Commercial release will occur following the premiere, with key dates being:
- December 16 – France, Italy, Denmark, most of continental Europe
- December 17 – UK, Germany, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong
- December 18 – US, Canada.
It has been over ten years since the last Star Wars film graced our movie screens. As excitement builds ahead of this new release, it is a great time to gather your friends for that Star Wars-themed party or movie marathon. But do you know that there are other ways to brush up your Star Wars knowledge ahead of the big day? Here’s an overview on the rich and diverse mythology around Star Wars, and a sneak peek at some new Star Wars books that are available right now.
The Force Awakens is more than just a film
To accompany the release of The Force Awakens, Disney Publishing and Lucasfilm (current owners of the Star Wars franchise) have developed a big publishing program called “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. This series of novels, comics, reference guides and activity books are available in both print and digital format, with titles to appeal to all age-groups. Some relate specifically to The Force Awakens, while others elaborate upon past eras. Publication has already started, with at least 20 titles in the pipeline. Highlights include:
Smuggler’s Run: a Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure by Greg Rucka
This is the Han Solo story the fans have been waiting for. The Smuggler and his trusty co-pilot run a secret mission for the Rebellion. Can they succeed while avoiding bounty hunters and the Imperial forces?
Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Starting soon after Return of the Jedi, Aftermath is an adventure-thriller about pilot Wedge Antilles, a character from the original films. It provides insights into how the destruction of the second Death Star, and the establishment of the New Republic, has affected the Star Wars galaxy. First of a new trilogy.
Star Wars: the Force Awakens Visual Dictionary by DK Children
Release date December 18, 2015
A complete visual guide to everything you want to know about The Force Awakens. Comprehensively illustrated in true DK style.
Release date December 18, 2015
12 exciting Star Wars stories adapted from all seven Star Wars films. Perfect for bedtime reading with your favourite little Padawan.
An important feature of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series is that all of these titles are deemed part of the Star Wars canon, meaning that they contain the official version or “facts” about the Star Wars universe, and are consistent with the films and other canonical works.
What constitutes the Star Wars Canon?
The Star Wars “canon” is the collection of media depicting the officially-recognised characters and storylines of the Star Wars universe. The Canon currently includes:
- The six released Star Wars films plus the three planned sequels (Episodes VII, VIII and IX)
- Star Wars: the Clone Wars animated film and tv series
- Star Wars Rebels tv series, and
- All Journey to Star Wars: the Force Awakens books and media.
All future authorised Star Wars material will also be canonical, as Disney/Lucasfilm re-establishes greater control over the Star Wars universe. The relationship amongst canonical works is shown in this beautiful timeline by Outerspaces
But wait, there’s more – Star Wars Legends
If the prospect of 20-odd new Star Wars books doesn’t sound nearly enough, there is also a back catalogue to dive into – Star Wars Legends. Star Wars Legends is previously known as The Star Wars Expanded Universe, and comprises a large collection of media – books, comics, animations, games, toys – created over the last 35 years. These works cover thousands of years’ worth of Star Wars chronology, and include well-known items such as the two Ewoks films and the web-based Lego Star Wars series.
The Expanded Universe was testament to how the Star Wars story had captivated imaginations; its premise, at once new (high tech science-fiction) and ancient (a classic quest based on mythological motifs), encouraged deep and extensive world-building. While Lucasfilm did not create in the Expanded Universe, it did help to maintain consistency amongst variously story lines. Many of the books were written by established sci-fi writers including Alan Dean Foster (https://booko.com.au/9780345320230/Splinter-of-the-Mind-s-Eye), Kevin J Anderson (https://booko.com.au/9780553648393/Star-Wars-Jedi-Trilogy-Boxed-Set) and Timothy Zahn. Stories such as The Thrawn Trilogy (https://booko.com.au/9780553296129/Star-Wars-01-Heir-To-Empire) were highly regarded, and introduced hugely popular characters such as Jacen and Jaina Solo, twin children of Han and Leia. Many of these Expanded Universe titles were considered canon prior to a major redefinition in 2014.
While the Expanded Universe content is now considered legends rather than canon, it contains a wealth of great stories that can keep fans happily occupied for years. The Legends books will continue to be re-published to satisfy market demand. Moreover, Disney/Lucasfilm have not ruled out re-introducing Legends material into the Canon. A good starting point for exploring Star Wars Legends is the detailed chronology at Wookieepedia, a wiki-based Star Wars encyclopaedia.