Last year, I wrote about one of the more recent entries into the Star Wars Expanded Universe with the X-Wing: Mercy Kill book. I really enjoyed that book and you can read the full review here.
After that, I came across an article online stating Disney were debating whether the current EU should still be cannon for the Star Wars universe, followed by another that had a hell of a lot of bias and was firmly for the idea. I’m not saying I’m going to be any less biased, although I think I can give an objective opinion.
A bit of background
Let me bore you for a moment. I wasn’t always the geeky writer and book lover I am now. As a youngling, I loved the stories, and I was certainly a geek but there was a good few years where I just lost interest in reading. I was obsessed with science fiction, however, especially Star Wars. Seeing it in the cinema on its 20 year anniversary hooked me instantly. I’d watch them at least once a week – sometimes more – and enjoyed them on a superficial level until I got older and started to look for more in it.
I discovered the Expanded Universe in my school’s library, which had two of them. Which ones they were, I can’t remember but I read them a couple of times each back to back. It was the same author, so it was an early trilogy (or part of it). It was these books that got me back into reading and writing. Without these books, I wouldn’t be the writer I am now.
However, finally, I could carry on the story from The Return of the Jedi.
The beauty of the EU
The Expanded Universe isn’t perfect – I’ll quite happily be the first to hold my hands up and say it – but it does a lot of things quite well and very interestingly. Each trilogy, series or standalone story fits into a much large effort to ensure that the universe doesn’t contradict itself (or at least, not very often). According to some digging, there were meetings and discussions on how this larger story was going to develop and proceed although I’m not 100% sure how true that is.
What’s even better about this is that there are dozens of writers who have and do work on these individual stories and series’ and this is something quite unique. Every writer is different and their take on the Star Wars lore, locations, characters and more will be different too. There are things shared and things changed but this is a great way to learn about the writing style and preferences. You can get a good idea of whether you’d like to delve deeper into that particular writer’s work, which is something I’ve done often.
There are times when it seems farfetched, but that’s always a possibility with science fiction and fantasy stories. It’s also largely a personal opinion, making it harder to judge. While it baffled me at times, I was always able to switch off and just enjoy what is and was, in essence, the continuation of a space opera of epic proportions.
What does it mean, either way?
So, Disney has bought it and are going to make more films. Great, please do.
I get that the current EU limits what you can do creatively, if you don’t think these stories are the right way or can be made into suitable films, so stripping away some of it is natural and to be expected. There are certainly weaker stories and books although again, this is something which can’t and won’t please everyone.
The biggest risk they face is alienating the people who have followed the EU closely over the years and will feel cheated that they no longer have the official story. Not only that, but it’s ongoing so will they continue it on the side or cut it completely?
Keeping the EU means keeping older fans happy but they risk missing out on a new market who haven’t come across it yet and might not, given its age, and there so many other multimedia choices.
You can’t please everyone but I owe a big part of my life and development to the Star Wars Expanded Universe and even if it’s a guilty pleasure, it’s one I enjoy and hope to for many years to come.