Last week, Lucasfilm set a precedent with the announcement that only the Star Wars movies and The Clone Wars TV show would be considered canon. Some fans responded with extreme disappointment. One of my friends wrote,
Millions of stories suddenly cried out… and were silenced…”
I was both disappointed and understanding. On the one hand, I get that Lucasfilm wants to give its writers freedom as they pen the future scripts for Star Wars. However, a trademark of the franchise was that everything was connected. The books, movies and video games all ran together. It was this continuity that helped attract me to the Expanded Universe in the first place. Star Trek had always suffered from no continuity outside of the movies and the TV show. That is one reason why many fans have not bothered picking them up.
I foresee two possible ways that this news could affect the future of Star Wars.
1. All of the books, video games and comics will be completely and utterly disregarded. This is the most unlikely of the two possibilities. Most of the planets and cultures will probably stay intact. The Clone Wars made many references to the Expanded Universe. In particular, the use of the Witches of Dathomir. There were also a number of cameos, not the least of which was Black Sun, a tip of the hat to Shadows of the Empire.
2. The Expanded Universe will be presumed correct unless contradicted. This is the most likely possibility. As previously mentioned, The Clone Wars made many references to the work outside of the movies. George Lucas himself proved that he could occasionally take characters of the Expanded Universe, hence Ayla Secura’s presence in Attack of the Clones. She had previously only appeared in the comics. Honestly, if this was what happened, most fans (including this one) may actually be okay with it.
Another thing to remember is that Lucasfilm may say that they are disregarding canon, but not all canon will be affected. For example, the Knights of the Old Republic era will most likely be untouched since Lucasfilm will most likely not explore that particular time period. Likewise, the Dawn of the Jedi and Legacy comics are probably safe.
In the introduction to the Star Wars: Dark Empire, Kevin J. Anderson, author of the Jedi Academy trilogy and Young Jedi Knights series, wrote that “when you read Dark Empire, or any of the other novels, remember that although Lucasfilm has approved them, they are our sequels, not George Lucas’s. If Lucasfilm ever makes films that take place after Return of the Jedi, they will be George Lucas’s own creations, probably with no connection to anything we have written.” The authors of the new stories knew this could happen even as far back as the early 1990’s.
Another thing to remember is that wiping the slate clean is not always a bad thing. J.J. Abrams did the same thing with Star Trek in 2009, albeit in a creative way. The series has been very successful since then. While longtime fans may lament the loss of stories such as Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in the Star Wars continuity, remember that not all canon will be lost. Also remember that the writers are not limited by the 30+ years of post-Return of the Jedi content. Could this be as bad as introducing Jar Jar Binks as a character? Maybe. But for now, remember Yoda’s words, “Always in motion, the future is.”