Archived News 2017
12/25/17 A Spooky Christmas Present
Although it would be appropriate for Halloween, here at last is the unpublished "lostworlds" story, Cult Encounters: The Last Days of Arhul Hextrophon. Enjoy! As some of you know, there is a sequel to Cult Encounters, which will be posted here some time in the coming year... hopefully by Halloween!
On a side note, all of the West End Games material is back!
12/23/17 Some Good News
Call it a Christmas miracle, call it good advice, thanks to Robin Gosse who pointed out quite cleverly that I could simply upload the PDFs to my Google Drive and link to each file from here! So, consider the West End Games material returning. I've already brought back the first section. Google Drive (and my eyes) gets wonky if I try to do too many at one time, but they will ALL be returning! Thank you, Robin! Also, thanks to everyone else for your patience!
12/20/17 Some Bad News
I'm sorry to have to announce that I've had to remove many of the West End Games PDFs that I've been featuring here. I may yet have to remove more (I'll know tomorrow if that's the case). Despite this site's popularity, it doesn't generate money for itself, and I simply can't afford the cost of the high bandwidth space that keeping those PDFs would entail. If someone would like to host them at their own site, I'd be happy to link to them from here. In the meantime, I can endeavor to email individual PDFs, but I can't do large batches. My apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. If my financial circumstances change, I'll glad re-post them. I will continue to feature lost and out-of-print stories, but for the time being the large PDFs of West End Games books have to go.
12/17/17 Thank you!
This time to Kyle Wallace for reminding me that I forgot to put the unpublished Adventure Journal stories on the timeline itself! It's there now, thanks Kyle! I've said it before and I'll say it again, this timeline is what it is thanks to YOU guys, the fans, who've taken the time to say "Hey Joe, you made a mistake here..." I love it! Some more minor cosmetic things are going as my hosting company (the great guys over at MeccaHosting.com) have been helping me to optimize images, but I haven't forgotten my promise to get a few more lost things online for you guys before year's end!
12/9/17 Another Lost Tale Found
With the dissolution of Starwars.com's Hyperspace fan club, several exclusive stories that were never reprinted were lost... or so many thought. Here, at last, is the complete webstrip Evasive Action: Reversal of Fortune. In the coming weeks, I'll add the following three story-arcs, "Recruitment," "Prey," and "End Game." Enjoy! Special thanks to Cryostar, who first posted these on "Fan Forum" in 2007.
12/7/17 Band-Aids and Un-Infinities and the Third Way
To make up for the loss of all the work I did in December of last year (see the entry below), I've attempted to re-place many of the stories that vanished when I forgot that I hadn't properly backed-up and overwrote it. It's not as detailed as it was, and I've had to rely on other timelines to get material back on, something I don't like to do, but which is a necessity in this case as I don't have time to re-read all the books I'd read and plotted out. So I don't consider what I've done quite definitive. One day, I intend to re-read everything, but that day may not be for awhile, so this will have to do for now (unless you guys have a better order of events; I'm always open to your suggestions).
Also, something I've been meaning to do for awhile, which I think will please many of you. I've resurrected The Force Unleashed I and II and Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika back from Infinities and put them on the timeline proper. I will likely do the same thing for the third season of Tartakovsky's Clone Wars as soon as I can figure out how to reconcile it with Reversal of Fortune and Labyrinth of Evil. No easy task.
I have to thank John Vougias, a long-time friend from the old Dark Horse boards, who explained to me, quite cleverly, how The Force Unleashed can fit despite its contradictions. You've heard me rant about TFU before, so I'll include a list of retcons to show you guys how exactly it all can fit!
I've said it before, but it bears saying again. I've never liked putting stories that appear to have irreconcilable contradictions in the Infinities section. So, I'm glad to take them out when a reasonable retcon can be found. This same attitude extends to modern, post-Disney stories. Now, as much as some of you HATE that I've been including some of those on the timeline (an opinion I respect, but don't agree with), I view it in much the same way, which is that I don't throw the baby out with the bath water. If a story can fit in EU continuity, then so it should. Why should it be deemed "off-limits" just because of the views of a company that we don't agree with, or some minor continuity error that we wouldn't have blinked at in 2010. Some see this as tacit support of Disney, which the EU movement have been strident about boycotting since our interest is in getting LFL to commission new stories under the so-called "Legends" banner. I'm onboard with that, of course, but I've envisioned a "third way" that's neither a) shun it entirely or b) embrace it entirely, and that is to allow for the fact that some stories can fit the new "canon" and the Expanded Universe canon, and purchase those stories from the second-hand market (e.g., Ebay), allowing one to maintain the boycott while at the same time enjoying any new EU-friendly story. Thankfully, some of you have expressed support for this approach. Yet, to allow purists who don't want anything to do with Disney to still enjoy the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline, I've only incorporated new stories on the Complete Saga page.
