Happy Star Wars Day! I hope you are all enjoying a Star Wars filled Sunday be it marathoning a trilogy or reading a favorite book or just wearing a tshirt as you go about your day (If you need one, Her Universe is having a fantastic sale). It's a day the geek community bands together in celebration of one of our greatest stories.
One of my favorite parts of Star Wars is the wealth of stories that has grown around the films. The Expanded Universe has developed to the point that it can feel very overwhelming when you come upon it for the first time. And now with the new films Disney has come out and declared that moving forward everything will be tied together -- which is great except that all the stories preceding that announcement were already tied together. All of the authors involved in creating the EU, now to be known as Star Wars Legends, have worked together for decades to keep their novels from contradicting one another and to fit together in a larger landscape. Even though I understand why this decision was made it still felt like a slap in the face to all of the work put in and all of the time we as fans have spent pouring over these books and sharing them with one another.
I came upon the Star Wars EU the summer before my first year of high school. By that time I had read almost everything in the young adult section of the library as well as any classic novel I could get my hands on. I was going to the mystery section of our tiny library and happened to notice a Star Wars title in the midst of the science fiction novels as I passed. It was the novelization of the original trilogy. I picked it up, started reading, and discovered that there was so much beyond the films I had memorized. I was hooked. That Christmas my grandfather gave me a five dollar bill to buy a present for myself and I took it with me to the bookstore. I decided to pick a Star Wars book, any book, and see if I like it (I had read Zahn and thought he was awesome but was still hesitant about anyone ruining my favorite movies). That day I bought The Paradise Snare, the first in A. C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy, and read it in under 24 hours. The rest, as they say, is history.
I will be the first to say that I have not read anywhere close to all the books. At the time I started on the EU the New Jedi Order was in full swing and there have been several large collaborative works since. I also discovered what I liked and didn't like in my Star Wars and developed certain rules for myself. My one pervailing rule to keep myself from upset is that I don't read anything past a point where the original characters have aged beyond a reasonable life span (is that non-spoilery enough for you?). I don't want to read about how they die or what the world is like once they are gone. For me the characters are why I fell in love with the universe and I'm too selfish to let them leave me.
If you are interested in the EU then please, give it a try. Anything by Timothy Zahn is golden and everyone always thought his trilogy would be the basis for Episodes VII-IX. The X-Wing series is great and does a wonderful job fleshing out some minor characters. And of course I have a personal bias towards A. C. Crispin. She recently passed away and the community has yet to heal around the hole she left in our lives. I had the privilege of meeting her at Dragon*Con where she graciously signed my tattered copy of Paradise Lost and treated each person in line like she valued us individually.
So enjoy Star Wars Day. Go check out a book, a comic, or even just watch the movie again. There is always new content to be had while we wait for December 2015. And May the Fourth be with you.