The lasting legacy of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. Lisa Granshaw looks at the Expanded Universe’s first big hit for Blastr.
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.
On the latest Full of Sith, Bryan Young caught up with Timothy Zahn at Origins this weekend, and got him to pronounce some of the names from his Star Wars books.
It’s not too long an episode, for various reasons – Our condolences go out to co-host Mike Pilot and family for the loss of their dog last week.
I had a lot of mixed feelings the other day watching the new video on Ahsoka Tano.
I’m not in The Clone Wars generation by any means – I’d been active in fandom for more than a decade when Ahsoka came around – hell, this blog was four years old in 2008.
But what Ahsoka is to that generation, Mara Jade was to mine. She was, back in the day – or at least to some of us – just as big a Star Wars figure as Leia. In fact, she was only the second female in the whole franchise to get anywhere near that much development. For nearly a decade – before the prequels – Mara Jade was the second-most important woman in Star Wars. But she’s not canon any more. And though I don’t really care about that, I have to admit it hurts to see her effect ignored. Oh, I know that to mention her in that video would just muddy the waters, but so much of what you see with Ahsoka and fandom right now mirrors what was happening with Mara and fandom back in the day.
It sounds like they won’t be beating around the bush at Celebration Anaheim – the first event sounds like it’ll be J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy themselves, and for some reason I doubt they’ll show up empty-handed. There’s very little doubt that we’re going to get a new The Force Awakens trailer at the con, so just as well get it out of the way ASAP. And having this on Thursday instead of Saturday means it might be a tad easier to get wristbands, right? (Ha.)
Also, if you head to the Art Show page on the Celebration site and click on the artists, you can get a first look at the art that will be on sale, including a Thrawn trilogy-themed piece from Grant Gould!
Although Timothy Zahn’s Reddit AMA today was not specifically for his Star Wars work (unlike Jeremy Bulloch this morning, who was promoting A Force For Change.) Tim’s is for the Humble Sci-Fi eBook Bundle 3, which contains his novel Blackcollar But of course there were , there were still plenty of Star Wars questions, recapped below.
First off, no Star Wars is currently on his plate. When asked about his current projects:
So far, nothing new with Star Wars, but they know where to find me if they want me.
On what he’d like to write in the new canon:
I would certainly be interested in writing more Star Wars. I presume LFL wouldn’t simply give me carte blanche, but would want something specific (a spin-off from Ep 7, maybe, or some backstory filler).
If they really let me do whatever I wanted, I have a couple of ideas (all right: 20-30) in mind. But all of that depends on them.
His thoughts on the noncanon/Legends status of the old Expanded Universe.
I wasn’t going to address this topic. But since so many of you have asked:
What the “non-canon” announcement by LFL means is that they aren’t going to be bound by the Expanded Universe books, comics, and games as they plan their new movies. Realistically, that’s something they had to do — the EU is just too big, complicated, and occasionally contradictory for them to have to deal with.
However, I’m guessing that EU stories that aren’t referenced (or contradicted) by the sequel movies will still be considered sort-of alive, in the same way that most Clone Wars-era stories (like Outbound Flight) were mostly unaffected, with the exception being all of the previous material on Boba Fett’s backstory.
Alternatively, if the new movies do contradict my books in some way, I can probably come up with some hand-waving story that will explain the apparent discrepancy. If there’s one thing we authors are good at, it’s hand-waving.
On that Chewbacca moon-dropping nonsense:
Nope, I had nothing to do with dropping that moon on Chewbacca. (Peter Mayhew’s a friend — I’d never do that to him!)
Still, given that Peter’s in the new movie (presumably as Chewie) it would appear that the folks who dropped that moon missed.
On the Mara-killing nonsense:
Not only was I given no input to Mara’s fate, I wasn’t even told about it until a couple of months before publication.
If I had been offered a say, though, I’d have argued against it. My vision of Star Wars is good vs evil, with the heroes struggling to win, and the major characters making it through. (Otherwise, either Lando or Wedge would have died inside the second Death Star.)
For the record, this isn’t just because Mara was my creation. I’d have argued against killing Chewbacca for the same reason.
Also: On his stuff making it to the screen; where the idea for Thrawn came from and if he had been in command at Endor and against the Vong; his unpublished stuff; what about more Imperial Mara? Karrde’s face/accent; on the alien invasion hints that eventually lead to the NJO; on ‘just for the paycheck’ and if he feels any resentment for being known for franchise work; on the ‘perks’; his formula for hyperspace; on continuity.
Heir to the Empire and Darth Bane: Path of Destruction eBooks on sale for $1.99. A May the 4th special!
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was barely 13, and became an Expanded Universe fan only days later. My entire experience of falling in love with Star Wars was prompted and is because of the Expanded Universe; I ‘first’ saw the movies on VHS over Christmas break in 1991. And we wouldn’t have even had those copies in the house if not for the release of Heir to the Empire in the spring of that year.
I owe my entire fandom to Heir to the Empire and the Thrawn trilogy. The Expanded Universe, which was pretty much all there was back in those days, formed the nucleus of my fandom. They hooked me, and they hooked me well enough that I sit here, 22 years later, running a fairly popular blog devoted to the franchise, with those same worn copies of Heir, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command not four feet away.
I love the Expanded Universe. It’s a weird kind of love that you get with this sort of fandom; I kept with it through some of the absolute worst fiction I have ever read, and many books that could I barely bring myself to call mediocre and, yes, even those rare gems that make it all worth it.
But I’m also okay with letting it go.
Critical reaction to Heir to the Empire. At the StarWars.com blog, Mark Newbold takes a look back at how the first Star Wars novel of the modern era has been received over the years.
Yuletide, the annual rare-fandoms fanfic gift exchange, had a rule change this year that suddenly made it relevant to our interests – they allowed requests from lesser-ficed parts of large fandoms like Star Wars. So, for the first time, we’re seeing Star Wars fanfics among the offerings. 32 of them, in fact, including a whooping 13 X-Wing fics. Other requests included the Thrawn trilogy and The Old Republic.
EU-based fanfic has never been exactly rare, but it does tend to focus on the big ‘ships (ahem) so if you’ve been looking for something a little different, check out the listings. The authors are all currently anonymous, but will be revealed on January 1st, per Yuletide tradition.