12/6/17 The Dark Side of the Brain
So, I made a big mistake. Around this time last year, I went through all the novels, video games, RPG supplements, etc., dealing with the construction of the Death Star, and plotted it out on the timeline to demonstrate how it all fits alongside Rogue One. In fact, I even wrote an article about it which is now out by Sequart Books, called A More Civilized Age. At any rate, I'd failed to back up the site after having done so, a mistake as my hard drive soon after crashed. The bigger problem was that I didn't realize I didn't back up the most recent changes, so that when I got a new hard drive a few weeks later, I went ahead and uploaded the site, which was the old one I'd saved from weeks earlier, effectively deleting all the work I'd one...
Lesson learned. If anyone happens to have a copy of the "Complete Saga" page roughly from the end of December 2016 to March 2017, let me know. If not, I've gone ahead and done a very basic breakdown from the article I wrote. It's nowhere near as detailed as what I'd done on the site (as it had a different purpose than strict chronology), but it'll have to suffice until I have time to re-read all of that material again. Apologies for my complete brain failure in this regard. I'll endeavor to back up more frequently moving forward.
11/29/17 New WEG RPG
Thanks to Michael Fraley for working on this and sending it to me so you guys can enjoy it! Here is a new supplement available done in the style of the old West End Games roleplaying game supplements, called The Scavenger's Handbook: A Guide to Salvage in the Galaxy. Click on the link to download the PDF!
11/19/17 Gifts of Droids & Ewoks Animated Series!
Would you like to see the Droids and Ewoks animated series from the 1980s? Well, now you can! Click on the Droids/Ewoks banner on the left to download a zip file containing all the episodes of both shows, along with bumpers, promos, and custom DVD case labels! An early holiday present, care of our friend and fellow Star Wars scribe, Rich Handley!! Please note, if Lucasfilm/Disney ever decide to give these series a proper DVD/blu-ray release, and I hope they do, this link will come down.
I want to say Thank You to the three individuals who took a moment to write me on Facebook and say there was a problem with the site: Matt Civico, Aaron Friesz, and Eric Carteman! Thanks a bunch guys! I wouldn't have known so quickly that the files/images were missing had you not mentioned it!
Hi everyone, I had to switch hosting companies (my long-time one is going out of business next month), so there may be some glitches, as some of you have thankfully let me know that the West End Games material is down. I'm working on it now and will drop a line to let you know when it's back up!
8/11/17 Policy-Talk: EU/DU, Canon and Everything in Between
Hey Everyone! I wanted to take a moment to clarify a few things that have perhaps not been as clearly said before by me. Despite the breach that was created when Disney/LFL excised the Expanded Universe from canon on April 25, 2014, a breach that's caused considerable animosity amongst fans and between fans, I think it's important to state that no one should feel excluded here. I can't control what goes on in other groups, but I can control what goes on here. If you enjoy the new continuity that Disney/LFL brought about, that's totally fine. If you don't, that's totally fine. So long as you're interested in the Expanded Universe, and respect one another, you're welcome here.
On a personal level, as some of you know, I don't support the decision to de-canonize 35 years of stories. That doesn't mean that I'm against anyone who enjoys the new stories. Nor am I against any specific individual from Disney/LFL, even the decision-makers (e.g., Kathleen Kennedy). I do strongly disagree with the policy, and dislike the main products of that policy, namely The Force Awakens and its sequels, as well as anything that overrides previously established continuity (e.g., the new ongoing Marvel series). But that's not a comment on you who enjoys the new continuity. Similarly, just because I use terms like faux-canon and such, I hope you'll understand that I do so merely as a shortcut to express the idea that despite what Disney/LFL now call "canon" and "Legends" (which is non-canon), I subscribe to a single canon that is the original Expanded Universe only, as well as any story that fits within it. Disney/LFL is free to call their conception whatever they want, but that doesn't necessitate that I have to follow that course. Yet, again, just because I consider The Force Awakens to be "Infinities" (which is the term LFL once used for "What If?" stories) this in no way is a mark of disrespect for those who are fans of it. Some might prefer that I, and others who feel like me, should call it a secondary universe, or even a parallel universe. That's fine too. Terms like the "Disney Universe" work better, I think, to convey this idea without speaking on hotbed issues of legitimacy or illegitimacy.
On a related point, I've been up front since I first discovered Disney/LFL's intent to scrap the Expanded Universe that I would accept any future story that *could* reasonably fit into the Expanded Universe as part of Star Wars history regardless of the publisher's intent. This has been a bone of contention to some dedicated fans of the Expanded Universe, who believe that to include stories published under the Disney regime is to betray the original series or them personally. While I understand this to some degree, and I support efforts to boycott products or to get Disney/LFL to continue producing new Expanded Universe stories under the "Legends" banner (a term that I don't personally use, by the way), I must stress again that, as far as I'm concerned, story comes first. Some of you have appreciated that stance because it allows you to continue to enjoy new Star Wars stories that fir into the EU, while others have been deeply disappointed, thinking that I've somehow compromised or am "mixing canons." I can assure you that neither is the case. Hear me out.
