Timothy Zahn, author of the Thrawn series in the expanded universe (now called Legends), held a panel for eager fans at Washington DC’s AwesomeCon. I was lucky enough to be in attendance and got to hear Mr. Zhan speak on his work in canon, what he thought of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and more.
Timothy Zhan is best known for his work with the Thrawn series set in what is now the “Legends” expanded universe. On Saturday, June 4th he held a Q and A at Washington DC’s AwesomeCon. A convention similar to San Diego’s Comic-Con. An annual 3 day geek retreat in the United States capital featuring a huge line up of guests such as Perter Capaldi, Ray Park, Adam West and a whole lot more. Bria from Tosche Station moderated the panel, and here are the highlights.
Q: Are there any characters or ideas from your novel that have been integrated into the show (Rebels), or the new canon? Do you anticipate any of your characters or ideas to show up in the new films that are being done?
A: In a Clone Wars early episode when someone used the Marg Sabl maneuver (a maneuver used in space battles, first developed by Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano during the Clone Wars and then employed in the Galactic Civil War, most notably the Thrawn Crisis) … Other things include the name Coruscant, the name of the Imperial planet was my origination. The idea of catching force lightning on a lightsaber blade was also mine. Other than that, the future is anybody’s guess. They Typically do not tell the writers what’s going on.
He went on to say that this is not just an issue with writers, but also the actors. He made a joke about how Chewie would be dying off and maybe someone should let him know.
Bria, appropriately dressed as Mara Jade, asked him about the tweet by Dave Filoni, saying “there’s always a bit of truth in Legends.” With a picture of a non-specific book spine.
— Dave Filoni (@dave_filoni) May 28, 2016
He stated again that he was unaware of any connection between his characters and the Rebels, and after discovering that some fans had been comparing the color of the foiled ink to his series, he jokingly responded, “some people have too much time on their hands.”
Q: How would you feel if Thrawn, Mara, or any of your characters showed up in rebels?
A: How do I put this? YES! I would love something of mine to show up in Rebels, or Rouge One, or the movies. I think my stuff would translate well. Even if it’s just a passing reference. At the end of the Force Awakens, I was speculating about a grand battle to take place at the end of the trilogy where they say something along the lines of “We beat Palpatine, we beat Thrawn, we can beat this guy.
After that statement, he reminded the audience that the writers on the new film canon don’t want to mistakenly give the movie goers the feeling that they are “missing something important.”
Q: How do you feel about the Canon wipe?
A: They have made it very difficult to legitimately sell the books. At this point, it’s all free money to them so they won’t be doing that. The second thing they could have done is go through the entire expanded universe and selectively declare what is and is not canon, but to do that, they would need to know exactly what they want to do with Star Wars for the next 30 years.
I think about it kind of like the legend of Robin Hood. We tell stories even now about Robin Hood, or King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They aren’t real, but it’s still fun to read. Imagine someone finds a letter under Stonehenge from Prince John to the Sheriff of Nottingham, saying “I’ve had it with this Robin Hood, he’s making a mockery of my Kingdom, and I want his head on a pike now!” Suddenly it goes from a Legend to factual history. That is what they have done by calling all of the expanded universe legends.
They are saying we can make any of this back into canon at any time. So the best of their options is set up. Bear in mind they have people like Pablo Hidalgo, Dave Filoni, and Kathleen Kennedy who have an extreme love for the Star Wars Universe. These people are not people who will go and demolish Star Wars. If they have to destroy part of the expanded universe, it will be because its not in line with what they want to do.
In a way its kind of sad that they call it “Legends,” and its not real anymore, but it was never really real in the first place. I think that the expanded universe, and Star Wars are in good hands.
Also bear in mind, that JJ Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy, will not break into your house and take your books.
Q: What tips do you have for any young authors who want to learn to write better?
A: The secret of writing is you write. That’s pretty much it. If you have a 30-minute lunch break, take 15 minutes to eat, and 15 minutes to write. Make a habit of that. Read a lot, and figure out what styles you like. Practice writing characters, and dialog. The keep is to keep writing. Don’t be discouraged if at first you aren’t that great. There are a lot of wonderful novels out there that should have been trilogies but the authors got discouraged after the first release because it didn’t do that great.
Q: Who do you think Rey is related to?
A: The obvious choice since these were all originally billed as the Skywalker family. However, there are compelling arguments that she is related to Obi-Wan, and it would be really nice if she wasn’t related to anyone. I’m guessing she will be related to Luke.
As the final question, the moderator asked:
Q: What is your pitch for the first 2 minutes of episode 8?
After some discussion about whether or not the trio of evil aka Hux, Phasma, and Ren got away from Starkiller Base before it became a star, he said:
A: I don’t think Kylo Ren is a very compelling villain. I don’t see any sense of presence. When Vader walked down to Leia’s ship, he had a sense of presence and a sense of power. The first time Kylo Ren had a tantrum on screen, my first thought was that this guy has visible buttons that anyone can press. Thrawn would have this guy for lunch! He seems to lose every fight he’s in.
Hux, he seems to have good speeches but he doesn’t have a good security system. Phasma isn’t very good at her job. Think about it, she shuts down the shield with no fuss. She allows someone who seems to be losing his condition to wonder around with his weapon. He should have been escorted to sick bay. Prisoners are transferred with only one guard. There are a lot of things I saw, not even being of a professional security, or military background can see that this is not the way that police or military do things.
There just doesn’t seem to be a sense of real danger in the new movies, and hopefully, that will get better.
Overall he was a fantastic speaker. Honest and to the point. His views on TFA may be considered controversial to some, but keep in mind that this is 6 months after the release, and the honeymoon phase is over. He could have been sour about the canon wipe considering how much time and effort he spent in the beloved expanded universe, but he chose to look at the flip side of the coin to discover a shiny new beginning for the Story Group. This panel and the questions asked, are prime examples that Star Wars fans are pleading for Timothy Zahn to return to the canon universe, either by his past work becoming recognized as canon, or possible novelizations of spin-offs or back stories.
Be sure to check back later this week for our Resistance Broadcast Podcast where we will play soundbites from this panel provided by @chaosbria @Tosche_Station.