Project Huckleberry (a.k.a. The Mandalorian)

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One of the biggest brands in contemporary SciFi, Star Wars, produced its hit TV series for Disney+, The Mandalorian, under the working title of “Project Huckleberry.” 

For readers of the first two novels in which he appears – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) – Huck may seem a poor prototype for a serial narrative centered around a galactic mercenary tasked with the protection of mystical alien child. But Twain also wrote several little-read sequels which dropped Huck and Tom into speculative fiction scenarios.

In this episode of The American Vandal, host Matt Seybold discusses the Star Wars franchise, The Mandalorian series, and various aspects of genre fiction from Twain’s time to our own with a historicist scholar of speculative fiction and a practicing critic of contemporary SciFi and fantasy.

Nathaniel Williams is Continuing Lecturer in the University Writing Program at University of California, Davis. He is the author of Gears & Gods: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, & Empire in Mark Twain’s America (U. Alabama, 2018). He is currently Book Review Editor for the Mark Twain Annual and also serves on the Advisory Board at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at University of Kansas. Other recent publications, both academic and creative, can be found in The Cambridge History of Science Fiction (2019), Mark Twain in Context (Cambridge, 2020), Metaphorosis Magazine, and The Sockdolager.

Emmet Asher-Perrin is Senior Staff Writer and News & Entertainment Editor at, a digital magazine dedicated to SciFi & Fantasy. Among many other things, they wrote Tor’s episode recaps for The Mandalorian. Other recent work has appeared in Vulture and Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction & Fantasy (Abrams, 2019)

This episode was recorded on February 10th, 2021.

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