Nobody can say being a writer isn’t sometimes fraught with major challenges based on the actions of more powerful people. Such is the case of those writers who’ve made good livings writing expanded universe books on “Star Wars”, “Star Trek”, and countless other sci-fi or fantasy media. While no figures are really available, it’s safe to say that tens of millions of dollars have probably been made on expanded universe books. They’ve long satiated the imaginations of readers who’ve wanted to see what goes beyond the time frames of the iconic movies everyone knows.
For years, the “Star Wars” expanded universe books were written believably enough where fans assimilated them into being near canon. With almost 40 years worth of that expanded media for the galaxy far, far away, you have to imagine how those writers feel right now after the production team of “Star Wars Episode VII” deemed all those elaborate expanded stories to be non-canon.
If there’s not a word for mass genocide of media, then now’s the time to invent the word. Yet, you also can’t blame J.J. Abrams for wanting to place a kibosh on the “Star Wars” expanded universe to help bring an element of surprise to the fans. Now it brings a new philosophy to the expanded media genre that nobody had ever thought would be possible: Can expanded universes still exist wholly outside the official universes?
While this perhaps gets into as complicated a question as explaining alternate universes in reality, it seems to be an open book that perhaps media entities such as “Game of Thrones” and “Star Trek” are working to correct.
Alternate Universes in Well-Known Sci-Fi and Fantasy
When you’re talking “Star Wars”, it’s become so expansive to a point where the thought of dividing it up into two separate media universes seems akin to dividing up reality. With theoretical physicists constantly telling us that alternate realities are more than possible, we’ve come to accept the idea that it’s a plausible idea in sci-fi and fantasy. It seems to have settled the best that way with J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movie reboots where the history of the original characters has been altered slightly from the canon everyone accepted before.
To “Trek” fans, they’ve accepted this as a possible alternative timeline of other possibilities. Then again, it could be just forced capitulation since those who’ve acquired the “Trek” timeline as a part of their lives might end going technically mad thinking the chain of logic had been broken. One reason is because so many people have wanted “Trek” to be more than possible as a real future, especially with all the technology from the show becoming more of a reality as time goes on.
And then there’s the fantasy realm of “Game of Thrones” matched up against the book series of “A Song of Ice and Fire.” I’ve written recently whether the final book in the series will end up going its own way in comparison to the HBO TV counterpart. The fact it could create two different fanbases based on their personal preferences for what happens is one that gets a little bizarre, especially at fan conventions.
It’s a situation that may have to exist for numerous sci-fi and fantasy products as movie and TV adaptations go in different directions in order to keep elements of surprise and interest in fans. “Star Wars” fans are going to have to accept the idea that a separate non-canon universe can easily exist without disturbing the space-time continuum. In the meantime, though, all those thousands of old expanded universe “Star Wars” books might suffer in sales while the fans sort out their confusion. In that regard, you have to hope those authors aren’t depending on that income to live.
The good news is that once “Episode VII” releases, the expanded universe media juggernaut can reset. Even though “Star Wars” will be expanding itself in the movies, it’s going to be an expansive enough universe where writers will be able to write books that tell stories outside the movie timelines. Perhaps someone will get clever and find a way to explain away all the prior expanded universe timelines so it brings some scientific reasoning for it happening.
By that time, perhaps our scientific knowledge of our own alternate timeline will present itself so we’ll know that even expanded universe media had its own expanded universe.