It’s no secret that the Tosche Station staff holds the Expanded Universe close to our hearts. We may disagree on our favorite eras and characters and series, but we all agree that the EU helped develop and cultivate our love of the Star Wars saga as a whole. For me, it was Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. For Brian, it was the X-Wing series. For Bria, it was the Young Jedi Knights. Without the EU, none of us would be here today, running a Star Wars-centric blog and podcast.
But it’s never all happy-go-lucky in the world of fandom. Lately, with all the rumors swirling around about the Sequel Trilogy, some fans have become jaded (pardon the pun). They despise the idea that the EU as we know it will cease to exist canonically, and feel betrayed by Lucasfilm after all these years. They mourn the “death” of the EU.
We’ve already written about why that’s not necessarily true, and why it’s possible that some EU elements will remain in the Sequel Trilogy. We’ve also discussed why canon vs. non-canon shouldn’t matter in the long run. The books will always exist on my bookshelf and e-reader, no matter what Leland Chee calls them.
That’s not the point of this blog post. Even though I think those fans are misguided–more Star Wars is always a good thing, right? Right?–I understand why some fans feel betrayed. To them, the EU is Star Wars, and ending the EU ends their enthusiasm.
For a long time, the EU was my Star Wars, too.
I first saw the Original Trilogy in 1992, when I was 11. My dad happened to have a copy of Heir to the Empire that someone gave to him as a gift. I stole it from his bookshelf and read it, not necessarily cover to cover, but at least all the Luke parts to start. Then I read it again. And again. Then I bought Dark Force Rising with my hard-earned allowance money. (Back then, the hardcover price was a whopping $15.) I devoured it. I went from hating Mara Jade to loving her in the span of 200 pages, and wanted her and Luke to get married by the end of the book. (It took a few years, but I eventually got my wish.) I waited impatiently for the release of The Last Command, and vividly remember crying at the end, thinking it was the end of Star Wars.
Little did I know.
The EU made me a Star Wars fan. Then came the Special Editions, and the Prequel Trilogy. I became even more obsessed. Rabid, even. Eventually, during that time, I gave up trying to read all the EU out there. Post-RotJ was my wheelhouse. I somehow kept up with the New Jedi Order series during college and grad school. (I was a history major. I read and wrote a lot.)
The NJO ended in 2003, and it was unclear what the future of the post-RotJ era would be. Two years later, Revenge of the Sith came out. I sat in the theatre during the end credits, sobbing my eyes out–not only because the movie was sad, but because it was the end of Star Wars. No more movies. Ever.
Once again, little did I know.
The EU persisted, despite my disenchantment with the storyline. The Clone Wars became a thing. I got sucked into fandom again, and into this blog and podcast. All the time, I looked back fondly on my “Golden age” of Star Wars: the Bantam era of the Expanded Universe. Yeah, some of the books sucked. We got Waru and blob races. But it was new. It was exciting. It was more Star Wars.
Now all of that might be going away. I’ll admit, that possibility does make me a bit sad. I miss that simpler time, when all I cared about was more Star Wars. Before I knew about message boards. Before I learned that some people out there despise Mara Jade with every fiber of their being. Before I found out that people don’t like Tim Zahn’s writing. Before I realized that Corran Horn is a total Mary Sue.
Most of the time, I’m still flabbergasted that the Sequel Trilogy is an actual thing that’s going to happen. Whether or not Luke Skywalker is in it, whether or not Mara Jade continues to exist in the Star Wars canon, I’m still going to see the movies and enjoy the shit out of them. How could I not? I think back to all those times I thought Star Wars was over, and I can’t help but smile. Star Wars will never end. Something will always happen to astound us, just like the first time we saw that Star Destroyer pass overhead, or picked up an EU book, or a comic, or a video game, or turned on our first episode of The Clone Wars.
But sometimes–sometimes–I think back on those stories that I loved, and I get bummed. I find myself wishing that Star Wars was the same as it was back then. Before the prequels, before The Clone Wars, before the Sequel Trilogy was announced and the internet became a scary, cynical, hateful place again.
Then I realize I wouldn’t want that at all. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing for this blog. I wouldn’t have friends that live all over the country–even the world. I wouldn’t be engaged.
I will always love the Bantam era of the EU because it’s what made me a fan. I wish they could stay canon, nubs and all. But no matter what, those books will always be part of my Star Wars. (And, considering recent events in the EU, maybe it’s a good thing if the Sequel Trilogy wipes it all out.)
When I’m feeling nostalgic and longing for the past, I tell myself to suck it up. Channel the sense of wonder and excitement I felt in 1992 into the Sequel Trilogy. There’s a whole new world of endless possibilities out there.
The Golden Age of Star Wars? It may have passed for me, but maybe, for someone, it’s happening right now. And that’s a wonderful thing.