The Death Star has been aimed at the Star Wars Expanded Universe. This comes to little surprise to those who have been following Disney’s acquisition of the George Lucas franchise, especially considering that three new movies are in development.
As mentioned on the official website, George Lucas has never beholden to the EU and only the six films and Clone Wars animated series are considered official cannon. This means classic works like Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy will be erased from future histories, although I doubt that they will be forgotten.
Anyone who is a fan of superhero comics or films should be well acquainted with the infamous reboot of a series. In fact, works like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy are considered not just the best reboots, but the best superhero tales that their mediums have to offer. Putting Star Wars in a similar perspective, I think Disney is doing a good thing. And let’s be honest — the last few years have not been too exciting as far as Star Wars novels go. Even enormously talented writers like James S.A. Corey have stepped into the universe to release titles that feel overly constrained.
The Star Wars reboot will be headed off with the new animated series, Star Wars Rebels, and an introductory novel by John Jackson Miller appropriately titled, A New Dawn. Other forthcoming novels include Tarkin by James Luceno, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, and Lords of the Sith by Paul Kemp.
It is of little surprise that these titles will be closely approximated within the timeline of the original trilogy. This is the heart of the Star Wars universe and there are even those who refuse to acknowledge the prequel trilogy as part of the cannon. While my view of the latest three movies is not as cold, my feelings are lukewarm at best. I am hoping among the writers of the new EU have a tacit understanding that characters like Jar Jar Binks and terms like midichlorian will not be mentioned here on out.
A thought also occurred to me over the weekend (not for the first time) that I would be curious if there would ever be any edgier stories in the EU. I’m thinking Game of Thrones meets Star Wars, with bounty hunters, smugglers and Sith becoming even more detestable. I also think that George R.R. Martin’s universe is as interesting as it is because of the many shades of gray that exist in the characters’ morals. This differs from the stark contrast between good and evil that is often seen in Star Wars novels. I sort of expect the new novels to continue with the PG or PG-13 rating; however, it would be cool to see a maturer version of Star Wars — sort of like the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics.
I was probably at a point where my Star Wars reading was going to go the way of the Empire, but I am now actually interested in picking some of the new titles up again. Aside from Heir to the Jedi, which I believe was originally going to be part of the thematic trilogy with Martha Wells’ Razor’s Edge and James S.A. Corey’s Honor Among Thieves, the new novels should be showing us new characters and hopefully a different flavor to the universe. My only hope is that this reboot will be something new and inventive rather than just a move done to accommodate the new film trilogy.
Time will tell if the reboot is news or not. Miller’s novel comes out on September 2nd and the new animated series will run this fall. As for the new movie, we’ll have to wait until the end of 2015 for that.