The Expanded Universe

Did you know that there is a certain little film coming out in a couple of days? You know the one, it starts “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” 

After buying Lucasfilm, Disney decided that they were going to press the not so big red button, and reset the Star Wars universe outside of the films and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Everything else would be labelled as Legends and consigned to history. Goodbye, Expanded Universe. Hello, Star Wars Cinematic Universe, which will consist of the films, both cartoons and a the current line of books and comics. 

Even though I hadn’t read any of the Star Wars books since the end of The New Jedi Order storyline, it felt strange that it was now relegated to something slightly above fan fiction. I had certainly spent more time reading these books than watching all six films. I knew that it was going to happen, but it didn’t stop me from feeling a tinge of sadness. 

The Expanded Universe (EU) was originally meant to be a continuation of the original Star Wars films. It would provide depth, and together with the films would (as far as Lucasfilm were concerned) provide the complete Star Wars story. 

The canonicity of the EU was questioned by some fans. However, all major story changes did have to preapproved by George Lucas, and Lucasfilm did have a team dedicated to continuity between the books and the films. Also, some aspects of the EU snuck themselves into the prequel films, the names Coruscant, Twi’lek and Kashyyk for example. This made it different from the Star Trek books, which from day one was completely separate from the films and TV shows. 

There are advantages in putting the EU into the nearest airlock and jettisoning it. As the universe grew, continuity became an issue. New writers would become straight jacketed through self-reference or by retconning what happened before. While it would be nice to see Mara Jade on screen, most people would be asking who she is, and wondering how she got around to marrying Luke. 

Sometimes a continuity becomes so large and unwieldy that it is better to chop it off and start again. Comics do it all the time, how many different versions of Batman and his mythology have there been in recent years? 

I suppose that over the years I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on the Expanded Universe and with its relegation I feel slightly cheated. Do I still read the books? Yes, and I do sometimes deep dive into the old comics thanks to Marvel Unlimited. So, I probably got my money’s worth and maybe it is time to put it to the side. A small sacrifice for a plethora of new films. 

However, this doesn’t mean that the EU didn’t have its moments. If there is one thing I would recommend reading it would be The Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn. They would have made brilliant films. 

Or if you want some fun, read the X-wing series by Michael A Stackpole. I personally prefer the Wraith squadron books to those about the Rogues. It helps when their motto is “Pretty. What do we blow up first?” 

One thing that I have been relieved about is that some aspects of the EU has been incorporated into the new continuity. Timothy Zahn did write a new Thrawn novel, and the Grand Admiral himself has appeared in Star Wars Rebels. 

I will be watching The Last Jedi, and if Snoke turns out to be someone from the EU. I will “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.” 

Sorry wrong Star. 

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