Friday, February 3, 2012

Timothy Zahn, Star Wars, the Prequels, the Universe and Everything Else

I'm not as rabid of a Star Wars fan as I used to be back in 1990. I loved Star Wars around the time Empire and Jedi came out in the early 1980's. Fell out of it for a long while after the craze died down. And then rediscovered my enjoyment for the original movies sometime around my early teens.

After Jedi was released, it looked as though George Lucas had no intention of continuing the series. There were murmers about a series of movies set before the first movie... or fourth movie whichever way you want to look at it... but those were nothing more than idle gossip.

Not that Star Wars had become forgotten. But like any craze may it be Beatlemania or Batmania, it's only a matter of time before interest dies down and pop culture moves onto their new shiny red rubber ball of the month.

It was right before the series got a shot of renewed interest in the 1990's that my interest in Star Wars peaked again. I started reading many of the early Marvel Comics series with Carmine Infantino. Mostly because of the issue Doom Mission I used to borrow from the school library when I was younger which made me want to read other stories from the series.

However, my biggest surprise came when I was on a family vacation up in New Hampshire. We decided to stop by a bookstore to kill some time. And on the new release shelf I saw it.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

This wasn't a reprint of the films or even a reprint of an Alan Dean Foster Star Wars tale from the late 1970's. As far as I was concerned this was a brand new tale. Finally I would see how Luke, Leia and Han got along after the Death Star was destroyed and if the Empire would rear it's ugly head again.

How could a Star Wars series continue without a formidable nemsis like Darth Vader? That seemed the hardest to get my mind around.

Although, the idea of a Vaderless Star Wars series seems almost weaker by comparison, teenage Bret was not disappointed. The book was very enjoyable and Timothy Zahn's continuation of the world that George Lucas created was very well done.

Not to mention the enemies created for the story weren't bad. No Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine. But not bad.

Even Zahn's concept of the Clone War was far more interesting than what we ended up seeing in Attack of the Clones. I thought the idea of the Jedi's fighting evil clones of themselves was a more interesting idea.

Clone Army. Meh!

I read all three books in the series. All of which were very good. I found the ending to the last book to be a bit flat. However, it was still a top-notch series.

I started to lose interest with the whole expanded universe created by the novel and comics. I felt like too much had been explained away leaving very little wiggle room. Even some of the information created in those comics and novels are now considered to be non-canoical with what has been told in the prequels.

Which brings me to the prequels.

In my opinion Timothy Zahn should have been the guy George Lucas phoned to write the prequels. Although, Jonathan Hales is credited for co-writing Attack of the Clones obviously that didn't help because the movie was awful. Sometimes the imput and outlook of someone else's ideas is what you might need. There is this tendency to become the crazed ruler of your own little world and think everything you dream up is utter brilliance.

Case in point, Jar Jar Binks. I don't think I need to say more but I will. To this day, George Lucas labors under the delusion that everybody loves Jar Jar Binks and thinks fans want to see more of him.

NO WE DON'T! I waded through all three of those rotten movies in hopes to see Jar Jar get run through with Darth Vaders lightsaber in Revenge of the Sith. Naturally you understand my disappointment that this never happened. Instead of a happy ending with Jar Jar getting beheaded, we are left with Darth Vader screaming out: "Noooooooooo!"

Thanks George.

You see what happened when George Lucas turned over the reigns to Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett for The Empire Strikes Back. The results were probably the best film in the Star Wars saga.

I truly believe the same results could have happened if he handed the reigns over to Timothy Zahn. He could have handed over what he had in mind and let Zahn do the rest.

I think what we could have had would have been better than what we got.

In the end, I got my copies of the original trilogy without the computer enhancements on DVD. I would prefer to remember Star Wars the way it was rather than what it became.

If you haven't read what has become referred to as The Thrawn Trilogy, I highly recommend you pick them up. If you like in the Woo, I know Annie's Bookstop of Worcester on James Street has copies of all three books at very reasonable prices.

I don't think you will be disappointed.


Jim Gonyea said...

Han shot first.

Bret M. Herholz said...

You're darn right he did ;-)

Comicbookrehab said...

I think the prequels were intended to be more low key and intimate - but the reaction to Episode 1 forced Lucas to show stuff that doesn't really interest him, like the clone wars and Anakin becoming Vader.