Appendix to Fangirl Speaks Up: Star Wars Books and Me

Appendix

This appendix includes all adult Star Wars novels published in the modern Expanded Universe. (Young readers books and nonfiction sourcebooks are excluded.) The books are listed chronologically by release date.

Books marked with a ** featured substantial amounts of story elements appealing to female readers, as described in the main blog post. Books marked with * have mild amounts of those elements.

Bantam Period (roughly 1991-1999)

** Heir to the Empire
** Dark Force Rising
** The Last Command
** The Truce at Bakura
Jedi Search
** The Courtship of Princess Leia
Dark Apprentice
Champions of the Force
** The Crystal Star
Ambush at Corellia
** Children of the Jedi
Assault at Selonia
Showdown at Centerpoint
** Darksaber
** X-wing: Rogue Squadron
** Before the Storm
Shadows of the Empire
** X-wing: Wedge’s Gamble
** Shield of Lies
** X-wing: The Krytos Trap
The New Rebellion
** Tyrant’s Test
** X-wing: The Bacta War
** The Paradise Snare
** Planet of Twilight
** The Hutt Gambit
** Specter of the Past
** X-wing: Wraith Squadron
** Rebel Dawn
** I, Jedi
The Mandalorian Armor
** X-wing: Iron Fist
** Vision of the Future
Slave Ship
** X-wing: Solo Command
** X-wing: Isard’s Revenge
Hard Merchandise
** X-wing: Starfighters of Adumar

In other words, almost every book released in this period included those romantic and relationship elements at the core of Star Wars that female fans are looking for. The few that didn’t include a videogame tie-in novel (set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, when Han was frozen in carbonite) and the trilogy focusing on the bounty hunter characters from ESB.

Del Rey New Jedi Order Period (roughly 2000-2003)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
** New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
** New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught
Rogue Planet
** New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
** New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial
** New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
** New Jedi Order: Balance Point
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
** New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory I: Conquest
Cloak of Deception
** New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
** New Jedi Order: Star by Star
** New Jedi Order: Dark Journey
The Approaching Storm
** New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
** Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
** New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
New Jedi Order: Traitor
** New Jedi Order: Destiny’s Way
** New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant
** Tatooine Ghost
** New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee
The Clone Wars: Shatterpoint
** New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion
** New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
** New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force

Again, in this period the vast majority of the books appealed to female fans. Most of the ones that didn’t were set during the Prequel movies timeframe prior to the introduction of the Anakin/Padmé romance in Attack of the Clones.

Del Rey Later Period (roughly 2004-2011)

** Survivor’s Quest
The Clone Wars: The Cestus Deception
The Clone Wars: MedStar I: Battle Surgeons
The Clone Wars: MedStar II: Jedi Healer
The Clone Wars: Jedi Trial
* Republic Commando: Hard Contact
The Clone Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
Labyrinth of Evil
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Dark Nest I: The Joiner King
Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Dark Nest III: The Swarm War
Outbound Flight
* Republic Commando: Triple Zero
Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines
Darth Bane: Path of Destruction – Old Republic Era / Sith
Legacy of the Force: Tempest
Allegiance
Legacy of the Force: Exile
Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
Legacy of the Force: Inferno
Death Star
* Republic Commando: True Colors
Legacy of the Force: Fury
Darth Bane: Rule of Two – Old Republic Era / Sith
Legacy of the Force: Revelation
Legacy of the Force: Invincible
Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight – mystery 
The Clone Wars
The Force Unleashed – videogame tie-in
Coruscant Nights II: Street of Shadows – mystery 
* Republic Commando: Order 66
Millennium Falcon
The Clone Wars: Wild Space
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force – mystery 
* Fate of the Jedi: Outcast
The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
* Fate of the Jedi: Omen – including Lost Tribe Sith
Fate of the Jedi: Abyss  – including Lost Tribe Sith
Death Troopers – horror
* Imperial Commando: 501st
Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil – Old Republic Era / Sith
Crosscurrent – videogame character
The Clone Wars: Gambit: Stealth
Fate of the Jedi: Backlash – including Lost Tribe Sith
Fate of the Jedi: Allies – including Lost Tribe Sith
The Clone Wars: Gambit: Siege
The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance – MMO tie-in / Sith
The Force Unleashed II – videogame tie-in
Fate of the Jedi: Vortex – including Lost Tribe Sith
Red Harvest – horror
Knight Errant – Old Republic / Sith
The Old Republic: Deceived – MMO tie-in / Sith
Fate of the Jedi: Conviction – including Lost Tribe Sith
Choices of One
Fate of the Jedi: Ascension – including Lost Tribe Sith
Riptide – videogame character
The Old Republic #3 – MMO tie-in / Sith
Shadow Games
Darth Plagueis

