Tag Archives: star wars legends

Bullet dodged: Episode VII could have been named ‘Shadow of the Empire’

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Episode VII could have had a title that echoed one of the dregs of the early Expanded Universe. “It was Shadow (singular) of the Empire for a while,” Pablo Hidalgo tweeted Friday. “With so many books, it’s inevitable,” he said earlier. And that’s true enough: The Force Awakens itself is a title reminiscent of the 2008 video game The Force Unleashed.

sote-legends-But unlike TFU, Shadows of the Empire hails from the mid-90s, when all the franchise’s new content was in the form of books, comics and games. In fact, the 1996 Shadows storyline was used as a marketing test-run for The Phantom Menace – it had a novel, video game, comic, toys and even a soundtrack. As such, it has lingered on in fan memories to the point where it’s not unusual for some to think it’s still canon.

Having Episode VII reuse a form of that title would have muddied the well considerably, even if the two had nothing in common other than a handful of characters. The key fact: Shadows was set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It’s not an Expanded Universe entry anyone could ever actually mistake for an Episode VII contender.

(Shadows certainly has a following, but it has never been a personal or CJ favorite – I recommend listening to this relevant episode of Full of Sith if you need a primer on why. It’s oh so very ’90s.)

Will we see Shadow of the Empire as a title again? We might! It could certainly fit the new era, but I’m very glad Episode VII became The Force Awakens instead.

Star Wars Books shuts down Facebook page to spare fans movie spoilers from disgruntled Legends backers

The Force Awakens novelizationYesterday, we first heard of threats from some members of the so-called ‘Bring Back Legends’ movement to spoil The Force Awakens on public Facebook pages. Apparently some of them made good on their threats, because the folks at Del Rey have deactivated their Star Wars Books page. They explain their decision – no, it’s not gone for good – on their Tumblr:

We don’t want to give people who wish to spoil the movie for others a platform to do that and we are under no obligation to do so.

The ‘Bring Back Legends’ (or ‘Give Us Legends’) movement is a rather scattered gathering of fans of older Star Wars novels and comics – almost everything published before September 2014, including several decades of storylines that continue past Return of the Jedi. Last year, Lucasfilm announced that the older fiction would stay in print as ‘Legends’ – but as an alternate universe that doesn’t count towards the new films. Most Bring Back Legends fans want the older storylines to be continued, but there is a rather wide spectrum of opinions and attitudes on how and why.

My policy has been – and remains – to not cover them, for the most part. Most of them seem rather harmless – bitter, sometimes annoying, but harmless. But this is not the first incident where they’ve crossed a very distinct line, and that I will not ignore.

This is not going to change anyone’s minds about Legends, and spoiling people for a hotly-anticipated movie may be skeevy, but this is not a matter of life and death. Still, no one should have to invoke the nuclear option because of what is and isn’t canon in tie-in fiction.

Meanwhile, look for Del Rey to publish Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization as an eBook on Friday – Facebook or no Facebook.

Star Wars out this week: Some movie, I hear?

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.

But for our purposes, let’s look at Wednesday first, which brings the Darth Vader Annual, Kanan #9, and the Legends Epic Collection: Infinities, because Marvel heard you’d like some alternate universe in your alternate universe.

Now Friday is when things get really interesting, as not only is there a movie, but a whole bunch of books as well. For fiction, there’s The Force Awakens novelization by Alan Dean Foster (eBook only – the hardcover isn’t out until January 5) and Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka. For reference, Pablo Hidalgo’s The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections from Kemp Remillard and Jason Fry, and of course, The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Chuck Wendig has some wise words on the concept of canon

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One of the latest writers to come into the Star Wars fold, Chuck Wendig, has a blog entry on canon this morning. (Warning: Lumpy.)

Here’s my favorite bit, which speaks to why a lot of us Expanded Universe fans aren’t up in arms over the Legends thing or calling for more.

The more strict and detailed the canon becomes, the more reverence we devote to it. And the more it restricts the future of that narrative. The more it chokes off what can be told. Doors close. Windows slam shut and are boarded over. Options are lost. The more we care about what’s “true” — in a universe that has never been true and whose power lies in its fiction — we start denigrating those things that aren’t. We view alternate timelines as somehow inconsequential. We dismiss fan-fiction as just some wish fulfillment machine instead of what it often is: a way to tell cool new stories in a pre-existing pop culture framework that aren’t beholden to the canonical straitjacket.

As someone with a lot of history in the fan fiction realm – remember, this site actually served mainly as an archive for Club Jade’s first several years – that is the perfect description of it: Another way to tell cool stories.

No, I don’t view Legends as fan fiction – it’s still professionally published and licensed, by professional authors, which most fanfic isn’t. (At all.) And the Legends authors never had the freedom your standard fic author does, to ignore or use whatever. Even in the beginning, there were guidelines and restrictions, which is why there wasn’t a crazy Obi-wan clone in the Thrawn trilogy.

But clinging to the concept of canon has, over time, done just as much harm as good, and it’s just plain unrealistic in many ways – which is Wendig’s point, really. The world doesn’t work like that.

