Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo went on a tweetstorm this afternoon on the old Expanded Universe, reboots, and the original history of Mon Calamari. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind, but it’s a good read.
Bonus: John Jackson Miller, one of the few authors to write on both the old and new EU, on storytelling in a shared universe.
The first Star Wars novel to be set after Return of the Jedi, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was released in hardcover on May 1, 1991. It was the first major step out of what’s now called ‘the Dark Times,’ when Star Wars was (mostly) a dormant franchise. The book was immensely successful and helped prove there was still an audience for Star Wars
Although now classified as non-canon ‘Legends’, along with the rest of the pre-2014 Expanded Universe, Heir remains an important part of franchise and fandom history. Hell, we wouldn’t exist without it.
Also it’s a damn good story and you should read it (along with ’92’s Dark Force Rising and ’93’s The Last Command) if you haven’t already. Though note I am totally biased.
Pablo Hidalgo dig out a real gem to share with Twitter this afternoon – a 1994 style guide for writers submiting to the West End Games Star Wars line. Head below the cut for his tweets. Continue reading →
Here’s a bullet I’m glad we dodged back in the day: Jordan Maison at Cinelinx reports of an Episode VII game idea that was floating around Lucasfilm in late 2004.
Episode VII: Shadows of the Sith would have put you in the role of an adult Ben Skywalker,” Haden explained, “who was walking the line between the light and dark sides of the Force, unleashing new Force powers never-before-seen in games or movies as he investigated a new threat to the galaxy (a Solo…).
The now decanonizedBen Skywalker was born close to the middle of the New Jedi Order series, in 2001’s Edge of Victory: Rebirth. At the time the idea was in play, The New Jedi Order series had ended with The Unifying Force almost a year before, with Ben still a toddler. His next appearance was the Dark Nest trilogy, which began with The Joiner King in July 2005.
Note again: This was just a pitch/concept, which makes it an interesting might-have-been, nothing more.
The idea of Episode VII being a game just doesn’t sit right at all… But if the game had made it to production I doubt that would have remained the title. Still, it’s interesting to imagine what we might have gotten if this had been in play for the increasingly disappointing final years of the Legends novels.
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.
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.
Yesterday, 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.
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.