Tuesday, July 24, 2012

32 BBY: Secrets of Naboo Sourcebook: A Letter from Chancellor Valorum & Situational Analysis in the Naboo System

Texts influencing texts:  it’s one of the main ideas I’ve been talking about within my journey through the Star Wars EU. It was the subject of my MA thesis, so not surprisingly it’s an element of literature I tend to focus on.
I’ve always enjoyed engaging with Star Wars RPG sourcebooks because they are something different from the novels and comics, and they are built on the premise of texts influencing texts.  Published in February 2001, this text has subtle influences on James Luceno’s Cloak of Deception which was published a few months later in May.  A Letter from Chancellor Valorum, an in-universe letter written to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, opens with the line “My Dear Friend”, letting us know that Chancellor Valorum and Master Jinn have more than a professional relationship, and are indeed friends.  Luceno’s Cloak of Deception flushes out this friendship, and gives credence to the Supreme Chancellor’s familiar introduction.  Texts influencing texts: I love it.

A Letter from Chancellor Valorum, and Situational Analysis in the Naboo System, like I’ve already mentioned, are in-universe letters, and in fact, the Secrets of Naboo sourcebook itself functions almost as an epistolary novel, though the term ‘novel’ in this instance is problematic.  This RPG sourcebook, like most RPG sourcebooks, is written as a series of documents in the form of letters, technical readouts, personal reflections, and scientific information of planets and other aspects of the universe.  The document makes reference to this, as the sourcebook itself is the dossier handed to Qui-Gon by Valorum’s aid Colonel Kaaver Trapps for his mission to Naboo to negotiate with the Trade Federation:

“I have asked my most trusted aid to assemble the following dossier.  The information therein should help you negotiate successfully with all potentially interested parties” (pg 3).
I can envision Qui-Gon siting in his chambers reading an in-universe version of the Secrets of Naboo sourcebook before he collects his apprentice to complete his mission, which brings me to another reason why I enjoyed this source: it comes right on the heels of Shadow Hunter, when Obi-Wan sees his master preparing to head out on a mission:

“He found the door open to Master Qui-Gon’s domicile open.  The Jedi was inside, loading his utility belt with field items such as an ascension gun and food capsules.  He evidenced relief when he saw Obi-Wan standing in the doorway” (Shadow Hunter, 328).
The ending of Shadow Hunter and the beginning of Secrets of Naboo surprisingly blend nicely into one another. Qui-Gon finishes reading his letter from Valorum and the dossier given to him by Tapps, places the item on his bed, when in enters his apprentice, just fresh from unknowingly tracking the path of destruction created by Darth Maul.

On the topic of Valorum, the most interesting aspect of his letter to Qui-Gon was his comment to the Jedi about being a “veteran soldier”.  What is more, he implies that not only is he a veteran soldier, but that senator Palpatine is also a veteran soldier, perhaps the two of them serving together in the same conflict:

“I haven’t been able to identify a specific problem, but Senator Palpatine recently approached me with concerns that echoed my own.  I am loath to base my judgment on such vague impressions, since they are nothing more than the delusions of two veteran soldiers who have grown too old for battle” (2).
I have yet to read Darth Plagueis, but the idea that both Valorum and Palpatine were once brothers in arms, two young men fighting on the field of battle, armed with laser rifles and body armor, is new to me.  I like the idea, and I think the sentiment gives further depth and complexity to the relationship between Valorum and Palpatine, and quite frankly I think it would be neat were this the case, but I don’t think this narrative is consistent with what we know about them.  What battle(s) would they have fought in?  The Republic has had relative peace for 1000 years. Perhaps by “veteran soldiers too old for battle” Valorum meant the constant war of words and ideas the two fight against in the senate, fighting to save freedom, oust oppression, and end slavery and other such crimes against sentients in the galaxy.  Still, I think the idea is neat.

The Situational Analysis in the Naboo System also gives further clarification why two Jedi Knights were sent to negotiate with the Trade Federation. It seems Valorum knew there was more going on here than a simple blockade to protest an increase in taxes, and wanted to make a show of force to the Neimoidians by sending two Jedi, basically stating ‘Hey, I’ve got Jedi, what do you have?’.  He also knew the Neimoidians were by nature cowards, and thought they would buckle at the sight of the Jedi.  My favorite part about this is at the end of report on the Situational Analysis in the Naboo System, Tapps, Valorum’s advisor, reminds the Supreme Chancellor that the Republic, whether the Neimoidians like it or not, is the last authority in the galaxy, siting the Battle of Ruusan.  What’s he’s actually citing is the Ruusan Reformation, the galactic event that restructured the entire Galactic Republic following the New Sith Wars, taking power away from the Supreme Chancellor and reinvesting it in the Galactic Senate.
Texts building upon and referencing other texts.  I love it.

For my next post I’m going to give my thoughts and reactions to The Phantom Menace, the first Star Wars film I’ll engage with in my Chronology Project.  It only took me three years to get here.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I like these litte in-universe documents, too. :) Sorry to mess up your plans to reach TPM, but a reminder, you haven't done a post for the recent "Duel of the Fates" comic from the UK magazine Totally 20 that I sent you a few months ago. It's set sometime before the film. Also, I realized I made a goof in my earlier list of stuff tied into TPM. "Signal Interruption" is actually set right before the beginning of the film, rather than during it as I originally said. :(

  2. Not a problem at all. I'm glad you've pointd them out. I go with "Duel of the Fates" next, followed by "Signal Interruption". Thanks for the heads up. I've often wondered what it's going to feel like when one day you say to me, 'Well, that's it. You've hit every source.' I think I'll you're joking, and I'll be waiting for you to say, actually MKB, you need to look at this source, and then internally I breath a sigh of releif.

  3. Given the fact that I've never been able to track down copies of the most obscure rpg magazine containing Star Wars stories, there will likely always be more sources out there to read. Not to mention the untranslated French rpg material. :)