A Changing Universe

If you’re a fan of the saga, you’ve no doubt been asked the same question many times before: “Why do you like Star Wars so much?” It’s a hard question, and it’s harder still to give an answer that does justice to the deep and abiding love that many of us have for the franchise. Sure, Star Wars contains some of the most well-made films in cinema history. There’s a fantastic plot, relatable characters, spectacular effects, and a magical quality that catches the imaginations of young and old alike. But for me, it’s always been about more than the films. The most ambitious thing that Star Wars ever did was to go about creating an entirely new universe.

That’s why I stubbornly stick to the view that Lucas’s creation is more fantasy than sci-fi. In many ways, Star Wars has far more in common with The Lord of the Rings than it does with, say, Star Trek. Most sci-fi franchises build upon the familiar. Star Wars, on the other hand, starts from scratch. Nothing is taken for granted. Every world, every species, every artifact and device is in need of explanation, and it was this grand endeavour that pulled me in hook, line, and sinker.

While the announcement that Disney would be producing episodes VII, VIII, and IX brought much excitement, it also cast doubt on what this would mean for the “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars novels, comics, and games. A few weeks ago, Disney made its intentions clear. In an announcement posted on StarWars.com they unequivocally stated that episodes VII through IX would not follow the same story as the post-Return of the Jedi EU. From this point on, only episodes I through VI, and The Clone Wars and Rebels series were to be considered official canon. All other Star Wars stories of the last thirty-seven years would now come under the (non-canon) “Legends” banner.

I decided to give it a few weeks before I wrote up my own thoughts on this announcement. Like many fans, my initial response was one of disappointment. I had grown up with the stories and characters of the EU, and they now formed an important part of my love for the franchise. I didn’t want to lose them. With time and consideration, however, I’ve come to see the necessity of Disney’s move. It’s clear that the new Star Wars instalments need to be consistent with the existing film and television releases in the franchise. Beyond that, however, it’s understandable that Disney wants to give the maximum amount of creative freedom to its writers by starting with a clean slate. Officially announcing that these new tales will in no way be restricted by existing EU material is the only way of doing this.

It may even be that, for fans, this is the best thing we could have hoped for. While the universe might be changing, nothing is really lost. We’ve always been free to pick and choose which parts of the franchise comprise our own Star Wars universe. For some, this consists purely of the original three unaltered films. For others (like myself), this extends far further. The Legends will live on, and the new theatrical releases will simply give us another take on what might have happened to those heroes in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe the theatrical post-RotJ story will be better than that of Legends. Or maybe it won’t. It’ll be up to each of us to decide—for each of us to build our own universe.

Shadows of the Empire 3 3/4" Dash Rendar

It's been eighteen years since the release of Shadows of the Empire, and somehow I've managed to go that entire time without adding a Dash Rendar figure to my collection. Fortunately, that changed yesterday when my latest Trade Me auction win turned up in the post.

After the Thrawn Trilogy, Shadows of the Empire is one of my favourite entries in the (now "Legends") Expanded Universe. I've added the full line of SotE Micro Machines and Action Fleet vehicles to my collection over the years, but it's great to finally have a Dash to join my other 3 3/4" figures. Fortunately he only set me back $10.00, a nice price given how rarely he pops up on the second-hand market!

Relics of the Force on Far, Far Away Radio

If you haven't been listening to Far, Far Away Radio (FFAR), then you've been missing out on some of the best Star Wars podcasting out there. Each week Andrew, Austin, Chris, Jason, Mallory, and Meg take an entertaining look at the latest updates on the future of Star Wars, sharing their own thoughts and insights (and the occasional Toydarian impression) along the way. FFAR was kind enough to include a plug for Relics of the Force during their first episode, and on this week's show you might just hear them talking about a picture I recently shared on Twitter...

FFAR has truly put together a spectacular team of hosts. They're passionate, engaging, and - most importantly - incredibly fun to listen to. I can guarantee that their show will quickly become the highlight of your Star Wars week. Their podcast is completely free and available to download on a number of different platforms, so be sure to head on over to their site to check it out!

Josh Trank to Direct Second Star Wars Spin-Off Film

StarWars.com today announced that Chronicle director Josh Trank will be directing the second Star Wars spin-off film.
(Image courtesy of StarWars.com)

We're yet to hear any official word on what the focus of this or the first spin-off film will be - but given the amount of Star Wars news we're now receiving on a daily basis, we shouldn't have to wait long for details.

Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie to Join Cast of Episode VII

This morning StarWars.com announced two further additions to the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII - Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones).

(Image courtesy of ibtimes.co.uk)

This announcement should soothe some of the concerns about the lack of female characters in the first casting announcement. Both Nyong'o and Christie have fantastic credentials, and will no doubt make excellent additions to the Star Wars universe.

The Clone Wars Photo Frame

After several days down in Wellington, I'm now back home for a few weeks. While I was out of town, my mum came across this cool The Clone Wars photo frame at our local $2 Shop.

I've got a photo of myself and Ray Park (Darth Maul) that will be perfect for this!

Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future Paperbacks

When I was last in Wellington I picked up a couple of Star Wars novels that really should have been added to my collection a long time ago - Timothy Zahn's Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future for $12.00 each.

It's no secret that Zahn's other Star Wars novels (particularly the Thrawn Trilogy) are some of my favourite in the Star Wars EU. These two novels - known as the "Hand of Thrawn Duology" - feature many of the same characters as the Thrawn Trilogy, so I can't wait to get started on them!