The Han Solo Adventures gave Star Wars’ infamous smuggler a new droid companion, whose name required a little modification for readers outside the US.
The Star Wars universe has produced an array of memorable character names over the years. From the weird (Chewbacca, Salacious B. Crumb), to the wonderful (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker), to the just plain on-the-nose (Elan Sleazebaggano), the naming conventions of Star Wars are just one of the many tools used in the franchise’s rich and distinctive world-building. However, when crafting such unusual alien names, every so often there is bound to be a misstep.
In April 1979, the novel Han Solo at Stars’ End kicked off the Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures series. The novel saw Han and Chewbacca on a mission to Orron III, and among their new allies was a droid called BLX-5 — or as he was more commonly known to fans everywhere other than the United Kingdom, Bollux.
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In the novel that introduced the droid, Han and Chewie are on a mission to extract undercover agents from Orron III in exchange for repairs and flight waivers for the Millennium Falcon. Bollux and his friend Blue Max — a small, immobile slicer droid, carried by Bollux — were assigned to assist Han and Chewie on their mission. Over the course of the story, Bollux is mistaken for a gladiator droid, forced into combat with a far more powerful Mark X Executioner droid, and ultimately sacrifices himself to save Han’s life. Fortunately, thanks to Blue Max backing up his personality, Bollux is rebuilt and goes on to star alongside the infamous smugglers in both Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. It’s a shame, then, that this major character of the Han Solo Adventures was given a name pronounced the same as the British slang “bollocks,” literally meaning “testicles,” often used as a crass term for “nonsense/rubbish.”
It might seem surprising to modern fans that such a glaringly inappropriate term in a major English-speaking market made its way into the book unnoticed. However, it’s important to remember these novels were published long before the days of the internet and the level of global interconnectedness fans enjoy today. An author writing in the U.S. was unlikely to have any way of knowing about such colloquial British terminology, and even more unlikely to stop to consider such things when making up sci-fi character names. When the book was published in the U.K., Bollux became Zollux, probably for the best. 2006’s The New Essential Guide to Droids even went so far as to specify “Zollux” was an alias sometimes used by Bollux.
This isn’t the only instance of a Star Wars character having to be renamed something more appropriate overseas either. While Bollux may be unique in being the only character to be deemed inappropriate in another form of English, a few characters have had to undergo a name change in foreign language releases. Portuguese had some notable issues in this area, leading to changes being made in the Brazilian versions of the prequels and some other Star Wars media. For instance, Count Dooku became Dookan to avoid similarity to the Portuguese “do cu,” which translates to “from the ass.” Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, first mentioned in Attack of the Clones, also underwent a name change to become Zaifo-Vias to avoid similarity to a Portuguese expletive. Meanwhile, in Italian, Darth Vader became Dart Fener, due to “Vader” sounding too close to the Italian for “toilet bowl.”
While these instances are unfortunate, if amusing, they might just be unavoidable in a franchise as vast as Star Wars, filled with the sort of outlandish names that belong in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe these past embarrassments will give future Star Wars writers pause for thought when naming their characters, although 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story: Tales From Vandor would suggest otherwise. This book reintroduced Han Solo’s droid companion to Disney’s revised Star Wars canon. It seems even with a brand new continuity, Star Wars is stuck with the same old Bollux.
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