Is Timothy Zahns stature in the Star Wars community fading?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Emperor Sebulba, Jun 14, 2001.

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  1. Emperor Sebulba Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 11, 2000
    star 1
    For along time, Timothy Zahn was THE definitive author when it came to star wars novels. Lately, it seems that Zahn is not quite as revered as it used to be. There seem to be many reasons for this.

    1) Emergence of other authors-After experiencing works of other authors, it seems that other authors have a better understanding of what Star Wars is about, i.e., more mythological and fantasy, less sci-fi.

    2) Evaluation of Zahn's style - Some have complained that Zahn ignores the star wars mythology in favor of pure sci-fi.

    3) New series - Zahn's second series seems to not be quite as revered as his first. This leads people to see him on more even footing with other authors.

    There may be other reasons, feel free to point them out if you like. Am I right, or is it just me?
  2. Rogue...Jedi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 7
    i never thought of him as the definitive author
  3. Vergere Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2000
    star 5
    i think the main reason would be the emergence of new authors. if i'm not mistaken, star wars lit started off big time with Zhan's Thrawn Trilogy. it was a different spin on things than had been done before, and he was immediately put on a pedestool for his new and one of a kind work. when other authors came about and the star wars EU grew, fans realized that maybe they prefered a certain style over Zhan's, or maybe they liked Tyers better because she focused more on a certain favorite character. now, with bookshelves of books, there is so much variety that one author cannot possibly be named the best. look in one of the "who's your fav author" threads and people list three instead of one. and with the different vectors that the EU has taken(NJO, X-wing, Prequel), fans are predictably going to favor the author that writes in their corner of the GFFA.
  4. Amidala Starkiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 1999
    star 6
    He was never one of my favorites.
  5. darthjarjarbinks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2000
    star 4
    For me, Zahn will always have a special place in star wars literature, in fact, in star wars altogether. IMHO, Zahn's books captured the perfect feel of the movies, while adding something extra. I really enjoyed them.
    DARTHVENGERDARTHSEAR likes this.
  6. yoda_does_dallas Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2001
    star 1
    Regardless of what you think about him, he will allways be a "measuring stick" for other authors. I read his trillogy about once a year (good thing a have a bad memory)
    DARTHVENGERDARTHSEAR likes this.
  7. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    Certainly, Timothy Zahn almost single-handedly reignited Star Wars as a phenomenon, and we can practically lay the very existence of the new film trilogy at his feet. That being said...

    I do feel that certain other writers, coming in the massive wake of his original three-book cycle (and this was back when Lucasfilm and Bantam Spectra were never even intending for there to be any further novels in the future -- this was to be it) were subjected to an extremely high level of scorn and condemnation...particularly one Kevin J. Anderson, in no small part because his was the next Star Wars book trilogy to follow after Zahn's, and the general reaction by many fen was one along the lines of, "How dare he attempt to even write another trilogy after Heir to the Empire...??"

    It was quite misplaced, and his prolific Star Wars output in the years that followed only served to fan the flames (he has written more fiction in this universe than any other writer, including George Lucas himself) -- thusly, it's no wonder Starlog magazine once said that KJA should be named "Chancellor of Star Wars University"...

    Were his works equal to, better, or worse than Timothy Zahn's? That's for you to decide (for myself, his final duology was superior to his original trilogy), but this is another piece of the question posed in this thread that I felt might be interesting to discuss.
  8. Lordban Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2000
    star 5
    You'll find a thread where the matter is thoroughly discussed here.
  9. Asyr Handor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1999
    star 4
    Whether or not he is losing stature with other fans, he hasn't with me. Timothy Zahn still is the best writer the Star Wars Universe has ever had. :)
    Reaper63 likes this.
  10. lejmar_faldor_uk Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2000
    star 4
    now, i really enjoyed HTTE and the new characters, mara, thrawn etc but i hate the "Grimaced" every other page! i shudder where ever i read it now!!!
  11. Grand Admiral Wettengel Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2000
    star 4
    One of the reasons I like his books so much is because he ignores the fantastic, mythological drivel.
  12. Nighthawk_Andy Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2001
    star 1
    all i'll say is i think he's good but not THAT good........
  13. barnsthefatjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2001
    star 5
    Zahn is the best joint best author, IMO, along with Stackpole and Keyes.
  14. Dewlanna Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 4
    I don't think Zahn has dropped much in his popularity. He still tops the polls author poll
    The apparent drop in Zahn's popularity is due mostly to more choices. Back in the mid 90s when about the only choices were Zahn and KJA, Zahn was the overwhelming favorite. Now with many good SW authors, Zahn gets some competition. Folks that aren't true SciFi fans probably will choose one of the other authors as a favorite with Zahn as a second or third choice.
  15. Anakin SkySolo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 1999
    star 4
    Dewlanna:

