Aggressive Negotiations: Fans and the Expanded Universe

October 26, 2013 – a day that will live in virtual infamy? No, not right, insanity? Getting closer I suppose. Four Star Wars fans got together for what was to be a short chat on the future of the Expanded Universe. Three in Britain, one in Germany – so the EU was to discuss…. the EU! (And there’s more where that came from!) Ground rules were set – a couple inevitably broken – a rough timetable set, though it really was more like a guideline and said short chat became an epic spot of online comedy mixed with some serious points!

The participants with me were: (brackets indicate TFN forum usernames)

Becca Hughes (@Beccatoria)
Stefan Pfister (@CeiranHarmony)
Gorefiend (@Gorefiend)

The doomed ground rules:

Stefan: Ok then we better set something straight now: NO 3 million clones, no death star diameters, no superstardestroyer lengths ;)

Becca: deal, I can’t remember why half that stuff is contentious anyway. (Well okay, even I remember most of the 3 million clones fiasco BUT STILL)

Gorefiend: As far as I am concerned only evil Clones fought against the Republic in the Clone Wars, the Death Star is the size of a moon and Vader’s Star Destroyer is big.

Stefan: Evil is a matter of point of view ;) but I agree there. I want my old… well ancient… Clone Wars… Republic invaded by Mandalorians who use clones against it.

Gorefiend: Wasn’t it insane Clone Masters?

Stefan: Yub

(EDIT: Yes, Ewoks, every controversy going and I hadn’t even turned up, still, if others do the work for you why worry?)


Becca: Ben! Two things: 1) I’m assuming you’ll be acting as an informal mod for the chat, and 2) we discussed it and we’re hoping you’re gonna run this thing through a spellchecker and correct for typos before it goes live!

(EDIT: They hoped – correctly as it turns out.)

Question 1: Fan influence on the EU?

Ben: OK, fan influence on the EU – I’m very skeptical on this one.

Becca: I think it’s important to qualify what kind of fan influence we’re talking about. Certainly fans have managed to slip pieces of canon into the EU through less high profile gigs

Ben: Is it the pre-NJO line that Luke’s too powerful? Or that too many hate Vergere so let’s make her a Sith? Or something more subtle?

Stefan: There are lots of kinds. Direct ones like “What’s the story” Contests where fans create canon material or indirect ones like Conventions where discussions with authors/artists leads to influence. Cosplayers used as model for character art, etc.

Becca: I think you’ve touched on a good way to separate the two biggest “types” of fan influence I can see

Ben: Don’t recall seeing a what’s the story contest Stefan – care to expand?

Becca: 1) direct fan influence such as the things Stefan is about to expand on

Stefan: The old star wars com website had a member only section called Hyperspace. Especially leading up to the Prequel movies with exclusive content for paying subscribers.

Becca: 2) more general influence based on perceived fan reaction leading to the broader direction of the EU (such as the Vergere retcon)

Ben: Convention discussions are something I never would have factored in!

Stefan: There they ran contests to give unnamed characters from the movie background a back-story and name. Fans sent in their short entries and got checked. The most creative/best won and got added to the official databank as canon.

Becca: I think 1) most definitely happens, particularly now that the Expanded Universe is old enough that some of its writers were once fans themselves. I also agree that convention discussions are an interesting one.

Ben: So the Geoff Johns effect as it were? Perhaps in more ways than one?

Stefan: A lot of my friends won them. Some of them are now hired author that wrote official short stories even for Hyperspace afterwards. Others recently joined the team of Insider.

Ben: Insider’s hard to get hold of in the UK; I haven’t tried for years – interesting info.

Becca: It is interesting to compare it to the Marvel and DC comics’ universes where they are almost exclusively in the creative hands of those who grew up as fans. I’m not sure we’ll ever see that happen as completely in Star Wars, though.

Stefan: They took over Rogues Gallery from Leland Chee few weeks after we met him live at Celebration Europe ;)

Ben: I don’t know would Denning qualify as a case of that? He certainly upped the gore too.

Gorefiend: I also think it depends on what kind of fan influence. There is just Fan Stuff, like Fan Films, Art, Costumes, Cosplay etc. that does not make it into canon but is still part of the Fandom and there really is nothing wrong with it. It of course becomes more problematic when Fans get to add “official” works or heavily influence authors, which can be bad or good. Like Becca mentions many of the current authors are big fans themselves (Fry, Wallace for example) and also clearly interact with the fan base.

Becca: Oh interesting – so that’s an example of a meeting at a convention very definitely leading to fan involvement?

Stefan: There are fan films though that got referenced in a canon novel.

Ben: Oho? Which book and which films?

Gorefiend: Ah yeah the Pink 5 movie, that Zahn mentioned?

Becca: Well, there was one that I can think of, and that was mostly a humorous reference. Pink Five.

Becca: Zahn included a not *quite* so ridiculous version of Stacey as an X-Wing pilot in one of his Mara books. I think that’s more of a nudge-wink-cameo than really an affect on canon in the way we’re referring to.

Stefan: Pink 5 series is popular and won many awards, even picked by George Lucas own fan film awards once. Timothy Zahn referenced/named a rebel pilot Stacey after the main character of the fan film in one of his recent novels. Allegiance it was I think.

Gorefiend: Zahn especially actually had the happen in the past, as he would apparently let some fan groups proof read his works earlier and even thanks them in some of his books.

Ben: Have to look into that in more detail

Gorefiend: WEG also used to be big on Fan Input. With several articles in the Journals actually being Fan submissions.

Stefan: Another major influence we all see daily but no longer recognize as one is the 501st. Designation and name started as a fan club that got canonized later in the movies even due to their devotion.

Becca: Yes, that’s actually a very good point.

Ben: Oh I like that one!

Becca: Although again – not to belittle that because I think it’s freaking *awesome* – is that more of a homage, in some ways like Stacey as an X-Wing pilot?

Stefan: But these are just names and tiny bits of canon. The major influences that changed a big deal I think still are Vergere and Jacen’s fall sadly.

Becca: Exactly. Although I do think it’s worth noting that retcons are an area of more direct fan influence.

Ben: Problem I had with that and still do is it doesn’t follow from the end of TUF and I’m nowhere an NJO fan!

Gorefiend: Though I always wondered how much were really fan reaction and not just the planned outline.

Becca: Probably because it’s something more mainstream audience members won’t care about, so it makes sense to accept the patches provided by the community.

Ben: If it was planned as far ahead as has been claimed at times – 2003 – it’s very cynical.

Becca: I think we may never know whether the Jacen and Vergere issues were down to perceptions of fan reaction.

Gorefiend: Well fans generally tend to be the ones that spot the plot holes and complain about them, prompting the Canon people to find fixes for them.

Stefan: Another major fan influence (positive one) is Dark Horse using fan input a lot. They even use fan likenesses in some art recently or added dead Mandalorians in one issue of their Republic clone wars comic run because a forum user on their boards was lobbying for Mandalorians appearing. They humored him with some dead ones.

Becca: Interesting – I wasn’t aware of that.

Gorefiend: Actually the dead Mando seem to have been something of an anti-reaction by the author because he was so annoyed about getting asked to include Mandos.

Ben: Is there a distinct difference between the two companies – DR and DHC in this respect?

