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Longtime Star Wars fans whose insatiable enthusiasm incited them to delve deeper into the mythos with the Expanded Universe of novels and comic books were devastated to hear last April that Disney would be disavowing the canonical place of those works; essentially erasing them the continuity. However, don’t think that the concept of an Expanded Universe in books is going away anytime soon. It has just been announced that Disney will be partnering with publishers to pump out at least 20 new Star Wars books that will adhere to the new post Original Trilogy canon of the upcoming sequel films.
According to a scoop by Entertainment Weekly, Disney will team with Worldwide Publishing and Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm Press to unleash what will be "at least" 20 new Star Wars books onto the market this fall. The move is designed to herald the impending release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December. In fact, some of the books will serve as a newly-christened canonical bridge that directly connects the end of the Original Trilogy, 1983's Return of the Jedi, with the upcoming sequel.
Earlier today, I covered a story about how a new Disney-sanctioned Star Wars novel may have provided a canon-acknowledged explanation for that notorious crossguard lightsaber seen in The Force Awakens trailer. This plays perfectly towards the idea that these new books will have a deep connection with the new films. In fact, in a move that could teach the government lessons on how to keep National Security secrets, Disney is overseeing a small, exclusive "clandestine society" of novel writers who will be apprised of critical details and plot points of the upcoming sequel film. It seems to reflect the idea that Disney does not want to let these new Expanded Universe works become either too cluttered or filled with material anachronistic to the films. That can only be a good thing.
The prospect of more refined, verified literary Star Wars fiction would seem to be a step in the right direction. If anything, it creates a level of certainty in the brand. No one wants to invest their valuable time reading novels that don’t directly connect to the movie continuity. At that point, you’re reading glorified fan fiction (which is a shame, because a lot of great work from talented Star Wars writers like Timothy Zahn have essentially been flushed down the Death Star garbage chute).(Although, that is not to say that there wasn’t a lot of crap, as well.) However, the main consolation appears to be an assurance that the new novels will be well worth the investment of your time. Additionally, publishers, Del Ray, DK and Marvel Comics will also play a part in the new printed Star Wars initiative going into the future.
The range of book releases will reportedly be eclectic, genre-wise. Some of the guaranteed 20 releases will simply be storybooks and stickerbooks, geared towards toddlers and pre-grade-school children. However, some will take the form of Young Adult novels, marketed to teenagers. Those titles will apparently focus on characters of the Original Trilogy era with designs to hook a YA demographic who generally were over a decade from being mere gleams in the eyes of their parents when the Second Death Star blew to smithereens. Perhaps the idea of a rollout of the traditional Star Wars mythology altered to a form they recognize may stoke their enthusiasm for the new films.