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Why Star Wars Legends Still Matters

A few months ago, Lucasfilm announced that they were putting together a new team called the Story Group. This group of Canon champions (including Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo, two long-time curators and mavens of the EU) had the task in place to ensure that everything that was created within the Star Wars universe would be interconnected and adhere to Canon. Everything. This included movies, TV shows, Novels, comics and games. No more Mandalorian Contradictions. No more Even Piel double-deaths. None of the contradictions that had long troubled the Expanded Universe and annoyed us detail-oriented fans. This noble group was going to fight for consistency and universe-building on behalf of EU fans everywhere. No group since rogue squadron had ever been created to fight for the good of the EU.

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Except that they also blew the whole thing up.

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That’s right. While the Story group will be doing incredible things moving forward (and I really AM excited to see how much they will improve the new canon) they completely nullified everything before. In order to allow complete freedom to the new, integrated, multimedia universe that was blooming, everything that already existed would have to go (as far as canon was concerned). It seemed, at first, like a huge blow to the gut of this Star Wars fan. All of that time and effort sunk into the Expanded Universe seemed to have been wasted. My favorite characters would never make it to the movies. There really is no such thing as a Yuuzhan Vong?!

Yuuzhan Vong

But after some time to digest, that reaction seems silly now. The “old expanded universe” now known as Legends is still a great read and a worthwhile part of my fandom. Here are a few reasons why:

1)   The story is still the same:

This may seem unnecessarily obvious, but nothing about the story told among those Legends novels has changed. No really, it hasn’t.

When we consider the stories as the history of the universe we all love, sure… in that case it no longer exists. But if we take a deep breath and remember that they are stories… that hasn’t changed at all. We all have stories that we love that are not tied to a franchise we obsess over. And you know what? We still love those stories. If you separate the stories from Star Wars, what do we have left?

We have great characters. As a matter of fact, most fans of Legends would say that the Big Three are the least compelling and interesting of the bunch! Jaina, Jacen, Saba, Daala, Vestara, Plagueis (for the most part) all exist completely within the Legends Universe.

Skywalkers

We have great stories. The X-Wing books are incredible as adventure stories with or without Star Wars attached to them. The same goes for every other book and plot as well. The stories are still great.

We have an improved Canon. This is probably a tough concept to grasp, but is incredibly important to realize. That internal canon of the novels still exists… it’s just not the canon of Jacen SoloStar Wars. Characters live and die on the same timeline. Jacen’s decisions during the Dark Nest crisis still causes a Galactic Civil War that leads to Luke’s expulsion from Coruscant. Thousands of years later, the Yuuzhan Vong still tell the legend of The Ganner. It’s all Legends canon… it’s just not Star Wars canon. As a matter of fact, the canon gets improved when you look at Legends in isolation. Most of the continuity errors came from cross-platform media (and when I say “cross-platform media” I really mean The Clone Wars). Now that the books are disassociated with the new continuity, they get to exist on their own and many of the canon-debates can be closed.

Just because they aren’t officially Star Wars doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy every thing about these books that we always have. And if you’re someone who hasn’t read Legends before, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy them as great stories in a self-contained universe.

2)   Who knows what will stick around:

As I watched the prequels, one of the most interesting aspects of the story to me was the planet Coruscant. I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a galactic political base and an entire city-planet. It seemed like a pretty thriving place full of diversity, urban challenges and an overwhelming sense of business and urgency. It was the exact opposite of Tatooine in every way… and pretty dissimilar to Hoth and the forest moon of Endor as well. I remember being impressed that they seemed to really break the mold that had been established by the original trilogy.

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I should point out here that I didn’t get into the Legends novels until after the saga was completed… meaning I hadn’t read the Zahn trilogy until after Episode 3 was out. I point this out because Lucas didn’t create Coruscant, Timothy Zahn did. To be fair, he may have based the idea on Lucas’ notes and outlines…. But that’s not the same thing. Zahn named the planet. Zahn gave us our first description of the planet. Zahn decided what it looked like, who lived there, and how the government center was organized. Zahn made it real and Zahn made it known.

Star Wars fans can be finnicky and so we tend to focus on all of the times that there was tension between the “George Lucas” Star Wars and the “Expanded Universe” Star Wars. But we shouldn’t forget that George and other LucasFilm producers borrow successfully from the Expanded Universe all the time. Coruscant is probably the most obvious example, but did you know that Kashyyyk and Twi’lek are expanded universe words as well?

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Countless ideas in the Prequels and in The Clone Wars were taken from the Expanded universe and, while occasionally it led to continuity disasters, for the most part it was exciting to see the species, people, and creatures I had read about being brought to life on the screen. I can only imagine how much MORE intrigued I would have been with Coruscant had I already been invested in it from the novels.

With this change to continuity, there’s no reason to expect that the Story Group won’t still be pulling material from the Legends stories. I imagine we will see plenty of planets, species and concepts from the Legends universe. No, the events didn’t happen… but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Barabel in the coming movies. And with the new story group in place, it means we could see similar creations showing up in movies, TV shows and even future novels, as well.

