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Posted: 29th April 2014

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An interpretation of the Star Wars Legends banner

[Star Wars Legends: Heir to the Empire]

By Ewan, webmaster Star Wars Books & Comics

"[a]fter Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story [...] was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy. But these were not stories that I was destined to tell. Instead they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided"
- George Lucas, introduction to Splinter of the Mind's Eye

When I started this website back in 2001, under the rather pretentious title "Zee Zee's Star Wars Book Emporium", it listed around a hundred Star Wars stories. Today, some thirteen years later, "Star Wars Books & Comics" lists over 700 Star Wars Expanded Universe stories. There can be no doubt that that is a lot of stories from a galaxy far, far away and the official intention is that every story should conform to a single cohesive continuity.

However, after more than three decades of Expanded Universe publishing, in some places that continuity is somewhat disingenuous and when this happens events or stories must be retconned. While retconning has been sufficient to correct most inconsistencies, individual retcons appear in a multitude of formats: maybe in another printed story which in itself could be either a novel, a comic or a short story; or within the pages of an issue of Star Wars Insider magazine; or an online article on StarWars.com. Where the retcon does not appear is in the original story itself and for the casual Star Wars reader, or even fan, coming across such an event where they are unaware of the retcon must undoubtedly raise questions regarding a story's legitimacy with the Star Wars Universe.

Undoubtedly then, it takes a lot of work by several Lucasfilm Licensing people to maintain the cohesion within the continuity. However, there are occasions where retconning just isn't sufficient to explain inconsistencies. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the recent conflict between Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series (2008-2014) and Clone Wars material originaly published between 2002 and 2007/8 by Del Rey, Dark Horse Comics and Scholastic Books. Since George Lucas was personally involved in the former, those stories are considered to be of a higher canon level than the latter stories. Therefore original stories published six years before the TV animated series could now be overridden by events seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Although many argued that this conflict could be resolved, given time, it had to be clear to those monitoring the Expanded Universe that the concept of a single cohesive continuity was inexorably broken.

Thus when George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in late 2012 and it was announced that a new Sequel Trilogy was to be produced, it was obvious that an original film story set 30 years after Return of the Jedi presented a genuine problem: according to the Expanded Universe, Chewbacca died in Vector Prime (21 years after Return of the Jedi) but if Chewbacca appears in Episode VII then his "death" couldn't have happened and subsequent Expanded Universe stories are void; but if Chewbacca doesn't appear in Episode VII then how do you explain to the large casual film audience who are expecting Chewbacca (plus Luke, Leia and Han) how and where he died, and then decide after the events of Episodes VII-IX are known, which post-Jedi Expanded Universe stories should survive and which shouldn't. It only made sense that Disney/Lucasfilm would form its "Story Group" with its mission to create a single canon, not a single continuity, but a single canon so that all ongoing material, whether it be novel, comic, video-game, etc. would be on the same level of canonicity. The only question that remained was "to reboot, or not reboot?"

[ Star Wars: Crucible ][ Star Wars: Kenobi ][ Star Wars: Razor's Edge ]

The answer to that question was revealed last Friday when Lucasfilm announced that from September 2014 and the release of John Jackson Miller's A New Dawn novel, the existing Expanded Universe was to be re-branded. All material published prior to A New Dawn (excluding Dark Horse Comics' forthcoming Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic series, due to be published May thru August 2014) was now classed as "Star Wars Legends". I must be at pains here to point out that this is not the death of the Expanded Universe - it still and will still exist, it's just that from September no new material will be added to it. Rather, all new ongoing material, including the six films and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, will now belong to a single Star Wars canon - what occurs in one story cannot be overwritten by another story, the importance of any one story is the same as any other story, whether it be a film, TV series, comic or novel. Moreover, writers and creators are allowed to dip into any Legends material and use any character, species, planet, vehicle, weapon, organisation they want to. Or they can create new and original ones - just as most Expanded Universe authors did.

And to be honest this is my view of what the Star Wars Expanded Universe was. It would be extraordinary difficult, if not impossible, to read and digest all of those 700+ Expanded Universe stories - I know of just a handful of people who have achieved it - and so it has been mine and this website's philosophy that people should be able to dip into the Expanded Universe and take from it what they want. Almost every story on this website is linked to another by being a "Related Story" - related either by plot or character development. When asked "where do I begin reading Star Wars stories?" I know many people immediately recommend that new fans must begin by reading Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, after all it was his novels that launched the modern Expanded Universe in 1991. However, I just do not see it is necessary to have to start five years after Return of the Jedi just because those books were published first and my suggestion when asked this is rather than jumping in post-Jedi, new readers to the Star Wars Universe would be better served by exploring events or themes seen in the Star Wars films. After all, it is after watching the films that their interest in the further Star Wars Universe is first ignited. If they are interested in the further adventures of Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie they can begin chronologically with events immediately post-Jedi and The Truce at Bakura. Or they could begin with Han and Leia's wedding in The Courtship of Princess Leia. Or they could begin by going back on the timeline and reading Han's back-story in A.C. Crispin's and Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogies. Or perhaps their curiosity was piqued by the mention of Darth Bane or Darth Plagueis and wish to find out more about these characters - well they can thanks to stories by Drew Karpyshyn and James Luceno.

And this is what the Star Wars Legends banner means - well to me at least - it represents a "pick'n'mix" where readers can choose those stories that actually interest them, add other stories or even disregard some of them. And, going forward, this is what the new single canon will offer. Fans can pick'n'mix from the new material offered from Disney/Lucasfilm. Not all Star Wars fans will be fans of Rebels, nor of some of the newly announced novels, nor, dare I say it, of Episode VII when it's released next December, but that does not prevent them from choosing from all the available material, whether from the new canon or from Star Wars Legends, so that they can enjoy "their Star Wars".



"To new journeys." - Luke Skywalker, Crucible by Troy Denning.



 
 


   

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