrications that come at the expense of the “real” ghosts that haunt these places. One of the fictional novels is set in “current” times (post Y2K) but segments of the story go back to the 1920s. Another fictional novel takes place in the years following the American Civil War, although much of the story occurs during the times of slavery. Both books show how history has affected and shaped the lives of the central characters. Though the histories are fictional, they are based on real-life historical circumstances. And, of course, both stories feature haunted houses. The fourth book, also fictional, has very little in the way of history. This book presents quite the quagmire when trying to assign a definition to it. It’s about a haunted house, but it isn’t. It’s about the politics of identity, but it isn’t. It’s…ah, just wait for the review.
I guess I could be more straightforward and just mention ahead of time the titles of the books and their respective authors, but I want there to be some kind of suspense. So..just wait. You will know soon.
Anyway, I hope this will go well, and I hope you will find this subject matter enlightening and educational
See you soon!
So much for objective headlines. As you can tell by the title of this article, I begin with the assumption that modern remakes of the classic haunted house films are bad. The question I then ask is “how bad are they?” Maybe I am being a bit too harsh. Maybe I should put a leash around my bias and just explore the films for what they are worth, even if their worthiness amounts to very little (ah geez, there I go again with that “bias” thing!)
Welcome to October everyone! I heard through the grapevine that this is the season of scary celebrations. It has something to do with a day at the end of the month that we call “Halloween.” We here at Thebooksofdaniel.com are going to contribute to the “spookies” with three compare/contrast articles concerning the modernization of three classic haunted house films. In the days to come, prepare yourselves for a presentation of six films. These films would be:
The Haunting 1963/1999
The House on Haunted Hill 1959/1999
13 Ghosts 1960/ Thir13en Ghosts 2001
Up until now, I had considered the remake films unworthy of this blog. What a classic film snob I was! I have seen all six films and, truth be told, there are bits and pieces of the three modern incarnations that I enjoy. Do these enjoyable moments redeem the films overall? No, not necessarily. Or maybe. I don’t know. But I will know soon. See, I’m going to watch all six films again. It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve seen the remakes. (Which I guess means they aren’t so “modern”. Oh well, they are modern enough for the purposes of the upcoming articles .) I need to refresh my opinions and I will do so with fresh viewings.
Get ready for an exploration of the key differences between each pair of films. From the story to the production value, I will note what has changed, for better or worse (probably for worse. Oh man, there I go again!). Why is one film better than the other? (Why is the classic film superior? Uh, I seem to have misplaced the bias leach). Finally, just what are those decent moments in the otherwise unfavorable films? (I won’t go there this time.)
So, when all is said and done, will I regret that very biased article title? Will I be forced to rename the article “Classic Haunted Houses Movies and Their Remakes – How Great Thou’ Art? Probably not. But I will keep an open mind and I’m sure I’ll learn something and have fun doing so. I hope this will be true for you the reader as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading the articles that I have written about haunted apartments. I had fun analyzing major themes and reviewing the popular films and novels that delve into this subject. For your convenience, I am linking to each and everyone of them – right here in this post! Consider this post as an index. Ok? Cool. Let’s begin!
In this article, I summarize themes that are often found in horror stories that take place in an apartment setting.
I published this on the anniversary of the release date of Roman Polanski’s most popular film in his Apartment Trilogy. Psychological horror meets Satanism!
I compare the two mediums, Jeffery Konvitz’s book to Michael Winner’s film. Also, I post a link to an audio interview of the famous author.
This is Konvitz’s lesser known novel, but this sequel to the Sentinel is just as compelling. Maybe it is even better! Read them both and you can be the judge
First film in Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy. A fine piece of psychological horror.
The final film of Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy. Polanski himself stars as the troubled protagonist. What a thriller this is!
A fair film that I had already written about. I link to the original review.
The Graveyard Apartment
A great book by a Japanese author. A haunted apartment in Japan!
Howdy and Hi Hi Hi to all! Check out the special feature, which will be the theme for the summer!
Haunted Apartments! Apartments that are the host of paranormal doings, psychological horror, and much more!
Read the article that will kick off a series of book/movie reviews that deal with – you guessed it – apartments and the horror within them!
Or go to SPECIAL FEATURE section on the Home page! See the photo below! Click on it and SEE, SEE!
I thought it would be handy to gather up the links to all my pieces pertaining to haunted cabins and put them in one place – right here in this post!
Now isn’t this sweet of me??
