The STAR WARS EXPANDED UNIVERSE is officially axed. Here's your new Expanded Universe

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Over the last year I’ve written a lot about the Star Wars Expanded Universe – the collection of books, TV shows, games, comics, etc that elaborate on the story before, between and beyond the six feature films – and most of it was lamenting at the ever more clear fact that Lucasfilm would be axing the EU as non-canon and not making use of any of the brilliant, fan favourite story elements and characters that millions  have come to know and love, in the new trilogy of films kicking off with JJ Abrams’ Episode VII next year.

Lucasfilm has now finally released an official statement on the matter, and it turns out that yes, the EU is indeed being put on the chopping block, however, the characters/story elements may still be adapted, while a new EU will now be created.
Confused? Let the official statement explain:

For over 35 years, the Expanded Universe has enriched the Star Wars experience for fans seeking to continue the adventure beyond what is seen on the screen. When he created “Star Wars,” George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination, and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became the Expanded Universe, or EU, of comics, novels, videogames, and more.

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six “Star Wars” episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.

Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of “Star Wars” storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development.

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, “Star Wars” Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-“Return of the Jedi” Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new “Star Wars” entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in “Star Wars Rebels”. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.

Demand for past tales of the Expanded Universe will keep them in print, presented under the new Legends banner.

On the screen, the first new canon to appear will be “Star Wars Rebels”. In print, the first new books to come from this creative collaboration include novels from Del Rey Books. First to be announced, John Jackson Miller is writing a novel that precedes the events of Star Wars Rebels and offers insight into a key character’s backstory, with input directly from executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman.

And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of “Star Wars” storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away….

So in essence – and I know this is all you really want to hear – yes, there is a (slight) possibility that we may just see Admiral Thrawn on the big screen after all. Though, since Episode VII takes place 35 years after Return of the Jedi, after fan favourite characters like Thrawn, Mara Jade, Corran Horn, the Yuzhan Vong, etc were first introduced, if these characters were ever to show up, it would probably not be how we remember it.

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And as mentioned above, this new rebooted EU -because that’s really what it is – will be kicking off soon, and as such, Del Rey have already unveiled the first four new novels:

 

 

 

Del Rey are currently still keeping the stories of most of these under wraps, but if I should hazard a guess based on the title and cover art alone, I’d wager that Heir to the Jedi will probably be the most important out of the lot. The title is a clear nod to Heir to the Empire, Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel that not only introduced us to Thrawn and several other notable characters/settings (it’s the first time Coruscant is mentioned) but arguably also kickstarted the EU into what it is now. Heir to the Jedi also appears to be the only novel that’s actually taking place after Return of the Jedi, and thus probably fleshing out that gap between the original trilogy and Episode VII.

And to help us remember just what it it was that we’ve sort of lost now, Lucasfilm have also released this video all about the Expanded Universe and the impact it has had (how kind of them).

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Last Updated: April 29, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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