Gorefiend: So he, did, but had them killed by their own allies.

Becca: But that also brings up the longstanding tradition of characters after fans. Dunc T’racen and Mij Gilamar for instance. Even if it was a negative reaction, it was still a reaction.

Ben: T’Racen & Gilamar being?

Becca: I’m not sure I think there is a huge difference between DR and DHC? If there is I wonder if the much faster turnaround time for comics is a factor.

Stefan: The question though is for me, these fans, how are they picked? Because they are family/friends of the authors and live near them, meet them often thus like on conventions or daily life. Or rather average fans who earn the fame somehow else due to being popular on a board for example?

Ben: I think that was true of Legacy / KOTOR – hence the whirlwind backlash when they got axed.

Gorefiend: I think Dark Horse is much more open to the fans, I mean we have their main authors and even the editor regularly show up in the board and answer fan questions. I never spotted any of the novel authors doing that these days, other then Miller and he is more one of the comic guys.

Becca: Dunc T’racen is Tracy Duncan who runs Club Jade and who was a mod on the official boards for a long time

Ben: True, which fans and where? Why are they deemed representative of a very diverse fan base?

Becca: Mij Gilamar is James Gilmer (Mij = Jim) who is a friend of Karen Traviss

Ben: I’m going to pick up on that DHC point in the next section – talking of which – final posts on Q1 please.

Stefan: You know what I think was a bit weird on Celebration Europe. Randy Stradley of Dark Horse was there and I met him and talked to him. A really great guy. But many fans just walked past not even recognizing him I guess. In the US everybody knows him and other authors. That may be a European thing only though.

Gorefiend: Well final thought, in general I think it is good for the authors to have at least some interaction with the fan base and get feedback, but any Fan Stuff still should fit and be controlled like it is.

Becca: We didn’t talk much about the broader fan influence on the direction of the expanded universe, so I’ll comment briefly on that. I find it far easier to believe that Jacen’s fall was something that the creative teams decided to do on their own, due to the appealing nature of retelling the tragic prequel-era story of a fall to the dark side, as well as the omnipresent temptation to write an actual battle between the Solo twins. That said, I can’t see much organic justification for Vergere’s retconning as a Sith. Particularly given Stover’s comments that he did not write her in any such way during Traitor. I think that’s as close to a conclusive example of the broader direction shifting due to perceived fan reaction as we’re going to find.

Ben: The appeal of retelling the PT? I can see it for the OT, but the PT’s story is a mess already!

Stefan: The Expanded Universe in my opinion is heavily influenced by fans. Though by which group among them is the question. Some are more vocal than others and may not always give a good representation of the general opinion, as to publishers at least sales numbers tell more about who wanted what.

Ben: True, money talks.

Becca: But perhaps that’s why it’s appealing? The *concept* is compelling regardless of the execution.

Ben: Hmm, there is that.

Question 2: Destructive fan influence – when does it go to the dark side?

Becca: Again I think we can split it into passive and active categories. Certainly from a personal perspective, *if* Vergere was rebranded as a Sith due to fan reaction, I think that’s a destructive influence.

Ben: We have quite a bit of posting on the boards from DHC writers but less so DR, is that reflective to a degree of reception of material? For the last few years, DHC has generally been more positively received compared to DR, so does that affect the willingness to engage?

Becca: Randy Stradley also doesn’t frequent as much as he used to.

Ben: The mainstays are pretty much John O and JJM.

Stefan: I think there is no destructive fan influence. The influence is neutral. It only gets perceived as destructive if the execution is not what fans had hoped for. The problem is. One group of fans always will dislike the current turn of events/characters. Likewise one will always praise it. As publisher they only perceive one of them at a time and think both are the same, which is why their influence is so dangerous at times.

Gorefiend: It really only becomes destructive if it destroys someone else’s enjoyment of SW, sure it is normal for fans to quarrel about things, only human nature, but it should really never go as far as to simply exclude someone because he enjoys another part of the fandom more than others.

Ben: So quantum fandom? :)

Becca: I think that’s a fair point, but I’d phrase it with more of a focus on the fact that fan influence becomes destructive when those in charge aren’t judicious in exercising their judgment re: what they are going to listen to. But thinking about it, I think that fan influence can be objectively destructive – not with regards to the direction of the story (the ultimate responsibility there lies with the creators) – but in terms of interaction. I know it’s a hot button topic, but we have to mention the issues around Traviss’ persecution by Saxtonites.

Ben: This is the infamous 3 million affair correct?

Becca: Indeed, but ultimately it poisoned her opinion of the fan base

Gorefiend: It wasn’t as much about the number even, but more on their behavior and conduct and I also have to say Traviss counter conduct. It is just simply always a stupid idea to insult people that buy your products.

Stefan: I personally loved Traviss writing style and works and wish for more. But even I saw some flaws with her execution of Order 66, yet even the best authors have their flaws and pets.

Becca: I would add, I also think that her continuing behavior towards fans bears up very poorly under scrutiny in many cases. So I do agree that it cuts both ways.

Ben: I think Traviss’ response may have tended to poison her own sales – I think some people did stop buying due to it.

Becca: I did.

Ben: Well, I bailed after Triple Zero, Hard Contact? Excellent. The sequel? Dire.

Gorefiend: I actually only bought the first two. Hard Contact was great fun, the second one already started to fall in quality for me.

Gorefiend: Read the others as time went on when I got them lend to me.

Becca: I bailed after she made public statements I found very distasteful but ultimately, we can argue it over backwards and from any direction. I think the point is that it’s a clear example where an author’s relationship with the fans became toxic and destructive regardless of who was ultimately, or originally, at fault?

Ben: It’s interesting to consider that I dislike greatly Denning’s additions to the EU at a conceptual level, but I’ve defended him against the charge that he’s out to wreck SW!

Becca: I like Denning!

Gorefiend: I only learned about the comments later actually, around the time FOTJ came out, though for me her books there had way bigger flaws then her past conduct.

Becca: But then, I tend to believe a great deal of what he writes is sub-textually complex, and that’s not a popular opinion.

Ben: Re: Traviss – didn’t it all go nuts after TZ came out? I thought it was quiet around HC, which was well-received I thought.

Gorefiend: I don’t mind Denning, his first two books are pretty good, Dark Nest was a little odd, FOTJ and LOTF are simply train wrecks.

Stefan: I like Denning’s works, but the problem I have is less his individual books. He is fun, he adds nice stuff, but the long-term course of the EU is what I see critical. Stories work on their own.. But in the tapestry of the EU they sadly paint a too sad/dark image of epic failure.

Ben: “Sub textually complex” ? OK, for those of us who aren’t Lit experts, translated that means?

Stefan: Also many different authors have different interpretations of the movie saga and thus do not build towards a common interpretation sadly which leads to other troubles and many fan discussions like the nature of the Force, the Celestials, etc.

Becca: Sorry! What I mean is that I feel that the writing is very aware of its own straightjackets. That writing franchise fiction often comes with a status quo that one cannot really change.

Ben: Isn’t that where editorial oversight comes in Stefan?

Gorefiend: Which imho they could just stay clear from all so easily if they stopped making everything about the force, like they do these days.

Becca: One a large scale, the reset of the Jedi to a Prequel-era sort of setup in the wake of the apparently seismic shifts of the NJO is an example of this.

