Not Everything is For You. Or Me. And That’s Ok. What I’ve Learned About How Star Wars Fans Read

This book has no characters I care about.

I mean, it is a big galaxy—there are more people than just the main characters!

This story focused too much on (insert topic here).

This story didn’t reveal the things I want to know.

We need to focus on more than The Big Three (Luke, Leia, Han).

It just seems coincidental that they happened to run into (insert name of one Big Three here). That’s small galaxy syndrome.

That isn’t the story I want to know about.

I want more information about (insert name or topic).

Yaddle, Yaddle, Yaddle

And the list goes on. All of the things listed above are things I have heard one way or another from Star Wars fans. I know you can’t please everyone, but any author who is writing for the Galaxy Far Far Away has  their work cut out for them, and I’m not referring to the actual work of generating content, I’m referring to the fandom.

Nerd Alert: Amy Likes Books

I’m a lifelong reader. It is my absolute favorite thing to do, (yes, even more than watch Star Wars). I love well developed characters and a good story. That is what really rings my literary bells. I didn’t start reading Star Wars books until after I saw The Force Awakens, which revitalized my personal fandom and led to taking my first steps into the larger world of Star Wars podcasts, Star Wars Twitter, and Star Wars literature. I’ve been reading hard since to take in as much as the new canon as possible, and have started dipping my toe into Legends also. And for the most part, I have liked the books I’ve read. I’ve even loved some of them. But I don’t just read Star Wars.  And in all the other books and genres I have read, I have never encountered readers like Star Wars fans. There are three subsets that I’ve noticed that I’ll explore here.

Do you analyze every word in every book like Grand Admiral Thrawn?

The first group is the Data Checkers. This is the group that quickly analyzes every minute detail of each new book to find those little nuggets of trivia to answer the nagging questions. This is where we see articles and YouTube videos  like “The 25 Things We Know about the Jedi After Reading Empire’s End” (not a real thing, at least I don’t think so. Yet.) Where the Data Checkers can run into trouble is that much of the content is in the form of stories. Not databases (or databanks) full of factoids to memorize, not a checklist of characters or outcomes or answers to questions. It’s fun to know the little details, but it isn’t a requirement.

Don’t choke on your aspirations. Or all the canon.

The second group is the Completists. This is the group that feels what could safely be described as a compulsion to take in every bit of Star Wars content. The movies, the shows, the books, the comics, the video games, other content I’m not even aware of. Fear of Missing Out and of Not Knowing ALL the Things drive these fans. Content is being produced at an astonishing rate.  Keeping up is akin to drinking from a fire hose.  I’ve heard people lament feeling burned out by all the content and frustrated at their inability to keep up. And I feel you. Even with unlimited time and budget (and let’s face it, no one has either) it’s nigh on impossible totake it all in. As Star Wars fans, we have an embarrassment of riches at our disposal. It’s perfectly acceptable to take what you like, and leave the rest. There aren’t any awards being given for knowing all the things. Don’t let fear of missing out make experiencing fandom an onerous task instead of a life-giving passion.

Do you wish every story told fell into your ulitmate design? Get mad when it doesn’t go as you have foreseen?

The third group is the All About Me group. This is the group that is really disappointed in certain content because it isn’t in line with their head canon, doesn’t give the information they wanted or didn’t meet another expectation. I’ve often heard that used as a substitute for actual analysis and criticism of a book.   It can be a helpful internal exercise to examine what you liked or didn’t like about a story and why, but we need to remember that ultimately, the creators don’t owe us anything  Panning or criticizing someone’s work because it didn’t measure up to the story “you” wanted isn’t productive, especially when it leads to anger or harassment of the creator or other fans. And yes, that happens. A lot. A story can be evaluated independent of how it measures up to one’s personal preferences.  If a certain story isn’t to your liking, that’s ok.

Am I guilty of falling into one or all of these groups at different times? Yes. But there is a lot of Star Wars goodness out there. Something for everyone, but not everything for everyone. Let’s love what we love and let others do the same. Not everything is for you. Or me. And that’s ok.

Do you see yourself in any of these groups? I’d be curious to know!

 

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article, Amy! Not everything is made for me, or you, or that person, or this person. There’s something different for everyone.

  2. I think while I enjoy most of the books without pretenses, there are some books where I had larger expectations (I’m looking at you, Aftermath trilogy) and the weren’t met. So, sometimes I am part of camp three.

    Great article, by the way!

  3. I am definitely in the Completist camp (or at least try to be…I don’t read the short stories in Star Wars Insider, and I’m sure there are other deep cuts I’m missing).

    I think part of the issue with expectations and Star Wars literature is that, for the longest time, that’s about all there was and all we thought there ever would be, so more important things happened in the books, comics, etc. Now, that’s not to say that nothing happens in the new canon, but nothing’s going to happen that would make a “regular” movie-goer feel lost for not knowing it (like they’re not going to bring a planet down on Chewie in a book between Episodes VIII & IX and just expect people to know, for example). Where almost all Legends books dealt with the “big three,” most new canon shies away from them because they can’t go through any truly significant character development or changes because all that is set to take place on the big screen.

    It’s a different world in the current EU. Fans need to come around to the fact that it’s going to be roughly 98% companion/background pieces that add depth to outlying characters from the films or new characters that may never see their time in the movie spotlight. And if that’s not to their liking, as you say, that’s okay, just stop reading and focus on the films. Or read it all and spit vitriol about it online if that’s really what jollies your roger…

    • Thanks for reading. I think your point about the current state of how material is viewed now versus with the old expanded universe is on point. Now that movies are coming out every year (still can’t quite believe it!) the literature, etc is going to have a different purpose and view.

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