How the Star Wars Expanded Universe is Different Now

Heir to the Empire - LegendsA little over a year ago, I wrote an article called “What the New Star Wars Trilogy means for the Expanded Universe.” At the time I said that the current Expanded Universe is now part of an alternate timeline, and it turns out that I got that absolutely right.

StarWars.com just reported about what the new Star Wars EU is going to be like, as well as what’s happening to the current EU. Here’s the simple explanation:

All current parts of the Expanded Universe will continue to be published as long as the demand for the content is there, under the title “Legends.” Any content that was made for film or TV is considered to be canon. Creators of future stories in the newly defined canon are allowed to use ideas and content from the Legends Universe, whenever appropriate.

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What the New Star Wars Trilogy means for the Expanded Universe

Star Wars: The Essential Reader's CompanionOne of the big questions about the new Star Wars trilogy is this: what does this mean for all of the books in the Expanded Universe that take place after the original trilogy?

First, some background on the Expanded Universe

Since 1991’s release of Heir to the Empire, new Star Wars stories have been released pretty consistently.  Books that cover, so far, about 44 years of adventures after the Battle of Yavin (which is the battle that takes place in A New Hope).  This territory includes many adventures with the primary cast from the trilogy, as well as their children, the Empire, and changes to the known universe.  A lot of great adventures that land all over the timeline.  If a character dies in a particular book, any book that happens later on cannot have that character suddenly living as if nothing has happened.  What people that don’t know, or understand, that haven’t looked into the Expanded Universe, is that it all happens on the same timeline. This means that a book that happens on the timeline between two previously written books can’t change things so much that the following story doesn’t make sense, so that there’s a logical progression.

Now, with new Star Wars sequels coming to film, how does that effect the Expanded Universe?

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The Book Isn’t Always Better – Part 2: The Princess Bride

I haven’t written an article in this series since the fall of 2008.  But I’ve decided that it’s time to write the next entry in the series.  This time, about The Princess Bride.

This is one of my all-time favorite movies.  It is one of the few favorite films that I list off of the top of my head when asked.  Most people assume that it is based on a book, and that the book is what the grandfather reads in the film.  A little bit of research and you’ll find that those people are only half right.  It is based on a book of the same name, but the author, S. Morgenstern, doesn’t really exist.  William Goldman wrote the book, which was published in 1973.

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The Book Isn’t Always Better – Part 1: Big Fish

This is probably the first in a series of articles on the times that a movie has either been as good as the book, acted as a great complement to the book, or bested the book. This is the result of being tired of hearing the misconception that “the book is always better.” The truth is, it’s not. Sometimes the movie far exceeds the book in execution of the same story.

It could be that the filmmaker had a better vision for the story. It could be that the filmmaker is simply a better storyteller. It could be that the book just lends itself to also be great on film.

When I do my comparative analysis, I’m going to let you know whether I’ve read the book that the film is based on, and whether I read it before or after seeing the film, as all of these things have an effect on the results.

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Tolkien vs. Rowling

At MatrixFans.net, someone posted a Harry Potter versus Lord of the Rings thread. While I did enjoy the third film, I don’t believe Potter holds even a burnt out candle to Lord of the Rings. Here’s what I said:

J.R.R. Tolkien was a professor of language, who didn’t take a real place and make a false place or a parallel dimension or any such thing.

Tolkien, in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings created a WHOLE WORLD, with histories, and races, and wars, and all sorts of incredible characters and they even had their own languages. Languages that fit logically with the characters. The Black Speech of Mordor is very harsh, while the Elvish tongues of Sindarin, etc. are very beautiful. Tolkien’s novels were released 50 years ago this year for the first time. While the Silmarillion was started in the trenches of World War I, I believe in 1917, it wasn’t finished or published until 1976, after Tolkien passed on. The Hobbit was out in the mid-30s. It took Tolkien 15 YEARS to craft THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Tolkien carefully crafted the entire book to the full. It is something that people of nearly any age, with a brain, can get into and enjoy. If you can’t, I feel sorry for you.

J.K. Rowling, like it or not, needs to tighten up her writing. Remove all of her “said Harry angrily’s,” and “said Harry really angrily’s,” and replace them with simply “said Harry.” Not only will that save ink, but also paper. The Order of the Pheonix has about 20,000 of those words. That is the length of a short story. No wonder the book appears to be so long. It’s not really. It’s just got a lot of extra wording padding it, making it appear longer than it is. The problem isn’t that she USES those explanations for how a character is talking. It’s that she uses them ALL THE TIME.

Also, given that Potter hasn’t yet ended, to compare the entire SEVEN BOOK Harry Potter to the ONE BOOK Lord of the Rings (as intended, although LOTR is actually SIX Books, with an appendix of what happens next as well), is foolish. You do not know what will happen at the end of Book Seven, and the whole series is dependent on that, like it or not. The end of The Lord of the Rings is perfect. You are happy, but sad as well, because you realize the price of freedom and at what price everything they fought for had. You see all the other people that were untouched by the war, that you don’t know if they even care or know anything about the hardship you went to to bring that peace. You want to read it again, to have these adventures and meet these friends, and you can, because the books are so long that you can’t possibly remember every little thing at first. And the films compliment the books wonderfully. They capture the spirit of the story written by J.R.R. Tolkien. You can sit down and watch all three in roughly 12 hours depending on food breaks and what not. Or you can spend a few weeks on the books, and travel with the characters, and you end up investing yourself in at least one of the characters. The one that you see yourself in the most. For me, reading it for the first time years ago, that was Sam. I realized this when I got to “The Choices of Master Samwise” and he had to make the decision to take the Ring and go the rest of the way alone.

Harry Potter hasn’t had any of that as of yet, and I don’t think it’ll end up being more than Voldemort making one last try at returning, and being stopped for the last time, no more than a typical evil wizard story told time and time again. Granted, it should be bigger than this, but that we won’t know for probably 3 years.

Recommended Reading!

  • Pierced By a Sword by Bud Macfarlane Jr.
  • Conceived Without Sin by Bud Macfarlane Jr.
  • House of Gold by Bud Macfarlane Jr.
  • Those three are FREE at http://www.Catholicity.com

  • The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
  • The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Wild At Heart by John Eldredge
  • No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton