“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.” Canon, continuity, and the Expanded Universe

There’s been a lot of talk about continuity and canon in fandom lately. Well, there always is, but this latest round was prompted by the tail end of The Clone Wars S3 and the Petition of the 2000.

I mentioned the petition – and the reaction to it – in my last opinion piece on civility in fandom, but I didn’t really address the actual issues that prompted it. Mostly because, quite honestly? The whole thing bores the hell out of me, but the lack of casual/moderate voices bugs me even more. Go figure.

I’ve been reading Star Wars books and comics for nearly 20 years now: They have never been been perfect, and expecting them to be at this point strikes me as just plain na├»ve. The Expanded Universe is kind of like Millennium Falcon: It more than does the job, and many of us are awfully fond of it, but it’s not without flaws. Big, honking, flaws. And sometimes? It just flat-out sucks. Continue reading ““You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.” Canon, continuity, and the Expanded Universe”

A brief word on not being those crazy fans

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear or not, but I find people who take their fandom too seriously to be absolutely hilarious. As a Star Wars fan, I find it perplexing when other fans take up arms at any hint of irreverent criticism concerning the franchise. Are we not fans of the same fun, cheesy, flawed films? Because I don’t really have a problem admitting that the Star Wars movies (all six of them) are far from perfect. (And yes, the same goes – perhaps even more so – for the Expanded Universe. Embrace the pain! And chill out.)

So, naturally, I take great joy in Jezebel’s takedown of over-serious Twilight fans. Please, don’t let this happen to you. Do you see how ridiculous it looks? And while I’m not saying you have to lay down and take everything, it doesn’t hurt to laugh a little at the expense of what you love. Because, let’s face it – sometimes it just deserves it.

We love our melodramatic space trash, but let’s be realistic here

EU fans embrace the painNo, cheesy franchise books are not generally up for awards. You know why? Because they’re cheesy franchise books, and let’s not even pretend that their burger-flipping reputation is entirely undeserved. Face it, guys: For every Traitor, there are a half-dozen Darksabers. (I’ve paid for most of them. In hardcover.) And half the time, particularly in this franchise, the subtleties of Great Book Z might not work for a reader who lacks extensive knowledge of Crappy Trilogies X and Y.

I’m not even saying that genre award winners are necessarily great literature (I’ve been bored to tears by at least as many as I’ve enjoyed; Pretty much the same as Star Wars, come to think of it) but it’s an entirely different kind of playing field.

And lest we forget, hardcore fans of the sort that inhabit TFN’s Lit forum are not exactly the most unbiased of creatures.

By the by, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers have their own awards, and Karen Miller is currently up for one for Wild Space.

TFN thread of the indeterminate time period: The key phrase here is ‘historical perspective’

After nearly two decades, three actual movies, a TV show/movie, and (approximately) a thousand other books, of course Heir to the Empire and pals have some continuity issues. Sorry, that’s just how we play it in the GFFA. Suck it up, fanboy.

But we can agree on one thing: The covers have always been pretty bad. Of course, some of the EU’s worst have nice Drew Struzan covers, thus proving the old adage…

Face it: There is no Expanded Universe golden age

Oh TFN, your ability to bring the laughs to fandom is yet unmatched. Check out this winner: Is the EU really starting to suck?

First of all: Starting? Like any product of this magnitude, the Expanded Universe has its ups and downs, and always has. There is no EU golden age: even back in the days of Bantam, fans were bitching up a storm. There are great books, good books, bad books, horrific books and the work of Kevin J. Anderson. (A man who dared to write that Mara’s hair was ‘auburn.’ Oh noes!)

And, let’s not forget, these classifications are completely subjective. One fan’s Crystal Star is another fan’s Heir to the Empire. I can’t even begin to comprehend why anyone would see YJK as the pinnacle of the Expanded Universe, but if nothing else it shows the sheer variety of fandom opinion.

In any case, the potential for ‘suck’ has existed in the EU since the day the first bit of it rolled off the printing press. The main variable here is the reader, and their taste. Yes, it’s more or less inevitable that every fan will be disappointed at some point. The only real difference is how one deals with it.

It’s okay to be unhappy with the direction of a series. It’s okay to not like a book, or an author. But try to see beyond your own prejudice, or at least do something with your angst other than throwing around words like ‘suck’ and ‘trash’ on a message board all day. It doesn’t make you look any good, and it certainly doesn’t do the fandom as a whole any favors.

Embrace the pain. Mock it, snark it, twist it to your own purposes. But don’t let it rule you.

And, for the record, at least some at TFN are trying to detract from the negativity.