Matthew Ruddle, marketing manager for Penguin Random House UK, dropped a few news bits on the livestream Sunday morning. Most notable is that Alexander Freed (Battlefront: Twilight Company) is writing the Rogue One novelization.
He also revealed that Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novel will be a prequel to his appearance on Rebels. “You’re going to get to see how Thrawn got to his position of power, how he became so respected in the Empire, and just what makes him such a brilliant villain and tactician,” Ruddle said.
Alas, he couldn’t share even that much detail on James Luceno’s Catalyst, which was also announced yesterday. “If you’re going to be watching Rogue One, you need to read Catalyst,” Ruddle said. “It ties in, it connects dots.”
Star Wars Story Talk (AKA the show formerly known as Unboxing Star Wars) gets in one more episode before Star Wars Celebration Europe! This time, Baby Jawa, Yowie the Skunk, and I try some snacks and review two books: LEGO Star Wars: The Chronicles of the Force, by Adam Bray, David Fentiman, and Cole Horton; and the junior novelization of The Force Awakens by Michael Kogge. Plus a little update on where I’ll be in the coming weeks —Star Wars Celebration Europe and San Diego Comic-Con. Hamburger Helper, Cheez-It crackers, and of course some Baby Jawa fun time!
→ LEGO Star Wars: Chronicles of the Force – A fun and fact-filled guide to both Star Wars and LEGO Star Wars in particular. Lots of focus on LEGO minifigures and sets with plenty of call outs about the story of Star Wars. Plus the exclusive Unkar Plutt’s thug minifigure.
→ Star Wars: The Force Awakens junior novel – Thumbs up! Michael Kogge pens the adaptation of the film for the younger audiences. Quite a few scenes in it that weren’t in the film, and we see a few scenes a bit differently as well. Plus an insert of color photos from the movie.
→ Cheez-It Star Wars crackers – The cheesy square crackers have Star Wars shapes stamped into them! A Star Wars food tie-in done right.
→ Ultimate Hamburger Helper – Star Wars – Barely a tie-in. The food’s the same. Just an offer for $5 of movie concessions if you submit a photo of a receipt showing the purchase of 3 or more boxes. A Star Wars food tie-in done pretty sad.
Where to see jawajames at Star Wars Celebration Europe:
→ Friday: STEM Heroes and Heroines of Star Wars, 12:00p to 1:00p, Star Wars Fan & Collector’s Stage, with Tricia Barr, Cole Horton, Kevin Beentjes, and Hannah Gillis.
→ Saturday: International Star Wars Fandom, 10:30a to 11:30a, Star Wars Fan & Collector’s Stage, with Mark Newbold (UK), Tim Veekhoven (Belgium), Johanna Nybelius (Sweden), and Kevin Beentjes (Netherlands).
The novelization will include two short stories: Foster’s ‘Bait’ from the Star Wars Insider, and Delilah S. Dawson’s ‘The Perfect Weapon,’ which has thus far only been available as an eBook. These dates are fairly far off, so there may be some slight adjustments over time. Our book release schedule has been updated.
Despite over 20 years of the current publishing program, only 3 previous Star Wars novels have topped the NYT list: Timothy Zahn’s Heir the the Empire in 1991, Terry Brooks’ The Phantom Menace novelization in 1999 and Sean Williams’ The Force Unleashed novelization in 2008. Quite a few have made the top ten, with Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath recently peaking at #4.
On Wednesday, the Vader Down storyline wraps up in Star Wars #14 and Darth Vader #15. There’s also the second Darth Vader collection, Shadows and Secrets, in trade… And although it shipped last week, Obi-wan & Anakin #1 was actually supposed to go out this week, so if your comic shop got the memo you may not have been able to find it on sale.
In other book release news, Del Rey officially announced today that Claudia Gray’s New Republic: Bloodlines and Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt have both been pushed back two months each. (Something that’s been reflected on our book release schedule for a while now.) Bloodlines is now due out May 3, and Life Debt on July 19. They’re our next two new novels, though there are a handful of paperback rereleases in the meantime, including the first Aftermath on March 29.
Both io9 and The Daily Dot explore things we’ve learned from Alan Dean Foster’s novelization that aren’t in the movie – including things that got changed. There are some possible hints at the big question regarding Rey, but remember that the novelizations have a rather tenuous connection to canon – they only really count when they’re supported by what’s in the actual films. (As for Rey, I’m not up for picking any teams yet, but I do plan to explore the question of her possible origins at some point.)
→ What happened to those lightsaber scenes, and other things that we saw in the trailer but didn’t make the final cut? J.J. Abrams explains to Entertainment Weekly.
First and foremost, yes, we’re getting the first Star Wars movie in a decade this week – a lucky few (hundred? thousand?) tonight in Hollywood, and the rest of the world a few days later, depending on your location.
→ Settle your bets: The crossguard blades on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber “are raw power vented from the primary central blade,” per the description on display at Disneyland’s Star Wars Launch Bay. (IGN has a tour.) We already knew he built it himself, but the design is “ancient.” (via Reddit)
→ Speaking of Kylo, we haven’t seen much of Adam Driver lately, but he did tell Vulture that he found SDCC to be “intense” and “surprisingly moving.”
→ The Force Awakens is skipping some early award shows, says The Wrap, but the only one here you may have heard of is the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It will be out in time for consideration for the Academy Awards.
→ Variety says there was indeed new music from The Force Awakens in the Shondaland spot.
The Wall Street Journal writes about how Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization won’t be available in hardcover until January – something we’ve known since April. (The ebook will be out on December 18, along with the movie.) It was, not surprisingly, due to a request from Lucasfilm:
David Moench, the Del Rey spokesman, said the publisher would have preferred to put out the hardcover edition out on the day the movie opens in order to capture more sales.
“We would love to release both formats of the novelization simultaneously and not miss the holidays,” he said, “but we recognize the importance of protecting the story for the fans.”
Apparently, fans still prefer the physical books:
“It’s a collector’s mentality,” said Scott Shannon, Del Rey’s publisher. The “Star Wars” titles the publisher has issued have “way over-indexed” in terms of physical book sales to digital copies, said Mr. Shannon.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of information: Del Rey has sold more than 1.2 million Star Wars books in the past twelve months. (Only Aftermath and Lords of the Sith get namechecked.) That number extends to 70 million over the life of the license (including Bantam). It’s not clear if that number goes back to 1977 or 1991, but I suspect ’77. It would be interesting to see the numbers for at least the previous novelizations, but alas.
Fun fact: Although many Star Wars books have made it onto the New York Times’ Best Seller list, only four have made it to #1: The Return of the Jedi Storybook by Joan D. Vinge, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, The Phantom Menace novelization by Terry Brooks and (go figure) The Force Unleashed novelization by Sean Williams.
StarWars.com has the word on some of The Force Awakens books that’ll be released with the movie on December 18th (in addition to The Art of, which we heard about last week.) It’s mostly kid stuff, but there is DK’s standard Visual Dictionary for the movie, and a book from Greg Rucka called Before the Awakening:
A companion piece to the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens character novels, Star Wars: Before the Awakening is an anthology book that focuses on the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The novelization(s) of the film are both under “still to come,” so no cover reveals there just yet, but we know the eBook for Alan Dean Foster’s version will be out the 18th, with the hardcover dropping January 5.