A Padawan’s Journal, Entry #4: The Expanding Star Wars Universe

cn2_street-of-shadows1I commented last time that the Star Wars Universe is BIG. Really, REALLY BIG. And it’s getting bigger—as a Universe will do when a variety of  forces within the Universe are working diligently to add to its shape and texture.

This work of Universe-building started with the first three Star Wars movies, of course (which were actually the second three movies, but … let’s not go there). What we knew about the Skywalker clan, Obi Wan Kenobi, our droid friends and Han Solo was contained in those three films. Anything that happened to them before they stepped onscreen (their back story, in writer-speak), was only hinted at. Yet, that hinted-at back story was part of the Star Wars canon (its official history) from Day One. This history was expanded on—or at least described in more detail—in the novelizations of the movies, and though we knew that George Lucas planned to do three more films by way of prequel, we had no idea what was going to be in them.

Still, the Universe had to grow, so writers were invited to fill in the back story and, by writing various adventures for the characters George had created (and adding new ones of their own), begin construction on the canon of the Star Wars ‘verse. This was not an exercise in chaos—every book proposal was screened by its publisher and by people at Lucasfilm to make sure that no one did wild and crazy things with established fact.

Take Han Solo, for example. Ann Crispin filled in a significant portion of Han Solo’s life—roughly a decade of it, all told. The three books that formed the Han Solo Trilogy became the “bible” for any other writers working in that time period and/or involving Han Solo and Lando Calrissian in their story in the time before The New Hope (the first Star Wars film.)

If you’ve read a Star Wars novel recently then you’ve seen one of the tools generated to allow you, the reader, to watch the Star Wars Universe grow. I’m referring, of course, to those Star Wars Novels Timelines that appear in the front of each book.  Using the movies as the “yard markers” each novel is set in its time period along the timeline.

This timeline was literally the first thing I looked at when I started working on Coruscant Nights: Patterns of Force. I received a manuscript copy of the previous novel, Street of Shadows, and the timeline was sitting right on top along with the characters’ curricula vitae.

If you look at the timeline in Book One of the Coruscant Nights Trilogy (Jedi Twilight), you’ll notice that there is nothing between Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader and the Han Solo Trilogy. But if you open Book Three of the series, you’ll see all three Coruscant Nights books have been added to the timeline.

This is only the tip of the ice-teroid. The action in those books has become part of Star Wars official canon, This means that if future Star Wars writers want to use those characters or spin off a novel from a situation in their story, they need to start with the knowledge of what happens between the covers of those books.

The characters in the books have also become a part of the Star Wars Universe. Their names and histories are incorporated into the various Star Wars guides and encyclopedias, and there are sometimes other interesting ramifications. And I’m not talking about being added to Wookieepedia—although that also happens.

I’m talking about action figures.

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