Welcome to another installment of EUCantina’s weekly opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Each week, I tackle a specific Star Wars EU event that has garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. Once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment and offer your own thoughts!
This week, I’ll be discussing some canceled material from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Spurred on by Sue Rostoni’s latest comments regarding books that are not being made, I’ve decided to revisit some of the more big-name titles, across novels, comics and video games, and take a look at these potential stories and their reasons for cancellation.
The dreaded cancellation. It is the bane of every EU fan’s existence. There’s nothing more depressing than looking forward to a book since its announcement, and then having the story snatched out from under you without even a hint of a warning. There isn’t a single EU fan that hasn’t had their hopes crushed into dust, and it’s my hope today that we won’t have a bittersweet tour of “what could have been,” but rather – a look at what we didn’t get, why we didn’t get it, and the chance for a release sometime in the future.
The Untold Books
Imperial Commando 2. Easily one of the biggest profile Star Wars books to get canceled in recent days, as each of the books in this series were New York Times Bestsellers and, despite the division caused among fans, seemed to be enjoyed by a great deal of people. Unlike other books that have been canceled in recent years, Imperial Commando 2 would have continued (if not wrapped up) the storyline that fans had been following for years. What about all those characters we came to love, like Darman, Niner and Kal Skirata? We’ll never know what ended up happening to them, or getting any sense of closure, because Karen Traviss left the Expanded Universe for greener pastures – and Del Rey doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry to fill Traviss’s shoes and wrap the storyline up. Fans, like myself, were left in a lurch.
Future Forecast: I think it’s pretty likely that we’ll see this storyline get wrapped up at some point. Obviously, the usual suspects have passed on this book. It seems like perhaps Del Rey is waiting to connect with an author who enjoys these characters, and doesn’t mind taking the reins on a beloved – and intensely debated – series. I suspect this that within the next novel contract, we’ll see this storyline either continued by a brand new author, or concluded. If you’d like to learn the storyline that never was, Karen Traviss did provide fans with a basic “what I would have done with the series” answer.
Blood Oath. Now here was a book that plenty of fans were hyped for, but one that I predicted from the beginning would be either extremely terrible (given my strong dislike of Dark Journey) or outright canceled. And it turns out that I was totally right. Originally scheduled to be released in April 2009, Blood Oath was subject to several postponements as Elaine Cunningham didn’t turn her manuscript in. Eventually, by August 2009, Del Rey still hadn’t received the manuscript and just considered the book a lost cause with its cancellation. To this day, it has never been specified just what the heck happened. The book was supposed to take place between Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi, but obviously it would seem rather silly to release the books out of basic chronological order (although isn’t The Old Republic… aw, forget it). It was supposed to tell the story of Zekk’s survival following Invincible, with several Hapan and Imperial characters that would set the stage for Fate of the Jedi. Shoot, the book even had official cover art!
Future Forecast: This story is dead, and will never be canon. Probably for the better, given Cunningham’s one-book track record. Consider it highly unlikely she’ll be writing Star Wars for the foreseeable future, if ever.
Escape from Dagu. Here’s another book that was outright canceled so close to publication. Written by William C. Dietz, author of the Dark Forces novellas, Escape from Dagu starred the constantly-getting-the-shaft Shaak Ti, as she leads a mission to free Republic troops caught behind Separatist lines by a Dark Acolyte. It was part of the giant Clone Wars multimedia project, and can be found in the timeline of many of the Clone Wars books. Officially, the book was scrapped in favor of Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, due to the greater appeal for Yoda. If that’s the case, then consider me satisfied. Yoda: Dark Rendezvous was a fantastic read, after all. But it does seem rather odd that the book could come so far, even getting cover art, before getting the axe. Surely it couldn’t have been a question of quality, even if the Dark Forces novellas and Halo: The Flood weren’t anything to write home about. With books like Jedi Trial making it to print, it couldn’t have been an issue of content.
Future Forecast: This novel is, technically, still canon. Will it ever be printed, though? I doubt it. It seems that the era of The Clone Wars has come and gone for Del Rey, and the brunt of the stories will now be told by the television show and its related spin-offs. Was I ticked off when this was canceled? Sure. I look forward to every future Star Wars product, and it’s always easy to pine for that which never was. But in the overall scheme of things, Escape from Dagu was just the object of bad planning.
Untitled Boba Fett Novel. As a huge fan of Boba Fett, this cancellation was, by far, the one that has hit me the hardest. Scheduled to be written by Karen Traviss, this book ended up being axed along with Imperial Commando 2 following her departure from the Expanded Universe. This novel, unfortunately, was to be set after Legacy of the Force – presumably answering many of the burning questions that fans had following the end of that series. It was also supposedly going to have flashbacks to Boba Fett’s past, and Karen Traviss has gone on record to say that the book was canceled due to issues involving the live-action television show.
Future Forecast: Here’s a story that simply has to be told one day. It won’t be the story that Karen Traviss would have told, but the “what happened to Boba Fett?” questions are burning almost as loud now as they were during the New Jedi Order. And we got our favorite bounty hunter to show up in the final book of that series, so I wouldn’t count Fett down yet. Yes, there might be issues involving the live-action show and The Clone Wars television show, but overall… I wouldn’t worry. Boba Fett always turns up when we want him most, and Del Rey definitely has shown over the years that they are willing to pull out all the stops and give us the characters back that we really want (Lumiya and Callista being two recent examples).
