Impact of Star Wars and the Expanded Universe

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
 
Those iconic words came onto a screen silently before a blast of fanfare shows the name Star Wars, before scrolling letters move across the screen.
 
Some might claim that they knew Star Wars would be great in 1977, but could they have imagined what it would continue to do?  Could they imagine six movies with three more on their way?  Could they imagine graphic novels and books that ranged for children in elementary school all the way through adults?
 
Star Wars was not the first space story.  Indeed, years before stories of Buck Rodgers and the crew from Lost in Space were being told.
 
What makes Star Wars great?
 

That is a question that can be answered differently by many different people.  Some might say it is the story of good vs. evil.  Some might say it is the chemistry between the characters.  Some might enjoy the romance and others might prefer the action. 
 
No matter the answer, Star Wars has had an impact on the world of literature.  Shortly after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope, Alan Dean Foster wrote Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first Star Wars novel to ever be written.  These events happen sometime after the movie. It follows the story of Luke and Leia who are on a mission for the Rebellion.  They crash land on Mimban, but they are not the only ones.  Vader is also on the planet.
 
This book is considered the first book of the Expanded Universe.  EU as it is often referred to, is a piece of work that covers an event that didn’t happen specifically in the movie.   There are over 300 of these books available, not counting graphic novels, around 60 reference books and a handful of role playing games.
 
So what does this mean (aside from proving I did attempt to count them all)?
 
So there are many novels, what does this mean?
 
This means many things, but the most important is that a universe created by George Lucas has grown.  Though I could get into logics of authors being allowed to write what they would like, they all use the name Star Wars.  They have taken characters, some created by George Lucas, some by themselves and some from other authors.  They have worked together to create a universe that spans many planets and tells stories that range from the early days of Sith until it is following the stories of the children of Han and Leia.  Over 80 authors have put characters together and worked together. 

Though they have all written different books, this is a sign of authors willingly coming together to share ideas and work together.  Though they didn’t all meet around a table at one time, if an event happens in another book, that event still has occurred (most notable: the death of a very beloved character).  Other authors will not bring that character back because it is an event that happened.  It can’t be undone.  This is not a common practice for most movies.  There might be a novelization but none have so many books.  Yet, this practice became adopted by other television shows.  These include “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Supernatural” and “Doctor Who” to name a few.  Star Wars started a trend of allowing authors the chance to bring their own style and their own ideas to a universe.  Seeing how well this did, television shows allowed authors to write and publish stories using characters from these television shows. 
 
Star Wars also has inspired a lot of fan fiction, where authors will take the stories and write their own stories.  They are not allowed to publish these stories, but they can be shared on websites like fanfiction.net.  A writer might decide to turn to websites like that to work on their own writing abilities or to tell a story they have in their minds.  The possibilities are endless.
 
Star Wars opened up a genre that was started to fade away.  Science fiction stories, popular in the 1950s were not as popular in the 1970s. Yet, audiences around the world have seen the movies, read the books, played the video games or at the very least, have waved a stick around, making humming noises like the lightsabers.   It has touched us for one reason or another.  Perhaps we want to be a Jedi or perhaps we want to be a smart talking smuggler or a princess who is more than just a damsel in distress.  Or perhaps we like the idea of good overcoming evil, no matter the odds.  Or perhaps we just want to escape through a screen or pages of a book to take a journey through space with characters that feel like old friends.   No matter the reason, Star Wars has been a big influence on culture and literature and will continue to do so for many years to come.
 
May the Force will be with you.

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