Brian in 1970
New York Times
Best Selling Author
Brian Daley, author

Brian Daley 1947 - 1996

by James Luceno

Brian Daley & James Luceno

Brian Daley & Jimmy Luceno
aka Jack McKinney

     As a full-time writer, I've had some choice assignments, and I've missed out on a few.  Only now, however, do I turn my hand to something I never in my darkest imaginings, expected to write.
     Brian Daley was one of the most vital people I've ever known, until a year ago when his pancreas was somehow assailed by cancer.  In losing him - a friend of more than 20 years, a collaborator on more than 20 books, godfather to my teenaged son, I felt a little like a parent who unimaginably survives his or her own child.  Brian was dead? Impossible.  The world isn't supposed to work this way.
     But in fact, Brian and I were both very realistic about how the world works, and during the final months of his life, we had several conversations about what it means to live and to die.  Because we had logged so many miles together - in the real and imagined worlds - I told him I wasn't comfortable with his going on an adventure without me - especially to a realm where all the available guide books contradict themselves about just what a traveler can expect to find.  And Brian joked that he understood my concerns and would certainly try to contact me, assuming he could find a working phone or the appropriate postage for the kind of communication we had in mind.
     Just one of those conversations lifelong friends have to ease the pain.
     For Brian, anything that was worth doing was worth overdoing.  He was the life of every party he attended and the host of several of the standout St. Patrick's Day bashes.  I recall one we had in my Chevy van just before the premiere matinee of some movie called Star Wars, which neither of us knew much about ...  So we sat in the parking lot of some cineplex on Route 4 in Northern New Jersey, priming ourselves for outer space, and when we left the theater two hours later we felt as if we'd been there.  I mean, 2001 was solid intellectual stuff, but Star Wars - here, at last, was rousing sci-fi adventure.
     Brian remarked to me on that afternoon that he had finally seen on screen what he had been imagining for years.  The wish-fulfillment of a 12-year-old budding sci-fi writer, whose small room overflowed with comic books and notebooks filled with ideas for the stories he would someday write.
Han Solo, At Stars End by Brian Daley      He would, of course, go on to write the first (and in my opinion, finest) Star Wars spin-off novels, the Han Solo trilogy, and George Lucas's creation would continue to be a leitmotif in his life throughout the '80s, when he adapted the first two films for National Public Radio.
     But Brian was already on his way to literary notoriety before Star Wars, thanks to his first novel, The Doomfarers of Coramonde, published in 1977, under the then-new Del Rey imprint of Ballantine Books.  That novel drew on Brian's experiences with the 11th Cavalry in Vietnam - the so-called Black Horse Battalion - and brought together many of the elements he loved to weave into his stories: vivid action, grand romance and laugh-out-loud humor.  His skills as a wordsmith were as well-honed in that first novel as they were in his final project, the radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi.
   He returned to Coramonde for his second book; then veered toward fantasy with Tapestry of Magics; only to return to adventure sci-fi with the Alacrity Fitzhugh trilogy.

    Sometimes Alacrity didn't so much break bad news as share great new comedic material in the ongoing joke that was life.

   ... the "bombs away" school of cuisine, with Red Shift Chili Peppers and Core Explosion Hot sauce.

   (Of a ninja): "All he is, is another would-be-mystic chop-and-drop man from some zilchtech planet."

From Jinx on a Terran Inheritance.

      Even while working on those, he found the time to novelize Tron, contribute six scripts to the TV animated series, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers and collaborate with me (as Jack McKinney) on the Robotech series and the four books that comprise The Black Hole Travel Agency series.
     Never one to turndown a real-life adventure when it was offered to him, Brian fell in with me on trips to Nepal, Thailand, Peru and the jungles of Central America.  Once, in Kathmandu, at the conclusion of a month's trek, Brian hunted down a bootleg video of Return of the Jedi - which had only been in theatrical release for a couple of months - and ran it for the score of Sherpas we had hired for the trek.

