Before the weekend, Lucasfilm made the announcement that "Expanded Universe" materials that have been released since the mid-1990s including books, comics, video games and more will not be considered in the Star Wars "canon" (or storytelling events that are considered officially recognized as happening within the world of Star Wars). From here on out, a new timeline will be groomed and maintained by a new story department out of Lucasfilm which will oversee all of the books, video games, and others and begin releasing new materials that all coincide with this new timeline. Much like Marvel oversees its "cinematic universe," this story department will be the keepers of everything Star Wars from this point forward.
From the official press release:
While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.
Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of Star Wars storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy's direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development.
Sure, an outsider reading that first paragraph might be scratching their heads wondering what type of nerdery is afoot here and shrug it off with a, "who cares?" But apparently Star Wars fans are in a frenzy about it, curious how close to 30 years of materials could just be thrown out the window.
Something like this is actually a great opportunity. Lucasfilm will now be overseeing all of the Star Wars universe to make sure that A ties to B and that, as often seems to be the mantra, everything is connected. How great will it be to pick up new books that directly coincide with the forthcoming movies and TV shows? It'll all be one big story that we all have no idea what path it will travel. And the amazing stories that were told in Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, the fantastic Dark Empire comics, and others will still continue to exist as great pieces of storytelling and it's not a slap in the face to those artists and writers who poured their heart and souls into those still respected previous works. And this isn't exactly something completely foreign to nerds like us either (how many alternate/parallel universes exist in Marvel and DC comics).
Star Wars fans should be excited and remember that traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops - travel outside your comfort zone and enjoy the adventure that ensues.