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Disney to destroy EU* (*Expanded Universe)
January 20, 2014 3:05 PM   Subscribe

While JJ Abrams finishes off the script for Star Wars VII, Disney and the Lucasfilm Story Group are busily deciding what is canon and what isn't. Lee Hutchinson at Arts Technica thinks cutting out the Expanded Universe and starting again is a good idea. Stuart Ian Burns at Feeling Listless isn't so sure.

Levels of Star Wars Expanded Universe canon.
posted by crossoverman (161 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mallory Ortberg enlists Voltaire in her defense of the Expanded Universe.
posted by Iridic at 3:11 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Does it matter? Star Trek novels aren't cannon and they have a huge market. So Star Wars half-asses it keeping some things cannon and others not? Big deal.

At the end of the day, these are cool stories about magic, hyperdrive, and laser swords. If people can suspend disbelief for that, they shouldn't get too worked up about canonicity.

Jesus, look at comic books. Those guys die left and right and then come right back. Seeing Kirk die ever few years would be fun.
posted by codswallop at 3:13 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Most fans simply don't care what gets slashed because they've only seen the movies.

Personally, I would love to see a Star Wars movie about Indiana Jones, Alf and Carl Weathers during their space pirate days.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:15 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I wonder if it's going to be for children like the majority of Star Wars, or designed for adults in the mode of Star Trek.
posted by four panels at 3:15 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


"The Expanded Universe will no longer be of any concern to us."
posted by entropicamericana at 3:15 PM on January 20 [16 favorites]


Does this mean Kevin J. Anderson novels are going to be tracked down, destroyed, and purged from public memory like Lucas tried to do with the Star Wars Christmas Special? If so, yay.
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 3:17 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


"But how will they keep the fanfic writers in line without the multiple layers of canon?"
posted by sparklemotion at 3:18 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Also, Lawrence Kasdan might ret-retcon Boba Fett, because Lawrence Kasdan is awesome.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:18 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Mallory Ortberg enlists Voltaire in her defense of the Expanded Universe.

From the link: Listen, I may have my own well-documented quibbles with the Jedi Academy series, but Kevin J. Anderson was the editor for Tales From Jabba’s Palace. Show the man some goddamn respect.

Somehow, all I can think of is this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:19 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


codswallop: At the end of the day, these are cool stories about magic, hyperdrive, and laser swords. If people can suspend disbelief for that, they shouldn't get too worked up about canonicity.

But the Extended Universe canon is full of cool stories about magic, hyperdrive, and laser swords. Cutting them out from being part of canon would mean that we won't ever get to see those stories on the big screen.
posted by gucci mane at 3:20 PM on January 20


Chee's pruning is a welcome change. In him, Disney has a person who intimately understands the core elements of what makes Star Wars, Star Wars. It's unclear at this point what in the EU will be pitched out into the trash, and what will be promoted to canon.

God damn, Leland Chee's life is like the ultimate dream. I would kill to be the guy that could decide Canon for Trek. Good on you, Mr. Chee.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:20 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Unless they tell me that Episodes 1 - 3 aren't still cannon, I don't really care what else is.
posted by octothorpe at 3:20 PM on January 20 [26 favorites]


At the end of the day, these are cool stories about magic, hyperdrive, and laser swords. If people can suspend disbelief for that, they shouldn't get too worked up about canonicity.

I don't think you know these people.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:20 PM on January 20 [24 favorites]


I tried reading some Star Wars novels once and they were.... execrable drek.

Good riddance, I say.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:22 PM on January 20


Before Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Earth was listed in Wookiepedia as "Indiana Jones' Homeworld".

I am in favor of blowing away as much canon as it takes to get us back to that state.
posted by ckape at 3:22 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


But the Extended Universe canon is full of cool stories about magic, hyperdrive, and laser swords. Cutting them out from being part of canon would mean that we won't ever get to see those stories on the big screen.

Anything that thwarts the weird obsession with turning books into movies/TV is fine with me.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:22 PM on January 20


Look, just give us the Knights of the Old Republic movie we all want and you won't have to obsess over these things anymore.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:22 PM on January 20 [14 favorites]


How do the execs around a boardroom decide that THIS is what they will be spending money on? I'm not saying they shouldn't - I am just wondering how that conversation started and turned into money?
posted by joelf at 3:23 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Lawrence Kasdan is was awesome a really long time ago.
posted by octothorpe at 3:23 PM on January 20


Man, this could go either way. Will it be really good, and everybody will like it? Or will it be really bad, and everybody will hate it? Or, wait...will it be somewhere in the middle, and equal amounts of people like it and hate it? Will a lot of people be completely neutral? Will others wonder what is even being talked about? I guess we will literally never know. It will be a mystery forever.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:24 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


I wonder if it's going to be for children like the majority of Star Wars,

Yes, my kids loved all that expository dialogue about the Galactic Senate and the Trade Federation.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:24 PM on January 20 [22 favorites]


Cutting them out from being part of canon would mean that we won't ever get to see those stories on the big screen.

Like about 90% of the cool things I've read in ST books. No biggie. Besides with the sheer volume of stuff out there the vast majority of it wasn't going to show up anyway.
posted by codswallop at 3:24 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


How do the execs around a boardroom decide that THIS is what they will be spending money on? I'm not saying they shouldn't - I am just wondering how that conversation started and turned into money?

"How can we sell all the same shit a second time around?"
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:24 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I'm a Doctor Who fan so I don't worry much about canonicity. Having said that, they ought to bring in some cool elements from the EU quasi-abandoned stuff (like, say, Mara Jade) and ignore a lot of the long-term plots that take us into the old age of the original trilogy kids. Nod to the old fandom stuff while going off in different directions. This is what Doctor Who did and it was successful.

Just don't, you know, whitewash your important characters of color. Learn that from the Trek reboot, at least.
posted by immlass at 3:24 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I'd say kill The Old Republic, in which, Bioware's shallow political metaphors shoehorned into game mechanics for exploring both sides finally devolve to the point where they make George Lucas's political themes about the decline of democracy look good.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:25 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


But where are we going to read about diplomats that are secretly smugglers teaming up with imperial officers who are secretly bounty hunters to fight a prince who is secretly a dark jedi, aided only by a snarky computer and their latent force powers? (The computer also has latent force powers, everyone in the EU has latent force powers).
posted by AndrewStephens at 3:26 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Just don't, you know, whitewash your important characters of color.

and presenting Benedict Cumberbatch as Lando Calrissian
posted by Greg Nog at 3:26 PM on January 20 [43 favorites]


Your mom has latent force powers.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:26 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


This is like the Edict Of Worms for frustrated space opera fans.
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


Lawrence Kasdan was awesome a really long time ago.

