- Christopher Nelson
The Jedi Master's Quizbook
In 1982, when the Expanded Universe was still a pup, Del Rey (who held the book license before and after the Bantam Era) published a great trivia book called The Jedi Master's Quizbook.
Published in paperback, in the same size and dimensions of any Del Rey paperback of the era, it contains what it says on its cover are "425 Cosmic Questions & Answers About Star Wars & The Empire Strikes Back." It contained some tough questions for a pre-internet era (you couldn't Google any of the answers!): everything from mechanical questions about R2-D2 and X-Wings to the birthdays of movie cast members. But the book is notable beyond these things for at least two reasons worth mentioning.
Firstly, the compiler and author, Rusty Miller, was just a kid. 11 years according to his bio on the back cover. Imagine becoming a Del Rey/Star Wars published author at that age! Secondly, in 1982, prior to the Original Trilogy being completed, prior to the internet, prior to Star Wars Insider and other magazine outlets, and prior to anyone with an official Lucasfilm position as Keeper of the Holocron, Rusty pieced together his trivia questions from every tiny scrap of Star Wars info he could find.
And those sources are what makes the book so relevant today. In an era without new EU material (and until Lucasfilm produces new Legends content), in order to satiate our appetite for more content, the best we can do is hope for unpublished material to see the light of day, as well as dig deep into the archives to go beyond just the books, comics, and games to find further glimpses into the EU.
In his forward, Rusty provides a comprehensive bibliography of everything he relied on for information: the Star Wars and Empire novelizations; the Art of Star Wars and the Art of Empire; the Empire Strikes Back Notebook; the Star Wars Album; the Empires' Collectors Edition; the 1981 Empire Calendar; The Wookie Storybook; Once Upon a Galaxy: The Making of Empire; The Star Wars Sketchbook; Bantha Tracks (the original Lucasfilm newsletter); Star Wars and Empire soundtrack albums.
How many of you remember The Wookie Storybook? Or the early making of reference guides? These things seem like faintly relevant scraps of EU today, but at the time they were basically all we had. And with so much time and additional EU content between us now and the early 80's when the book and these sources were published, it's getting harder and harder to remember they even exist.
So next time you see The Jedi Master's Quizbook in the used book store or at the swap meet or on Ebay, don't pass it up. Any of the early reference books from the early days of the Saga are worth their weight in gold for the bibliographies alone. And a fun reminder of the modest beginnings of the EU. We have countless books, comics, RPG's, video games, etc, today. But for early Star Wars fans, a complete collection could basically fit on a single shelf!
Bonus update: in 2008, StarWars.com caught up with Rusty Miller about his book and his life since. It's unfortunately no longer available on the site, but an Internet Archive version still exists. Click the link above to read, and, below, see a partial screen capture of the site back in the day, before getting rebooted.
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