Monday, April 25, 2011

Continuity: It surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the Expanded Universe together

Club Jade has posted a very well thought out post regarding Star Wars, fandom and the issues surrounding continuity and canon.  I highly recommend you read it HERE.

Sometimes we take things to seriously.  In the end, the EU is nothing but a collection of stories written at different times by different authors' based on an original set of stories written by George Lucas.  This isn't life and death, it is entertainment and we should always keep that in perspective. 

One of the ways that I help to rationalize the conflicting story elements that appear in continuity, is to intellectualize the process.  The Star Wars saga supposedly took place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."  Conceptualize these stories as ancient historical events, then approach them by looking at how we remember ancient historical events on earth.  Often in historical accounts from ancient times there are conflicting accounts of events.  Some times these conflicting accounts are the result of mistranslations, of misunderstandings, or of incomplete information.  Some times these differences are actively inserted in the historical records, as Winston Churchill said, "history is written by the victors." 

When a conflict arises in continuity, I try to think of the different authors as ancient historians, and embrace the fact that there will be differing accounts of the same events or persons. Try not to get to hung up on minor details, or even major continuity changes.  Focus on the spirit of the story, what is at its core.  

Ultimately enjoy each story on its own merits.  Whether or not they can all be fit into the larger tapestry of Star Wars continuity only enriches the story.  If a story or a character does not fit into this tapestry perfectly, does it make that story or that character any less enjoyable when you read, listen or view it?  I think not. 

The only time that continuity really bothers me is in situations such as the Karen Traviss imbroglio.  While I think Karen shares some of the blame for the way she, in my opinion overreacted and blew what should have been a workable situation between herself, Lucasfilm, and Del Rey working together to retcon the Mandalorians and complete the story of the Republic Commando characters into an unmitigated mess.  What bothers me is not so much the way The Clone Wars changed the Mandalorian culture from what was presented in the EU, but the fact that it resulted in a story not being finished.  A story that spanned five books.  That is a significant financial and emotional investment that fans made in a set of characters and their stories that were left unfinished.  I doubt that we ever see Karen return to the Star Wars universe, but I hope that the Republic Commando characters are revisited at some point to give their stories closure.
In the end,  changes will be made to continuity whether you like it or not.  You can either get angry about it and allow it to spoil your enjoyment of Star Wars, or you can roll with the punches and find your own way to rationalize the changes to the tapestry.   Good Luck with your decision. 


  1. As fans, we have the freedom to chose what ‘counts’ to us, individually. - I agree with this statement by Club Jade. The main thing that has bothered me in the canon is the whole Satine/and Taria thing.

  2. Great post. As a fan of many sci-fi franchises, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion about continuity and I am often gobsmacked at the importance some fans place on little details I don’t even remember.

    Cannon and timelines are great things, but personally, I’m not going to pick apart every story looking for plot holes or continuity errors. I just don’t have the time or the brain power. :)

  3. That's the thing. What you said at the end. A big reason why so many fans are so angry and vocal about huge retcons is that it could it leave many stories unfinished. Imagine if the entire EU is wiped out and considered non-canon, and due to that it's declared they'll do a new canon and the previous one is no longer relevant.

    Sure, there's many stories there that could still be enjoyed on their own merit. But this also makes the entire story of that old EU incomplete. And entire investment in something that is just left abandoned and not to be finished ever again.