I have high hopes for the new Star Wars movies. Disney knows what they’ve bought, and they’re going to be under a lot of pressure to do something good. And at any rate, they can’t possibly make a worse set of movies than Lucas did in his second go around.
I’ve been re-reading my favorite Star Wars trilogy of books, often called the “Thrawn Trilogy.” They are, in fact, the original three fan-written Star Wars books, commissioned by Lucas to kick off the genre. They’re written by Timothy Zahn, one of (if not my absolute) favorite authors, and they are giving me a serious case of Good Memories From Back In The Day.
And as I’m reading them again, I can’t help wondering if the folks in charge of the new movies are going to pay much attention to the rich universe that has been built up over the past twenty years by all the authors writing these authorized Star Wars novels. Only a tiny fraction of the Star Wars movie audience will have heard of the books, of course, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be mined for good ideas.
For example, the reason the trilogy is called the “Thrawn Trilogy” is because the leader of the imperial forces is Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the best possible follow up villains to Darth Vader you could imagine. The Imperial Grand Admirals were the Emperor’s master tacticians, the truly genius military minds, and Thrawn is one of the best. He tailors his strategies to the psychological weaknesses of his enemies, and shares Sherlock Holmes’s legendary observational acuity. It’s a deadly combination.
Beyond the villain, Zahn manages to tie up all kinds of loose ends in the original movies — including things you don’t normally think about, like why the loss of the Death Star was enough to change the outcome of the battle at Endor. Never mind that an entire Imperial Fleet still remained, outgunning the rebel ships ten to one.
So if you’re up for a good Star Wars read, I’d say check out the Thrawn books. And if you’re writing the scripts for the new Star Wars movies, I’d beg you to check out the Thrawn books.