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Thursday, May 25, 2017

40 Years of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Written by Jon Williams

Forty years ago today, on May 25, 1977, Star Wars opened in just thirty-two theatres across the United States. That number quickly expanded as the film took off, and many theatres were still showing the film on its first anniversary. A lot has changed in the intervening years—even that first movie’s title, which has expanded to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—but the voracious appetite that fans have for stories set in the galaxy far, far away has not abated. Luckily, there’s a wealth of new material coming out.

Fans at the recent Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, as well as those streaming the event live around the world, were treated to the first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Releasing in December, this will be the second in the new trilogy that picks up the story of the galaxy thirty years following the events of Return of the Jedi. The first installment, The Force Awakens, brought in nearly $1 billion at the box office in North America alone, and more than $2 billion globally. It came out in 2015; the most recent Star Wars movie, Rogue One, the first standalone, non-trilogy film, leads directly into the events of the original Star Wars.

Those who attended Celebration also got a first look at the upcoming fourth season of Star Wars: Rebels, the animated show that follows a small band of freedom fighters in the early days of the Rebel Alliance’s fight against the Galactic Empire. Show creator Dave Filoni also announced that the upcoming season will be the show’s last. The third season featured characters that appeared in Rogue One, such as Rebellion leader Mon Mothma and renegade Saw Gerrera, who was first introduced in Star Wars: Clone Wars.

The third season of Rebels also brought back Grand Admiral Thrawn, a beloved character from the old expanded universe that was wiped out to make way for new stories with Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise. Thrawn’s original entrance came in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, the popular novel by Timothy Zahn that revived interest in Star Wars and can be credited for everything that has come since. With the character coming back into the universe, Zahn stepped in once again to write a novel, released in April, detailing how the Grand Admiral rose to his rank in the Imperial military.

Novels and short stories are a great source of new stories in the Star Wars universe. Chuck Wendig’s recently concluded Aftermath trilogy picks up shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star and details the fall of the Empire and the first seeds of the First Order rising in its place. James Luceno’s Catalyst serves as a prequel to Rogue One, while Rebel Rising by Beth Revis and Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka (both unavailable on audio but available in eBook format on hoopla digital) give back stories for some of that movie’s heroes. Finally, releasing in October and celebrating forty years of the original Star Wars movie, From a Certain Point of View explores iconic scenes from that movie from the perspectives of background characters.

The popularity of Star Wars means that patrons will always be looking for the latest materials in your library. SmartBrowse on our website for more, and don’t forget to remind patrons that they can look on hoopla for even more Star Wars audiobooks, eBooks, comics, and music.

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