by Priya Chhaya
In eighth grade science class my friend Tracy slid me a folded piece of notebook paper. Scrawled across the top were the words “Star Wars Expanded Universe and Ratings” or something like that. On this paper she had painstakingly written out the name of each of the books marking each in turn with a series of stars. One for Children of the Jedi. Five for The Last Command. A blueprint for a newly inducted fan.
Soon I found myself devouring each book as it came along. Wanting to stay current, and let’s be honest, to know everything. In 1995, the internet was in its infancy, and my sphere of conversation on this topic was limited. But, boy, did I read.
I read regularly until the end of the New Jedi Order. Then things took a turn towards darkness. bugs, strange adventures, twisted Solo children. So I moved on, returning occasionally for a book by Timothy Zahn and to read about Mara’s demise firsthand. I felt like I owed it to her to read about her death, to pay my last respects.
Despite all this the internet kept me informed and it was enough. A single toe in a larger pond.
Let’s get this out of the way: I am hopeful. Cautiously optimistic. Filled with anticipation. Even thrilled now that we have three films in three years.
Seriously all — ROGUE ONE. Even if it isn’t linked to Michael Stackpole/Aaron Allston, the idea alone… Whew.
Then there was a notice about the new books, including a blurb about Star Wars: Aftermath, and there it was: an unexpected twinge next to my heart, a sudden moment of loss.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER ENDOR? FIND OUT IN STAR WARS: AFTERMATH
When the announcement came that the Expanded Universe would be fading away shifting into an alternate universe mythology, I understood. There was too much inconsistency and baggage, and no room to let the GFFA expand into something stronger, something more. I was okay with it. After all, its not like they went to all our houses and burned the books. Those words won’t simply vanish, it’s not like Iella walked away at the end of Starfighters and said “We’ll Always Have Adumar.” Wedge’s happy ending will always exist, Hobbie and Janson will still have disguised themselves as women, and I will always laugh.
The second Death Star has been destroyed. Rumors are flying that the Emperor and his enforcer, Darth Vader, are dead. A new government is forming to replace the Empire. But the galaxy is a big place, and the fallout of this cataclysm will affect different worlds in different ways. Does everyone accept the fall of Imperial rule? Has everyone even heard the life-altering news? What rushes in to fill the vacuum the Empire has left? And who will try to stop them? Those are some of the themes we’ll be exploring in Aftermath, and as a lifelong Star Wars fan, just writing those words gives me chills. I can’t wait for our first canon glimpse into the state of the galaxy after the Battle of Endor.
But, there it is again. The twinge. The answer is not “Luke goes to liberate Bakura, and Wedge nearly loses his hand.” or even that “Leia becomes President of the New Republic after someone tries to kill Mon Mothma.”
I know what it means: I will never know more about the Star Wars Universe than I know right now.
In order to prep myself for The Force Awakens I watched Star Wars Rebels. At the end of the finale I realized that while I want to see more, the big reveal blew right past me. Ashoka Tano who?
I know that try as I might, I won’t be able to throw myself into the new canon with the reckless abandon of a nerdy countdown-to-the-movies girl from high school (the Priya of future past). I’ll try and pick up a book or two, and will see every movie, but it won’t be the same. It’s almost like it’s time to pay my dues again, but I don’t know if I have enough change to spare.
But here’s the thing about loss. It ebbs and flows, and while I’ll be a little sad when I walk into The Force Awakens without knowing everything I’ll survive. It’s a new adventure, with new storytelling and characters and hopefully clearer consistency. I know that it will be, in some ways, better, nay different, than the twenty or so years of books that came before. But for now I’m going to just take a breath, acknowledge the loss, and then let it go. Then maybe I’ll rip out a new piece of notebook paper and start all over again.
Priya Chhaya is a historian who loves the written word. When she’s not reading anything she can get her hands on she is writing about the past and its intersection in our daily lives on her personal blog …this is what comes next.