Here is the article that started it all:
Then, there was this:
And then came this:
That was followed by this:
Which led to this:
And then came this:
Finally there was this:
OH NO! The title of my last review includes the words “Final Post in my Haunted Cabin Series” and yet here is another post! I’m so BADDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!
Once. Twice. Three times is the charm. This is the third time I am posting about the book Maynard’s House by Herman Raucher. The first was for an article I wrote called From Summer to Autumn: The Spirit Remains the Same (The Darker Sides of Ray Bradbury and Herman Raucher.) In the article I compare the season in which the stories take place to the central themes of the books. I compare an earlier work of Raucher (Summer of 42) to Maynard’s House:
The first book is about the building of a man. This man is constructed on a warm sandy beach in the wake of a wartime tragedy. The second book is about taking apart a man. He is deconstructed in the cold winter snow
Maynard’s House is the story that takes place in the snowy mountains, the story that deconstructs a man – inside a cabin! (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Cabin time!)
The second time I wrote A Review or Maynard’s House , a fitting review since I write about haunted houses and the house that is central to this story, out there on a snowy terrain, is most certainly haunted. But it’s not really a house per se, it’s more of a – haunted cabin! (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Cabin time!)
It should be obvious where I’m headed. This third time I am posting about Maynard’s House in order to place it in the context of this month’s theme – haunted cabins. If you haven’t already done so, please read my article Beyond the House: An Examination of Hauntings Within Alternate Structures. Part 1 – Cabins In one section, I write about cabins from a “solitary confinement” perspective. What the heck is that? To be honest, I had this book – Maynard’s House – in mind when I wrote that bit. Oh hell, I’ll just copy/paste that section into this article. It’s only two paragraphs:
The cabin sometimes becomes the mirror-for-the-disturbed-mind for the sole cabin dweller. Quite often, this solitary character, when confined to a cabin and cut off from civilization, will develop a psychosis that is caused by a lack of human contact. In this scenario, the character is an unreliable narrator and readers often discover that the things that haunt the cabin manifest from his/her own broken mind. But that doesn’t make these things less scary, or even less real.
Trapped spirits are a major staple in a haunted house story. The walls and roof confine them. An old large house has the time and space to trap many spirits from different eras. In a similar manner, the thoughts and temperament of the sole cabin dweller, the “vibes” if I may, have nowhere to go. They coagulate in the corners and add a disturbing stuffiness to an already cramped space. Eventually they boomerang upon the solitary dweller that has conjured them. They morph into ghosts and demons.
The main character of Maynard’s House is all alone in a cabin in the wintry mountains of Maine. What does he do there? He reflects. Reflect reflect reflect. On his life. On his experiences serving in the Vietnam War. Does he create the spirits he sees or do they exist independently of his mind? Are the children that visit him real?
This lone man, in a cabin that acts like a mirror for his disturbed mind – does this scenario occur in other works? To a smaller extent it occurs in the film I am going to review next (I’m not telling!). But how about to a larger extent in other books or folk tales? It seems as if it does, or that it “should”. But I tell ya’, this theme is very much at home in Maynard’s House. If it exists out there in the “wilds of literary motifs”, then Raucher has found it ,harnessed it, and clothed it well with the pages of his book. Raucher develops the theme so well that the events that occur in his book seem as though they have been prewritten inside our collective unconscious. What happens has always happened. (This time paradox also occurs in the book.) Dog gone it, Raucher, you just had to brand things in my brain before I had even met your work!
It should be obvious that I really, really, really enjoy this novel. With that, nuff said! For more details read the other two articles I have written. Or better yet, read the book!
(Stay tuned – Films about haunted cabins are coming next!)
This is the first in a series. The series goes beyond the house as I explore stories of hauntings that take place in other kinds of structures and buildings.
For the next weeks, it will be haunted cabins!!!!
Relax Jabba, Solo is there! Solo (A Star War Story) is everywhere these days. He made an appearance on The Super Bowl commercials, in between other notable characters such as The Bud Light Knight and the Danny DeVito M & M. Officially, Solo will be zooming into theaters within our galaxy this Memorial Day weekend. Don’t worry, that day will come super fast; faster than the speed of light (point five to be exact).