To be a good chronologer (or chronologist), which is what they call a person who studies the historical record to establish the dates of past events—and who creates timelines reflecting that record—one has to be unbiased. To that end, it's my job to look only at the story itself and determine whether or not it fits into the historical record, which in this case is the Expanded Universe. If it cannot, it goes into Infinities. In the role of a chronologer, I must recognize that stories exist on their own as works of art (or in this case, as "history"), and they stand or fall based on their merit (in this case, if they fit into the larger history). If a story fits into continuity, there's no reason to exclude it. Similarly, if a story cannot fit into continuity, it must be excluded. The math is as simple as that. Once you bring in things like the publisher (Disney/LFL) or authorial intent, you're now going into the behind-the-scenes realm, what is called the politics. Stories are neutral of politics. A chronologer must, therefore, also be neutral, and put aside his opinions and preference. The politics would have me disregard the stories entirely, in effect, throw out the baby with the bathwater. It would have me say that because the intent of the publisher is clearly contradictory to the Expanded Universe, all of it belongs to Infinities, or the secondary universe, what some would call a false history (I don't need to be so uncharitable, so I will simply say it's a secondary universe that I'm not personally interested or invested in.) Yet, there are stories that can and do fit into the original universe, the canonical Expanded Universe. When one puts aside the "politics," it becomes clear that such stories shouldn't be cast aside like the others because they add to and enrich this universe. Tim Zahn's novel Thrawn is a perfect example of such a story. Rebels and Rogue One are less perfect examples because they require minor retcons to fit into the Expanded Universe, but no more so than many of the pre-Disney Star Wars stories, or even of the original six films. History is not neat and clean, as historians and researchers make mistakes and errors. So too with a fictional history and its historians. "But that's mixing canons!" some of you have said. Yet, if allowing a story to exist in both universes constitutes "mixing canons," then Episodes I to VI are mixing canons because they also exist in both universes. In other words, the precedent is already set by the films in that you have stories that exist into both universes without disrupting or compromising either.
One might argue that by my same logic fan-fiction should be included, as well, and in truth I don't entirely disagree. Fan-fiction is excluded here for different reasons than the ones I listed above, which I think you'll see makes sense. I have a large chunk of older fan-fiction, most of which is in the form of Star Wars fanzines that were printed up in small numbers and distributed amongst subscribers. The majority of it doesn't conform to previously established continuity. Yet, some of it does. Should these be included? I'd argue no for the following reasons. The very low print runs make it impossible for most fans to not only read and enjoy it, but coordinate it with the continuity of stories that emerged later. Furthermore, there's now thousands of online stories, many of which attempt to enlarge upon EU continuity, but which don't harmonize with each other because they're written by hundreds of fans who don't know each other, and who cannot take into account each other's stories. Without a governing body to ensure a coordinated effort, what emerges is a mess of contradictory stories. If a governing body (or brave individual) ever emerged to sort through it all, they'd have to comb through every piece of fan-fiction to determine which ones best work within the current state of official continuity and with each other, and which don't, and would have to document why. Whoever did this would have to choose between competing stories which told different versions of the same (or similar) events, and keep in her mind the ramifications of those events as they pertain to other fan-fiction stories told in the same era. If such a theoretical and monumental endeavor ever came to pass, and, provided Disney/LFL never continued the Expanded Universe (because if they do, as many hope, it would throw a big spanner into such a project), I'd be curious to see the results. Until such a time, it doesn't make sense to include fan-fiction, and any attempt by me at this point would be arbitrary and half-measures, and that's not how a chronologist works. The new post-Disney stories, although published by a company that's solely interested in the new continuity, at least benefits from a central body of professional editors, are widely available, and are even written by some who contributed to the Expanded Universe in the past, e.g., Rebels and Thrawn.
This might sound like I'm casting to the side hardcore fans who don't want anything to do with post-Disney in their universe, but that's not the case. To accommodate this fan's perspective, I've left the individual era timelines without any post-2014/Disney era stories. Only the "Complete Saga" timeline includes those elements. It's for this reason that I also created a timeline that doesn't have The Clone Wars animated series on it, as I know there are fans who prefer to not include Filoni's Clone Wars into their personal canon. The only timeline I don't include here, for the reasons listed above, is an exclusive Disney-canon timeline. I'm not invested in, or financially investing in a second universe, though, as previously noted, I make exceptions for those stories that can fit both.
