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5 Books That May Have Influenced Star Wars

Ten years after the release of Star Wars: Episode III and 32 years after Return of The Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in cinemas. This, of course, caused a renewed surged of interest in the franchise, which has been captivating audiences since the very first movie back in 1977. It also resulted in new Star Wars movies, such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which hit the big-screen in late 2016. With a franchise so big and popular as Star Wars, it is not uncommon to see its influences in other forms of media. However, George Lucas himself was also clearly influenced by other books when he wrote his saga about a galaxy far, far away. Here are just a few examples of books that may have influenced Lucas’ creation.

The Hero With a Thousand Faces

by Joseph Campbell

In this book, first released in 1949, author Joseph Campbell talks about the universal motif of the “Hero’s Journey.” This motif can be found in most of the myths of all cultures and it certainly influenced George Lucas when he came up with Star Wars. A lot of themes described in this book, from the call to adventure to gaining a mentor and facing evil, can be found in Star Wars. George Lucas acknowledges the influence  that The Hero With a Thousand Faces had on his work, and he is not alone... these universal themes have inspired many other great books.

Flash Gordon

by Alex Raymond

It is impossible to overlook the similarities between Star Wars and Flash Gordon. In fact, Lucas originally wanted to make movies featuring Flash Gordon, but the license wasn’t available. Undeterred, he went on to create Star Wars instead, but added a lot of elements that will be very familiar to Flash Gordon fans. Characters such as Ming, the merciless ruler of Mongo, became the emperor in Star Wars, while C-3PO looks exactly like one of the “iron men of Mongo.”

John Carter of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Does any of these elements sound familiar? A princess wearing revealing golden bikinis, gravity-defying “boats” that float across the deserts of Mars, and evil villains called “The Sith.” These come straight out of John Carter of Mars, but can be found in Star Wars as well. Titles, such as “Jeddak” and “Padwar” may also have found their way into Star Wars in the form of “Jedi” and “Padawan”.  John Carter of Mars had huge beasts called “Banths,” which in Lucas’ universe were named Banthas. There are many other similarities that eagle-eyed fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs will spot easily when watching any of the Star Wars films.

Galactic Patrol

by Edward E. Smith 

The special warriors tasked with protecting the galaxy might be known as Lensmen in this 1937 pulp novel by Edward E. Smith, but they are more than a little similar to the Jedi created by Lucas. The “force” used by the Jedi has a lot in common with the telepathic abilities of the Lensmen, but the similarities don't end here. Galactic Patrol also features an ultimate weapon, called the Grand Base, which is eventually destroyed by the hero in a one-man fighter after learning its secret. Even the obscure word, coruscant, which is used in the book, ended up featuring in Star Wars as the name of a planet.

Dune

by Frank Herbert

It is no secret that Dune, by Frank Herbert, inspired George Lucas while he was writing Star Wars as he has acknowledged the fact many times. Some of the more obvious influences from the early drafts of his script were later altered, but a few homages still remain. These include villains that turn out to be related to the heroes, desert planets, and even the special abilities, such as “The Voice” in Dune, which is eerily similar to the Jedi Mind Tricks Lucas added to Star Wars. Some people also believe that Lucas used Leto II, the worm-like character in Dune as inspiration for his character Jabba.

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