Almost by accident (fate?) I happened to walk into Target on Force Friday. And was forcibly reminded by a million displays that (if I wasn’t already aware from the news articles that seem to come out minute-by-minute) there is a new Star Wars movie coming out this December.
So I think I’m gonna party like it’s 1999. Because that was definitely the last time Star Wars was given such a huge push in our collective cultural consciousness. I remember seeing products for The Phantom Menace everywhere from Taco Bell to Pepsi cans (only a few years ago we unearthed the character-specific cans from Episode I at my parents’ house and finally got rid of them. Heh.)
I feel lucky to have come to the Star Wars franchise at a point in time where it had ebbed in popularity. I first saw Episode IV in the early 90s when my Mom bought it on VHS as a gag gift for my Dad. Well, suffice to say my brother and I were hooked from the moment the Star Destroyer came onscreen. This gag gift led to many years of renting (over and over again, as Mom is quick to remind us) The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi from our local Star Video.
The only thing at that time for Star Wars fans outside of dusty VHS copies was the excellent Timothy Zahn trilogy: Heir of the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. (I actually only read those books all the way through a few years ago.)
Then came the now-reviled Special Editions, which really kicked off the modern era of Star Wars as a franchise, eventually birthing the Prequels, comic books from Dark Horse, tons of novels, and action figures galore.
Star Wars is pretty much knitted into the fabric of who I am as a person. I think it was really the first story that I fell in love with, and certainly the first story where I absolutely wanted to know what happened next.
Yet somehow, I never got deeply into the Star Wars EU, and truthfully, by the time Disney bought the franchise and decided to nuke the EU to make continuity less of a pain, I could totally understand their reasoning. Truthfully, I was actually kind of excited. Much like DC Comics and their New 52 reset, rebooting the Star Wars EU meant that I would finally have a good jump-in point to start enjoying Star Wars expanded universe material again.
And of course, I was tickled by the idea that the new material is now considered “canon.” Yes, there are things I wish they had kept like Shadows of the Empire and several of the Prequel-era stuff like the Jedi Apprentice children’s book series, but reading through the five books pictured above made me realize how great it was to read material that was informed by the Prequels, The Clone Wars series, Rebels, and even hints at the new trilogy. Little throwaway comments like the age of a beat-up old ship being “Clone Wars era” instantly helps you date things now. It adds a beautiful cohesiveness to the universe that simply wasn’t there before.
I’m trying to not let myself get completely swept away with Star Wars mania again this time around (unlike 1999, haha). But boy, is my inner kid practically quivering with excitement to find out what Luke, Leia, Han and all their friends have been up to for the last 30 years in a galaxy far, far away.
And after reading those books, I think it’s going to be a fun ride.