Knightfall Trilogy. One of the bigger disappointments from the New Jedi Order was the fact that there were even more books that were supposed to be published, but weren’t! Most infamous is the Knightfall trilogy, written by Michael Jan Friedman (a veteran in the Star Trek universe). In three books, titled Jedi Storm, Jedi Fire and Jedi Blood, Knightfall was to focus on Danni Quee and her misadventures with a mysterious Jedi Knight named Jorallen, dealing with a galaxy that had just been given Tsavong Lah’s ultimatum from Balance Point. The book was to focus heavily on living in a galaxy where Jedi were being turned on, and was to also deal with the subplot involving C-3P0 and droid sentience (the only major subplot in the series that was eventually dropped).
Future Forecast: Unfortunately, this book is dead. There likely won’t be any books published in the New Jedi Order era for a long time… if ever again (as much as it pains me to say that). This series was bagged after Jedi Storm had actually been written, which might explain why Friedman hasn’t been back to write any more Star Wars. Instead, Del Rey decided to focus on Anakin Solo and build him up a little before Star By Star. Maybe if Del Rey ever bothers to do an anthology (PLEASE PLEASE I REALLY WANT Tales from the Yuuzhan Vong War ARRGHHHHH!), we might see elements of this story recycled.
The Untold Comics
Lightsider. Set between Dark Empire and Dark Empire II, this story was to tell the first encounter of Luke Skywalker and Kam Solusar, where Luke convinces Kam to return to the light side after defeating him in a game of lightsider. As fans will likely know, Kam does seem to randomly show up out of nowhere in Dark Empire II and serve a rather heavy role, despite not being previously introduced. The story never got published, obviously, and Tom Veitch hasn’t done any work for Star Wars since.
Future Forecast: Actually, Veitch has been trying for years to get this story off the ground, with all the Star Wars references scrubbed. It’s unknown how the process is coming along, but I suspect that if it ever does make its way to public consumption… it will be a while still down the road.
Boba Fett vs. the Empire. Another Tom Veitch comic that never was, this story would have centered around Boba Fett hunting down Umak Leth, the designer of the Galaxy Gun and World Devastators. It was only a proposed comic, so there’s almost nothing known about it aside from the fact that Fett would be hunting down Leth. That, and the fact that Boba Fett would probably be versus the Empire. Hey… that actually sounds pretty awesome!
Future Forecast: If there’s one thing that Dark Horse loves, it is the random Boba Fett one-shot. While this story will never see the light of day, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Boba Fett end up on the wrong side of the Empire sometime in the future. After all, he did have a miniseries where he fought Darth Vader.
Invasion Storyline. Before the New Jedi Order, there was Dark Horse’s Invasion storyline, which had its roots in Crimson Empire II. Nom Anor was introduced then, with an uncharacteristic hiss, and was meant to be an advanced scout of an extra-galactic alien threat. Although the two stories had some similarities, like Chewbacca’s early death and Nom Anor’s inclusion, the alien invaders were originally planned as being something other than humanoid, possibly even liquid-based lifeforms and possible dark side users. When Del Rey took this idea and ran with it, it was an event that greatly soured the relationship between Dark Horse and Del Rey for years, and although fans had longed to see artistic descriptions of the Yuuzhan Vong, Dark Horse’s editor Randy Stradley was clearly not going to be a part of that. He felt slighted that the planned Invasion wasn’t meant to be and something else entirely was introduced instead.
Future Forecast: This will simply never be. Dark Horse is now producing Invasion, an aptly titled comic series that takes place during the New Jedi Order. For whatever reason, ties between Del Rey and Dark Horse have strengthened of late, at least to the point where they can work together.
The Untold Video Games
Battlefront III. I feel your pain, millions of gamers who loved the first two Battlefront games and enjoy playing online console games with friends. These games were HUGE sellers, but it apparently doesn’t make much difference to LucasArts. In an age where console gamers are still, after five years, pining for an online experience that encompasses Star Wars, Battlefront III was supposed to give us everything we wanted. Once Free Radical, the studio apparently in the process of making the game, lost the rights to the game, some INCREDIBLE footage made its way online that really just put salt in the open wound of no Battlefront III.
Future Forecast: This will make its way to consoles some day. I just have to believe it. The franchise is just too hot and high-selling to not keep it going with some sort of support, although the various Sony PSP releases have certainly dulled the impact of the franchise. Will the above-shown game ever see the light of day? I think the chances are fairly good, especially given the fluid game design from on-foot to space battles. Let’s please keep that in the final product.
Knights of the Old Republic III. Thanks to the Xbox, Star Wars saw a huge resurgence in console gamer popularity with the widely successful Knights of the Old Republic and the slightly lesser received Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Console gamers feel, rightfully so, more than a little slighted that The Old Republic seems destined to be a PC-only MMORPG – quite a different step from the clear-cut stories found in the earlier games. There’s a lot of resistance toward this MMORPG, although I can’t understand why. Especially given how popular games like World of Warcraft are. Perhaps people don’t want to feel like they have to live in the game, and instead just want to play it from start to finish. Surely, that won’t be the case with The Old Republic. But I see that as something cool, something always evolving. Let’s just hope it gets the support that Galaxies never got.
Future Forecast: It will never happen. The Old Republic is Knights of the Old Republic III, and probably encompasses all the possible sequels after it too. And you know what? I’m completely cool with that.
Dark Forces V or Jedi Knight IV. Seriously, where is this game? Jaden Korr was cool and all, but I want a return of Kyle Katarn. And give us something set during the Yuuzhan Vong War. Come on, go ahead and tie it into the whole Vongeralla storyline that has been left untied and just begging to be covered by something cool like a video game.
Future Forecast: They’ve just got to make this, right? RIGHT?
But come on now, we’ve got a bright future ahead of us, despite the various speed bumps that we will always hit along the way. Is there anything I left out that you would have liked to see covered?