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Frequently Asked Questions:
Star Wars Novels

     The purpose of this document is to answer questions that have cropped up regarding my Star Wars novels — Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command, Starfighers of Adumar, Rebel Dream, and Rebel Stand.

Questions About —

Writing For Star Wars

The Wraith Squadron Novels Starfighters of Adumar

The Enemy Lines Novels The Legacy of the Force Novels The Future

Questions About Writing For Star Wars

How did you get to write Star Wars novels?

     That's a long story. It goes back to 1982 at least, when I met Michael A. Stackpole; we were both game designers working in the adventure gaming field, writing role-playing games and supplements. Over the years, we got to know one another pretty well, and even collaborated on a role-playing game (Justice, Inc., co-written with Steve Peterson). Eventually, we both broke into fiction writing, and so by the time we were both making our livings as novelists, we were very familiar with one another's styles and sensibilities.
     A few years back, after he'd written the first four X-Wing novels, he was asked to write four more, but didn't have enough time available — he was already committed to I, Jedi for that time period, so he could only write one of the four. He recommended other writers, including me, who might be able to continue the X-Wing series, and the Star Wars line editor at Bantam Books chose me to continue the series.

How do I get permission to write a Star Wars novel?

     Well, start with, it's not a matter of coming up with an idea for a Star Wars novel, asking for and receiving someone's permission, and then going ahead with the project. It doesn't work that way.
     What happens instead is that whichever publishers currently possess the license to print Star Wars fiction — currently Del Rey and Scholastic — will, at a certain point in the year, decide how many novels they wants to print in an upcoming year. (This decision may be affected by their contract terms with Lucas; I'm not privy to details on those contracts.)
     Once the publisher knows how many novels and of which type (Han/Leia/Luke, Young Adult, etc.) it wants, it decides which novelists to contact about writing them. Bantam, the previous license-holder, chose to tap writers who already have a number of science fiction and/or fantasy novels in print, the better to have an idea of their writing skills and reliability; the writers Del Rey is contracting suggests that Del Rey follows the same policy.
     Writers who are contacted and are interested in writing for Star Wars generally submit proposals and outlines for the stories they'd like to write. Both the publisher and Lucas Licensing review these proposals, the former to make sure they work as fiction, the latter to make sure they work within the existing Star Wars universe.
     Once a proposal is approved and the writer's contract generated, the writer writes the work. When it's done, it goes through the same approval process as the outline and proposal.
     What you can deduce from this is that writing the current publisher of Star Wars fiction and saying "I'd like to write a Star Wars book" just doesn't work — unless you're already a big name in the world of SF&F writing.
     So your best bet to become a Star Wars writer is to become a writer first. Write original novels; get good at your craft; get your novels into print; learn about the publishing industry.
     And then you can try to maneuver yourself to fall under the gaze of the Star Wars fiction publishers.
     That may be discouraging to many aspiring writers, but those are the realities of the publishing industry.
     I've been asked by discouraged aspiring writers if I know of any way around this roadblock. No, I don't. Even if I did, I'd probably keep it to myself. Your books will be better if you follow this path; and most Star Wars readers, and SF&F readers in general, would prefer to read good, rather than mediocre, novels.
     So do it the hard way.

I'm writing a story/novel; would you evaluate it?

     No. Please see the answer to this question on the Writing section of this FAQ.

Questions About the Three Wraith Novels


Is Wedge right or left handed?

     My assumption has been that he's right-handed. Little clues point to that but don't prove it conclusively. Early in Truce at Bakura, for example, Wedge stops a bomb from detonating by jamming his hand in between two triggering components. Under time pressure, this is the sort of thing one does with his dominant hand, and it was his right hand he used.
     But I'm not wedded to this answer. Perhaps someday a writer will answer it definitively.

How old is Wedge?

     According to Michael A. Stackpole, who himself quotes a source at Lucasfilm, Wedge is 20 at the time of his first film appearance — the battle of Yavin IV in Star Wars: A New Hope.
     Wraith Squadron begins some time late in the seventh year after ANH, so at that time he is 27, nearly 28. At one point in the novel, he is asked his age, and says 28, but he's looking forward just a little bit.

Isn't Hobbie dead?

     Many readers have noted that in the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, Hobbie crashes his snowspeeder into an Imperial walker and dies.
     Well, since Hobbie appears in the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comics from Dark Horse, and those stories take place after Return of the Jedi and before the start of the novel Rogue Squadron, that's not something I have to worry about; obviously, he survived.
     According to Michael A. Stackpole, Hobbie did crash at some point in the Hoth combat, but survived after a considerable amount of bacta treatment.
     Occasional discrepancies pop up between movies, novels, technical references, and gaming materials. As writers, we simply have to choose between the differing interpretations of events — based on logic and need — and hope that everything works out.

What does Runt look like?

     First, we'll start with his description from Wraith Squadron:
     "Gold Two was not human. He was definitely humanoid, with arms, legs, torso and head arranged in a comfortably recognizable fashion. But, though nearly as tall as Kell, he was very lean, covered in short brown fur, with an elongated face, huge brown eyes, a broad, flattened nose, and a mouth full of squarish white teeth. His were features better suited to a draft animal than a sapient being — but for the inquisitive, luminously intelligent quality of his eyes. He also had a head of hair that would be the envy of many a human, male or female; as Kell arrived at the table, Gold Two was tugging his hair free of an elastic band and allowing to shake out into a waterfall of mid-back-length chestnut brown."
     In other words, horselike is an apt description, particularly in that his lips do extend over jaws that are largely horselike, despite the presence of a chin; but he is capable of a variety of very human expressions, including smiling. His eyes resemble the open eyes of an alarmed horse, even when he's not emotional in the least; they are wide and staring, with eyelids visible only when he blinks. The observant quality of his face is the element people probably remember most after meeting him. Most of his simulation of human expression comes from his mouth, which is at least as expressive as the human mouth. His hair (excluding his ponytail) is short but not particularly soft; it is shorter on his face than his torso and limbs, and almost absent on his palms and soles. His legs are not jointed like those of a horse; they are jointed like a human's. He is lean, with somewhat knobby knees and elbows. His hands are large with thick nails kept short.
     Courtesy of artists Amy 'Amara' Pronovost and Mido Kapetanovic, we now have pictures that come pretty close to my visual conception of Runt. Please take a look at the respective pages in my Fan Art section for Amy and Mido.

