When I was in the fifth grade, I remember this friend of mine — Matt Johnson — was really, really into Star Wars. I mean he was in to Star Wars. It was my first encounter with fandom of any kind. Sure, I was a big fan of Jurassic Park. I had a fair number of action figures, dinosaurs, and vehicles from the Hasbro toy line (and I still have them…), but this guy…
Anyway, were it not for him, I would never have become a fan of Star Wars. I mean, I’m sure I would have been mildly interested when the Special Editions released in theaters, but it probably would have been little else than a passing thing. But because of Matt Johnson, I not only became a fan of Star Wars, I became a fan of Star Wars. Like, I-own-nearly-every-single-novel-and-read-them-all kind of fan. I remain a fan to this day.
Which brings me back to the fifth grade. In the fifth grade, there was already talk about the Prequels — namely, Episode I. What would it be about? Which characters would star?
We all knew it would star Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Jedi. A full Jedi Knight. Of course it would. How could it not? And he would meet Anakin, “the best starpilot in the galaxy,” and try to teach him the ways of the Force. But then something would happen and Anakin would fall to the Dark Side, becoming the asthmatic villain that we all remember so well from the original trilogy.
And the Clone Wars would happen — they would serve as the backdrop for all of this drama. That seemed a near-certainty. Yep, Anakin, Obi-Wan, the mysterious Skywalker mom — all of their lives would collapse as the Clone Wars slowly or eventually caused the rotting dissolution of the Old Republic.
Mandalorians and Jedi would be fighting it out on one planet after another, taking and destroying worlds as they engaged in the greatest, most destructive conflict the galaxy had ever seen. No wonder the Empire felt it had to construct something as powerful as Star Destroyers and the Death Star.
Yeah, that’s definitely how it would go. Jedi vs. Mandalorian, order vs. chaos, the very fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. Would the Jedi be equal to the task? Would they have some inadvertent hand in the Republic’s demise? Oh man, it was going to be the best.
And then it was the summer of 1999.
Although the memory was lost to me for a very long time as I tried to digest and understand just what George Lucas was doing to my beloved Star Wars, it nevertheless lingered. In some dark, unseen place in my mind, the memory held on, resisting the urge to retroactively change itself to suit the new, ever-expanding, and ever-changing narrative coming out of LucasFilm. Against all odds, it seems, it held out — that memory…of what the Prequels should have been — what they deserved to be.
From those scanty memories, I decided to undertake the task of turning the vague flashes of what-might-have-been into a single — well, actually, three works of fiction.
Yes. This is fan-fiction, but it’s a different kind of fan fiction. I hesitate to use the term “corrective”…and yet…
For the fans out there, the attempt here is turn back the clock. To turn back the clock to the first years of what is now referred to (by those who bother referring to such things) as the “Star Wars Renaissance,” a period in the early to mid-90’s when Star Wars experienced a sudden and powerful resurgence, due in large part to the unrivaled success of Timothy Zahn‘s masterly Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. These novels represent the first entries to the Star Wars universe (eventually dubbed the “Expanded Universe” or “EU” for short — this was before there was a European Union) in nearly a decade. It was this resurgence that ultimately gave LucasFilm the confidence to risk the Special Editions, which ultimately served as a proof-of-concept in terms of marketing and profit-making for the Prequels, the first of which — The Phantom Menace — was released two years later in 1999.
This project seeks to turn the clock back to that time in the 1990’s, around the time of the Special Editions (1997) when Star Wars media was being cranked out with increasing rapidity in a way it never had been before. The ground was fertile then. It was before the atrocities of Jar-Jar Binks, Attack of the Clones, and the NOOOO!!!! heard around the world. This project seeks to present the Prequels as the darker character studies I envisioned as a child —
[parenthetical]Obviously as a child I didn’t actually think “I want to see a Star Wars character study”; I just mean that my ideas ultimately add up to what I would today characterize as a character study.[/parenthetical]
— with all of the events from the old Expanded Universe which shaped my thinking thrown in. Obviously in the transition from vague mists of memory based on even vaguer expectations, much has evolved and changed, and much more was forced to change as the realities of creating a story set in, but the core remains!
So over the course of the following…time (it may take a while), I will begin posting chapters and scenes from what I envisioned as being Star Wars Episode I. As a project, it will undoubtedly mean less — a lot less, in fact — now that not only the entirety of the old Expanded Universe has been changed by the Prequels, but the fact that, coinciding with the release of The Force Awakens, the old Expanded Universe simply no longer exists.
But whatever. I’ll post it anyway — even if nobody reads it, which seems to be the case for this blog, haha… And yet we persevere. [insert inspiring quote]
I hope you enjoy — or are at least entertained by my version of Star Wars Episode I, now fortified with 100% less Jar-Jar Binks.