Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~ THIS SITE REQUIRES POP-UPS ENABLED ~ Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~ THIS SITE REQUIRES POP-UPS ENABLED ~ Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~ THIS SITE REQUIRES POP-UPS ENABLED ~
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by Nathaniel Reed,  9/2005

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February 2008
New Year, New Names, Part 2 : From Zara to Alana.
18th February 2008
Plague of Doom has introduced us to new locations and characters. We travel from Aquilae Base on Mon Calamar to Sicemon City on Townowi to Ophuchi of Nal Hutta. We meet Alana Seren, Commander Kane, Weesla the Hutt, and King Oxus among others. But where did these new names come from ?
The primary new character introduced in the Virtual Edition Episode VII Plague of Doom is Alana Seren, the beautiful Princess of Townowi, ruled by her uncle King Oxus. Both Scott and I independently pictured her as the androgynous blonde boy/girl in the early Star Wars poster knelt down beside the bearded gunman ! Due to story requirements, she would be a little older than Luke, and have a certain amount of Force potential.
Originally to be one of the new padawans attracted to Luke's new academy, Alana was added to the impetus of the story by locating her on Townowi, and then involving her directly in the recent Imperial raid so that she ended up a political prisoner of Commander Kane on Kessel. Her name went through various permutations, from Seren (welsh for 'star') to Martha, from Zara of the early drafts (though we felt that was too close to Mara of the EU) to Alana, also a name discarded from the original story treatments ; settling on that, we gave her the surname Seren, and made her niece to the King of Townowi, a familial pattern already introduced by Lucas. Hannah Spearritt 'presents' Alana Seren for us.
The uncle, King Oxus, was also a name from the early drafts, where a Captain Oxus was associated with crewmen Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Jabba ; and in fact was at one point the Jabba the Hutt character ! He's a kindly and wise man in his late middle age whose loyalty to the Old republic is admirable. He will be 'played' by Robert Duvall.
Our 'Tarkin' is Commander Kane, who not only has a wonderfully alliterative title and name, but has an equally merciless personality as he follows his own agenda. Kane Starkiller (briefly renamed as Akira Valor, after the influential Japanese director Kurosawa) was the father or Annikin and Deak, and was the original cyborg character in the story genesis. He sacrificed his power packs to allow the heroes to escape. However, our Kane is much less noble, more arrogant and quick to temper. The steely british actor Pete Postlethwaite 'plays' Commander Kane.
King Kayos was ruler of Aquilae and Leia's father in the early story treatments. Husband to Queen Breha, the Evil Empire assassinated him on his way to an important senate vote - characters and themes that would appear in episodes III and II respectively. With Kayos sounding like "chaos", a suitably Sithly name, we knew we had one contender for the Darth title. Similarly, we couldn't help but exploit Lucas' onetime General and Captain Montross as Monstross, again becoming our new Sith Lord.
But who would be the public alter-egos of these Shadowy Sith Lords ? Taking the Prequel Trilogy as inspiration, Lucas not only introduced us to the telepathic Sly Moore and the influential and well-learnéd Mas Amedda, of whom the latter was aware of the duel between Yoda and Sidious, but he also ensured that neither of their fates were addressed. So it was a simple logical justification to state that these two continued to be close aides to Emperor Palpatine, waiting in line to succeed the imperial throne, all the while improving their knowledge of Sith lore. The concurrent Prequel tie-in reference books revealed how these two would expand Palpatine's repository for Sith artefacts and histories, and it made sense to us to follow this through as the reason for their seduction into the ways of the Dark Side.
Mining Lucas' own treatments for unused names is obviously preferable, and it's interesting to see some of these appear in the wide Expanded Universe of spin-off adventures. Saying that, since we were taking the end of Episode VI as our 'springboard', we felt unencumbered to abide by any naming conventions in this non-filmic material. As ever, though, we would determine the 'level' of canonicity if we wanted to use or recycle a name from such material. On rare occasions we would create our own names, but noting the alliterative way in which Lucas was often inspired, we preferred roundly descriptive words !
The Hutt names are examples of this, where we followed the phonetic and alliterative styling as established with Jabba and Gardulla. For a fully rounded and lording gangster king we have Barrola the Hutt, for the traitorous though ensnared Kessel incumbent we find Weesla, and for the no-nonsense battlefleet captain we meet the brusque captain Trella. Like Lando, and Grot in METROPOLIS, Weesla finds himself in an awkward situation, yet still finds his conscience before the end.