How does Piggy fit into the cockpit of an X-Wing?

     It's a tight fit, but Piggy doesn't carry quite as much extra weight as the average Gamorrean. When squeezing into the cockpit he has to maneuver his shoulders forward in a fairly uncomfortable fashion to make himself narrower.

I'm confused — where was Leia during Bacta War and the Wraith Squadron novels?

     There are some apparent discrepancies in the placement of Leia during those novels. They aren't actually discrepancies, but they do require some explanation.
     At the beginning of The Courtship of Princess Leia, by Dave Wolverton, Han Solo returns from the destruction of the Iron Fist. When he arrives at Coruscant, Hapan ships are in orbit around the planet. Han has a massive fight-or-flight reaction because (a) he knows the Hapans are dangerous and powerful and (b) Han can't think of any peaceful reason they'd be at Coruscant. The inescapable conclusion is that Han is unaware that anyone was making any progress at peaceful negotiations with the Hapans.
     However, in the last chapter of The Krytos Trap, which takes place before Courtship, Luke arrives at a Rogue Squadron celebration and makes a comment about Leia's "embassy to Hapes." He mentions it publicly in a gathering of Rogues, Borsk, and Winter, which suggests that the information is not secret. We have to conclude that Han, in the later scene, either didn't know about Leia's visit to Hapes (possible) or that he had reason to believe that it wasn't successful (also possible). Since the trip wasn't a secret one, I have difficulty believing that Leia wouldn't have informed Han of a mission that could keep her off Coruscant for some time.
     So I take the position that there were two trips by Leia to Hapes, with the following chronology and details:
     During The Krytos Trap:
     (Revealed in the Novel) Leia is on Hapes, and has been for some time, an inference we can make from Luke's comments to Leia (page 349).
     (Not Revealed) Leia has not expected any success on the mission, but did in fact receive an unusually warm greeting as the Hapan queen began formulating her plan to use and murder Leia (as revealed in Courtship). The queen invites her back for a more extended visit.
     During The Bacta War:
     (Not Revealed) Leia returns to Coruscant from the first expedition to Hapes. She tells the Inner Council of the Hapans' unusually conciliatory manner and of the invitation for a second trip. However, the event is reported elsewhere as the diplomatic failure everyone expected it to be. This will help keep Imperial and Zsinj spies from taking steps to counteract the diplomatic process.
     During Wraith Squadron:
     (Revealed) Leia is still on Coruscant and welcomes Rogue Squadron after their return from Thyferra.
     (Revealed) Han is already in charge of the Zsinj mission, but during a period when nothing much is going on, he takes a little time off to fly around in the Falcon and hand-deliver some high-security dispatches concerning Zsinj.
     (Not Revealed) Some time later, Han stores the Falcon aboard the Rebel Dream (for reasons he discusses in Solo Command).
     (Not Revealed) Some time after that, Leia departs on a secret diplomatic mission to Hapes. Her absence, and the fact that it is a diplomatic mission, are known in some circles, but the Hapes connection is not commonly known.
     During Iron Fist:
     (Revealed) Wedge mentions to Phanan and Face that Leia is off on a mission.
     (Revealed) Later, he mentions to Janson that "scuttlebutt has it" that Leia's off trying to schmooze some wartime materiel. This suggests that Wedge doesn't know specifically that she's on Hapes.
     During Solo Command:
     (Not Revealed) Leia returns from Hapes to Coruscant empty-handed, but knowing that she has made substantial progress in the New Republic's relationship with the Hapans.
     (Revealed) Donos, in conversation with Wedge, mentions Leia's absence on her mission, but would be unaware that she had returned to Coruscant.
     During The Courtship of Princess Leia:
     (Revealed) Han Solo returns to Coruscant, sees Hapan Battle Dragons, panics, is reassured. At no point in the subsequent chapters do we see any sign that he had knowledge of a diplomatic mission to Hapes that had any chance of success.

Which is your favorite Ccaracter?

     Of the characters I created for the Wraith novels and Starfighters of Adumar, I don't have a clear favorite, but a few of the characters do stand out for me.
     For humor potential, the Face/Phanan combination gets top billing. For purposes of dramatic potential, Lara Notsil is probably my favorite.
     Among the characters I didn't create but featured extensively, Wes Janson is at the top of my list — which will probably surprise no one.

Was Face Loran inspired by Templeton "Faceman" Peck of the A-Team?

     No. The nickname "Face" was actually inspired by John Barrymore, an actor of silent and early sound-era movies and the stage. He was known as "the Great Profile." When I thought of a character who was an actor, I decided I wanted him to have had a nickname in a similar vein, and because he was physically very attractive, I decided on "the Face" — shortened just to "Face" as a nickname and military callsign.

What's the background on Dorset Konnair? And what happens to her after the events of Solo Command?

