STAR WARS Expanded Universe No Longer an Issue

This bit of news was always on the table since Disney took over the Star Wars brand and announced a new movie trilogy, but now it’s official. In a news item on this week, it was officially announced that all the novels, comics, video games and roleplay game source material that has been published over the last thirty odd years (collectively called the “Expanded Universe”) are no longer considered official.

Here’s the official video that details the Expanded Universe’s Past, Present and Future:

The creative reason behind this is obvious – it frees up future creators to weave new tales from around the time of the Empire without contradicting or having to weave in and out of all those thousands of other stories already out there. I’m a huge fan of the Star Wars expanded universe – I’ve read all the novels (bar one or two), read most of the Dark Horse comics and played probably all of the video games … and I sometimes have difficulty keeping it all straight in my head!

So I can see that this clears the air for new stories. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of the “why not create Star Wars stories that are NOT based around the Skywalkers and the founding / fall of the Empire? why not go to the past or the future for inspiration?” movement. The incredible Knights of the Old Republic games are proof that this works to great effect.

Heir to the EmpireI think for me, the main problem with this decision is that rather than take all the existing material out of print, Disney / Lucasfilm are going to continue re-printing stories under the “Legends” banner. Personally, if you’re going to write-off all these decades of stories then do so. Don’t carry on cashing in on the success while pointing out their irrelevance.

The announcement also mentions that elements of the expanded universe will inevitably make appearances moving forward. The example given is that in the forthcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series, elements from the 1980s Roleplay Game from West End Games will be incorporated.

For those who don’t know, this RPG was perhaps the most influential of all the Expanded Universe publications. The company produced vast quantities of back story, technology, organisations and more that filtered into the novels, comics and games over the years. In turn, concepts from those fed back into the system and the “lived in” universe for which Star Wars is famed truly came about.

Let’s not forget that elements of the prequel trilogy came from the Expanded Universe. Coruscant, the city planet that is the centre of the Republic and the Empire was first seen in Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” novel. Aayla Secura, the blue-skinned Twi’lek Jedi that appears in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith first appeared as a character in the Dark Horse comic series. George Lucas was reportedly struck by the character’s primal image and added her to Attack very late on in production.

This incorporation of concepts is also a double-edged sword. It will lend a familiarity to those existing fans who (like me) have immersed themselves in thirty years of lore. It will also leave us wondering which of the other elements will be included?

It’s an unfortunate inevitability that this happened and one that has split me somewhat down the middle. On the one hand it means I have a LOT of useless information in my head. On the other, I have a fresh new galaxy of stories awaiting me that are unencumbered by such a wealth of existing materials.

Ultimately, as with most things of this ilk, it doesn’t really matter. The old Expanded Universe is still there for those who want to dive in. A new one awaits. The only real problem I’ll have is sorting one from the other moving forward …

Reporter: WedgeDoc

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