Defining Moments of the EU

Discussion in 'Ann Arbor, MI' started by Idgie, Aug 8, 2005.

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  1. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    There was an article in the newest SW Insider called 'The 20 Greatest Moments in the EU'.I read the article,but admittedly,had no clue who most of the people mentioned even were.Oh well.Anyway,it got me to thinking about what I thought were/are significant moments throughout the history of the Expanded Universe.Then,during last night's FF meeting,we talked about something along the same lines and I thought this might make for some interesting discussion.

    So,after all that,the question is this:what books,eras,writers,etc do you think really defined the EU for whatever reasons(good or bad).Not just'this book was good' or 'this character is cool',but what really made the EU what it is(or is not)for you.

    I came up with about a half dozen or so.I won't post them all at one time,because it would take up too much space.Feel free to comment or add your own examples.

    1)The Marvel Comics Series-This was the original comic series which began with the adaptation of ANH and went on until 1985 or '86.I picked this because it was my first exposure to any kind of EU(not counting the first movie novelization).What can you say about this,it was sometimes cool,but usually cheesy as hell,but when you're 6 years-old,three years is a very long time and the idea that you could get a new SW adventure every month was not something I was going to pass up.Even as a kid,I used to think it was funny that they could somehow show expressions on Vader's mask.Looking back on it,I think those early comics may be to SW what the 60's television show was/is to Batman. [face_plain]
  2. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    2)Timothy Zahn/'Heir to the Empire'Trilogy-

    You knew this one was coming,didn't you? :oops:

    Whether you love it or hate it,there's no denying the impact that these three books have had on the EU and the SW fandom.Zahn's novels set a tone and a style(shudders)that the post-ROTJ EU would follow to this day.Some of Zahn's characters and storylines have become established canon for many fans.

    ...and those are just some of it's problems.Despite the series' acclaim in(and out)of the SW fandom,I felt that many of the things that made the series popular also made it weak.Zahn's tendency to overshadow canon characters(namely Vader)with his own inferior creations was laughable,if not offensive,and is(unfortuantely)a practice which continues to this day.Instead of 'Let's add to the SW canon',the idea seemed to be 'Let's become the SW canon'.Sorry,but Zahn is no Lucas and Thrawn is certainly no Vader or Palpatine.

    I list it here because this was really the 'How Not to Write a SW Story'for me,and even though this was the series that sort of re-introduced SW to the world back in 1991-92,it also sent SW literature on a downward spiral from which it has never fully recovered.

    In all fairness,not all the series' flaws can be blamed on Zahn.The Prequel Trilogy had not really been fully fleshed out yet,and once it had,some of the older EU(including movie novelizations)were simply outdated and that's not the writer's fault.They did the best they could with what information they had at the time.
  3. lavagrrrl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2002
    star 4

    Awesome topic!

    The New Jedi Order.

    The first time DelRay got a bunch of authors together to flesh out one long story arc. It expolored the force in new ways, taking a more yin-yang look at it. It was interesting to see books that were set back to back with very different takes on the same character.

    The series also killed off a couple of characters.


    Shadows of the Empire

    This book was a huge hit. It spawned a video game, soundtrack and action figures.

    I liked it about as much as Idgie likes Zahn's books. ;) The way Leia was portrayed was ... well, the way most guys who follow around the Slave Leia costumers would envision her. I also didn't care for the stand in Han Solo.


    Zahn Trilogy (already mentioned)

    I've read most of the EU (I can't stand comics), and these books were some of the best.

    Before then, only a few novels had been released, and they were set before the OT (Han Solo and Lando series), or right after ANH (Splinter). Zahn dared to write what he thought might happen after ROTJ. While I don't care for all his decisions, I did like the overall story arc. The reaction to Zahn's books created the EU monster that there is today.

    There were three main weakness to Zahn's work: Caboth, Thrawn's death, and super-whiney Luke. I didn't think Caboth was a necessary character, I would have enjoyed the story better without him. The whole naming clones with an extra vowel was silly. Thrawn was a genius, but he didn't think he'd be betrayed? I don't buy that one. Luke finally grew up in ROTS, I was disappointed by the way he was written by Zahn (and I continue to be).

    The strong points: new characters and the relationships of some of the old characters. I think Mara Jade, Talon Karrde and Thrawn are fantastic. I also enjoyed the trip to Kayyysk and Chewie's family & friends. Leia still trying to deal with the fact that her father was Vader was also good, IMO.