     None of the following is official, since it merely constitutes the backstory I had in my mind about the character, and has not been put into print anywhere. This means that anything appearing in print about her subsequent to this point takes precedence over these notes.
     Dorset was a native of Coruscant. She was a civilian pilot who defected to the New Republic because of a passionate hatred of Emperor Palpatine and his doctrines. Because she grew up on Coruscant, she believes that New Republic military personnel who grew up in places that were hotspots of the Rebellion's origin view her with suspicion, so she's an overachiever, always anxious to demonstrate both her skills and her loyalty.
     Beyond that, I didn't have much established about her. It is my expectation that she continued as a pilot after the events of the Wraith Squadron novels. She would probably drift out of Starfigher Command and into a command role elsewhere, perhaps as the captain of a vessel, and would probably lose her paranoia about others' suspicions.

How old are the Wraiths?

     I didn't settle on exact ages for many of them. Here are the ages I had for a few, all as of ABY 7.5 or so:

Face:   24
Falynn:   19
Kell:   26
Ton:   31

I'm a costumer. I was wondering what the Wraiths' commando operations uniform looked like, both during the events of the Wraith trilogy and later.

     I'm relying on memory here, but I seem to recall the X-Wing-era commando uniform as being based around a gray jumpsuit (cut along the lines of a TIE fighter pilot's jumpsuit -- essentially, they based their operational uniform on components from their Hawk-bats disguises) with numerous accoutrements in matte black (nothing that might reflect). Standard accoutrements would include a utility and holster belt, boots, backpacks, and ready weapons. Optional accoutrements, often carried in the backpacks, could include gloves, balaclava-style pull-on hoods, goggles, and three or more very light parka-style garments that could be folded down into very small packages, one in black and two in color schemes appropriate to the dress patterns of whatever the surrounding population is.
     Of course, each Wraith would accessorize individually. I can see Shalla having several vibroblade sheaths at the ready. Kell, whose roles on the ground were chiefly in demolitions and hand-to-hand combat, would probably have at least one vibroblade, perhaps a billy club, and a backpack larger than his companions' (to carry all his demolitions gear).
     Typically, these uniforms would have no unit markings.
     In the NJO era, the uniforms they wore under their false Yuuzhan Vong armor on the mission to Coruscant would be similar in structure, but might have a more urban-camouflage pattern, one with blobs and blotches much smaller than the urban camo of real-world BDUs.


What are S-foils: stabilizer foils or strike foils?

     On the occasions that I gave s-foils their full name, I called them strike foils; some other writers have called them stabilizer foils. Naturally, this has led to confusion.
     The thing is, different sources give them different names. In this case, I defaulted to the terminology used in the Star Wars Technical Journal, which refers to them as strike foils. Other writers have used other resources.
     I'm not too concerned about it, since the foils are used both for strike and stabilization purposes.

What were the name and colors of Wes Janson's astromech? Was he an R2 or R5?

     I don't believe I ever specified. My suspicion is that he'd have an R2 rather than an R5, and he'd probably have it repainted as often as resources and the tolerence of his support personnel would permit. It would not, for example, be out of character for him to paint it in orange, white, and black, in penguinish mockery of the standard pilot's flight suit. As for a name, something simultaneously practical and goofy, like Knob, would be in character.


How much collaboration was necessary between you and Michael A. Stackpole?

     Not too much. Since I wasn't dealing too heavily with the Rogues in the first two books, we got by with the occasional e-mail and phone call — mostly questions from me and answers from him. By the time the third book, with a heavier Rogues presence, came up, we had the Q&A routine pretty much down pat.

Does role-playing game writing help fiction writing?

     My feeling is that role-playing scenario design helps the fiction writer in a couple of ways but is no help at all in most others.
     I think the place it helps most is contingency plotting. Because of the non-linear nature of most role-playing adventures, we have to spend a lot of effort coming up with scads of alternate paths for the characters to take to reach their goals. In fiction, we can do the same to begin with, then (in theory) choose the best of those plots for further development.
     In second place is world-building. With role-playing game supplements, we have to do a tremendous amount of world-building — not just maps and lists of characters, but also basic assumptions of how things work, and what ramifications those choices have on the various "systems" of the setting.
     Unfortunately, game experience doesn't help that much in developing characters in fiction. The process of creating the character may be the same, but forms of expression are so different between games and fiction that there's very little crossover benefit. Character descriptions in games consist largely of notes you might put together as recommendations to an actor about to play a role, while character presentation in fiction is a very different technique — one in which you are already in the character's head and putting him through paces where he can demonstrate his personality.

Do you play X-Wing vs TIE Fighter?

     No... I played some of the original X-Wing computer game, but I've never been too good at flight sims in general.

Why do all male sci-fi and fantasy writers have beards?

     To hide our weak chins?
     Because we're basically lazy and hate to shave?

Questions About Wraith Squadron


In the final battle, Janson was supposed to be in a TIE fighter, then he showed up in an X-wing. What's up?

     That's what we in the writing business call a mistake. Oops. He was in a TIE fighter throughout.

Why does Admiral Trigit bite on every trick the Wraiths put in front of him?

     Because he's not as bright as he thinks he is. He's creative in certain intelligence-gathering functions, but that has led him to believe that he is brilliant at everything. It's this assumption of his own infallibility that leads him into several errors.


Why did you decide to create a new squadron instead of following Rogue Squadron?

     That's a simple question with a complicated answer.
     Toward the start of Rogue Squadron, Mike Stackpole established that two Rogue Squadron veterans, Lts. Hobbie Klivian and Wes Janson, were off putting together new X-wing training squadrons. When I began working on this project and coordinating with Mike, his idea was that I do my three novels on the exploits of Hobbie, Janson, and one of their squadrons, all of which would take place at the same time as the events of the first four novels in the Star Wars: X-Wing series. That way, my third novel would end at the same time as his fourth. I was content to go with that approach.
     However, Lucas Licensing, understandably, wanted the series to stay focussed on Wedge Antilles, which meant that my novels really needed to take place after the events of The Bacta War. At that point, I could have switched over to spotlighting Rogue Squadron, but I'd already developed a certain affection for the characters and events of the story I'd already outlined — I simply didn't want to abandon them.

