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Lit Expanded Universes

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Ewan Tibbetts, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Ewan Tibbetts

    Ewan Tibbetts Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Nov 13, 2016
    I feel like most of the grief on this lit forum, and places like it, is caused by the disposability of off-screen Star Wars content. Some of it is very good, imo, but that's not why it's being commissioned. Disney, Lucasfilm, Del Ray, and Marvel make expanded content because it's a tried and true method of encouraging engagement in Star Wars.
    Lucasfilm are producing story based merchandise. The books and comics aren't the point; they are cash crops. They can always be altered or abandoned because the movies are what Star Wars is known for.
    I was wondering if anyone here is interested in expanded universes that don't have such disparity between mediums. I know some authors (like H.P Lovercraft) connect their stories thematically and with the occasional shared element; I was thinking maybe there's somebody who uses multiple mediums in a similar way. Any recommendations?
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  2. firesaber

    firesaber Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 5, 2006
    Depending on your tastes, the Kevin Smith ViewAskew universe is all interconnected through movies and comics that tie everything together rather nicely. (Mallrats, Clerks, etc).

    Asimov did it brilliantly with his robot series and foundation novels.
     
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  3. Duguay

    Duguay Jedi Master star 2

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    Nov 30, 2002
    This sounds like an interesting, complicated question, and I'm not sure I entirely understand it. I have long been a person who will read novels or comics which are tied to a franchise (particularly Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who). I think I've reacted differently to the way crossover between media has gone down.

    Specifically with SW, the Kevin J. Anderson Jedi Academy trilogy referenced the Dark Empire storyline. I didn't like that because I had disconnected from comics because the ease of accessibility of the comics was unacceptable to me. Jedi Search seemed to expect me to have read Dark Empire, but I couldn't get a hold of Dark Empire, so I felt shut out. I preferred a sense that books like Brian Daley's Han Solo books and Splinter of the Mind's Eye could be read individually without having to know all the others. Some authors are great about referencing other stuff while still making a reader feel like the individual book you are reading gives you everything you know, without needing to have read other works. Later on I got the hang of SW books and comics being more interconnected, and comics became easier to get hold of. I can't really connect with the de-canonization of older SW EU, because I have an aversion to obsessing over proclamations of what is canon. I've seen the word canon used in too many negative ways, to dismissing professional writers' works as fan fiction, or justifying a narrative of "what I love has been ruined/trashed" enabling pointless unhappiness, and cultivating a more cynical outlook about the companies authorizing and producing EU stories (and lurkers on forums, like myself, have to filter through untold thousands of rehashed cannon jokes, whether a poster misspelled the bloody word or not). If I could encourage people to think of the word and usage of "Canon" as vulgarity and profanity, as a thought experiment, for the sake of recalibrating their perspective, I would; but only if it is helpful.

    I like that Doctor Who fiction hasn't been given a declaration from BBC. One of the showrunners wanted to be inclusive of novels, but the BBC discouraged referencing them, so that showrunner has left the door open in spirit. Books and novels and comics for DW have sometimes made an effort to be in agreement; but they have also at time ignored each other and contradicted each other wildly, and nobody made declarations of which medium mattered more (except for fans who just have to construct their own personal head canon). No mattered how much BBC has not declared EU works canon, there are still fans who want to look for excuses to de-legitimize the writings of a professional author who wants to write a fun story that they hope fans will enjoy reading, and there are still fans who are looking for excuses to make themselves unhappy.

    Star Trek novels of the 1980's sometimes referenced other authors, but sometimes not. A case can be made that an alternative continuity cultivated in a round-robin kind of way for TOS, before The Next Generation show contradicted the novels. I'm reading through those books now, because they were written at a time when the novelists thought ST wouldn't continue, so they felt free to develop things that might never have been explored in stories. I'm reading through these books partly out of a sense of rebellion; the ST fans lean heavily of the concept of canonicity, too. The 1980's novels seem like a healthy expansion of Star Trek's narrative potential.

    I don't know if any of this rambling can count as useful from the standpoint of making recommendations. Uh...Stephen King? He draws on H.P. Lovecraft, but uses it as he needs to. I haven't read a lot of SK, but I'm starting to get into him. He ties in his books with each other, but I think some of it is story fragments that give each individual book a sense that there's many other things happening in the larger world. His books seem very Human, capturing the experience of being what we are, creatures able to contemplate the full ramifications of being mortal; what's beautiful or ugly (or what seems so and yet is the opposite). There's Stephen King's Dark Tower series, to which you can add a list of other individual books of his that tie into the Dark Tower and help understand better what he includes in the series.

