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Reddit Q&A with Matthew Stover, author of the ROTS novelization

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Highlights from the AMA so far:

Q: What was your initial reaction to getting the script?  Did you rage at it?

A: Nope. The script was cool. I told my editor(s) that if the movie came out as exciting as that script was, it'd blow The Empire Strikes Back right out of the fucking water.

Q: What was your opinion of the film?

A: I thought it was the highest-grossing film of 2005.

Best non-answer answer ever.

Q: What did you think of the Star Wars prequels?

A: My feeling about the prequels are mixed -- very much like everyone else's.

Q: What was it like working on something as vast as a New Jedi Order novel? Were you provided kind of a 'big book of njo' to keep up with canon? It amazes me when I think about trying to write in that setting.

A: I was given a series bible, a cartload of reference books and copies of each book as it came out. The near-impossibility of keeping up with an always-evolving canon was part of why I pitched that particular approach to the story -- so I wouldn't have to keep revising to incorporate new stuff. I also wrote the book very fast, figuring that once my book was approved, the other writers would have to worry about keeping continuity with my book.

He's being understandably cagey about what questions he answers and how, but those were the best I could find on a quick skim.

a trolling bantha

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Heh, that's fun.  It's not surprise that, as an employee, he can't exactly speak any kind of real ill towards his employer's properties.  But, yeah, that "highest-grossing" comment cracked me up.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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I believe him that the script read better than the movie, and his novel was freaking awesome! If the movie had been more like his novel, it would have been the BEST film of 2005.

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Wait.  That just made me think of something.  He based his novel off of the script?  Which script?  Didn't Lucas alter significant portions of the story during production?  Wasn't the shift made from "dark side seduction" to "driven mad by lost love" done in pick-ups?  So how close is the novelization to the movie?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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From the Q&A:

Matthew Stover said:

Revenge of the Sith was based on Mr. Lucas' final shooting script; the film was already in editing by the time I started the book. They also flew me out to Skywalker Ranch for a meeting with Mr. Lucas, Howard Roffman, and Shelly Shapiro. Basically I got to hang with him for a couple hours talking Jedi, Sith and the Force. And he line-edited the manuscript personally, so I'm told.

So I'd venture a guess that much of the "dark side seduction" angle didn't make it into the novelization, but I haven't read it so I don't know for sure.

a trolling bantha

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Gaffer Tape said:

Wait.  That just made me think of something.  He based his novel off of the script?  Which script?  Didn't Lucas alter significant portions of the story during production?  Wasn't the shift made from "dark side seduction" to "driven mad by lost love" done in pick-ups?  So how close is the novelization to the movie?

That might be why the novel was good. Both of those are in it, but it goes even deeper, dwelling on Anakin's overwhelming fears, mostly of death.

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TheBoost said:

Gaffer Tape said:

Wait.  That just made me think of something.  He based his novel off of the script?  Which script?  Didn't Lucas alter significant portions of the story during production?  Wasn't the shift made from "dark side seduction" to "driven mad by lost love" done in pick-ups?  So how close is the novelization to the movie?

That might be why the novel was good. Both of those are in it, but it goes even deeper, dwelling on Anakin's overwhelming fears, mostly of death.

I've not read the book but it seems to me that Anakin's story would be much easier to tell in a novel because of all the internal struggle and emotion that we can't see. That doesn't make me wanna read the novelizations though because I know the core story is still crap.

Ray’s Lounge
Biggs in ANH edit idea
ROTJ opening edit idea

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Haha, the Battle of Kashyyyk is entirely absent from the novel?!  That's great!  It took me three viewings of the film before I even became aware that that sequence ever took place it was so boring and pointless!

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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 (Edited)

Gaffer Tape said:

Haha, the Battle of Kashyyyk is entirely absent from the novel?!  That's great!  It took me three viewings of the film before I even became aware that that sequence ever took place it was so boring and pointless!

With me being probably the youngest user on this site, I remember all the marketing that went into Revenge of the Sith, and probably the biggest hyped thing (other than Darth Vader) was Kashyyyk and the wookies. It was even in the trailers. I was in like 4th grade when it came out and I remember they where releasing legos based on the film, and more than half of the legos where Kashyyyk based, not to mention the tons of other merchandising associated with the hairy things. Even when I was just 9 years old I was wondering why there was so much hype about the 2 minute scene. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the picture on the back of the DVD a picture of some clone, Yoda, and Chewbacca?

Kashyyyk is probably the best example I can think of for Lucas and his team adding stuff in the film for merchandising purposes.

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I think one of the reasons it took me a while to see just how bad the RotS film actually is was that I'd read the novel first.  The book, while essentially the same story overall, is very well written and in particular the turn to the dark side felt like it made a lot more sense.  Since I had those notions in my head already while watching the movie, the differences and nonsense didn't become apparent to me until later on.  I always knew something was off about it, but for a long time it was only a vague feeling I couldn't articulate and tried to ignore.

I haven't actually read the book for quite a while, but I probably will again at some point.  It's still not even close to the way I actually think of the Empire being formed and so forth, but it's a more palatable version than the movie at any rate.

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I absolutely LOVED the novelization, it's incredibly well written and brilliant.  I'd go as far as to say it's one of my favorite books, because it takes characters I know and love and puts them into situations I can picture and interpret in my own way.

All the novelizations are wonderful. :D

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Ah, Matthew Stover ... the guy that gave Luke the ability to run a distance of six kilometres in under two minutes :|

“Okay, I’m goin’, takin’ off. See ya… bye….” — Chip Douglas

“This concludes our broadcast day. Click.” — Chip Douglas

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rpvee said:

I absolutely LOVED the novelization, it's incredibly well written and brilliant.  I'd go as far as to say it's one of my favorite books, because it takes characters I know and love and puts them into situations I can picture and interpret in my own way.

All the novelizations are wonderful. :D

Yep.  Imagine if the films had actual writers for the prequels like the novelizations.  Not a hack trying to write without the people who wrote his other star wars films.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

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I read the book.  While I will admit that it was better... I wasn't as enamored with it as the rest of you seem to be.  Like ray said, being able to read the thoughts of certain characters was a bonus... but I still think it more or less rotten.

No way would I say that it would actually make a "good" film, even if it would have been a "better" one.  No where near ESB territory, in my opinion.

Not trying to argue with anyone- just offering another opinion.

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!