If he's just there to give J. J. the back of his hand once in a while, he's served his purpose.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:30 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


It's bad enough that I have no idea who the characters and what the storylines are in Lego Clone Wars.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:30 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Cutting them out from being part of canon would mean that we won't ever get to see those stories on the big screen.

I encourage you to think of our current copyright regime as an unstoppable, oppressive juggernaut. I don't have blueprints, but I'd like to think there must be a thermal exhaust port somewhere.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:31 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Hey I just happen to be currently watching Star Trek: Into Darkness. Why doesn't Luke Skywalker just call alternate universe Luke Skywalker and ask him for advice, and then the rest of the third act can just literally be the same as a previous movie.
posted by phaedon at 3:31 PM on January 20 [15 favorites]


Some of those Star Trek novels were pretty damn good.

Some.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:32 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Furthermore, I don't care what they say, Splinter of the Minds Eye is totally canon. It's still real to me, dammit.
posted by AndrewStephens at 3:34 PM on January 20 [15 favorites]


Cutting them out from being part of canon would mean that we won't ever get to see those stories on the big screen.

As with anything they are going to adapt some ideas from non-movie material into the new movies and some other parts of it they are just going to make up because that's what they think will make the best film they can make. I mean look at the recent Batman films, it's not as if the two choices are completely follow the established canon and make no artistic changes whatsoever on the one side and completely disregard everything that has been done in every other media on the other side.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:34 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


One easy solution: Erase anything written for kids under the age of 8. Some of the most ridiculous and silly things in the EU came at the expense of that genre. As a former Star Wars super geek who read, re-read, and read again the Star Wars Encyclopedia, whenever I hit an entry that made me want to vomit, the majority of the time it came from a book advertised for kids who's most recent accomplishment was toilet training and making it out of kindergarten.

For example: Yoda's race of people start out WHITE, then shrink and turn green. Deal with it. Or not?

Horrifying factoid: It appears Lucas shoehorned a still WHITE Yoda race person into the end of Phantom Menace. Look for him on the parade stand at the end of the victory parade scene. He's just there. Sure, minus an eye, but just randomly hanging out.
posted by Atreides at 3:35 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


I can think of few concepts less useful, or more stifling to stories, than canon.

Not continuity, mind, which is a worthwhile thing that stories need (except when explicitly rejecting it), but canon.

It never fails to make me laugh that there is even any discussion about which set of events in fiction really happened. Guess what? None of it did. You're free. You're welcome. Your version of what really happened is as good as anyone's, and better still for being yours.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:35 PM on January 20 [24 favorites]


God damn, Leland Chee's life is like the ultimate dream.

Or possible a nightmare. In maintaining the brand, someone has to be the ultimate party pooper, the guy who tells people "no, you can't do that. Or that. Or that.", the guys who has to basically say "oh you already did that? Well, now you have to throw your baby in the trash. Just because.", the guy who no-one wants to walk into their office, the guy who no-one goes to lunch with. The destroyer of dreams, the dasher of hopes. The company pariah. :)
posted by anonymisc at 3:38 PM on January 20


Wipe them out. All of them.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


Your version of what really happened is as good as anyone's, and better still for being yours.

Yet Shatner and Nimoy, perversely, still refuse to read my lines.
posted by RogerB at 3:39 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


the guy who no-one wants to walk into their office, the guy who no-one goes to lunch with. The destroyer of dreams, the dasher of hopes.

TAKE ME PARAMOUNT I AM READY
posted by Greg Nog at 3:39 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah what is a Yoda?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:39 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Canon:
  1. Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut
  2. Star Wars Holiday Special
Fin.
posted by Flunkie at 3:39 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


But I'm probably a bad fan in that I dislike the concept of "canon" and think that different versions should be considered different bodies of work referencing common characters and themes. After all, no one is under any illusion that Nolan, Burton, Miller, and Adam West are authoritative with respect to each other. Likewise, I think it's a good thing that the Marvel Movie Universe tends to go with the spirit rather than the letter of the comics.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:40 PM on January 20


Not continuity, mind, which is a worthwhile thing that stories need

They're the same thing. You can't have continuity without canon. When a group continues the story, they kind of need to know whether a particular character is or isn't dead. Continuity doesn't exist without canon.
posted by anonymisc at 3:40 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


I'm a fan of both Stars - Wars and Trek - and what I've always found interesting is that the Star Wars universe seems to be the more interesting place to explore; it's richer in ideas (or perhaps more open to them), somehow, than the Trek universe. That probably has a lot to do with the "shorthand" of each - for Trek, its the Federation that can be used as something the fanbase will already know and accept and not need a ton of backstory on. Star Wars has less native "shorthand" I think, so there's more places to explore and define that hasn't been done yet.

Sadly, most of that exploration has been utter shit, so I'm not sad to see it go.
posted by nubs at 3:41 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah what is a Yoda?

This is hiw canon should be decided, you lock a team of winters in a room with pizza, box wine, and piles of reference materials and enough oharmeuticals to get higher than Carrie Fisher with orders that none of them can leave until they have coherent, consistent world building.

I volunteer for the first pass.
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


I disagree. They're different things. What you're talking about is still continuity.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:42 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


It depends on whether you intend a trilogy to have its own story arc, or to be independent unrelated movies set in the same theme.
posted by anonymisc at 3:43 PM on January 20


FM, can you define what you mean by "canon", if not continuity across a series of stories?
posted by Greg Nog at 3:44 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]



ricochet biscuit: "From the link: Listen, I may have my own well-documented quibbles with the Jedi Academy series, but Kevin J. Anderson was the editor for Tales From Jabba’s Palace. Show the man some goddamn respect.

