Expanded Universe Authors talk the Sequel Trilogy

Hollywood.com recently rounded up a collection of current Expanded Universe authors to ask them what they hope to see in the Sequel Trilogy, what EU characters they’d look to see make an appearance, and what the ultimate fate of the Big Three should be. Reading through, I was struck by Aaron Allston’s answers in particular:

What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: Could I see “Screenplay by Aaron Allston”? No?

Well, barring that, I’d like to see the story move away from the Skywalkers, Solos, even the Jedi a bit, reminding us that there are other people doing important things in the galaxy. I’d like to see a greater proportion of female characters. I want to see more spectacle — Tatooine junkyards and bongo interiors aren’t exactly challenges for ILM’s skills. And I hope to see a return to the lightheartedness and humor of A New Hope, putting the fatalism of the prequels behind us.

What secondary or Expanded Universe character I’d Like to See Get the Spotlight: This kind of depends on exactly when in the timeline Episodes VII through IX take place. Timothy Zahn’s Mara Jade would always be a good choice. The next-generation Solos and Skywalkers, such as Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker, would be welcome. If any sort of espionage is in the offing, some sort of nod to my ownWraith Squadron characters would be a thrill for me.

But what I really hope to see most is any sort of appearance by recognizable EU characters, which would be an acknowledgement that the EU is a significant part of what constitutes Star Wars.

How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: You know, I actually don’t want to see them die in the movies, and it’s not just because of affection for the characters…

…Me, I’m all for having Luke, Leia, and Han be in a scene showing them knocking back shots of Corellian brandy while playing cards. Then the screen can go through a 1940s-style wipe and the camera can zoom in on their descendants saving the galaxy for a new generation.

Allston pretty much summed up exactly what I’d love to see in these new films as well as what I think should happen with Luke, Han, and Leia. So many people seem eager to see those characters killed off in epic fashion, but I’m a fan of the quiet retirement approach. They’ve earned their victory lap and fade to black.

His overall sentiments on the Expanded Universe I think are also important to consider. Many forget, but for a long time, that was it for Star Wars. The only new story material being produced. It attracted a passionate following and helped to rejuvenate the fandom from the doldrums of the 80s and early 90s and keep it alive during the long stretches when it seemed like Lucasfilm was done producing material. Including any EU characters is a gesture to fans, authors, and editors who helped to keep things alive.

For more from Allston as well as Christie Golden, Michael Reaves, Troy Denning, James Luceno, John Jackson Miller, Drew Karpyshyn, and Paul S. Kemp, head to the Hollywood.com interview.

Review: The Old Republic: Annihilation

As someone who hasn’t really kept up with the Old Republic novels or gotten around to playing the new game, I went into Annihilation not expecting anything more than a decent read where I’d have to continuously look up references to events I had no knowledge of.  What I actually got was an incredibly fun read where I only occasionally had to reference Pablo Hidalgo’s Essential Reader’s Companion for dates and general information.  Color me very pleasantly surprised.

Drew Karpyshyn’s latest novel, The Old Republic: Annihilation, centers around Theron Shan, a field agent for the Republic’s Strategic Information Services. He’s also secretly the son of Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan but has no connection to the Force.  (Spoiler Alert: This will definitely be a plot point later.)  The Sith Empire has at its command a technologically impressive and incredibly dangerous warship called the Ascendant Spear.  Under the symbiotic control of Darth Karrid, it is a ship that the Republic has to destroy if they want to ultimately beat the Sith Empire.  Cue Operation End Game: It’s up to Theron Shan and Jedi Master Gnost-Dural to find a way to stop Darth Kerrid and the Ascendant Spear.

The plot itself is entertaining and never really drags. The book is one part spy, one part action, and often left me fondly reminded of the X-Wing novels.   It opens with an unauthorized mission that helps establish not only the tone of the novel but also who Theron is both as a person and as an agent.  The book continues to move the overarching plot forward with just the right amount of missions/ action sequences to keep things interesting but not enough so that it feels overly excessive.  The threat of the Ascendant Spear also works well because it presents enough of a danger to warrant Operation End Game but doesn’t fall victim to Ridiculous Super Weapon Syndrome.