    Returning to Lovecraft again, some of Lovecraft's contemporaries wrote stories in the vein of the Cthulhu Mythos; and later on more modern authors (including Stephen King) riff on the broad concept of that mythos. The short stories of Clark Aston Smith and Robert E. Howard wrote Cthulhu Mythos stories, and then their own stories, and some of them connect to the Mythos stories (ish). I've seen an extreme argument that the stories about Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard are part of the Cthulhu Mythos or have a little bit of cross over, but it's more like Cthulhu-ish monsters can appear in Conan's world (but Conan sometimes can kill or injure an otherworldly creature, whereas in Lovecraft's conception, humans have no hope of causing any damage).

    I don't know if any of this is what your asking about, or if you already know what I've written.
     
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  4. sidv88

    sidv88 Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Aug 22, 2005
    Forgotten Realms has great interconnectivity between games, comic books, and novels.
     
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  5. Shadowrain10

    Shadowrain10 Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Sep 12, 2017
    Star Wars is the first EU that I've ever really explored, and have been enjoying the ride thus far. I know that WoW has novels but I'm not overly familiar with WoW, same goes for Halo.
     
  6. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Knight star 4

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    Jul 9, 2016
    Hmm....

    Well Doctor Who primary EXPANDED UNIVERSE (Quote Unquote) primarily these days comes from the Big Finish Audio Drama's oh sure we have the comic and book here and there but if you are looking for a years long built in continuity with returning casts, plot points and evolution...Big Finish Doctor is the place to go..

    I think this is what you are talking about.
     
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  7. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 15, 2006
    In many cases, disparity between mediums is important. SW is definitely one of those cases --- its films are a global mega-franchise and shouldn't require familiarity with any of its secondary media. A film referencing that media offhandedly, or even using it to enhance its setting, is fine, but a SW film should never be a sequel to a book or comic. A distinction between G- and C-canon should still exist.

    This is a line of thought that, I think, we should acknowledge and discuss more often. Was 1991 too early for the ambition of a medium-hopping shared universe? Even twelve years after the first issue of Dark Empire hit shelves, access to it was terribly difficult compared to trotting over to a Barnes & Noble/Chapters and picking up an EU novel for ten bucks, and I resorted to eBay to order all fourteen individual DE issues, because I was tired of missing that important piece of the post-ROTJ EU. The last trade paperback collections of DE II and Empire's End had been in 1995 and 1997, respectively, and the next wouldn't be until 2006. It felt like a holy grail.

    Granted, the Jedi Academy trilogy only really briefly referenced the events of DE out of necessity, and the novels went on to stay mum about it until Zahn's dismissal of it in Vision of the Future, so the argument could for sure be made that it wasn't that essential and that fans made a bigger deal out of its importance than the EU itself did. Then again, there were Essential Guides and SW Encyclopedias that did make a big deal out of its importance, so I dunno.

    I guess I don't really have any answers. I'm just happy that going to see an MCU movie doesn't require me to be up to date on Agents of SHIELD. That would be awful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  8. Shadowrain10

    Shadowrain10 Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Sep 12, 2017
    Um, Rogue One would beg to differ about movies being sequels to books since it very much is a sequel to Catalyst.

    Also, the ending of Solo requires that audiences be at least somewhat aware of the fact that Maul lived past Episode One, which means that they would have to have seen at least one episode of The Clone Wars

    The whole idea of Star Wars movies being standalone is slowly dying, which I'm actually enjoying.
     
  9. Darth_Duck

    Darth_Duck Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Oct 13, 2000
    If RO is a sequel to Catalyst, than AotC is a sequel to The Approaching Storm.

    Sent from my SM-G386W using Tapatalk
     
  10. Shadowrain10

    Shadowrain10 Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Sep 12, 2017
    Was The Approaching Storm marketed as a prequel to AotC? Because Catalyst was.
     
  11. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

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    Oct 29, 2005
    Unfortunately with franchises, licensing tends to want to have their cake and eat it too - they want to profit off their franchise as much as possible, but at the same time rigidly control what is the 'official canon'.
    With Star Wars, it has been more glaringly obvious because the Expanded Universe represented a vast interconnected group of works over a significant period of time - and that LFL insisted for many years was 'canon'. With the Disney buyout this was retracted, but they continue to sell the prior works under "Legends" despite insisting they 'don't matter'. They've even published reference books under the new canon that they've now said isn't 'completely official canon' - isn't that what the entire purpose of a reference book is? But like I said, it isn't a unique problem for sci-fi/fantasy franchises.