Somehow, all I can think of is this
"

Those Tales books were the best possible use of the Expanded Universe because they explored the backstories of all of the weird aliens who showed up for half a second in generally fun and interesting ways. Most of them didn't even have species names before that, and all of a sudden they had adventures of their own in places and with characters the movies would never have spent a single second on. Admittedly, some were pretty damn goofy, with apologies to me at 13 thinking that IG-88 downloading himself into the Death Star II so that he could start the Droid Revolution was Super Badass. That said, the point was to have fun with some obscure characters and they suceed wildly at that.
posted by Copronymus at 3:45 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I'm a fan of both Stars - Wars and Trek - and what I've always found interesting is that the Star Wars universe seems to be the more interesting place to explore; it's richer in ideas (or perhaps more open to them), somehow, than the Trek universe. That probably has a lot to do with the "shorthand" of each - for Trek, its the Federation that can be used as something the fanbase will already know and accept and not need a ton of backstory on. Star Wars has less native "shorthand" I think, so there's more places to explore and define that hasn't been done yet.

Of course, it pretty much just lifted that richness from Flash Gordon. Single biome planets and all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:46 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


The single biome planets is something a lot of SF is guilty of; and while the Star Wars stories lifted many things it could still be a rich place to explore...It's just that no one has made that exploration really interesting.
posted by nubs at 3:48 PM on January 20


I look at every possible scenario for Disney's handling of Star Wars and the EU through one lens and one lens only:

Does this change make it more likely, or less likely, that I will see Hugo Weaving as Admiral Thrawn?

From that, I am able to decide whether a change is a good thing or a bad thing.
posted by Hatashran at 3:49 PM on January 20 [17 favorites]


Horrifying factoid: It appears Lucas shoehorned a still WHITE Yoda race person into the end of Phantom Menace. Look for him on the parade stand at the end of the victory parade scene. He's just there. Sure, minus an eye, but just randomly hanging out.

I can't believe I am about to correct Star Wars trivia online -- is it 1994 already? -- but no, that is Even Piell, a Lannik, which is not Yoda's species.

Hey, if the EU gets destroyed, does this mean Wookieepedia will go dark? My days of being able to fully appreciate it probably passed in the eighties, but I do occasionally browse it and marvel that a character who appears onscreen for seven seconds in a movie released decades ago, has no dialogue and no name and is not even credited, will wind up with an entry longer than, say, Carl Sagan's on Wikipedia.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:50 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Look, just give us the Knights of the Old Republic movie we all want and you won't have to obsess over these things anymore.

Let's just skip to the Knights of the Old Republic II movie.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:52 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


can you define what you mean by "canon", if not continuity across a series of stories?

Canon is official continuity.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:53 PM on January 20


I can't believe I am about to correct Star Wars trivia online -- is it 1994 already?

Heh, that's about when I peaked.

It looks like they've shifted some of the original ideas, so I'm happy with that. Thanks for the update!
posted by Atreides at 3:56 PM on January 20


Frankly, when your franchise stretches across decades and multiple different formats (movies, cartoons, comics, tie-in novels, etc.) it's time to say goodbye to coherent continuity and internally consistent canon. I know a lot of fans find it fun to try to argue over this kind of thing and to reconcile seemingly contradictory canon, but everyone knows it's a fool's errand, right? Pick and choose what works and move on. That goes for new creators in a franchise and fans alike.
posted by yasaman at 3:58 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


So what I told you was canon, from a certain point of view.
posted by ckape at 4:00 PM on January 20 [15 favorites]


The single biome planets is something a lot of SF is guilty of...

Yet, strangely, hardly any crafting.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:00 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


FM, can you define what you mean by "canon", if not continuity across a series of stories?

Canon is the concept of official material needing to be distinguished from material that isn't. It's the idea that if something happens to Luke Skywalker in a book, and then something happens in a movie that contradicts it, there needs to be some declaration from on high indicating that the book wasn't canon, as opposed to just trusting that you can figure out for yourself that they were made by different people with different intentions and you can decide for yourself which you prefer.

See also: Making the horrible, horrible mistake of asking a Star Wars fan about Boba Fett's origin before there was an internet to collect all this stuff in one place.

Or, as Alan Moore said, "This is an imaginary story. Aren't they all?"
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:02 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Canon and cannons sink ships
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Ugh, guys, I'm pretty sure the OED settled the debate over the canonical definition of canon a long time ago. Don't go quoting Urban Dictionary on me.
posted by HeroZero at 4:07 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I still don't really see the difference; you're talking about continuity, still, just over a slightly larger amount of fictional story.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:07 PM on January 20


I tried reading some Star Wars novels once and they were.... execrable drek.

I haven't read them, but I had 2 friends in high school that were avid Star Wars junkies and my understanding is that not all Star Wars novels are created equal. They vary considerably in quality. One of my friends hated one author in particular so. bad. and then another one they both raved about. And a lot of this was before there was anything resembling today's online Star Wars community discussing this stuff because we're old, so these were opinions arrived at without all of fandom screaming at you what is and is not good.
posted by Hoopo at 4:09 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Just introduce a group of old jeddi guys sitting around a table a few hundred years in the future. One is finishing up a long story "and it turns out that kid Luke was the son of..." another old guy jeddi interrupts saying "ya got it all wrong Frank, Boba Fet was the son" dissolve to the new version.
posted by sammyo at 4:09 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Unless they tell me that Episodes 1 - 3 aren't still cannon, I don't really care what else is.

All they need to do is write the tiniest of lines: "Of course, all that is just a myth."

Job done.
posted by popcassady at 4:09 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


sammyo hi-fives popcassady!
posted by sammyo at 4:12 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


But-- Thrawn, man! And Outbound Flight! Nooo!

(Really, I am okay with it. But my inner twelve-year-old has a sad.)
posted by dogheart at 4:14 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


You guys know that "not canon" doesn't mean "all copies are destroyed", right?

None of the Star Trek novels are canon, but they are all still around and everything.

I decided last weekend that Lady Mary Crawley is obviously secretly Carson the butler's daughter. I'm aware that this isn't canon, but I am not prevented from thinking it is definitely true. Maybe after the series is over and this is never explored, I could write a "Downton Expanded Universe" novel about it, and fuck, as long as somebody is willing to publish it, sure. That doesn't make it canon, and when Downton: TNG comes out in 15 years, Julian Fellowes' declaration that the Downton Expanded Universe is not canon will not send my novel about Carson and Cora's secret affair to the shredder. I will sob quietly all the way to the bank while teenage girls on Tumblr argue about it.

Also, LBR, only one thing is actually canon in the Star Wars universe: Han shot first.
posted by Sara C. at 4:15 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


How do the execs around a boardroom decide that THIS is what they will be spending money on? I'm not saying they shouldn't - I am just wondering how that conversation started and turned into money?

They invite a few writers to come in and pitch some stuff. Whatever they like is now canon, and also whatever pre-existing stuff contradicts what they like is not canon.