Ben: Ah, illusion of change versus change! Yeah, crops up often in the Big 2 comics.

Stefan: Indeed, oversight and lack of long-term plans due to either no Sequels back then or Lucas ignoring the post-ROTJ era as free for all

Gorefiend: Anyone else remember the good old days when the force was mysterious and unexplored, and the hero of the story the common people of the galaxy?

Ben: Gorefiend – yes.

Becca: So tasked with writing that, I think there’s a lot of dark subversion going on in the undertones. I read it as though it’s a partial commentary on the fact that no one’s allowed to grow up; no one’s allowed to change. Something’s deeply wrong but the subtext is the only place able to address it. As I said, I’m aware that it’s not a popular opinion, but it’s genuinely my experience when I’m reading it.

Stefan: Currently we had the Heroes turn to galactic elite (politicians, business leaders, Jedi, etc.) and a cabal of Skywalker-Solo dynasty only broken by the fact that the new government threw them out and had Jedi and the Sky Solos return to outcast status mostly.

Gorefiend: Yeah, her LOTF books have a lot of “bile” between the lines, which always struck me as odd.

Ben: The Solo kids never were allowed to grow up were they? The image the fan base tends to have is them as teenagers, despite Jacen’s fall being when he’s around 30!

Becca: And Jaina is finally being allowed to step up and carry a series and there’s a fair chance it will be cancelled

Gorefiend: Thing is they already grew up in the NJO; the follow ups just did not do anything with it.

Ben: Talking of Jaina, now there’s a blasted character – has too much damage been done?

Becca: I adore her.

Stefan: I think the Solo kids and their friends grew up just fine. The problem they are still viewed as teens is less their own stories but that they were never passed the torch from the adult generation. Those still overshadow them a lot. We had how many failed attempts at that?

Becca: I hope to have the opportunity to see if this attempt sticks? I don’t actually think that Jaina’s been damaged. I’m not sure where that perception comes from.

Gorefiend: Well she now has a lot of luggage

Stefan: Well I love Jaina as a character but she has one flaw.

Becca: Though I suppose to tie this back to topic, if we’re talking about broad fan influence on the EU, is the very “illusion of change” entirely down to what fans are perceived as wanting?

Ben: I think NJO setting the generations in almost adversarial relations didn’t help sell the Solo kids as characters.

Becca: Or simply an economic consideration because they don’t want to confuse new readers? I think the fact that they killed all their friends was a bigger problem. The Solo kids are generally well-liked during the NJO period.

Ben: re: Jaina – I’m thinking primarily in the way she’s been slotted into interminable love triangles and, well, boxed up and not allowed to do much.

Stefan: The Jedi need no Sword, nor an assassin. Given what she did she should be a Darksider by now. The Jedi need a Shield more than a Sword. Wrong interpretations of the Force and Yoda lead to this Sit killing Jedi sword idea that damaged Jaina I think.

Becca: At least, that’s the retrospective perception.

Gorefiend: I don’t think so @ fans wanting, it seems to really be more what the powers that be feel will sell

Becca: I definitely agree about the love triangles and the fact she hasn’t been allowed to do enough. That she didn’t do anything until book 8 of LOTF is ridiculous.

Gorefiend: No one did anything in LOTF ever

Gorefiend: One of the problems

Becca: But I don’t think that damages her character in a fundamental, unfixable way. As to the violence side of things, I suspect we simply disagree.

Ben: Just raises the odds eh?

Becca: Partly a disagreement based around the morality of what she actually has done, and partly because I was in favour of the philosophies of the Force espoused by Vergere and didn’t find them at odds with much that Yoda ever said in the OT.

Ben: Going to save the idea of unfixable (or not) characters for later

Becca: Noted! :)

Stefan: I never found Vergere at odds with Yoda either and love them both.

Gorefiend: Just different sides of the “Jedi Credit”

Becca: I think mixing violence with the philosophies of the Force is always an interesting exercise.

Ben: Traitor’s “controversy” never really seemed so to me. Loved what Luceno did in TUF too.

Stefan: thus would the Sith say too, Rebecca!

Becca: I think Jaina has a huge amount of potential given the amount she’s been through. I suppose, much like Denning’s writing, I see her as “bland” on the surface, but roilingly interesting under the surface. She’s lost so much; I think she holds herself together with will and an externally constructed idea of who she is and who she should be.

Stefan: Was the post-NJO disliked because Luceno was too good at an ending? Or because of its own flaws regardless of Luceno’s high standard?

Becca: Of course, she does so little lately; it’s easier for me to imprint my own opinions on her.

Gorefiend: Nothing bland about it, they would just have to move away from the Jedi is a Jedi only approach that has crept in

Ben: I despised TJK because it took all the potentially interesting things TUF set up and threw them all out a high window!

Becca: I think there’s a large number of reasons why it’s disliked. Certainly lack of continuity is one, and it would be interesting to know where that came from? A need to tie in more closely with the Prequel trilogy in terms of Jedi structure? A need to keep an “entry point” for new readers?

Stefan: Well in defense of TJK… it finally got Jacen and Tenel Ka together. And for that it has a special place with me

Gorefiend: I always figured Luceno had a novel series in mind, but the Editors went with Denning’s outline instead

Becca: A perception that people didn’t like the changes in NJO?

Ben: If you do an apocalyptic story, which the crew of characters survives, then you ought to show the recovery and not jump 5 years on where….. Welll…. Everything, everything’s fine here, how are you?

Becca: And then aside from the lack of consequences, there are also the tonal complaints that it didn’t “feel” like Star Wars, or that it was too violent, or too dark. And of course there are also people who like it – I don’t want to imply no one does. But it’s fair to say that, at least in retrospect, it’s not as highly regarded as the NJO.

Gorefiend: I always hate the “too violent” thing when brought up by SW fans. I mean the most noble person in the whole first movie hacks of someone’s arm just because he can.

Becca: It always makes me think of Leia strangling Jabba. That’s a prolonged and graphic scene. You know, for a PG-rated movie.

Ben: I can’t stress how much I liked the Force philosophy Luceno set up and how much Denning’s bastardised variant of it in DNT infuriated.

Gorefiend: I still have nightmares :( Huttdome was never the same

Stefan: Another problem I noted is, that they published interesting storylines but in the wrong place in the timeline. For example. the sojourn of Jacen Solo we only got as flashbacks in FOTJ. Loved the parts but would prefer them as a Sojourn novel or series or comic. Same for other stories that need a different timeline placement to work better and be received better. For example. Millennium Falcon was great but felt too far away from the movies.

Becca: I wasn’t participating a lot in online fandom at the time, but were the same accusations of gratuitous violence and darkness raised with regards to the NJO?

Ben: I think there’s a medium difference to factor in – films have their violent bits but tend not to dwell on them. Jabba? Everyone wants Leia to strangle the fat bastard.

Gorefiend: Hmm I still consider MF little more than a well disguised short story collection that could have been set in any timeframe

Stefan: Indeed Gorefiend!

Gorefiend: Everyone except me at least @ Ben

Ben: Yeah, for me it’s a similar thing. Books work differently to movies and NJO did seem to quite like to dwell on its violence, it was a quite obvious: Look, it’s dark, lots of claret!

