Archived News 2016
12/19/16 Rogue One Review and Canon Analysis
If you're on this page, you already know this, but for those who don't, I'm the creator of www.starwarstimeline.net and a dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars Expanded Universe fan, who holds to and supports one canon, the original, and no other. With some exceptions (e.g., Rebels, which can fit both timelines), Kennedy/Disney's new "canon" represents an egregious erasure of 35 years of interconnected storytelling, and is Infinities and an alternate universe in my eyes.
Yet, it's my belief that if the Disney AU can poach off the EU, then the EU can poach back, and I had a feeling Rogue One *could* fit into the EU with only some minor tweaks. This is not a "mixing of canons" as some have accused me of, but simply a case of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If the baby can be cleaned up and given back to its natural EU mother, then so be it! ;)
So, I made an exception to the rule, paused my boycott, and went to the see the film yesterday with some friends (including fellow EU contributor Rich Handley).
And I'm glad I did.
While I won't be able to state it for a certainty until I've re-read a few things, after seeing the film last night I believe that EU fans can gladly welcome Rogue One into the original continuity. I see no reason why the mission on Scarif can't overlap the missions of Keyan Farlander, Kyle Katarn and Havet Storm on places like Ralltiir, Toprawa and Danuta, and when I get some time in the new year, I'm looking forward to breaking all of these stories down into respective parts on my timeline. (For any who might not understand why there would be multiple missions in the first place, please look up the real-world Enigma project).
As regards the events of The Force Unleashed, that's a non-issue for me as that story was already irreconcilably contradictory to the EU (as well as to A New Hope), and long before Rogue One was even a mote in the eye of Gareth Edwards, The Force Unleashed sat in Infinities on my timeline. As regards the missions in other video games like Battlefront II, Empire at War or Lethal Alliance, although I've always maintained that video games, by their very nature, cannot be considered canonical and should just be enjoyed as games, I've found ways to make them all fit. I have an article on this very issue coming up in Sequart's third Star Wars essay book.
Ok, all well and good. What of the quality of Rogue One as a movie?
It's a dense film with a lot of characters and a lot going on, so it bears multiple viewings (which is something I like in a film). It didn't help that the theater had a muddy print and poor sound quality. Suffice to say that despite those drawbacks, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It's well-written, acted and directed, with a wide scope and vision, as a Star Wars film should have, but also intimate and personal (also as a Star Wars film should have). Tonally, it's gritty, dark and intense, but with plenty of space to allow you to breathe, humor that is character-based (and not jokey or tonally incongruous), and with a resonant gleam of light to balance the dark. An underlying spirituality runs throughout the film that I found refreshing, particularly as it's not so readily present in modern genre entertainment which tends to revel in nihilism.
Before I get heavier, I have to revel in this: It's got a Gigoran! Gigorans are large shaggy white creatures first introduced in the Star Wars Adventure Journal #4: "It's a Gambler's Life"). A Star Wars film that features an alien from an obscure, out-of-print short story written by Anthony P. Russo in a magazine that only hardcore fans ever read is just cool! It's also a kind of olive branch to EU fans.
Rogue One is much more of a war film than prior Star Wars films had been, with only the last third of Attack of the Clones, and The Clone Wars animated series depicting full-scale wars on screen (the last third of ROTJ features a full-scale space battle, but it's ground battle is so tepid that it can't really be considered part of the genre).
War films tend to be jingoistic and propagandistic, for which reason I generally don't care for them. Fantasy war films get cut some slack because the conflicts they portray are generally metaphors for the need for us to be proactive in our fight against real-life evils, and not invitations to slaughter other human beings for nationalistic/corporate agendas.
While we don't see as many layers of subtlety in the original trilogy, it's very present in the prequel trilogy and the expanded universe, which this film plays out like. The Rebellion is nuanced and not just white hats, and there's an Imperial defector, which underscores the point Lucas made in Revenge of the Sith that there are "heroes on both sides," a fact that paints an ugly and accurate picture of the satanic nature of war that indiscriminately destroys innocent and guilty, good and bad alike.
Gareth Edwards was the perfect director to handle such a film (and should probably be given more Star Wars films), and they clearly saw his work on Monsters. He balances the genre's propagandistic tendencies with characters that are nuanced, a plot that has complexity and underlying but strong social commentary (which is present in the original trilogy and prequels). For example, he has a great exchange between Jyn and Captain Andor where she tells him that if he obeys orders without question then he's no different than a stormtrooper. It stings, but it's a valid point, and Andor--a child of war since he was six and whose since walked a grey line--had already come to realize the truth of what she says when he earlier disobeys a direct order. This is good storytelling, as it doesn't hit you over the head with messages and character arcs, but yet they're there in ways that are natural and organic to the story.
