Like too many Star Wars fans to count, I eagerly awaited Force Friday. I packed up my two toddler sons and drove to the store. I felt great delight when they could recognize so many of the characters who have been part of my fun and play since even before I was their age, for I was born in 1977, and my childhood was Star Wars toys and Star Wars play. And there in the stores, I saw them clamor to take turns pushing the button that would make the three-foot-tall Darth Vader talk.
And yes, I bought some things for them (my older son loves his First Order stormtrooper mask – I’m so glad they had little ones for kids!), but mainly I was there for the books. So many books! Of course, there was Aftermath, which I was eagerly looking forward to reading. But there were three there designed for children… and with eagerness to find out the hidden clues they promised about The Force Awakens, I picked them up too. And the Young Adult novel, Lost Stars – I’ll grab that one too.
It was something I hadn’t done in a long while – cross the Star Wars age barrier. I was getting ready to start high school when the Zahn books came out, and so with the rebirth of the Expanded Universe, I found myself squarely in the non-juvenile book section. And there I stayed. I was a high schooler, then a college student – I never read the Young Jedi Knights or whatever series it was – The Glove of Darth Vader is known to me only in mocking tales and Wookieepedia entries.
And when the prequel trilogy came out, I didn’t bother with any of the kids stuff – I was an adult, in college, beyond all that. But something happened. I saw, in many of my friends, revulsion. Jar Jar became almost a curse word. I still loved Star Wars, even the prequels – but for many of my friends, there was disdain. “Icky, icky goo!? That doesn’t belong in Star Wars.” Star Wars was to be sophisticated and advanced and intelligent… and when I pointed out that “Would somebody get this walking carpet out of my way” wasn’t exactly any higher art than icky, icky goo, it often fell on deaf ears. They would have none of it, and I knew that they were missing something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
And then, this past month, I began to read. I read Aftermath first (that was present tense “read” instead of past tense, just in case you didn’t notice), and I enjoy it. It doesn’t quite satisfy me in terms of my desires for The Force Awakens, but it’s a good story, especially once Wendig is done introducing characters and lets them shine. But then I read the other four, and no offense Chuck, your books pale in comparison to them. Especially Lost Stars. Claudia Gray has written one of the most beautiful and well crafted stories in the Star Wars universe. It is utterly fantastic – it blends the best of the original trilogy and spins us forward to the next.
This left me with a slightly odd feeling. I appreciated more the books aimed at the kids, ones who might not even remember ever having to wait for a Star Wars film to come out, even ones born after Revenge of the Sith came out. Books aimed at folks who couldn’t possibly have my own experience with Star Wars.
And everything came into focus this week. I decided to keep on reading the “kids” books – I picked up Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger (the other two weren’t quite on the shelves yet; but don’t worry, I will be picking those up soon enough), and that is when it hits me. The book is a fantastic love letter to Return of the Jedi, written for a kid, a kid who might not know why those older folks might love it so much.
And that’s when it hits me. It’s not my Star Wars anymore. And I don’t mean this like angry comments to Wendig because of gender stuff, or agendas or anything like that. Simply this – it’s not my Star Wars anymore. I’m not the target audience. I mean, I’m sure I will enjoy it, that there will be things in the sequel trilogy to love – they may even become my favorite films. But they aren’t being made for me now – they are being made for people who are now what I was thirty years ago. A kid. With dreams of a galaxy far, far away. These novels are all just helping to explain why this thing called Star Wars is so big and popular, all to prepare a new generation to dive in and see what Finn and Rey and Poe do.
That’s what it was the last time around, too. All the stuff with the prequel trilogy, it was for kids of a different generation. For me and my generation, it’s Han, Luke, and Leia. For those somewhat younger, it’s tales of Obi-Wan and Anakin and Padmé. It’s Rex and Cody. To some, it’s even Kanan and Ezra and Hera and Sabine. But I’ll always default to the tales of Luke Skywalker. My sons, they know who Darth Vader is… but Kylo Ren looks like he’ll be the villain who will be the main bad guy in their adventures.
It’s their Star Wars now. It will be Star Wars to drive and shape their dreams, their hopes for the future. And while I’ll be along for the ride, this will really be their step into this larger universe. And that’s good. That’s how it should be.