On April 25th 2014 Lucasfilm relegated all of the previous Expanded Universe(EU) books to the Legends name and would no longer produce books that followed the timeline and canon it had established. This was done for obvious reasons as they were planning a sequel trilogy and other movies and could not creatively be held back by the efforts of dozens of different writers over 3 decades. There are however a small and dedicated group of fans that have rejected the loss of the stories as being “canon” and want Lucasfilm to continue the other timeline as it should be the real story. Today we are going to examine their claims, ask if canon even matters and what it all means going forward.
To be clear I am not someone that enjoyed the now Legends stories or timeline. I found most of it to be bad to average science fiction and the problem isn’t that its bad its that Star Wars is Space Fantasy/opera not SciFi. That being said I know that many people invested time, money, and emotion in these stories so I understand that when Disney buys Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm says nope those are just stories, no longer part of what we consider the Real Star Wars Story that hurts. Heck I can even understand being mad but the bring Legends back to official canon crowd have missed one important point. George had treatments for the sequel trilogy and they ignored the EU. There was a billboard outside of Lucasfilm that wanted George back to restore the EU:
However based on this quote, it doesn’t seem likely:
“I don’t read that stuff. I haven’t read any of the novels. I don’t know anything about that world. That’s a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent. The way I do it now is they have a Star Wars Encyclopedia. So if I come up with a name or something else, I look it up and see if it has already been used. When I said [other people] could make their own Star Wars stories, we decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one. They try to make their universe as consistent with mine as possible, but obviously they get enthusiastic and want to go off in other directions.” – George Lucas, from an interview in Starlog #337
We know George’s story would have ignored anything he wanted. The Legends timeline HAD to be relegated to what Jeremy Conrad at Furiousfanboys.com called “licensed fan fiction”. George was going to ignore it, and hopefully once the George Lucas treatments are released people will understand that. All that being said I do agree with the EU fans in one major respect, Legends should continue. By labeling it Legends and continuing to print the books Lucasfilm is still allowing themselves to profit off of this timeline and it should do something honorable based off of those profits, continue to release new Legends books. I think there is an ability and capacity to release 2-3 books in the Legends arena each year. These should be paperback/ebook releases only and used as an opportunity for Lucasfilm to try out new authors, for the now Main Timeline books. It may not make everyone ecstatic about the new direction but a continued pipeline of these stories can’t hurt either, why else continue to print Legends novels or even call it Legends.
We’ve talked about what canon is before, and I’ve always thought and continue to see canon as two things: Movies is Canon, and Cartoons, books, etc. are Canon as long as they don’t differ from the movies. The Clone Wars and Rebels are canon to me except any and all Maul story lines. He died in TPM(Movie Canon). But that is my personal “head canon”, and yours is no doubt different and frankly that is OK. People often say now “Well the Star Wars books in the EU are no longer canon”. However, it was never “canon” (or was never really what ended up being called G-canon). How could it have been canon? In many examples the EU contradicted the movies, and also contradicted other parts of the EU, so how can you have and maintain a self-consistent canon with these contradictions? The only thing Disney could do is start fresh with a new continuity, and make sure that going forward everything is consistent. Going forward everything is canon. So Lucasfilm didn’t change the books so that they were not canon, quite the opposite: They changed the books from being non-canon to being canon (going forward). In the end Pablo Hidalgo said it best “The only functional definition of canon is, does anyone else need to account for it in their storytelling. That’s about it.” So when we argue over EU canon we are really arguing over an idea none of us can accurately define or defend.
For Lucasfilm to move the story forward they had to ignore the shackles the old EU left them and wipe the slate of the future (post ROTJ) clean. This meant they also wiped away the past and interludes to open stories up and create opportunities for the future. I can understand both the pain of that decision and the reasons behind it. The new timeline isn’t disapearing and protests aren’t going to do any good with the way they are currently being done. The focus should be on Legends continuing to grow along with the new Canon timeline, there is no reason for it not to.