You know where else Solo is these days? He’s right here at this blog! That’s right folks, it’s time to take a break from ghosts and haunted houses. In their stead, I give you Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon. As you can tell, I’m excited about this upcoming movie. At the same time, I’m a little apprehensive. See, ever since I was a little kid playing with my Star Wars action figures, I’ve wondered about Han Solo’s back story. I remember making up pre Star Wars Han Solo adventures. I have certain expectations. I sure hope they aren’t crushed. I haven’t heard anything about Boba Fett. Come on, Opie, the bounty hunter has to be in the film, right? And what about the Almighty Jabba the Hutt? There can’t be a Solo film without him!
The original Star Wars series contains a significant amount of dialogue referring to Han Solo’s life prior to the events of A New Hope. From this dialogue, we find out that he is a smuggler, that he was once employed by Jabba the Hutt , and that he “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” What exactly did he smuggle? What was is it like working for a gangster like Jabba? And just what in the heck is a Kessel Run anyway? These questions are all answered, by the way. Alas, these answers will soon be obsolete. The entirety of the Star Wars Saga goes beyond the films. Any contribution to the story that is not written for the screen is (or was) known as the EU – Expanded Universe. The EU includes novels, comic books, television cartoons and video games. (Sorry, no fanfiction.) When Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise and rebooted the series, they let it be known that the story arcs within the EU were being tossed to the wayside. New story content would replace the old. For instance, the EU had already given accounts of a Star Wars life after the events of Return of the Jedi, the final film of the original series. Han and Leia had three children, Luke was married to a woman named Mara Jade. However, The Force Awakens tells a different story, and Mara Jade and the EU Solo children became null and void.
Before it gets tossed into the dustbin of history, I must pay homage to The Han Solo Trilogy . Written by A. C. Crispin, this three volume series is devoted to the Han Solo back-story. I read these three books over ten years ago and I loved them. I burned through Vol. 1 The Paradise Snare, devoured Vol. 2 The Hutt Gambit and absorbed Vol. 3 Rebel Dawn. Collectively, they follow the life of a young Han Solo, a street-wise orphan kid on the planet Corellia who was abducted by Garris Shrike and forced into a life of crime. As a young adult, Han Solo learns to become a great pilot. The books also tell of his life as a smuggler as he works for several notorious characters around the galaxy. At the very end of the series, Han Solo is in the Mos Eisley Cantina, where he spies a funny looking old man in a large-sized Jawa robe accompanied by some kid in a moisture vaporator uniform and the rest is Star Wars history.
In this article, I will answer the most popular questions concerning Han Solo’s young adult life, as per the writings of A.C. Crispin. For certain, many of these answers will change after this summer’s Solo film. But please, learn about what was on the page first and then you can take in the new this Solo story from writers Jon and Lawrence Kasdan and director Ron Howard. Will you do that for me? You will? Aw you’re so sweet. Buckle in while I make the jump to lightspeed.
Here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How does Han Solo become such a great pilot?
Piloting was in Solo’s blood. For Solo, the ability to navigate a starship came both naturally and with experience. As a prisoner on Garris Shrike’s ship of slaves and criminals, he longed for freedom. At a young age, it was his dream to learn to “fly away” from all this and build his own life as a skilled navigator of the stars, and to eventually become a naval pilot for The Empire. One of his duties under Shrike was to operate race speeders; duties for which he became quite skilled. Sometimes he was allowed to helm Shrike’s ship Trader’s Luck.
Han Solo’s first official experience as a pilot came when he stowed away on a freighter ship that operated via drone. This was to be his escape from the mother ship Trader’s Luck; his escape from the clutches of Garris Shrike. He ends up taking control of the ship and redirecting its course to the tropical planet Ylesia, where a religious colony is seeking skilled pilots. Upon arrival, he skillfully pilots through a tumultuous landing, thereby impressing his future bosses. He is hired.
As it turns out, the religious colony is a front for a smuggling operation. After performing many smuggling runs as a pilot, he eventually earns enough money to attend The Imperial Academy. (Hint: any time the term “The Academy” is used in The Empire era of the Star Wars Saga , it means Imperial Academy”). Through the training given to him via The Imperial Navy, Solo learns to fly many types of spacecraft, including the Tie Fighter. When his time in the Empire ends (he is unceremoniously stripped of his duties! More in this later), he returns to smuggling. Any skilled pilot/smuggler will have to face the deadly Kessel Run sooner or later. The Kessel Run is a true test of a pilot’s ability. Solo is up to the challenge and successfully navigates this obstacle course on his first try. More details about The Kessel Run to come. Stay tuned!
Under what conditions does Han Solo meet Chewbacca?
