Harrar said:"The ancient texts are unclear. It appears we were invaded by a race that was more technological than animate. We called on the gods for protection, and they came to our aid, providing us with the knowledge we needed to convert our living resources to weapons. We defeated the threat, and, empowered by our victory, we gradually became conquerors of other species and civilizations." -The Unifying Force
The Yuuzhan Vong Bible
In a round-robin interview provided in some editions of The Unifying Force and some editions of the Vector Prime e-book, a round robin discussion moderated by Del Ray was provided consisting of:
- Shelly Shapiro, Editorial Director, Del Rey Books
- Sue Rostoni, Managing Editor, Lucasfilm
- Lucy Wilson, Director of Publishing, Lucasfilm
- James Luceno, Author
On The Origin Of Yuuzhan Vong
DR: I've heard that the name Yuuzhan Vong came from a restaurant menu during an early editorial powwow. Any truth to that?
LW: You bet. Yuuzhan Vong, as well as many other brilliant ideas over the course of history, came from food.
SS: Lucy and some of us Del Rey people were eating lunch at a wonderful French-Thai restaurant called Vong here in New York City. I suggested using Vong for the alien invaders. But we wanted something more, and perusing the menu, I came across their list of teas, which included a mention of the "Yunan region." We tossed around ideas and came up with Yunan Vong. We added an extra n, making it Yunnan Vong. But a week or so later, we decided that we wanted it to sound more alien and less Asian, so we changed it first to Yuzzan Vong, then to Yuzhan Vong, and finally settled on Yuuzhan Vong.
On The Role Of George Lucas
DR: How much of a role did George Lucas play in shaping the series?
LW: George Lucas has been involved in all of the spin-off Star Wars publishing, but only on big concepts or plot points. The initial five-year NJO plot outline and early thoughts on who might die were sent to him in the form of a Q&A memo and subsequently discussed by phone.
SS: I would characterize his role as limited but important. He's the one who said the alien invaders could not be dark side Force-users, that we couldn't kill Luke, that we had to kill Anakin instead of Jacen (we had originally planned it the other way around). Other than that, he occasionally answered some basic questions for us, but that was rare. Mostly he leaves the books to his licensing people, trusting them to get it right.
On Yuuzhan Vong Force Immunity
DR: I'm still not sure I understand how the Vong can be immune to the Force.
SS: Me, neither. They're not exactly "immune" to the Force, though-they just can't be "sensed" through the Force.
SR: This is all explained in The Unifying Force, never fear!
JL: Our original idea was to give the Yuuzhan Vong dark side powers and test the Jedi in a way we imagined the Republic- era Jedi had been tested. When that proved unworkable, we began to wrestle with the idea of making the Vong immune to the Force, which of course led to countless discussions about midichlorians and the possibility that the Force was peculiar to the Star Wars galaxy. All this was admittedly muddled, and almost every writer had a slightly different take on the notion of "immunity." The basic idea was that the Vong could not be perceived through the Force and therefore were not susceptible to certain actions by the Jedi: very much in the same way that Toydarians, Hutts, and other species are immune to Force suggestion, and Tim Zahn's ysalamiri are capable of repulsing the Force. At the conclusion of the NJO . . . but perhaps I should leave that discovery to readers!
DR: Who came up with the idea of a biologically based technology and a culture with a fanatical aversion to machine technology and a value system and sadomasochistic theology based on conquest, violence, sacrifice, and pain?
SS: Bob Salvatore invented the biotech concept, which we liked. We built on that to come up with the fanatical aversion to machine technology. We kind of liked the flip-flopping of the way it had been in the original movies: there, the high tech was mostly in the hands of the bad guys, while the good guys wore homespun and seemed much more low tech. So here it's the reverse: the good guys are high tech, and the bad guys seem more low tech, although they're really just "different tech." The sadomasochistic theology was not planned, and while we tried to pull back on it, not stress it so much (we really wanted it only to be the extra-fanatical Domain Shai-of which Shedao Shai was a part), it took on a life of its own.
JL: the time of the first story conference, I had just returned from an extended trip in Mexico and Guatemala, and during the brainstorming sessions, Del Rey editor Steve Saffel wondered aloud if the Aztecs or Maya might serve as models for the Vong. We began to work with this by imagining a kind of organic-tech Aztec society with a pantheon of gods, rituals of automutilation, a rigid caste system, and a hatred of machines. We weren't out to reinvent the wheel. We were simply trying to come up with villains who had the potential to become as interesting as Palpatine and Darth Vader. Our original conception of the Yuuzhan Vong expanded in all directions after Bob Salvatore, working from scant notes, gave them an actual look and created examples of their wondrous biotech. Mike Stackpole was largely responsible for the system of ranks, and we borrowed heavily from Central American mythology in creating the pantheon of gods. Kathy Tyers and Greg Keyes contributed immensely to this process, further defining the warrior and shaper castes and in enlarging the Yuuzhan Vong menagerie of creatures. Yuuzhan Vong words and phrases accrued as the series progressed.
SS: I don't feel that the Vong are a greater threat than the Emperor and Darth Vader. Different, yes, but not more evil--in fact, it can be argued that the Yuuzhan Vong are less evil, because they are acting from some kind of moral stance, even though it's not a morality we agree with. The Emperor, on the other hand, was acting thoroughly without morals -- out for his own ambition alone.