Today I’m going to talk about something to completely unrelated to my own writing. Well, I suppose not completely unrelated. The Star Wars novels were part of what got me interested in reading as a teenager, and interested in writing. The first author I ever met in person was Timothy Zahn, author of Heir to the Empire, which is also coincidentally the first Star Wars novel I ever read.
Today there was an announcement, one most of us knew was coming, that the stories told the expanded universe were not meant to be considered canon for the new movies, and future fiction would not fall in the original expanded universe. People are in an uproar over this.
I don’t understand why, however. The time I met Timothy Zahn was at a convention, and on a panel at that convention he gave us an analogy. The Star Wars universe was a sandbox that he was allowed to play in, with the understanding that George could come along and knock down everything he built at a moment’s notice.
This was seen in the prequel trilogy many times. While they used some elements, like Coruscant, other things in the expanded universe were trampled on. For example, the expanded universe originally had that the clone wars happened as a war between the Republic and Mandalorians. It also described insane clones fighting the Republic, and that Bobo Fett was already a grown man fighting in that war. All of this, and a lot of other things, were wiped out when the prequel trilogy was made.
So, why are people upset now? Probably because we won’t be getting any further story set in the expanded universe. However, what we’re getting instead is a truly expanded universe. From now on, all comics, novels, TV shows, and so on will be considered canon.
This means, that while we can still enjoy those old books for the alternate universe they already were, we no longer have to think that way about new books. If they give us the origins of a character, that will be the official origin, and it won’t be erased with the next movie comes out.
To me, this seems like a good thing. They aren’t “taking away our novels”, like I’ve seen some people say. Those books will always be there. They’ve always been an alternate universe, and now Lucasfilm is just being a little clearer on that fact. We can always go back and read them again, and they’ll always be just as enjoyable.