Archive for Tatooine

Flashback! Why?

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , , , on 1 April 2013 by Megan

I feel like I’ve been quoting old AIM convos kind of a lot this year, and it made me want to go back and do another flashback question, courtesy of one of those AIM convos.

If Qui-Gon knew that Jar-Jar was going to be a pain while he went looking for a hyper drive why did he take him? — Krisco F.

Qui-Gon Jinn with Jar Jar

No one ever asks that question about Anakin…

My answer at the time was quite accurate and fully sourced by a Lucas-approved canonical source, that is, the novelization of Episode I — this included a scene never filmed for the movie, in which Obi-Wan dismisses Jar Jar’s concerns about going. (Jar Jar in fact did not want to go). The argument is a small group would be less noticeable than a single undercover Jedi in a place like Mos Epsa.

What I actually quoted, in the fall of 2000, to answer the question, though, was the following excerpt from an Episode I journal I myself had actually written — Obi-Wan’s Padawan journal. (I wrote it because, as a massive oversight, no one else had.) I’m going to quote it for  you, just to get some length to this post, but be patient and keep in mind that the person who wrote this was fourteen years old at the time.

A moment later, holding a scanner in one hand, I was checking the artfully designed Naboo hyperdrive. I frowned at the readouts, just as Jar Jar burst into the hold, looking around as if seeking salvation from a fate worse then death. For a moment, I wondered just what kind of trouble he’d gotten himself into now, and then he threw himself at my feet, moaning. “Obi-Wan, sire!” he wailed, “Pleeze–me not go wid Quiggon!”

It only took a moment to realize what the terrified Gungan was talking about–Qui-Gon had decided to take Jar Jar with him into the spaceport. “Sorry,” I said, detaching myself from him. I told the Gungan he would make Qui-Gon appear less obvious by going along. I silently added, I hope.

Sand People

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , , , on 26 March 2012 by Megan

The SW movies really portray the Sand People as a savage, dangerous, and fierce people. I was wondering if there was additional information on this people group? There are tantalizing glimpses in some of the encyclopedia and on the wookipedia but they are only glimpses. I’d really like to know more about their culture, and family life. Thanks for digging about for me! — Michelle

Tusken Raider costumes

A family of Sand People

We are first introduced to the Sand People in A New Hope with Luke’s exclamation, “Sand people, or worse!” Tusken Raider is actually a pejorative, a name given to these mysterious nomads after a series of attacks on Fort Tusken. They attack Luke for no apparent reason in A New Hope, and we learn a few things from Obi-Wan Kenobi about them — that they are easily startled but not easily driven off (returning swiftly with reinforcements), that they travel single file to hide their numbers, that they are not extremely accurate with blasters. Luke simply describes them as dangerous. In Attack of the Clones, Cliegg Lars brusquely defines them as animals, as does Anakin after destroying an entire village. In Phantom Menace, we only see them camped out on the Podrace track to take potshots at the racers.

Packers! Wooo! Wait, what?

Packers! Wooo! Wait, what?

So really very little is expressed in the films about their culture. We find them to be responsible for the death of Luke’s grandmother (though what kind of mentally deficient person goes out before dawn to pick mushrooms alone, in an area known for the presence of Sand People and during a period of excessive hunting by them — smacks of collusion to me), and nearly for the death of Luke himself. But why did they kidnap Shmi and torture her to death, if you believe that happened?

A typical family; children dress in a unisex fashion

A typical family; children dress in a unisex fashion

Lucas’ inspiration for the Sand People is clearly seen in the American Indian tribes as well as the nomadic Bedouin of the Middle East. They live in small tribes and war with both each other and the “invaders” of Tatooine, the moisture farmers and other settlers that imposed themselves on the arid planet. Unlike the Jawas, which quickly adapted to colonists and their technology, the Sand People resisted all attempts at infiltration, peace, and even extermination. Completely suited to the desert and untraceable, they are actually only vulnerable to the meddling settlers when they attack — which they do regularly in an attempt to protect and keep separate their sacred places, particularly hidden springs, which are of great interest to the settlers for obvious reasons.

There are two banthas down there, but I don't see . . . wait a minute--

There are two banthas down there, but I don’t see . . . wait a minute–

The men are warriors, and each one is specially bonded with his bantha — great shaggy creatures that roam the Dune Sea and form a close and intimate relationship with their riders. When a warrior is killed, the bantha is driven into the desert, never to be ridden again. When a bantha dies, the warrior goes out alone into the desert where he will face death, or, if the spirit of his bantha wishes him to continue on, he will find a new bantha and return home with it.

Mrs. Raider to you

Mrs. Raider to you

Children are not differentiated male from female until they come of a certain age, and the women, as in a typical tribal system, care for the homes, meals, and families. Wood, such as the ancient poles they use for their tent supports, is jealously guarded and protected. The Sand People consider it greatly humiliating for anyone apart from their spouse to see any part of their skin, but their elaborate and heavy coverings serve many practical purposes as well; the eye guards filter out sand and harsh desert light, and the mouth protectors contain tubes to a water supply and prevent dehydration. Their skin is protected from the elements, and they are not much bothered by the harshness of their environment, although as a result, no one actually knows what a Sand Person looks like beneath.