    Infinities Comics

    Having stated that I really dislike comics, I liked the concept for these. The premise was what would have happened if .... Cool concept, wish they would have done them as books instead of comics.
  4. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    I was going to list the Infinities Comics as well,Susie.Like you,I'm really not a comics fan per se,but I have always liked 'What If' stories.This series seemed to get a pretty good reaction from fans across the board,and that's why I chose to include it in my list.You hear so many fans define themselves by their relationship to the SW saga(i.e.,'I'm a canonist','I'm a Prequel fan'),so it's rare to have something with that almost universal appeal.When you can get the interest of people who don't normally buy or read comics,then you've really done something.

    Not surprising,my favorite was ESB.


    I was on the fence about including 'Shadows of the Empire'on my list.I wouldn't do so for the story itself(I have an entire rant devoted to the butchering of Han's character),but because of the fact that the book did cross over into so many other areas.I was never too sure if the crossover was because the story was that good,or if there was just widespread SW famine at the time.Nevertheless,that type of crossover is quite common now,so 'Shadows' was definitely indicative of where things could go.
  5. Qonas Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2003
    star 4
    EDIT: Guess I'll just split the post up into pieces, for whatever reason the posting system times out if the whole thing or even bigger pieces are attempted to be posted. These boards hate midgets. :)

    This is something most every Zahn basher brings up, and something that greatly confuses me. In the Thrawn trilogy, his original characters were never made to be seen as "better" or "more important" than the icons from the movies. Thrawn is a military genius, to be sure, and that obviously has a great impact on the Star Wars universe. Battles, sectors and systems changing hands, and so forth. His name is spoke of with a mix of awe and fear by citizens in the Star Wars universe. But what did Thrawn do? He gathered together a defeated Empire, regrouped, and kept the war going until eventually dying because of an oversight of arrogance. The Emperor TOOK OVER THE ENTIRE KNOWN GALAXY RIGHT FROM UNDER THE HANDS OF THE JEDI. Darth Vader EXTERMINATED THE JEDI AND REIGNED AS DARK LORD OF THE SITH.
  6. Qonas Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2003
    star 4
    There is a situation in the book, reworded and seen no less than three times, where a character is boosted by the fact they had some dealing with Darth Vader. Han, when thinking of a threat from Sena, is tempted "to remind her, perhaps, that he'd been attacked by bounty hunters and interstellar criminals, shot at by Imperial stormtroopers, and tortured at the direction of Darth Vader himself...a threat coming from someone like Sena was too laughable to be taken seriously." Lando brags about Luke's duels with Vader to the lowly shipthief Ferrier in another one of these situations. The spectre of the Emperor and Vader hang like a dark cloud over the entire galaxy. Thrawn was a simple, albeit nearly invincible, military threat only to the New Republic hiearachy itself. Not to the every day person. Thrawn was able to win a few battles, rally an Empire, but then die. The Emperor and Darth Vader had an effect upon everyone, and everything.
  7. Qonas Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2003
    star 4
    The Emperor and Vader accomplished much more, and this is clearly seen by the enslavement of the Noghri. Even with Leia's revealing of Imperial deception, Darth Vader is a god to these people. Even when serving him, Thrawn earned barely-hidden contempt from these proud warriors. What did Thrawn ever do for their planet except extend the "charity and services" already put into place by the Emperor and Vader? Vader sent his people out to find the clan dukhas. He united all the clans as one. He gave hope to the Noghri. Thrawn's just some overlord. We are constantly reminded of this just as much as we are reminded of Thrawn's genius. Mara Jade has importance only in the fact of her past (oh, yeah, with the Emperor. She was his personal lapdog, very prestigous) and her Force sensitivity. Karrde is the new Jabba, the smuggler crimelord with the largest overall reach. Just because Vader slaughtered the Jedi and Jabba existed, does not mean that in the Star Wars universe there are no more Force sensitives and no other smugglers. Just because Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, Yoda, the Emperor, and Vader are THE Star Wars characters does not mean that others do not exist. It also does not mean that these other characters have nothing to contribute to the adventure of THE characters. The only case that can be concievably made for Zahn making a character out to be "more important" than a movie character is in the case of Winter. We are always told how everyone always thought Winter was Princess Leia because of her awe-inspiring grace. In fact, the passages where Leia wishes she held Winter's litheness were a precurser to more Leia-destroying passages from the NJO.

