by James Luceno
Brian Daley &
aka Jack McKinney
As a full-time writer,
I've had some choice assignments, and I've missed out on a few. Only now,
however, do I turn my hand to something I never in my darkest imaginings,
expected to write.
Brian Daley was one of the most vital people I've ever
known, until a year ago when his pancreas was somehow assailed by cancer.
In losing him - a friend of more than 20 years, a collaborator on more than 20
books, godfather to my teenaged son, I felt a little like a parent who
unimaginably survives his or her own child. Brian was dead?
Impossible. The world isn't supposed to work this way.
But in fact, Brian and I were both very realistic about
how the world works, and during the final months of his life, we had several
conversations about what it means to live and to die. Because we had
logged so many miles together - in the real and imagined worlds - I told him I
wasn't comfortable with his going on an adventure without me - especially to a
realm where all the available guide books contradict themselves about just what
a traveler can expect to find. And Brian joked that he understood my
concerns and would certainly try to contact me, assuming he could find a working
phone or the appropriate postage for the kind of communication we had in mind.
Just one of those conversations lifelong friends have
to ease the pain.
For Brian, anything that was worth doing was worth
overdoing. He was the life of every party he attended and the host of
several of the standout St. Patrick's Day bashes. I recall one we had in
my Chevy van just before the premiere matinee of some movie called Star Wars,
which neither of us knew much about ... So we
sat in the parking lot of some cineplex on Route 4 in Northern New Jersey,
priming ourselves for outer space, and when we left the theater two hours later
we felt as if we'd been there. I mean, 2001 was solid intellectual
stuff, but Star Wars - here, at last, was rousing sci-fi adventure.
Brian remarked to me on that afternoon that he had
finally seen on screen what he had been imagining for years. The
wish-fulfillment of a 12-year-old budding sci-fi writer, whose small room
overflowed with comic books and notebooks filled with ideas for the stories he
would someday write.
He would, of course, go on to write the first (and in
my opinion, finest) Star Wars spin-off novels, the Han Solo trilogy, and
George Lucas's creation would continue to be a leitmotif in his life throughout
the '80s, when he adapted the first two films for National Public Radio.
But Brian was already on his way to literary notoriety
before Star Wars, thanks to his first novel, The Doomfarers of
Coramonde, published in 1977, under the then-new Del Rey imprint of
Ballantine Books. That novel drew on Brian's experiences with the 11th
Cavalry in Vietnam - the so-called Black Horse Battalion - and brought together
many of the elements he loved to weave into his stories: vivid action, grand
romance and laugh-out-loud humor. His skills as a wordsmith were as
well-honed in that first novel as they were in his final project, the radio
adaptation of Return of the Jedi.
He returned to Coramonde for his second book; then veered toward
fantasy with Tapestry of Magics; only to return to adventure sci-fi with
the Alacrity Fitzhugh trilogy.
Sometimes Alacrity didn't so much break bad news as share great new
comedic material in the ongoing joke that was life.
... the "bombs away" school of cuisine, with
Red Shift Chili Peppers and Core Explosion Hot sauce.
(Of a ninja): "All he is, is another
would-be-mystic chop-and-drop man from some zilchtech planet."
From Jinx on a Terran Inheritance.
Even while working on those, he found the time to
novelize Tron, contribute six scripts to the TV animated series, The
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers and collaborate with me (as Jack McKinney)
on the Robotech series and the four books that comprise The Black Hole
Travel Agency series.
Never one to turndown a real-life adventure when it was
offered to him, Brian fell in with me on trips to Nepal, Thailand, Peru and the
jungles of Central America. Once, in Kathmandu, at the conclusion of a
month's trek, Brian hunted down a bootleg video of Return of the Jedi -
which had only been in theatrical release for a couple of months - and ran it
for the score of Sherpas we had hired for the trek.
Brian and Lucia
on Martha's Vineyard
his partner of 14 years, historical novelist Lucia St. Clair Robson, traveled
extensively in Mexico and Japan. They spent their summers on Martha's
Vineyard, where on one occasion Brian and the late Jackie O had a near tussle
over a final store copy of the NY Daily News.
He was not the sort of writer who spent every waking hour at a
keyboard. Drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of science, technology,
magic, weaponry - the list goes on and on - he could produce in four hours what
it takes most writers to produce in eight. His office overlooked the
Severn River, near Annapolis, Maryland, and was entered by way of a Japanese
trellis. But I've watched him write longhand in the back of a bounding
truck, inside a frigid tent at 19,000 feet, and by firelight in a Mayan temple
on the Usumacinta River.