This is a stunning turn of events. It might be understandable that books set during the Clone Wars would have a different tone, but that cannot explain the stark contrast. The core of the problem finds its explanation in the collapse of the flagship series in appealing to female fans and the choices made in selecting the other kinds of stories to be offered in the remaining books. Unlike the New Jedi Order series, the books in Dark Nest, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi have failed to offer the kinds of stories that most women want to read; had they done so, the picture would look entirely different. But that failure is consistent with the overall shape of the EU in this period: the other books have explored niches such as mystery, horror, and tie-ins to videogames and their characters – but not romance. There has also been an increasing emphasis on stories featuring the Sith, including in Fate of the Jedi and in the Old Republic era (both connected to and separate from the upcoming MMO game of that title). Taken together, the EU novels have collectively failed to offer anything close to enough stories than women would want to read.

10 comments to Appendix to Fangirl Speaks Up: Star Wars Books and Me

  • From the way you format the lists, it appears that you have already pre-judged the not-yet-released books (TOR: Deceived through Darth Plagueis) as not earning any stars. I hope that you are willing to give them a chance before giving them a 0-star rating. My guess is that from the back-of-the-book-blurbs and pre-release hype, the Republic Commando books probably wouldn’t have gotten their one-star status.

    It is interesting to note that the two most recent main series (Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi) are mostly by authors who have earned two-star and one-star ratings for their previous works (Allston’s X-Wing books, Denning’s Tatooine Ghost and Star by Star, Traviss’ RC books – which appear to be the only prequel era books to make any stars), and that NJO gets generally good marks, while these series don’t. It suggests that it is not the authors and not the multi-author system, which leaves the storylines themselves.

    • Fangirl

      I agree with you 100% that it is the underlying storylines of the recent series (DN-LOTF-FOTJ) where things have gone off the rails. Allston did great with romance and relationships in X-Wing, and while I’m not a huge fan of the Mando-heavy/anti-Jedi aspects of the RC books it’s true that Traviss did put a lot of soldier camaraderie and a decent dose of romance in those books. Yet neither of them transposed that over to their LOTF contributions. Denning can certainly write good romance when he chooses to, but we went from fun healthy romance in Tatooine Ghost to trading sex for warships in Dark Nest. The authors are more than capable, they’ve just made story design decisions that left romance and relationships pretty much out in the cold.

      As for the upcoming books, we’ll see but I don’t think it’s unfair for me to be pessimistic. There’s no reason to expect anything different in the next TOR books than the first, or in Riptide than in Crosscurrent, and Darth Plagueis is yet another Sith-focused book. Shadow Games had possibilities until the author herself disclaimed any perception it might be a romance story. Choices of One may be good, but like Allegiance it’s stuck in an era where Luke and Mara can’t meet, and Han and Leia may not have even kissed yet (depending on whether it’s post-ESB).

      In the end, though, even if I’m slightly wrong about a book or two for 2011, the picture overall is pretty bleak for female fans.

      • I wonder if the reason that the prequel era books (except the RC series) don’t make the cut is that they are mostly locked into using prequel characters – Jedi, for whom romantic attachment is seen as wrong, and an existing romantic relationship (Anakin and Padme) that is constrained by the films. And we don’t see many “common folk” type characters, since the prequel films really are about the elites: Jedi and politicians. While we do get some regular military folk, they are all clones and have to deal with their own particular situation, as opposed to the mix of people we see in the X-Wing series, coming from different backgrounds and forming friendships and rivalries and romances and such.

        Your blog post started a good discussion on the CJ email list, but one thing that several women have brought up in common is that they’ve stopped reading by now – some of them quit at the start of NJO, others stopped after NJO, some just feel that there’s just too many books coming out too fast to keep up with several eras at once, but it all results in fewer of them reading the current books. Of the upcoming books, there’s not a lot of room for optismism, but I can hope that the TOR series can improve since the first book really needed to just set the stage for what is going on, and use one of each character class from the game, and it seemed like at least among the good guy characters, some relationships could be expanded.