Ben: Well, what did you want her to do V?

Becca: But that raises an interesting question. If the NJO was criticised at the time but now held up as a positive example, will we see the same thing happening to LOTF as time goes by?

Gorefiend: Ah they could have just made a run for it, but yeah by movie context and all it is the best way to do it

Ben: I tend to link the books to the films, at the time, that was the OT, so the violence tends to short but sharp and that’s it. I’ve read far more violent stories than NJO, but they don’t have Star Wars in their title!

Stefan: I think the LOTF is already perceived as way better than it had been years ago

Becca: Regardless of flawed execution, the *idea* is compelling; the fall of a twin, the rise of a hero, the death of Luke’s wife, the birth of Ben’s heroism…?

Gorefiend: A lot would happen for LOTF to be held up as a good example

Ben: re: LOTF re-eval – give it 5 years!

Becca: I agree, it’s too soon right now. But I’m curious how it’ll be judged.

Gorefiend: I mean the only way it could really happen is if something way worse comes along

Gorefiend: like it did for the NJO

Stefan: I doubt that

Ben: You never know!

Stefan: Time smoothes details and if the critique lay with details, the overall story remains and will be liked more.

Becca: Or, if the participants in fandom change, and the people who are most involved at that point read LOTF and FOTJ as their formative EU experiences.

Stefan: Only if critique was with overall story will it remain

Gorefiend: Why would anyone pick up LOTF or FOTJ first?

Becca: Gorefiend – because that’s what was current at the time.

Ben: Because that was the only books on the shelf in the shop?

Stefan: Look at how Marvel comics are loved these days. Back then there may have been more critique

Becca: These books were on the New York Times bestseller list, they weren’t all read by fans with access to an EU recommendation guide.

Ben: Marvel comics Stefan? They’ve been quite popular consistently.

Gorefiend: I really can’t see anyone going into a store and picking up LOTF and not immediately spot that it is set way later than all the other stuff and not read that instead

Stefan: True but I know some fans that ignore them due to being “old” or “outdated” with art style and story, not anymore after a few retcons and articles detailing their glory

Gorefiend: But granted that might really just be me. As I will start any series at book 1.

Ben: Oh you meant SW Marvel?

Becca: Gorefiend – but by that logic, you end up going way back to the Bantam stuff which genuinely is pretty dated by now.

Stefan: SW marvel yes – is there any other? :p

Becca: Also I think you overestimate casual readers’ initial investment in canon and reading-order.

Ben: Oh plenty. Art hasn’t aged well on those. OK – we’re at that time again – final posts on Q2….

Stefan: As a bookseller myself, I see daily that many people start chronologically more often than picking something out of order.

Gorefiend: But then I also find it hard for a casual reader to pick up a SW book at random, because at least LOTF and FOTJ covers are doing everything in their power to keep people away from them.

Becca: The sales figures basically guarantee that it’s not just chronological completist EU fans that are buying these novels. I think the FOTJ covers were quite striking.

Gorefiend: “Striking” is a word for it

Becca: Is that personal opinion though? Because they do have marketing teams…We may hate it, but it may genuinely be working.

Gorefiend: Ah I am also an anti marketing target group person, I swear any marketing aimed at me tends to have the effect of me not buying it.

Stefan: The problem with marketing teams is, they never have to sell it to customers.. Just to booksellers and the like who then have to sell the stuff ;) there is a difference there

Ben: It worked well enough on LOTF that they continued it on FOTJ.

Becca: Yes, I mean, I am vehemently against the notion that sales = quality, but sales does mean the success of a marketing campaign and they clearly don’t have a problem there.

Gorefiend: Sure but then anything with SW on the cover tends to sell.

Becca: Untrue or Knight Errant and Legacy of the Sith wouldn’t have been cancelled and we’d get more books like Shadow Games.

Stefan: One of the problems in society being you have to buy it to check it out. Imagine a society where you can check out anything and then decide to buy it or not depending on quality. With eBooks that is even possible. Amazon for example allows to give back eBooks till 7 days after purchase. But I am not a fan of eBooks or readers. Nostalgic paper and ink are my thing.

Ben: Knight Errant was ended by JJM though. Legacy of the Sith? Would easily buy more stuff like Shadow Games.

Becca: Was it? Huh, I didn’t know that – that genuinely surprises me.

Gorefiend: Yeah Miller ended it.

Ben: I think he’s looking to do more creator-owned work.

Becca: Sorry, I didn’t mean Legacy of the Sith, I meant Lost Tribe – the comic.

Ben: I was quite ready to damn DHC and LFL, but nope, Millar ended it.

Becca: This does raise a new question about the topic, though – how do we judge the influence of casual fans?

Ben: I’m happy with the Tribe just getting 1 mini, there’s not that much fuel in the tank there for me. I like the book and comic a lot but more isn’t always better.

Becca: they ensure the success of the franchise, but often the material we are least interested in is the material that sells the most.

Gorefiend: Individually rather limited, as a group main sales group. I have to admit I did not actually like Tribe at all. Own the whole run, have not read past #2.

Ben: Tends to be a pattern for Big 2 comics as well, there’ll be the big sellers and then the more interesting stuff is on the mid-tier titles

Becca: Regardless of our personal opinions, the fact that DH churns out mini series featuring Vader because it sells better isn’t unrelated to the fact that he’s an iconic character

Ben: If they were all on a par with Ghost Prison, I wouldn’t mind!

Gorefiend: None of us would Ben.

Stefan: The problem too is not everyone is a completist and reads everything. Many fans, the majority even are picky and take what they want only. For them continuity is not too important, and if it is, only for the stuff they pick.

Ben: Don’t expect Alessio to return to SW, he’s hoovered up by Marvel.

Becca: Again, I’m not commenting on quality so much as the bottom line that a bad Vader series might not sell as well as a good Vader series, but it would likely still sell better than Knight Errant.

Ben: Sad but true

Becca: And that is another example of fan influence, if indirectly, I suppose.

Gorefiend: I am far from completist, tons of stuff I never got, especially around the Clone Wars and Sith Wars.

Stefan: If only they’d putt a Hutt on everything :p

Becca: Randa the Hutt!

Gorefiend: Ah Hutt on everything and in everything

Becca: I want a comic series about HIM! And I will buy ten of every issue!

Gorefiend: Well Knight Errant was only made epic by their Hutt

Ben: You need to read Scourge Gorefiend

Gorefiend: I own 3 copies

Becca: I even liked Beldorian. Everything’s better with a Hutt.

Ben: They’re great in Boba Fett: Death, Lies and Treachery

Stefan: Adult Rotta in Sequels please!

Gorefiend: Beldorian was pretty epic yep, as was Randa.

Stefan: who needs Sith when we got Hutts

Becca: So basically we’ve decided that from now on, LFL should ignore all fan reaction and just put Hutts in everything. Am I getting this right?

Stefan: Nope. Ignore fan reaction is not what I want. I want them to have a grand plan, a guideline and around it build the EU including using fan reactions but we need a main route to save the long term perspective.

Question 3: Does this explain why we are anti-EU 2.0? More investment from more interaction? 

Ben: If the EU gets rebooted, Jaina Solo may not exist, Sword of the Jedi isn’t released and what might be a great story for the character is never seen. So a character that could be much improved never gets the opportunity. There may be no such thing as an unfixable character but if the opportunity never comes along or the story released, more than a little irritating eh?

