How Leigh Brackett’s Manta-ray Riding Aliens Became Star Wars Canon Anyway
December 9, 2015
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Hoth wasn’t always an icy world full of abominable snowmen. In Leigh Brackett’s script for The Empire Strikes Back, the word meant “cloud”– and it was the name of what would later become Bespin, home of Cloud City.
It was also home to some unusual native peoples:
The subplot surrounding these guys clearly did not survive into subsequent iterations of the script, but author and game designer James Cambias has commented here with the surprising story of how aliens like this ended up becoming a part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe anyway:
I made up the “Wind Raiders of Taloraan” for a Star Wars Adventure Journal piece back when West End Games had the Star Wars license. Everything became Property of George Lucas, and apparently someone at one of the video-game projects liked my inhabited gas giant with flying manta rays because Taloraan was developed as a setting for an (abortive, I think) game project. That in turn apparently inspired the Dark Horse comics writers working on the Clone Wars comic a couple of years ago, because I took my son to the comic shop and he picked out a comic about Anakin and his cute young apprentice having adventures on . . . Taloraan.
When I was able to demonstrate to my son that I invented that planet, I ascended (briefly, to be sure) to God-Emperor Cool Dad status.
All of which means I know exactly where Leigh Brackett got those flying manta-rays, because I’m willing to bet she stole them from Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting With Medusa,” same as I did.
Love to see that tabletop gaming stuff make it back into the real thing. Neato!