The end.

I mean, the people flying the bus on the Star Wars franchise have to figure out what actual stuff to make. I don't really see how you could make more Star Wars without doing that.
posted by Sara C. at 4:18 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


LIFE DAY ISN'T CANON ANYMORE RIGHT RIGHT? !?!
posted by The Whelk at 4:18 PM on January 20


The single biome planets is something a lot of SF is guilty of; and while the Star Wars stories lifted many things it could still be a rich place to explore...It's just that no one has made that exploration really interesting.

Right, but the specific way it's approached in Star Wars is pretty much a direct lift from Flash serials and comics--like, now we go to the desert planet, now we go to the ice planet. It's what creates the feeling of expansiveness and diversity in the series, but it isn't unique to it. Hell, you get the same kind of sense of space and potential from the Dino De Laurentiis Flash.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:24 PM on January 20


LIFE DAY ISN'T CANON ANYMORE RIGHT RIGHT? !?!

If there is a toy of it then it is probably canon.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


wait what does that mean about angry birds then
posted by Hoopo at 4:28 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


(Meanwhile, Trek is pretty much "let's visit a different thought experiment that reuses the same set and costuming each week" which is great in some ways but feels more narrow in others. I actually like both approaches, though it seems like Abrams is approaching the Trek universe more like the Wars universe in the reboot--which gives me hope for the new Star Wars even though I'm Abrams-wary.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:29 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


wait what does that mean about angry birds then

Totes canon.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:32 PM on January 20 [14 favorites]


reuses the same set and costuming each week

Off topic, but if you like this sort of thing, it's very easy to spot TNG's old Alien Of The Week costumes in the background crowds on the DS9 promenade.
posted by Sara C. at 4:43 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Yoda's species.

That article has a page on how many toes Yoda has, discussing every instance that Yoda's toes has appeared on-screen.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:47 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


Off topic, but if you like this sort of thing, it's very easy to spot TNG's old Alien Of The Week costumes in the background crowds on the DS9 promenade.

Who doesn't like that sort of thing?!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:50 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


But-- Thrawn, man! And Outbound Flight! Nooo!

It's a little bit ridiculous that this many years later, mentioning Outbound Flight will make me sit up and take notice, but I think it's due to the one huge difference between Zahn and most other EU authors - Zahn opened up the universe with all these ideas and hints at new and bigger things around the edges and in the past, and nearly everybody else seemed to be totally occupied with nailing every bit of the universe down.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:51 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


You can't have continuity without canon. When a group continues the story, they kind of need to know whether a particular character is or isn't dead.

Characters being dead or not is a good example of why the concept of canon forcing writers to stick to established continuity doesn't really work though. How many times in comic books does a character who was supposedly killed in a previous writer's work a decade ago end up back alive in a new writer's work? And the fact that the new writer has to come up with some tedious backstory of how they didn't actually die at all or were magically brought back to life through some one time only use deus ex machina tech is hardly a big triumph in terms of continuity or realism. Either way, the real reason why the character comes back is that the people making the new work think that the character will make the work better than it would be with some other character.

The point is that when someone writes a brand new work in an established fictional setting they are going to make choices, and some of those choices might conflict with the previous and future work of others, not just in terms of things like events that happened in the fictional history, but in terms of how characters act, what they look like, the tone of the work, etc. Canon often seems to be about building a really big complicated and unnecessary meta-verse around a lot of works that were only really made to be experienced in terms of themselves and a few other related works.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:52 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


AHSOKA TANO LIVES!
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


It just occurred to me that I probably have most of the qualifications for Leland Chee's job.

LOL GREG NOG CATCH ME IF YOU CANNNNNN
posted by Sara C. at 5:00 PM on January 20


Hey remember when in Heir to the Empire, Zahn had Lando Calrissian introduce Luke Skywalker to this exotic beverage called "hot chocolate"? Because seriously, what? Did that just happen? That just happened. Hot chocolate survived the trip from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away because obviously hot chocolate was important, damnit, and it was the ultimate legacy of those people to spread it across the universe and ensure its survival.

HOT CHOCOLATE 4 CANON
posted by jason_steakums at 5:01 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Does this change make it more likely, or less likely, that I will see Hugo Weaving as Admiral Thrawn?

It's far more likely that you'll get Hugo Weaving as Admiral Akbar; and that's how it starts. There will be mocking at first, but then there will be such a spin about how it's such a brave career move to play a guy with a fish head, and then everybody will be all about how great it is that they put J.J. Abrams that can make such a bold move artistically, and you're taking everything too seriously if you don't like it.

They'd be better off hiring Jimmy J.J. Walker to direct this... whatever it is.

For me, Star Wars and Star Trek died a long time ago. I used to be one of those guys who was bitter about the way all of it was going, but now the whole thing is just unrecognizable to me, and aside from the occasional jab at it on rare occasions like this one. I'm just happy the original stuff exists.
posted by chambers at 5:02 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Of course you can have continuity without canon. Fan fiction, for example, can retain continuity but not be canonical.

And you can have canon without continuity, too. There's no reason why the official version of the story has to be internally consistent, and there are lots of stories that aren't.

I really don't get the debate. They're obviously distinct concepts. Often or perhaps even normally canon will have, or at least will try or hope to have, continuity, but there can be one or the other or both or neither.
posted by Flunkie at 5:02 PM on January 20


So long as they keep the Thrawn stuff I don't care.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:03 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


as opposed to just trusting that you can figure out for yourself that they were made by different people with different intentions and you can decide for yourself which you prefer.

A lot of people's preferences about which continuity to suspend disbelief for have to do with consistency, congruence with other favored works, and the opinions of their peers. When fans argue about canonicity, they are doing exactly what you suggest.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:03 PM on January 20


Artw: "wait what does that mean about angry birds then

Totes canon.
"

Looks more like a slingshot to me.
posted by Copronymus at 5:06 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


If y'all get to keep Thrawn, then I get to keep this.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:09 PM on January 20


Also the Thrawn Imperials were the only ones that weren't cartoon evil
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:09 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


And JJust think, Star Trek has time travel, and Star Wars is long long ago... JJust think about it.
posted by sammyo at 5:10 PM on January 20


As official keeper of the Star Trek continuity database (suck it greg nog), NOPE
posted by Sara C. at 5:13 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


All I care about is that Han Solo punching a blinged-up Giant Weasel remains canon.

