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Foster may be best known for his science fiction novels set in the Humanx Commonwealth, an interstellar ethical/political union of species including humankind and the insectoidThranx. Many of these novels feature Philip Lynx ("Flinx"), an empathic young man who has found himself involved in something which threatens the survival of the Galaxy. Flinx's constant companion since childhood is a minidrag named Pip, a flying, empathic snake capable of spitting a highly corrosive and violently neurotoxicvenom.
One of Foster's better-known fantasy works is the Spellsinger series, in which a young musician is summoned into a world populated by talking creatures where his music allows him to do real magic whose effects depends on the lyrics of the popular songs he sings (although with somewhat unpredictable results).
Many of Foster's works have a strong ecological element to them, often with an environmental twist. Often the villains in his stories experience their downfall because of a lack of respect for other alien species or seemingly innocuous bits of their surroundings. This can be seen in such works as Midworld, about a semi-sentient planet that is essentially one large rainforest, and Cachalot, set on an ocean world populated by sentient cetaceans. Foster usually devotes a large part of his novels to descriptions of the strange environments of alien worlds and the coexistence of their flora and fauna. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is Sentenced to Prism, in which the protagonist finds himself trapped on a world where life is based on silicon rather than carbon, as on Earth.
Foster was the ghostwriter of the original novelization of Star Wars, which was credited solely to George Lucas. After two other writers had declined his offer of a flat fee of $5,000 for the work, Lucas brought the original screenplay to Foster, after which Foster fleshed out the backstory of time, place, planets, races, history and technology in such detail that it became canonical for all subsequent Star Wars novels. When asked if it was difficult for him to see Lucas get all the credit for Star Wars, Foster said, "Not at all. It was George's story idea. I was merely expanding upon it. Not having my name on the cover didn't bother me in the least. It would be akin to a contractor demanding to have his name on a Frank Lloyd Wright house."
Foster also wrote the follow-up novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978), written with the intention of being adapted as a low-budget sequel to Star Wars if the film was unsuccessful. However, Star Wars was a blockbusting success, and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) would be developed instead. Foster's story relied heavily on abandoned concepts that appeared in Lucas's early treatments for the first film. Foster was stunned when Return of the Jedi (1983) revealed that Luke and Leia were siblings; in his novel, the characters exhibit some level of romantic energy. Although the book was largely ignored by later entries in the Star Wars film canon, it was the first Star Wars Expanded Universe entry written (although not the first published--a Marvel Comics story holds that honor).
Foster has the story credit for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also wrote 10 books based on episodes of the animated Star Trek, the first six books each consisting of three linked novella-length episode adaptations, and the last four being expanded adaptations of single episodes that segued into original story. In the mid-seventies, he wrote original Star Trek stories for the Peter Pan-label Star Trek audio story records. He later wrote the novelization of the 2009 film Star Trek, his first Star Trek novel in over 30 years. He later wrote the novelization for Star Treks sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
Foster won the 2008 Grand Master award from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
Humanx Commonwealth Universe
Pip and Flinx
Novels are listed in chronological order of the story (not chronological order of publication). Foster comments, in a foreword to a re-issued edition of Bloodhype, that it is the eleventh novel in the series, and should fall between Running from the Deity and Trouble Magnet.
"Serenade" (2004), a novelette set immediately after The Time of the Transference, was first published in the anthology Masters of Fantasy and was later reprinted in Foster's short story collection Exceptions to Reality.
^Bently, Lionel; Biron, Laura (2014). "The author strikes back: Mutating authorship in the expanded universe". Law and Creativity in the Age of the Entertainment Franchise. Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN978-1-107-03989-6.