- "The Last One Standing is not merely my favorite Star Wars piece; that's a limited universe. It's one of my favorite pieces of writing, overall. I went back to Harrison Ford's comment about Solo: 'no mama, no papa, and no story.' And I gave Han Solo a last moment in the sun, got the wife and kids away from him, got Chewie away from him, and sent him off to have an adventure by himself, to put him on the field with another old horse, Boba Fett, for one last confrontation."
- ―Daniel Keys Moran
"The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett" is a short story written by Daniel Keys Moran and published by Bantam Spectra in the Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology. It focuses on bounty hunter Boba Fett, though also features passages written from the point of view of war criminal Kardue'sai'Malloc and Han Solo, former smuggler and hero of the Rebellion. The early portions of the book deal with a number of incidents in Boba Fett's early life, documenting his fixation on and rivalry with Han Solo, and establishing much of his background. After jumping time frames a number of time the story reaches 19 ABY and stays there for its duration. After an older Fett successfully captures Kardue'sai'Malloc, the Butcher of Montellian Serat, to pay for his retirement, he and his old nemesis Solo end up facing off on Jubilar, where they first met. The story ends in a cliffhanger, with each man pointing a gun at the other from a close range.
Boba Fett's backstory as established by "The Last One Standing" was originally considered canon, but it was superseded with the release of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, which made Fett a clone of his father. Jango Fett: Open Seasons and The New Essential Guide to Characters fixed this problem with a number of retcons, and while it is still part of the Star Wars Legends continuity, "The Last One Standing" has been marginalized by a number of other works, both in terms of in-universe historical details and in terms of Fett's characterization.
- "I wrote three Star Wars stories for Kevin J. Anderson, back in the mid-late 90s. I'm proud of them: I did my best with them. They were stupid in places…But I did what, to my understanding at least, Lucas had done with Star Wars: hid the stupidity beneath sheer force of conviction, and charged ahead. And I think it worked."
- ―Daniel Keys Moran, author of "The Last One Standing"
In the mid 1990s, Star Wars author Kevin J. Anderson conceived the idea of compiling anthologies of short stories centered on various background characters appearing in the Star Wars saga, whose backstories had by and large only been touched upon by West End Games sourcebooks. Publisher Bantam Spectra and Lucasfilm's Director of Publishing Lucy Wilson were enthusiastic about the idea, and Anderson set about inviting various authors, some of whom had prior experience working in the Star Wars universe, to pen stories for the first anthology, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. It covered many characters seen fleetingly in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope in sixteen short stories. Among the invitees was Daniel Keys Moran, author of the Bantam-published Continuing Time series, who had been recommended to Anderson by Heather McConnell, Moran's partner and an editor at Bantam. Moran penned Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale, basing the story on Kathy Tyers' contribution to the project, We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale. Anderson was impressed by Moran's submission, and it was approved by Lucasfilm, with minor changes such as the removal of the word "whores." The anthology was eventually published in August, 1995, over ten months after the idea was approved by Lucasfilm.
Tales from Jabba's Palace, a second anthology, was approved soon after the first, and Anderson again invited Moran to contribute to it by authoring a story about Boba Fett, who appeared in both Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Attracted by the "strong, silent, brutal" character of Fett, Moran agreed, and turned in an outline for a story depicting what happened to Fett after he fell into the sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. Moran's outline established that the sarlacc was self-aware, and that Fett spent many years in its bowels before his escape; it was initially approved. However, Lucasfilm later requested that Moran change the story to make Fett stay in the sarlacc just a few days, and that it could not be sentient as he wished, which led to the creation of Susejo. Moran revised it until Lucasfilm was satisfied but he was unhappy with the final product and opted to use a pseudonym—J. D. Montgomery—despite the wishes of Lucasfilm. No Star Wars author had previously used a pseudonym with Bantam, but Moran insisted that they either publish the revised piece with the pseudonym or publish the original submission without it. In the anthology's "About the Authors" appendix, the issue of the pseudonym was jestingly glossed over, with the piece stating that J.D. Montgomery "does not exist…not really." The story, A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett, was published in January, 1996. Relations between Lucasfilm and Moran were strained, and he doubted he would get an opportunity to write for Anderson's final collection, Tales of the Bounty Hunters.