    HPL's Cthulhu Mythos was a shared mythology that didn't always match up, because mythologies can change, alter, and contradict over time. The whole concept of 'canon' was a fan concept to begin with (specifically, regarding the stories of Sherlock Holmes). 'Canon' should be a designation for a subset of a mythos that has a strong correlation between elements; in the case of Star Wars, the Expanded Universe and the new 'official' canon being two different story universes with the Star Wars mythos, and sharing the OT, the PT, and the Clone Wars cartoon.
     
  12. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 15, 2006
    You don't... you don't really think that's the same thing, do you?
     
  13. MrDarth0

    MrDarth0 Jedi Knight star 3

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    Oct 3, 2015
    Yep, it was. Same way the Labyrinth of Evil was marketed as a prequel to ROTS.
     
  14. Ewan Tibbetts

    Ewan Tibbetts Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Nov 13, 2016
    Catalyst and Labyrinth of Evil may lead into the movies but they aren't the same as a regular prequel. They were written after Lucasfilm had a movie script but before that script had it's film released. Cash crops.
    @Duguay Thanks for your extensive response. I was specifically asking if there has ever been a cross-media project were all the stories were equal?
     
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  15. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Master star 4

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    Jun 30, 2016
    Things having prequels don't make them sequels. Is ANH a sequel to Rogue One? (No.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  16. jedisor

    jedisor Jedi Knight star 1

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    Apr 22, 2011
    Avatar: The Last Airbender has comics set both during and after the series that are considered fully canon. I think there are some video games too.
     
  17. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 15, 2006
    Years after the TV series ended, Joss Whedon wrote an official comic continuation of Buffy, and it was considered to be the canonical eighth season of the show. I think he also penned some official Firefly comics, too. Since those happened after the fact rather than concurrently with the TV shows, they might not be what you were asking about, though. You're looking for a multimedia project like Shadows of the Empire?
     
  18. FiveFireRings

    FiveFireRings Jedi Padawan star 2

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    Nov 26, 2017
    DW remains pretty ambiguous, though. In the case of Big Finish, when I was into that stuff, I came to be selective based on (A) whether or not it had original actors reprising their roles, which I always preferred to the somewhat more outlandish spinoff series that ran into continuity problems when the show rebooted anyway, and (B) general quality, which varied pretty greatly. But I'll always love them for making Colin Baker not only bearable to me but actually one of my favorite Doctors on audio.

    SW EU currently has to stay within certain margins, which has the good side effect that its stuff *is* incorporated into the films unlike before, but bad in that major events won't be seen in non-filmic media. I personally don't mind that because I left off the old EU when it became clear that it was working at cross purposes: plot armor for characters who might be used in future films while at the same time pushing a storyline that got so sprawling that it could never be adopted into future filmic continuity. I get into trouble for that opinion, but what we have now is a slightly less goofy spin on the OT-era spinoff materials but with better continuity control. That suits me well enough and I prefer it to epic but superfluous stories, given relatively equal levels of good and bad quality in the stories that actually are/were being told.
     
  19. Ewan Tibbetts

    Ewan Tibbetts Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Nov 13, 2016
    Yes I am looking for multimedia projects. I also wanted this thread to discuss the topic and related issues, which I think it has.
    That Joss Whedon wrote those comics is cool to me.
     
  20. Duguay

    Duguay Jedi Master star 2

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    Nov 30, 2002
    I gave the Buffy comics a go when they started coming out, and the selling point was Joss Whedon was heavily involved with them and gave them credit for counting. I had fun with the Season 8 stories.

    Wasn't there a stretch where television was coordinating with other media? Like the show Heroes or Lost had websites and comics and novels.

    I don't know, though. Even if creators say they cconsider it canon one day, years later they might do something different and contradictory. Fans never agree either, no matter what creators or corporations declare. I guess anything that's a work of fiction is on shaky ground, no matter what format it manifests in.
     
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  21. vong333

    vong333 Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Oct 18, 2003
    LOE was a very good novel that tied in nicely to ROTS and TCW micro season 2 series. In fact, I hate to say this but the Legends stuff is far more interesting than anything Disney has come out with and not to burst your or anybody's else bubble, but the Legends stuff from the EU is very damn good and it probably the reason why some turned on GL back then and now Disney. When you look at the stories from different lens, it was great to get that reference from the Jedi Academy trilogy to the Dark Empire one etc. Those stories are still great. I just read Crimson Empire 1 thru 3 and boy that was very good. It that was done into a movie that would kick but.
     
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  22. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Sep 7, 2012
    Oh yeah, I remember the Heroes comics-tie in. They aren't really the sort of cross-continuity thing that's being talked about, though. They were essentially like the webcomics that came out prior to the episodes in the first few seasons of TCW, just little things produced after the episodes were already done that introduced characters that would show up in that week's episode.

    Man, I haven't thought about Heroes in years.