I can’t wait to see what gets carried over either as central aspects of the new canon or even as little easter eggs in the films, and I can’t wait to see what improvements they make in the process.

3)   It’s going to take a while before we have a new universe to take its place:

So most of my reasoning comes from the perspective of an existing fan responding to the changes, but this point is for all of the potential fans wondering whether or not they should get started on the Legends books despite their lack of canon status.

Legends

The cold, hard truth is that it is going to be a long time before the new efforts of the Story Group come to fruition. It’s already been a long time and there hasn’t been a new book written yet. Of course it takes a lot of preparation and planning to undergo an effort this big…. I’m not begrudging them the ability to make this transition and to do it right; I’m simply stating that it will be a while before it gets up and running.

And then it will be another while before it is as full and vibrant as the Legends universe is today.

For most fans of the Star Wars novels, we got into them because we wanted more than watching the movies over and over (although we still do this). Many of you might be thinking the same thing and Legends is there for you, just like it was for me. Rather than waiting and waiting for the new Canon to take hold, why not dive into Legends and enjoy the ride?

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Canonicity is something that I really do believe is important. The internal Canon of the Legends books will always be what draws me to them. Thousands of years of interconnected Star Wars Classichistory in the Galaxy Far, Far Away makes for an incredible reading experience. Officially, it’s no longer canon… I get it. But if a new reader were to jump in today, it would still be great and it would still be Star Wars. Some day, when the new canon is vast and developed it may be time to say that Legends became a mystical relic of the past, but that time is not now. Now it should still be embraced as the greatest expansion to the greatest franchise we all love. It’ll help pass the time until Episode VII comes around. It’s going to be a new era for the franchise once that happens anyways.

~ Mitchell Hanan

Top 7 Star Wars His & Her Gifts

Gift shopping isn’t always the easiest task–so many last minute shopping ventures flooding my mind right now. However, the good thing about being in a relationship that embraces inner quirkiness is the abundance of awesome gift options out there! I’ve saved you the trouble of endless browsing. Here are my top, hand-picked, nerd-approved selections that are sure to strike up a romantic force with your loved one.

1.) Matching Bow Ties and Hair Bows

Bows

The perfect gift for that couple who can rock geek-chic seamlessly: have you seen unique novelty pieces like these anywhere else? These bow ties are pre-tied and adjustable, and the hair bows are available on different types of clips and headbands. You can also request any kind of customization on these from the shop seller.

2.) Star Wars Cookbook

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Ideal for the gourmet couple who loves experimenting in the kitchen, this cookbook has tons of recipes (including hits from previous Star Wars cookbooks) and even comes with three ultra cool cookie cutters to create your wookiee pies and clone scones. The recipes are fun, creative, and tasty, yet simple enough for beginners or children to follow.

3.) Lightsaber Chopsticks

lightsaber chopsticks

Okay, these are just awesome; they actually light up! Surprise your loved one on a Sushi date with these! Or pop them out on a lazy evening with a Star Wars marathon and Chinese. You just can’t miss with these.

4.) Couples Keychain

key chains

These little hand-stamped keychains are too cute! It can be hard to find charms like these that aren’t just on necklaces, so for those who don’t really like jewelry much, this is the perfect alternative.

5.) Bath Towels

Bath towels I love you

Keep a daily reminder of your strong bond. Those famous lines “I love you” and “I know” celebrate one of the most romantic loves scenes in film history. Each towel is embroidered with this quote and silhouettes of Leia and Han in a pretty silver-grey color.

6.) Silly Travel Mugs

Mugs

Morning coffee just got better. For the couple that is busy and on the go, it’s always nice to have little reminders of each other, especially silly ones that make you smile.

7.) C-3PO & R2-D2 Necklace

R2 and C3PO

If your S.O. is also your best friend, this necklace is the best symbol of your lasting, forever friendship. Each of you get one half of the adored dynamic duo that sticks together no matter what.

-Emily Vasquez
Born and raised in Florida, she is currently a student at USF pursuing a degree in English. She is a self-diagnosed workaholic and freelance writer who is involved with MyAreaNetwork, EmilyRose Couture, GirlZone, and Glass-Book. In her free time she loves practicing yoga, a good book, blogging, bubble baths, and eating Taco Bell with her boyfriend. For updates, follow her on twitter: @xoemilyleigh.

Top 5 Star Wars Instagrams to Follow

Over the last year I have really learned my way around Instagram, and there has been a growth of Star Wars related people using the social media service. I have found that it is one of the best ways to share pictures because you can crop, edit or even meme a picture and then share it across your social media all at once.

instagram

I have had people ask me how I use it, and I tell them simply it is all about hashtags and showing who you really are. There are many accounts for different fandoms that just find pictures around the internet and then they jazz them up with apps on their phones and they post those. I have found I like to post pictures from events I cover and then practice my iPhoneography. No matter what way you use choose to do it, it usually helps if you for the most part post the same kind of things. This allows people to find you easier. In many ways it is similar to Twitter in that regard. The one frustrating thing is that Instagram does not have an easy way to switch accounts. For instance, if you have an account for your podcast and personal one for you there is not an easy way to just flip flop between them. I keep my fingers crossed that one day they will allow this.

