If it’s not canon, you can ignore it, right? (Star Wars)

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Well.

It’s all over the net (io9, TVSquad, IGN) that Lucasfilm Director of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet suggested that a new animated series would continue the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa.

How, isn’t quite clear yet.

People are kinda confused, to tell you the truth.  Including me – which is why I’m posting about this.

The confusion is over what show the guy is talking about.  Is it Seth Green’s new Star Wars comedy?  Or is it something else entirely?

Whichever way it goes, the question now becomes – what about all those novels that’ve been written?

After Return of the Jedi came out, there wasn’t much Star Wars to be had.  There were a couple of different books and that Christmas Special no one likes to talk about.  There was also that Droid cartoon. But nothing substantive.

Enter Timothy Zahn.

I remember it well; I was walking (not loitering) in Manchester Center (a mall in Fresno) and just so happened to pass (Okay, so, maybe I lived there part time) the Waldenbooks (it’s not like they knew me by name or anything) and saw this giant sign (Okay, so, maybe they knew me by name but there’s nothing wrong with that) that said ‘Pre-order your copy of the new Star Wars novel today!’

After they stopped me from humping the sign (that totally never happened), I pre-ordered my copy and spent the next couple of months going, “WHERE THE F*&k IS MY G*# D@#N BOOK?!”

Then the day came.  It was in the store.  A Star Wars book.  A NEW Star Wars book.  It was full of Star Wars stuff.  I was sure there were lightsabers and shit.

I also remember, somewhere, at some point in time, George Lucas saying that he had authorized the books (and then I went, WHA WHA WHA?!  There will be MORE BOOKS?!) because he wasn’t going to go there anymore – he was going to concentrate on other things.

(Like friggin Jar Jar.)

So, after Zahn finished his spectacular trilogy, more books came out, furthering the adventures of Luke, Leia and Han.  Dark Horse picked up on the whole thing and started tying comic books into the ‘new canon’, expanding on it.  More books came and the universe continued to expand and become rich and deep (and sometimes utterly stupid.  Many Bothans died to bring us some stupidity…).

What happens to all of that ‘history’ if a new show goes forward based on those characters?

The only comparable parallel I can draw would be Star Trek.  When Star Trek went off the air the first time (TOS), there were some different incarnations of it that showed up including an animated series, some comic books, even a few novels.

When Pocket Books took over the franchise, the authors involved in the new stories (initially) kept a continuity between novels.  This ended fairly quickly when Pocket Books (Or Paramount, or maybe even Roddenberry himself (who had issues with ‘those damn books!’)) put the kaibosh on the idea of any sort of continuity.  In the beginning of all of that stuff, there wasn’t any sort of official canon policy.

That did change though.

Paramount, via the website StarTrek.com, has said some stuff about canon.  First up:

“Although the Animated Adventures had an undeniable Star Trek-ness to them, they are not considered part of the Star Trek “canon,” or accepted Trek storyline. Almost without exception, it is the live-action series and movies that are considered canon. However, some Star Trek “facts” are actually borrowed from the animated show, i.e. the name of the original U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 captain, Robert April; the surname for Spock’s mother, Amanda “Grayson”; etc.”

Second, when specifically asked, “What is considered Star Trek canon?”, Paramount answered in an FAQ:

“As a rule of thumb, the events that take place within the live action episodes and movies are canon, or official Star Trek facts. Story lines, characters, events, stardates, etc. that take place within the fictional novels, the Animated Adventures, and the various comic lines are not canon.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule: the Jeri Taylor penned novels “Mosaic” and “Pathways.” Many of the events in these two novels feature background details of the main Star Trek: Voyager characters. (Note: There are a few details from an episode of the Animated Adventures that have entered into the Star Trek canon. The episode “Yesteryear,” written by D.C. Fontana, features some biographical background on Spock.)”

Given this stance on what is and what isn’t canon from the only other comparable series out there, I would lean towards Lucas going the same way as Paramount, which sucks.  It means that all that new history is left to flap in the wind.

I doubt Lucas will be as thoughtful about it as Roddenberry was.  Roddenberry didn’t green light the Star Trek novels the way Lucas did, so he wasn’t very happy with them.  In a letter he was quoted as saying:

“Yes, I dream of how nice it would be if I had been able to own it wholly and control all rights. Many of the present Star Trek novels would never have appeared and probably none of them without some really extensive rewriting. On the other hand, by giving the property my sole attention there would have been many novels I would have written, keeping the entire Star Trek property more cohesive. Certainly it would have been fun to see Earth and Federation civilization of that century better explained. But none of this was possible, as my attitude now is that it has probably worked out as well as it could have happened in this real world that I must live in. And I am grateful for the talent of those who did write those books and stories. Indeed, I am not past hoping that the entire experience is leading me toward something more important, even more more fulfilling.”

I don’t know that Lucas can be quite so magnanimous.

~P