The Empire enslaved Wookies. As a lieutenant in the Empire, Commander Solo not only frees Chewbacca from slavery, but he saves his life as well. He prevents him from being whipped to death. This intervention leads to Solo’s dismissal from the Empire. His pilot license is revoked and never again would he be able to seek out “official” work as a pilot.
As a token of gratitude, while adhering to Wookie custom, Chewbacca swears a life debt to Han Solo, vowing to never leave his side. Initially, Solo is put off by this. He wants to be left alone; he doesn’t need a partner. His name says is all – “Solo.” But he learns to love the hairy beast and admires his devotion. Even Chewbacca’s marriage doesn’t get in the way of the Solo/Chewbacca duo. When Han attends the wedding of the two Wookies on the Wookie home world of Kashyyyk, he is prepared to go it alone when he leaves the planet. Chewbacca won’t here of it. The bonds of a life debt are strong than the bonds of holy matrimony.
Why did Han Solo have pity on Chewbacca in the first place? Solo has had an affection for Wookies ever since he was a young boy. On Trader’s Luck, a motherly Wookie named Dewlanna looks after Solo. Through her, Solo learns to understand the Wookie language. Dewlanna dies helping Solo escape the ship. Han brings this up to Chewbacca, telling him that he need not serve him, for Solo himself was only paying off a life deft. Dewlanna saved Solo, so in turn, Solo saves another Wookie. But Chewbacca doesn’t follow this logic. He stubbornly stays by Solo’s side and Han becomes a better person for this loyalty.
How does Han Solo come to work for Jabba the Hutt?
Before enlisting in the Empire, Han Solo gains experience smuggling for an operation run by t’Landa Tils (t’Landa Tils are a cousin species to Hutts) and a Hutt named Zavval. But this wasn’t the kind of thing he could put on his resume, even a resume tailored for the underworld. Solo’s rather dramatic departure results in a dead Hutt and an extremely pissed off t’Landa Til. The bosses of this operation are not about to recommend Solo to anyone.
If anything is to be gained from Solo’s stint with the t’Landa Tils and Zavval the Hutt it’s life experience. He learns of the Hutts’ volatile tempers and figures out how to approach and even work with these creatures. One day while Solo is wandering the streets of Nar Shadda, (also known as Smuggler’s Moon), he meets a Duros (humanoid species with blue-green skin, red eyes and lipless mouth) who is desperate for a pilot. Evidentially he promised Tagta the Hutt to have a shipment of contraband delivered to a specified location but he had no one to deliver it. Half of Solo’s payment would come from the Duros and the other from Tagta himself. Solo takes the job, makes the delivery and approaches Tagta to collect. Tagta thanks him for his service but initially refuses Solo any money. Instead of cowering, Solo demands payment and threatens to ruin the Hutt’s reputation. As it turns out, Tagta was only testing Solo’s character. Tagta pays him his due. But Solo wants more. In order to succeed as a smuggler, one must be connected to Jiliac and Jabba the Hutt; an uncle and nephew crime lord team. Tagta is Jabba’s cousin and so he asks him for a recommendation. Tagta gives him one.
Armed with his recommendation, Solo seeks out Jabba and Jiliac. These two Hutts employ him. Eventually, Solo will go on to be one of Jabba’s favored and most respected smugglers. On one occasion when Solo is weary, Jabba lends him his tail to sit on. Isn’t that sweet?
So Han Solo is a smuggler. Exactly what does he smuggle?
Well, we know that he smuggles people. He was, in affect, attempting to smuggle Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi to Alderaan. Ok, ok, it was really the droids he was smuggling. Han Solo also smuggles weapons to various rebel groups. In these days of Han Solo’s young adulthood, there are various factions that rebel against this tyrannical empire, but there is not yet a “Rebel Alliance” (not to the very end of the Han Solo trilogy). So…there’s that.
Ahh let’s cut to the chase. Han Solo mainly smuggles spice. Spice is THE drug of the Star Wars universe. It is so heavily regulated by The Empire that it is practically illegal, though not 100% illegal. Special citizens of the Empire may enjoy a little recreational spice, which they may obtain though Imperial trade only. But for everyone else in the galaxy it is off limits. As for the criminal syndicate, The Hutts’ control much of the spice trade in the same way that Al Capone controlled the liquor trade during The Prohibition.