As most of you have heard, Vader's appearances are brief, but very effective! Krennic is the real villain here, and he's great for playing a role that can easily have fallen to extremes. He's scary because he's your very real alt-right (read white supremacist) type that we're seeing all too frequently these days.
Alan Tudyk gets a shout-out as the great K2SO droid! But really, the whole cast rocks! And it's great to see Genevieve O'Reilly and Jimmy Smits as Mon Mothma and Bail Organa again!
Unlike another abomination of a movie that shall go unnamed, Rogue One actually strengthens the Original Trilogy instead of undermining it or its characters. There are a few Easter Egg appearances, but they're blink and you'll miss them moments and nothing that can be constituted as fan service; there is no lazy scene-by-scene regurgitation with a hollow narrative, illogical plot, and endless action scenes that have no context or meaning save to reboot a series and cater to fanboy nostalgia.
Imagine that: an original plot with mostly new characters doing things and going places we've never seen before. That's a true Star Wars tradition direct from Lucas. Rogue One eschews the paint-by-numbers approach and actually adds content and mystery to the universe. And it fits perfectly as a lead-in to A New Hope, demonstrating the fact that you can actually build on a pre-established universe without having to tear it down to engender "creative freedom."
As to the appearance of Tarkin and one other character who I never thought I'd see again, I can only say Wow!! You will too!
I love all six Star Wars films (yes, you read that right), and I can now--surprisingly--add a seventh! Disney earned their revenue on this one, and while I'm not ready to forgive them for discarding the original canon, if this trend continues with the standalone films (allowing them to fit into Disney's AU and the original EU), Star Wars fans may actually have something to thank them for.
12/11/16 Rise of the Empire
No major news, just added some stories from the Rise of the Empire anthology to the timeline, and moved Tarkin to its proper place in 14 BBY.
Some of you have asked if I'm going to post links from the timeline itself to each of RPG supplements, and the answer is definitely yes, but I just don't know when. My focus is the next month or so has to be on my second book, but once that's done I should have a little time to work on the RPG adventures.
In the meantime, I'm continuing work on incorporating Rebels into the timeline, which has proven far easier than anticipated. With Pablo and Dave throwing tons of EU references into the show (Dark Troopers being the most recent), I think it's safe to say the series (at this point) that can fit into both the Disney AU and the EU canon just as the Clone Wars animated series does (though Rebels has proved far less troublesome). As to the issue of Wedge's origins from the third season episode, "The Antilles Extraction," I don't see that as much of an issue as this part of his life readily fits into his previous history just after the time he investigates the massacre on Gus Tallon. Hobbie's appearance, on the other hand, would appear to be an issue, as he jumped ship for the Rebel Alliance with Biggs aboard the Rand Ecliptic. That itself proves troublesome, as Dark Horse chose to ignore the previously established story of that event in the short story "Mutiny Aboard the Rand Ecliptic," from Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back, when they did the Empire miniseries Darklighter, aka The Saga of Biggs Darklighter. Because Darklighter was a well-written series and popular with fans, the previous short story was rendered Infinities. As regards the current Rebels episode, however, there is a retcon (in Star Wars: Complete Locations) that explains that Hobbie later went undercover in the Prefsbelt Fleet Camp as well as aboard the Rand Ecliptic in order to recruit disgruntled Imperial academy students like Biggs and Tycho.
12/1/16 Holiday Gifts For You from the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline!
Eagle-eyed readers will notice the West End Games logo on the left. When you click it, you'll find this indicates that you can now read and/or download every West End Games sourcebook, guide, adventure supplement, box set, and Adventure Journal, along with a few other goodies! (Note: two 1st edition Galaxy Guides, #4 and #6 are missing, however, the 2nd edition versions are there)
Enjoy and have a happy and safe holiday!
There is more unpublished material coming in 2017! As always, I can't yet speak of them, but I think you're going to enjoy them!
Passing along some news from my friend Dan: If you don't have it already, there is an opportunity to get every digital release bundled on the Dark Horse Digital site today for $200.00, which is a big savings. Check it out here!
11/16/16 Lostworlds Lost No More
I've finally gotten around to adding the lost Lostworlds pages, formerly the work of Kevin Furman (contact me if you read this), which you'll find as a banner on the left border column. I'm currently updating the page and links.
