Yesterday, io9 posted a list that covered the 12 Worst Things about the Expanded Universe. We really couldn’t disagree with any of it, but we did notice that it seemed to only run through the 90s. In the spirit of being all-inclusive, we decided to take a stab at the worst the Expanded Universe has to offer through the present day.
Emily rounded up myself, Bria, and Nanci to shamelessly rip off io9’s post and put together our own list of terrible things the Expanded Universe has featured over the years. While we do love the EU, we do recognize that it’s definitely not sacred and there’s a lot of silly stuff that’s made it to print and other tie-in media over the years.
To the jump for 12 things about the Expanded Universe we’ve been trying for years to repress!
12. Mara’s Death as Jacen’s “Sacrifice.”
The concept was simple and, on the surface, made sense. Author Aaron Allston pitched the idea that for Sith, there may be a system of sacrifice in place. While he had his back turned and before he could stop it, the other creative members of the Legacy of the Force team took that idea and took it to an absurd extreme that he didn’t see coming: Jacen kills Mara Jade.
This has never made sense to us. Mara is an aunt by marriage; Jacen was ten when Mara married Luke. She spent very little time at the Jedi academy, and she was Jaina’s master, not Jacen’s. So why would Mara be considered Jacen’s sacrifice?
Putting aside the fact that we hated killing Mara off, it just doesn’t seem right that this would be the sacrifice that pushes Jacen over into full Darth-dom. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to have attacked Jaina or Luke or one of his parents?
From an out of universe perspective, using Mara as Jacen’s sacrifice seems particularly unwise when she’s one of only a few well developed female characters regularly receiving pagetime. It was perhaps a poorly thought out idea on multiple fronts that has made storytelling beyond Sacrifice quite a bit more difficult.
11. Continuity > Story
There’s been such a drive to connect the different Star Wars eras and to pull elements of the prequels into the EU that it’s actually starting to get in the way of story-telling. It’s time to stop worrying about making these cross-connections and get back to telling good stories.
Take a look at something like Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse. The book was loaded with fat that could have been trimmed in order to preserve pacing and part of the underlying problem was the insistence of tying the book into the Mortis episodes of The Clone Wars. A seemingly random side quest was introduced that featured several characters heading to see the Killiks (another continuity tie from the Dark Nest Trilogy novels that were written years earlier) in order to explain in excruciating detail how the Big Bad was related to a vague story arc from the television show.
And then they repeated the exact same information almost verbatim later in the book.
Continuity is great, but when the priorities seem to be continuity first, story second, the quality of a book suffers greatly.
10. The Ewok Adventures
Despite the fact that they were so sickeningly cute that they’re probably they reason they gave co-star Wilford Brimley diabetes, aren’t the two Ewok movies better off forgotten?
9. Jax Pavan as Far as the Eye Can See
Let’s just put this out there for consideration. In the last ten years we’ve gotten four Jax Pavan books. And exactly one X-Wing novel. Give us back our well rounded and intriguing casts of characters with the snarkiest and smartest plots this side of Tatooine and take back this Jedi who is stupid enough to stay on Coruscant when Vader is hunting for him. Sometimes you have to wonder if the Jedi had it coming if Jax Pavan is one of the last who hadn’t been hunted down.
8. Han and Leia: The Galaxy’s Worst Proposal
Do we really need to get into the mess that is The Courtship of Princess Leia? Really, Han’s proposal/kidnapping in the Jedi Prince series was a better idea. How did someone ‘acquire’ Dathomir in the first place anyway? I suppose if you’re a fan of Bollywood Musicals, this book and Han’s proposal could work for you. But short of that? This book is just a series of rapidly escalating absurdities.
7. Han and Leia: The Galaxy’s Worst Parents
There has to be a counter out there somewhere for the number of times the Solo brats got kidnapped. And then Tenel Ka decides to have them take care of Allana for her safety. The Solos promptly turn around and give her a nexu cub. Because that’s always nice and safe. Really if it wasn’t for Winter being the responsible human being throughout those poor children’s lives, all three of the Solo Spawn would have been dead before New Jedi Order even started.
