I call today “Mara Jade Skywalker Day” to mark the anniversary of the publication of <i>Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice</i>, or <i>Sacrilege</i> as I prefer to call it. Just as tomorrow is Jacen Solo Day to commemorate the advent of <i>Betrayal</i>.
I’ve ranted quite a bit on my livejournal about the decisions to screw up Mara’s character and then kill her off, or to derail Jacen’s character completely and then kill off the arrogant, murderous little twit they wrote in his place. I don’t intend to go into any of that here. Instead, I’m just going to share a scene from mid/late-2005, reconstructed by our Research Department to 86% accuracy.
<blockquote><b>Troy</b>: Hey, Karen.
<b>Karen</b>: What is thy bidding, my master?
<b>Troy</b>: Oh, I just wanted to let you know I’ve been talking to LucasFilm and Random House, and they’ve greenlit that nine-book project we’ve been pushing for, “Legacy of the Force.”
<b>Karen</b>: Excellent. Everything is going as planned.
<b>Troy</b>: Uh-huh, and they’ve given us the okay to make all those changes we wanted. You’ll remember how in <i>Star by Star</i> they let me kill off Anakin Solo.
<b>Karen</b>: All too easy.
<b>Troy</b>: Maybe so. Anyway, in this Dark Nest trilogy I’m working on now, I get to turn Jacen Solo into an evil, murderous idiot, Jaina Solo into a near-powerless sidekick, and Mara Jade into a helpless maternal fool with all the insight of a concussed butterfly.
<b>Karen</b>: Impressive. Most impressive.
<b>Troy</b>: Just wait, it gets even better. In the new series, see, we get to turn Jacen Solo into a Sith-
<b>Karen</b>: Soon the rebellion will be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us.
<b>Troy</b>: No, Karen, <i>Solo</i>, Jacen Solo. But yes, we get to have Lumiya turn him into a full-fledged Sith—apparently, none of the people at LucasFilm or DelRey have actually read any of the books he’s appeared in up till now, so they have no idea what sort of character he’s supposed to be, which helps a lot. They also don’t understand the prophecy of the Chosen One in the least. Then, at the end of the series, we get to kill Jacen off. They’ve also given us permission to turn all the female characters into helpless baggage, continue depicting Mara as a blind idiot, and then kill her off halfway through the series.
<b>Karen</b>: Wipe them out. All of them.
<b>Troy</b>: All in good time. We also get to turn Tahiri evil temporarily—they’ve never read any of her books either—after multiple flashbacks to Anakin Solo’s death in <i>Star by Star</i>. That’ll be fun. Oh, and after we kill off Mara, we get to have Luke Skywalker save Lumiya’s life just so he can murder her personally. Turns out the LucasFilm/DelRey people between them have only read about five of the books—all set in the prequel era—and <i>none</i> of them have seen <i>Return of the Jedi</i>.
<b>Karen</b>: At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.
<b>Troy</b>: Uh-huh, sure looks like. Now, I know how you don’t like writing Jaina, but don’t worry, as part of this whole sidelining the female characters deal, you’ll barely have to feature her in your books at all. We do have to have her kill Jacen in the final book—unfortunate, but at least it promotes fratricide—and we don’t have to start building up to that until the second half of the series. You’ll only have to feature her prominently in one book, and you can have her need training by Boba Fett to show how much more awesome he is. Though I have to ask, Karen do you really think that makes any sense?
<b>Karen</b>: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
<b>Troy</b>: All right, all right, I was only asking. Another thing, though, Karen. Since it’s a nine-book series and all, they want each of us to write only three books for it, which means we’ve got to have three authors.
<b>Karen</b>: There must be two: one to wield power, the other to crave it.
<b>Troy</b>: Now, now, Karen, I know tradition is important, but surely we can unbend a little for the sake of a book series. It’s not that big of a deal. My contacts with DelRey and LucasFilm are really sticking on this point, and they’ve been so accommodating with everything else we’ve requested. I suggested Aaron Allston to them, and I gotta tell ya, they were practically doing backflips. I think if we can convince him to sign on, he would be a great addition to the team. Whaddya say?
<b>Karen</b>: If he could be turned, he would be a powerful ally.
<b>Troy</b>: Exactly. Having him on board would be spectacular.
<b>Karen</b>: Yes. Yes. He would be a great asset. Can it be done?
<b>Troy</b>: Actually, that’s one of the reasons I called you. You’re so persuasive Karen, I wanted to ask you to approach Aaron for us and see if he’d be willing to sign on.
<b>Karen</b>: He will join us or die, my master.
<b>Troy</b>: Now Karen, I wouldn’t want to take things <i>that</i> far.
<b>Karen</b>: He will not be permanently damaged.
<b>Troy</b>: That’s better. I believe we—
<b>Underling #1</b>: Sorry for interrupting, Ms. Traviss, but it’s about that <i>Star Wars on Trial</i> proje—aaack, gak, gkak, gluh [<i>choking noises eventually cut off</i>] …
<b>Karen</b>: Apology accepted, Captain Needa.
<b>Troy</b>: What was that, Karen? Something about a trial? Do you need me to … ?
<b>Karen</b>: No. Leave them to me. I will deal with them myself.
<b>Troy</b>: Well, all right then. If you’re sure. I was just saying that I think we’ve covered everything on my end. You clear on the plan?
<b>Karen</b>: This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi and it will soon see the end of the Rebellion.
<b>Troy</b>: Is that a “yes”?
<b>Karen</b>: Once more, the Sith will rule the galaxy. And we shall have … peace.
<b>Troy</b>: Right, good show.
<b>Karen</b>: There’ll be no one to stop us this time.
<b>Troy</b>: Er, right. Listen, Karen, I’ve got to ring off, now. Things to do, franchises to ruin, you know how it goes. I’ll get back to you as soon as there’s news on my end, and you let me know how it goes with Aaron, ‘kay? Gotta go, Karen, talk later, bye.
<b>Underling #2</b>: Uh, um, you’re done then?
<b>Karen</b>: [<i>unintelligible, probably an affirmative gesture of some sort</i>]
<b>Underling #2</b>: Does Lord Denning have a message for us?
<b>Karen</b>: The time has come. Execute Order 66.
<b>Underling #2</b>: At once, my lady.</blockquote>
I’m going to end this entry with a quote from the prophetically titled <i>Ruin</i>, second book in the “Dark Tide” duology (another apt title) by Michael A. Stackpole, from the New Jedi Order series. The “invasion” alluded to in the book is the Yuuzhan Vong, but it will serve just as well for the invasion of grimdark deprivation the Expanded Universe has suffered in the last decade.
“If there ever comes a time when folks look forward to the return of the man who killed Ithor, well, we know that means the invasion is completely out of hand and things are truly beyond saving.” –Corran Horn
For the Star Wars franchise, that time came and passed years ago, which is why I’ve said before and will say again: bring back the Man Who Killed Ithor!