I don’t read the EU anymore.
For those of you who don’t know what EU means – it refers to the Expanded Universe of Star Wars. It can be books or comic books that chronologically take place after the Return of the Jedi, or in between the saga, or even before Anakin were even thought of by the midi-chlorians. It can really refer to anything that takes place outside of the Holy Saga of Episodes I-VI.
Wikipedia (how I love thee) officially defines it as:
“The Star Wars Expanded Universe encompasses all of the officially licensed, fictional background of the Star Wars universe, outside of the six feature films produced by George Lucas. The expanded universe includes books, comic books, video games, spin-off films like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, television series, toys, and other media. This material expands and continues the stories told in the films and, excepting where it contradicts the films, is generally considered canonical. However, George Lucas has viewed it as a separate canon from his movie series.”
For the purpose of this blog, I am only going to be referring to books or comic books.
I used to read the Expanded Universe. My life used to be that of a Star Wars addict and I devoured every Star Wars EU book, and some comic books, I could get my hands on.
I own all of the original Timothy Zahn novels – the “classics” in the Star Wars EU world, also known as the Heir to the Empire trilogy/Thrawn Trilogy.
They were good. In fact – I really enjoyed them. I bought every single one of them (ok – 3 books may not seem like a lot but when you are on an 11-year old budget, that’s a lot of money to fork out). I remember finishing the second book while on vacation in Florida and begging my father to drive me to a book store for the third novel. It never occurred to me that Floridian bookstores may not carry Star Wars EU books. We went to a bookstore and they didn’t have the third and final book, “The Last Command”. Oh it was bad…I was so upset. I’m pretty sure I cried, threw a temper tantrum, etc. My dad just laughed at me. Not being a Star Wars obsessed fan, he didn’t understand the need to have this book in my clammy hands. However – we must have found another a bookstore because I have vivid memories of reading the third book on the beach and being completely antisocial.
After that, it went downhill. Because my budget was tight and I would actually have to work (gasp!) to get money, I borrowed every possible Star Wars books I could get my hands on from our local library. Among those I distinctly remember reading (and I know I read many more):
There were more, so many more. My life was consumed with reading every Star Wars novel that was in my local library. Yes, they were happy memories, but I also don’t remember doing much else during that time.
And then, somewhere along this journey, I began to get frustrated. I realized that no matter how much I read, or how fast I read, I would never be able to keep up. The EU was like a never-ending, exponentially increasing virus. It kept spreading and spreading, taking over my brain and latching on to my general Star Wars obsession. During my time reading the books, they began to kill off main characters from the movie. They needed to up the amp even more, and what better way than to kill off someone everyone holds so dear?
That’s when I got angry. People were reading these for sentimental reasons, to continue to live in a world that George Lucas had decided was over. I had enjoyed living in this extended or “expanded” world as well, but I drew a line when characters started to die.
So I edged off a little bit. I began to go back to my fantasy novels, but still read Star Wars novels (that didn’t kill of anyone big of course) at the same time. Slowly, as if giving up a blanket I had slept with for a long time, I weaned myself off of reading Star Wars novels all together…
…and I got back a life.
I read all kinds of different novels: historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and I realized that I can still define myself as a Star Wars fan without reading all the novels out there. I enjoyed what I read then, but I enjoy what I read now even more.
I was doing it for a reputation; to prove to others that I could keep up with the other hard-core Star Wars fans. I wanted to show that I knew who the latest Star Wars character was, to show I know the names of Han and Leia’s children. But now it doesn’t matter that much to me. When people try to talk to me about the EU, I just say I don’t read it – and it’s really that easy. They back off and don’t care that I don’t or haven’t read it. I had built it up in my head that I needed to read the books and if I didn’t then other Star Wars fans would see me as a fake. If they do see me as a fake or not a true enough fan, I’m ok with it because I’m enjoying myself more by reading books I actually want to read.
My Heir to the Empire trilogy is sitting on my shelf right now, surrounded by Star Wars actions figures and other Star Wars paraphernalia. I like it there. It shows that I know what the EU is, and I have been there at one point in my life. I don’t think I’ll pick them up or go down that road. I can’t imagine everything I would have to catch up on now and how wrapped up I would become all over again.
I guess my overall question is: for the people who read the Expanded Universe novels, do you do it because you want to, or because you feel like you have to in order to uphold a reputation?