If it does not then screw you Mr Abrams, my $15 will remain wallet-bound.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:25 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Furthermore, I don't care what they say, Splinter of the Minds Eye is totally canon. It's still real to me, dammit.

posted by AndrewStephens


I favorited that comment 37 times. Unfortunately, every other time I clicked the button, it removed my favorite. So you get only ONE favorite from me, sadly, but it comes with a hug.

>------(^_^)-----<
posted by darkstar at 5:27 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Also, I just read the wikipedia article on the Holocron database, and the various tiers of canonicity are ridiculous. I understand why Chee would want to get rid of the EU, just for complete impossibility's sake. The Star Wars canon is too baroque to actually be functional for a living IP franchise.

I mean, guys, there is an actual FileMaker database because the old system of continuity bibles was too difficult to work with. And a guy whose actual entire job is to maintain the database by doing research within the various media to answer continuity questions.

Too fucking complicated. Just make a unilateral "not canon" decision and move on. They're probably doing it because, if they didn't, Disney would have to create a Star Wars Continuity Division within the Lucasfilm Story department.
posted by Sara C. at 5:28 PM on January 20


In the New Star Wars Canon: posted by jason_steakums at 5:32 PM on January 20 [42 favorites]


All that said, I really dig the idea of Dread Pirate Boba Fett.
posted by dogheart at 5:36 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


I really, truly wish folks would be more selective with regards to their treasured mythologies.

Lucas was a bottom-feeder, and this stuff is going to be next-generation sludge, with Disney plasticy sheen and perhaps a musical number in there to sell some more crap. Give them your money, they'll laugh all the way to the bank, and Uncle George will sit back and not give a shit about any of it, he's cashed out.

Star Wars is the worse thing to ever happen to science fiction, it was the ultimate triumph of style over substance, and the very beginning of the mass-marketing movie tie-in merchandising craze, as well as the origin of sequel madness. What a sad state of affairs for those of us who love the science fiction genre.
posted by dbiedny at 5:37 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


They're the same thing. You can't have continuity without canon.

Which is the central problem. Why are we demanding continuity between works with superficial similarities produced by completely different people in completely different decades? Never mind that it's a dumber than dumb model of narrative to say that what we see on the screen or the page must point to some objective idealist version of what "really" happened to the characters, and this must be conserved across different tellings of the story.

Or even by the same author, because heaven forbid that an author change in the decades between writing sets of sequels the way that Clarke and Le Guin did. As much as I think Lucas demonstrates a tin ear for character both in writing and on set, I do think that the tragedy of Eps. I-III is potentially a deeper science fiction story than IV-VI.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:45 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


as well as the origin of sequel madness.

so did the six Thin Man movies just not happen or
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:46 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


All I care about is that Han Solo punching a blinged-up Giant Weasel remains canon.

Is there room in the new canon for giant bipedal green rabbits?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:46 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


What a sad state of affairs for those of us who love the science fiction genre.

A sad state of affairs for you and your love of science fiction maybe, but people can and do enjoy both. Personally the style over substance gave it a lot of its charm and is a feature, not a bug. And really, if Star Wars is the worst that happened to sci-fi, sci-fi hasn't really weathered a lot, because it's just kept on chugging along and cranking out about the same ratio of classics-to-crap this entire time.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:47 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


The prequels are EU, right? Please?
posted by Anything at 5:50 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I'd love a Boba Fett movie set up like a mix of the Batman: The Animated Series episodes "Almost Got 'Im" and "Legends of the Dark Knight", where a bunch of weird cantina aliens sit around playing cards and spinning big outlandish tales of their encounters with him and theories as to who he might be under the mask.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:51 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


This is hiw canon should be decided, you lock a team of winters in a room with pizza, box wine, and piles of reference materials and enough oharmeuticals to get higher than Carrie Fisher with orders that none of them can leave until they have coherent, consistent world building.

So basically the Lucasfilm version of the Council of Trent.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:54 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Like an awful lot of things, young Boba Fett is done really well in the Clone Wars cartoons and I'd almost prefer to see them build on that.
posted by Artw at 5:55 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I thought they had already abandoned all that stuff in the Expanded Universe? Or is that the Extended Universe?

Extruded Universe?
posted by JHarris at 6:12 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


The Expunged Universe, where everything lives that was left out of the Expurgated Universe.
posted by RogerB at 6:14 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Extreme Universe! C-3PO murdered his way out of that sandcrawler!
posted by jason_steakums at 6:15 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


"Star Wars...it was the ultimate triumph of style over substance"

You misspelled "From the Earth to the Moon".
posted by happyroach at 6:16 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Does this mean that I struggled through Stackpole's simmering heap of fetid filth silt, I, Jedi, for nothing?????

Where were you twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Where were you when I was new? I bought that shit in hardback.
posted by monster truck weekend at 6:19 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Disney Consumer Products is in this very Burbank building on a Disney lot that requires ID and guest passes to get in, right? It's a very weird experience to walk in the building and head up to this area where they sit and talk about Disney Princesses and the Disney Fairies and what they plan to do with the lines and what kind of merchandise is coming out next quarter. So no, I'm not surprised that they're requiring that Lucasfilm sort out what's canon and what's not--that's what they do, in order to maximize the sale of 'consumer products' of all types.
posted by librarylis at 6:20 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


fetid filth silt

You have a bright future in naming Expanded Universe characters, young padawan.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:22 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


I really, truly wish folks would be more selective with regards to their treasured mythologies...Star Wars is the worse thing to ever happen to science fiction

Ah. And who gets to determine which mythologies we treasure?

I am a huge SF Fan. As mentioned previously - I like both SW and ST; I enjoyed B5; I enjoyed BSG. I also love both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Blade Runner - they are similar stories but different enough that I see them as distinct things. I love the works of Iain M. Banks and Vernor Vinge and Octavia Butler; am indifferent to Neal Stephenson; and have read and watched my fair share of crap before I found my way to what works for me.

I am also a Fantasy fan - from Tolkien and Kay, Bujold and Le Guin to the grimdark of Martin and Abercrombie. I loved Jordan at the beginning of Wheel of Time, only to drift away, finishing the series only out of a need to see how it ended.

There are SF fans who are shocked and dismayed that I like Fantasy, and Fantasy fans who are dismayed I like SF. SF fans who can't believe that Stephenson doesn't do much for me or that I will read works that are not "Hard"; Fantasy fans who don't understand how my love for both Tolkien and Martin can coexist. I am large; I contain multitudes.