I've also dug into my archives to present some lost unpublished tales that have been floating around the internet, but some of which can no longer be found in their disparate locations. To make life easier for all of you, they're now all collected here. They include:
Emanations of Darkness, by Patricia Jackson
"Light and Shadow" and "Just Business," by Paul Danner.
Addendum: Be sure to refresh your pages, as I've updated some page names (and the old links won't respond).
Also, I've removed all the "(hyperspace)" listings on the Complete Saga page (except those few which were exclusive to Hyperspace so that fans can know where they originated). It's sad to know that at one time, fans were going to have all the rare stories from the hard-to-find (and/or expensive-to-track-down) magazines available online in one handy location. What Del Rey/Lucasfilm should do is prepare several omnibus anthologies of these short stories, arranged in chronological order, so that fans can have them all in bound volumes. It wouldn't cost Del Rey much to do this, they'd make a small profit, and more importantly, would be making a lot of fans happy. When you consider all the Adventure Journals, Gamer magazines, Insider magazines, Galaxy magazines, not to mention old sourcebooks which had fiction content, that's a lot of material spread over numerous issues.
11/15/16 Latest News is News
Just website news, though. I added a symbol (and fixed the symbols link) and "Latest News" banner to the top of the left link column, which I think should make life a bit simpler and things easier to navigate, and rewarded myself by updating the picture on this page to a beautiful portrayal of Mara Jade, who deserves it!
11/13/16 Rebels Addendum
Many of you have expressed concern over my inclusion of Rebels in the Star Wars universe, and I wanted to address some of those concerns here. For my reasoning regarding this decision, see the news story below on 11/5/16.
1. How can you justify doing this, you traitorous *^%$#$%!!!?
I understand your feelings (even it is a little close to the dark side), but this isn't about betraying the Expanded Universe or embracing Disney, but rather adding to the EU another source that can be made to fit. The Star Wars Expanded Universe will always remain my sole consideration, and I am not advocating for the alternate universe that Disney created when they eliminated the EU from continuity, reduced it to a non-canonical "Legends" status and promoted their AU as canon. That said, I've said from the beginning that if a story from their AU can fit into continuity without damaging continuity, then it should. By and large, Rebels fits.
2. What about XY continuity problem?
I understand that it's not a perfect fit, and I haven't forgotten that the EU had problems along the way that required retcons and/or creative solutions on the part of the fans. I never said Rebels would be a perfect fit. But as with the Clone Wars animated series, anything that cannot reasonably be adjusted into continuity will simply go into the Infinities section. Some of you have stated that their versions of Thrawn and Wedge are incompatible with the EU. I'll cross those bridges when I come to them.
3. Rebels sucks!! How you can include this cheap-looking Aladdin-ripoff into the real EU!?!
When I first saw the pilot for Rebels, I had a similar reaction. I still think the animation on that pilot episode is atrocious and am frankly still surprised that after all the beautiful work done on the last few seasons of The Clone Wars that Disney would attempt to get away with such an ugly and poor animation, which struck me as a grotesque example of cost-saving and disregarding fans. Truly, if Disney had wanted to court fans of The Clone Wars, not to mention the Star Wars films, they would have budgeted a bit higher for a series as special as Star Wars. That decision clued me into exactly the kind of corporation we were now dealing with, and how Star Wars was just a money-making machine for them. So, yes, for a long time, that decision (along with Disney's subsequent removal of the EU from continuity) played a large role in my utter disdain and disregard of the series. So, I totally get it! Now, in recent times, on the advice of friends (many who were EU readers) who said the series had gotten quite good, I decided to go in with an open mind and actually watch past the pilot. I found myself quite enjoying it! It reminded me of some of the old Adventure Journal stories from West End Games. One of the main writers on the series is an old EU alumni, Henry Gilroy, and prior continuity issues aside, I personally don't find Dave Filoni to be a slouch in the writing department either. Overall, I think it's a really fun show that's well-written with good characters and set in a time period that doesn't conflict with much else that's been established.
4. NO! Just no!!
As always, I suggest that if you really hate it, or won't even touch it because of the Disney stain, then that's totally cool in my book. I do understand. Just because it's on my timeline doesn't mean that you have to accept it as canonical; in much the same way that if you find something that I excised to Infinities (e.g., The Force Unleashed being the most egregious example of ridiculous and pointless contradictions to the EU and films) works for you, then by all means keep it alive in your head. Stories have a certain amount of rules, but they're not inviolate and inflexible. We can agree to disagree, and if you find you're really irritated, try to remember that I'm not the Official Keeper of the Timeline Holocron; if I was, Star Wars would never have abandoned the Expanded Universe--one its most prized properties--in the first place. I'm just a fan like you who is staying true to his decision early on to incorporate as much Star Wars into the timeline as can be made to work. The Disney AU is Infinities in my eyes, but I've brought other Infinities stories out of that section before without anyone complaining, and I don't see why I should not do so again in this case.