    Now, after the gigantic fan swelling around Mara Jade, she ends up being thrown into the pantheon of THE Star Wars characters and that is something I have railed against from day one. For Mara Jade to be a Jedi Master while Leia wastes away is a huge travesty. But again, this was not Zahn's intention nor do I believe it is currently. Even the most ardent "Mara Jade is teh r0xz0r" fanboy would only be able to say, at most, that Leia and Mara are of equal Force mastery by the end of the trilogy. It's now a necessity to turn Mara into an does-everything knows-all Mary Sue, for LucasBooks isn't going to have Mara take a backseat because these rabid fans buy books. They grease the wheels that churn out profits for LucasBooks, and so there is word on high "Don't screw with Jade."
  8. Qonas Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2003
    star 4
    I agree on C'Baoth. That was just an annoying character, and really only served to give Luke/Mara a Force enemy. Something for them to climatically defeat while Thrawn held everyone else's attention, although the character did give glimpses into the Outbound Flight history. We all know that that's caught on. [face_mischief] Thrawn's death has bothered me in that same vein as well, he's studied the Noghri and should know their racial psychology well. I figure that at that point, Zahn was in a sort of corner because Thrawn could not be outright defeated at Bilbringi without basically cutting off that character at the knees. Yet, obviously the New Republic can't lose either (although that would've been my ideal, heh) so what's left? My assumption is that Zahn was thinking that Thrawn had no idea the importance of Vader to the Noghri, that Leia had visited them and turned them, and so had no idea the Noghri posed a threat to him. He remained convinced of the Emperor and Vader's complete subjugation of the Noghri, another point in which THE characters are made out to be more important than Zahn's. As for Luke, I had a lot more issues with his portrayal in the NJO than in these books. The only issue I really found with Luke here was his continuing insistence on trying to heal, to bring back, C'Baoth. He's an insane clone Luke, not your dad! It ain't happening! The rest of the time, I really found him to have that quiet mature strength about him.

    Now then, my lists. :)

    The Good Kind of Importance to the EU
    The Thrawn Trilogy (this includes birth of the Solo twins, Thrawn, Pellaeon, pretty much everything in here as well as the outright real-world importance)
    Luke's establishment of the Jedi Academy - Jedi Academy Trilogy
    The taking of Coruscant, Thyferra, and Isard's life - X-Wing: The Krytos Trap, the Bacta War, and Isard's Revenge
    Janson, Hobbie, and Wedge are fellow Rogues once more - X-Wing: Solo Command
    The Hand of Thrawn/Chiss/"other threats" - Vision of the Future
    The Galactic Civil War Ends - Vision of the Future

    The Bad Kind of Importance to the EU
    Absolutely everything concerning the NJO with the exception of bringing Denning, Stover, and Luceno into the EU fold. Nothing is defendable here except the attempt to follow in the footsteps of a successful Star Trek novels idea, and chain a long story arc across multiple books by multiple authors. Except, Star Trek got it right. The NJO blew donkey ass.
    The Dark Empire comics/KJA's cementing these comics as EU canon in the Jedi Academy trilogy
    Women Good, Men Bad!!! - The Courtship of Princess Leia
    Children of the Jedi
    Planet of Twilight
    Hutts building a 'Darksaber' Death Star, Madine's death - Darksaber
    Mara-Lando romance over several books
    Leia's portrayal - The Black Fleet Crisis
  9. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    Mike,your comments are welcomed and appreciated.However,if you would like to discuss the pros/cons of any particular author's work in-depth,then feel free to start a new thread and I will be more than happy to reply to it.Otherwise,let's allow others the courtesy of their opinions so that this thread does not get away from its intended purpose and turn into a big argument between those who love Zahn's work and those who do not.
  10. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    In no particular order:

    The Courtship of Princess Leia-Gotta go with Mike on this one.One of my biggest complaints against the post-ROTJ EU was/is the mangling of Han Solo's character,and while this book definitely was not the first to wimp-ify Han,it certainly came to epitomize Han's mistreatment for me.Some say that Greedo shooting first in the SE of ANH lessened Han's character,well they should read this little gem,which pre-dated the SE's by at least a few years.Han,the once cocky smuggler and resourceful military leader of the films is reduced to a lovesick 12 year-old.

    Boba Fett Resurrection Stories-This guy's been raised from the dead more times than Keith Richards and Count Dracula combined.Enough already.He died in ROTJ and we need to let Boba go.

    Jedi Quest Series-Anyone who reads the Harry Potter books can tell you how surprisingly complex children's books can be.This series chronicled the adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin between Eps. I and II,and while the plotlines were typical of the genre,these books scored high marks from me at the beginning because of Anakin's characterization and the way that Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship was handled,i.e.,yes kids...they were actually friends at some point and the difficulties in their relationship sprang from issues on both sides,while the problems were not always Anakin's fault.Unfortunately,Watson somehow became more anti-Anakin as time went on(not sure how that happened),and reduced him to the same 'he was Vader all along' spiel so typical in the EU.

