Monday, August 24, 2009

Expanded Universe / The Karentraversy

A recent issue has come up as of late. Karen Traviss, author of the Republic Commando series of expanded universe novels, has posted on her blog that she is leaving Star Wars writing behind. Apparently, the established "canon" of Star Wars has changed with the new stories being told in the Clone Wars TV series, and was forced to either write books that would introduce massive retcons to her already-established stories or simply walk away. She chose the latter.

This has caused some controversy--or, as The ForceCast's Jason Swank put it, "Karentraversy." If the canon of the Expanded Universe is being messed up, does that mean that the hundreds of Star Wars EU stories that have been written are no longer reliable sources of Star Wars information?

But then the other thing to ask is "what is EU?" Does it include the film novelizations? After all, the novelizations of the original trilogy aren't completely accurate. What about the "official guides"? I'm not talking about the books that are very clearly based in the EU, such as The New Essential Chronology or The New Essential Guide to Characters; I mean the books such as The Visual Dictionary, which is marketed as an official visual guide to the established canon of the films. I read the Revenge of the Sith Visual Dictionary, and one passage directly referenced a story from the Jedi Apprentice series of young adult novels. Does that mean that the Visual Dictionary has upgraded that other EU story to G-canon level, or does it mean that the Visual Dictionary does not canon information? Or does it simply mean that only that one quote is incorrect, while the rest of the book may be treated as canon? It's just too complicated.
Until the 2008 Clone Wars series, Star Wars canon was unified. The New Essential Chronology had been published, and it told a story that seamlessly interwove all the Star Wars stories from the comics, novels, games, and films into a single, wonderful, millennia-spanning tale.

But now, with The Clone Wars apparently causing Karentraversy in canon, all of that may be threatened. Does this mean that all there is to the Star Wars universe is the films and the Clone Wars TV series? That's definitely not what Lucasfilm has been claiming for a very long time. In the Star Wars Insider Magazine,, and many other sources, Lucasfilm has used Expanded Universe material to answer questions from fans and inform them of Star Wars's continuity.

Now, I don't believe that the Karentraversy is going to ruin the Expanded Universe. I really doubt that anything extremely major is going to occur. However, in principle I'm rather upset. I don't want to see the Star Wars franchise thrown into chaos over what should be relatively minor issues.

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