I always believe in balancing critical discussion with positive input. I’ve been talking a lot lately about where the EU is lacking, so I wanted to balance that with some ideas on the most appealing element of the Star Wars universe – how much room there is for everyone. Recently, I’ve been critical of the number of Sith-centric stories, the lack of romance, and the underdevelopment and even outright personality assassination of existing characters. A few weeks back, ClubJade got fans talking about what they’d like to see as fans. Now that authors like Tim Zahn and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff are popping up on Facebook, fan comments suggest that there are a lot of stories about existing characters (and not just Sith or videogame personages) that people would love to read. The discussion at ClubJade fleshed out an idea for a “smuggler book” with Talon Karrde and company, and I hope the Powers That Be do more market research such as listening to the discussion about the Luke Skywalker Must Die blog and reaching into communities such as the TFN Fanfiction Resource so they can understand what isn’t working and, on the flip side, what fans think would reengage them in the EU.
On a whim I sketched out the ten best books I think the EU hasn’t written. Just be clear, theses are ideas I like, but also believe would appeal to a broader fanbase. A few of these yet-to-be-conceived books have pretty distinct plots and others, well, they’re just more like fun concepts.
I bet you’re thinking Luke Skywalker is going to die in one of them. He might, but not necessarily. My ideas propose books across numerous eras. A few would have glimpses of Luke as a child, a hero, and a mentor. But most are dreams about characters that we just don’t get enough of – Padmé, Leia, Jaina, Yoda, the Horns, and the Fels, to name a few. To Star Wars, Lucasfilm, and the fandom, I give these ideas freely and without expectation. I’ll even sign a waiver, Del Rey! Guaranteed if you write any one of these, though, I’ll buy it.
On the swamp planet Dagobah, exiled Jedi Master Yoda guards young Princess Leia from afar. The Force grows murky and foretells ominous events on Alderaan. At the same time Ben Kenobi, who has just saved his daredevil charge Luke Skywalker from yet another brush with disaster, sees holofootage of trouble swirling around his friend Bail Organa. Together the two Jedi Masters race to Alderaan and find that, in Bail’s attempt to deflect attention from his adopted daughter, he has inadvertently put her in even greater harm’s way. She has gone missing with her protector, a woman Obi-Wan once knew, a woman who would have died to save Leia’s mother and whose life is now at risk to save Padmé’s child.
You’ll never convince me that Yoda and Obi-Wan sat around twiddling their thumbs for twenty years. This book would be a thrill-ride with some favorite Original Trilogy characters and places.
2) Imperial Knight
Moving away from the traditional emphasis on Coruscant-centered plotlines, this book focuses on the political machinations and deadly rivalries on the Imperial capital planet of Bastion. While Head of State Jagged Fel struggles to keep the Galactic Empire united, his new wife Jedi Master Jaina Solo must tread carefully within the Moffs’ inner circles to avoid further damaging Jag’s tenuous control. Amid all this, family is set to arrive for their first visit; Jaina’s Jedi instincts tell her something is amiss, that she should act. Her husband requests patience and faith in the men and women of the Empire to do their jobs. Or could it possibly be that her danger sense simply foretells the inevitable mayhem when Solos and Fels get together?
With the completion of Legacy: War and its fantastic closure for the Imperial Knights storyline, now is the perfect opportunity to expand on the creation of the Imperial Knights. Jaina Solo, as the last living child of Han and Leia Solo, deserves a heroic arc and a legacy of her own. I know a lot of women have been waiting to see her struggle with her unique role within the Jedi Order, then don that black and red uniform. Sometimes a gal just has to step out of her famous uncle’s shadow and refuse to be defined by a spur-of-the-moment “prophecy.” This book could springboard a philosophical journey about what it means to be a Jedi amidst new adventures within the Empire’s borders, even beyond into Chiss space, and, yes, at times back to Coruscant – where every once in a while the Empire can save its Jedi friends, or vice versa.
I don’t have any specific plot ideas for the now-graying Jedi Master, but he’s the perfect character to feature in his own right. His popularity in fanfic is proof that he’d draw female reader’s interest. He’s plenty powerful – more powerful even than Luke Skywalker, according to his younger self back during the Yuuzhan Vong war. He’s longtime friends with Han and Jaina. He’s got one of the most storied pasts in the current Jedi Order, yet sadly in the last two series he’s been reduced to being the butt of personal grooming jokes. Readers like badass Jedi; Kyp used to have a lot of those traits, and he could certainly be one again. Give him a possible love interest, a Jedi apprentice, and a comedic foil sidekick, and do with Kyp what the Bantam era did with Luke – just send him off on an amazing adventure. Better still make the Padawan around Ben’s age, so when it’s time for Ben’s own rise within the Order, the number of Jedi in his generation isn’t anemic. I’d consider this book the perfect opportunity to diversify the EU.
4) The Unit
Valin and Jysella Horn have been sent on one of their first assignments without a Jedi Master. Accompanying them are Yaqeel Saav’etu and Bazel Warv, also on their first mission. When things go horribly wrong, Valin finds that he needs all his Jedi talents, plus a few extra skills his mother and father taught him, to get his team to safety. Refusing to return to the Jedi Temple with word of their failure, the young Jedi put their heads together and improvise what will prove to be either one of the most daring Jedi feats ever – or the worst disaster in galactic history.
One of the most promising character developments in Fate of the Jedi was The Unit. Sure they went a little barvy for a while there, but it’s their friendship that was remarkable. Personally, I believe the bond of these young Jedi is well worth exploring.
