With the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens campaign operating at maximum capacity, we’ve gotten a lot of new tidbits from various sources (Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, Shattered Empire #1, Star Wars: Uprising, and more) that are collectively creating a new vision for the state of the Star Wars universe beyond the events of Return of the Jedi. Today, the Jedi Council members of Dork Side of the Force meet to offer our opinions on what we each feel is the most exciting new development in the post- Episode VI galaxy.
David Harris: For me, it’s the immersive experience of new characters interacting with iconic legends such as Mon Mothma and Wedge Antilles, and watching the story unfold on the new planet of Akiva. I’m only halfway through Aftermath, but I can tell you that I am utterly enthralled…and that’s something coming from a person who is a huge fan of Force users. I say this, because so far, there has been only a passing mention of the Sith and the Jedi, and barely a mention of the “Rebellion’s golden boy, Skywalker.”
I’m also extremely pleased with Chuck Wendig’s (Aftermath’s author) all inclusive take on this brave new Star Wars universe. So far, as a reader, I’ve been introduced to a same sex couple who raised the son of a veteran of the Galactic War. This is important…in fact this is very important because we live in a day and age where the new nuclear family is blended in ways that go beyond a mother and father, and Chuck Wendig has in Star Wars, the perfect tool to tell a story of acceptance and love where it’s okay that a mother and mother can raise a son, or a mother and father of two different species can raise children.
This speaks to a larger issue, as a whole. When the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted, and John Boyega’s Finn popped his head up onto the screen, many intolerant troglodytes railed against Disney and Lucasfilm because of the color of his skin. How dare they put a black man in the armor of a stormtrooper…what blasphemy! Sadly, these neckbearded basement dwellers haven’t gone away, but as we near December 18, and Episode VII‘s debut, I hope and pray that books like Aftermath, with excellent authors like Chuck Wendig — who aren’t afraid to include stories with characters from all walks of life, regardless of their age, disability, ethnicity, gender, planetary origin, race-species, religion, or sexual orientation — will help bridge that gap to a whole new generation of Star Wars fans, where everyone is accepted, no matter who they are.
Elaine Tveit: Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is, unsurprisingly, the journey itself; more specifically, the bits and gems of new information pertaining to Episode VII tucked surreptitiously throughout the new canon. An important namedrop in Shattered Empire #1, an older Leia recording her memoirs in Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci, the establishment of a New Republic in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath… And those are only the ones I know of so far.
While these bits and gems on their own may not seem significant, together they are filling the gap of what is now, for the most part, the completely blank era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Just as the Legends did (and still do in that alternate Star Wars universe living on in our hearts), the novels, comics, and video games in the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens campaign are creating a history for us, a lore upon which to build the sequel trilogy. But this time, it’s even more exciting because the history will be completely canon; the name drops, adventures, and events will all be significant, and will all lead up to the ultimate destination: The premiere of The Force Awakens in December.
What a wonderful time to be a Star Wars fan!
Kyle Warnke: For those who have yet to finish Star Wars: Aftermath, a warning: I’m about to divulge major spoilers about the end of the novel.
Chuck Wendig’s book ends with one of the most tantalizing cliffhangers in Star Wars history. After the meeting among Imperial generals on the planet of Akiva goes awry, Imperial Admiral Rae Sloane reports back to an unnamed, mysterious commander. The figure assures her that everything is proceeding as planned and he has everything under control.
Who could this figure be? Some have speculated that it’s Supreme Leader Snoke, the motion-capture character being played by Andy Serkis who’s assumed to be the big bad villain in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If so, we may be able to confirm that he appears in Aftermath based on his role in the movie, although it’s likely the next book in the Aftermath trilogy will feature him as well.
But there’s another, even more exciting possibility. Could this man be Grand Admiral Thrawn? For those who don’t remember, Thrawn is a blue-skinned alien called a Chiss who rose through the ranks of the Empire as a cunning strategist. He was the main villain in Timothy Zahn’s seminal trilogy of novels set after Return of the Jedi and is still one of the most beloved characters in the old Expanded Universe.
Technically, Thrawn doesn’t exist anymore in the new canon. But would Lucasfilm be willing to bring him back? They’re certainly not averse to drawing on the old canon for ideas, and I doubt fans would be upset about Thrawn returning. If so, it could set an interesting precedent for whether any of the old canon could find its way into the new Star Wars scripture.