Sci-fi writer joins Star Wars screening party

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Alan Dean Foster, right, author of the original Star Wars novel and The Force Awakens novel to be released in January, chats with James Hait, left, owner of Victory Wealth Services and Frank Abril, former Disney set painter.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Alan Dean Foster, right, author of the original Star Wars novel and The Force Awakens novel to be released in January, chats with James Hait, left, owner of Victory Wealth Services and Frank Abril, former Disney set painter.

In our galaxy, right off of Glassford Hill Road in Prescott Valley, Arizona, is a movie theater called Harkins.

In this theater, Victory Wealth Services, a comprehensive financial services company, hosted its annual client appreciation event.

It did so by organizing a private screening of the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

"A lot of our clients are fans, I'm a fan, so we had an opportunity to make something fun of it," said James Hait, founder and president of Victory Wealth Services.

In addition to providing free water, soda and candy, the company managed to get several special guests to attend the screening.

One such guest was Prescott-local Alan Dean Foster, a prolific science-fiction writer who knows the new Star Wars film very well.

In addition to novelizations for box-office hits such as the Alien trilogy and the newest Star Trek films, Foster is well known for ghostwriting the first Star Wars film in the mid-1970s for George Lucas and recently releasing the novelization for The Force Awakens.

Although glad he didn't have to go to the movie's premier in L.A. - an experience he said is overrated and too tightly structured - he was glad to support the local promotion of the film.

"I love doing local stuff," Foster said.

Sitting in the theater prior to the viewing, several of the audience members approached Foster with questions about his work - a reaction his presence frequently incites.

"I never get tired of it, because I'm still as much a fan as anything," Foster said. "When I write a novelization, as opposed to an original novel, I'm a combination of a professional writer and the 14-year-old kid sitting in the back of the theater with his friends, loudly criticizing the terrible special effects I'm seeing."

Perhaps Foster's biggest fans in the room were several members of the 501st Legion, an all-volunteer organization of Star Wars enthusiasts, who were also specially invited to attend the event in their full Star Wars regalia. The national nonprofit frequently promotes interest in Star Wars by supporting local communities through costumed charity and volunteer work.

Mike Moland, who has been a 501st member for several years now, was wearing a complete Stormtrooper costume.

"I have a few costumes," Moland said. "I've got a Jedi, which I have several variations for, and I also work on a Royal Guard."

Howard Chibel, who lives in Black Canyon City and attends classes at Yavapai College's CTEC facility, was dressed as Boba Fett. He is currently going through the initial stages of being accepted into the 501st.

"I really like to dress up," Chibel said.

Following the screening, all 210 Victory clients were treated to a lunch at Freedom Station Family Fun Center while Foster briefly spoke and patiently answered more questions.

"The thing about science-fiction people is there's no age discrimination at all," Foster said. "You'll see an 80-year-old writer talking to a 16-year-old would-be writer or reader on an equal basis. You don't get that in any other genre really, because they all remember being a 16-year-old would-be writer."

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105, or 928-642-7864.