Hopefully, you enjoyed episode 1. (Not the Phantom Menace, obviously, but episode 1 of Spec Media.) We mentioned somewhere online that we’ve been doing work on this on and off for over a year and a half. A lot that was research.
Research you say? For a fictional universe?
Oh yeah. All of the facts in the podcast are real. As our announcer says, “No fake fictional facts here.” Let us put it this way: we don’t make up the facts for any of our podcasts, but sourced all of them from Star Wars films, novels, TV shows, comic books, role-playing guides, reference books or other piece of media. Take the idea that Grand Moff Tarkin killed a space pirate named Q’anah. We didn’t make that up, it comes from the book Tarkin by James Luceno.
(As we hint at in the episode, we also ignore any distinctions between “canon” and “legends”. It makes for a more fun historiography.)
This article is for those of you who love Star Wars as much as we do and want to know more. (Really, this world is so deep and so many incredibly talented creators have been a part of it.) Also, we wanted to “show our work”, in a way, so our listeners, if they are curious, can learn more or figure out where each factoid comes from.
We’re going to update this article after each episode is released, because some sources will be used multiple times.
(A note about the sources: we’re not going to describe the Star Wars films. Yes, we love the movies and assume most any listener has seen them.)
(Second note: we put the resources in chronological order for our podcast episode, which tracks roughly Star Wars chronological order.)
Wookieepedia...the greatest source for Star Wars facts
By: so many terrific fans
We used Wookieepedia constantly throughout this process. It’s just an invaluable resource. That said, we used Wookieepedia mainly as a jumping off point to find primary resources. If we knew where something was mentioned, we insisted on trying to read the source material ourselves, and would usually find even cooler facts.
By: James Luceno
Besides the original trilogy and the prequels, this book is the best source of information about Emperor Palpatine (also known as Darth Sidious). While the book is mainly about Palpatine’s master, Darth Plagueis, it really shows how they worked together to take over the galaxy. That said, it gives a lot of insight into Emperor Palpatine and his rise. We used this book for some of the background on Palpatine and the force.
By: James Luceno
Also by James Luceno, the simply named Tarkin is an adventure novel that flashes back to tell Tarkin’s rise to power. It contains the great anecdote we tell of Tarkin killing space pirates and it has an even cooler back story on Eriadu. The culmination of that book is the reveal of Tarkin’s doctrine, which made Tarkin a galactic household name.
The Imperial Handbook
The Imperial Handbook is one of several “found material” books that have been released in the last few years. Since they are primary source documents (they weren’t written as histories or narratives), we hold them in pretty high regard. We used this book in the Death Star section to pull some of the facts about the Death Star that have been widely repeated. We also used it as a reference for the Tarkin Doctrine, which we quoted in the episode. The Imperial Handbook will show up multiple times in this podcast series as it is a good reference for Imperial military weapons and tactics.
The Death Star was one of our more favorite sections to research because it represents history at its messiest. The construction and facts around the construction of the Death Star have probably undergone more updates/revisions than any other event, especially in the new movies. As a result, we had quite a few resources to review when trying to piece together this history. The Star Wars Explained folks have one of the best explainers on the Death Star. We first saw the video on Wookieepedia.
By: Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
The simply titled novel, Death Star, tells a more human version of the construction of this evil weapon. This included new information about scenes from the original movie and descriptions about the Death Star’s construction over the prison planet Despayre, which the Death Star also destroyed. Death Star is told as a series of interlocking stories by multiple points of view. And we recommend it.
The Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide
By: Pablo Hidalgo
Contradicting all of Death Star’s history, though, is Rogue One, and many of the books related to its release. Basically, for that movie, the entire history of the Death Star was rewritten. As historians, we tried to explain this in the podcast. So we definitely used Rogue One in our sources, but Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide elaborates on this history.
Galaxy Guide 5
By: Michael Stern/West End Games. Revised by George Strayton.
This was one of the more obscure books we found, but ended up having some of the best stories and anecdotes. We relied heavily on this book throughout the podcast series. Since it comes from a “historian” in the Star Wars Universe, we put a lot of faith in it. In particular to Episode 1, New Republic historian Voren Na’al tells the story of the first expedition to the forest moon of Endor. He relays Lt. Kiviett’s account and we quoted it several times.
Na’al and the Galaxy Guide 5 have some of the best short stories in the character’s own words, usually new characters apart from the big three (Han, Luke and Leia). We’ll use it constantly throughout this podcast series. This is probably our favorite discovery while writing and recording this new podcast series.
The Illustrated Star Wars Universe
By: Kevin J. Anderson
This is one of our favorite Star Wars books of all time. Anderson worked with the legendary Ralph McQuarrie and together they tell tell stories about the major planets of the Star Wars trilogy. These stories are all “found sources”--which we give the most authority to, like the historians--and each told a story about a different world. For Endor, we cite him as “Professor Kevin J. Anderson”. We’ve owned a copy of this book since the 1990s and again, I can’t praise it enough.
The account in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe comes from Sergeant Philbee Jhorn and is one of the best first hand accounts of exploring Endor you’ll read. Jhorn’s report references the first survey team, so this source ties in with the Galaxy Guide 5. We’ll use this account again, particularly for information on Ewok culture. Both expeditions to Endor were disasters, and make for some fun reading if you can find them.
So, we were young enough as kids that we watched these movies first on recorded VHS. First as in before the other Star Wars movies. Then we saw Return of the Jedi. Then we saw Star Wars. When you’re five, order doesn’t matter. (True story, at one point our mom showed us The Empire Strikes Back and it was so dark we said it couldn’t be a part of the Star Wars world. She pointed out Yoda, and we had to concede it was.)
These movies introduce a lot of the backstory and universe of the Ewoks, including Gorax raids, tempters, marauders, Teeks, Dathomir witches and Wicket. We have copies of the films in a box somewhere, but can’t find them, so we had to reference most of these elements from memories, Wookieepedia and The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. In The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, Anderson takes somes of the creatures and fleshes them out more, adding a more “respectable” reference if you will.
“Apocalypse Endor” in Star Wars Tales issue 14/Star Wars Tales Volume 4
By: Christian Read (Writer), Clayton Henry (Penciller), Jimmy Palmiotti (Inker), Steve Dutro (Letterer)
Our episode concludes with a pretty chilling cliffhanger where a squad of Stormtroopers massacres a group of Ewoks. This is one of the rarer Ewok stories, but also one of the coolest in the Endor/Ewok oeuvre. It comes from Star Wars Tales issue 14, a Dark Horse comic book publication and might be Eric’s favorite short Star Wars comic. We stumbled across it randomly at a Barnes and Noble over a decade ago. This is one of the few first hand accounts of the battle of Endor from an Imperial perspective and we will use it throughout this series.
Various Ewoks Comics and TV Series
Not to take the readers too far behind the curtain, but we were too young to watch the Ewoks series on TV. So we faced a challenge for how to incorporate some of those stories into the history.
Looking at it as amateur historians (as Dan Carlin would say, we’re not historians, just fans of fake history), we had to determine if we thought the stories about Ewoks, particularly the more outlandish ones in the Ewok TV series and comics were real historical facts. And as our conclusion makes clear, we don’t. They were considered canon until the 2014 revamp. We did read a few of the comics, notably the “Shadow of Endor” mini-trade from Dark Horse, which takes place right before the events of Return of the Jedi, which lent it a bit more credibility.