Becca: My answer to this is actually pretty simple, I think. Because it’s “yes”. I am against the reboot essentially because I’m invested in what we have.

Gorefiend: My main problem with a Reboot is that it will just break my interest in SW. So far it had a setting and story that all flowed together (sure it had some hiccups and stuff that was outright terrible) but it is a connected, living franchise and them just killing it would just drive me away, because they broke my confidence that they care about me investing their money into their products.

Becca: As you say, it’s lost opportunities for characters I have loved for half my life. Gorefiend – I agree, that is also my fear. I don’t *want* to lose interest. I intend to fight that reaction if it happens, but I worry it will anyway, and I’ll just…drift away.

Ben: The problem is then – they don’t care about “us” – only our money.

Becca: The really depressing bottom line is that I’m not sure there are enough of us who will lose interest for the financial bottom line to be worth appeasing us.

Stefan: I doubt the EU gets rebooted. Tweaked like the Prequels tweaked it a lot sure, but no full reboot. Simple for one reason: Any new EU would be repetitive. Been there done that. And to split the EU between what to keep and what not to is chaos. Nobody would want that. A reboot thus includes throwing out any EU, which means everything outside the films/TV. And that is just too much to throw away by now as well as too much to redo since the EU influenced the movies and TV a lot and is important for them too.

Ben: It isn’t unheard of for older continuities to be revisited but it is very rare.

Becca: But if we compare it to the big-name comic franchises, they frequently stage repetitive reboots and it becomes part of the branding. Understand I’m not advocating this.

Gorefiend: Ah it has happened in SW, the Marvel comics, like you mentioned are a very good example.

Becca: I’m a big superhero comic fan too, and I think their approaches work for *them*, I *like* that Star Wars is different.

Ben: Well, there’s precedent for that – NJO. Lots of fans left, lots of fans jumped on-board.

Gorefiend: DC actually drove me away from buying any of their stuff with their reboot.

Becca: Gorefiend – DC drew me back in after years away from reading anything but occasional trades from the library with their reboot.

Ben: DC has been in continuity knots for years, no one makes sense of it. Marvel goes for gradual reboot by stealth, as all their characters would be too old by now. What Star Wars needs is a few continuity escape hatches for those times when it goes off the rails.

Gorefiend: You so need to get your hands on Villains United/Secret Six @ DC

Becca: Gorefiend, it’s okay, that’s one of the series I was reading from the library.

Becca: ;)

Ben: Basically Gail Simone at her best.

Gorefiend: Yep

Becca: I know. I have every graphic novel signed by her.

Becca: <– is a giant dork.

Gorefiend: She so needs to do a SW Comic down the line

Ben: Be fun to meet her, haven’t yet.

Becca: She was doing a comic con in the city I live in, so it was a no brainer to go.

Becca: But to get back to Marvel – they may reboot by stealth, but they also created the Ultimate universe with the express purpose of retelling stories with a new twist

Ben: Ultimate worked by drawing on all the work done by Marvel, so it was additional, not a replacement

Becca: Yes, but the hook was to rewatch the origin stories.

Gorefiend: Yeah but Marvel publishes something like 100 comics a month in the same “world”, that is more SW comics then we get in several years.

Ben: That and all the new takes and a really killer bunch of creators to kick it off – it reads like a who’s who of comics – Millar, Hitch, Bendis, Bagley, Vaughan, Immonen, Carey, Rucka

Stefan: Should SW stay buyable by one person or get too huge so you never can get it all due to them speeding up releases, churning out more etc.

Becca: Are these distinctions we hope make a difference or that actually make a difference? More pertinently, will they make a difference to the marketing dude in charge of deciding whether DR is going to try and clean up the mess made by a Sequel Trilogy that doesn’t fit with the post-ROTJ EU, or just reboot it?

Stefan: I still wish for a 3 year break with no new releases to catch up with my backlist.

Becca: They already don’t care about that, Stefan.

Stefan: Some may say it already is too huge.. Completists even barely manage to stay complete

Gorefiend: Heavily for staying buyable and readable, as oversaturation was never good in any franchise

Ben: I long ago abandoned any need to own everything with SW on the title.

Gorefiend: I never had the need, but still you should not need to buy, let’s say 18 hardcovers just to cover a certain story

Stefan: How?

Ben: Eh?

Gorefiend: Can’t quite follow your question there Stefan

Stefan: how did you abandon the need?

Gorefiend: Oh there is just things I never really cared about.

Ben: NJO blasted a big hole; DN finished it off so I bailed on the late post-ROTJ era with Betrayal. In terms of comics, cancelling KOTOR and Legacy blew a big hole in DHC they’ve never really recovered from either. I just look at the other eras more, which have far less material published.

Gorefiend: The Toys, Force Philosophy stuff, TOR, Bane, Clone Commandos, Most of the Young Reader books are all on my “I don’t really care enough” list

Stefan: I am different there then

Becca: I also am not a completionist. I actually think that Star Wars was what cured me of my completionist tendencies. But I do enjoy that it’s a huge world I can explore, which, I suppose, is what I fear losing.

Gorefiend: Actually Star Trek did that for me. Voyager was so terrible I sold all my Star Trek stuff and never looked back.

Becca: I think we’re seeing variation in the ways we engage with the franchise here that are interesting. Gorefiend, you seem to be an all-or-nothing kind of person. I mean, not necessarily literally a completionist, but you always start with book #1, you decided you didn’t like Star Trek anymore because Voyager was bad and chucked the lot…

Gorefiend: Yeah I am kind of terrible like that.

Becca: On the other hand, I tend to look for excuses not to lose the parts of something I like, even if I’m having trouble with other areas. I’m not sure that’s always a good thing; sometimes it just makes it harder when I have to admit, no, I really don’t like this thing anymore…

Stefan: Is it us changing or the franchise? Cause we tend to criticize more, we tend to see more flaws and get picky with details. Back when we started as fans (a long time ago…) we enjoyed it, we did not worry, we reread books a thousand times and noted many details, discussed them. Now we barely have time to finish a book before the next is released (as completist).

Becca: But, well, I have no point, I just thought it was interesting.

Ben: I definitely decided to excise one strand rather than let it affect the rest i.e. LOTF

Becca: I’m not a completist but I do think the more you love something, the more critical of it you can be?

Stefan: Guess so yeah. Many fans write fan fiction and have the future of their favorite characters in their heads… and if canon goes against it.. Boom.. Critique.

Ben: Easily.

Becca: Even if they’re not engaged in producing fan works, I think the same reaction can occur.

Gorefiend: I think that “picky” is just us being older then back then. Tastes change, I used to hate the Marvel SW comics when I was way younger, love them now. I actually even did not like Traitor when I first read it *dodges a stone* and was blown away when I reread it.

Question 4: What might be the future of the EU?

Becca: Well, the first thing is, I think it does *have* a future. I think I’ll start with what I fear, though.

Stefan: I think as we already see now the future EU will be much closer to the Movies. Especially to not step on Sequel or Spinoff toes. On Celebration Europe Kathleen Kennedy promised more coordination and created a story group even with Leland Chee, Pablo Hidalgo and other EU experts a part of that to achieve a more concerted SW effort in all media.