Let’s get down to business; though, I am not here to tell you how to Instagram but rather to give you some good Star Wars accounts to follow. Here are my top 5 Star Wars people to follow.

@StarWars

star wars IG

@HerUniverse

HU IG

@JBoyega

jboyega IG

@JediNewsUK

JN IG

@Amy_Geek

amy IG

Now they may not always post something about Star Wars but they do post a lot of geeky stuff. There are tons of fan sites and just general fans to follow on Instagram so here are a few hashtags I like to search for and find cool images.

#starwars

#stormtroopers

#starwarstats

#starwarsrebels

#starwarsweekends

#starwarsart

#starwarsfan

#starwarsgeek

I hope this gives you a little look into the world of Instagram. You can always ask me anything any time.

If you want to follow me I am @icecoldpenguin and until next time: Yub Yub!

penguin IG

Why Hayden Christensen Should be in ROTJ

The following is piece by Jason Hunt of the Wampa’s Lair Podcast.

Hayden Christensen should be the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Now before anyone jumps on me for suggesting such a blasphemous idea let me give you some context about me and my thought process leading up to my conclusion.

Hayden

I am a 25 year old Star Wars fan who missed seeing the OT in unaltered form.  The only OT film I have seen in its original version is ROTJ on a VHS at a friend’s house.  But before you write me off as a young, prequel loving whippersnapper (although that may be true) my first exposure to the films was the Special Edition where I was able to see Sebastian Shaw in all his ghostly glory.  When the DVDs came out with the Hayden change I was surprised but not angry.  I got used to the change and decided I liked it because of how it tied the Prequel Trilogy in with the Original Trilogy, they are the same story after all.

Since then I’ve defended my enjoyment of the change as a stylistic preference while conceding to story based arguments in favor of Sebastian Shaw.  Over the years this lead to a gradual waning of my positive opinion of the Hayden change until I reached a neutral “non-opinion.”  Two weeks ago that all changed.

I was doing my podcast prep for Episode 91 of The Wampa’s Lair Podcast.  Karl and I were discussing various changes in the Star Wars films; changes we liked, changes we didn’t like, and changes we would make.  The Hayden Christensen change came to mind and I was trying to figure out which, if any, category it would go into.  Then that was when my brainstorm hit me and I will never look on this change with apathy or disdain ever again!

Having the Hayden Christensen Anakin as a Force ghost shows us the depth and completeness of Anakin’s redemption.  In my mind it also helps to reinforce the fact that Anakin Skywalker, not Luke, is the Chosen One.  Here is how I see it.

Having the old Anakin as the Force ghost gives me the impression of “Hey you were a good person who turned horribly evil but decided to become good on your deathbed for all the right reasons and here is your reward.”  Maybe that’s a slightly cynical look at it but it really feels like old Anakin is a ghost only because he turned to the light side and Luke forgave him right there.  Not that I’m saying that was a bad thing but it seems a bit limited.

With the Hayden Christensen Force ghost we see Anakin as he was BEFORE his fall to the dark side.  This is key because that shows me the full extent of his redemption.  Not only did Luke forgive Anakin but it appears the Force did as well.  Anakin fell to the dark side, abandoned his calling of being the Chosen One, and committed horrible acts in the name of his master.  But at the very end of it all when Anakin rises up in Vader, saves his son, and kills the emperor he returned to the light side and fulfilled his destiny as the Chosen One. With the young Anakin ghost we see that his redemption wasn’t just for his last moments of life.  Anakin’s redemption was full and complete, covering everything that he ever did.

So maybe that wasn’t George Lucas’ intention when he made that change and maybe my view is colored by my religious beliefs.  But that’s the beauty of Star Wars.  We get to read our own experiences in mythology, philosophy, and theology in the characters and stories on the screen.  All I know is after coming to this realization about Anakin’s Force ghost I get chills when I see Hayden Christensen in Return of the Jedi.  This is now my favorite change made in Return of the Jedi.  I don’t expect everyone to have the same reaction I did but maybe at least this will give people less cause to hate the change.

Jason Hunt

Episode VII Casting: Crystal Clarke & Pip Anderson

From starwars.com, (via Making Star Wars) it looks like we have to latest members of the Star Wars VII cast have joined the crew! Are they “Rachel and Thomas”? It looks that way.

Having hunted high and low for young and undiscovered talent, the filmmakers are delighted to announce that two actors from the open call call have been cast.

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Crystal Clarke is an American actress studying in Glasgow, UK, who has both stage and screen acting experience and is soon to be seen in her first feature, The Moon and the Sun (to be released in 2015). British actor Pip Anderson is a skilled practitioner of parkour, a discipline that involves propelling oneself through any given environment with incredible grace and agility. Pip recently demonstrated this remarkable skill in a Spider-Man adfor Sony.

“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film,” said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Abu Dhabi shooting is now wrapped and it looks like Principal photography continues at Pinewood. However, there will be a two week break in August while Harrison Ford recovers from his peg-leg-causing injury.

Most importantly: The release date stands firm! See ya in theaters in Dec. 2015!

-Riley