Not so long ago, the galaxy was a pieced together mess with less cohesion than an old glue stick. It was a decadent beast filled with incredible contradictions, overpowered force users and some truly terrible stories, but now the Expanded Universe is called Star Wars Legends…
And since the Expanded Universe infused Star Wars with more than 30 years of material, its wretchedness reaches a scope beyond that of even the prequels. Yet, for all the cherry-picking that was necessary to create some semblance of believable events, there were more than a few that rivaled finding a Picasso in your basement. Not every tale was about an Ewok Jedi or IG-88 becoming the Death Star.
KOTOR I and II, Death Troopers, Thrawn Trilogy, Clone Commando series and Yuuzhan Vong showed us the gritty, human struggles of an actual universe, not a dumbed down linear story of good vs evil. They felt exactly like Star Wars ought to feel, but there wasn’t always a Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Empire, or Rebels.
There’s facsimiles of those OT elements certainly, but they’re all different enough to be their own thing. Each managed to introduce new content that added to the overall richness already present. They could make us sympathize with a cruel and depraved Sith or revile the noblest goody two-shoes Jedi.
Darman meets Etain Tur-Mukan. Art from starwars.wikia.com
Knights of the Old Republic gave us a different taste of the Star Wars universe 4,000 years removed from the events of A New Hope. It’s deftly crafted story delved into the origins of the Tusken Raiders, finer points of Wookiee culture and presented a twist on par with Vader’s reveal to Luke.
The Clone Commando series wasn’t about some swashbuckling, lightsaber wielding hotshot performing heroic deeds while lesser beings served as meat shields. It was about exploring the warrior culture of the clone troopers through the eyes of a tight knit clone commando family fighting for the Republic’s survival.
And then, of course, there’s the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong. Neither the Mandalorians, Empire or Sith were ever so much a threat to the galaxy at the height of their power. Even with the combined might of the New Republic, Imperial Remnants and Fett’s Mandalorian warriors, 365 trillion sentients lay dead by war’s end. Their military tactics and political motivations are utterly alien to everything we’ve seen before. They’re not looking to conquer the Light or test themselves through battle. Their desire is to reshape the galaxy in their own image, free from the mechanical abominations that pollute it’s stars.
The Yuuzhan Vong were merciless in their crusade against the galaxy. Art by Chris Scalf.
This is where Disney’s inclination for marketing cheap, plastic toys to little girls and boys about some forgettable character beating the bad guy, saving the world and getting the girl strangles good storytelling. As long as novels didn’t contradict established material from the movies, their words were accepted into the official Star Wars canon. Even with the advent of The Force Awakens, many are so far removed from the events of Phantom Menace through Return of the Jedi that their capacity to co-exist isn’t even up for debate. Even more so when we’re given sub-par material like “Aftermath.”
Still, there’s more than 30,000 unaccounted years prior to the Battle of Endor and 30 between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. With all this breathing room, there’s every chance characters from the now defunct Legends universe will be rebooted or reintroduced into the official canon.
The LucasFilm Story Group even stated during a panel last year they have plans for just that later down the road. And if not, what’s stopping you from enjoying it as an alternate universe? Those stories didn’t cease to be the moment Disney wiped the slate clean. They’re still out there. Because no matter what the content creators or other fans say, you’ve got every right to enjoy whatever facets of the Star Wars universe you want.