Becca: What I fear most is that we won’t get a clean answer.

Ben: For myself, I still suspect Abrams and co to play a blinder akin to what they did on Trek – it won’t be the same because that trick was tailored to Trek, whatever is done for Wars will be suited to it. Second, if anything really sums up Disney’s corporate outlook, it’s the phrase: I want it all! IF they can have everything, they will.

Gorefiend: I think it will stay similar to the way it is today, though I am pretty sure we will not get as many novels. A lot in the future will be ST Tie-Ins with the new characters it introduces and some stuff on Rebels. I for one hope the Dark Horse get’s to keep the SW comics, as I simply do not trust Marvel to really make good use of it. DR can bite the dust for all I care.

Becca: I’m afraid that we’ll end up with a strange partial maybe reboot that no one will acknowledge is a reboot.

Stefan: I doubt that

Becca: I would prefer no reboot at all, but if the EU will be wiped, I’d rather it be done cleanly.

Ben: I’m somewhat sympathetic on the lack of clarity for now, as they’ve only one shot at this – get it wrong and the Internet gets broken.

Becca: Yes, for now

Gorefiend: My worst fear it will be as terrible a movie series as those two Star Trek movies and a full reboot.

Becca: but ultimately, when the movies are released and we know what the likely conflicts are, if they are irresolvable, I really hope we don’t end up with a Clone Wars like situation where they just ignore it.

Ben: I think they’ll have to give some indication in 2014 though

Becca: I hope so. I do feel for Del Rey and Dark Horse.

Gorefiend: DR blew it as far as I am concerned.

Becca: Dark Horse may lose the license before the movies but I don’t believe DR’s is up for renewal that soon? LFL must know whether or not what they’re planning will conflict with the post-ROTJ EU

Ben: It’s amazing how good DR’s work is on other eras, away from the high-profile stuff.

Becca: but apparently DR just have everything on hold more-or-less and the only reason I can think of for that is if they don’t know what’s going on.

Gorefiend: Think so Ben? Most of their Clone Wars stuff was dreck.

Ben: Never underestimate corporate politics.

Becca: I mean, they announced Sword about a month or two before the ST was announced. No way LFL didn’t know, but it looks like they didn’t give DR any kind of heads up to say, “Hey, you may want to hold off on big announcements until after October…”

Ben: Gorefiend – Lucenoverse, Reavesverse, Scourge, HTTE 20th edition, Kenobi, Mindor, X-Wing Mercy Kill, Scourge – it’s quite a lot of good stuff right there.

Becca: Indeed. And also I’m assuming. Maybe they did warn them, who knows… Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.

Stefan: The future of the EU in my opinion will be split in three ways: 1: close to movies stories with movie characters, the big sellers. 2: the obscure fans love like from Abel Pena, Jason Fry etc. filled with details and more straying from the movies even. 3: expansion of distant eras that cannot affect the movies and are free to explore thus. a 4: I am not certain about is, maybe explorations/continuations of the movies like the old EU did. the old EU did not just expand the movies but continue them. There is a distinction that the new EU may do less until all Sequels are done and the road is clear.

Becca: Stefan – do you think that they’ll make any concerted effort to make sure the movies don’t conflict with the existing EU?

Becca: and if they do conflict, how do you think they’ll handle that?

Ben: Here’s the left hand of LFL, it doesn’t talk to the right hand of LFL, and they’re both cheesed off with DR. DHC are busy talking to the Left Ear of LFL and the Left Ear hates the Hands, so they don’t tell the Ear about the Disney buy-out

Gorefiend: I for one they just tell JJA “NO!” a few hundred times

Stefan: concerted effort for upcoming releases, yes. for what we have so far? More difficult but I think they really are trying and that that is part of their silence and delay currently with announcements!

Becca: You have more faith than me, in that case. I really don’t think they’re going to pay all that much attention to the EU unless it coincidentally fits.

Stefan: If they do conflict, retcons can come. But like with TCW that is a tough subject depending on the retcon and the problem.

Becca: Not based on how they dealt with things during the TCW era.

Gorefiend: Probably still brainstorming, but I am also rather doubtful on what they are throwing together

Becca: and “Leia doesn’t have three children,” is much, much harder to retcon than, “we have conflicting dates for this fairly obscure Jedi Master’s death.”

Becca: They aren’t still brainstorming, they’ve started casting. Kasdan and Abrams are currently rewriting the script that Arndt turned in, so it’s well and truly under way.

Stefan: The problem where I think we misunderstand LFL, Rebecca, is, that if we talk about them respecting the EU we talk about the EU’s details, while they talk about the broad stories and general stuff. For to keep all details is near impossible sadly.

Becca: No, no, I agree with that Stefan.

Gorefiend: I was referring to future plans and the way they might want to take the franchise

Becca: But I *am* talking about the broad strokes.

Stefan: let me type something that may be interesting in addition to my last point:

Becca: I won’t be too upset if we have H-wings instead of E-wings or the Jedi don’t have a Grandmaster, but it’ll be much harder to explain why Chewie’s alive or why Leia has two daughters named Padme and Shmi.

Stefan: Star Wars and History, a publication I do love, noted many interesting points of view that are very relevant to understand the EU and the Movies. Star Wars is like History, there may be different accounts of the same story with a core of truth in them, and thus differences and problems like in historians historical debates exist. The truth is somewhere in between. Sw is like fragmented history, myth and legend.

Gorefiend: Never liked E-Wings anyway

Stefan: And we need to see it accordingly to understand it A long time go after all ;)

Becca: Again, I agree with you completely. That’s something I enjoy immensely about the EU. And a great way to incorporate things with drastically different tones and styles.

Gorefiend: Sure, but even there you will have problems if it turns out there was no Warlord Thrawn, no Vong and no Solo children

Becca: But I still think it’s much easier to integrate some errors than others, as Gorefiend says.

Stefan: I prefer to see solutions, not problems. If there is no Solo kids. I got retcons for that ;) even for Chewie alive

Becca: There’s a point at which it’s irreconcilable.

Stefan: And yeah worst case. Time travel

Gorefiend: Please no

Stefan: but even without it I see options

Ben: No, no, it’s flow-walking, dontcha’know?

Gorefiend: (facepalm)

Becca: I think, though, at a certain point the retcons become so tortuous and confusing, that I’d almost rather just set it aside as a clean and very complicated “Infinities” universe.

Stefan: Let’s keep flow-talking ;) Agreed there Rebecca. Too many retcons and you can’t touch an original source without an Essential Guide to Retcons

Becca: Even if you disagree, at a certain point, then, the entire question of whether it’s a reboot becomes semantic.

Gorefiend: Yeah it becomes a Frankenstein construct. Some undead creature no one want’s anything to do with.

Becca: Here’s one thing: I’m genuinely very interested and excited by the possibility the lead in the ST will be a woman. That is going to really screw with me if it also trashes the Expanded Universe, which I essentially love more than the movies by this point. Are there things that the sequel trilogy, or a rebooted EU could do for you lot that would confuse you in a similar fashion?

Ben: Abrams is reasonably good on women characters too.

Gorefiend: Heavily for it, but then JJA is writing it and his female character track record is just slightly better than Michael Bay’s.