Why is Grinder a stereotypical hacker who loves causing trouble for others?

     I can appreciate peoples' desire not to have every programmer-type character in every book be an undisciplined jerk... but let's not forget that, for the first batch of Wraith Squadron pilots, Wedge did concentrate on people who had wrecked their careers one way or another. Grinder follows the hacker stereotype not because all hackers are that way, but because the initial squadron roster called for troublemakers.

Questions About Iron Fist


Why did Ton Phanan have to die?

     The X-Wing novels describe wartime action. In war, people die — and not just the unknowns, the annoying second players no one likes, or people with poorly developed backgrounds and undeveloped personalities.
     If you only kill the minor players, it leeches tension out of any novel. If the reader knows all the characters he's attached to are perfectly safe, there's really very little emotional content.
     Ton Phanan died for reasons other than simply to demonstrate that war is dangerous. In actuality, he was originally scheduled to die in Wraith Squadron, in the scene where Jesmin Ackbar ended up dying. While writing Wraith, as I got to that scene, Phanan struggled with me a bit — characters aren't just hand puppets their authors wear, and sometimes they disagree with what they're being asked to do. In Ton's case, it was obvious that there was something he needed to say or do before he died, but at the time I had no idea what it was. So I substituted Jesmin for Ton and kept thinking about it.
     The problem, I later realized, was that he had to say something about what had happened to him, what had made him the way he was, and he had to do some good for Face when he died. In essence, Ton and Face had something very important in common — they'd been so badly damaged by their experiences that they didn't have much of a future to look forward to. The difference between them was that Ton couldn't come back from what had damaged him, and Face could. Ton realized this, though Face did not. In dying, Ton was able to give Face some thoughts and words — and one symbol (the restoration of his face) — that could set Face on the path toward recovery.
     Another thing to remember: Although he feared death, although he struggled against it, Ton Phanan, deep down, didn't want to live. This, too, contributed to the inevitability of his death within the course of the novels.
     Ultimately, it shouldn't be a question of whether or not a character "had to die." It should be a question of whether his death was meaningful or meaningless. I like to think that Ton's death had some meaning, both to his allies (especially Face) and the readers. Time will tell.

In the battle with Razor's Kiss, Zsinj got really toasted by General Solo when Zsinj had a ship advantage. What's up with that?

     Zsinj did have an edge in ships, certainly, but lost due to tactics, circumstances, and the fog of war, all of which kept him from bringing his full strength to bear on his intended targets.
     The Zsinj/Solo battle was inspired by the World War II battle of Midway, a naval engagement at which the Japanese had far greater strength than the U.S. — and yet the U.S. won, for the same reasons.

Questions About Solo Command


Was Wedge's date with Iella Wessiri, Or What?

     It was with Iella.

Then why didn't we see it?

     Because it would have done serious harm to the pacing of the first part of the book.

How was Malan Tugrina able to surprise the Gotal, Tolokai?

     It was much the same situation as with Tal'dira. Tolokai was brainwashed, but part of him still struggled with the orders he was being forced to carry out. He couldn't not attack Mon Mothma... but he could force himself to ignore some of his sensory input. In other words, he subconsciously turned a blind eye to Malan in the hope that Malan would do exactly what he did.

In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Zsinj was on an Imperial-class Star Destroyer called Iron Fist. What happened to the Super-class Iron Fist?

     In Courtship, when the Millennium Falcon arrives at Dathomir, one of the first things it sees is a Super Star Destroyer in dry dock (paperback page 98, hardback page 85). Later, when Luke and Isolder arrive in Isolder's Hapan Battle Dragon (paperback page 135, hardback page 120), the Super is still there. The Battle Dragon hammers the Super, and we learn that the Super is there undergoing repairs (paperback page 137, hardback page 122).
     This Super is obviously the Iron Fist. With the (brief) exception of the Razor's Kiss in the novel Iron Fist, we don't know of any other Super in the possession of Zsinj. Late in the novel (paperback page 359, hardback page 314), we see a Star Destroyer described as Imperial surrounded and defended by a complement of TIEs too large to have come from any one destroyer, and we get the following exchange:

        "Who is on that Star Destroyer?" Han asked, gazing at the highly
   protected ship.
        "Zsinj," Luke answered softly. "That's the Iron Fist."

     Han immediately asks for the controls and goes in to attack the destroyer in question.
     Now, at this point we have to conclude that Han's response doesn't make much sense if the vessel is an Imperial-class. If it really is an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, he should have said something like, "Oh, so we have a new Iron Fist." — because the last Iron Fist he was aware of was a Super, and he was under the impression that his fleet had blown it up.
     In short, the most logical conclusion is that the one reference to that vessel as an Imperial was a mistake, or that the word "Imperial" was being used to describe its cultural origin rather than its class. The one reference to its being an Imperial reads, "The sky around the Imperial destroyer was alive with TIE fighters —" It is telling, or at least helpful, that the terms "Imperial-class destroyer" or "Imperial Star Destroyer" are not used at this point.
     At any rate, this ship is the Iron Fist, and it's a Super-class destroyer, and the only reason Han didn't recognize the same Super, in dry dock, as the Iron Fist was that he thought the Iron Fist was destroyed.

In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Han says he called Zsinj to gloat about the destruction of Iron Fist, but in Solo Command, it's Zsinj who initiates the call. What gives?

     I think that Solo Command establishes that Solo was under a lot of stress during the Zsinj hunt (a point brought home again toward the end of Courtship). Basically, Solo doesn't remember every detail of the months-long military campaign, even of its climax, with crystal clarity. This is also why he recalls telling Zsinj, "Kiss my Wookiee!", while in Solo Command, the quote is somewhat different.


