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"Watch your step, this place can get a little rough...."
on February 11, 2004
"Mos Eisley Spaceport," says Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker as they stand on a mesa overlooking the Tatooine metropolis in a transition scene in Episode IV. "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be careful."
Of all the many eye-catching and memorable sequences in Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope), the fateful meeting between Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, and a pair of smugglers with a starship for hire is perhaps the most intriguing. It's not only important dramatically or even as far as the change in the film's pacing goes (from this point on, there will be chases, shootouts, rescues, and battles), it's also visually intriguing. The dim lighting, the tense atmosphere, all those aliens, and, of course, that funky cantina band playing Benny Goodman-like tunes.
Of course, in the film, the focus was on Kenobi, Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca as they negotiated a charter flight to Alderaan. But there were others in the cantina that day on Tatooine...many other minor players and eyewitnesses on that fateful day. Who were they? What about their stories? What were some of them doing in Chalmun the Wookiee's Mos Eisley speakeasy?
Star Wars: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, edited by novelist Kevin J. Anderson (The Jedi Academy Trilogy), is a collection of 16 original short stories set during and after the events depicted in Star Wars: A New Hope. Within such stories as Kathy Tyers "We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale" there are little tidbits of heretofore unknown data that add depth and nuance to the scene in the film. Want to know the name of the cantina band? (It's Figrin Da'n and the Modal Nodes). What are those two women who look like twins doing in the cantina? (I'm not giving any more free info away here...read Timothy Zahn's "Hammertong" to find out.) All 16 stories are well-written and move almost as fast as the Millennium Falcon, and they all seem to fit into the Star Wars storyline without feeling, well, forced.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this anthology was discovering that authors better known for writing about the Star Trek universe also moonlight in the Star Wars Galaxy. A.C. Crispin, who has written such Trek classics as Yesterday's Son contributed "Play It Again, Figrin Da'n: The Tale of Muftak and Kabe," while Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens wrote "One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina: The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid." Reading these stories and marveling at how they captured the essence of George Lucas' "galaxy far, far away," I realized that they are not only good writers of Star Trek fiction, but they are good writers, period.