Disney has a new generation in its hands. The youngest generation of Star Wars fans, brought in by The Clone Wars and Rebels and now the sequels, will be growing up with new heroes. There are definitely some Star Wars fans now who were introduced to the GFFA with Clone Wars, identified a lot with Ahsoka and her age. The equivalent, for many of us who were big EU fans as children, ran into a group of younger characters varied enough that all of us could identify with at least one of them. They were closely connected to the familiar characters of Star Wars, and made their own stories within the GFFA. As a series and for what it did for the SW universe, it would be worth it for Disney to learn from the Young Jedi Knights series.
Young Jedi Knights was a young-reader series devoted to the adventures of Jacen, Jaina, and their friends in the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. It brought in the cast who later would become the Jedi of the New Jedi Order, gave the next generation of Solos a lot of life, and continued Star wars adventures for a younger crowd. Even though YJK was written for a teen audience, it still handled similar plot material to the rest of Star Wars, and retained the feeling of the universe, set up new characters, and gave a good jumping-off point for further adventures without feeling too much like a kids’ book.
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Probably the main reason my friend Pearlann, she of the numerous Expanded Universe Explains questions, never really got too into the EU herself was because she agreed with George Lucas on one key point: after Return of the Jedi, she felt, the story was over. She was never quite a movie purist; she’s read Dark Lord and Kenobi, for example, and even now is eagerly awaiting Heir to the Jedi—but she never had any problem with the notion that the Empire basically collapsed after Endor and all was right with the galaxy from then on.
While Lucas’s lack of involvement in EU plotting was a major factor for many, that’s probably as close as you could’ve come to an absolute dividing line between pro- and anti-EU fans back in the old days—whether one felt there was anything left to do with the characters after Jedi. In Mike Klimo’s Star Wars Ring Theory essay, which I’ve discussed previously, he details how the six films exist not just chronologically, but as a circle—how the two trilogies both parallel and mirror each other, and the extent to which Jedi even “links up” with The Phantom Menace to create a unified body of themes that begin in one place, evolve either positively or negatively, then return to where they began.
While the essay is very convincing, one can debate just how much of this detail was completely intentional on Lucas’s part—but what can’t be debated is that viewing the films through this lens as opposed to a strictly chronological one doesn’t really lend itself to the whole “expanded universe” thing. To a ring theorist, Star Wars is not unlike a clock; removing a piece would harm the entire structure, and adding extraneous bits and bobs would, too. What was Obi-Wan doing on Tatooine for nineteen years? How did Leia get her bounty hunter disguise? What happened in that nest of gundarks? None of that is relevant, and constructing explanations for them is superfluous at best, because that information isn’t in service to the clock. » Read more..
This is an unprecedented era of change for Star Wars, with whole new vistas of storytelling possibilities opening up in every medium. One author who needs to be at forefront of this brave new world is Greg Keyes.
With the new sequel trilogy and the slew of books, comics and TV shows sure to be produced as a result Disney seeks to tap into a new audience while appealing to the core fan base. They seek to elevate a whole new generation of heroes to the pantheon of our film and ‘legends’ canon favourites. To achieve this Disney need only look to the blueprint set out by Keyes in his Edge of Victory series and The Final Prophecy. » Read more..
The Unifying Force, the ultimate novel of The New Jedi Order
With the casting announcement, we now know that the heroes of the original trilogy will be sharing the screen with characters played by younger actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, and Domnhall Gleeson, some combination of which will presumably be their successors as primary heroes. If there is one Expanded Universe project that embodies the lessons Disney should take into account when creating a multigenerational sequel trilogy, it’s The New Jedi Order. In our Everything Disney Needs to Know series, Mike and Lisa have suggested lessons to be drawn from standalone Expanded Universe works, but nothing in the Expanded Universe so perfectly parallels the task of the sequel trilogy, nor offers such directly applicable lessons, as The New Jedi Order.
The Thrawn trilogy is often touted as the Expanded Universe’s “sequel trilogy,” and that’s true to the extent that it’s the best of the immediate saga-level followups to Return of the Jedi. If the sequel trilogy were being made in 1990, the Thrawn trilogy might be the best model. The nineteen-book super-series The New Jedi Order, set twenty-five years after the movies, however, not only much better accords with the challenges of the sequels being made now, but it functions better in general as a continuation of the Star Wars saga. By focusing on passing the torch from the heroes of the original trilogy to their children and spiritual heirs, the NJO mirrors the task the sequels must undertake. By constructing meaningful character arcs and creating a bold new narrative, the NJO accomplished something outstanding in the Expanded Universe and set the standard for genuinely continuing the saga.
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Michael Stackpole’s novel I, Jedi has many qualities and ideas that Disney can learn from for the Sequel Trilogy. For those that know me it should come as no surprise that I am writing this article. Corran Horn is one of my favorite characters in Star Wars and part of the reason for that is what I experienced while reading this book. Stackpole wrote a book where he wasn’t afraid to be different, he correctly used a wide array of characters, his inclusion of romance and put together a fantastic journey for the reader to follow along with.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different
On the surface Stackpole’s main character, Corran Horn, sounds a lot like Luke Skywalker. Corran is an excellent fighter pilot in training to become a Jedi. However, as Horn goes through training we discover that he lacks one of the most basic and most utilized force powers we see from the movie Jedi, telekinesis. On screen this would make for some less than spectacular fight scenes, but I greatly enjoy the concept of a Jedi with a handicap. It was refreshing to see how Stackpole wove this lack of skill into the story and how Corran was able to overcome his inability to do telekinesis. Disney should develop unique Jedi for the ST. » Read more..