Brian and Lucia on Martha's Vineyard, MA

Brian and Lucia on Martha's Vineyard

    He and his partner of 14 years, historical novelist Lucia St. Clair Robson, traveled extensively in Mexico and Japan.  They spent their summers on Martha's Vineyard, where on one occasion Brian and the late Jackie O had a near tussle over a final store copy of the NY Daily News.
   He was not the sort of writer who spent every waking hour at a keyboard.  Drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of science, technology, magic, weaponry - the list goes on and on - he could produce in four hours what it takes most writers to produce in eight.  His office overlooked the Severn River, near Annapolis, Maryland, and was entered by way of a Japanese trellis.  But I've watched him write longhand in the back of a bounding truck, inside a frigid tent at 19,000 feet, and by firelight in a Mayan temple on the Usumacinta River.
     When not writing he was likely to be found reading, nurturing novice writers, or watching a movie - the more ill-conceived, the better, since - like so many sci-fi fans - Brian had his own MST 3000 thing going long before the debut of the series.  He could also carry a tune, play the spoons, jitterbug, tinker with vintage Corvettes, and hold his own against black belts.
     The vocal recordings for Brian's six-part radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi were completed on the day he died.  On and off since 1983, he was at work on a military sci-fi epic entitled Gamma L.A.W. - conceived during that same Nepal trek - which may yet see publication.
     He will be sorely missed by legions of fans, and deeply so by Loosh; his close friend and editor Owen Lock; his mother; his sister; his brother and dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins.  But as one who often wanted his words to speak for him, he is, in a sense, only as far as the closest library or bookstore.
     Those of us who loved him take some solace in that, though I suspect that I'll always be waiting for that communication from the other side.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
James Luceno was a dear friend and long-time collaborator of Brian Daley.  This piece was originally published in Star Wars Insider in 1996. (Luceno's profile on the Wookipedia)

An Essay by Lucia St. Clair Robson:  The Etiquette of Ashes

Message from a New Explorer in a Galaxy Far, Far (Far?) Away

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there.  I do not sleep.

I am a thousand Jedi Knights.
I'm every duel the rebel fight.

I'm Artoo's tweedle and Chewie's roar.
Darth Vader's curse when the Falcon soars.

I'm Ben Kenobi's gentle heart.
I'm Yoda's wit, and Leia's spark.

And when writers wake in morning's hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of new ideas and fresh resolve.
I'm where the characters evolve.

So do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.  I did not die.

                     An anonymous poem adapted by Chris Clark Tidyman

C3PO, Anthony DanielsPreface to

return of the jedi for radio script

By Anthony Daniels, actor for C3P0

     It was more than ten years after we had finished the radio version of The Empire Strikes Back when the phone rang.  I hadn't actually been sitting by it, waiting, but it was good to hear Mel Sehr's voice again.

     Mel had been one of the main motivating forces behind the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back radio series for National Public Radio.  I remember the fun we had making them and the continuing unease I felt, that we had never completed this incarnation of the trilogy, otherwise so fully represented in every merchandise-filled bedroom of every Star Wars fan across the world.

     In pre-Star Wars days, my childhood had been partly spent staring, not at any movie or TV screen, but at the Bakelite grille of a wireless set.  Journey Into Space had been a particularly chilling and graphic experience broadcast by the BBC.  Each week, our family sat around the glowing dial, picturing the horrors and dangers of man's first landing on the planet Mars and his meeting with the first alien life-forms ever encountered.  No movie monster has ever been so terrifying.

     Years later, my first acting contract was with the BBC in London, as a member of the Radio Drama Repertory Company.  They produce hundreds of drama productions a year.  I loved it there.  There is something completely magical about creating pictures only with sound.  It doesn't matter if you look like a weed, you can still play a bronze-biceped hero on the radio and I did.

     Given my long association with radio I was glad to be a part of NPR's Star Wars serial.  For a start, I didn't have to wear the gold suit.  But more than that, I felt it presented the wonderful story that George Lucas had created in the form available to anyone who had access to a radio.  No admission charges, no standing in line, no stench of popcorn.  Just the actors' voices, Tom Voegeli's effects and your imagination.  It worked splendidly.  So too, did Empire.

     Then silence.  For ten years.

     Mel explained that NPR's financing problems had held back the completion of the project with the intended production of Return Of the Jedi.  Now Sallie Neal, producer for Highbridge Audio, had managed to create a budget that made it possible once more.  A major hurdle had been flattened.  Hitherto unpublished passages of John Williams' outstanding music score would be available.  Three hours of radio employ staves more music than a two hour movie, unless you want to hear the same notes over and over again.  Mel told me that production was now viable.  Would I care to be involved?  Was Brian Daley writing the scripts?  Yes he was.  Yes, I would.

     Months later I was sitting in a board room in Los Angeles with Lucasfilm's Head of Publishing, Lucy Autrey Wilson, Mel, Tom and John Madden (editor's note: not the football guy.), who had so happily directed our previous efforts.  A problem had arisen.  Brian was sick and couldn't join us.  He had been fighting cancer for some time.  He was very sorry not to be with us at the script conference.

     ... (Anthony provides quite a few details here about the recording process and the various players.)