So basically, Han Solo is the Hutt’s mule. Make no mistake, if Han Solo were here on planet Earth, he’d be involved in shipping drugs from one nation to another. Cocaine, Heroin, etc. Solo transports drugs. Solo transports drugs. Solo transports drugs. Get used to it!
Where does Boba Fett fit into all of this? Lando Calrissian?
Teroenza, High Priest of Ylesia, is the first to place a bounty on Han Solo. He is still sore about the way things went down when Solo left his operation (Among many things, Solo stole many of his treasures). So he hires the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy – Boba Fett. Fett is expensive; he charges an outrageous amount of money just for a consultation. Fett is curt throughout their meeting. (Says stuff like “Get to the point!”)
Throughout this series, Boba Fett will go on various missions and seek out several bounties. At one point, Han Solo goes into hiding due to Fett’s persistent nature. While in hiding, he is unavailable to smuggle for Jabba . So, The Hutt pays Fett to leave Solo alone. Whatever the bounty is, Jabba will pay more for that bounty to be ignored. How ironic, for later, as we know, Jabba will put a bounty on Solo’s head and Fett will collect.
At one point in the series, a stranger rescues Solo from Fett’s clutches. Han thanks the rescuer, but he can’t help but wonder why this stranger sticks out his neck for him. The stranger explains: Solo’s reputation as a pilot precedes him. The rescuer has a ship, but doesn’t know how to fly it. The stranger wants the best, so he seeks out Solo to hire as his teacher. Just when he is about to walk up and introduce himself to Han, he witnesses Boba Fett getting the best of Solo. He steps in and thwarts Fett’s capture. This stranger, this rescuer, this pilot-wanna-be is none other than Lando Calrissian.
How does Han Solo acquire the Millennium Falcon?
Lando Calrissian owns a Corellian-made freighter. It’s name – The Millennium Falcon. When Calrissian shows it to Solo, Han immediately falls in love with it. But he doesn’t let on. In an attempt to hide his covetous attraction to the ship, he calls it “a piece of junk” (The same expression used by Luke Skywalker upon first sighting). Nevertheless, he teaches Lando how to fly it, all while learning of the ships idiosyncrasies.
Now, In The Empire Strikes Back, viewers learn that Solo had won The Falcon from Calrissian. This happens later in the Han Solo Series. Lando meets Han in the second book – The Hutt Gambit . Solo wins The Falcon in the third book – Rebel Dawn. Han and Lando separate after the flying lessons. They reunite in the cloud city of Bespin where an intergalactic Sabacc tournament it taking place. At this point, Lando Calrissian is not yet an administrator of this city like he is in The Empire Strikes Back; he doesn’t even live there. Both men are enrolled in the tournament. Sabacc is a popular card and gambling game and Lando is an expert. The game is his profession.
Hundreds of species from various systems are there at Bespin competing in the tournament. In the end, it is down to three; Solo, Calrissian, and another. The other drops out. Calrissian bluffs and Solo calls him on it. This pays off and Solo wins. In addition to winning the jackpot, Solo and Calrissian have a private bet going. Lando has acquired a spaceship lot. He was willing to put up any ship from the lot. But Solo demands the Falcon. Calrissian protests but in the end, he turns it over to him.
Remember in a New Hope when Luke Skywalker puts down the Millennium Falcon and Solo tells him that the ship has “got it where it counts” and that he had made special modifications himself? Well some of those modifications include military armor plating that he scrapped form an Imperial ship. Then there is the gateway blaster that pops out of the lower part of the ship (remember when it blasted away at those Mos Eisley stormtroopers?) In addition, he overhauls the hyperdrive, installs canons , and , of course, he adds the hidden compartments to hide smuggled goods; the same compartments that hid Solo/Chewie, Luke/Obi-Wan and the droids from the Death Star stormtroopers. Not bad, eh?
In the original trilogy, Han Solo had a lot of attention-grabbing lines. Many of these lines point to backstory. In addition, some of the sticky situations he finds himself in can be traced back to adventures that took place pre-A New Hope. Let us examine some of this dialogue and take a look at some of those scenes. We will then trace these lines and scenes to this Han Solo Trilogy and discover what in the heck was going on, at least in the mind of the brilliant A.C. Crispin.
“It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs”
You knew this was coming. This is perhaps the most quoted of Han Solo’s lines; his famous boast to Obi Wan Kenobi about the ability of the Millennium Falcon. This line has been made fun of by many a math and science geek. A “parsec” is a unit of distance, not time! So why is Solo using the term to describe the Falcon’s speed? Well, he’s not, according to A.C. Crispin. Solo is referring to distance. In order to understand, we need to know what a “Kessel Run” is in the first place. Let’s learn about that right now.