When not writing he was likely to be found reading, nurturing
novice writers, or watching a movie - the more ill-conceived, the better, since
- like so many sci-fi fans - Brian had his own MST 3000 thing going long
before the debut of the series. He could also carry a tune, play the
spoons, jitterbug, tinker with vintage Corvettes, and hold his own against black
The vocal recordings for Brian's six-part radio
adaptation of Return of the Jedi were completed on the day he died. On and
off since 1983, he was at work on a military sci-fi epic entitled Gamma
- conceived during that same Nepal trek - which may yet see publication.
He will be sorely missed by legions of fans, and deeply
so by Loosh; his close friend and editor Owen Lock; his mother; his sister; his
brother and dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins. But as one who often
wanted his words to speak for him, he is, in a sense, only as far as the closest
library or bookstore.
Those of us who loved him take some solace in that,
though I suspect that I'll always be waiting for that communication from the
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
James Luceno was a dear friend
and long-time collaborator of Brian Daley. This piece was originally
published in Star Wars Insider in 1996. (Luceno's
profile on the Wookipedia)
An Essay by Lucia St. Clair Robson: The
Etiquette of Ashes
Message from a New Explorer in a Galaxy Far, Far (Far?)
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand Jedi Knights.
I'm every duel the rebel fight.
I'm Artoo's tweedle and Chewie's roar.
Darth Vader's curse when the Falcon soars.
I'm Ben Kenobi's gentle heart.
I'm Yoda's wit, and Leia's spark.
And when writers wake in morning's hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of new ideas and fresh resolve.
I'm where the characters evolve.
So do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
An anonymous poem adapted by Chris Clark Tidyman
return of the jedi for radio script
Daniels, actor for C3P0
It was more than ten years after we had finished the radio
version of The Empire Strikes Back when the phone rang. I
hadn't actually been sitting by it, waiting, but it was good to hear Mel
Sehr's voice again.
Mel had been one of the main
motivating forces behind the original Star Wars and The Empire
Strikes Back radio series for National Public Radio. I
remember the fun we had making them and the continuing unease I felt,
that we had never completed this incarnation of the trilogy, otherwise
so fully represented in every merchandise-filled bedroom of every Star
Wars fan across the world.
In pre-Star Wars days,
my childhood had been partly spent staring, not at any movie or TV
screen, but at the Bakelite grille of a wireless set. Journey
Into Space had been a particularly chilling and graphic experience
broadcast by the BBC. Each week, our family sat around the glowing
dial, picturing the horrors and dangers of man's first landing on the
planet Mars and his meeting with the first alien life-forms ever encountered.
No movie monster has ever been so terrifying.
Years later, my first acting
contract was with the BBC in London, as a member of the Radio Drama Repertory
Company. They produce hundreds of drama productions a year.
I loved it there. There is something completely magical about
creating pictures only with sound. It doesn't matter if you look
like a weed, you can still play a bronze-biceped hero on the radio and I
Given my long association with
radio I was glad to be a part of NPR's Star Wars serial.
For a start, I didn't have to wear the gold suit. But more than
that, I felt it presented the wonderful story that George Lucas had
created in the form available to anyone who had access to a radio.
No admission charges, no standing in line, no stench of popcorn.
Just the actors' voices, Tom Voegeli's effects and your
imagination. It worked splendidly. So too, did Empire.
Then silence. For ten
Mel explained that NPR's
financing problems had held back the completion of the project with the
intended production of Return Of the Jedi. Now Sallie Neal,
producer for Highbridge Audio, had managed to create a budget that made
it possible once more. A major hurdle had been flattened.
Hitherto unpublished passages of John Williams' outstanding music score
would be available. Three hours of radio employ staves more music
than a two hour movie, unless you want to hear the same notes over and
over again. Mel told me that production was now viable. Would
I care to be involved? Was Brian Daley writing the
scripts? Yes he was. Yes, I would.
Months later I was sitting in a
board room in Los Angeles with Lucasfilm's Head of Publishing, Lucy
Autrey Wilson, Mel, Tom and John Madden (editor's note: not the football
guy.), who had so happily directed our
previous efforts. A problem had arisen. Brian was sick and
couldn't join us. He had been fighting cancer for some time.
