Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII announcement or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
Without a doubt, the biggest book-related news in Star Wars as this post is being written is that Lucasfilm has decided to approach canon in a new way going forward. On Friday, April 25, the company announced that it was clarifying what “canon” meant and what it included. As of right now, the only existing canon Star Wars material are the six core films and The Clone Wars movie and TV series. “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience,” the announcement explained, “Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.”
Star Wars Rebels will be canon as well when it premieres this fall, as will future books, comics, and other literature. Disney’s clear intention is to have the Lucasfilm Story Group coordinate all storytelling activity within the Star Wars universe, so that the books and the movies tell interlocking stories and enjoy the same degree of authoritativeness, a relationship that previously did not exist. Kathleen Kennedy said it best in the canon announcement: “This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”
As for the existing Expanded Universe material? Lucasfilm will continue to publish those stories under the “Legends” banner, and all material from those stories is fair game to be adapted into canon projects in the future.
Many people have shared their thoughts on Lucasfilm’s announcement. If you’ll indulge me in a quick shameless plug, dear reader, I’ll point you to my own reaction to the news, where I explain why I think it was the right thing to do.
I also recommend that you watch Lucasfilm’s video tribute to the Expanded Universe, which the company posted on its YouTube channel to accompany the announcement:
But that wasn’t the only news to drop on Friday. Lucasfilm and Del Rey also unveiled the first four novels in the new unified canon. They are:
Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. Featuring a foreword by Dave Filoni, this novel “tells the story of how two of the lead characters of the [upcoming Star Wars Rebels] series, Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, came to cross paths.” Miller has described it as “a rollicking adventure set in the darkest days of the galaxy, when even the thought of organized resistance to the Empire seems an impossible fantasy.”
It will be published on September 2, 2014.
Star Wars: Tarkin by bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Tarkin the Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life. The book is scheduled for publication in early November.
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne. This first-person Luke Skywalker novel is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and will be published in January 2015.
Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. In this book, we find the Emperor and Darth Vader “stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet” and forced to rely on each other’s survival skills and Force prowess to beat the odds and live to scheme another day. It will be published in March 2015. Kemp has said that the book is set between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Rebels and features a character who appeared in The Clone Wars.
The big book news dropped on the day of the Del Rey Books panel at C2E2 in Chicago, so naturally the panel ended up discussing Star Wars. You can check out TheForce.Net’s report from the panel right here. You’ll also find an interview that TFN’s Justin Bolger did with Kevin Hearne about his just announced novel Heir to the Jedi.
Since last week’s HoloNet Digest was published, new Star Wars Rebels interviews from WonderCon have surfaced, and I thought it was worth highlighting them. First, check out Eric Goldman’s great conversation with executive producer Dave Filoni over at IGN. Then, read my friend Amy Ratcliffe’s interviews with Filoni and Hera Syndulla voice actress Vanessa Marshall for Newsarama. Finally, if you want to hear from Filoni instead of reading his words, check out the latest episode of The ForceCast, where we play the interview that Justin Bolger recorded with him right after the WonderCon Rebels panel. There’s a lot of Rebels goodness out there right now, and if you’re a fan of animated Star Wars television, you won’t want to miss a second of it. Aren’t you glad you have us here at the HoloNet Digest to keep you up to date?
Star Wars Rebels and the new books aren’t the only things to look forward to. There’s also Star Wars Weekends, that annual melding of Star Wars and Disney parks that occurs every summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. Disney has announced a few attendees’ names already, but now they’ve unveiled the full guest list for the five-weekend event. Each weekend will feature a Star Wars Rebels cast member, and the fifth weekend will be a reunion of The Clone Wars stars. In addition, James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein will have hosting duties each weekend, Taylor for the overall event and Eckstein for the Behind the Force interview stage. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, Mark Hamill will make his Star Wars Weekends debut during the June 6-8 weekend.
And speaking of Mark Hamill…yes, that’s right: heeeee’s baaaaack. The big news that everyone is talking about today is the cast list for Star Wars Episode VII. Lucasfilm announced the film’s cast yesterday afternoon and also shared a photo of everyone assembled for a script read-through (see below). Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker are back for the first sequel. Joining them are John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow.
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He co-hosts The ForceCast podcast and manages social media for Star Wars fan sites TheForce.Net and Rebelscum.com. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.