I’m catching up on the Pod and there’s a mention of the old Star Wars EU and I wanna talk about my memories of those books. I was looking at the Wikipedia and folks, there’s a lot of them! There are, like, way more than I knew about. Anyway here’s some thoughts on some that I remember
(this list is apparently in chronological order based on the setting)
The Truce At Bakura by Kathy Tyers
This is the one with the, like, torture-slave aliens that the Empire teams up with the Rebellion against to fight or something. I’m pretty sure that it’s set literally days after Return of the Jedi. I never quite believed that these aliens were sufficiently dangerous - they seem to be threatening just one place? Anyway, it was pretty hardcore stuff for Young Me and frankly for the EU in general, I think.
The Mike Stackpole ones were not very good but I liked them because I was like 14 and played a lot of X-Wing/Tie Fighter and was like “wow the hero of the book is doing the same thing I can do but in a Video Game!” Then Aaron Allston came around and converted it into the Wraith Squadron books and in the process introduced the novelty of having actual characters and they were much more fun. Did you know that the last Wraith Squadrion book came out in 2012? I did not know that. I should see if I can find it.
The Courtship Of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
I remember almost nothing about this except that Han had to go on a Hero’s Journey to marry Leia. That memory is probably false.
The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
the more-or-less recognized “good ones.” I think that these were more or less the first books in the EU that were authorized to take the storyline forward in time and develop a future history. Zahn did a good job overall - I re-read these a couple of years ago and they were pretty decent and of course introduced stuff that other people would use badly later on
The whole thing with the clone pods and the clone emperor guy seems pretty silly in retrospect. There ended up being a regrettable amount of cloning in the EU. Still, it gave us Thrawn, a actually halfway decent attempt at characterizing the regular mooks of the Empire, and Mara Jade.
As a personal note these books came out early enough that I actually took the hardback of the first one to summer camp with me when I was like in fifth grade? something like that? I taped a picture of my family to the inside because I got homesick and it turns out that that just made me more homesick. owned again!
The Jedi Academy Series by Kevin J Anderson
God these were garbage. garbage garbage garbage. which makes it all the more surprising that some of the core story beats (Luke tries to set up a jedi academy, a student goes rogue and becomes a galaxy-threatening menace) ended up becoming part of the main arc for the actual sequel trilogy. This is the one where Han ends up threatened by crystalline Space Spiders on Kessel.
These books were published fairly early and Kevin J Anderson was definitely the worst offender of the “oh no somebody has a Deathstar But X” plot structure that got reused a lot, as I recall. This time it was a crystal-shaped thing that blew up suns, except there was also a Prototype Deathstar too, in case you didn’t have enough Empire Superweapons.
This one also had Admiral Daala in it, who was like the Emperor’s girlfriend or something, maybe?. She was also really incompetent and I don’t think she ever accomplishes a single thing besides twirling an invisible mustache and getting her own people killed.
Darksaber by Kevin J Anderson
apparently this one is the middle of a trilogy? anyway, in this one the Hutts build the Darksaber which is “a deathstar, but just the gun part.” I remember a lot of discussion of batteries, because it involved a lot of droids. In the end I think the darksaber blows up because lol, hutts are incompetent.
The Black Fleet Crisis by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
This one is like a war series. Every single thing about reading these books tells me that it was a standalone piece of mil-sf that Kube-McDowell reworked into star wars books. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but it dang sure reads like it. The Republic isn’t fighting the Empire for once, and he introduced like eighteen new different kinds of ships. I remember that the enemy were real jerks and it seems like you were actually supposed to hate the main antagonist. I remember getting mad at him, which is actually fairly impressive by the standards of the Star Wars EU.