The Expanded Universe spotlight is currently set on John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, a Sword of the Jedi trilogy featuring Jaina Solo, and novels from other familiar faces like Troy Denning and Joe Schreiber. Dawn of the Jedi, by Tim Lebbon, and the next EU release, The Last Jedi, share the spotlight as well. Even a Paul S. Kemp duology, which might be withered on the vine, sits in the rafters, ready to drop down to center stage if it’s as big of a showstopper as rumored.
But the Star Wars: Rebels series – featuring a three standalone novels that give full attention to Luke, Leia, and Han back in the good ol’ days – hasn’t sniffed the spotlight. In fact, the series isn’t even present in our metaphorical EU theatre.
I’m going to take control of this show for a moment. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain on Star Wars: Rebels. Here’s what you need to know, and why you should be excited for the upcoming series.
What We Know So Far
Rebels is a sub-series of novels placed in one era – between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back – and focusing on the early adventures of the Big Three. It should be noted that this is not a trilogy – the books are simply set in the same general time frame. Think of the The Old Republic novels as a comparison. All of those stories play out in the same period under a larger series name, but each individual book is considered a standalone. The same idea is being used for Rebels.
The series brings three (technically four) authors to the table who are all new to Star Wars fiction. Veteran scribes Martha Wells, Kevin Hearne, and James S.A. Corey will each pen three separate titles. There has not been an official release date announced for any of the novels, but Martha Wells has “late 2013″ listed on her website.
Shelly Shapiro, Editor at Large at Random House and the woman behind Del Rey’s Star Wars material, said this to me about the series:
“With the recent exciting news of a new Star Wars movie in the offing, we expect there will be a lot of attention focused on the classic era and the original Star Wars heroes–a perfect time to share some new adventures set in that era and to excite even more fans to become readers.”
While Del Rey has remained vague on details from the start (and with publication still very far out, who can blame them?), further digging can tell us more about the novels and the authors involved.
The Leia Novel – by Martha Wells
The novels will involve all of the Big Three, but it seems like each is being written with a focus on one character more than the other two. Martha Wells’ book is 75-80% Leia’s point-of-view, and the first complete draft was finished on January 16. Wells spoke to me about her excitement for the story, and part of it comes from her long love of Star Wars: “I grew up with these characters, they were my introduction to media and SF/F fandom, and I was very happy to write this book.”
Martha Wells has been nominated for the Nebula Award and several other fantasy writer accolades. She has penned eight fantasy novels and is experienced with tie-in material; she has written two Stargate Atlantis novels. Wells has an academic background in anthropology.
A Leia novel is something that some fans have been clamoring for recently, and while Luke and Han have headlined stories many times, Leia hasn’t been given the same treatment. Wells has a fantastic opportunity to really please Leia supporters and Star Wars fans in general.
The Luke Novel – by Kevin Hearne
If @kevinhearne‘s Star Wars novel turns out half as funny as his outline for it, you guys are in for a lot of fun.
— Jennifer Heddle (@jenheddle) January 17, 2013
Kevin Hearne has turned in a funny outline, and he told me that his excitement ”about writing a Star Wars novel in the Classic period is on the asdf;lkj level”.
The asdf;lkj level, folks. That ranks pretty high in the echelon of excitement levels. It barely comes below “I’m going to need a new pair of pants.”
While this has been billed as a Luke-focused book, Hearne reminded me that “It’s not just Luke—it’s an adventure starring Han and Leia and the whole gang, and it’s tremendous fun.”
A New York Times bestselling author, Kevin Hearne grew up as a gigantic Star Wars fan. Seriously, just read the second paragraph of his About page. There is some major Star Wars love going on. Hearne’s story of becoming a published author is rather inspiring, and it makes me root for the guy. I’m happy that his nerd dreams have come true. I think I would have more interest in Leia or Han as central characters (we get a lot of Luke), but Kevin Hearne is the author that has intrigued me the most. And like he said, it’s not just about the farmboy.
Hearne has written five novels in his series The Iron Druid Chronicles, with plans for several more. By at least January 17, he had sent in the outline, and had planned to start the draft when he heard back. We know that at least one of his editors was impressed!
The Han Novel - by James S.A. Corey
James S.A. Corey is the pen name for a team of two authors: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Writing under the James S.A. Corey pseudonym, the pair have published novels in a series called The Expanse (Tracy at Club Jade recommends the first two books). Hugo and Locus award nominations litter the past of their separate works.
The Han Solo novel was announced at the NYCC in October (the other two titles were announced at Celebration VI), but an outline has already been approved. The collaborating authors have been learning some new things while writing the novel:
If someone has a good idea, it’s Leia. Han is always always always wrong when he makes a plan or predicts the future, but man does he improvise gracefully.
Han seems to be present everywhere, even making surprise appearances in books that he doesn’t star in, but it’s always nice to get a fresh take on the character – especially from such celebrated authors.
Why should you be interested in this series?
Is there a better group of characters than the classic trio of Han, Luke, and Leia? And there seems to be a major attraction to adventures set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back lately. Brian Wood’s Star Wars comic, placed in the same era, has been immensely successful. These novels are being composed by bestselling authors, and most importantly, big Star Wars fans. Anyone involved in the project that I’ve spoken with is extremely enthusiastic. The more I hear about it, the closer I get to that “peed my pants” excitement level. That’s a good place to be.
The EU spotlight might be pointed elsewhere for now – but Rebels has the potential to steal the show.