Han Solo was not the first Star Wars character to refer to “Kessel”. Oh no he wasn’t! He might have been the first to describe the “run”, but it is C3PO that first refers to the planet Kessel. In the very beginning of A New Hope, he warns his little buddy R2D2 about what could happen for their discretions.
“We’ll be sent to the spice mines of Kessel, smashed into who knows what!”
As can be inferred by C3PO’s statement, Kessel is known for its spice mines. Not only that, Kessel has refineries that take raw spice and process it into “glitterstim;” thereby purifying it while heightening its potency. Mining spice is dangerous and often droids are assigned to that task, hence C3PO’s fear.
Imperial Customs ships often patrol Kessel. How does a drug smuggler transport spice from Kessel while avoiding Imperial confrontations? By taking a detour through “The Kessel Run”. The Kessel Run is a section of space near Kessel that is plagued with an obstacle course of black holes, asteroids and nebula gas clouds. It is a very tricky and deadly course and only skilled pilots navigate it. Solo is taught to fly the course while on another smuggler’s ship. His first attempt, though not perfect, is remarkable. Solo will go on to make hundreds of Kessel Runs. But it is on The Millennium Falcon, while outrunning two Imperial ships, that he breaks a record. Checking the Falcon’s instruments, he learns that he has made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. He goes on to tell Chewbacca, “Hey this is weird. It says we actually shortened the distance we traveled, not just the time.” Black holes warp both distance and time. By flying insanely close to the maw of a black hole, Solo shortened the distance. Neat huh?
“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything.”
When Solo says this, he is not a believer in The Force. Of course by the time the events in The Force Awakens take place, he has changed his tune. But did he really see “a lot of strange stuff” that might, to the ignorant, rival the perceived magic of The Force? Yeah he really did. But much of this strange stuff has a logical explanation behind it (Let’s suspend our disbelief somewhat; we’re talking “Star Wars” logic here). Let’s outline of some of these strange experiences.
1) The Exultation.
On the world of Ylesia, within the operation that allowed Solo his first big break into the smuggling business,” there was a lot of “Strange stuff” going on. To the outside world, Ylesia is a planet that offers the best of religious retreats. It is advertised throughout the planets as a place to escape the cruel galaxy; a place to live a monastic life in religious bliss. Pilgrims come and experience what is known at The Exultation. This “exultation” is administered nightly by the high priest Teroenza; a t’Landa Til that is similar in appearance to a Hutt. The high priest does his thing and crowds before him are overcome with a euphoric bliss. For those blessed moments, pilgrims are one with the entire universe! The administering of The Exultation, along with the sermon and other rituals, lasts a little over an hour. When it’s over, the receivers of this “sacrament” must wait 23 hours for the next one. What will they do while waiting? Why, they will work is Ylesia’s spice mines, of course! They are kept as slaves, forced to work long hours in very dangerous situations. But they put up with it. Anything for the nightly Exultation!
Han Solo smuggles spice for Teroenza and his Hutt counterpart. He too experiences the Exultation and is overcome with bliss. But he fights its addicting effects and succeeds in overcoming its lure. After a while, Teroenza let’s Han in on the secret. What humans experience as an “Exultation” is simply the effects of a male t’Landa Til’s mating call. Certain movements of its throat cause a humming. This humming, along with the telepathic projections that are released from this exercise, create an addictive high to the humans that are directly exposed to the call.
Having been a slave on Trader’s Luck, Han is appalled by what is going on. He ends up rescuing some of the slaves and helping them to break their addiction. Part of the deprograming comes with knowing the truth: the High priest does not have any special powers. He is just a low life gangster thug.
One of the slaves he rescues is a woman named Bria. She and Solo have an on again/off again relationship throughout the series.
2) Forced Suggestion.
It is similar to a Jedi Mind Trick. While under the spell, a victim has no will of his/her own. S/he is at the mercy of the commands of another. Han Solo falls prey to this. It is Boba Fett who takes control of Han Solo. Solo is unable to move or speak without the direction of Fett. If Fett says “walk”, Solo will walk, despite any wishes to the contrary. If Fett directs him to walk off a cliff, he will do so, for his motor skills have been taken over by the other.
Boba Fett victimizes Solo by a dart laced with a drug that strips him of his own will. While under his command, he orders him to march toward his ship Slave 1.