‘Bring Back Legends’ devotees upgraded to actual harassment at DragonCon

dragonconIn addition to the nuttery going on with Aftermath and the ever-present comment hijacking on official Facebook pages, it appears that a faction of the ‘Bring Back Legends‘ crew was actually harassing VIPs and fans at DragonCon last weekend, Brian at Tosche Station reports:

One panelist and moderator was stalked to a restroom by someone from Bring Back Legends. Another panelist was halted in the Marriott atrium and, again, was talked at and had a set of flyers pushed off on them even though the panelist said they didn’t want one. The Bring Back Legends folks at Dragon Con had become general nuisances, but more than once it went beyond that. I spoke with several fans and panelists who confided that they were made extremely uncomfortable by the advances of the individuals from Bring Back Legends. Others corroborated my story, that they were cornered after panels and had a difficult time escaping their speeches and questioning. The combination of forced interaction and awareness of what the general behavior of these people online proved to be an unsettling experience every time we were approached. We knew they weren’t interested in talking to us, they wanted to talk at us and recruit us to their cause.

And those are far from the only incidents he experienced or heard about – there are more at the link.

The Legends folks were, from reports, fairly courteous at SDCC – and I don’t recall any stories from Celebration at all. Did DragonCon just luck into a particularly obnoxious contingent? Did the more fan-run nature of the con make people think they could get away with this sort of thing more easily? Or are we just dealing with a few individuals who don’t understand basic social cues? In any case, this is not how you get folks on your side.

Kenneth C. Flint’s Heart of the Jedi is revealed – though the story behind it may be more intriguing

heart-mockupHere’s an interesting piece of Expanded Universe history – a couple chapters of Kenneth C. Flint’s The Heart of the Jedi, a book from the early 90’s that we heard about at the time (mostly notably in Kevin J. Anderson’s introduction to the Dark Empire trade paperback) but that never materialized. Star Wars Timeline will be posting the whole thing – four chapters at a time.

In the author’s note, Flint tells his side of the story – and it certainly doesn’t sound like a content issue. He spent a year writing the book, revising it, being told Lucasfilm had approved it, and then:

Finally, growing concerned, I contacted an agent who contacted Spectra. He discovered only then that Spectra had determined my book couldn’t be published because it “no longer fit into the sequence for the new series.”

I was told that this happened because of my Spectra editor. She had supposedly promised another author of the group (a friend of hers, according to one source) that her book would be placed in Position One. This apparently accounted for the “delays” that I had been told about, while she wrote her own book to slip into my slot while I sat idle and ignorant of what was happening for months. I have made a point of not knowing who this other author is, and I have never been able to bring myself to read her book, or any other of the subsequent series, saddened that this so violated my love of everything Star Wars.

Did I confront Lucasfilm and try to fight this situation? Nope. I didn’t know who to contact or how, remember. I worked for Spectra. I had no resources of my own, I was pitifully naïve, and I felt pretty much powerless by that point.

Flint declines to name the author, but there are only two women in the immediately post-Thrawn trilogy author lineup. Kathy Tyers’s Truce at Bakura was the first Star Wars novel to come out after Timothy Zahn’s The Last Command, followed by Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy, Dave Wolverton’s Courtship of Princess Leia, and Vonda McIntyre’s The Crystal Star. Bakura is the only book here set right after Return of the Jedi – “immediately after the second Death Star is destroyed” – the same period as Flint’s novel.

I see no reason Bakura couldn’t have been set at any point between Return of the Jedi and Courtship with a few tweaks – the bulk of the action being far, far away from Endor, and the Empire/Rebellion conflict being a fertile one – so I wonder if Bantam had other other reason to cancel Heart? Certainly everyone was playing fast and lose with the timeline at this point (the HoloCron was years away,) and in an era where Anderson was an active participant “quality” isn’t much of an argument.

In any case, Flint says the incident “basically destroyed my relationship with Spectra and my career as I writer.” He was so depressed he quit writing, found another job to get back on his feet, and is only now getting back into it.

It’s not a happy story, and I’m not surprised he’d want to tell it – though I am surprised that he’d share the book. (via)

The Force Awakens: Vanity Fair catches up with Pablo (and John Williams)

pablo-hidalgo-lucasfilmRed alert! Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo is in Vanity Fair! We knew him when, y’all. Okay, they also have John Williams talking about The Force Awakens score, but: Pablo! He gives another fab quote on the Legends situation:

…there are great stories told there, but in all honesty they were written in an era where there was no expectation that we were going to add new movies or cinematic content onto that. So they blazed new trails there without the benefit of that knowledge, and they told really cool and compelling stories, but it’s not necessarily the stories that we want to tell on-screen.

→ Someone else got a super-vague quote from Oscar Isaac about Star Wars, this time the improbably named Monkeys Fighting Robots. (Says the woman who runs a site that sounds like it probably hosts porn.)

→ Do you want a (possible) synopsis of The Force Awakens based on all the Making Star Wars rumors? Do you? Because MSW has that for you. Click or not, it’s all you.

Out this week: Darth Vader #5, New Republic collection

Marvel keeps the new release train rolling on Wednesday with Darth Vader #5 and Legends Epic Collection: The New Republic Vol. 1, which contains a real hodgepodge of Dark Horse stuff – including Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand and material from several issues of Tales. But if it’s new stuff you’re chomping at the bit for, StarWars.com has a preview of the Vader issue.

Novelwise, we’re in the cold until Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple on July 7.