Monday, January 27, 2014

My Star Wars Dreaming Is Over

There is one experience in my life that makes me obscenely cocky:  I got to sit in a theater at age seven and witness a massive Star Destroyer gun down a Blockade Runner over the planet Tatooine.  To this day I still have my Star Wars toys in a box because, for me, that movie was the life altering experience of my childhood.  Star Wars in 1977.  You had to be there.  You had to be a kid.  You had to leave the theater with a new theology - The Force.  I even remember my nightmare that very night.  I flew down the Death Star canyon, but at the end of the trench loomed a giant black mask of Darth Vader.  I woke up with my chest thumping, and I’ve been dreaming about Star Wars ever since.

I’ve gotten to spend a lifetime experiencing the evolution of this storyline.  It began with the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and then continued with the movies Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Dark Horse gave me some wonderful comics.  Then came more novels, beginning with the Thrawn trilogy, which created the Expanded Universe (EU). 

When George Lucas released a special edition of the original Star Wars movies in the 1990s, I remember waiting in line and hearing the young boy in front of me tell his brother, “Dad was our age when he saw this movie.”  Star Wars, it seems, is itself a cultural tradition.  Next came the prequels.  Ugh.  There’s also all those wonderful Star Wars games from LucasArts, and even Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network.  I experience as much as I can.  And interacting with the Star Wars fan base all these years, I can tell you that everyone is different.  Some focus on the games, others on the comics, some join the costume community, others read all the books, etc.  There’s something for everyone, and despite the contradictions that inevitably result in such a vast universe, I’m astounded at how compact the storyline has remained.  You can take any Star Wars paperback and place it on a timeline.  But now that wonderful EU is at risk.

In October, 2012 George Lucas sold his Star Wars legacy to Disney.  The rumors are rampant about the obliteration of the EU.  A lifetime friend (we shared our Star Wars toys as kids) told me that Lucas doesn’t even consider the EU to be canon.  That news devastated me.  It confirmed for me that my decades of keeping tabs on the interactions of the different Star Wars eras (Old Republic,  Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy) might all be for naught.      

As a Star Wars dreamer, I secretly wanted to publish a story in the EU.  I began by writing a comic length story, that turned into a novelette, a novella, and then into a novel-length tale.  But it kept getting altered as the storylines changed.  All of my plot lines with Chewbacca, Mara Jade, Anakin Solo, Jacen Solo, etc. had to be rewritten since these characters all got the ax.  Yet, I’ve kept at it.  Evolving my story to stay consistent.  But with the news of Disney’s acquisition, I had to face the prospect of total change.  The EU might be jettisoned outright.  For this reason I made it my New Year’s resolution for 2013 to complete the novel. 

One note I must make:  I am old school.  When I write, I do so with pen and paper.  Eventually I’ll type my notes on a computer, but I can never compose on a keyboard.  I’m like a painter who can’t give up his brush.  In January of 2013 I made a trip with my wife to Chicago.  And since we’d be on an Amtrak train for four hours, I decided to bring all those notes and start typing.  I don’t know what happened, but my black plastic folder got lost.  On the train?  At the hotel?  I haven’t the slightest idea.  Years of work, and decades of imagination, gone.  I’d always told myself that if I never published in the EU, at least I could turn the final product into fan fiction.  But now it’s all gone.

Maybe it’s for the best.  The fan base may hate my ideas anyway.  I called my novel The Twin Prophecy.  You see, I’ve always been fascinated by Luke and Leia as twins.  The same goes for Han and Leia’s twins - Jaina and Jacen.  In Phantom Menace Lucas introduces a prophecy, but we only get a few clues about it.  And we learn that Anakin Skywalker seems to be a product of an immaculate conception through a vergence in the Force.  I took the liberty of writing down the words to that prophecy.  I then run with Yoda’s declaration that the prophecy may be misinterpreted.  The Sith, in fact, have the rest of the prophecy which the Jedi are clueless about.  The full version of the prophecy has a rule of two, the chosen two.  The chosen, in fact, are twins who must become one through a vergence in the Force.  So, in the ultimate twist, Anakin Skywalker may not be an only child.  Who is his twin?  And if the Jedi interpretation of the prophecy is wrong, which means Anakin is not the chosen one, then a vergence in the Force has not happened.  So when will it happen?  And who is Darth Vader’s father if there was no immaculate conception?  And what does it mean if Jaina Solo is pregnant with twins?  Oh the fun I had writing it all.  It’s supposed to be the next Star Wars installment after the Fate of the Jedi novels some 44 years after Star Wars: A New Hope.   

But how could I be so stupid?  I lost my notes, no copies.       

To add to my disillusionment, I feel like another emperor is completing a second Jedi purge.  Disney has shutdown LucasArts, cancelled The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network, and is moving the comics from Dark Horse to Marvel in 2015.  It’s all too much for me.  I can say, without reservation, that events have conspired to purge my enthusiasm.  My Star Wars Dreaming Is Over.

Yet, with that said, my cockiness remains.  What Star Wars first inspired lives on.  I dare to dream that I can produce something original, something my own.  Sometimes a vision does not come to fruition, but it’s that inspired dreaming that counts.  And for that, I thank George Lucas as well as everyone else who advanced the Star Wars universe all these decades.

By Mark Schelske