I Used to be an Addict of the EU

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):

         I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole

          Star Wars: Tales of the Empire, a Collection of short stories

         Young Jedi Knights series

        New Jedi Order series (not all, but a quite a few)

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?

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15 thoughts on “I Used to be an Addict of the EU

  1. Totally agree. I found the books started getting a bit ridiculous. The Dark Horse comics weren’t much better. How many times can the Emporer come back?

  2. Wow, I definitely agree. I will give you this, you took the step I didn’t, which was to keep reading those books. I remember being an early teen some 10-12 years ago when I first picked up the Heir to the Empire trilogy. Was great at the time, and made want to delve deeper, but as I started getting more into the EU in general, I drew the same conclusions as you. But for me it wasn’t just the killing of major characters, it was also the general intensity of the wrath that would ensue in the galaxy post-ROTJ. It made me feel like the rebels defeating the Empire was a BAD thing considering all the “evil forces” that would lurk their way in afterwards, hehe. And of course that undermines the beauty and power of the original story of a good-willed group of underdogs who defy oppression, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, you took the step I didn’t. I put the books down quickly and said, “I consider myself a hardcore SW fan, but if THIS is what I have to do to stay on the bandwagon, then I don’t know…”

  3. Peter-you make a good point. I never thought about the “intensity of the wrath” after ROTJ. The stories that they continue to write in order to engage the fans keeps getting more and more aggressive to keep our/their interest. I also think that is why I was always more drawn to the story lines that involved smugglers, bounty hunters, and “scum of the earth” type folks because you know that no matter what, galaxies/worlds are going to have the darker underside to them, so it seems more realistic. I can internally accept it more.

    • Yeah, some of the plotlines I saw made the original battle to overthrow the Empire seem like a little rain on a Sunday afternoon. But I guess that’s just a sign of the times. Not to totally launch a conversation or digress, but if you’re also a Batman fan, and have seen the latest movie, then you understand where I’m going. I seriously think I’ve lost 4 years off my life with all the adrenaline pumping through my body as a response to the lengths they went to in order to top the intensity of The Dark Knight.

      • I actually am not a Batman fan, but one of my good friends (I call him Mr. Reticent – he does all my video editing on YouTube) is obsessed with Batman. He overall liked the movie though, but said they tried to cram in too much to keep the momentum going. I enjoyed the movie a lot, but I am no expert, nor an intense fan.
        Do you remember which EU books you read? I liked the Heir to the Empire trilogy a lot, because it kind of gave you the excitement you still needed, but wrapped it up nicely. I thought it was a good balance. From what I’ve read in the latest Insider (this is how I keep track of the EU happenings), the story lines are beginning to focus now on the children of the heroes. Yawn, over it. I think I would appreciate it more if I read the books that took thousands of years before TPM or thousands of years after ROTJ. That way, it can be realistic but still keeps our saga intact as a story of its own.

        • Well you at least saw the movie, and could understand what I was getting at then. It seems your friend (and speaking of Youtube, I saw your SW parody video… amazingly clever and well done!!) saw what I saw– really high stakes to keep our attention.

          As for the EU, to be honest, it was more of a teenage thing. I saw SW as a young kid, then as I hit adolescence I wanted more, so I picked up some of the books. I must have been 12-15 at my “peak” in terms of being involved in the EU, so it’s been 11-14 years now, and sadly I couldn’t even recap the plots of most of them. But I remember reading most of the “canonized” ones: I read the Heir trilogy, the Corellian ones, the ones about Han before he met Luke and company, The X-Wing trilogy (apologies if I’m not citing properly; again it’s been so long I forget . They were all great because they offered imaginative stories that didn’t step on the toes of the original saga.

          But yeah, I too find myself falling into the Old Republic stories… I remember when KOTOR came out, I wasn’t even a computer gamer, but just to have that SW immersion and see how they would treat the saga, I checked it out, and loved it. I think that’s a good work-around to get your continued “SW fix”. Maybe I’ll hang around that era for a while 😛

  4. I like the EU and have read everything (or try to) that comes out. Not because I have to but I like to see how far things have moved along (or moved back in the case of maul) along with characters and storyline’s and what have you. With that in mind over the last few years they have lost there way, but every now and again a good one comes along, like the Darth Plagueis book. I dont think for a second that anyone who hasn’t read or even read just a few EU books inst a fan, however with that said I find myself getting upset at people who turn down there noise to the EU and dont even think of it as canon (on any level)

    • Hi joeylockie- I love reading differing point’s of views, so thanks for commenting.
      Do you read other novels other than the EU? I found that when I read the EU, it was all I read and the need for always trying to keep up with the EU deprived me of other novels I wanted to read. That is one of the biggest frustrations I had, but again, that could be personal as I like to only read one book at a time and really savor each book, which I can’t do when I’m reading multiple novels at once.
      As for turning down my nose at the EU, I’m sorry if I gave off that impression (I’m not sure if you were singling me out or just talking generally) – I was reading them for a reputation, and now that I’m not, I have a huge sense of relief.
      I’m not sure if I consider the EU canonical or not. I understand that technically they are, and in my head Mara Jade married Luke and that’s that, so in some ways I do. I’m not the best person to argue about the canon authenticity, but I know in the latest Insider Dave Filoni mentioned discrepancies between the EU and the Clone Wars and that it can’t be helped, so I think my stance is I take anything touched directly by George Lucas as the first point of legitimacy and work onward from there.
      And lastly, do you agree with Peter (above) that the books kept getting more and more intense just to keep our interest, and in a way, the plot lines ended up making the original trilogy story line seem less heroic?

      • Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you in some time. First of no am not calling you out at all. I dont read other books just star wars book, however I listen to hundreds of other books though amazon and audible. The reason is that I collect star wars book as a hobbie. and I have a out door job and have 40 hours a week which to listen to audio books so am well read.
        I agree that yes as the books go on they get more (much more) intense. but I injoy seeing subplots of characters get filled in and seeing the main characters getting older and now having them worrie about what will happen once they gone.

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