When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters this December, 30 years will have passed in the universe far, far away since the events of Star Wars Episode VI.
What’s happened in all of those years? Soon we’re going to receive lots of answers! Last week, Entertainment Weekly broke the news that there will be 20 books published before the release of the highly anticipated sequel to fill in some of the events in that 30-year gap.
Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, hundreds of Star Wars books had been written and released, detailing events long before and long after the six Star Wars films. In April 2014, it was announced that all Star Wars books and comics published prior to that point would be rebranded as “Star Wars Legends” and would no longer be considered part of the official “Star Wars canon.”
The decision enraged many long-time fans of the franchise that felt that the significance of books and comics they had grown up with was completely erased. However, the decision was made to allow J.J. Abrams and the Episode VII team more creative freedom to create an exceptional sequel film. This also makes the “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars much less intimidating, a necessity when trying to bring in new fans.
Since the announcement, Lucasfilm has developed the “Lucasfilm Story Group” through which all published books, comics, video games and TV episodes must be approved. This is to ensure that everything published after April 2014 is consistent with the new Star Wars canon moving forward. Since that time, three novels, a season of Star Wars Rebels, three new comic book series by Marvel, and countless young adult stories have been released. All material in the new Star Wars canon so far has been set in the time immediately before or after Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
That is about to change. The newly-announced books will be the first published media in the new canon following the story of Han, Luke, and Leia after the classic original trilogy of movies.
These 20 books will come in many forms: adult novels, young adult novels, and even sticker books for the youngest Star Wars fans. Each of these books will explore some series of events post-Return of the Jedi and hint at events to come in The Force Awakens.
Lucasfilm has somewhat uncreatively branded this initiative “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
One of these books will be titled Star Wars: Aftermath and will detail the events immediately following the destruction of the second Death Star by the Rebel Alliance in Return of the Jedi. Barnes and Noble has already published the following plot synopsis:
“The Second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.
Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.
And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…”
In addition to Star Wars: Aftermath, it has been confirmed that a novel will be written focusing on each of the main characters from the original trilogy. The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry will focus on Luke Skywalker, Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka will focus on Han Solo, and Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci will focus on Princess Leia.
Younger audiences will also be receiving books focusing on Han, Luke, and Leia, an attempt to help familiarize this demographic with these characters that will play a significant role in The Force Awakens.
Lastly, Marvel comics will be releasing two comic series prequels to The Force Awakens, one of which will be told from the perspective of everyone’s favorite protocol droid, C-3PO.
It’s a great time to be a fan of Star Wars! If you have ever considered jumping into the world of Star Wars books and comics, now is a great time to do so.