When it was made official last year that the existing Star Wars Expanded Universe was essentially being scrapped, millions of fans around the world – including me – did their best impersonation of a Special Edition Darth Vader and howled out a woeful “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. For decades, before the EU was relegated to the non-canon Star Wars Legends banner i.e. glorified fan fiction, us fans had been enthralled by the adventures of hundreds of characters found in books, comics, video games and cartoon shows that took place between, during and after the six Star Wars feature films. And now we will do it all over again.
Lucasfilm have unveiled plans (via EW) to release at least 20 new books this year alone, ranging in genres from kiddies stickerbooks to YA fare to more mature adult novels, all of which will be filling in the gaps between 1983’s Return of the Jedi and December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All these new books will be bundled under the banner of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and although they will be telling their own stories, they will be filled with little nuggets of info that will eventually tie into the highly anticipated JJ Abrams directed seventh film in the franchise.
What’s most amazing about this announcement, is that nobody knew about it. Much like how Abrams and co have kept a tight lid on the production of Force Awakens, Lucasfilm have done an even more impressive job keeping this quiet. All we had heard after the old EU was scrapped, was that the Cartoon Network Clone Wars series, Disney XD’s currently airing Star Wars Rebels animated show and four upcoming novels were going to be the only canon stories outside of the movies. There wasn’t a peep about any other entries, which is especially noteworthy as these books will come from different authors under different publishers.
Apparently, a constant stream of clandestine back-and-forth discussions were conducted between authors, screenwriters, editors and the newly appointed Lucasfilm story braintrust was required to wrangle this whole thing together. And as Andrew Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, explained, all the secrecy was as necessary as making sure everybody was on the same page.
“The Force Awakens is an extraordinarily, heavily guarded storyline. To track it, a lot of top-secret meetings were happening up in San Francisco as we worked through this program.”
“The partnership with the story group and the editorial team always had to be true to the sanctity of the film while making sure that we find these moments to introduce hints, clues, and puzzle pieces. Without revealing what those pieces are, it will just allow readers to speculate about the new film: What could a location mean, or what could a character mean?”
While the previous EU introduced numerous incredibly popular characters and story arcs, they were not the most well-maintained when it came to editorial integrity. There were contradictions in various books, and the stories also took over so much of the timeline that they would have painted any prospective future movies into a horrible creative corner. That can no longer happen, as now the movies, books, comics, etc are all operating with the same consistent characters and stories. There is no more need for an “Expanded Universe”, there’s just the one Star Wars Universe where everything happens.
As to exactly what actually happens, well naturally things are being kept close to the chest – especially since many of the new books are still being written. We already knew about and had recently seen the release of “A New Dawn” by John Jackson Miller and “Tarkin” by James Luceno, while “Lords of the Sith” by Paul S. Kemp and ‘Heir to the Jedi” by Kevin Hearne will be released soon. And now there a couple more titles to add to the mix, one of which is “Star Wars: Aftermath” which appears to act as an epilogue to the previous trilogy (basically like “Truce at Bakura” did in the old EU).
Most intriguingly, among the new titles (but which technically are not grouped under the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens banner), are a series of novels that will look to retell the events of the original trilogy from the viewpoints of various still-unknown supporting characters. Also, Disney-Lucasfilm Press will be release a new series of YA novels focusing on the lead characters from that original trilogy, effectively introducing Luke, Han and Leia to a new generation of readers who were too young to experience them the first time around.
“It’s a way to introduce the heroes and villains of that original trilogy to a new audience that might not be as familiar as the audience that went and saw the films when they first came out.”
This series of books will consist of “Moving Target, an adventure following Princess Leia by Cecil Castellucci (author of Tin Star); Jason Fry, who earlier wrote Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy, will be the author of The Weapon of a Jedi, about Luke Skywalker; Claudia Gray, author of the Evernight series of fantasy books, will write a book titled Lost Stars; and Greg Rucka, a comic book scribe and writer of the Atticus Kodiak novels, will pen Smuggler’s Run, a Han Solo tale.”
As somebody who spent so many years in (and so much money on!) the Expanded Universe, I have to admit that I am really excited to see what this new breed of authors can bring to the table. Yes, I am still bummed that we’ve lost characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Quinlan Vos, Corran Horn, Cade Skywalker, Darth Krayt, the Yuuzhan Vong and more, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get just as cool characters in this new universe. Or, you know, they could even resurrect some of them. Who wouldn’t want to see a new, equally badass Thrawn taking the New Republic apart all over again on the big screen?!
Now for me to go invent that time dilation device that will allow me to actually have enough time to read all this stuff!
Last Updated: March 12, 2015