Saga Canon Calendar

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by TCWNoLettersHome, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. TCWNoLettersHome Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2009
    star 1
    ==Introduction==

    Chronological references in the Star Wars canon are a bit few and far between.

    Some references are only to character ages, which of course need not align with standard years on the calendar. In our own time, for instance, a man with a mid-year birthday in 1970 can be of a certain age across half of two different years. With that, a reference to an event occurring when he was 30 might've happened in late 2000 or early 2001. If we pick 2000 and are given other relative figures like an event occurring ten years later, we might be talking about 2010, 2011, or even 2009 if they were just rounding. And the errors can get worse from there.

    As of 2014, we've had only a single reference to what seems to be a year. In TCW's "Sphere of Influence", Senator Lott Dod of the Trade Federation asks "How many times must I remind you of the Commerce Treaty of 1647?" This is, he seems to suggest, the basis for the Trade Federation's claims of neutrality during the Clone Wars, and sounds very much like a treaty of a certain year. While it is tempting to take this figure and assume that 1647 is perhaps the year of AotC and the start of Clone Wars hostilities, this is frustratingly uncertain. And, indeed, we can't even be certain it is a year . . . the Treaty of Ghent, for instance, did not occur in the year Ghent, nor is there a year Versailles, though of course there's no adjective (such as "Commerce") in advance of such treaty names.

    Suffice it to say, there's not quite enough to go on there. Nonetheless, we can have a go at trying to make sense of things based on what we have.

    ==Character Ages==

    In the ''Revenge of the Sith'' novelization, for example, we are told on p. 39 that "[...] Obi-Wan is sixteen standard years Anakin's elder [...]". There are also repeated references to the fact that it has been 13 years since Qui-Gon's death. Anakin was explicitly nine years old in ''The Phantom Menace'', so he should've been somewhere in his 22nd year in RotS, perhaps even "barely" 23.

    We also know from the ''Attack of the Clones'' novelization and the novelization of the film ''Star Wars: The Clone Wars'' that Anakin is twenty in both of those works, just turning twenty in the opening pages of the AotC novel. That's 20.0 or thereabouts, meaning that TPM . . . in which he was somewhere between 9.0 and 9.9 years old . . . must have happened 10.1 to 10.9 years prior, if we're constraining ourselves to a single decimal point. And indeed, the AotC novelization speaks of Anakin's departure from Shmi and Palpatine's interest in Anakin as being ten years in length.

    And, since we see the birth of Luke and Leia in RotS, we can establish more facts. In the TESB novel, Luke is said to be "barely" 23, with the events of ANH occurring three years prior. Luke was thus barely 20 or so in ANH, and therefore ANH is 20 years after RoTS.

    And so the "old wizard" Ben Kenobi is thus only about 58 in ANH, having been about 25 in TPM, about 36 in AotC, and about 38 in RotS. (Alec Guinness was about 63 upon the release, and would've been 62 during most of the filming of the original Star Wars.) Similarly, Qui-Gon was "nearing 60" according to the TPM novel.

    We can also discern from this that the Clone Wars only lasted about three years, and perhaps not quite three.

    So, thus armed, we can construct a Star Wars chronology based on the canon.

    ==Dating Schemes==

    ===BBY/ABY===

    Most fan chronologies use the BBY/ABY dating scheme, wherein all dates referenced are given in years before or after the Battle of Yavin as seen in ''A New Hope''. In the case of Nathan Butler's Star Wars Timeline Gold, some important stuff thus occurs in 19 BSW4 (Before Star Wars Episode IV).

    While this has certain advantages, it also has disadvantages. The worst disadvantage is that one is stuck dealing with the BC/AD style problem, but magnified a dozen times over because so much of the really interesting stuff happens a few years before or after ''A New Hope''. Personally, I loathe the idea of dealing with that.

    ===The Republic Era and Alternatives===

    I have previously used a "Republic Era" scheme, based on moving backward a semi-arbitrary 1000 years from the fall of the Republic in ''Revenge of the Sith'' based on references like Palpatine referring to the Republic standing for 1000 years in ''Attack of the Clones'', or this reference from the RotS novelization, p. 212:

    :"Since the fall of Darth Bane more than a millennium ago, there have been hundreds of thousands of Jedi [...]
    : and in all these thousand years, there have been only two Sith at any time. [...]

    This lets us peg the fall of the Republic as being in 1000 RE. The true value could be more like 1003 RE if we moved backward from AotC, but either way we're in the ballpark. This allowed for a reasonably short four-digit year and kept us from having BC/AD issues, or so it seemed. As of early 2014, however -- in the real world's calendar, mind you -- Disney has announced that all future works in most any media will fall under the realm of canon. And given the rich history of Star Wars in the old times that the EU had created, it seems inevitable that someone will try to recreate it in the future works. Assuming they keep to the timeline, then, the fall of Darth Bane might occur in 4 BRE or somesuch. It thus seems prudent, if we wish to avoid BC/AD issues, to kick our start point back a bit further.

    However, the next good start point is the start of the Jedi Order, creating a "Jedi Era", or JE. But, while having the fall of the Republic occur in exactly 1000 RE seems a bit ad hoc, having it occur in exactly 25000 JE seems worse still. The issue is one of normal precision in such things . . . I can refer to the Norman invasion of 1066 as a millenium ago easily enough, but talking about events in 1200 that way seems to be overstating the matter a bit. However, if the Jedi Order were 25,400 years old, or even 24,300, referring to 25 millenia and 25,000 years and such doesn't seem too bad. In that case, hundreds of years constitutes a rounding error, whereas when you're only dealing with a thousand years such rounding seems rather excessive.

