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January 2008
 
New Year, New Names, Part 1 : From Aquilae to Townowi.
21st January 2008
Happy New Year ! 2008 will see the Virtual Edition Sequel Trilogy continue, with artwork for Episode VII Plague of Doom being produced, as well as story drafting and scripting for Episode VIII.
For Lucasfilm, the new semi-canonical game 'The Force Unleashed', set between Episodes III and IV, will be unveiled in Spring/Summer. The new 3D computer-generated 'Clone Wars' TV series may be released as early as August 2008, and possibly "theatrically". As for the live-action TV series, writers were hired in November, to complement the artwork that had begun earlier in 2007. It's proposed that the scripting would be complete by the summer of 2008, with filming scheduled for 2009 in Sydney Australia. Its release has been tentatively proposed for 2009 or 2010.
For me personally, my professional life in the "real world" is due to change quite radically in February, with the result that illustrations for the VE-ST may reduce in number. However, both Scott and I are committed to continuing our creative work, fitted in around our everyday lives.
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 Kayos, Weesla the Hutt, and King Oxus among others. But where did these new names come from ?
As soon as we knew we wanted to see the Rebel Alliance's base since Hoth, with the introduction of the Mon Cal species in Episode VI, it was obvious that the ocean world of Mon Calamar would be the best candidate. In addition, if Luke's students were not to be located on the potentially unsafe world of Coruscant, then such a planet teeming with life energy would be ideal. Aquilae was originally to have been the name for a world within the Kyber System, but the watery-sounding root of the word simply lent itself to the ocean planet of Mon Cal ! Coral islands jut out of the seas, and Aquilae base can be found in one such landmass. Kyber, of course, has had a long association with crystals, the Force, and lightsabres ever since the early drafts of The Star Wars and the first 'spin-off' novel 'Splinter of the Mind's Eye'.
Townowi can also be recognised from those drafts, where it was a precursor to Tatooine, as well as Sicemon. These were simply arbitarily picked, struck as we were by the lovely sound of the names. The look of this grass-planet was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie's artwork for Alderaan - seen here at the 'Lost Episodes site - with the city standing atop a rock outcrop, as visualised here at Wookieepedia.
Nal Hutta was a name straight from the Expanded Universe, and was so descriptive in itself that it seemed pointless to try to re-locate the popular Hutts ! However,although Ophuchi was a 'Lucas draft name' - a contender for Alderaan and Organa Major, as well as being the homeworld of one Jedi-Bendu Mace Windy as referenced in the fabled 'Journal of the Whills' amongst other things - the name sounded so hutteese ("O-foo-chee !") that again it made sense to identify this as the Hutt capital city. Such a 'round' name was also suitable for a 'round' species, and this reasoning led us to visualise their city architecture as being very buddhist and south-east asian.
First appearing in the 'Journal of the Whills' and spelt 'Kissel', the location of Kessel is first spoken of by the protocol droid See Threepio in panic, and later boasted by Captain Han Solo. We knew there were spice mines worked by slave labour, and that smugglers raced each other to transport the spice offworld for the Hutts. All else, if eloquently ignoring the EU, was unknown and conjecture ! We saw it as a dry world with salt flats and mines, possibly radioactive, but definately dry and harsh. Geysers made a late appearance to help mask the coming and going of the smugglers, a trick exploited by Han and later by his wife. For a short while Kessel was to have been a moon of Nal Hutta, but it ended up being a planetary system in its own right, albeit not too far from the Hutts. Citing distance-reducing hyperspace travel as well as the exploitative colonies of rich earth-bound countries, we justified the planet could be uniquely separate from its Hutt masters.
Coruscant of course was first introduced to us in Episode VI Return of the Jedi and Episode I The Phantom Menace, with the name "coming out of LFL Licensing", and author Timothy Zahn in particular. The idea of a central capital city planet came from Lucas' early drafts, where it was originally known as Alderaan and, briefly, Had Abaddon. We site Mon Mothma's hidden office deep within the disused Imperial Senate buildings, while the spaceship used by the Sith to escape the planet is the same rotunda found atop the secure medical facility seen at the end of Revenge of the Sith where Lord Sidious oversaw the rebuilding of his Apprentice, Lord Vader. Since Lucas elected to retain the Jedi Temple for a brief view during the celebrations following Emperor Palpatine's demise, we decided that the tyrant, victorious over his sworn enemy the Jedi, would have arrogantly usurped the building for his own Imperial Palace.
Look for a further update to describe the processes that gave us our characters' names !
In this month's artwork for the VE-ST, we have the following pieces ......
Luke, Leia, and Threepio arrive at the main gate to Barrola the Hutt's palace on Ophuchi. The guards challenge the visitors, and announce no-one is to disturb their Hutt Lord.
The Ophuchi Palace guards bar the way to Luke, Leia, and Threepio. Artwork by Nat.
Luke smoothly raises his hand and speaks in a controlled voice, and advises the guards that Barrola the Hutt will grant them an audience immediately. His sister is impressed with the Jedi mind trick !
In this peice by Nat, Luke influences the guards with a Jedi mind trick, greatly impressing Leia.
Much later, on Coruscant, the Galactic Alliance soldiers rush out of the lambda shuttle, closely followed by Luke and Alana, and return fire against the stormtroopers guarding the Imperial Palace.
In this dynamic image by Nat, a squad of GA soldiers, with Luke and Alana, race out from the shuttle and run towards the Imperial Palace.
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, IGN reports from the Official magazine 'Insider' that according to Rick McCallum Boba Fett will take an "instrumental" role in the live-action TV series, which has had four artists working on it, including Erik Tiemens. Six writers have been hired as well, from the US, the UK, and Australia. The producer confirms that the series is darker and more character driven, and is about "what happens to an Empire". The latest release date has now been tentatively proposed as late 2009.
Nathaniel Reed, 21st January 2008
 
 
 
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