    Clone Wars/Prequel Era EU-Can I get an 'Amen!'?With more attention to continuity,less formulaic plots,and just plain 'ol better writing the newer books have been more of what I always wanted from the EU,but had given up on ever really getting.I've liked the idea of having authors with different backgrounds(not just sci-fi)telling these stories,too.We actually get to Anakin as a capable leader and war hero(finally,the EU gets it!)in 'Jedi Trial',and even an ER type of thing with the Medstar series.Interesting without being gimmicky.James Luceno's upcoming Vader novel also sounds very promising.

    Fan-fiction-Ever been to a fan event or a convention,and saw someone's homemade costume and thought,'That looks so much better than a storebought costume'?Well,that can apply to the EU as well.Sometimes the fans just do it better,and when they do,it really shows.I would like to see fanfiction eventually gain some recognition from Lucasfilm the way that costuming or some of the other fan endeavors have gotten.
  11. lavagrrrl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2002
    star 4
    Prequel Era- I only read half of one, and I couldn't finish it. It was terrible (the one where Obi-Wan and Anakin were on Zonoma Sekot and the ship pods attached to Anakin). I do want to read Shatterpoint, mostly because I like how Stover wrote the ROTS novelization. I'm not going to judge the whole series on half of a bad book. :)

    Tales from ____ - I enjoyed the some of the stories, and I really enjoyed the concept: looking into the dark corners of busy scenes to find out what the third alien from the right was up to.

    NJO, Courtship of Princess Leia - Yeah. Not highlights from the EU. Add in all the books where the Solo kids were kidnapped.

    FanFic - Like the EU (and costuming and fan films), it can be wonderful and it can be horrid. I'd be willing to purchase a collection of well written books/stories by the random people online. Unfortunately, that's not how Lucasfilm works. They pick and choose what they do, and we are sort of stuck with the results. Look at the official costumes: they are really bad. The official books aren't consistant on any level. You get good, bad, and everything between the two.
  12. YodasBrownEyedGirl Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2003
    star 2
    I haven't really read that much EU. I do find the Clone Wars to be important giving characters such as Mace Windu, Ki Adi Mundi and Luminara Unduli more depth, albeit a small amount in some cases.

    The Approaching Storm - It's been a long time since I've read it but I recall the variety of abilities shown by the Jedi and their Padawans during part of a capture. It shows Jedi do more than just wield a lightsaber.

    Dark Rendevous - Of course I got the book b/c Yoda was in it but I really thought the portrayal of Count Dooku was very interesting. If I remember correctly it had him thinking about whether he thought he was being used as a pawn. It also showed Yoda's relationship with Dooku and even a glimpse into how frightening it would be if Yoda used the Dark side. This book also focused on unknown Jedi and parts of training for Padawans. We had even discussed the theory (at our last meeting) of Dooku never really embracing the Dark Side fully. He was just an arrogant Jedi who because of nobility thought he could rise above turning evil.

    Just my thoughts, [face_peace]
  13. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    'I only read half of one, and I couldn't finish it. It was terrible (the one where Obi-Wan and Anakin were on Zonoma Sekot and the ship pods attached to Anakin).'

    Ah,'Rogue Planet'.You're right...not a high point for Prequel EU.Oh well,it still ain't perfect,but at least it's gotten better. :) Did an okay job with Obi-Wan and Anakin,though and gave yet another individual credit for the designing the Death Star.:oops:

    I have not read 'Shatterpoint' yet either,but I was quite happy with what Stover did with ROTS,so I'll definitely give it a whirl.


    I'm almost tempted to say a little about the death(s)of canon characters in the EU,but was anyone killed off besides Chewbacca?For those of you with knowledge about those stories,what do you think of that?It's relatively new ground for the EU and definitely risky,but isn't it necessary or at least inevitable at some point?
  14. Idgie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2001
    star 4
    Lately I've been interested in searching out some of the older Vader-related EU,and so I've been re-reading 'Splinter of the Mind's Eye'.If you've never read it,the story is so-so(although I do like Alan Dean Foster),but what I found interesting was something at the very beginning of the book.Before Luke starts getting all mushy thinking about Leia(yeah,it's weird...but keep in mind this was written back in 1978),he has some very interesting comments about the state of the galaxy at that point.

    'In depressed moments he felt sure there was no really happy living matter on any of those worlds.Only a plethora of destructive human diseases which fought and raged constantly against one another,a sequence of cancerous civilizations which fed on its own body,never healing yet somehow not quite dying.
    A particularly virulent strain of one of those cancers had killed his own mother and father,then his aunt Beru and Uncle Owen.It had also taken from him the man he had learned to respect more than any other,the elderly Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi.'


    I've always liked the 'Sith-as-a-cancer-on-the-Force' analogy and I think this is an excellent illustration of the point.It's also very telling that a Force-user would see things that way and make such an analogy.
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