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Movie Legends Revealed: Was ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’ Nearly a ‘Star Wars’ Movie Sequel?

splinter-social

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” was originally written as a movie sequel to “Star Wars.”

We’ve learned from previous “Star Wars” legends (like whether Darth Vader was always supposed to be Luke’s father or Luke and Leia were always supposed to be siblings) is that George Lucas was often playing things by ear in the early days of the blockbuster franchise. This makes sense, of course, as there was no way for him to know the first “Star Wars” film would become such a sensation that it would spawn a sequel, let alone an entire saga and tie-in materials.

That uncertainty led to the intriguing origin of the first full-length novel based on “Star Wars,” Alan David Foster’s acclaimed “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.” While the book is famous for being the first notable expansion of the “Star Wars” universe, it was also, remarkably enough, originally written as the basis for a possible sequel to the original film.

Foster was hired in 1976 by Lucas to ghost-write the novelization of “Star Wars.” At the same time, he was commissioned to pen a second novel that could work as a low-budget sequel to the movie if it performed well enough for Fox to greenlight a follow-up.

splinterFoster came up with an intriguing story in which Luke and Leia are forced to land on a swampy planet while on a mission for the Rebellion. While there, they learn of a powerful crystal that could magnify and focus the use of the Force. Luke and Leia search for the crystal, only for Darth Vader to arrive, igniting a battle ( ironically enough, it ends with the Sith Lord’s arm being sliced off, as a sort of reverse of what happens when Luke and Vader finally duel in “The Empire Strikes Back”). Han Solo and Chewbacca are absent from the story because Harrison Ford was only under contract for the first film.

Lucas gave Foster a great deal of leeway with the story. As the author told Ethan Adler of Yahoo Movies:

The only restriction placed on me was that the follow-up novel had to be filmable on a low budget. That’s why I set it on a fog-shrouded planet. A lot of the action takes place in the fog or underground, which facilitates shooting with cheap backgrounds. The book originally opened with a fairly complex space battle that forces Luke and Leia down on this planet, and George had me cut that out because it would have been expensive to film.

Amusingly, “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” is also pretty explicit in showing Luke and Leia as romantically interested in each other. So Lucas clearly didn’t have a problem with that idea at the time (because, of course, they were not yet brother and sister in his mind).

Naturally enough, the first “Star Wars” was a blockbuster, and there was no longer a need to use the book as a basis for a second film, as Lucas was able to produce a big-budget sequel. So the novel instead just became a nice little diversion for fans while they waited for “Empire.”

Foster continues his involvement in the world of “Star Wars”: He wrote the novelization of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films. And click here for legends just about Star Wars!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Comments

  • Ben Phillips

    Wish Lucas would come clean about all that Bull$#!+ about ‘oh yeah I had everything planned’, he didn’t even WRITE the f**king thing by himself, the version he did was Starkiller and all that.

  • David Akers

    Alan *David* Foster? Needs an edit!

  • fan4fan

    Splinter is probably my favorite of anything Star Wars, being attracted more for Foster writing than for it being Star Wars. Reminds me that I should see which Foster books I haven’t read…

  • codystarbuck

    Great novel; would have been an exciting sequel, had it been filmed.

  • http://www.cogonline.net/ Digital Jedi

    We all know that Star Wars, and pretty much every movie ever made, was a collaboration. There’s nothing to come clean about.

  • http://www.cogonline.net/ Digital Jedi

    It’s been decades since I read this, but I don’t recall any explicit indication of romance between Luke and Leia. I remember Luke looking at Leia’s lips, thinking about it for a minute, then deciding it was in their best interests to keep it professional. Obviously, it was written before their sibling relationship was decided upon. But i just don’t remember the romance angle being as prominent as all that.

  • Phil Clark

    I remember buying this novel, and sitting down to read it. It is the first (and only) novel that I just could not put down. I read it beginning to end in one afternoon. Love Allan Dean Fosters work.

  • Fred F

    Especially with the guy’s name clearly on the cover in the pic of the book!

  • Fred F

    There was more in there than just that part you described. Perhaps not “explicit”, but certainly more than a little implied.

  • Fred F

    Ironically, if memory serves, “Splinter” was actually released in novel form BEFORE the first movie was even released in some weird printing error or something! It would have made a great movie and I always felt that the other characters could have been thrown in elsewhere in the Star Wars Universe at the same time…It doesn’t always have to be everyone doing the same thing at the same time.

  • Dan

    Lucas has been forthright about everything. Perhaps you do not read his interviews or the many books published about him. HE never made the claims you think he made. He said he had his saga “outlined.” He never said more. That was the media running with it. He also never hid that others worked on the story. He’s also admitted to that. But what he does claim–and as owner/producer he has every right to claim–is that the final story *is* his. Other people make suggestions, but Lucas approves what goes in and how it all fits together.

  • Ray Feighery

    You’re mis-remembering it. Or you didn’t see Star Wars in it’s first Run. Splinter was published in Februrary 1978. Eight months after Star Wars was released.

  • Jason Simpson

    I wish that they would film this movie as an alternate timeline movie, or just a what-if movie. I remember reading it several times as a kid, and would love to see it come to life, cheap budget and all…

  • http://www.cogonline.net/ Digital Jedi

    I imagine there was. What I’m saying is, it didn’t seem as prominent as they’re suggesting.

  • Yojimbo

    I loved the Spellsinger series growing up.

  • fan4fan

    Thanks for the recommendation. I just put a hold on it at my local library.