The evil scientist was devised the Plague of Doom initially appeared as Dr Retik, then briefly became Molock (inspired by Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS), and then Bloodory. The character is inspired by the illustration of Bevel Lemelisk as seen in the 'Ultimate Guide'. Retik was the villain in the 'Commander Cody' series (which favoured the evil frankenstien labs), while Morlock were the "creepy technologically-advanced underground dwellers" of THE TIME MACHINE. Lucas also used Molock along with Pestage in early drafts. The character became Dr Bloodory when we were once more reviewing a list of unused draft names, and found this one more suitably descriptive ! In the early drafts, the good doctor pioneered a method of distilling knowledge from the brains of scientists.
The evil scientist with the gas clouds also brings to mind the Nazi holocaust, and we were tempted to develop a backstory for this enigmatic scientist, perhaps 'dressing' him with a ferocious looking arm prosthetic. He will be 'played' by Richard Griffiths.
Captain Crispin Hoedaak is another of the early draft names, a Takin-esque Imperial Commander aboard a space fortress. For POD he is the head of Mon Mothma's personal bodyguard of the Galactic Alliance military.
The Imperial spy Mulldeclan hidden in the court of Barrola the Hutt is a clear homage to the irish actor who first portrayed Jabba in Episode IV, Declan Mullholland. The spy has a brief cameo in Plague of Doom as he finds his firearm skills are no match for the quick reflexes of a Jedi Knight !
Justin Valor was the erstwhile new name for Annikin Starkiller, the precursor of Luke Skywalker in the story treatments. He becomes our 'Wedge' character, the rookie Jedi pilot and member of Leia's 'Devil Group' Flight of padawans. A young bearded George Lucas 'portrays' Justin, though we were careful not to call to mind the appearance of Baron Papanoida or Jorg Sacul (the 25th anniversary rebel pilot figure). Likewise, the ill-fated 'Devil Group' pilot Mak Callum is a nod to the Star Wars Producer Rick McCallum.
Introducing the Jedi Elders - Jedi Masters who had survived Order 66 by going into hiding - was initially a discursive matter. Once it was agreed that the young Master Skywalker would receive such unforeseen aid, we had to number and identify them ! Seven seemed a 'mythic' number from a variety of sources, as well as cinematically referencing THE SEVEN SAMURAI, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. Three Prequel Masters whose on-screen fate was unresolved were identified as Depa Bilaba, Oppo Rancisis, and Even Piell, and these were chosen as part of the group in hiding. In order to maintain originality, three more were created and added to the mix, namely Dree Tan, Gri Sann Wei, and Wonroff Emanon : anagrams, respectively, of 'Nat Reed', 'Scott Swearingin', and 'No Name For Now' ! The final Jedi Master to arrive is the elderly Lettow, a name inspired by Lucas' 'Legions of Lettow'. These last four would be padawan masters who had never sat on the High council, and who would have been caught up in the chaos of the Clone Wars, scattered across the galaxy in the twilight of the Jedi Order, with all of them entering into a Force-spun exile unbeknown to each other.
The artwork for February comprises the following......
Captain Solo brings the Millennium Falcon into the airspace above Ophuchi on the Hutt world of Nal Hutta.
In this piece composed by Scott, the Millennium Falcon arrives in the lavender skies above the Hutt city of Ophuchi on Nal Hutta.
Han indicates to Leia likely hangar bays where he can land. Han's knowledge of the city leads him to select crowded public bays where the Falcon would be less noticable.
Han looks out for hangar bays in Ophuchi. Artwork by Nat.
The Falcon comes in to land at Ophuchi.
Composited by both Scott and Nat, the Falcon comes in to land.
This new artwork can be seen incorporated into the online version of POD, as well as in the gallery here. And please let us know what you think of the VE-ST in the forum !
In official news, has announced that the Clone Wars animated series is going to debut in cinemas as a full-length movie, before moving to television as 30-minute weekly episodes ! The first four episodes will be released theatrically in late summer 2008, followed by the remaining episodes on television channels and online.
Nathaniel Reed, 18th February 2008
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