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Book Buzz: The Legacy of Star Wars Fiction
Troy Denning’s latest prompts a look at one of the most revered fiction universes.
By Pat Ferrara
May 12, 2008
Ever since the theatrical release of A NEW HOPE George Lucas’ Star Wars series has come to dominate pop culture, evolving its form to fit new mediums as the uncontested poster boy of mainstream sci-fi. Novels, toys, television series and comic books have all followed in the wake of Star Wars’ cinematic success, and this spillover from the silver screen is no small deal. The Star Wars Expanded Universe, the umbrella heading for everything Star Wars-related outside of the six feature films, has become a powerful entity unto itself, generating millions every year and constantly positioning Lucas’ two trilogies as cornerstones of science fiction.
Of the Expanded Universe Star Wars literature has arguably played the most important role in maintaining, expanding, and propelling Lucas’ original canon. The novelization of the first Star Wars film, ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George, actually predates the film’s big screen debut. The popular reception of Foster’s next Star Wars novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, officially kicked off the Expanded Universe and paved the way for literally hundreds of more Star Wars books.
After nearly three decades of printing the EU list of Star Wars novels is, as FUTURAMA’s Morbo would have it, “belligerent and numerous” to say the least. Bantam and Del Rey have put out so much SW fiction it needs to first be delimited by time period before being organized under specific series. Gauged around EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE’s climactic Battle of Yavin (BY), Star Wars time stretches from the days of the Old Republic (25,000 to 1,000 years BBY) all the way up to the New Jedi Order and Legacy Eras (25 to 36 years ABY & 40-plus years ABY respectively). Though the Old Republic Era is dominated by Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane saga and the Legacy Era is populated only by the Legacy of the Force sequence, the Rise of the Republic, Rebellion, and New Republic Eras are all built upon dozens of individual series. This week Troy Denning finishes the Legacy of the Force series with Invincible, the ninth installment, out on hardback.
How do all of these novels affect Lucas’ universe? From a technical standpoint most of the literary EU is synced with the continuity of the six feature films. Lucas Licensing, a division of Lucas Films, is in charge of maintaining Holocron, an internal database that catalogues any and every Star Wars fact printed on paper. Using this database continuity is checked and re-checked to insure a minimum of contradictory information. But even if you take the time to make sure your Star Wars fiction syncs with the rest of the lore don’t expect any praise from the creator. In an interview with Starlog Magazine (#337) George Lucas summed up his thoughts on the Expanded Universe: “I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent.”
It isn’t surprising that, out of the several hundred Star Wars book titles, Lucas hasn’t read any of them. His stubborn streak on creative control is understandable, but has been regarded by fans as detrimental to the universe. We can only hope that the upcoming live-action Star Wars TV series, due to air sometime in 2010, will avoid the ‘prequel-itis’ that afflicted the recent trilogy. Maybe producer Rick McCallum will even consult some of the Expanded Universe’s best novels for the show, but after the debacles of Jar-Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen such a suggestion sounds a little too good to ever be true.
Some of the Best Star Wars Fiction:
Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane saga
Michael Stackpole & Aaron Allston’s The X-Wing series
Kevin J. Anderson’s The Jedi Academy Trilogy
The New Jedi Order series
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy
Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire
New in Hardcover:
Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar, Steven Savile (Titan Books)
Null-A Continuum, John C. Wright (Tor)
Wright’s sequel to A.E. van Vogt’s groundbreaking Null-A universe, which was established by the novels The World of Null-A (1948), The Players of Null-A (1956) and Null-A Three (1984).
Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Invincible, Troy Denning (Del Rey)
Troy Denning’s latest rotation in the three-author Legacy of the Force series.
The Wolfman, Nicholas Pekearo (Tor)
The Immortal Prince, Jennifer Fallon (Tor)
Tempting the Gods: The Selected Stories of Tanith Lee, Tanith Lee (Wildside Press)
Strange Tales of Secret Lives, Jeff VanderMeer (Prime Books)
New in Paperback:
Guin Saga: Prisoner of Lagon, Kaoru Kurimoto (Vertical)
Requiem: Collected Works and Tributes to the Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein, Ed. by Yoji Kondo (Tor Books)
A collection of Heinlein works featuring the novellas “Destination Moon” and “Tenderfoot in Space.” Also features contributions by Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Greg Bear and Robert Silverberg.
Rogue Angel: The Soul Stealer, Alex Archer (Gold Eagle)
Outlanders: Ghostwalk, Jamex Axler (Gold Eagle)
The Book of Skaith: The Ginger Star, Leigh Brackett & Ben Bova (Paizo Publishing LLC)
Valley of Day-Glo, Nick DiChario (Robert J. Sawyer Books)
Prescience Rendezvous, Paul Collins (Etreasure Publishing)
The Great Planet Robbery, Craig DiLouie (Salvo Press)
The Alarai Chronicles: Exile to the Stars, Dale B. Mattheis (Ardent Publishing)
Wicked Games, Jeri Smith-Ready (Pocket Books)
The Wanderer’s Tale, David Bilsborough (Tor)
New in Audiobook:
Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Invincible, Troy Denning (Random House Audio Abridged)
The ninth novel in the Legacy of the Force series, narrated by Marc Thompson.
The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham (CSA Word Cult Classic)
Narrated by Jeremy Clyde.
Check back next Monday for all the latest info on current sci-fi, fantasy, and horror book releases. Questions or comments? Hit me up at Pferrara.firstname.lastname@example.org.