    True SF fans have diverse tastes and like or prefer different authors, even in Star Wars. Other SF authors (as in "people who mostly write science fiction when they aren't writing Star Wars") have contributed in important ways to Star Wars, including Kevin Anderson, Michael Kube-McDowell, Alan Dean Foster, Vonda McIntyre, and Greg Bear.

    Also, nothing prevents true SF fans from prefering an Star Wars author who mostly writes fantasy. That's both because many true SF fans are also true fantasy fans, and because a person's favorite field of speculative fiction outside of Star Wars doesn't indicate that his/her favorite Star Wars author will mostly write in the same field.

    And speaking as a true SF fan of thirty years standing, I like Tim Zahn's books just fine. But I like Greg Bear's and Alan Dean Foster's books as much or better. I'm also a true fantasy fan who's looking forward to the film rendition of his favorite fantasy classic. Star Wars books by fantasy authors like RA Salvatore, Mike Stackpole, and Greg Keyes are also among my favorite Star Wars novels.

    GAW:

    The "fantastic, mythological drivel" that Tim Zahn supposedly ignores (he doesn't) is the heart of Star Wars.
  16. Genghis12 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 1999
    star 6
    As Lordban has pointed out, we have discussed this topic inside and out. I present a list of about 82 or so reasons why Zahn has fallen out of favour within the Star Wars community, which is taken from the "Why Has Zahn Fallen Out of Favour" thread:

    "...I figured for his and others' benefit I'd recap all of the various ideas people have thrown out to try and answer his fundamental question - Why has Zahn fallen out of favour?!. Note to people who may not understand, this is just a listing of things everyone has posted thus far to answer the question and should not in any way be taken to be this poster's opinion (shouldn't have to do that, but I wanted to make sure everyone could comprehend that fact) There may be some overlap among the answers:

    1. People may not like how Zahn has handled the characterization of the mains.
    2. His ego and lording it up over other authors.
    3. He was great for TTT, but failed with HoT.
    4. People have found him arrogant and rude with the way he's dismissed SW continuity.
    5. "Zahn full of crap. Much ego. Zahn need, go to Hell" (original wording)
    6. "ZAhn trashed De" (original wording)
    7. Folks are fickle.
    8. Greater variety and less reliance on Zahn's works. His stories have less of an impact on new EU material.
    9. People reevaluating their opinions.
    10. His characters and stories aren't that good.
    11. He writes with only one idea in mind - "mine's better than yours."
    12. "He sucks." (original wording)
    13. It's time to move away from Zahn.
    14. He's written five books - all hardcovers. It's time to give someone else a shot.
    15. "The way he finally made extensively using the Force being of the Dark Side. What garbage.." (original wording)
    16. People don't like how a main Zahn character, Mara Jade is so egotistical and made to seem better than Luke Skywalker. Her character is not all that she has been written to think she is and that everything she thought she knew is flawed.
    17. Some felt Zahn's strength was characterization. However, with a decade of such characterization of the main's, the focus is shifting to less characterization and more towards the feel of the movies. Because they are all developed, his style is no longer the best fit for the more action-oriented NJO.
    18. Zahn had an undue amount of influence over the EU.
    19. Zahn is no longer unique in portraying his creations well. Therefore, he is no longer required to write them in a manner people enjoy.
    20. While he wasn't that much more a brilliant writer than other SW writers, fans put him on a pedestal anyway. They have now toppled that pedestal.
    21. The composition of this forum has changed.
    22. His later works tried to tie too many plot elements together.
    23. His later works tried to "repair" things other authors had done.
    24. Thrawn, a major character/plot device through most of Zahn's work was too unbelieveable.
    25. The lens of time has shifted Zahn's work to the "middle" of the timeline. New readers will have read a number of books chronologically existing prior to the TTT. So, his books are not at the "beginning" of a new era like they were a decade ago.
    26. Because Zahn has stated he won't write for Del Rey, people may have decided to focus on authors who are/will.
    27. Zahn has gone on the record of bashing other authors.
    28. Zahn has basically bashed every other EU novel that followed his own.
    29. The perception that Zahn can do basically whatever he wants because he has some claim of "ownership" over characters he created.
    30. Zahn has been incorrectly credited by fans as creating the EU.
    31. The size of the forum - there are more people "now" than "before." This gives a greater chance of someone not liking his work.
    32. A Zahn counterculture may have formed to combat the very vocal Zahn fans.
    33. Zahn tried to alter the GFFA towards his own perception in HoT.
    34. Zahn didn't trust fellow SW authors to tell the story LFL had them tell, so he tried to retell those stories.
    35. He has dismissed hard-earned work of his fellow authors, trying
  17. Dewlanna Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 4
    AniSS:"And speaking as a true SF fan of thirty years standing, I like Tim Zahn's books just fine. But I like Greg Bear's and Alan Dean Foster's books as much or better.
    But you DO still like Zahn, he stature hasn't diminished in your eyes has it?
    It's just that now there are so many other choices.
    In the mid 90s Bear, Crispin, Luceno, RAS, and Keyes couldn't have been anyone's favorite SW author.