Some fans object to the term personal canon, or "head canon." To them, canon is canon, period. Obviously you're entitled to feel that that's the case, but as someone whose been a Star Wars chronologer for 25 years, I can say with some experience that it's rarely been that simple. While it's true that from 1978 to 2014, there's been ONE CONTINUITY, or ONE CANON (which, incidentally, is the same thing, as a hierarchy of canon means that everything but non-canon in the pyramidal structure is canon) and that's brilliant. Yet, despite the efforts of editors and authors, there were times when certain stories were neglected, forgotten, or excluded, and other times when exclusion was necessary to maintain a workable history. In a perfect world, every story that came out under the Star Wars banner would automatically be canon, but the real world doesn't work quite so smoothly. For example, the Marvel UK series was virtually unknown in the U.S. for many years, which meant that the story, "The Flight of the Falcon" was overridden by information provided by West End Games, and A.C. Crispin's The Han Solo Trilogy. Had the story been known, things might have been different. As it stands, the two versions are so dissimilar, they can't be reconciled. Similarly, Star Wars 3D #2: Havoc on Hoth was written without taking into account the Goodwin newspaper strips, which at the time were out of print. These are both examples of honest mistakes. While authors have done a great job of retconning many of the inadvertent slips that crept in, not everything can be, which mean certain stories have had to be excised from canon. In the case of the these examples, "The Flight of the Falcon" and Star Wars 3D #2 had to be eliminated from continuity to allow the larger stories to exist and make sense. There are other examples of times when it wasn't an even playing field. I've discussed this before at length, but it bears repeating that The Force Unleashed, for example, did not go through the normal channels of continuity approval, as its designers went directly to Lucas to get his approval for their concept. Lucas later clarified that he had approved the story "as a game," and not necessarily as part of continuity, as a result of his approval, The Force Unleashed came out without the benefit of the editors at LFL going through it and correcting contradictory elements. Thus, it sharply contradicts several aspects of the Expanded Universe, and more egregiously, A New Hope (specifically Leia's role in the government at this time, which makes no sense if The Force Unleashed happened). While some would give it a free pass solely on the grounds that it's pre-Disney Star Wars stamp on it, that's simplistic thinking, and not how we roll here. Recall what I said earlier: if it's irreconcilably contradictory, it's Infinities. And this is where personal canon comes in. If you choose to keep it in your head as part of the story, then fine. The point is that canon is not so easily established as some might think. Personal canon allows you, the reader, the freedom to say "I like The Force Unleashed so much, I'm going to overlook the contradictory elements and keep it as part of the Star Wars saga in my head." Because Star Wars history is not real history, this is a viable approach. This takes up back to the original point I made above. You're free to say, "I see the Star Wars Universe as having two separate canons," or "I accept one canon only and not the other," or even "I only accept those stories that I like." So long as you don't attack each other over these distinctions, I'm fine with that.
If you're interested in the whole timeline concept, as I am, which is the establishment of historical events based on extant documents (the stories), then you'll better understand that I don't have the luxury of personal canon. My job is to work with seemingly contradictory elements of greater and lesser extent and make choices amongst them. I find that the choices I've made on this timeline make the most sense to me; you're free to disagree, but I'm also not married to these choices, as several of you, who've helped me over the years, know. Many fans have come to me and said, "I think this belongs better in this spot." Or, "I have a workable fix for this story." I've always been open to your suggestions, and I always will be. What I'm not open to is the negative spirit of bullying, or irrational, militant, one-sided demands. The vast majority of you are amazing, brilliant and rational. To the rest, well, you're probably not reading this anyway, but if you are, it's not a healthy way to be, and I'm not going to tolerate it in my space. I understand your anger, but it's going too far, and if Star Wars argues against anything, it's that hate is the path to the dark side. Those of you who have chosen this course, and you're on all sides (anti-EU, pro-EU, anti-prequels, pro-prequels, anti-Special Editions, pro-Special Editions, anti-Disney, pro-Disney, etc.), you are not doing yourselves or Star Wars fandom any favors. Cut it out.
That's my .02 for today! Drop me a line here or on Facebook if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments!
Currently reading the new book Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn. The first chapter adapts his short story "Mist Encounters" (from the Adventure Journal #7, later reprinted in the Outbound Flight paperback), removing the sections with Booster Terrik (which are unnecessary for the story being told in the novel), and rewriting various elements, most notably the addition of a translator named Cadet Eli Vanto. Despite the rewrite, the story plays out the same as in the original, with the second chapter continuing those events past where the original short story went. Thrawn is unusual in that it appears (at the outset at least) to fit both the original canon of the Expanded Universe, as well as the new Disney "canon." For those of you boycotting Disney until "Legends" is restored, you can pick it up used on Ebay & Amazon.