6. Squicky Relationships and Tentacle Porn
Oh where do you start. It’s not necessarily that interspecies relationships or significant age differences are bad. Take a look at the well executed Gavin/Asyr romance or the ongoing Han/Leia pairing. There’s just some relationships that simply should not exist. Take, for example, the infamous Wackbar implied relationship. Not that we’re xenophobes, but… Yeah. Fish. Can you picture yourself making out with a fish? I didn’t think so.
But there’s some human/human relationships that peg the squick meter in this universe. Kevin J. Anderson gave us the young Imperial upstart Natasi Daala being romantically involved with Noted Old Geezer and Destroyer of Worlds Wilhuff Tarkin and then we actually got to see it in Death Star. If that isn’t enough for you, how about the implied relationship between Mynockpoodoo Crazy Ysanne Isard and Emperor Palpatine. Just try not to take that mental image deeper than that.
Of course, the squick doesn’t end there. Move forward to Fate of the Jedi and you’ve got Abeloth and her collection of creepy tentacles. At one point, a member of the Lost Tribe of Sith actively suckles on one of her appendages. If that’s not creepy enough for you, there’s also the whole thing where she had her way with Callista and used her body as a bizarre and deeply unsettling trap for Luke. Wherever you draw the line, tentacle porn and Star Wars go together about as well as peanut butter and enriched uranium.
5. Jacen Turning to the Dark Side
Why did it have to be a Solo brat? What makes matters worse is that this could have been maybe saved as a plotline… if they hadn’t killed him in the end.
The biggest problem with Jacen going to the Dark Side was that it was essentially a retelling of the Prequel Trilogy. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Prequel Trilogy, but this story has already been told. We don’t need to rehash it, but that’s sort of been the MO the last six or seven years in the Post-RotJ Expanded Universe. Jacen going all Sith on the Galaxy and his family was sort of a Dialobus ex Machina device. A SkySolo ruined the Galaxy once and it will all happen again because fate or destiny or a throne or something.
4. Boba Fett Trains Jaina.
Brian just wanted to say Boba Fett period*, but Emily stopped him because really, Boba Fett doesn’t get entirely ridiculous until he pops up to train Jaina to help her take on Jacen. Because hiring a Mandalorian to help attack a Jedi who happens to also be her own brother makes sense. Then there’s the weird reverence Jaina has for a Bounty Hunter that has been causing her family headaches for decades. The whole thing was out of left field, hamfisted, and just plain strange.
3. Jedi Prince.
Allow Nanci to recount why this belongs on this list with her journey through the Jedi Prince novels. On the plus side, it did give us the amazingly awful word “mofference.”
If you missed Bria’s livestream of reading The Crystal Star, you missed some of the most entertaining drunken cursing and flailing any of us have seen since…well, the previous discussion any of us had about The Crystal Star. In fact, the entire book is just painfully awful. Leia’s lost her children (AGAIN), Luke is on spice and falls under Waru’s spell, and poor Han just really wants to get drunk and never ever go swimming inside Waru again. If you think this sounds bad, we promise you that actually reading the book is worse.
1. Jedi Bug Sex
Three words that never, ever, should exist in relation to one another. Jedi and sex, we could handle. Bug sex? We’d rather not, but if it has to be a clinical thing, we suppose we can deal with it. A threesome between Jaina, Zekk and the Killik hive mind (which makes it way more than just three)? We could have put this up with the Squicky Relationships thing, but it deserved its own mention. Having an orgy with an on-again-off-again love interest and the entire Killik Hive mind just shouldn’t happen in the Expanded Universe.
That’s our list! Tune in next time as we balance things out by discussing our picks for the 12 Best Things About the Expanded Universe.