He shoehorned CGI monsters into every Star Wars scene, he made Greedo shoot first, and he invented Jar Jar Binks. But it’s only recently, shortly after the sale of the company he founded to Disney, that Lucas completed his most nefarious work. For George Lucas would stop at nothing short of blowing up the universe.
Specifically the Star Wars expanded universe, the collection of books, comics, video games, and stories that blossomed into the narrative space left by the original Star Wars movie trilogy. In April, Lucasfilm announced that the post-Return of the Jedi expanded universe — a history built over 35 real-world years out of millions of words and thousands of characters — would be destroyed. Not with a bang, like Alderaan or the Death Stars, but with a whimper. The events that the books and games and comics said took place after Star Wars: Episode VI were rebadged as Star Wars Legends: an alternate reality to the new canon to be written in upcoming movies and CGI TV shows..
So, this was inevitable. Yes, George officially “blew up the galaxy” after the sale of the Lucasfilm but he’d been chipping away at it for some time, and it started when he made the prequels. Say what you want about the prequels but the most offensive thing to me was how he changed Boba Fett’s origin and made him a clone.
It was at that moment that Lucas made it abundantly clear that he was doing to do what he wanted, and that movie canon was different than book canon. We fans understood that hirearchy. Movies > Books > Comics > Video Games. No one thought for a second that playing Rebel Assault II on my PlayStation was contributing to the canon in any meaningful way.
When he sold Lucasfilm to Disney the goal was to make more movies and television shows. If Episodes 7, 8, 9 were going to exist they were going to have to ruin more book canon.
Here’s the thing with the books. They were all, at some level, Lucas approved and were eventually even published by Lucasbooks. To us (diehard fans) this was the way our charters were going to live on and it always felt mostly official. You couldn’t get away with killing off Luke but you could have a clone of Luke, and he could marry the Emperors secret apprentice.
In that way it always kind of felt like George Lucas wasn’t really looking at the books. Like he always had his back turned, or never really went into that side of the office unless he had some kind of broad directive like “kill Chewbacca.”
So now Disney has Star Wars and the books are gone. Disney is going to make a unified canon that spans across Movies, TV, and books. I suspect comics and video games will keep existing but not contributing to the canon. For new fans coming in, I think it’s great. It’s great to experience a unified world and it’s great to know that if you pick up a book it relates to the films and television you’re watching.
For people who have been reading Star Wars books for the better part of 30 years … like myself… it’s disheartening. And it will, inevitably, lead me to say “Oh man that was so much better in the book” as things like the Solo’s have children, and if Luke get’s married and it’s not to the Emperors secret apprentice.