When I was eleven years old, Costco became my favorite store for the rest of my life. It began with polish sausages and a soda for only a buck, and it further earned its keep in adulthood with meat and beer cheaper than the grocery store, but its signal moment was when I wandered through looking at the book section sucking on the last remnants of high fructose corn syrup buried amongst the ice.
A hard cover with the Star Wars text emblazoned across the cover which featured the image above, Luke and Leia, Han and Chewie. Some imperial dude. And spaceships.
This was no mere set of art or scripts or whatever, this was a novel. And with its very title, Heir to the Empire, it promised to be a sequel to the movies that I’d already memorized down to the sound effects as I churned the tapes to dust in the VCR.
I got my parents to buy it for me. And then both sequels as they came out. I still have those hardcovers on my shelves today. There had been a handful of pulp paperbacks during the eighties, adventures of Han and Lando, that were entertaining to read if only because they came out between films and thus actually contradicted what I knew had happened. But those were from the start, side stories, not sequels in any real sense.
Sure, dozens of books followed. The so-called expanded universe that inflicted Kevin J. Anderson’s reign of genre terror upon us. But those first three were different. They tracked down a junior, but relatively well thought of science fiction author (Timothy Zahn), and got him to write a trilogy that was a direct sequel to the original trilogy. Even at the time, I could tell it wasn’t fantastic. But it felt like genuine Star Wars, and somehow that was enough. Before the dark times, before the prequels.
Disney announced last April that they’re scrapping the canon of the entire expanded universe, which was not entirely unexpected, as it was clear that the new film had no loyalty to thirty years of hundreds of paperbacks, comics, and video games. But like everything in this day of building franchises with dozens of movies and every tie-in imaginable, Disney has a plan.
There will be 20 books (novels both adult and YA, and comic books) all taking place in the 32 in-universe years between episodes six and seven. And they’re all canon. Here’s what we know so far about them:
Star Wars: Aftermath - a novel Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens, a Marvel Comics prequel A Marvel Comics prequel told from C-3PO’s perspective Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy, printed by Studio Fun International Moving Target, a Princess Leia story by Cecil Castellucci The Weapon of a Jedi, a Luke Skywalker story by Jason Fry Lost Stars by Claudia Gray Smuggler’s Run, a Han Solo story by Greg Rucka