    Zahn's books are STILL the standard that SW books are judged by, he is still the favorite of nearly half the SW fans and quite likely the second or third favorite of those who have chosen one of the newer SW authors as their favorite.

    The fact that Zahn still garners so many votes on any "Favorite SW Author" poll with so many other, newer choices testifies to his stature as a Star Wars author.
  18. Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2001
    star 2
    I personally thought Zahn's trilogy and duology were awesome. Who would of thought Luke and Mara would have gotten married :confused: I was resigned to the fact that Luke was going to stay single for the rest of his life :_| Zahn's a great author even though he's not my favorite. My fav is Michael A. Stackpole, he's da bomb :cool:
  19. Dev Sibwarra Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 4
    HoT made big changes to the GFFA. As a result, it had a polarizing effect. People either loved it or hated it. And, normally, people who hate something are more likely to speak up than those who are content with it. Add to that the fact that the JC has grown significantly, so the chances of finding people who dislike Zahn are greater, and you have an explanation for the apparent decline in his popularity.
  20. Genghis12 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 1999
    star 6
    Dewlanna Solo...
    "Folks that aren't true SciFi fans probably will choose one of the other authors as a favorite with Zahn as a second or third choice."

    Dew,
    That's about as correct as saying "Folks that are true quality literature fans probably will choose one of the other authors as a favorite, with Zahn as a dead last choice."
  21. aleja Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 3
    *sniff sniff*

    Is it just me, or does anyone else smell the presence of socks in the first post?

    This conversation has been had. Nice try at resurrecting it, however, in the light of two recent polls that show this theory to be nonsensical. A for effort, D- for execution.
  22. Supreme_Overlord Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2001
    star 1
    one of the excused i heard was "Thrawn is too unbeleivable"
    DUH!
    Its Star Wars, not CNN. We are talking about a universe where people float stuff with their minds, and people are conceived by microscopic life forms.
  23. LanceJade Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 4
    Hmmmm.... rehashing the same territory... how utterly useless. Genghis, thanks for the comprehesive list. I might have to use that at one of my rpg games! It should bring a good laugh. :-D
  24. Genghis12 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 1999
    star 6
    Dew & Aleja...
    Here's a poll where Zahn is nowhere to be found at the top: :D
    http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=2677945&page=1

    Now, if you argue that certain authors are missing from that one (a valid arguement IMO), then you must recognize that the polls you refer to are just as flawed. One can hardly take the polls here as anything close to being accurate and scientific.
  25. Darth Tuna Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 1999
    star 2
    He's #1 in my book. No one else has matched his creativity and level of intelligence. Others may be better at the craft of writing but he has created the most memorable characters and situations. He also manages to get Luke right, which people have found almost impossible to do, currently trying to diminish his stature in the NJO. It's not easy to write a hero and make him believable.
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