Becca: I dunno. I would have agreed with you before I saw the second Star Trek movie. And I don’t hate that reboot the way some do.

Ben: You’re not counting Alias and Fringe then?

Becca: I’d characterise him as hit and miss.

Gorefiend: Sorry could not get past on episode 1 on either.

Becca: but I think his hits come when he is writing a woman who is intended to be the protagonist.

Ben: You missed out big time

Gorefiend: From what I heard about the Lost ending I did not.

Stefan: I loved LOST, favorite TV show ever

Ben: Fringe and Alias aren’t Lost.

Becca: Fringe did some SERIOUSLY weird stuff with Olivia in later seasons, though.

Stefan: but, I think the female lead in Sequels, while fans and media speculate to be Jaina Solo, I doubt that. Too much EU baggage to her. It either is Allana. Which is even more EU obscure but free to use, or a female Skywalker which would work with retcons (Ben got surgery… or a sister nobody knew about.. depends on setting of the movies)

Becca: It’s as if the show realised it had a female lead, panicked, and desperately tried to turn it into a show about Peter and babies. That said, Abrams’ involvement was not as great in those seasons, I don’t think.

Gorefiend: It so has to be Ania Solo.

Becca: Anyone has EU baggage. The question is how you handle it.

Stefan: she is cool and would fit yeah

Gorefiend: Set it in Leg 2 and there would be no problems.

Ben: He was more involved in s1-2 I think on Fringe.

Becca: Ben – yes.

Becca: But then he also said that they had to start with Captain Kirk’s birth so there would be something in the movie for “the wives” so as I said, he’s a mixed bag. I don’t think it’s fair to say that he’s just about Michael Bay, though.

Gorefiend: They should have let Luc Besson Write and direct his female characters are always awesome, as are the action scenes.

Stefan: You know though what I would prefer? The 6 movies we got were the saga of Skywalker… that is done. no need to revive Palpatine once more use Maul or such… the next Saga needs to be about passing the torch from old to young. And since the kids are full of EU baggage AND grew up as kids of the elite. They are no hero material, no blank slate for movies. I’d prefer them off-screen or in background roles with the new heroes being not related to the Skywalkers. Passing the torch to a new generation and a non-Skywalker. No dynasty please but like the OT showed an “anyone can be a Jedi” moment. Anyone can rise to be a hero. The galaxy saving itself. Not forcegods doing it

Ben: Nah, he’s no Bay.

Becca: I’m not an expert on his work, but my uninformed opinion is that if he’s writing a female protagonist he does pretty well. But he tends to be less aware of women in the world more generally and in supporting roles.

Becca: But let’s get back to my question, guys! What’s the one thing that the movies could do that would drag you, kicking and screaming, into being excited for them, even if they were going to destroy the EU as we know it?

Ben: I’m convinced the villain will be Plagueis, it was set-up in the last film?

Gorefiend: Hutt main character. About the only thing they could do.

Becca: Gorefiend: good answer.

Becca: Ben: you think he’s not dead?

Stefan: Plagueis, doubt that. He is dead.

Ben: Fleet battles – proper, extended, fleet engagements.

Becca: I haven’t actually read the novel.

Ben: Nope, if his student can come back, so can he. You ought to fix that Becc.

Becca: fix what?

Ben: Read Darth Plagueis

Becca: oooh, yes, i know, it’s on the list. ;)

Gorefiend: Yeah even I liked it and I usually can’t stand “Force Heavy” books.

Becca: Stefan – I’m actually in favour of keeping it in the family of Skywalkers.

Stefan: why that?

Becca: But I do agree it needs to be about passing the torch.

Ben: DOTJ Into the Void ought to be on your read list too

Stefan: the new heroes should be not family I think but could marry into the family at the end ;)

Becca: Well, then it’d still be a family thing!

Stefan: not by blood though

Becca: I think mainly because it makes it feel like an Epic. And if they have these spin-off plans, they can make movies about other characters. But I am in favour of skipping generations.

Stefan: Epic sure but for me it has a bad vibe since it is a dynasty. Skywalkers ruling or saving always everything. It looses the OTs feel of average joes can do something too

Becca: Given the age of the Big Three, they could easily make it about the grandchildren that Jaina doesn’t have yet. If they really want them in cameos. I do understand the concern about the moral and political implications of essentially creating royalty, but it’s a space fantasy.

Gorefiend: Baby Roan? ;)

Stefan: I still think Felperor 1 should be Wynssa Fel, not Jagged

Becca: and if you skip generations there’s no reason you can diversify your leads either in terms of human ethnicity or through adoption. I’m not sure that the OT ever did feel to me like average joes were doing something. Both Luke and Leia turned out to be magical children, more-or-less, and characters like Han Solo can still exist within the framework of a Skywalker-focused movie.

Stefan: And if grandchildren, those of Luke. Thus Ben’s kids would be better suited. Especially if that one vision comes true

Gorefiend: There is the whole Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Forces.

Becca: I *do* agree that a “dirty universe” approach like the OT is better than the shiny PT universe.

Gorefiend: Wedge and Lando destroy the Death Star, not Luke.

Ben: The Rebs won, the Empire lost – the end?

Becca: And I think that may be where this feeling comes from more than it being a family saga?

Stefan: Did they win?

Ben: If you go by the Special Editions, yes.

Stefan: family saga sure but it needs fresh blood. Not Skywalker incest :p

Gorefiend: Emperor is dead, Vader is dead, the Imperials made a run for it, yep they won Endor.

Becca: Stefan – that’s what supporting characters are for. We absolutely need new Hans, Landos, Chewies, etc.

Becca: But one or two of them should be Skywalkers. Adopted Hutt Skywalkers, if we want to keep Gorefiendhappy!

Stefan: Han is not a supporting character ;)

Ben: And lo and behold, the Empire collapsed instantly across the ENTIRE GALAXY!

Becca: I think that Han and Leia are secondary leads.

Gorefiend: Who says it did? Even the SE just shows a few planets.

Becca: I don’t say that to belittle them, but Luke is clearly the one with the Hero’s journey. But also I’m not deeply invested in that point, I’m happy to call him a lead. I just think that one of the leads should be a Skywalker. ;)

Ben: Yeah, only one of them being the capital, Coruscant. Of course there’s answers to that, but this is what the casual fan is working with

Stefan: one of the three leads can be a skywalker sure. But have the hero be not related and the skywalker be the supporting lead that turns love interest. Still a family saga and all equally relevant

Gorefiend: Ah I am also pretty sure the casual fan can accept that the other Imperials on Coruscant just got their guns out and beat off the crowd.

Becca: Eh, at that point I think we’re talking semantics and writing skill.

Ben: Pretty cynical no?

Stefan: it would be new though and not feel repetitive of other movies structures and that is what is needed. Not redoing the same old hero’s journey… we had hero rises and falls in prequels. We had hero rises and wins + fallen hero’s redemption in OT. Something new needed now

Gorefiend: A little, but then so is Ben hacking of someone’s hand with a plasma sword.

Stefan: Ben did worse… burning kashyyyk was his idea

Ben: Which Ben are we talking of?