Moving ahead, there are more classic "lost" EU stories to come in the months ahead, though nothing I can yet speak of (sorry but I just can't), save to say that when it debuts here, it will be epic! So, stay tuned!
11/5/16 Rebels in the Expanded Universe
The Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline had now added the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, and its ancillary stories, to the timeline. While this may comes as a welcome surprise to fans of that series, fierce advocates of the pre-Disney Star Wars EU (of which I am one) may balk at the inclusion of any post-Disney stories on the timeline. And I totally understand that. Before you object, however, bear in mind several factors:
1. Since the inception of the Disney Universe—what we here consider to be an AU: Alternate Universe—we have stated that if a post-Disney era story can fit into the original continuity of the Expanded Universe—what we consider canon—then it should be done. The determining factor for this has always been whether or not it can reasonably (not perfectly) fit into continuity. Based on what I've seen of the series thus far, Rebels meets this criteria.
2. The inclusion of some aspects of the Disney AU does not mean we are embracing or advocating the entirety of the Disney AU. The Disney Universe, specifically the films (but also the ongoing Marvel series that takes place after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope) was brought about to replace the canonical Expanded Universe, and cannot be reconciled with it. It will always be seen as an Alternate Universe (at least until a retcon comes forth explaining that a parallel universe exists in the Star Wars universe allowing both to coincide).
Whether one chooses to enjoy that incarnation or deem it entirely illegitimate is immaterial to the matter at hand. You are, of course, free to not accept Rebels as part of your personal canon. That perspective is fine. By the same token, it should be understood that by accepting Rebels into the fold, the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline is not compromising its standards, going over to the Dark Side, or otherwise looking to piss off hardcore EU fans. This site has always been about the inclusivity of stories, and wherever possible has endeavored to keep stories in continuity. This goes way back to the time it included stories officially deemed Infinities (such as those from the Tales anthology comic-book series) as well as those considered of lesser or questionable status, such as the so-called S-canon from the former canon-level hierarchy once maintained by Leland Chee of Lucasfilm. In other words, the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline is all about story, the individual story and the larger saga, and the perpetuation of both. Thus, it doesn't play politics. If a story can fit without major contradictions, then it should be included.
As to that issue of contradictions, the standard has always been the EU itself, which has had to bend in numerous ways over the 35 plus years to accommodate old and new stories alike. Bending is fine. Breaking is not. The former is the natural and organic part of any long-running series. The latter requires exclusion to preserve the whole. I have excluded stories that have broken continuity long before Disney came along (e.g., The Force Unleashed), and made room for those that merely bend (The Clone Wars animated series). The latter require retcons and creative thinking on the part of fans. The former cannot be made to work and were resigned to the Infinities section of this site.
For those of you who say you don't wish to financially support the Disney empire, which including Rebels on the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline would force you to do so, my suggestion is to simply purchase items used. Nearly everything I've bought post-Disney has been from Ebay, Abebooks, or third-party Amazon sellers. There are also inter-library loans that you may want to explore in your town.
Wish to ask questions, vent, discuss, express an opposing point-of-view, etc., drop me a line or head over to my Facebook page to post a comment: https://www.facebook.com/starwarstimeline/.
4/21/16 The Good and the Bad
First the good!
Check out the details here!
Now for the Bad News: I had hoped the next "Lostworlds" story I published here would be Margaret Weiss's Legacy of Doom. This is the novel that would have followed The Heart of the Jedi. I reached out to Margaret Weiss, she was kind enough to let me know what the fate of the story was, and how it ended up not getting published:
"I no longer have the book. I saw no reason to keep it and it was on a computer that I have long since retired. My story is that I had only a limited window of time in which to write that book, as I had other book commitments at the time. I handed in the book, but the people at Lucasfilm kept changing their minds about what they wanted and having me do rewrite after rewrite. At last I told them time was up, this was getting too frustrating and I moved on."
Sadly, Legacy of Doom has become a true "lost" tale unless Margaret resurrects her old computer and finds it, or someone at Lucasfilm leaks it online.