He was very sorry not to be with us at the script conference.
... (Anthony provides quite a
few details here about the recording process and the various players.)
So recording went on for six
days, surviving various attacks. The studio sounded like a
hospital as most of the cast coughed and sneezed their way through boxes
of tissues and throat sweets. A greater attack came from various
photo and TV crews, doing their jobs but certainly distracting us from
ours. NPR lead the assault, as we all recorded money-begging
promos on its behalf. If you didn't hear them - give generously
anyway. American needs its National Public Radio.
We had kept Brian up-to-date
with phone calls but, at the end of recording on the last Saturday,
various cast members scribbled on the back of their scripts and came up
with their own lines which we then taped. Far from trying to show
Brian that anyone can write if they have a pencil, rather, our jottings
were a tribute to his imagination, skills and to his personality which
we had appreciated with fond admiration over the years. The
finished tape would be sent to Brian as our way of saying you were
with us all the way. Tom would later do a rapid but excellent
70 mm production number with music and effects on the bare material,
which I now present to you. I'm sure my fellow writers won't mind.
(MUSIC; STAR WARS THEME CRASHES IN. HOLD & FADE
UNDER) Here is a link
to the MP3 of this tribute.
LIVELY CROWD: From the Rebel Alliance,
Brian. We wish you were here. (LOUD CHEERS AND CATCALLS)
(CHANTING) Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an.
Bri-an. (FADING UNDER AS MUSIC FADES UP & HOLDS) (MUSIC FADES UNDER)
LEIA: (URGENTLY) The is Princess Leia Organa transmitting to Brian Daley
on earth. We seem to be having a bit of a time warp up here.
Luke seems to be shedding years as he matures into a Jedi knight and ...
HAN: (INTERRUPTING) Leia?
HAN: Are you talking to Brian?
HAN: You... You love him, don't you?
LEIA: (LONG PAUSE) Well, yes.
HAN: (PAUSE) Fine. I understand. When he comes back, I won't
get in your way.
LEIA: Han. He's the writer.
HAN: The writer! Then you weren't... well ... But then, Brian
LEIA: (INTERRUPTING) Why don't you just stop worrying about Brian and...
HAN: Uh Leia. Uhhh. (HE KISSES THE BACK OF HIS HAND WITH ARDOUR)
LEIA: Uhh mhhh. Urgh! Arrh! (GRUNTING & SWEATING FX) (JABBA MUSIC
FADES UP UNDER) Get
that tongue off
me! You vile - thing, you! (SHE LAUGHS, UNABLE TO CONTAIN HER
PERRY: (LAUGHING) Hey Brian!
PERRY & ANNE: We love you. And we miss you.
JOHN MADDEN: (ECHOING, AS IF FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY) We miss
(MUSIC GETS MORE
SINISTER) (FADE UP PALACE CROWS ATMOS) (DISGUSTING NOISES)
JABBA: Yabriannndaley gommmakikochh. Ggehhht wellll (HE FALLS ASLEEP,
SALACIOUS CRUMB: (CACKLES WITH HYSTERICAL MIRTH)
(PALACE FADES UNDER AS MUSIC CROSS FADES TO BATTLE
R2: (EMERGENCY WHOOPS)
LUKE: R2. Prepare to lay a course on the navicomputer.
LUKE: What? My Part?
LUKE: No, it's fine. I just took over for another actor.
R2: * ??
LUKE: No, it doesn't hurt. I won't let it. OK. Course
plotted. Get ready to jump into hyperspace.
R2: ** ?
LUKE: That's right. We're going to go to the Baltimore
system. I have a promise to keep - to an old
Look, actually, I've never met the guy. But do you think I'm going
to pass up an
this... (PROXIMITY ALERT STARTS SPEEDING UP)
JOHN MADDEN: (INTERRUPTING) OK. OK. (CUT FX) I just
want to do one pick up, Tom. Can we just
go please from...
"Your mother's set of matched luggage." Stand by.
(LAUGHS) Hi Brian...
CAN'T GO ON. ANOTHER REAL PRO.) OK. Cut. Thanks.
TOM: (OVER TALKBACK) (LAUGHING) Great!
