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The Pitch Letter That Created the Star Wars Expanded Universe

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For nearly 25 years, the Star Wars Expanded Universe seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut of books, comics, and video games. But in 1988, nobody was even thinking of doing new Star Wars books. Until one publisher decided to write a pitch letter, out of the blue.

Over at Barnes & Noble’s B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, io9 contributor Andrew Liptak is writing the history of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, focusing on the tie-in novels. And the details of how Lou Aronica with Bantam Spectra convinced Lucasfilm to take the plunge on publishing new books are pretty amazing—especially the idea that his main hook was that they would take huge liberties with the status quo of these characters.


Liptak writes:

“I talked about wanting to publish these books as events, launching in hardcover, which was fairly unusual for licensed properties at that time.” Aronica recalled. “The core of my message was that we wanted to make the books as powerful to readers as the films had been to viewers.”

Aronica envisioned a line of tie-in novels that were more ambitious than other publishing programs. He wanted to tell stories that were greater in scale, and that actively advanced the story laid down by the films, rather than simply staging what he called “costume dramas”: stories utilizing all the trappings of their source material, “but offering very little more than what fans already had from the original source.”

He also outlined a plan that would set Bantam Spectra’s line of novels apart from what other tie-in franchises were doing: each book or set of books would be an event in and of itself: the new “novels [would be] great reading experiences, not just merchandise,” and would come out in hardcover, rather as mass market paperbacks.


You can read Liptak’s whole series here (the index page will keep updating as new articles are added.)

Top image: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, Dark Horse Comics

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.