Why have you gone back to Klivian for Hobbie's last name?

     As readers of the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comic book know, Hobbie was with the Rogues after Hoth and prior to the Rogue reorganization mentioned in the Rogue Squadron novel. But there was a discrepancy in the spelling of his last name; it was Klivian in most sources, and Klivan in the comic book.
     As it turned out, the "Klivan" spelling was the result of a mistake. However, it was maintained consistently through the comic book, and I followed that spelling practice with Wraith Squadron. However, when Lucas Licensing became aware of the discrepancy, they decided that it should be standardized as Klivian.

Will we ever find out whether Myn and Kirney/Lara/Gara get together?

     Well, my take on it is that they do, soon after Solo Command, probably during the events of Courtship of Princess Leia. At this time, though, I have no idea whether those events will ever be disclosed in the course of a novel.
 A strong indication that they did get together appears in Legacy of the Force #1: Betrayal, in which Jedi commandos steal a shuttle from a Corellian transportation company called Donoslane Excursions.

Is the Pedna Scotian in Solo Command related to the Will Scotian in Shadows of the Empire?

     No. There is a sort of connection between Will and Pedna that leads to them having the same last name, but it isn't actually family ties.
     Pedna is a Chev, an albinoid female from Vinsoth (see West End Games' Galaxy Guide 12). The Chevs are kept as slaves by the indigenous race of Vinsoth, the Chevin, many of whom are smugglers and mercenaries. Pedna, who does not know who her family is and has no family or clan name, was rescued from a Chevin ship during a Rebel Alliance raid on mercenaries supporting the Empire. One of the pilots who rescued her was Will Scotian in his post-Rogue Squadron days. Pedna, seeing that most humans in the main galactic culture had two names, adopted the name Scotian to honor one of her rescuers. Later, she enrolled in Starfighter Command as a pilot-in-training.
     Just prior to the beginning of Wraith Squadron, Will Scotian was temporarily transferred to the "alternate" Rogue Squadron, then transferred back to his other unit as soon as Wraith Squadron's events got under way. Months later, Pedna Scotian was transferred to Rogue Squadron. No one knows whether her transfer there was simply because of her excellent flying skills, or through some sort of administrative mistake — a higher-up believing that he was transferring Will Scotian to the unit again.
     All this is simply backstory and doesn't appear in any of the X-Wing books.

How could Tetran Cowall fly well enough to fool everyone into thinking he was Fel?

     He and the rest of the bogus 181st were enjoying the benefits of computerized coordination from the Iron Fist (and, in an earlier scene, from the Reprisal — see Chapter 13), and this computer help allowed him to impersonate Fel well enough to fool even pilots who'd flown against him previously. (Remember that most pilots who'd flown against Fel previously were dead, so the survivors tended to be pilots who'd seen him from a distance or had their starfighters crippled early in an engagement. Most pilots' knowledge of Fel's flying technique comes from reviewing recordings, which isn't the same as facing him in person.) Cowall was also an excellent pilot, which helped the deception. Additionally, he won some matches through reputation; people would seize up at the thought of facing Fel and become easier prey. However, it's to be noted that until Solo Command, no one who'd previously flown against the real Fel flew against Cowall, so they couldn't put his real lethality to the test.

What color is Dia?

     She's the same green as Oola, from Return of the Jedi.


What were the names of all the ships in Solo's and Zsinj's fleets?

     Below are the notes I assembled on which ships were with which fleet.
     Bear in mind that not all the ships were given names, and that I haven't been able to check to make sure that every name is unique — i.e., I'm not absolutely certain that none of these ship names has been used in other Star Wars stories. So, except for the names that appeared in Solo Command, I reserve the right to change any of these names at any time.

Solo's Fleet:
     Group One:
     Mon Remonda: Mon Calamari MC80B Cruiser (Fleet Flag) (4 Squads: Rogue, X-wing; Wraith, mixed; Polearm, A-wing; Nova; B-wing)
     Mon Karren: Mon Calamari MC80 Cruiser (After Levian Two) (3 Squads: Corsair, X-wing; 2 Y-wing)
     Tedevium: Nebulon-B Frigate (2 Squads: 1 A-wing, 1 Y-wing)
     Etherhawk: Marauder Corvette
     Group Two:
     Mon Delindo: Mon Calamari MC80 Cruiser (3 Squads: 2 Y-wing, High Flight X-wing)
     Skyhook: Imperial Star Destroyer (assigned to Stellar Web) (6 Squads)
     Battle Dog: Quasar Fire Bulk Cruiser (starfighter transport) (4 Squads: 2 Y-wing including Lightning, Shadow X-wing, 1 Cloakshape)
     Warder: Nebulon-B Frigate (Medical)
     Group Three:
     Allegiance: Imperial Star Destroyer (6 Squads: 3 TIE fighter, 1 B-wing, 1 Y-wing, Gauntlet X-wing)
     Crynyd: Imperial Star Destroyer (assigned to Stellar Web) (6 Squads)
     Voidrunner: Nebulon-B Frigate (After Levian Two) (2 Squads: 2 Y-wing) (leaves group at Vahaba, crew used to crew captured Red Gauntlet)
     Ession Strike: (the former Night Caller, renamed) Corellian Corvette, Captain Atril Tabanne (After Levian Two)
     Stellar Web: (Loaned) Interdictor Cruiser

Zsinj's Fleet:
     Group One:
     Iron Fist: Super Star Destroyer
     Red Gauntlet: Imperial Star Destroyer (Captured at Vahaba)
     Serpent's Smile: Victory Star Destroyer (Destroyed at Vahaba)
     Reprisal: Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser (Destroyed)
     Blood Gutter: Carrack Cruiser
     Unnamed Carrack Cruiser (Destroyed at Levian)
     Group Two:
     Disruptor: Imperial Star Destroyer
     Nashtah Bite: Victory Star Destroyer
     Unnamed Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser
     Unnamed Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser
     Unnamed Carrack Cruiser
     Group Three:
     Chains of Justice: Imperial Star Destroyer
     Venom: Victory Star Destroyer
     Flash Fire: Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser
     Desolation: Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser
     Counterpunch: Carrack Cruiser (Destroyed at Vispil)
     Stinger: Quasar Fire Bulk Cruiser (TIE transport)
     Backbreaker: Lancer Frigate
     Second Death

The CloakShapes off the Battle Dog — are they CloakShape fighters?