Han cannot utter a word of protest. He cannot speak unless the bounty hunter permits it. It is Lando that interferes, shoots Fett with his own dart, and orders the bounty hunter to get in his ship and travel to the other side of the galaxy. I wonder if Solo thought the Jedis used this drug to produce the effects of the Jedi Mind Trick.
3) – Telepathic powers
Glitterstim has been known to produce this effect. The drug can allow its user to read the mind of another. But only for a limited amount of time. In fact, Bria refused to believe that her religious experience on Ylesia was inauthentic. While under the influence of Glitterstim, she reads Han Solo’s mind and knows that he is telling the truth when he declares Teroenza to be a fraud.
4) – The Illusionist
Han Solo has a fling with Xaverri, an illusionist who performs magic for sold out shows. She once tricked Imperial senators and made them believe that a fleet of war ships were attacking. Solo could never figure out how she performs her tricks. But that’s what they were – tricks.
Han Solo – “That was a long time ago, I’m sure he’s forgotten that.”
Lando Calrissian – “Why you slimy double crossing no good swindler. You’ve got a lot of guts coming here, after what you pulled!”
Remember when Solo and company first arrived at Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back? They weren’t greeted to fondly, were they? The twin pod ships of Bespin were prohibiting Solo’s landing. Chewbacca growls a possible explanation and Solo suggests that Lando had forgotten about “that”. What is “that”? When they finally do land, Lando greets them coldly, accusing Solo of having “pulled something.”
Some have offered that it was Lando’s loss of The Millennium Falcon that had him so steamed. Well I had never thought that and neither did Author Crispin. Instead, she offers a much more interesting account of what went on between Lando and Han.
Bria, Solo’s lover whom he had rescued from slavery on Ylesia, has hooked up with a band of rebels. She wants to invade Ylesia and wipe out the entire smuggling operation. Her motives are two-fold; to steal the treasures to help fund the rebels in their fight against The Empire, and to extract revenge. She enlists the help of Solo who in turn enlists the help of Lando and several smugglers. All will split the loot. But when the fighting is over and the rebels and smugglers achieve their victory, Bria reneges on the deal. She and her band or armed rebels hold Lando and his men at gunpoint, prohibiting them from claiming their share.
Naturally, Lando suspects that Solo took part in planning this treachery, since Bria was an old flame of his. When Solo tries to explain his innocence, Lando sucker punches him in the face. This is why, many years later on the landing platform on Bespin, Lando makes like he is about to punch Solo. In the end he is joshing and ends up hugging is old friend. All is forgiven (but we know that Lando is part of the plan to hand Solo and his friends to the Empire, even if it wasn’t his fault)
Greedo – “Jabba has no use for smugglers who drop their shipments at first sign of a an Imperial Cruiser”
Solo – “Even I get boarded sometimes.”
Soon after this conversation, Solo shoots Greedo dead. (Solo shot first. Case closed!) But he then goes on to have a similar conversation with Jabba himself. Just what in the heck went down anyway? Well, a shipment of spice went down, down upon some asteroid in the Kessel Run. Solo drops the shipment. But he had no choice. As he said, “Even I get boarded sometimes.” And he does get boarded.
Han Solo happened to have a bunch of kids on board The Falcon when he was smuggling spice from Kessel to Corellia. (Children on a drug run? Shame! Shame! Shame!). The kids are orphans that they had rescued from slavery on Ylesia. While in flight, Solo receives orders from Jabba to pick up a load of spice on Kessel. What was he to do?
After leaving Kessel with the shipment, they head into The Run where three Imperial ships are waiting. They chase Solo, and Solo speeds ahead just enough to drop his shipment with the intentions of retrieving it later. The “Imps” catch up to him, board the Falcon, and place Solo on “Suspicion of smuggling spice from Kessel.” The ship is searched.
Meanwhile, the orphan kids plead with the Imperial commander to let Solo go, for he is not a smuggler (the kids know what’s up, but they lie for their new hero!) but instead, a hero. Reluctantly, after finding no spice, the Imperials escort the Falcon to Corellia ,where he is greeted as a hero. So much time wasted! When all is said and done, Solo rushes back into The Kessel Run to where he had dropped the spice. It isn’t there. Most likely, Imperials had found it and claimed it.
Jabba is peeved and demands payment for the lost shipment. Solo agrees to pay. But he never does. After some time, Jabba is forced to put a bounty on Solo’s head and the rest is Star Was history.