     So recording went on for six days, surviving various attacks.  The studio sounded like a hospital as most of the cast coughed and sneezed their way through boxes of tissues and throat sweets.  A greater attack came from various photo and TV crews, doing their jobs but certainly distracting us from ours.  NPR lead the assault, as we all recorded money-begging promos on its behalf.  If you didn't hear them - give generously anyway.  American needs its National Public Radio.

     We had kept Brian up-to-date with phone calls but, at the end of recording on the last Saturday, various cast members scribbled on the back of their scripts and came up with their own lines which we then taped.  Far from trying to show Brian that anyone can write if they have a pencil, rather, our jottings were a tribute to his imagination, skills and to his personality which we had appreciated with fond admiration over the years.  The finished tape would be sent to Brian as our way of saying you were with us all the way.  Tom would later do a rapid but excellent 70 mm production number with music and effects on the bare material, which I now present to you.  I'm sure my fellow writers won't mind.

(MUSIC; STAR WARS THEME CRASHES IN. HOLD & FADE UNDER) Here is a link to the MP3 of this tribute.

LIVELY CROWD:  From the Rebel Alliance, Brian.  We wish you were here. (LOUD CHEERS AND CATCALLS) (CHANTING) Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. Bri-an. (FADING UNDER AS MUSIC FADES UP & HOLDS) (MUSIC FADES UNDER)
LEIA: (URGENTLY) The is Princess Leia Organa transmitting to Brian Daley on earth.  We seem to be having a bit of a time warp up here.  Luke seems to be shedding years as he matures into a Jedi knight and ...
LEIA: Han?
HAN: Are you talking to Brian?
LEIA: Uhhuh.
HAN: You... You love him, don't you?
LEIA: (LONG PAUSE) Well, yes.
HAN: (PAUSE) Fine.  I understand.  When he comes back, I won't get in your way.
LEIA: Han.  He's the writer.
HAN: The writer!  Then you weren't... well ... But then, Brian isn't ...?
LEIA: (INTERRUPTING) Why don't you just stop worrying about Brian and... kiss me.
          that tongue off me!  You vile - thing, you! (SHE LAUGHS, UNABLE TO CONTAIN HER MIRTH ANY
          LONGER.  A REAL PRO.)
PERRY & ANNE:  We love you.  And we miss you.
JABBA: Yabriannndaley gommmakikochh. Ggehhht wellll (HE FALLS ASLEEP, SNORING)


LUKE: R2. Prepare to lay a course on the navicomputer.
R2:     ??*!!?
LUKE: What? My Part?
R2:     !
LUKE: No, it's fine.  I just took over for another actor.
R2:     * ??
LUKE: No, it doesn't hurt.  I won't let it.  OK.  Course plotted.  Get ready to jump into hyperspace.
R2:     ** ?
LUKE: That's right.  We're going to go to the Baltimore system.  I have a promise to keep - to an old
          friend.  Look, actually, I've never met the guy.  But do you think I'm going to pass up an
          opportunity like this... (PROXIMITY ALERT STARTS SPEEDING UP)
JOHN MADDEN:  (INTERRUPTING) OK.  OK.  (CUT FX) I just want to do one pick up, Tom.  Can we just
          go please from... "Your mother's set of matched luggage."  Stand by.  (LAUGHS) Hi Brian... 
          (LAUGHS.  HE CAN'T GO ON. ANOTHER REAL PRO.) OK.  Cut.  Thanks.


VADER: Greetings, Brian.  I kneel before you and await your orders to execute your wish. (FADE
BROCK:  (CONTINUING) Brian, this is Brock... Get well... Rejoin us, soon... Love...


EMPEROR: (CHILLING ACOUSTIC) Brian... Your overlord, The Emperor is pleased... with his lines, and
            commands you, to get well, be well, to stay well...

           (FADE MUSIC)

           (ECHOING ATMOS)

R2:   *** ** *


C3PO & R2D2 exit3P0:  (CALLING) R2? R2D2! What are you doing here, in an empty studio?
R2:    ** ** * *** *
3P0:  Rehearsing for your next scene? But R2, we have finished recording the Return of the Jedi.
R2:    ***
3P0:  Oh don't be sad, R2.  We had a lot of fun didn't we.  and all because of Master Brian.
R2:    *** ***
3P0:  Yes.  I think he did an excellent job.  But... well... I think he gave you rather too many lines.
R2:    !
3P0:  Just you watch your language!
R2:    ** *** **!
3P0:  Ohh.  That is a good idea, R2.  Um, let me see.  Um, Um (TAPS THE MICROPHONE TENTATIVELY)  Hello?  Um.
R2:    **
3P0:  Um.  Ready?  (CONFIDENTLY) Master Brian.  R2 and I want to say that it has been a distinct
         honour and a joy to work with you.
R2:    *
3P0:  With our thanks, we send you our very best wishes.  (PAUSES.  THEN TO R2) There!
R2:    ***??
3P0: No you can't have another retake R2! Oh really!  (HIS VOICE FADES AS THEY LEAVE)
        The trouble with you is, Hollywood has affected your circuits.  You have become ridiculously


... (Anthony includes details of the rest of their last evening.)

