On Star Wars

Novels, Novelizations and Tie-ins, Oh My

By Lou Anders

A long time ago, in a decade far, far away (1978 to be exact), Alan Dean Foster wrote the very first Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which is pretty much where all the trouble started. Intended originally as the basis of a potential low-budget sequel, the story takes place entirely on a fog-shrouded planet, and stars only Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2. (Han Solo is noticeably absent, as Harrison Ford had yet to sign to return.) I remember the day my father brought it to the dinner table. I was impressed at the “legitimizing” of the film by seeing it rendered in so distinguished a medium as print. Of course, I lacked the vocabulary to express it in quite those terms then. But it wasn’t until a decade later, in 1987, when West End Games began licensing the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, that the “expanded universe” of Star Wars continuity began to be codified and refined. This larger body of Star Wars canon grew through the popular Dark Horse comic book license that soon followed. Then, in the early 1990s, when Bantam published Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, interest in the novelizations really took off, catapulting the universe of Star Wars media tie-ins to its current level–New York Times best-selling books and a gigantic cash cow for Lucasfilm and all of its subsidiaries.

Now, let’s get something straight here at the outset. I’m not a big fan of media tie-ins and novelizations in general. I don’t believe  …

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