     Yep, those are CloakShape Fighters. Solo's fleet couldn't entirely be populated by the newest and the best — he had to make do sometimes with the day-before-yesterday's technology.
     A lot of people have written me to ask, "What are CloakShapes, and where are they from?" The technical information I have on them comes from The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels.


What does the Wraith Squadron patch look like?

     The original Wraith Squadron unit patch was put together by David Pipgras (a writer for Star Wars Galaxy Collector magazine) in February 1998. I liked it, but didn't have the right place to introduce it in Iron Fist; it wasn't until Solo Command that a proper opportunity to introduce it came up.
     The description of the patch in Solo Command reads: "The main element of the design was a white circle, over which, in light gray, appeared the central symbol of the New Republic, a design like a stylized bird with upswept wings. Over that were twelve X-wing silhouettes, as if viewed from above, in black; one, in the lower left portion of the circle, was large, and the eleven arrayed around it were a third its size. All were oriented the same direction, from lower left to upper right, as though flying in tight, precise formation. Around the white circle was a broad blue ring bordered by two narrow gold rings."
     David's original design was somewhat more elaborate than that, with additional elements appearing within the blue ring. Written on that ring at the top were the words "Wraith Squadron;" at the bottom, in two lines, "New Republic Special Forces." Separating the text at top from the text at bottom were three red twelve-pointed stars on each side.
     I simplified the design by removing the text (which wouldn't be in Roman letters anyway when viewed "onscreen") and the stars.
     The result — somewhat less elegant than David's original because it does not make use of graduated colors on the blue and gold — is below.

Questions About Starfighters of Adumar


Why didn't Wedge invite Corran Horn to Adumar?

     It could have been for one or more of several reasons. First, Corran might have been wrapped up in Jedi concerns at the time. Second, Wedge definitely wanted Tycho along on this mission and Tycho probably wanted Corran left behind for his leadership role in Rogue Squadron. Third, Michael A. Stackpole suggests that Corran and Mirax might have been working at conceiving a child at the time.

Why does Tycho get shot down so much? He's better than that!

     Tycho gets shot down three times in Starfighters of Adumar, once virtually (in simulated combat) and twice for real. A lot of readers wonder whether I just have no idea of how good Tycho is (I do), whether I have it in for him (I don't), or what's going on.
     Basically, two of the downings take place when he's flying Blade aircraft, which are described as lumbering, not very maneuverable. After reviewing Tycho's flying history (training originally in TIEs, moving to A-Wings and X-Wings when he moved to the Rebel Alliance) and his performance in I, Jedi, I concluded that Tycho's strengths as a pilot might not translate so well to less maneuverable spacecraft. In short, Blades, Y-Wings and the lot can't really keep up with the speed of his own physical reactions.
     The first time he's a "kill" in combat in the novel is in a practice air duel with Hobbie, and it is described as a rare event — obviously, Hobbie seldom beats Tycho. (But, realistically, we can't assume that just because Tycho is significantly better than Hobbie, Hobbie never wins. Hobbie's a world-class pilot, too.)
     The second time is in the final assault on Cartann, when his already-damaged Blade runs up against a TIE.
     The third kill takes place when he's in his X-wing; he and Wedge go up against a TIE Defender in a head-to-head run and the Defender hits Tycho with an ion cannon. There, it was a matter of luck: Tycho was zapped, and the exchange gave Wedge the opportunity to figure out how to take out the Defender. Had the situation been reversed, Wedge would have been zapped and Tycho would have taken the opportunity to figure out how to defeat the Defender. Had Tycho been the focus character of the novel, it might have worked out that way.
     But in no case is it reasonable to assume that Tycho's flying skills are being shortchanged.


How come you describe Hobbie as having dark hair?

     The correspondent who asked this question went on to point out that in Steven Sansweet's Star Wars Encyclopedia, Hobbie is described as blond-haired.
     Oops. Many times, my sources contradict one another on specific details, and it sometimes happens that I have mentally locked onto one of those sources and forgotten about the others. In this case, one of my references to Hobbie indicated he was dark-haired, and for some reason that's the one that imprinted itself on my memory.

Questions About the Enemy Lines Novels

When do Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand take place in relation to Dark Journey and Traitor?

     Rebel Dream begins during the events of Dark Journey, a day or two after Luke and Mara depart Hapes. So there are a few weeks of overlap between the end of Dark Journey and the start of Rebel Dream.
     The end of Rebel Stand, similarly, overlaps the beginning of Traitor by a couple of weeks, but Traitor concludes well after the end of Rebel Stand.

Where are Winter and Dia?