One of the book’s highlights was the brief chapter that focuses purely on the poor Imperial Minister of Logistics.  No one really appreciates the work he does and obviously the Empire wouldn’t function nearly as smoothly without him.  Efficiency is everything and the politics of the Sith Lords are a nuisance even if he does know how to play that game.  It’s amusing and a nice (yet relevant) break from the main storyline.

The characters are what really help the novel succeed.  Theron himself is an interesting protagonist who occasionally gives off a strong Corran Horn vibe because of his huge amount of self-confidence.  He’s self assured and a bit cocky at times but it never truly spills over to arrogance.  He also doesn’t fall into the expected trap one would expect of the Force blind offspring of the Jedi and never really broods on it.  Does Theron have some unresolved issues in regards to his mother?  Sure, but they never become a defining character trait and only really surface when prompted by circumstances.  Another entertaining character was Marcus Trant, the Director of SIS, who you just can’t help but sympathize with when he has to deal with Theron’s antics in the field.  He’s good at his job, struggles a bit with his personal life, and just positively had it up to here with Theron some days but can’t fire such a valuable agent.  Gnost-Dural, the token Jedi of the book, was another pleasant surprise who left me intrigued about his life from before the book’s start.  I also found myself soon warming to Teff’ith, the young smuggler who has a very weird bond with Theron.  She’s incredibly independent and doesn’t want Theron poking into her business.  Her speech patterns thankfully manage to walk on the right side of endearing or irritating and she ultimately has one of the best lines in the book.

The only thing that I wasn’t really a fan of was the family plot line.  Theron learns who his father is about a third of the way through the book and it is not exactly the shocker of the century.  As a whole, the plot line actually works with the book but the obligatory awkward family scenes left me rolling my eyes because they felt too expected at times.  However, they didn’t detract drastically from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I give Annihilation a 3.5/5 and say that it is definitely worth the read especially if you are interested in the era or are looking for a fun Expanded Universe book that’s not part of a giant series.


Thank you to Random House for providing us with an advanced copy of the book for review purposes.

‘Revan’ Now Available in Paperback

The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn went on sale today in paperback form for those of you that are looking for the book in a trimmer form factor. You can get your copy for $7.99 from your local bookstore online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior—the man called Revan has been all of these. He left Coruscant a Jedi, on a mission to defeat the Mandalorians. He returned a Sith disciple, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was the loss of his memories. All that’s left are nightmares—and deep, abiding fear. What happened beyond the Outer Rim that Revan can’t quite remember or entirely forget? One thing he’s certain of: Something dark is plotting to destroy the very existence of the Republic. With no idea how to identify the threat, let alone stop it, Revan may be doomed to fail. For he’s never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying.

Del Rey Acquires Original Trilogy By Drew Karpyshyn

Expanded Universe author and guru of all things Old Republic Drew Karpyshyn has to be thrilled with how his week is going. On Monday, he announced that his agent had closed a deal Del Rey to publish an original trilogy.

I can finally announce that my agent – Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Ltd. – closed a deal with Del Rey to publish  my original fantasy trilogy! Here’s the official announcement in Publisher’s Weekly, though I should clarify that this is a fantasy series, not sci-fi. I’m really excited about this, and I’m ecstatic to be working with Del Rey and Tricia again. (I worked with her on some of my Mass Effect novels.)

The plan is to publish the first two books of the trilogy (Children of Fire and The Scorched Earth) in 2014, with the final installment (Chaos Unleashed) coming 9-12 months later. Some of you may remember that I’ve mentioned this series before – I’ve been working on it sporadically over several years… basically squeezing in time to write between my work-for-hire novels (SW and ME) and my work at BioWare.

Karpyshyn notes that the first book in the trilogy is nearly finished but he’s waiting to publish it until he can get started on the second entry.

Originally well-known for his work at game developer Bioware, Karpyshyn has branched out to write numerous media tie-in novels both for the studio and for Lucasfilm Licensing. His novel Revan revisited the protagonist from the critically acclaimed videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. 

For more information, see the announcement post on his blog.