Aside from all the satisfying explanations to those often quoted and humorously reenacted lines and scenes in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back concerning Solo’s back story, the Han Solo trilogy offers intriguing story concepts independent of the films. For instance:
Hutt vs. Hutt
Who does a Hutt have to compete with in the spice trade? Answer – another Hutt. The Hutts control the spice trade, but sometimes a clan of Hutts is at odds with another clan in terms of which crime unit controls what sector of the galaxy. Sometimes these disputes are settled diplomatically, sometimes they are not. Crispin writes of one of these non-diplomatic situations. It is a caged death match – one Hutt is to fight another in an arena style combat. Hutts from both clans gather around to watch these two high-ranking Hutts pummel each other. In the end, one lives while the other dies. Now isn’t this something that needs to be seen on the big screen? Or is this too gross of a concept for you? If you answered “yes” to the second question, then surely you will not be prepared for what follows in the next paragraph.
Han Solo approaches the two Hutts, Jiliac and Jabba. He had known for a long time that Jiliac was the uncle and Jabba was the nephew. Imagine how confused he is when the pair scolds him for addressing both as males. “This is my Aunt!” Jabba barks in the Huttese language, “Can’t you see that Jiliac is pregnant?” When it is time to procreate, a male Hutt will develop a female anatomy to give birth. But, how does a Hutt get pregnant? That is NOT discussed in the book and let’s be thankful for that!
I’m not sure when the planet Coruscant was written into the Star Wars Extended Universe. Before this planet made it to the big screen, it first appeared in the books. It was the former capital of The Old Republic. It later becomes the capital of The Empire. We’ve seen this planet depicted in the Prequel Trilogy. It is the planet that hosts the Senate arena, the Jedi Council. It is the city planet where a young Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker pursue a bounty hunter on a high speed chase.
Han Solo frequents this planet in the Han Solo trilogy. He tries to do banking an Imperial Bank and almost gets himself arrested. The thing to note is that this trilogy of books was published BEFORE The Phantom Menace came out in theaters. So George Lucas did in fact canonize certain elements from the extended universe of books. This brings us to the perfect segue. Read on!
Was Rouge 1 partially based on Rebel Dawn?
Rouge 1 has Jen Erso. Rebel Dawn has Bria Tharen, Solo’s ex-girlfriend. Both are females that lose their lives on a mission to transmit stolen plans to a Rebel Courier ship. Both are on a planet that acts as an Imperial Com Center when they perish. Jen dies while in the arms of Cassian Andor, her mission partner and last minute lover, as The Death Star blows the planet away. Bria chats with a young male, a kid really, who asks her if they are going to die. She answers him honestly. Then they face off against a legion of stormtroopers who spray them with their blasters. (I know, stormtroopers are infamous for being bad at shooting. But in this case, they hit their intended targets)
The story of Bria is obsolete; overwritten by the events in Rouge 1. But it certainly seems as if the writers of Rouge 1 got some of their ideas from this last book in the Han Solo Trilogy.
The Han Solo Trilogy is a tough act to follow. I don’t expect Solo: A Star Wars Story to be as good as these books. I do hope the film utilizes some of the story ideas though. From the trailer, we do learn that Han had gone into The Imperial Academy (he calls it simply “The Academy”). Whereas the movie Solo appears to quit, the book Solo graduates with honors. I don’t expect things to be the same in each medium, but I do wish for similarity. Sadly, A.C. Crispin will never know if her ideas made it on to the big screen.
Ann Carol Crispin, author of twenty three books, lost her life to cancer in 2013 She also wrote books based on the Star Trek and V series as well.
In a message to fans three days before she died, she said:
“I want to thank you all for your good wishes and prayers. I fear my condition is deteriorating. I am doing the best I can to be positive but I probably don’t have an awful lot of time left. I want you all to know that I am receiving excellent care and am surrounded by family and friends.”
R.I.P. Ann Carol Crispin. I enjoyed your Han Solo Series immensely. I will be thinking of you when I am in the theater watching the up and coming Solo film. You wrote Solo well. Let’s hope the film does half the justice that you have done to this iconic character.
The special feature of this blog is updated. Come read “Spirits in the Night, Exchanging ‘Chances.” I wrote his last year. But if you haven’t yet read it, you can read it this year! See, I don’t discriminate that way!
Here’s the link Spirits in the Night, Exchanging Chances