I will go see the new SW film (I think it, and ST, have both been largely strip-mined in the search for profit). I don't expect it to be great; I am, however, in love with the fact that I will be able to take my sons - SW fans both - to a brand new Star Wars movie.

My point is this - people like what they like. I have learned to let people like what they like, even when it is different from what I liked. Railing against it does little good. Let them enjoy it, life is short and we should take what pleasures from stories we can when we find them.

SF&F should be a big tent - big enough for all the different fandoms and all the different types of fan. We are large and we contain multitudes.
posted by nubs at 6:25 PM on January 20 [14 favorites]


Disney Consumer Products is in this very Burbank building on a Disney lot

Going to take a bit 'o 'shopp'n to turn Leia into a Disney Princes, and I'll so look forward to Ms Fishers commentary.
posted by sammyo at 6:30 PM on January 20


This thread still drifts forward? Well...

I was given the novelization of Star Wars a few months before the movie opened (1977). I tried reading it. I stopped when they swung across the garbage pit, and griped "It's a second-rate comic book".

We saw the movie when it opened--in a mall on Long Island, in a theater next to EJ Korvette's. There was a line to get in, perhaps 80 people long.

The movie was impressive. The story was lame, but the visuals were great illustrations of the better science-fiction stories of the past 40 years, not the crappy horror-and-rubber-suit (IT/THEY/THEM Came From...) that professional cinastes proffered as science fiction. Well, that and the hippy-dippy 'force' religion.

In conclusion, SW did for movies what DOOM did for video games, and is, of course, a land of contrasts.
posted by hexatron at 6:39 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Man I'm going to miss that novel where the fragile New Republic faces its greatest challenge yet.
posted by Palindromedary at 6:42 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


I'd say kill The Old Republic, in which, Bioware's shallow political metaphors shoehorned into game mechanics for exploring both sides finally devolve to the point where they make George Lucas's political themes about the decline of democracy look good.

Hey now, the Imperial Agent storyline is really good, most of the other class stories are pretty decent, and I'm still enjoying raiding, and the PVP, and I like playing dress-up with all my space dolls, so pbthhhht.
posted by kmz at 6:49 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Turns out the New Republic has been operating illegally this whole time, and now the series is about them trying to sell literally, not figuratively, a ton of cocaine.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:50 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Basically all I care about is KOTOR, since that's the only EU I actually am interested in, so my question is always about which paths there are canon. I find this sort of interesting, personally. I also will be much happier if they manage to make certain amounts of it canon and leave room for never gendering Revan.

so did the six Thin Man movies just not happen or

My parents told me to just watch the first one, and since they literally named their child after one of the characters I trust their judgement
posted by NoraReed at 6:57 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I guess my Beastmaster/Chewbacca script is dead in the water, then
posted by thelonius at 6:58 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Star Wars is the worse thing to ever happen to science fiction,

Pshaw. If Gil Gerard in a white spandex jumpsuit couldn't kill it, nothing will, my friend. Cheese is the norm in science fiction, and Star Wars was always heavy on the cheese.

I mean, would you diss The Fifth Element, a movie that raise incoherent cheese to a glorious art?

Now, I personally don't like the JJ Abrams Star Trek cheese, because it is a.) sexist and b.) not funny enough. The Avengers franchise movies do it better, at the moment (and they of course are also sci-fi). So I don't have huge hopes for Star Wars, but then, after the turgid, self-important, ponderous, poorly-written fan-fic-level of the prequels, well. Bring me cheese, if only because most cheesy movies don't make me listen to CGI aliens squabbling over tax agendas. I would kindly ask JJ to take notes on the Avengers' propensity for long, lingering shots of finely-chiseld male torsos, for starters. It has no redeeming moral qualities, but it does add some equal-opportunity zest to the otherwise stale trope of scantily-clad space vixens (yawn) for this straight female viewer.

As Twiki would say, beedee-beedee, motherfucker. Bring it on.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


We saw the movie when it opened--in a mall on Long Island, in a theater next to EJ Korvette's.

Favorited just for the EJ Korvette's mention. My dad STILL talks about "Eight Jewish Korean War Veterans"
posted by KingEdRa at 7:46 PM on January 20


Hey now, the Imperial Agent storyline is really good, most of the other class stories are pretty decent, and I'm still enjoying raiding, and the PVP, and I like playing dress-up with all my space dolls, so pbthhhht.

I find the cartoonish evil of the Imperial storylines considerably better than the transparent metaphor for extra-judicial rendition and torture you get on the Republic side, with rewards for looking the other way while people are disappeared and tortured Pinochet style. The Imperials are an entire civilization of Marvin the Martian. The writing on the Republic side desperately wants to be dyslit, but largely fails because it comes down to NPC massacres and min-maxing your light/dark points and companion loyalty anyway.

Which probably wouldn't matter much if I could put my love for good sci-fi dyslit on the shelf when I open up the game.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:05 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


What I enjoyed about the storylines in The Old Republic was that it was possible to be one of The Good Space Nazis or just go full Goebbels and really luxuriate in your cartoonish evil rather than having to be The Good Space Nazi. Granted I played it before we reached Peak Antihero in pop culture as we have recently but it was refreshing to play a bad guy in a video game that wasn't a goofy caricature or misunderstood antihero or some anime-style bad guy who was really ~~deep~~ or someone needing redemption, just a real psychopathic jerk. My Sith Assassin's anthem would've been Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.

With the caveat that I never got near the cap so it may have changed somewhere down the road, but for the 20-30 levels I did play I was a huge space jerk.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:19 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I have a bad feeling about all of this.
posted by Danf at 8:34 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I read that one Star Wars book about the zombies on the prison ship, that was okay for the toilet. Really though, Warhammer 40K is what you should be reading if you're going to that special section of the bookstore where the sci fi has brands.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:41 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


You misspelled "From the Earth to the Moon".