     The whole Enemy Lines duology is about families, which is why you saw such preponderence of family activity in Rebel Dream. But I deliberately chose not to mention all family relationships of the major participants for two reasons.
     First, in conversations, even across a considerable span of time, people don't always bring up their family situations, especially when everybody involved in the conversation knows the pertinent facts. Wedge and Tycho were together aboard Mon Mothma for days before the assault on Borleias, so each would be aware of the other's situation.
     Second, I didn't have anything to say with Tycho/Winter interaction that wasn't being said elsewhere, so I didn't bring Winter into the book.
     That said, you can be sure that nothing bad has recently happened to Winter, because if something had, Tycho would be suffering. From the ease of his behavior, you can be certain that he knows where she is and that she is safe.
     As for Dia... I've been operating under the belief that the relationship between Face and Dia, while beneficial for both of them, didn't last; they probably parted, very amicably, years ago when their differing ambitions and needs drew them in different directions. I see her returning as a pilot to Ryloth, or even becoming a pirate preying on slavers. In the NJO era, she might be a pirate preying on Peace Brigade vessels as well as slavers. Obviously, none of that is official EU "fact" until it appears in a story somewhere, but that's the way I look at their circumstances. Even in the GFFA, not all romances will end up being unions for life.

Why hasn't Face been promoted in the last 20 years? He's still a captain!

     My perspective on the situation is that the Wraiths operate a bit outside the usual command structure, even outside the Intel command structure. Face hasn't been promoted because he doesn't need to be. When he needs to swing some power, he puts on a colonel's uniform, or a general's, or a space-naval captain's, and uses identification supplied by his superiors. When he needs to operate beneath the command structure's radar, well, it's easier for a captain to do so.
     Financing gets funneled to his unit through unorthodox means, and he and his people receive pay appropriate to their years of service rather than their formal ranks.
     In short, they're spooks, and their official ranks have no real significance.

Questions About Rebel Dream

Why is the boy accompanying Han and Leia called Tarc in Rebel Dream? His name is Dab!

     His real name is Dab. But he was introduced to Han and Leia as Tarc (see Star By Star, hardback page 529). He didn't begin to correct them as to his true name until well after they had been calling him Tarc for some time, so now it has stuck as his use-name.
     I didn't get into a deep exploration of the psychology of Dab/Tarc, but I had a sense of what it was, and had him behave according to that interpretation. Tarc has been cut off from his family and doesn't even know whether they still live. He's terrified of being left alone, sent away, and now he's been temporarily adopted by two of the galaxy's best-known heroes. He's doing whatever he can to stay with them, including endearing himself to them and guilt-tripping them when the situation calls for it. So he's not going to annoy them by correcting them as to his real name — especially when, in a sense, he isn't Dab any more. He won't really be Dab again until he's reunited with his real family... should that ever happen.
     Tarc himself addresses the question in Rebel Stand, though he doesn't have an objective perspective on it.

Wasn't the Rebel Dream recaptured by the Empire after Courtship of Princess Leia? If so, why is it back in New Republic hands now?

     It appears that it was indeed back in Imperial hands at some point. As to how it was returned to New Republic hands, for me, it's enough to know that it was. It could have been recaptured by the New Republic late in the conflict years, before the accord that brought peace between the Empire and the New Republic; or, it could have been assigned to planetary military forces of a world that later changed allegiance to the New Republic.
     The story of how this happened will have to wait for another day — and only if someone decides that it's a story that deserves to be told. It might not be.

Why did you say that Kyp Durron was stronger in the Force than Luke Skywalker?

     I didn't. Kyp believes that he is.

How could Corran Horn use shadow bombs if he doesn't have telekinesis?

     Corran merely launches his bomb, using the launching apparatus; he doesn't control it. On page 95, the sixth paragraph, Luke is in control of all the shadow bombs, and it is he who detonates them all.
     My assumption has been that the armed forces on Borleias had a specific "Jedi configuration" for starfighters and would load any Jedi's X-wing with the standard load of shadow bombs — a trivial inconvenience for Corran, who can't guide them, but in those early battles could rely on Luke to do so. Eventually he would have been able to get it through to the flight line that when not flying with another Jedi, it did little good for him to have shadow bombs.

Where is Janson?

     In Rebel Stand.

Where is Hobbie?

     Well, he's not in the Enemy Lines books at all. To be honest, if I included in the Enemy Lines novels every character I liked from the X-Wing series, I'd inevitably lose focus on what's important in the NJO series. Trotting out fan favorites at the expense of keeping a firm grasp on the storyline and the characters who are central to it is a bad idea. By not including every character I might have liked to, I was able to remind myself what I was there to do.

Why aren't Han and Leia in the Dramatis Personae?

     Because, since they weren't introduced until later in the book, I forgot and left them off.

Why did Leia allow the Jedi children to play with lightsabers aboard the Millennium Falcon? That seems incredibly irresponsible!

     My assumption was that there are such things as trainer lightsabers — far less powerful than the standard Jedi model, capable of imparting a shock or minor burn and of intercepting the shock-blasts of remotes. And, of course, the children weren't unsupervised; Kam and Tionne were there.
     In Attack of the Clones, we see Jedi children practicing with lightsabers under Yoda's supervision, and in later novels the existence of practice lightsabers that inflict electric shocks was confirmed.

The last operation in Rebel Dream was called Emperor's Hammer. Did you name it after the Emperor's Hammer fan group?

     I knew of the Emperor's Hammer fan group before I wrote Rebel Dream, of course, but its existence did not occur to me while I was writing the novel. I remember coming up with the operation name based on its characteristics (based on Imperial techniques, thus Emperor's; smashing the enemy flat, thus Hammer). But it's certainly possible that the existence of the fan group was at the back of my mind; I can't say for certain that there was no interplay there.

How is it that Czulkang Lah has a formidable military reputation? The Yuuzhan Vong were between galaxies with no enemies to fight for a long time!

     My assumption is that Czulkang Lah had the following types of opportunities to excel as a military leader:

  • In standard Yuuzhan Vong vs. Yuuzhan Vong military wargames
  • In Vong vs. Vong military wargames in which one side would simulate forces of the New Republic galaxy
  • In attempted coups, schisms, and other internal clashes within the Vong expeditionary force
  • In conflict between the Vong and species encountered in the gulf between galaxies — scouts, creatures that live in the void, etc.

