Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Star Wars Expended Universe: The Golden Days


So as I mentioned last time, the Star Wars West End RPG got the ball rolling for the Expanded Universe, providing lore and substance to draw from. Since its release in 1987, books did indeed draw from the source and began to produce more substantial stories than what had come before. But then someone came onto the scene and put the Expanded Universe as a whole on the map: a writer by the name of Timothy Zahn.

As he tells it, he was in the middle of writing his first book in 1989 for Bantam Books when he got a call from his agent with a very special offer from Lucasfilm. Said offer involved him writing three books that would be later known as The Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. In addition to having a well-woven plot and superb writing, it created some of the most iconic characters of the Star Wars mythos, including the cunning Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade, who has a complicated past with Luke Skywalker. From 1991 to 1993, the books came out and fans devoured them. The possibility of writing for Star Wars was no longer an unattainable fantasy and the stories could actually be good. The comic series Dark Empire helped, but The Thrawn Trilogy is more universally beloved. For the longest time, they were the true episodes VII, VIII, and IX.

Bam! The powder keg had blown and the dam had broken. The Expanded Universe was booming and the books just kept coming. Now there were more sources than ever to draw lore and stories from. The Jedi Academy trilogy chronicled the rebuilding of the Jedi Order as well as establishing some background for the Empire’s superweapons, past and future. The Young Jedi Knights Saga told the story of Han and Leia’s twins (who were born during the Thrawn Trilogy) and the rest of the young Jedi hopefuls. The Rogue Squadron books covered Wedge and his group of colorful ace pilots flying daredevil missions and taking on harrowing space battles in their X-Wings. That’s not even covering half the stories that were coming out, but it goes to show that this was becoming a glorious practice. And it wasn’t just outside fans getting in on it.

In 1996, Lucasfilm itself came out with a multimedia project called Shadows of the Empire, which told a story set in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. George Lucas created all new characters for it like Dash Rendar and Black Sun Prince Xizor while others wrote the story. This was a huge deal; there was a novelization, a comic book adaptation, toys, trading cards, a soundtrack, and even a trailer*. In short, this project had everything that came from a big movie phenomenon with only one thing missing: the actual movie. But it was still a big contribution to the Expanded Universe from Lucasfilm and elements of it even got incorporated into the Special Edition re-release of A New Hope.

*The trailer was actually pulled fairly early when some of the higher ups got worried that it could confuse people into thinking that an actual new movie was coming out.

On the subject of the Shadows of the Empire video game, we had another player in the EU that shaped the childhoods of Star Wars fans: Lucasarts. Just typing that name again makes me feel warm inside. People flocked to their titles that seemed to cover many genres and were quality gold, including the Rogue Squadron series, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series, and of course the Dark Forces series. That last one was a huge part of my upbringing and brought unto us the greatest thing Star Wars has ever imparted to this world: Kyle Katarn. This guy was pure dynamite. He stole the Death Star plans to give to Leia, escaped Jabba’s dungeons, danced the blaster tango with Boba Fett, sabotaged an entire specialty stormtrooper project and blew up their space station factory, became a Jedi, took down the Dark-Sider who killed his father and wanted to unleash a Force cataclysm, teamed up with Mara Jade in a side game that not a lot of people played, and he did it all with you, the player. You were in control of one of the greatest video game stories this side of Lucasarts’ other adventure game projects. We were so wrapped up in him that he was practically the Second Coming. In fact, look at him. Look at that beard. That’s Yeesus, my friends. That’s video game space Yeesus and he’s gonna put his boot up the Empire’s exhaust port for your sins.

Okay, my inner fanboy may have gotten out of control there. Let me get back on track.

It was a golden decade for Star Wars fans everywhere and we were eating from its brilliant bounty. But little did we know that darker times were just over the horizon…

Goto Home Page
Posted under

Social Widgets powered by