(VADER THEME SMASHES IN. VADER BREATHES UP CLOSE)
VADER: Greetings, Brian. I kneel before you and await your orders
to execute your wish. (FADE
BROCK: (CONTINUING) Brian, this is Brock... Get well... Rejoin us,
(FADE UP EMPEROR'S THEME & HOLD UNDER)
EMPEROR: (CHILLING ACOUSTIC) Brian... Your overlord, The
Emperor is pleased... with his lines, and
commands you, to get well, be well, to stay well...
R2: *** ** *
3P0: (CALLING) R2? R2D2! What are you doing here,
in an empty studio?
R2: ** ** * *** *
3P0: Rehearsing for your next scene? But R2, we have finished
recording the Return of the Jedi.
3P0: Oh don't be sad, R2. We had a lot of fun didn't
we. and all because of Master Brian.
R2: *** ***
3P0: Yes. I think he did an excellent job. But...
well... I think he gave you rather too many lines.
3P0: Just you watch your language!
R2: ** *** **!
3P0: Ohh. That is a good idea, R2. Um, let me
see. Um, Um (TAPS THE MICROPHONE TENTATIVELY)
3P0: Um. Ready? (CONFIDENTLY) Master Brian. R2
and I want to say that it has been a distinct
honour and a joy to
work with you.
3P0: With our thanks, we send you our very best wishes.
(PAUSES. THEN TO R2) There!
3P0: No you can't have another retake R2! Oh really! (HIS VOICE
FADES AS THEY LEAVE)
The trouble with you is,
Hollywood has affected your circuits. You have become ridiculously
starstru... (A DISTANT DOOR
CLOSES BEHIND THEM)
... (Anthony includes details of the rest of their last
The phone woke me the next
morning. It was John Madden. He'd just heard that Brian had
died that night as we sat in the restaurant - just about the time we
were drinking to absent friends - to Brian.
When Tom's finished tape
reached me in London a week later he had enclosed a note.
To the cast and
crew of Return of the Jedi for radio
It was with the
greatest sadness that we heard about Brian Daley's death - within hours of
the very successful end of our recording his scripts.
It seemed the
only appropriate thing to do to go ahead and put together your message to
him. Although this tape was meant to be heard by Brian in our world,
we can only hope that he knows the love expressed on it in another.
It had become a joke that
Threepio usually stole the last line of any scene which included him in
Brian's scripts. In doing so here, I cannot better Tom's
sentiments - without Brian to write the lines for me.
London, March 1996
This deluxe version includes the recording of this tribute to
Brian. There are a limited number available - click graphic to
order from Amazon.
Industry reviews from Amazon:
Audio/Video Shopper, February 1997
Let's face it: Most movies today struggle to fill
their two hours with engaging scenes, and only that rarest of stories is
rich enough of yield several hours of solid entertainment. But the Star
Wars Trilogy [brought to you by HighBridge Audio] even stripped of
its landmark visuals and reformatted as a weekly radio show, retains its
power and effectiveness. For this we can thank writer Brian Daley and
sound engineer Tom Voegeli. Daley understands the power of thoughtfully
crafted dialogue, especially when delivered with the proper conviction,
and Voegeli is an absolute master at creating environments and telling
stories with sounds. This "theater of the imagination"
enhances the three films, rarely contradicting the established details
and creating many wonderful new moments along the way....Before the
events of Star Wars even begin to unfold, we are treated to a full hour
that fleshes out the classic characters who form the backbone of this
epic tale, and whose interplay makes almost 14 hours of impassioned
voices...into an adventure all its own. --This text refers to
the Audio CD edition.
With special bonus tracks never before available,
including interviews with the cast members and much more, this is the
collection for Star Wars fans. Only 7,500 of these deluxe sets, packaged
in a handsome, foil-stamped collector's slipcase, will be produced. 15
| One of Murphy's law corollaries
Lod had embraced during the Broken Country War was "Try to
look unimportant - they may be low on ammo."
"I personally, sir, am a lover, not a
fighter. So you might say that I'm here in the capacity of
"I'm trillions of klicks from my favorite
From GammaLAW, Smoke on the
|Even without Aquam body odors and cooking
smells. the air swarmed with bite-mites, bloodflits, teardrinker midges,
Watching her with the dice - the so-called Holy Rollers - ...
... the walled and storied utopia for which Souljourner had a Writ that
appointed her to serve as the city's new Descrier - its seismic diviner.
Purifyre had already rejected the Manipulant bloopguns captured at Wall Water,
They wore folded-leaf sunbonnets in yet another local style, with the
present examples resembling perched cormorants.
To Water's End
Top of Page