     In the absence of any better means to determine military competence or brilliance, the Vong would have to rely on that sort of data to make such a determination, and it is with incidents such as those that Czulkang Lah built his reputation.

Questions About Rebel Stand

Where had Face met Luke in the past? Rebel Dream brought the question up, but Rebel Stand didn't answer it!

     Some text apparently got dropped from Rebel Stand; I only discovered this when people began e-mailing me this question.
     If you look at the top of page 273, you'll see text reading:

     “Yes. So all I can do is wish you luck."
     Face left.

     This section actually should have read:

     “Yes. So all I can do is wish you luck. And ask you to answer a question that’s been plaguing me for years.”
     “What’s that?”
     “Can you use the Force to scratch your back? You know, right in the middle, where you can’t reach?”
     Luke smiled. “Not exactly. But you can use self-control techniques to quell the itch, or can move an object, like a credcoin, over and scratch it physically. But if you’ve been wondering this for years, why didn’t you ask me when you met me all those years ago?”
     Face shrugged. “I lied about that. We never met before Borleias.”
     “You mynock. Get out of here.”
     Grinning, Face left.

When the Lusankya ran into the worldship, why didn't Czulkang Lah position voids in front of the SSD?

     Interference from Danni Quee's jamming devices was keeping the worldship's yammosk from coordinating the actions of its dovin basals, causing them to fall back on their "programming" (whatever sort of genetic instructions and training the Yuuzhan Vong use for those creatures). The dovin basals' instincts put fast-moving, high-energy damage like lasers, missiles, and torpedoes at the top of their threat index, relegating slow-moving masses to a secondary threat condition. There was plenty of incoming damage coming into the planet's surface from New Republic ships to keep the voids busy. In short, the dovin basals were cut off from their coordinator, and not smart enough to interpret the threat that the Lusankya represented when they were being overwhelmed by attacks that they believed to be more important.

Zindra Daine appears in the Dramatis Personae, but I can't find her in the novel. Did I miss something?

     Nope. It was just a mistake. Zindra was in Twin Suns throughout the events of Rebel Stand, but ended up not having any scenes specific to her. The Dramatis Personae was written before I knew this would be the case, and not corrected.

Why, when fighting Lord Nyax, does Luke seem so weak?

     At the point he first encounters Lord Nyax, Luke is tired and dispirited, which makes him more vulnerable to Nyax's mental manipulation attacks. And through a bizarre (and, we hope, not reproduceable) combination of biology and hardware, Lord Nyax is able to project a tremendous amount of power into his mental compulsion abilities, enough to affect even the most powerful Jedi. This doesn't make him more powerful in the Force than those Jedi — it just means that he has one or two areas where his "energy output" exceeds theirs. (We can assume that constant use of his powers at that level might burn him out after a while... but the events of Rebel Stand all take place before he reaches that point.)

In Wedge's Blackmoon-11 duel with the coralskipper commander, how does the commander tell his squadron not to fire on Wedge, when earlier Charat Kraal couldn't tell his wingmate to stop firing on "Jaina"?

     Wedge was in combat with a unit that had trained and fought together for an appreciable amount of time, and its commander and warriors had long-established signals with which to communicate — in other words, the commander pulls out in front of his squadmates and executes a maneuver that constitutes a sort of body language. But Charat Kraal was with a unit that had been cobbled together out of his Kraal squadmates and other pilots assigned to him, and they did not possess that degree of coordination.

What kind of wall houses Force energy?

     A built-so-long-ago-that-everyone-has-forgotten-the-technique wall. :)
     I think that the wall probably used a combination of exotic materials and connection to the Coruscant power grid to function correctly. And it did function correction for thousands of years. But the collapse of the world infrastructure weakened it to the point that Nyax, in his travels, was able to detect it.

Questions About the Legacy of the Force Series

Questions About Betrayal

You say, "Zekk, her partner, was in his late twenties, slightly younger than Jaina..." Isn't Zekk two years older?

     You're correct. Fortunately for me, this is one of those rare errors in one of my books that I'm not responsible for...
     Originally, the Legacy of the Force series was scheduled to start in the Star Wars chronology early in ABY 37, three years earlier than the start date finally settled upon. This would have made Zekk about 29 and Jaina about 27. (Later in the year they would have turned 30 and 28, respectively.) In the original draft of the novel, the sentence you cite began, "Zekk, her partner, was in his late twenties, about the same age as Jaina..." ( "About the same age," in this context, didn't mean "born the same year as," but was a reflection of the fact that people in their late 20s don't see a couple of years as being a significant difference the way children and teenagers do.)
     After that draft was submitted, it was decided to push back the start date of the series to ABY 40, which would have made Zekk about 32, soon to be 33, and Jaina about 30, soon to be 31.
     At this point, my assumotion is that a fact-checker reading the draft did some calculations and noted that Jaina would now be 30/31... but didn't make a corresponding note about Zekk, whose birth date is not so well established.
     Then, I'm guessing, a copy-editor implementing the change, seeing the text describing Zekk as being in his late 20s and noting that Jaina was 30/31, adjusted the line in question to read, "Zekk, her partner, was in his late twenties, slightly younger than Jaina..."
     All of which illustrates the fact that it can take a complicated series of events to result in just one screw-up.

Questions About Fury

Did Cheriss survive the events of Fury? Last we saw, she was either dead or EVA, and we don't know which.

     She survived. In fact, she makes a cameo appearance in Fate of the Jedi #1: Outcast.

Questions About the Future

Will you be doing any more Star Wars books?

     I hope so, but I currently have no Star Wars-related assignments, so time will tell.

(Thanks go to Rikey for providing page numbers from the hardback edition of Courtship of Princess Leia.)

Last Updated January 15, 2013.
URL: www.AaronAllston.com/factpages/faq_starwars.html.
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