Becca: Stefan – to play devil’s advocate for a second, and to discuss it specifically in the context of my investment in there being a female lead

Stefan: oops wrong Ben, they all did bad things :p

Gorefiend: Kenobi

Stefan: Ben Skywalker I meant

Becca: because I think that probably colours some of my opinions on the subject, I think that that leads to a potentially awkward situation.

Ben: In Mos Eisley slashing off someone’s arm gets you all of 5 seconds of attention, if that!

Stefan: I still hope one thing the Sequels do is get rid of the name Ben for Luke’s son… sorry but I always wanted him to be Owen Skywalker… to show Luke’s respect for those who gave their lives for him… not the one who lied to him.

Becca: Either you have a chick as the main hero but she’s not the heir to the Skywalker legacy (and being the heirs to heroic legacies is something women are often not allowed to do in fiction)

Becca: Or you reduce her to the love interest.

Stefan: Rebecca, a female lead may be not related and her love interest is Ben/Owen Skywalker :p

Gorefiend: If John Carter can have his daughter be the next hero, so can SW !

Becca: Stefan – I dealt with that point first. If that’s the case, she is not allowed to be the heir to a heroic, dynastic legacy.

Becca: Which is something women aren’t often allowed to be in fiction.

Stefan: Sure she is.. An heir in all but blood. Showing blood is not what defines us but our actions ;) a core message of the hero’s journey of Campbell Lucas loves

Becca: So I understand your point from the perspective of expanding the universe, but I disagree with it from a perspective of, well, representation of women in the media. Like an external-to-Star-Wars perspective.

Becca: That’s *an* interpretation, sure.

Ben: Campbell may be out of the picture so all bets may be off.

Becca: I’m not saying it would suck. I’m saying it wouldn’t negate a pattern it has a chance to negate.

Stefan: but what if the pattern for the patterns sake ruins other patterns.

Becca: I’m not being absolutist; I’m explaining where my perspective comes from.

Gorefiend: Female main hero would at least heavily help the SW movies on the gender front. I mean, Padme is a terrible character and other then Leia there is only Mon Mothma.

Becca: And that chick who fires the Ion Canon! Ion Canon Girl, don’t forget her!

Stefan: I start to sound like Monty Python here but. I think I am all for female leads, strong female roles and that. Don’t get me wrong. But I prefer to see it from a writers perspective more than from one of what can we shoehorn into a story to fit certain groups likes or patterns in.

Gorefiend: Yeah but she is like Uhura the “phone booth lady”

Becca: I think two things: 1) if we get into this we’ll be here all night, but 2) that’s an argument that’s always raised without evidence that that’s what’s happening and/or without honestly acknowledging why the patterns we’re familiar with exist.

Becca: Gorefiend – I was being silly. ;)

Ben: On point 1 – Yes, we will!

Stefan: For all we know we get two female leads, one related, one not and so on ;) all happy

Becca: I say that we have an agendered adopted Hutt as the Skywalker lead

Stefan: Aside diversity and such in Star Wars which we do need, I wonder how other topics fare in the Sequels. Same sex relationships, people of color, etc. all that. It may be provocative and alienate some conservative fans though. But I think SW needs to be fair to all, not feature it all but to be fair.

Gorefiend: Hmm… Somehow the Willow approach could actually also work. A very unlikely main hero (male or female) and a male and female kick ass side hero.

Ben: Anything will alienate those “fans” though!

Stefan: Imagine a dark skinned adopted daughter for Luke

Becca: I agree with Ben

Stefan: I love the Willow approach, Gorefiend!

Stefan: Agreed, Ben

Ben: So Star Wars mixed with Hit-Girl?

Becca: Gorefiend – interesting, I think I could be convinced to like that, yes. An unlikely hero with a pair of Skywalker twins as backup. My general attitude is that corporations have a moral obligation not to pander to bigots

Ben: A double-lightsaber-wielding Hit-Girl then?

Becca: but it’s not an attitude shared by many corporations…

Stefan: Hit-girl? Please!

Becca: In all seriousness, though, I do think having significant characters of colour is a priority for the ST.

Ben: Star Wars Episode 7 caused horror as it features a young Jedi casually maiming and decapitating attackers while dropping c-bombs.

Becca: I’ll be very disappointed if that’s not something that happens. I would also love to see them include same-sex relationships.

Gorefiend: Not a priority but would still be nice.

Becca: I think it should be as much of a priority

Ben: That will take considerably more nerve I think.

Becca: I don’t think it will be simply due to social attitudes (agreed with Ben), but I think it should be.

Stefan: a same sex relationship would be perfect to explain how the Skywalker dynasty ended.. If one ignores Legacy comics. But if they keep them is another topic

Becca: However, the ABC drama Once Upon A Time actively uses the Disney-branded versions of fairytale characters

Becca: and is marketed as a family show

Ben: There should be no shortage of reproduction tech in SW

Becca: and Mulan is in love with Sleeping Beauty. It remains to be seen if it’s going to be addressed in any significant way, but the fact that that show has a branding advisor from Disney that didn’t stop them from doing that is possibly a hopeful sign.

Stefan: Another point about the Sequels. Most think Han Leia and Luke will all appear in Episode 7. I wonder, why not spread them across the entire trilogy. Have only Luke be in 7… Han and Leia in 8 for example or such. Yoda was not in ANH either… spread it. Make it special for each movie. Not all in one. Mulan left Sleeping Beauty. spoilers :p

Becca: Stefan yeah I know, I watch the show.

Gorefiend: I actually still kind of hope that they do not show up, as it could be as terribly pointless as in the new Star Trek movies

Becca: Gorefiend I agree, and I think it imposes an arbitrary era on the movies, but I’m resigned to it.

Ben: I like the new Trek films just fine, yes; there goes my claim to super-geek out the window

Becca: Ben, I don’t mind them. I really liked the first one, and the second one was mildly disappointing.

Gorefiend: Main problem (aside from giant plot holes) is actually that they do not need to be Star Trek movies.

Gorefiend: They could be any Sci-Fi flick.

Ben: Of that I’m highly skeptical.

Stefan: I liked them but have to agree with Gorefiend. Problem though is many identify trek with next generation and less with the old trek series which the new movies fit much better to than TNG

Ben: OK, time to wrap this up – probably fair to say we hope the EU has a future, highly uncertain as to what form it’ll take and hopefully it may be more integrated with the current EU than we fear?

Becca: Basically, yes.

Gorefiend: Yep

Becca: And that I, personally, feel very torn between the possibility of new, good movies if they cost the parts of the franchise that I loved so much for so long.

Stefan: My Hope is greater than my fears. Many see doom but I see more signs for the EU to prevail

Gorefiend: They won’t really be “good” movies then ;) Rebecca

Stefan: Good movies I’ll always love and support, regardless of the EU. But when it comes to old or new EU. In parts I am torn, in others certain and both solutions may hurt.

Becca: I’m fairly resigned to the fact that the EU will cease existing in the form I like it best, but I hope to be wrong.

3 thoughts to “Aggressive Negotiations: Fans and the Expanded Universe”

  1. I think we will get plenty of novels in 2016-2020 – but a lot of them will be fill in the blank/retconning novels to get us from the end of the OT to the start of JJA’s Triology.

  2. “Stefan: Imagine a dark skinned adopted daughter for Luke”

    I am, and I imagine the illegitimate daughter of Lando and Mara. That would actually be awesome.

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