Sand Children are called "Uli"

Sand Children are called “Uli”

Marriages are always arranged. Because they always hide their features from even their own family members, it is important that meticulous records be kept and managed so that no one will accidentally marry a close family member. In this capacity, the Storyteller — who is also the tribal historian — is really the most important person in the entire village.

Ralph McQuarrie's beautiful concept art of a Sand People village

Ralph McQuarrie’s beautiful concept art of a Sand People village

The Sand People are as harsh as the environment in which they live, and there are really no such things as mistakes or small slips; this is very evident in the explanation of the apprentice storyteller, who must memorize the exact wording to each story, each exact syllable. If he so much as forgets or changes a word, the master storyteller is waiting to kill him. No room for mistakes or alterations.

A warrior with a gaffi stick

A warrior with a gaffi stick

Their primary weapon is the gaffi stick, which has a sharpened point and four sharp blades, as well as a fearsome pointed knob on the other end. They are very deft with these and can cut a man to pieces readily. Their “bandage” footwear enables them to move easily in the sand without leaving any trace and without stepping on anything dangerous.




Star Wars As Inspiration

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , on 28 August 2011 by Megan

We all know that Star Wars has incredible visuals, and we know lots of things that inspired those visions in Lucas. We also know he has incredibly talented artists like Ralph McQuarrie and teams of people who bring those visions to life. What does not get touched on is the artwork that other people have made inspired by what they’ve seen in Star Wars. That’s why there’s this entire book on the subject called Visions, which you could buy me for a a mere $26 on Amazon because it’s my birthday tomorrow. No, seriously, it is!

Anyway, this book came out last year, making this officially old news, and it’s been on my wishlist about as long, but as I was trolling the internet the other day, I found a website willing to give some previews of the stuff in the book, and some of it just thoroughly blew me away. It’s not like viewing fan artwork in this galaxy — it’s kind of like wandering into a museum on Coruscant and seeing the kind of stuff they might paint themselves.

Portrait of Darth Vader — Steven J. Levin

I love this one because of how real it seems. By invoking traditional Earth portraiture, particularly in the style of kings, lords, and other aristocracy, the painting seems completely natural and normal. Of course Vader posed for his portrait and it was easily seen all over the Empire. Also, holding the helmet and revealing his unscarred face while standing on Mustafar really shows the dichotomy in his character.

A Good Find: Portrait of a Tusken Raider — Tony Curanaj

We don’t really think of or hear about Tuskens as scavengers; usually that role goes straight  to the Jawas. And yet it makes sense. They make use of a lot of metallic objects they don’t seem to have the ability to forge themselves. So this one is really fascinating. Plus I love the setting. I’ve always been terrifically fond of Raiders, and this one looks like he’s going to knock somebody around who tries to take his droid. Plus you’re like, oh, my gosh, one of the IG-88s! How did you get out here? ;) I think this one’s my favorite actually. Oh, wait, no, make it second favorite.

Skirmish on Endymion — Michael Haynes

Last one! This one is just plain gorgeous. Red rocks, blue sky, Twi’lek battle? I’m in! Now, I’m going to be honest and say that none of these artists seem to be able to handle the lekku naturally because they all look 1) too thick at the top 2) too lumpy, but I’ll forgive them. This one is so vivid and gorgeous, I’d like the original canvas to grace the foyer of my eventual very elegant home. I also kind of like how this invokes an old-west kind of sensation, which I suppose is logical because Haynes did Lewis and Clark paintings . I wonder if I’ve seen any. Hmm.

Anyway! Speaking of old west, there’s Threepio dancing with Indians you won’t want to miss.  Check out the artists’ own descriptions of these paintings, plus several more, at Exotic Visions of Star Wars Inspire Portrait Artists | Underwire | And then go buy me the book on Amazon. Yep!


Posted in Questions with tags , , on 6 April 2011 by Megan

“What is a Skyhopper and how long had Luke flown one?” — Outcast

Luke and Skyhopper

Young Luke and a model skyhopper

Essentially, the skyhopper is a high-speed flight training vehicle that may or may not be outfitted with a weapon system. The one common on Tatooine, which Luke refers to, is the T-16 Skyhopper from Incom. It’s a two-person sport vehicle that is both fast (with speeds up to 745.6 MPH) and highly maneuverable. It has a standard DCJ-45 antigrav generator for lift and a single ion engine for forward propulsion. Its operational ceiling is higher than most other similar crafts, and therefore can reach altitudes of 170+ miles without losing cabin pressure. It’s a light, easy-to-steer craft that is controlled on a gyro system. Not only can it turn on a credit, it can climb vertically on demand. Even more advantageously for Luke, the cockpit controls are set up very similar to those in an X-wing fighter. Fuel slugs, standard, provide power for the craft, and its computer is compatible with most astro droids.

Luke, for most of his youth, constructed model ships including those of the T-16. While there is no suggestion of how long he had been flying one, one can assume it had been some four or five years, given his age and skill. Apart from the model in A New Hope, you can also see T-16s in the Return of the Jedi (special edition) celebration scene–it flies over Mos Eisely. Also, there is one in the background of the homestead scene in Attack of the Clones.

My source was Shane Johnson’s Star Wars Technical Journal. More information in the Star Wars databank.