Did George R.R. Martin create Wookiees?

The answer to the question is, "No, of course not, that would be too random for words." However, it does transpire that he did inspire the visual look of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars movie through an interesting chain of events.

How it works is thusly: in July 1975, Martin's short story 'And Seven Times Never Kill Man!' was published in Analog. Artist John Shoenherr created some artwork for the story which is clearly very Wookie-esque. In itself not entirely damning, until it is revealed that Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie was handed a copy of this very picture by George Lucas (who apparently had claimed it was from the 1930s, not just a few months earlier) in late 1976 as part of his ideas for what Chewbacca would look like, as revealed at Binary Bonsai.

McQuarrie then developed this image into the final look for the Chewbacca character. A rather telling point that the original Shoenherr picture was inspirational is that it has the alien using a weapon that looks very similar to Chewbacca's trademark bowcaster weapon, a detail missing from McQuarrie's rendition, indicating the original was used as a reference by the prop department.

This isn't the first time that GRRM has inadvertently contributed to the creation of an iconic race without realising it. Fellow SF writer Charles Stross 'borrowed' the name 'githyanki' from GRRM's 'Thousand Worlds' SF setting for a race of monsters he was creating for an official Dungeons and Dragons product in the late 1970s. The name and the race caught on, becoming an iconic D&D race still present in the latest iteration of the game. Martin was unaware of this until he was asked about it by a fan during the early 2000s.

Ran at Westeros has hinted that since the ursine alien race in Return of the Jedi who help bring down the Empire was supposed to be the Wookies but was replaced with something cuter and more marketable, we could possibly blame GRRM for the chain of events that led to the creation of the Ewoks (!!!). Although Martin would probably prefer it if we didn't.

[via <a href="">Binary Bonsai]

This post by Adam Whitehead originally appeared at The Wertzone