Soontir Fel is one of the Empire’s best fighter pilots. When his squadron wins an important victory on the same day as the Death Star’s destruction, he becomes an unwitting instant celebrity as the Empire tries to distract from its first major defeat. Wynssa Starflare is one of the galaxy’s most famous actresses, starring in smash holodramas and giving command performances for the Emperor himself. But she hides a terrible secret: she is the sister of one of the Rebellion’s top aces, Wedge Antilles, who flew on Luke Skywalker’s wing in the Yavin system. With all the forces in the galaxy conspiring to keep them apart, how could Fel and Starflare ever hope to be together?
Brought forward from this year’s April Fool’s prank, I still think this book would score big. The biggest reason not to write this book? Fear of creating continuity goofs. But the Abel Peña’s of the fandom need books like this to keep their minds churning.
When the book formerly titled Holostar was announced by Sue Rostoni a few years back, fans speculated that it would focus on events in the life of Wynssa Starflare, sister to Wedge Antilles and renowned actress. That book, which isn’t about Wynssa or her suitor Soontir Fel, got a name change to reflect its true nature; Shadow Games is actually about a popstar singer and her protector. Fair warning, though: according to Shadow Game’s author it’s the farthest thing from the plot of The Bodyguard, so don’t get your fangirlish sensibilities too excited, ladies. What I’m proposing with Holostar is a romantic tale. The conceit is that we already know Soontir and Syal end up together, but everyone wants to know how!
6) Untitled Book by Matt Stover
Honestly, it could be about pretty much anything Star Wars and it would rock. Stover has the mythic themes down cold, and he’s proven he can write one heck of a fun space opera tale, too. I think Stover’s inability to fit into corporate deadlines and schedule making has left the fans wanting. If I had my preference, yes, this would be Luke Skywalker Must Die. Stover once mused at a Celebration panel that he’d be game for taking the original Star Wars hero out for his last spin; I have to think based on his novelization of Revenge of the Sith this is one of the few guys George Lucas would approve. If it’s not that, I think fans would jump at another book along the lines of Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Shatterpoint, or Traitor. I’d like to see them do something really exciting, though, with an author this good. Get Mark Hamill to read the audio book (we know he loves voice acting!) and have a simultaneous graphic novel adaptation from Dark Horse. These type of books require the folks in charge to think BIG!
Blood Oath is literally one of the best pieces of cover art done in a long time for a Star Wars novel. Put that one on the shelves in the swelling scifi/fantasy sections of bookstores, and women are going to buy it. With two hot redheads, men probably will too. People have been asking for more secondary character development, and many have been asking for some romantic themes. Zekk is an existing Jedi hero, as opposed to the random original characters the EU has given preference to recently, and he’s waiting for his chance to prove he is more than just a tree and that there’s life after a buggy character arc and your teenage crush choosing someone else. The Powers That Be need to get this book written. It doesn’t have to follow the original outline, of course – the possibilities for a story about Zekk’s rescue by the Hapans after the Battle of Shedu Maad are boundless.
8) Daddy Dearest: Growing Up the Emperor’s Daughter
If you haven’t read Legacy: War yet, I’m not going to spoil it for you. But John Ostrander and Jan Duursema have proven they can reinvent the classic Star Wars myths and themes in fresh and bold ways. One of the most intriguing elements of the Legacy comics has been the role of the Imperial Knights in relation to the Force and their Emperor. Antares Draco, Marasiah Fel, and Ganner Krieg created a wonderful trio dynamic similar to what drew fans to Han, Leia, and Luke in the Original Trilogy. The potential to flesh out Draco’s and Marasiah’s early romance and the world inside the Fel Empire would be an intriguing first novel set closer to the Legacy comics on the timeline.
9) A Handmaiden’s Tale meets In Her Majesty’s Service
Years after the victory over the Trade Federation, one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens begins to notice mysterious signs scribbled on the walls and thoroughfares of each locale Padmé visits.
I think you get the idea. Pick a handmaiden, any handmaiden. She’s the focal point in a Secret Service-type thriller, and fans get a little glimpse into Padmé’s life as queen. You can’t tell me these women aren’t ultra-badass. If the story design is smart, this handmaiden could be the same woman who is Leia’s protector on Alderaan in the Yoda and Obi-Wan’s Big Adventure book. They could also do related short stories set against the backdrop of Episodes I, II, and III; the handmaiden could even be featured in an episode of The Clone Wars. The cross-promotional opportunities are endless!
10) An X-wing Book by Michael Stackpole
The Powers That Be have obviously been having trouble filling spots in the publishing schedule. I truly believe it’s one of the reasons Fate of the Jedi was rushed to the shelves, a first time prose-novel author was given a major franchise book, and other go-to-writers are inking book deals with the barest of story pitches. So why haven’t they gone back to the tried and true X-wing model, which proved quite successful? If they needed a book fast, Stackpole’s a proven writing machine.
I realize my request for Stackpole might seem futile, but a girl can dream. If not Stackpole, I have to believe there is someone out there that could have a blast writing a new X-wing book. If Aaron Allston’s Wraith Squadron next year hits as well as I think it will, hopefully the Powers That Be will come to their senses on what fans have been craving. Top Gun in space, over and over again. With a continuous cycle of characters moving in and out of the squadron, these books again could help enhance the diversity within the EU and provide a pot of fan favorite characters to mix into the flagship books as needed.
To be fair, I’ve said for years the X-wing books was one niche that lent itself perfectly to the possibility of live-action television, but that’s a whole other blog post…
Obviously, my fangirl musings aren’t for everybody. But it’s easy to see how one fan can look longingly into multiple eras and at a wide cast of characters. My biggest hope as a fan of the novels is to experience new heroes’ journeys while still linking back to some of the themes, places, and people that drew me to Star Wars in the first place.
What yet-to-be-written EU book would you like to see on shelves?
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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