Aftermath of Losing the Star War Expanded Universe

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.

Enter Disney.

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. SW Aftermath coverAfter 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.

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10 thoughts on “Aftermath of Losing the Star War Expanded Universe

  • March 24, 2015 at 9:19 am
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    Great article, Priya. I’m sure it’ll resonate with a lot of folks.

    Weirdly, I felt different. There was a time between the start of the NJO and the Clone Wars series’ that I fell out of touch with the EU. I guess I didn’t have to know it all for work. When I did again, when new SW projects began, I had a bit of a panic. A lot had happened while my back was turned, a heck of a lot, and I wasn’t relishing the catch up process.

    The Disney deal wiped the slate clean, taking some of the weight off my shoulders. Yeah, there was stuff I’m going to miss. Those X-wing books – wow! But now there’s a whole new and exciting time ahead. A new(-ish) history to explore. I’m looking forward to reading what you, a historian, make of it all. You and everyone else. :)

    Reply
    • March 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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      Iain — the end of NJO is when I stopped reading regularly. I just couldn’t handle the direction the stories were going in. The wonder was gone. So before the Aftermath blurb came out I really thought I was ok with the shift. I didn’t feel as torn up about it as a lot of folks were. But then the books announcement came out and it all of a sudden hit me. So really, the writing of the post was cathartic. I really have felt much better once I wrote my feelings out. :)

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • March 24, 2015 at 11:26 am
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    It will be nice if they learn some lessons from the old EU as well (hint: no bugs, ect).

    Reply
  • March 24, 2015 at 10:41 pm
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    I only have one big gripe: they could have continued, or at least finished the stories. They have no excuse for not doing so. Lots of franchises have alternate universes or timelines. The world isn’t short ink or paper. Continue and give us Sword of the Jedi (it had already been announced) and tell us how Vader escaped Starkiller and what was with Jaden Korr and those clones in Riptide and Crosscurrent. And the old EU fans would probably be happy to give the new a chance too. For those of us not willing to give it a chance…its only because they are selfish about it. There was room for both universes. There still is.
    It’s just wrong to start a storyline and not finish it. When I buy a book, knowing the story is to be finished in the next one, then I certainly have a reason and a right to expect they will give me a finish. And there is no reason not too: the author’s were already at work on the stories!

    Reply
    • March 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm
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      So that’s actually an interesting idea, I’ve been thinking about things as an either/or. For my part, that probably wouldn’t have mattered so much b/c I wasn’t a big fan of where things went post-NJO.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
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  • March 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm
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    Wonderful essay, Priya! I have spent some time considering my reaction before writing anything here.

    I will never know more about the Star Wars Universe than I know right now.

    That is a beautiful way to express the end of the EU. What we know about those “Legends” (I hate that new title) is it, a close yet unfinished story. (Of course, none of us ever thought we would see Episode VII but that is a completely different scenario.) The EU is done. I get that, but I don’t have to like it.

    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.

    The movies (at least Episode VII) are on my schedule but I am totally ambivalent about the announced books and certainly will not be pre-ordering any of them as I always did for EU novels. In case you haven’t noticed, I despise reboots – most of all after I have invested so many years in a universe that has just been reclassified as fantasy, conjecture, or “legend”. I continue to feel cheated and manipulated, no matter the justifications given by the corporation.

    But for now I’m going to just take a breath, acknowledge the loss, and then let it go.

    I envy this attitude. I have not been able to find this mindset, and it would be helpful if I did. There is nothing I can do to bring the EU back. There is no guarantee that Episode VII will satisfy my hopes for a new Star Wars adventure. There are so many books on the schedule that are aimed at young readers that I feel my demographic is being ignored.

    It seems to me that your ability to deal with all of the changes in Star Wars far outstrips my own. Good for you!

    Mary

    Reply
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