Let me preface this article with this: I am a super fan of the Star Wars EU, the X-Wing series, and all of Rogue Squadron’s outings. Am I happy that Rogue Squadron is being re-released? Yes. However, my (in my crazy mind) good friend Michael A. Stackpole had some comments that add much-needed context and even some comfort. Enjoy the journey through rage, sadness, and joy.
The Problem With Mice:
Ever since George Lucas sold Star Wars in 2012, fans of the old Expanded Universe feel they have been pushed, kicked, and spat on by Disney, new fans, and even old fans. However, no one has had it worse than many of the creators of the EU stories. From losing revenue to seeing their works become glorified fan-fiction (according to Disney and LucasFilm), writers and artists for the old EU have all but been left behind and forgotten by the people now running the world they sustained from 1991 to 2014. So, it was infuriating when LucasFilm announced they would begin re-releasing certain Star Wars EU (Legends) books. The 1st wave included Heir to the Empire and Shatterpoint. The fury comes from the fact that some writers and almost no artists will see money from these. It all depends on the contracts. However, did you know about the 2nd wave?
That’s right, according to this Reddit leak (and older ones), and Amazon’s own listings, we’re about to get more EU books. These include The Last Command, Rule of Two, and Rogue Squadron. Do you get my panic, joy, fear, and anger now? That last title is one of the most admired and well endorsed Star Wars books ever. Naturally, I reached out to the author, Michael A. Stackpole, and asked him for comment.
Michael A. Stackpole:
“As it stands, no one has said anything to me about it from Del Rey. And while that might seem like a bad things, it’s not really a surprise. Authors are often the last to hear about a reprint of a title. It’s kinda the way the business works. What WILL be interesting is to see when/if I, Jedi makes it into the rotation, as it always does wells in polls about favorite books. Then again, I don’t know what their criteria are for picking titles.”
Negative! It Just Impacted The Surface:
That sounds logical and is a great professional answer. However, I like how he seems to see that money may be a thing too from his comments on I, Jedi. That IS a book you MUST read. It helps to have read the first four X-Wing novels, but a recap video will suffice if you promise to grab a physical copy of I, Jedi and relish every page turn.
This isn’t the only surprise he’s received from me or others in the media. When the Rogue Squadron film was announced he heard with the rest of us. Patty Jenkins did reach out in a tweet, but he did state Disney and LucasFilm had not offered him any position on the film or request any consultation. He outwardly seems content (and there is no reason to disbelieve) that his Rogues exist as is and always will. However, many fans will always want more for what he created. Let’s take a look at why.
Four Lit And In The Green:
In 1995 and 1996, the X-Wing comics and books hit respectively. X-Wing: Rogue Squadron set the bar for Star Wars adventures outside of Jedi and Sith. Both mediums were written by Michael A. Stackpole and others including the late (and GREAT) Aaron Allston. The biggest deal of all this X-Wing love was, of course, Rogue Squadron. The legendary fighter group, which started as Red Squadron at the Battle of Yavin, was needed in the New Republic as both a symbol and the tip of the spear to take Imperial Center.
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The first four novels by Stackpole cover the taking of Coruscant and the after-effects of the vile Ysanne Isard’s Krytos virus. The author spent good money (story HERE) on a gaming PC just to play the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter games and get the idea of how the craft would work. Stackpole spent an hour discussing other influences and sources of knowledge in this exclusive interview from 2019:
The point is, he created Star Wars space combat as you know it today. It was used in The Force Awakens and Rogue One, it’s also been used in games like Rogue Squadron and the Star Wars: Battlefront series. In addition to creating the technical workings of craft, combat in space (as if it had air thanks to G.L.), and in the atmosphere, he also expanded on some of the most beloved Star Wars characters like Wedge Antilles and Hobbie Klivian. He didn’t stop there though. He also created two of the galaxy’s greatest heroes in Corran Horn and Mirax Terrik.
Rogue Leader, We’ve Got Uglies On Our Tails:
So you know what the EU was, who Mike Stackpole is, and that Disney plans a Rogue Squadron re-release. Why do it now though? Money. That and press for Patty Jenkins’ film. There has been a consistent and loud voice on the internet that the EU is still loved and the books are still selling to this day. Disney ignored that voice for a long time until it realized that it is just now hitting sales of books hit back in 2005 (THR). That isn’t to say the EU was a golden egg to the end, but sales were on the uptrend in 2013 and 2014 already. Disney and LucasFilm are learning that they can please new and old fans at the same time. Well, most of them at least.
There are many fans out there swearing that Kennedy is being fired, or that Lucas is financing his own trilogy. It’s easy to go down the path of anger and the dark side. However, I was pleased when Stackpole finished his statement with:
“All of that said, it’s certainly an honor to have one of my books included, especially after twenty-five years of publication.”
That is an insane number when you think about it. LucasFilm is 50 years old, Star Wars is coming up on 45, and Rogue Squadron is a quarter-century old. So, I will continue to suggest this book series, and I, Jedi, to every person I can. If Jedi and Sith religious battles are not your thing, and the thought of trade tariff negations bores you then the X-Wing books may be the perfect entry to the galaxy far, far away. Congratulations on the Rogue Squadron reprint, Mike. I can’t wait to see I, Jedi next.