What the shit?
posted by crossoverman at 8:53 PM on January 20


Star Wars is the worse thing to ever happen to science fiction

This court sentences you to one readthrough of the Gentry Lee Rama books.

the very beginning of the mass-marketing movie tie-in merchandising craze

There were lots of Flash Gordon toys sold back in the day, and lots of Robby the Robotses, and so on.

as well as the origin of sequel madness

Sequel madness goes way the hell back to the old serials. Made money? Make more!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:01 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


it was refreshing to play a bad guy in a video game that wasn't a goofy caricature or misunderstood antihero or some anime-style bad guy who was really ~~deep~~ or someone needing redemption, just a real psychopathic jerk

You've played the Saint's Row series, right?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:02 PM on January 20


Going to take a bit 'o 'shopp'n to turn Leia into a Disney Princes

Straight white girl from a wealthy family suddenly fallen on hard times saves the world from the evil king imprisoning her real father, and you know she's victorious when she falls in love and a bunch of cute animals sing a song?
posted by bile and syntax at 9:03 PM on January 20 [22 favorites]


And she doesn't have a mother!
posted by Sara C. at 9:04 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


I've been sucked into a Wookieepedia nostalgia hole and oh god I thought Kevin J. Anderson's stuff (other than the Tales from... books, but still, editing and not writing there) was the nadir... and then I remembered The Crystal Star.

On the other hand, that first batch of X-Wing books was pretty great.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:18 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


The Yuuzhan Vong are terrible.
posted by reiichiroh at 10:12 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Yeah. I thought the Yuuzhan Vong stuff had just enough good ideas in there that it was a shame that it was kiiinda awful. I do give them props for finally realizing that things were getting super boring and needed to be changed up, but BIGGER MEANER BAD GUYS RAAAR when I was just aging out of my big Star Wars fandom phase made me finally realize that I was reading the books more out of habit at that point than anything, and I quit before those books were finished. There was probably a decent series of books in there if they'd have dialed down the EXTREME and also the Jedi handwringing, but then again there were probably a lot of decent Star Wars books that could have been made in general instead of what we got. All the stuff from Young Jedi Knights to the Vong books with the Solo kids are what make me really kinda not at all excited to see what the kids of the original heroes are up to in any new movies.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:41 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Yes.

Yes yes yes yes yes.

In your fucking faces Force-cancelling fucking lizards my arse.

What's that? "Ooh, but our study of Disney's artwork was supposed to give us insight into their thought processes and cultures, allowing us to create highly effective tailor-made strategies!" How's that working out for you? It isn't, because that idea is some badly-written bullshit.

You'll just have to settle for naming your children after your best friends, because that's not fucking creepy and sad at all.

/Yub Nub dance
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:31 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


There has to be a law of series fiction writing to label the phenomenon in which a writer changes the fundamental laws of the series universe in an almost-always vain quest to add greater depth or to surprise the reader. It almost always fails because for every writer skilled enough to pull off a bold new interpretation, there's about 1,000 that only came up with such an idea because they're creatively bankrupt. Failures in this regard are doubly fun, because if they become canon they usually manage to water down part of which made the originals work so well in the first place, in a wave of retconning retroactive suckitude:

"I know the Force is life and it flows through everything, but - wait for it... what if it didn't?"

"Guys, guys: I know it's called the Dark Side of the Force and it's supposed to be everything wrong with the universe and irredeemably bad and we're in a space opera setting of bold heroes and blackest villainy, but what if, like, that's just the Jedi's opinion man?"

I hope they fire the Extended Universe into the sun and destroy that sun with a leftover Imperial superweapon that the Empire inexplicably never got around to using and then destroy the expanding blast cloud left from its destruction with one of the other Imperial superweapons also not used. Maybe any one of the dozens of morally-ambivalent Jedi that survived the hunt that made the Jedi extinct can go investigate.
posted by Palindromedary at 12:44 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


I'm a little sad about getting rid of EU canon. Like, I totally understand why it's a good idea, because, damn, that's a lot of extraneous canon, but...

When I was at Games Workshop, the Internet was a very new thing to them, and they weren't sure what they wanted to do online, aside from sell piles of lead-based creatures to stupid teenagers.

Which is all well and good, but then why have a website with a mishmash of details? Why not just have a store? Why have web teams across the world all creating content for their websites?

I was part of one of the teams, based in the main studio with all the writers and designers and artists. And I had a vision. A single unifying website with all the information on all the different species and characters and epic battles and whatever - all in one place so that nerds across the world would stop their long-lasting nerd arguments and instead just play.

I needed an example of such a site - where looking up Minor Character #5 not only gave you a link to buy that figure, but also had his backstory, the backstory of his people (also for sale), the battles he was in (also for sale), and how to best represent him in your own playing (which linked to other things on sale).

The only example I had was the Star Wars website. And it was brilliant. It was a juggernaut of connections you could lose hours in - everything from that Minor Character to Big Battles to What the Hell I Don't Even Remember That.

Sadly, they didn't take me up on the offer. I think they're doing something like it now, a full 12 years after I came up with the idea. But getting rid of EU canon just reminds me of how awesome my job at GW was once, and makes me sad that it couldn't have been better.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:28 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


Oh wait...I forgot about Tales of the Jedi. They can keep that, too.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:26 AM on January 21


There has to be a law of series fiction writing to label the phenomenon in which a writer changes the fundamental laws of the series universe in an almost-always vain quest to add greater depth or to surprise the reader.

Thank you for elucidating exactly why I hate that TNG episode where they introduce the idea that excessive warp speeds are destroying the Space Environment. ... And then they realized that they had two entire TV series and a whack of movies to deal with under that ridiculous constraint.
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Force of Nature:In this episode, a pair of sibling scientists show that warp drive propulsion is harming the very fabric of space. A sub-plot involves Data attempting to train his pet cat, Spot.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


In this episode, a pair of sibling scientists show that warp drive propulsion is harming the very fabric of space.

And let us never speak of it again.
posted by nubs at 10:54 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Not even the tie-in fiction touches it.

And you can't train cats, man.
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


In this episode, a pair of sibling scientists show that warp drive propulsion is harming the very fabric of space. A sub-plot involves Data attempting to train his pet cat, Spot.

@TNG_S8, is that you?
posted by JHarris at 10:59 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


You're thinking of Season 9: No Man Forward - Wesley is forced to sit in the captain's chair when the rest of the command staff are sick with a laughing disease brought aboard by a sculpture picked up by Riker on a pleasure planet. Tensions mount when Wesley orders the Enterprise to Warp 11. B Story: Data and Geordi create a holodeck program where Data re-imagines himself living as Spot in an oversized Enterprise environment to try and understand Spot's refusal to use the litter box.
posted by Atreides at 11:27 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Man I'm going to miss that novel where the fragile New Republic faces its greatest challenge yet.
posted by Palindromedary


They made that one already. Vader fucks shit up.
posted by COBRA! at 12:12 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


For me the bottom line for the EU is the Sith have gone from mysterious evil menaces to "OMG here's my new character, she's a Sith and Darth Vader's niece and has six lightsabers and she's totally hawt and dresses in skintight black leather, LOL."

