LANSING, Mich. -- Veteran science-fiction writer Michael Kube-McDowell has spent most of the last year exploring a galaxy far, far away--without ever leaving a modest home office crowded with bookcases and space memorabilia.

"I spent most of the summer on Coruscant with Princess Leia, and most of the winter roaming the stars with Luke Skywalker," said Kube-McDowell. "No wonder my family and neighbors say they never see me."

Kube-McDowell is one of a select group of writers chosen by George Lucas to continue the life stories of Luke, Leia, Han Solo and the other beloved characters of the classic Star Wars film trilogy in novel form. Launched in 1991 with the publication of Tim's Zahn's Heir to the Empire, the phenomenally successful Bantam publishing program has placed more than a dozen titles on the best-seller lists, demonstrating the enduring appeal of George Lucas's vision.

"When Star Wars was originally released, I was only a year out of college, and still a year away from my first professional fiction sale. Almost from the opening shot, with the Imperial Star Destroyer thundering in from the top of the frame, I could tell we were in for a treat," said Kube-McDowell. "But I never imagined that almost twenty years later, I'd be invited to step into that world as historian, biographer, and storyteller, and add a few chapters to the lives of what are now some of the most well-known characters in film history."

Before the Storm, the first volume in Kube-McDowell's "Black Fleet Crisis" trilogy, is slated for publication in April as a paperback original. Set sixteen years after The Return of the Jedi and the Rebellion's triumph over the Empire, it finds the familiar heroes of the films facing new challenges as the New Republic they created comes of age. "The Black Fleet Crisis" offers a blend of star-spanning adventure and political intrigue, as well as an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker. The novels are based on outlines written by Kube-McDowell and approved by Lucas personally.

"You can't be a teenaged hero forever," Kube-McDowell said. "At this point in the Star Wars timeline, Han is in his mid-forties, Luke and Leia in their mid-thirties. The world they grew up in is gone, and their lives are changing. That's familiar territory for my generation--and it creates wonderful opportunities for character-driven storytelling. The background canvas is as large and exciting as ever, but the novel form allows us to move a lot closer to the hearts and minds of George's wonderful characters."

A 1976 honor graduate of Michigan State University, Kube-McDowell has resided in the Lansing area since 1986. Kube-McDowell is the author of eight previous science fiction novels, including the 1991 Hugo Award nominee The Quiet Pools. Shield of Lies and Tyrant's Test, the second and third books of the "The Black Fleet Crisis," are due to appear later this year.

"Writing this trilogy meant moving Vectors, a big novel I'm eager to finish and Bantam's eager to receive, to the back burner--from work-in-progress to work-on-hold," said Kube-McDowell. "But I couldn't pass up this chance. Star Wars has transcended its origins as a piece of popular culture and become part of 20th-Century cultural consciousness. When the call came, I had to say 'Yes.'"

Star Wars: The Black Fleet Crisis -- Before the Storm
An April 1996 paperback original from Bantam Spectra (on-sale date March 3)
ISBN 0-553-57273-3
352 pp. - $5.99

Last Revised: March 1, 1996

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