The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: “Labor Pains”

“Narrative established. Introduce product.” — Gryph

Star Wars: “Labor Pains”

My first Star Wars prose story, originally published on Hyperspace, set between issues #12 and #13 of the Knights of the Old Republic comics series.
Published by • April 9, 2008
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Pablo Hidalgo

Edited by Pablo Hidalgo

The genesis of “Labor Pains,” a short story available here, actually began earlier in 2006, the year of the Knights of the Old Republic comics series launch. Looking at additional promotional opportunities, I suggested a short story using the comics characters for Star Wars Insider, as the magazine had begun running fiction again. The idea never advanced in that form, but I did still have an idea file with snippets of dialogue from a presumed entry in Gryph’s memoirs — and when, near the end of 2007, I heard from Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo about plans to bring more original fiction to in the form of short stories, “Labor Pains” took shape.

The story is set between issues #12 and #13 of the comics series — which is about where we were in series production when I first came up with the idea. It was a good place for the story, as the whole original cast was together, and there was a spot for it in the timeline.

There isn’t a huge amount of first-person storytelling in Star Wars fiction; there’s some, but a lot of it’s in the various short story collections. Gryph is fun to write in the comics, for his dialogue alone; here, we got his internal dialogue, too, although filtered a bit, since it’s in the form of a memoir. He’s always posturing for his imagined audience, and some of the more embarrassing moments get retold in a more favorable fashion. So, too, is his speechifying here a little more genteel than his normal dialogue. This is a KOTOR adventure as a business self-help book. Pablo provided the illustrations for the story.

It was a fun piece to write, particularly as Camper, who appears in it, was gone from the scene of the series by the time I wrote the finished story.

The story appeared for years on Hyperspace, and later was resurrected by Del Rey for Unknown Worlds (archived here).

“Mixed-up kid, that Zayne. But I’ll make something out of him yet!” — Gryph

Gryph’s memoir-writing is later established in the comics, in the Dark Times portion of Vector.

Several continuity additions first appear in this story, including the mention of Gryph’s brother and Camper’s former work for Vanjervalis.

I read a bit of Gryph’s dialogue from this story alongside the Gryph puppet at Midsouthcon 2009. Stormtroopers arrived while I was speaking — not to arrest Gryph, but to induct me into the 501st.

This story was unavailable for a while after the reorganization of It was rereleased by Del Rey on the Suvudu website on Oct. 2, 2012, to coincide with the release of the Essential Reader’s Companion.