    We could merely add another thousand years, but I personally would find it quite confusing to discuss events in 2014 RE (during the dark times of the Empire) while writing in 2014 AD (dark times for the Republic). The only other alternative is to arbitrarily add another, say, two thousand years, placing the fall of the Republic in 3000 RE. But, that sort of maneuver is too arbitrary for my tastes.

    Of course, such maneuvers would have the advantage of allowing us to include the Commerce Treaty of 1647, but since we don't actually have a '''real''' date it seems like pretending we know it was 350 years ago or 1350 years ago is just making things up. As such, I'd rather pick a date that leaves the treaty out altogether.

    Thus, use of the Republic Era standard seems the best option, barring the appearance of some canon year scheme.

    ===Republic Era Dates===

    Thus, by our Republic Era standard:

    Code:
    Yoda            ~120 RE    900 years old in ANH
    Dooku           ~917 RE    Based on age from AotC
    Qui-Gon         ~928 RE    Nearing 60 in TPM
    Palpatine     c. 939 RE    Based on actor's age in RotS
    Obi-Wan         ~962 RE    He is 16 years older than Anakin.
    Anakin          ~977 RE    Anakin was nine during TPM but turned 20 circa AotC
    Ahsoka           983 RE    "I'm fourteen" in early TCW
    Han           c. 985 RE    Based on actor's age in ANH
    TPM              987 RE    Based on thirteen years prior to RotS
    Boba             987 RE    Based on his age and the cloning.
    AotC            ~997 RE    Ten years after TPM per AotC novel notes, Anakin turns 20.
    TCW       997 - 1000 RE    TCW fits between the two
    RotS            1000 RE    Baseline
    Rebels          1015 RE    According to rumors in early 2014
    A New Hope      1020 RE    Based on Luke's age in TESB minus stated three years
    TESB            1023 RE    Based on Luke's birth and age
    RotJ           ~1024 RE    Uncertain due to unclear duration of TESB
    Episode VII    ~1054 RE    According to rumors in early 2014, based on TESB date.  May also be ~1059.
    
    For those used to the BBY/ABY scheme, conversion is simple enough . . . just subtract 1019. That puts ANH as year 1 and RoTS as year -19 (or 19 BBY). However, it doesn't work for the year 1019 RE, one year before ANH. Them's the breaks.

    What do you think?
  2. TCWNoLettersHome Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2009
    star 1
    There was some discussion regarding the notion that the script for ANH had Luke at 18. After further research, I believe this is invalid . . . and with it, the notions that 19 years separate RotS and ANH, to wit:

    (From the NoLettersHome blog )

    In the early scenes of the TESB novel, Luke is said to be "barely" 23 (23.0 or so, in decimal form), with the note that he'd been a farmboy on Tatooine "three years ago". We might then be tempted to conclude that Luke was thus about 20.0 or thereabouts in ANH, and therefore ANH is 20.0 years after the end of RoTS. And indeed, in the ANH novel we hear that "Luke Skywalker was twice the age of the ten-year-old vaporator" he was working on. This was reflected in publisher copy on the back of the ANH novel from May 1977 says "Luke Skywalker was a twenty-year-old who lived and worked on his uncle's farm on the remote planet of Tatooine".

    But, alas, it's not quite so simple. See, there's the fact that he's also eighteen in a script for ANH.

    Thus, a common maneuver is to compromise by having ANH as being 19 years after RotS, but this compromise is a little sketchy. If Luke is 23.0 in TESB, and was a farmboy even, say, 3.9 years prior, then he would've been 19.1 years old. If he were actually 18.9 in the ANH script, then we're really only talking a couple of months difference . . . but that's still not very satisfying, since we've basically just stretched the "three years" beyond belief and still didn't get things right.

    We could, of course, simply conclude that the ANH script would override the ANH and TESB novelizations even though the latter came later, but that's not the end of the story, either. At this point it behooves us to get more than a little particular with our sources.

    See, above it is mentioned that the "eighteen years" comes from "a script for ANH". That it says "a script" instead of "the script" is no mistake, and refers to the fact that there were several drafts, and Luke's age changed several times. Indeed, depending on which 1976 "Revised Fourth Draft" you look at online, Luke may be either eighteen or twenty. Case in point, the January 1976 revision here has him at eighteen, and this carried over when the January 1976 script was published in 1979 in The Art of Star Wars as "the script" (indeed, I myself have used it as "the script").

    However, here and here we have him in revised fourth drafts at twenty years old. What gives? Well, these works are referring to the March 15 1976 revision of the fourth draft, and that is what was used during filming (albeit still with tweaking from Lucas). Indeed, Starwarz.com has a "Connoisseur’s Guide to the Scripts of the Star Wars Saga" which goes over the script variations, with special note of the fact that the March version, and not the January one, was the final script before cameras rolled. Lucas obviously made some changes on-set, but the March 15 script is the most valid version for our purposes.

    Thus, it seems that the idea of Luke being eighteen must be considered somewhat fallacious, as it comes from an earlier script version (however frequently it might be referenced). And, as such, the compromise of 19 years between RotS and ANH must also be considered unnecessary . . . 20 years separate Luke's birth and his departure from Tatooine to meet his destiny.