        • James, thanks for the feedback on discussions from other female fans. My hope is that some of those future novels do pique the interest of women, and obviously the folks writing the books haven’t been hearing female fans perspective.

          Blood Oath seemed like it had great potential; I mean even the cover screamed “Star Wars romance!” Zekk and two snarky red-headed Hapan women? It was destined to be a great read for the female fans.

          Many women did like Cunningham’s Dark Journey, although from some of the ranting on message boards that might have been lost on the PTB. Fans were railed against in a mean-spirited way if they “liked” that book, possibly because it was different than the fare some fans wanted. I thought Cunningham brought balance to the EU, and Allston tried to run with it in Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand.

          I hope they find someone to write Blood Oath and I’m excited for Allston’s Wraith book, but they need to do more.

          • Hopefully you saw that Del Rey was seeking input on facebook today, probably in response in part to your blog post. My guess is that they are trying to map out the post-2012 schedule and realize that they need to pull back some of the readership that has fallen off, especially among the demographic that reads the most (and may have fallen off in the past few years). The real key is linking feedback like yours to real numbers of book-buyers. Hopefully the new Wraith book will show them through sales that a lot of people miss the older style stuff.

  • I have to disagree with your classification of Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. That was one of my favorite books of the recent era. It had fantastic interactions between all the characters, and I thought the Han/Leia interactions were fantastic (and I’m not a huge fan of that relationship).

    I’d also disagree with the Allegiance classification, also because of the Big 3 interactions, and I’ll probably place Choices of One along with that, but we’ll have to see for that. Of course, I enjoy any book with Mara.

    Even though Death Star wasn’t that great of a book, it did have some interesting characters and a budding romance.

    But overall, I agree with your point – the amount of interesting relationships in the Bantam/NJO books is overwhelming compared to what we get in DNT/LOTF/FOTJ – an ill-fated Jacen/Tenel Ka romance, Jaina/Jag completely derailed, Luke losing Mara, and Luke having to come to face with all his dead ex-girlfriends (not to mention decapitate one of them).

    • Fangirl

      You’re spot on to the overall point I’m trying to make, which is just the massive difference between what we got from Bantam and NJO compared to what we’ve had since. Even if we readjusted a book here and a book there — and I certainly don’t mind if others have a different opinion on particular ones, compared to my personal take — the big picture of the list is going to stay what it is, and it’s really disappointing when you see it that way.

      Some of the reaction I’ve seen online has fallen right into the typical pattern: guys jumping immediately to quibbling about minor facts, as though that’s what’s really important to focus on, and never acknowledging that there are lots of women out there who are unhappy with the stories and the characters. Del Rey is never going to make headway with all those disappointed fans, lapsed fans, or untapped-potential fans with the kinds of stories they’re publishing now. They’re not losing female readers because of the minutae of the continuity, but because they’re not looking at the big picture of what they’re doing wrong in their storytelling.

  • moonspinner

    I have to disagree with you about your classification of Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. The relationship between Yoda and Dooku as Master-Padawan and the relationships between Yoda and the other young Padawans is core to the story-line…

  • Amemait

    I’d like to disagree with you about Outbound Flight. While there isn’t overt romance, it’s obvious to Car’das that Ferasi is falling in love with Thrawn, and that the feeling may even be mutual (or possibly that Car’das is projecting his own feelings regarding Thrawn onto Ferasi; some of those things Car’das has to think about Thrawn are incredibly… suggestive, for a Zahn book).
    The main issue it suffers from is that the POV characters are either male and trying-to-be-a-good-Jedi-example-for-Anakin (Obi-Wan); male and not interacting with the women in their lives at that point in time (the crew aboard Outbound Flight); male, 23 years old, and clueless (oh, Jorj…); or Jedi Jinzler, a young woman who’s spent from age thirteen onwards being bullied by her Master, likely without even the mild romantic learnings that Obi-Wan had from watching Tahl with Qui-Gon, or even his own interactions with Siri. If we’d had more time with Lorana and Thrass, I might have expected a little more (one almost gets the feeling that the brothers Mitth have a thing for humans).
    If we’d had any time with Ferasi’s mind at all, we’d have lost any of the mystique Jorj is experiencing of ‘does she like Thrawn’. Considering that we know that Zahn can write women – and what’s more, write them well and with real depth of character – one suspects that it’s for this very reason that we don’t get Ferasi’s point of view.

    I’d like to vote for ‘romance, one star’ with Outbound Flight. Even if it’s only for Lorana and Thrass holding hands at the end.

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