I, Jedi Rivalry?
There’s a really great article about I, Jedi over on Tor.com. Ryan Britt has some very nice things to say about the the book. I’m really happy to see that it’s so well remembered after all these years.
I would like to correct an impression from some of the comments readers have left concerning the article: Weaving Corran’s story through the Jedi Academy books wasn’t an attack on Kevin J. Anderson, or the Jedi Academy novels.
1) Kevin knew what I was doing. I spoke to him about it both face to face and over the phone. The authors tended to do that back in those days.
2) I did to the Jedi Academy novels what Frederick Forsythe did with history in “The Day of the Jackal,” which is a novel I’ve adored since I read it. Forsythe was brilliant in the way he spun the story of an assassin through real events. I’d always wanted to try to do that, and I, Jedi gave me the perfect opportunity. It’s more challenging than you’d imagine and required me to reread and index everything in the Jedi Academy books.
3) Kevin actually specified that the first class of trainees was a dozen, but only named six specifically so other authors could slip characters in there. As he’d told me at the time, Lucasfilm had really wanted him to name everyone, but he convinced them otherwise. That was good for me. Had all the apprentices been named, I’d have had to slip Corran in there as a janitor or something, and he’d never have gone for that.
By way of perspective on any “rivalry,” I’ve known Kevin since the early 1980s. I was one of his first editors back in the old gaming days. When Bantam suggested me as a possible author for the X-wing novels, Lucasfilm called Kevin to asked if I could do the job. He told them I could, and the rest is history.
We’re still friends and have done work together, and are planning to do more. Back in those days there wasn’t a case of rivalry among the authors, as much as an unbridled joy at being able to use bits and pieces of the universe that others had created to lock our stories into a greater web. All the authors know the readers like that sort of thing, and we get a thrill out of having another author use a bit of our stories.
In the case of I, Jedi, in that era, there was only one place Corran could have gone for Jedi training: the Academy. Had I made up my own school, without Luke, the howls of rivalry with/disdain for Kevin would have been even louder. Inserting Corran as a bit player in those books (and recall that his actions contributed nothing to the resolution of the Jedi Academy trilogy’s storyline) was the absolutely appropriate thing to do at the time. To do otherwise simply would have been wrong.