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A Case for Starting Over, Part III: Heirs to the Empire

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Save the lightsaber, there are few elements of Star Wars more iconic than the Star Destroyer and the faceless legions of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps. Every conflict requires its threat and every hero their villain, and there exist few adversaries in fiction as memorable and infamous as the many and varied minions of the Galactic Empire. For an entity so inseparable from the fundamental image of Star Wars, one would logically assume that it would continue to be a major obstacle for our protagonists and play a significant role in the future of the universe well beyond the setbacks it suffered in Return of the Jedi.

Alas, the Expanded Universe had other ideas. The surviving Imperial forces provided little more than a superficial backstory for the comically evil mustache-twirling warlord-of-the-week and generic lightsaber fodder for our heroes to cut and shoot their way through. The likes of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Trioculus, mad Admiral Daala, the warlord Zsinj, Hethrir, and Ysanne Isard all made use of Imperial resources in their battles against the victorious rebels and the New Republic, but remarkably little attention has ever been paid to the Empire’s perspective in all of this – their leaders visible to us only when plotting some diabolical new scheme, otherwise existing only as a menace for our heroes to vanquish. Read More

A Case for Starting Over, Part II: A New Republic

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When we first laid eyes on the New Republic, it appeared to us as a child just emerged from infancy. We fed it from our wallets and watched it grow with each new entry. We saw it survive and thrive against all odds in a hostile galaxy. We continued to follow the course of its nearly two-and-a-half decade existence until its eventual demise at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong and its rebirth as the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances. Much has been said about its life and death, but the Expanded Universe has long remained unusually silent on the circumstances of the New Republic’s creation.

To say overthrowing an entity the size of the Galactic Empire is a difficult task would be a significant understatement, but the process of building a new state remains a far greater challenge. Stories such as the X-wing series, the Thrawn Trilogy, and The Courtship of Princess Leia have told tales of the fledgling government’s conflicts against Imperial holdouts such as Ysanne Isard, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and the warlord Zsinj, but these are primarily military conflicts against external forces – a simple continuation of the Galactic Civil War with foes other than Palpatine and Vader. Read More

A Case for Starting Over, Part I: The Road to Coruscant

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Episode VI was released in 1983. Episode VII is currently set to be released in 2015. In our own world, thirty-two years will have passed between the two films. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher will be more than three decades older than they were at the end of the original trilogy. Barring any Jeff Bridges-in-Tron: Legacy digital rejuvenation, Luke, Han, and Leia will have aged accordingly. In those three intervening decades, it is beyond any doubt that the galaxy far, far away will have undergone a great number of significant changes. The Rebel Alliance will likely have restored the Galactic Republic, or at least founded a successor state of their own. Luke will have reestablished the fabled Jedi Order and begun training a new generation of Jedi Knights. Our heroes will have children, who now go on to face their own challenges. All these things have occurred at one point or another in the Expanded Universe that has been growing since the day A New Hope was released. Some hope that these stories will be respected by the sequel trilogy, and accepted in one form or another as the true history of what happened after Endor. Others feel that it is inevitable that the current continuity will be overwritten, and new stories invented to replace the old. I believe the latter will be the case, but I do not dread it – I choose, instead, to embrace the possibilities it offers us.

When Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was published in 1991, it marked a major step forward for the franchise. Not only had the rebellion evolved from a ragtag band of revolutionaries into a legitimate government, but they now held in their possession the bright center of the universe itself – Coruscant! The story of how they came to wrest the world from Imperial control, however, was left to be told another time – more specifically, in Michael A. Stackpole’s 1995 novel X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble. Read More