Remember back in April of this year (2014), and we were told about the next book in the in-universe series of books by Dan Wallace? Hey, we can’t blame you if you missed it, April was a huge month for Fandom with the biggest shocker since Lucas sold Star Wars and we were getting more films; the Expanded Universe was getting renamed, and the Saga was being reboot. Understandably, a book like the Imperial Handbook can easily be foreshadowed in light of such Fandom shaking news. And it wasn’t until recently that we finally received official word about this publication from StarWars.com itself. (Sep 2014)
Becker&Mayer’s solicitation as well as Starwars.com’s were both missing something that jumped right out to me; what universe is this set in? Was it set in the new Story-Group lead Canon universe? Or was this one like the others before it, set in the Legends continuity? As listeners of Star Wars Beyond the Films might know, this is a topic that has personally plagued me for a few months now. When you look at the descriptions the word “Legends” is never used to describe this book. Not once. In fact a selling point seems to be the in-universe approach that the previous books were so successful for using. Take a look at Becker&Mayer’s description of the book:
As the Imperial Empire expands, high-ranking officials from each branch of the Imperial Military have set down tactical guidelines and procedures for all newly ascending commanders. Set in-universe, this compendium of ordinance, mission reports, and Imperial philosophy was intercepted by members of the Rebel Alliance, some of whom also left commentary scribbled in the margins. Housed in a deluxe case that opens with lights and sounds, this never-before-seen Imperial Handbook is perfect for Star Wars fans—no matter which side of the Civil War they’re on.
“Imperial Handbook continues the legacy of Star Wars books originating within the universe. This closely guarded handbook bears witness to the core philosophies and flawed practices for the Imperial military. With handwritten annotations from Rebel Alliance leaders, such as Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Wedge Antilles, and a one-of-a-kind Imperial Order of Glory medal, Imperial Handbook delivers a galaxy far, far away straight into your hands,” says J.W. Rinzler, executive editor at Lucasfilm.”
“Imperial Handbook is our fourth Deluxe Edition collaboration with Lucasfilm exploring the Star Wars universe,” says Mike Oprins, president of becker&mayer!, “and it is worthy to stand among its predecessors. Our teams have again gone above and beyond to create an in-world exploration of the Empire that will engage every Star Wars fan, from the collector to the casual alike. From the collectable case to the packaging to the surprises inside the book and the case, it is an awesome addition to the series that also includes The Jedi Path, Book of Sith, and The Bounty Hunter Code.”
And even the Starwars.com article had zero use of the word Legends. And while this might not be an issue for some, there are elements of our Fandom that are completely distraught over a great many things that have recently happened in that galaxy far, far away that we love so much. And the biggest hit to many fans was learning that Legends and the films were separate, (a debate for another time) and one universe (Legends) was for all intents and purposes being left to die at the sake of the other. (New films) Now is this a big deal in the long term? I cannot say. But it does shine a light on the Pink Elephant in our Fandom, does Canon matter? Does placing a book inside the Canon universe make it more or less relevant to the fans? I can tell you that for fans of the Legends timeline, knowing that it isn’t dead yet brings some small measure of solace, but not enough to take away the hurt of losing books like Sword of the Jedi, or the completion of certain tales and stories that were still ongoing. And I can also tell you that just because the other 3 books in this series were Legends didn’t automatically mean this would be too, after all the 3rd book in the Empire and Rebellion series is no longer set in Legends, its now going to be set in canon and is no longer part of that series. Heck it isn’t even a SERIES anymore after the Legends split.
So the lack of placement drove me nuts. Which universe did this book fall? Well after asking around and seeking various contacts for better ways to get an answer a response from Becker&Mayer arrived. (As seen here)Comments vary on the subject of whether or not this book being set in Legends is a good or bad thing, as some see anything set in Legends as nothing beyond published fan-fiction. But it raises the question doesn’t it? Did the publishers and Starwars.com specifically avoid using the term Legends in this case? Is our Fandom so tumultuous that even the mention of 2 universes, or stories being set in canon or in Legends is enough to bring us into troll wars?
When I started this article it was to share the joy I had at learning that Legends was still living, but as I spread that word I found the reactions mixed, I stopped and wondered, can there be peace? Can Legends and Canon continue to co-exist? Or must Legends eventually die so Fandom can come to a forced peace? And does it even matter to you that a book is or isn’t set in canon? Can a book be good and not be meant for the canon universe? And will any of this matter to the publishers and Lucasfilm as they move forward? I ask because I see many fans asking for Lucasfilm to “Continue Legends” but is it even possible? Or are we just going to get a few more books like this one that fell between the cracks as the Legends divide came along?
What do you think about it all? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!Powered by Sidelines