The news came a couple weeks ago that Disney Publishing Worldwide and Lucasfilm are implementing what they are calling Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is a huge publishing program that will include more than 20 books ranging from books for kids, to comics, and to all kinds of novels, all with the goal of filling in some of the gaps between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is the first time any sort of narration will explore the unexplored time between "Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens" as part of the Lucasfilm Story Group's official canon (of course the Expanded Universe had this charted out for quite some time).
This has me excited, but also nervous.
The analogy that came to my mind when reading through these press releases was that of a kid transferring to a new school, and I'm that kid. I had been content and happy to live in the EU, I loved the authors that helped create the EU, and I knew the territory of the EU extremely well, having read through the New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi series multiple times. With the declaration of the EU as "Legends" and a clean slate for the storytelling, I felt like a kid being told he was moving to a new school. I had to leave most of my friends, I had to go to a new place with new people, and the direction that I would head was entirely unknown to me. Most of my friends hadn't come with me (i.e. the authors I have come to love, including, but not limited to, Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, the late Aaron Allston, and Troy Denning), but some did (like Christie Golden who is writing "Star Wars: Dark Disciple" to be released this summer), and hopefully more will follow. New friends are to be made, like Chuck Wendig who is writing the first of a trilogy of novels set after Return of the Jedi (see below). So being the new kid in this new school, I miss what I had to leave behind terribly and want to go back, but I'm also seeing the potential of a new beginning here and am excited to venture into this new unknown territory.
So in the end this program has got me excited a great deal. These books to be released as part of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens will lead directly into movie and I'm certain the hype is worth it. I am not particularly interested in the upcoming comics (not for lack of talent or content, I've just never been a fan of graphic novels; however, I do like Sunday comics and in particular Calvin and Hobbes, Zits, and Frazz). On the other hand, I am incredibly interested in the upcoming novel releases and five of them in particular have caught my attention. (UPDATE: I have been reading the Legends comics recently and have really enjoyed them. Especially the Legacy comics and Jango Fett: Open Seasons. I am now interested in Shattered Empire, which is a comic to be released this fall as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I have not read any of the new Marvel Star Wars comics yet and Shattered Empire is first on my list).
"Star Wars: Aftermath", the first of a trilogy of novels, written by Chuck Wendig, will narrate what happened after the Battle of Endor. The synopsis doesn't tell us a whole lot (of course), but I would say that this is the most anticipated book of the line up for me. This will be a full blown novel set after Return of the Jedi, which is exactly what I want to read about. I'm going to be very curious to see how many nods to the EU are present (I still really hope they bring in beloved characters from the EU in some way) and also will do my best to be attentive to the hints at what is to come in the movie.
The other Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens books are young adult novels (I'll still shamelessly buy them and read them...I still consider myself to be a young adult after all). "Lost Stars" is a Romeo and Juliet sort of tale between two people on opposite sides of the galactic conflict (one is a Rebel pilot and the other is an Imperial officer). That ought to be interesting. "Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure", "The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure", and "Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure" are all books set during the time period of the Original Trilogy. The Weapon of a Jedi sounds promising, we get to read about Luke's first fight with a lightsaber.
This year is shaping up to be a jam packed year heading into Star Wars: The Force awakens in December. This is such a fun time to be a Star Wars fan. Now I just have to wait and see what surfaces at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim occurring April 16-19, 2015. Sadly I can't make it. What is interesting to me, though, this is the first time I've ever paid any sort of attention to Star Wars Celebration. Actually it was the first time I'd ever really heard about Star Wars Celebration (which seems surprising, but all I used to do was bury my head in the EU novels and that was about it), and part of me really wants to go this year...but it doesn't fit in with my obligations here at home. That particular weekend I'll be helping out at a Catholic Vocations Retreat for priesthood and the religious life in my diocese, which I am looking forward to immensely.
What a great year we have to look forward to!