Anderson, however, was keen to use Moran as one of the four authors aside from himself to work on the third anthology. He contacted Moran and asked him to pen the Boba Fett story. Daniel Keys Moran was surprised by Anderson's offer, knowing that it could generate friction between Anderson and Lucasfilm and that it was something of a gamble on his part. Moran suspected that Anderson himself knew it wasn't in his best interests to offer him the job, which he admired. After clarifying with Anderson that he would get to write without undue interference from Lucasfilm, Moran accepted and began to work on an outline. His short story would take place over various periods in Fett's life: when he was exiled from his homeworld; his first meeting with Han Solo during one of his early missions as a bounty hunter; a brief recounting of the events in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; a mission, fifteen years after Return of the Jedi, which is to provide Fett with a hefty retirement fund; and a showdown with his old nemesis, Han Solo, shortly after. He also settled on the title "The Last One Standing," which was never changed. Strangely, Moran wasn't restricted by Lucasfilm to explore Boba Fett's youth, as it's widely said that the pre–A New Hope era had to remain untouched in the 1990s by any authors due potential contradictions with the then-unreleased Star Wars prequel trilogy.
After finishing his outline, Moran decided that if Lucasfilm was unhappy with any substantial part of it, he would not write the story and would request that someone else be found to take his place—this was made easier by the fact that there was little money involved in the anthologies to such an extent that, according to Moran, he was essentially writing the stories out of love for the Star Wars franchise. He turned in his outline to Anderson and told him his thoughts on the matter; Anderson liked the outline and told Moran to write the story. He promised to protect it from any major changes by Lucasfilm, and Moran set about working on his first draft.
Moran enjoyed writing the story, and it became one of his favorite self-authored works. He kept in contact with Kevin J. Anderson while writing it—after writing the scene in which Kardue'sai'Malloc is put to death in a pit of starving, vicious quarra, he sent Anderson a letter telling him, "When I'm old and have sons, I will tell them, 'Daddy was bad once.'" After finishing his first draft, Moran sent it to Anderson, who in turn sent it to Lucasfilm. Some minor changes were made, particularly to some of the harsh language, with "hell" and "damn" specifically being removed despite appearing in the films and many Expanded Universe works since. The town on Jubilar mentioned in the story was originally called "Halfway to Hell" and later "Hell," but were changed to "Dying Slowly" and "Death." Moran would have preferred the changes weren't made, but had no real qualms about them and didn't object. At another point, a segment of one line in the story was removed: "If this is Han, buddy, you owe me five hundreds credits if I get back, you've been betting on the slow ones lately" was changed to simply, "If this is Han, buddy, you owe me five hundreds credits if I get back," with no explanation of why. The change annoyed Moran but he again made no issue about it.
However, Lucasfilm did have a major issue with Kardue'sai'Malloc's death scene. An individual at LFL hated the scene and did not want it included in the final product under any circumstances. Moran and Lucasfilm corresponded over the issue, during which the scene was referred to by LFL as "the torture scene." However, Anderson honored his promise to Moran and the scene stayed in, with no changes. The story was finally approved and published along with four others in Tales of the Bounty Hunters.
- "I prefer mine, of course. But it didn't particularly annoy me. I don't care much about canon, and my stories are still out there for anyone who wants to read them. And frankly, even within the universe of commercial fiction, [George] Lucas was utterly contemptuous of his own early writing, when it came time to make the prequels. The idea that I should get annoyed about him ignoring mine? No."
- ―Daniel Keys Moran on his feelings about "Last One Standing" being contradicted by the films
Originally this story was considered the official background story for Boba Fett, but when Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones was released, its depiction of Fett's childhood contradicted the Jaster Mereel backstory. When asked about his feelings of "The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett" being contradicted, Daniel Keys Moran stated that it didn't particularly annoy him as he did not care much about canon, yet admitted that he prefers his story to the one in the film.
Jango Fett: Open Seasons retconned the Jaster Mereel character to be a different individual: the mentor of Fett's father, Jango Fett. Boba Fett took Jaster's name as an alias during his time as a Journeyman Protector, thus saving the story from being apocryphal.
In 2018, Keys Moran revealed in an interview that before the release of the Star Wars Anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story, he had been receiving emails from a Walt Disney Company employee regarding the possibility of Lucasfilm adapting "The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett" into a potential Boba Fett feature film.
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Notes and references
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- "Acknowledgments," Tales from Jabba's Palace, page ii
- Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back
- Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi
- Wookieepedia's interview with Kevin J. Anderson
- Daniel Keys Moran interview at The Boba Fett Fan Club
- Protect the Innocent -- Star Wars -- Lawrence -- Lonesome Dove -- Knightriders — Daniel Keys Moran's blog
- Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Jango Fett: Open Seasons