Importance of the Canon

I recently starting reading Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn with my son as a bedtime story. Some of you who have followed my musings for a while know that my son is mildly obsessed with Star Wars. Well, let’s just say some issues have arisen.

The further we get into the story the more puzzled Henry seems to be.

In fact, he looked at me and said, “Dad, that’s not the way the story goes.”

When I explained that the story was written decades before the new movies came out, he looked at me in wide eyed amazement. I told him that Han and Leia had three kids and even Luke married Mara Jade and they had a kid named Ben.

Needless to say, this started my mind cranking.

How important is Canon?

I know this is a pretty heated debate in the Star Wars Universe, but I wanted to question the importance overall. Theoretically, it should apply to every single form of entertainment that comprises a series, be that science-fiction, mystery, thriller, or anything else that is more than a stand alone movie, book, or show.

Personally, I believe deviation from Canon destroys the integrity of an overarching story. If continuity is taken from a single person or a small collaborative group, the cohesiveness of the story is easily lost. I think we can pick on Star Wars and say that that stability was lost when Disney took over. When Lucas passed the reins the storyline fell apart. It was just too big for someone new to pick up all the threads and keep the tapestry tightly woven.

That transition carved huge holes in the Canon when they decided to throw decades of story out the window. And what’s more, it planted questions and problems in the minds of long-time Star Wars fans.

Where Heir to the Empire helped fans logically bridge the gap between old enemies and new, the new movies simply thrust the First Order into role of “bad guys” without ever really helping to explain the years in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

Timothy Zahn easily explained where the antagonists came from while Disney simply said, here are the bad guys, they look just like the old bad guys enough to be understood … but they are different.

I won’t get into the countless points of Star Wars discrepancy, but I will tie it into Atom & Go. As I’m working on book three, I’m really trying to decide how intertwined the books will be. Personally, I want each book to be a stand-alone adventure so people can jump in wherever and enjoy the story. But I have to keep in mind that decisions and characters that appear in one book, will have ramifications further down the line.

Canon needs to be important. Otherwise I’ll be left with a muddled universe that creates more questions than it answers.

What are your thoughts on Canon? Are there other series where Canon has worked really well or destroyed the integrity of the show?

Anywho, keep on reading, keep on creating, and keep on flying the Black.

One thought on “Importance of the Canon

  1. Braden

    I think canon only matters as much as the author/creator/owner wants it to matter. Whether or not the fans follow is another discussion entirely. (as well as whether or not Disney did a good job on the SW sequels…)

    Properties like comic books and Star Wars do have the problem where the canon becomes so unwieldy that where once you had strings tying everything together they become chains holding you down.

    Comic books have decades (closing in on a CENTURY for some characters) of stories. These characters get their canon reset every so often and its not seen as a problem. There are enough stories that you can, if you desire, ignore whole years or decades of a character. I used to read Spider-Man comics in the mid 90s. I stopped when the big story got so convoluted and awful that I couldn’t justify paying for it anymore. (the Spider-Man clone saga, if you want to look up a synopsis…). I still like Spider-Man, but that part of his canon, to me, is dead and I wouldn’t recommend you read that run of Spider-Man comics. It would be unfair of me to judge all the decades of Spider-Man content on this one or two year run of a bad Spider-Man plot even though it is ‘canon’.

    At the end of the day these are made up people having made up adventures. As the creator of Atom and Go you can do what you want with the canon. If you decided to have book three start with Atom waking up next to his wife, realizing it was all a dream, that is totally within your rights as the creator/owner of the property.

    Now for way too many words about Star Wars….

    I don’t think your statement that the Disney transition “carved huge holes in the Canon when they decided to throw decades of story out the window.” is really accurate. They didn’t put big holes in the canon, they removed the established canon, basically saying that the franchise is starting at the end of Return of the Jedi. Can you blame them? Lets look at the Disney acquisition:

    Disney pays Lucas 4 BILLION dollars for the Star Wars IP. Now, you are Disney, the part of Star Wars that is really worth that money are (lets be honest) episodes 4-6. Episodes 1-3 and the surrounding cartoons are…fine. To what degree do the roughly 19 books that take place after episode 6 really matter to the people Disney wants to put in theater seats? Anecdotally, myself and several other people I’ve known throughout the years who would consider themselves Star Wars fans have only read a few, if any, of them. So I can assume that average Star Wars fans have no knowledge or history with Mara Jade, the Han and Leia kids, Ben Skywalker, the Yuuzhong Vong, etc… So why tie yourself to it?

    Also, the actors are old now, so you’re probably committing yourself to making movies that are recasting classic characters (huge potential for people to get pissed off – see Solo) or making movies set after (or at the end of) those 19 books, so needing a ton of exposition to tell people how all the characters got where they are.

    So, the easiest way to move forward is to eliminate those stories that take place after RotJ and come up with a new story. Don’t forget, you (as Disney) just spent 4 BILLION dollars, and you need to show the shareholders that it was money well spent, so you need to fast track what you know will get butts in seats, which is episodes 7-9! Get that into production ASAP, we’ll figure it out as we go, have JJ do what he does best, set up a bunch of stuff while just making a ‘soft reboot’ of episode 4. Then have Rian do a movie, tell him he can do whatever he wants, oops ‘fans’ don’t like it (I happen to think it is the most interesting one, fight me), then get JJ back to make a cool looking dumpster fire plot of a movie. End of the day, Disney’s episodes 7-9 make over $4 billion dollars off a combined budget of 720 million. Mandalorian is keeping people subscribed to D+, Galaxy’s Edge is a must see at the park, so shareholders happy. PHEW.

    Oh wait, your son is confused about canon. Tell him these take place in an alternate universe, one in which the demands of shareholders needing a return on a 4 billion dollar investment didn’t happen. Where a creator who was tired of creating just told a group of authors to just go ahead and play with his toys, but ‘keep it tidy and don’t break anything’, and they did, and had fun doing it.

    To your son, this must be how it would feel to find a new gospel, ancient history, a tantalizing glimpse that things don’t have to be the way they are, that there is another path, and people have walked it.


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