A few days ago, Lucas Licensing executive editor, Sue Rostoni updated her blog with a calendar summarizing the next two years of Star Wars tie-in fiction. Here is the condensed version, with PB reprints and other superfluous details removed.
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Allies by Christie Golden. Hardcover
July 6, 2010 - Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Siege by Karen Miller. Trade paperback. The second book in the Gambit duology, the first being Stealth.
July 20, 2010 - The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams. Hardcover. This is a tie-in to LucasArts' The Old Republic multi-player on-line roleplaying game.
October 5, 2010 - The Force Unleashed II by Sean Williams. Hardcover. A tie-in to LucasArts' second The Force Unleashed game.
November 2010 - Star Wars Art: Visions. Hardcover. Inspired by the films, this art book features pieces by several renowned artists
December 7, 2010 - Fate of the Jedi #6: Vortex by Troy Denning. Hardcover.
December 28, 2010 - The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp. Hardcover. A second tie-in to LucasArts' The Old Republic multi-player on-line roleplaying game
January 25, 2011 - Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber. Hardcover. Sith Zombies run amok.
May 24, 2011 - Standalone Hardcover (featuring Nomi Sunrider) by Alex Irvine. Hardcover.
June 28, 2011 - Crosscurrent sequel (no title yet) by Paul Kemp. Paperback.
July 26, 2011 - FotJ#8: Untitled by Christie Golden. Hardcover
August 30, 2011 - Choices (working title) by Tim Zahn. Hardcover.
August 30, 2011 - Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion by Pablo Hidalgo. Trade paperback. A super guide to the novels, short stories, e-books, etc. With new illustrations of characters you've only read about. This will be organized chronologically according to in-universe dates and written out-of-universe so that it won't be like the Essential Chronology but more like a non-fiction guide to fiction, with side-bars calling out related comics and events.
This list says a few things about the direction of the Star Wars brand over the next few years. First, a welcome departure from The Clone Wars/Prequel era brand that flooded the market the past decade. Anakin and Obi-Wan have been tired, static characters for years and the debut of the kid-friendly cartoon two years ago only lowered the bar for quality content. After Karen Miller's Gambit: Siege, there isn't a single novel involving those characters.
The 2nd big push is the cross media novels surrounding the upcoming Star Wars MMORPG: The Old Republic. This is going to be the big Star Wars project over the next two years (until the debut of the live action TV show) and they are throwing a huge media net trying to capture and audience. Sean Williams kicks things off with Fatal Alliance and Paul S. Kemp (one of my favorite Star Wars authors) follows it up with Deceived. The Old Republic is set 3,600 years before the events of A New Hope. The Jedi and the Sith both number in the thousands and are poised to go to war. Very excited to see where this goes as Lucas & Co try to duplicate the success of World of Warcraft. If you aren't excited, watch this video.
3rd thing worth noting is a relative youth movement. Alex Irvine, Paul S. Kemp, Joe Schreiber, and are all working on either their first or second Star Wars novel. These guys are all strong writers and their fresh take on things is going to be a welcome change in the galaxy far far away. A few of the current go-to authors have some critical flaws in their writing styles and the inclusion of these three writers raises the collective talent bar. John Jackson Miller is the wildcard in the bunch, having worked primarily in the comic medium. He is writing his first full novel, Knight Errant, as a tie-in for his new comic series of the same name after doing some shorter work published electronically online and in eBook formats. JJM was the principal writer responsible for Knights of the Old Republic, the best Star Wars comic of the last 5 years, if not since Mike Stackpole and Rogue Squadron wrapped up.
Other minor notes:
- The last 4 books in the Fate of the Jedi sequence (set 44 years after A New Hope) should be out by the end of 2011. Book 9 is the only one not on the calendar but I wouldn't be suprised to see a December release. Hopefully, the longer delay between releases will mean more cohesion and continuity between novels
- Tim Zahn is back! Mr. Zahn is one of my favorite authors and his original Thrawn Trilogy is still the benchmark that all other SW books are measured against. The last few SW novels have been a little weak so I hope we see the return of the author that wrote Heir to the Empire not the one that penned Allegiance.
- There are books across 7 different eras in the Star Wars canon spanning over 4,000 of fictional history. This doesn't mean a lot for non Star Wars junkies but each era is essentially a completely separate story within the same collective canon. You can read any of these eras independently of each other and understand 99% of the reference
- The Force Unleashed II is obviously a sequel to last year's The Force Unleashed. Anyone who read the book/played the game will be curious as to how that is suppossed to work considering the ending to the first entry.
- So many hardcovers! There is no denying that George Lucas likes his money. I have a hard time paying hardcover price for books that are barely 200 pages long. Quality beats quantity every time but no one dislikes quantity AND quality.