Lolsith, coming to an EU near you.
posted by happyroach at 12:27 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I do like Asajj Ventress though.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on January 21


Wait! What happens to Kyle Katarn?!?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:56 PM on January 21


In this episode, a pair of sibling scientists show that warp drive propulsion is harming the very fabric of space...
Not even the tie-in fiction touches it.

That's a shame. We could have had a Star Trek/CHiPs crossover: Ponch's great-great-great-great grandson, Ponch, is a cop for the Federation Highway Patrol....
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:42 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


@Palindromedary for Emperor!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:41 PM on January 21


No need for confusion about Yoda - it's all there in the text, kind of explicitly.

It is well-established that the Force has powers of healing and life extension. The Dark Side use of these powers maintains the Emperor and Vader, and it was the abuse of these powers to try to save his wife that made Vader. Too-powerful & selfish healing would seem to be of the Dark Side, but we see lesser healing and trances for restoration or survival used by the Light Side. This Force-lengthened life comes at a cost, however, further corroding the Emperor and Vader on top of their disfiguring insults, and tending to further extinguish their souls.

It seems reasonable to suppose that many Light Jedi Masters also knew how to extend their own lives, or knew where to learn those techniques. We can suppose they generally shunned these skills, or only believed in using them for brief days, to finish some mission, quest, project, or to say goodbye, after they found themselves mortally wounded. Occasionally, however, a powerful Jedi could feel called by the Force or be seen as essential to a future time and irreplaceable by the community of Jedi, and find themselves burdened with the duty of a long life.

Done selflessly, this would consume the Jedi's body less then an egoistic grasp for more life, but there would still be a cost, determined by the subtleties of the technique. The Emperor maintained his core physicality and an old man's vitality, yet seemed to be fundamentally burning himself up at a decent clip - we imagine 150, 200, maybe even three, but not 900. Yoda, instead, fuels his centuries with a slow diminution of the body which the Emperor's pride would never allow. Atoms of his substance are transmuted (Force & mass are equivalent & conserved) to pay for his unnatural life. Over a normal century or two perhaps cause for supplementation, over nine, catastrophic. This compounds with the cumulative sequelae of life - then repair mechanisms start to fail & DNA is damaged.

With skill and effort, Yoda coaxed his slowly failing body along as best as he could. He had control at the cellular level if he wanted, the problem of course being one of attention, focus, and organization. To get anything significant done without doing further damage he had to work through and with the body's regulatory and reconstructive mechanisms. The years ground on. Soon enough, he became good at this, in his crude way, able to reshape a bone over time or after a break and eventually able to express minor genetic engineering over decades (the Force is an excellent cloud bioinformatics platform). He was able to cannibalize parts of himself as necessary. This could be a matter of redirecting bonemass distribution, or more involved, such as blocking out all but a trickle of pain, amputating mangled digits, assembling them into one functioning digit, and reattaching with a healing trance.

There was a period of about 60 years when most interpretations of prophecy, his own senses, & the Jedi Council agreed the galaxy would be relatively quiet - he took this as a kind of sabbatical lifetime. It was then, with few duties & access to the academies and libraries, that he learned genetic self-engineering, both to repair some troubling tendencies to cancer and to slowly give himself gnomish ears more befitting his stature.

Still, the cost was on average, year over year, greater than his ability to make repairs, especially as his internal tools themselves decayed. He had to pick his battles - putting barely a month total into his slow but total change in pigmentation, for example, establishing it as mostly harmless but probably not readily corrected. He most zealously guarded his most important tool, but even there was decay, compromise, and slow defeat. Throughout his later centuries Yoda had occasional nightmares about the time he had suffered, of all things, a simple stroke while out hiking. He was on a civilized moon and treated competently, but not soon enough. At the Academy he had been renowned as a poet-singer, now mostly-retired, but he was forced, while desperately trying to save his damaged mind with his damaged mind while his mind was being damaged, to redirect fresh blood from his language centers to conserve his encyclopedic & forbidden knowledge of certain esoteric Sith rituals, themselves the source of nightmares. Now he aphasically joked that he sometimes still produced some kind of poetry. Eventually his repairs grew cruder and he became weaker, suffering aging in extremis and various deformities. On the rare occasions it proved necessary, he could still fight simply by being strong enough in the Force to operate his body like a puppet.

Thus, the Yoda we see towards the end of his life. He is a 900 year old human, or humanish, called by the Force to last. After 5 or 10 lifetimes the Jedi loses the ability to form real social connections - he can still care about people, but can't really have friends, loves, or close colleagues. This is known going in, written about, therapied over, but in the end it's part of why the Light Side considers the long life a sacrifice and burden and the Dark Side doesn't care.

This has real explanatory power. How come Yoda stays alive for the months or years Luke is gone from Dagobah only to die almost as soon as Luke gets there? Because that guy was done. He'd hoped he'd been done when he found Anakin, pass on the torch and hope Ani only needs to stick around for 150 or 200 or something fun like that. Now he had to stick around for Luke and wait for Luke to angst and get Han.
"Soon will I rest. Yes, forever sleep. Earned
it, I have."
At this point he's not particularly kindling and nurturing the flame of life, he's holding a lighter to the ashes. It's basically most of his concentration maintaining a brute Force heart-lung machine and enough of an immune system so he doesn't rot, waiting to impart just a few words to Luke. Stuff about Vader and Leia, but first, before anything else, a final lesson, a command, prediction, warning, and call to Luke to do what must be done to rebuild the Jedi Order (I said this was in the script explicitly):
"Sick have I become. Old and weak. When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmm?"
Star Wars: Explained. Between this, the Endor Holocaust, and R2D2 being the true leader & hero of the Rebellion (possibly as old as Yoda / Force aware?), it's all starting to make sense.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:36 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


Carrie Fisher told TV Guide that she is due on the set of the next Star Wars film later this spring and that Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill will be joining.
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Wait, the next chapter will have the aged ghost of Luke?
posted by sammyo at 12:51 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


GENETIC BASIS FOR FORCE-SENSITIVITY IN WOOKIEES
posted by homunculus at 8:18 PM on February 6


Huh. I guess they didn't watch the Clone Wars episodes which featured a Wookie youngling which aired a year earlier.
posted by Atreides at 7:51 AM on February 7


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