Friday, September 19, 2014

Farewell to the Expanded Universe That Was

Earlier this month a new era of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was officially launched with the release of A New Dawn, the first Star Wars book to come out with the approval of the Lucasfilm Story Group. Earlier Star Wars books have been being printed under the new Legends banner for a few months now and the final comic set in the Expanded Universe That Was has also come and gone, but this book makes the start of the new Expanded Universe, one that does not share the history and continuity of the one I and so many others had come to know so well.

When it was announced that there would be no new stories in the Expanded Universe That Was and that a separate "Legends" banner would be created, I didn't feel overly emotional. It had felt like an inevitability since the announcement that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm. I had had time to get used to the idea and, in some ways, the announcement had made me glad. The Expanded Universe had been a mess for some time at that point and I had stopped following the new books going forward all the way back during the New Jedi Order, only picking up new Star Wars books by my favorite authors and ignoring the megaseries. I had been prepared for a continuity reset for over a decade. And then earlier this year I read Troy Denning's Crucible. If I hadn't been ready for a do-over before I sure would've been by the time I finished that book.

And yet now I feel a sense of loss, one that I did not feel at any of the announcements. The Expanded Universe I've known and read and discussed and researched my whole life is ended. There will be no more stories beyond fanfiction set in it, at least not for a long time. The characters I've grown so attached to may never appear in official material again and, if they do, they won't have the history and backstory I've come to know. And the lore and history of the entire universe has been wiped clean.

That is the part that caught me the most off guard. I had braced myself for the stories to stop being canon, heck, even approved of it. I had prepared myself for the absence of my favorite characters in the new stories. But the lore. The erasing of the lore was not something I thought about or prepared myself for. I did not realize how much that lore and history meant to me until about a month ago, when the timeline of the Republic and its wars with the Sith came up in several conversations with my brother.

 None of that extensive history matters anymore. None of it applies to the new stories going forward.

I never realized how much that history meant to me, but of course I'm attached to it. How could I not be? That lore was one of the first things I became attached to in the Expanded Universe, back when little me read and reread my brother's copy of The Essential Guide to Characters and learning about characters who lived thousands of years before the movies. That lore, that history, that was part of my Star Wars. It was the backdrop to the way I perceived Star Wars as a franchise. And those characters and those stories I had braced to bod farewell...they're a part of my Star Wars too. Even while I know and acknowledge that it's all fiction and I can think of it and arrange it however I want to in my head, the reality of there being no more official stories set in that timeline is tough to deal with.

I really do miss the Expanded Universe. I'm going to keep missing the Expanded Universe. The books remain on my shelves and their impact on me in not undone, but the knowledge that the Expanded Universe That Was and all of its history, all of its lore, all of its stories and characters will have such little impact on the new stories that come out hurts. But since I realized that I've been coming to accept that.

I'm saddened by the loss of all of that, but you know what? I'm also hopeful. New lore and history are going to be built! New characters and worlds! And the old stuff hasn't been destroyed, even if it no longer applies to things going forward. That story is over but we can still explore it and discuss it. We can still enjoy the stories that have been told before and the world that has been built by them, even as no more is added to it.

I have not yet read A New Dawn, but I fully intend to. It won't be part of what's been my Star Wars up until this point, but it will hopefully become part of my Star Wars in the future.

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