     The phone woke me the next morning.  It was John Madden.  He'd just heard that Brian had died that night as we sat in the restaurant - just about the time we were drinking to absent friends - to Brian.

     When Tom's finished tape reached me in London a week later he had enclosed a note.

To the cast and crew of Return of the Jedi for radio

It was with the greatest sadness that we heard about Brian Daley's death - within hours of the very successful end of our recording his scripts.

It seemed the only appropriate thing to do to go ahead and put together your message to him.  Although this tape was meant to be heard by Brian in our world, we can only hope that he knows the love expressed on it in another.

Love Tom

     It had become a joke that Threepio usually stole the last line of any scene which included him in Brian's scripts.  In doing so here, I cannot better Tom's sentiments - without Brian to write the lines for me.

Star Wars Delux versionAnthony Daniels   
London, March 1996  

This deluxe version includes the recording of this tribute to Brian.  There are a limited number available - click graphic to order from Amazon.

Industry reviews from Amazon:

Audio/Video Shopper, February 1997
Let's face it: Most movies today struggle to fill their two hours with engaging scenes, and only that rarest of stories is rich enough of yield several hours of solid entertainment. But the Star Wars Trilogy [brought to you by HighBridge Audio] even stripped of its landmark visuals and reformatted as a weekly radio show, retains its power and effectiveness. For this we can thank writer Brian Daley and sound engineer Tom Voegeli. Daley understands the power of thoughtfully crafted dialogue, especially when delivered with the proper conviction, and Voegeli is an absolute master at creating environments and telling stories with sounds. This "theater of the imagination" enhances the three films, rarely contradicting the established details and creating many wonderful new moments along the way....Before the events of Star Wars even begin to unfold, we are treated to a full hour that fleshes out the classic characters who form the backbone of this epic tale, and whose interplay makes almost 14 hours of impassioned voices...into an adventure all its own. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

With special bonus tracks never before available, including interviews with the cast members and much more, this is the collection for Star Wars fans. Only 7,500 of these deluxe sets, packaged in a handsome, foil-stamped collector's slipcase, will be produced. 15 CDs.

A fan interview, Alex Newborn: as published on Star Wars Fanboy Association website.

Is that Brian playing Han in the upper right of this SW plate?  We like to think the artist did this as a tribute to Brian because of his knowledge of and identification with the character.

Carolyn Staehle, a reader and Star Wars afficionada
posted a moving essay at:

Fan site by Erik Munson:

   One of Murphy's law corollaries Lod had embraced during the Broken Country War was "Try to look unimportant - they may be low on ammo."

   "I personally, sir, am a lover, not a fighter.  So you might say that I'm here in the capacity of organ donor."

   "I'm trillions of klicks from my favorite chef..."

From GammaLAW, Smoke on the Water

Even without Aquam body odors and cooking smells. the air swarmed with bite-mites, bloodflits, teardrinker midges, and earborers. 

Watching her with the dice - the so-called Holy Rollers - ... 

... the walled and storied utopia for which Souljourner had a Writ that appointed her to serve as the city's new Descrier - its seismic diviner.

Purifyre had already rejected the Manipulant bloopguns captured at Wall Water, ... 

They wore folded-leaf sunbonnets in yet another local style, with the present examples resembling perched cormorants.

from GammaLAW To Water's End 

Top of Page

     As for Brian Daley's resting place... we like to say he's gone adventuring in a galaxy far, far, away.  But in fact, his friends and family have scattered his ashes all over the planet--- from the top of Huaina Picchu at Machu Picchu; into the river that runs through the Mayan ruin at Palenque in Mexico; at the chapel dedicated to Veterans of the Vietnam War in Angel Fire, NM; in Canyon deChelly, Arizona; in the Severn River in Annapolis, MD; a river in New Hampshire; a back yard in Rockleigh, NJ; a front yard in Arnold, MD; in Berlin, Germany; and in the pocket of one of his fatigue shirts that an army buddy has built a display case for.  The remainder resides in Brian's old beer stein, a souvenir of his army days in Berlin.

ŠLucia St. Clair Robson 2004-2017


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