It happened. The news broke today that the existing Expanded Universe would be shifted into a ‘Legends’ label and all books from here on out would be a part of the new overarching cohesive canon. I think it’s fair to say that we all know the fandom went a little crazy from the news even though, to be honest, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first. One, no one should take this as an opportunity to gloat. That’s tacky and tasteless and if you do so, you are a disservice to the fandom. Two, no one will ever be able to take these books from you nor the chance for you to introduce people to your favorites. Del Rey will continue to publish them under this new Legends banner. Three, suggesting that those involved in the decision hate the Expanded Universe is just false and I invite you to watch the video they put together if you think they do.
This moment was coming, folks. We’ve all been talking about the probability of it for almost as long as we’ve known about the Sequel Trilogy. And to be honest, I think that those of us who have been quietly mentally preparing for it are handling the news a little better than those who didn’t. I’d also like to take the time to note there that I am not immune to the completely losing my mind just a little and spinning around as a whirlwind of questions about just what all of this means in the long run go through my mind. So apologies if anything in this piece seems rambling or a bit poorly phrased at times.
Personally, I’m a mix of disappointed and accepting. As many readers know, I adore so many aspects of the Expanded Universe. Tons of my favorite characters come from the books and games and only someone who sincerely loves the EU could have made it through the Waru Express. It breaks my heart that I’m unlikely to ever read anything new about Myri Antilles or the Wraiths or even the Young Jedi Knights who were so influential on me as a child. In my dreams, we’ll get the occasional novel set in this timeline in five years once they’ve successfully launched the new overarching canon. (We’re going to need a name for this stat.)
In regard to the cohesive canon aspect, I think there was some poor wording choice there but I respect their intent. One of the things I’ve always loved about Star Wars is that it was one big story. Sure the films or perhaps the animated show would occasionally completely mess with an aspect or a backstory from the books but the authors are, to borrow a phrase from Timothy Zahn, great at spackling. Things were retconned and hand waved for years. From my read on the new canon, it looks like their intention is to avoid the need for spackling in the future. Everything from here on out will all fit together from the start.
What most intrigues me is how they will treat all of the pre-Prequel Trilogy material and everything that falls in the middle. For example, will Kenobi still count? What about Darth Plagueis? Will the other Empire and Rebellion books? Or how about everything from the Dawn of the Jedi era? In my opinion, it would be silly to exclude them and I hope some clarification comes in future days and that we don’t just get a blanket label. Since I started writing this article, I did see a tweet from Del Rey go by indicating that the new Luke book would not be part of the Empire and Rebellion series which does seem a little silly to me as both of those would be so easy to slip into accepted canon.
So where do we go from here? I think that a lot of us need to go through the seven stages of grief, especially anger and acceptance. I also think it’s important that everyone remembers that we will always have these books. No one can ever take them from us. No one should ever just chuck their books out the window simply because they aren’t considered a part of the canon anymore. Most importantly, no one can take all the happy memories that so many of us have thanks to these books. Every time you laughed, every time you cried, every time you smiled because of words on the page of a newly dubbed Legends books? Those are yours to keep. And of course, if you’re having trouble moving past, remind yourself that we no longer have to accept some of the more…painful events of the Expanded Universe/Legends as canon. These books aren’t going away; they’re just getting a change in status.
As we all reach acceptance in our own time, I think it’s important to look ahead to the future of Star Wars books. Yesterday? All we had to look forward to was the Luke book all the way in January. Now we’ve got a book in September, another in November, and another in March in addition to all of those. New Star Wars books, guys! Personally, I think that the best thing that we as a fandom can do here is to look on the bright side of this news. Everyone involved on Lucasfilm’s side of things wants everything Star Wars to succeed and most if not all of them care just as much about the franchise as we do. No one is setting out to deliberately mess anything up. Let’s look as this in as positive of a light as we possibly can. Let’s see what this new canon brings us and not let our anger sway us towards the dark side of the Force.