The Star Wars Canon:  Overview

Part One

Related Pages
Quotes:  Chronological Order or  Ordered by Rank
(The lists above contain full references to the quotes used in this page in the event that one does not appear in the text.)
Quotes: Specific Arguments
Minutiae:  Layers of Canon and Originals vs. Special Editions


I.  Introduction

The Star Wars entertainment empire is composed of a huge assortment of material featuring the Star Wars brand name and building on the Star Wars intellectual property, from films to television programs to novels to games . . . and that list barely scratches the surface.   However, only some of the material constitutes official fact.  Separating the fact from the fiction by determining the Lucas/Lucasfilm canon policy is no small task.

Ten years ago, the trouble would have been with the absence of policy and policy-related statements.  These days, the situation is reversed.  In the past few years we have seen a swarm of statements, originating with everyone from Lucas himself to authors of Expanded Universe (EU) materials.  Complicating matters is the fact that the various folks don't always agree, and these inconsistencies have led to some confusion.

Suffice it to say that if we took all the canon policy statements and weighed them all equally, things would be very sloppy and confusing indeed.  The inconsistencies are no doubt part of the reason for the incessant battling between Star Wars fans.  The "Canon Civil War" between "Movie-" or "Canon Purists" and "EU Completists" raged all over the internet and between fans in person for years.  At the forums of TheForce.Net, things got so bad they put a moratorium on the topic.  At the forums of StarWars.com, the main thread on the subject has raged with only slight pauses since December 2001.  And, of course, let's not forget the cold war between Purist Bob Brown and certain online EU Completists with which many are familiar.  

Unfortunately, one must be very thorough in order to try to cover, even in overview form, all the many claims made about the canon policy in the past few years.   Fortunately, we can just apply common sense and logic to separate the wheat from the chaff.  


II.  Lucasfilm Ltd.

For starters, it makes sense to acknowledge the "rank" of the speaker . . . their place in the Lucasfilm heirarchy, what their role is, and so on.   Lucas, for example, outranks everyone . . . it is from his original films that the whole shebang has sprung, and to this day he commands the entire Lucas empire as CEO and Chairman of the Board at Lucasfilm.

However, we must be cautious.  The word "Lucasfilm", like the word "Paramount", is used in common parlance to refer to a wide variety of companies, divisions, subsidiaries, and so on.   In the below, we'll clear that up a little.  

(Fair warning:   The 'structure' section below focuses on business issues and will thus entirely uninteresting to some people.   Feel free to skip to the 'rank' section.)

A.  Structure

Lucasfilm Ltd. (a.k.a. Lucasfilm Entertainment Company, Ltd., i.e. LFL) was created in 1971, an incorporation of the previously-existing Lucasfilm.   Both were run by Lucas, but incorporating into an LLC carries with it certain risk-reduction and other benefits that are very important for a privately-held company.  It's stated on the Lucasfilm website that "Lucasfilm manages the rights to films in the Star Wars saga", and per the US Patent and Trademark Office LFL owns the Star Wars brand name and trademark.  George Lucas is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Lucasfilm Ltd., where day-to-day operations are handled by the President and Chief Operating Officer Micheline Chau.

At some point a merchandising division was born within Lucasfilm, and by 1979 this became Lucas Licensing Ltd. (i.e. LL), a separate corporation. Lucas Licensing is said to be "responsible for licensing and merchandising activities" related to the Star Wars brand name, managing "all the global merchandising activities in the fields of publishing, toys, games, collectibles, apparel and home furnishings for Lucasfilm's entertainment properties" (source 1 , 2).   Further, it is stated that Licensing "has expanded the Star Wars and Indiana Jones brands into best-selling novels, toys and merchandise."

Lucasfilm and the other Lucas companies, in the words of Lucas, "functioned relatively independent of each other".  Then in February 2003 Lucasfilm Ltd. reorganized, bringing Lucas Licensing and other Lucas companies under the Lucasfilm wing (1, 2) as subsidiary companies.  Because of this reorganization, the proper designation of Lucas Licensing would be "Lucas Licensing, a Lucasfilm Ltd. company" (1 , 2).   The term 'division' is sometimes used of these different Lucas companies (e.g. the Lucasfilm site), though this is not technically accurate in regard to separate subsidiary companies.

Lucas Licensing includes a department which handles the content and editing side of book publication internally.  In October of 1997, this department and Ballantine Books (through its division and imprint Del Rey) joined forces to create the publishing imprint LucasBooks.   (A publishing imprint is little more than a marketing name or "doing business as" name, though there can be additional divisions involved.  (For more on imprints, see this informative page.))  Though LucasBooks is sometimes referred to as if it is its own company (e.g. 1, 2), it is at most a group within the publishing department of the Lucas Licensing subsidiary of Lucasfilm Ltd. that works with Del Rey (not to mention Del Rey's own specific departments and such).  As Shelly Shapiro of Del Rey put it, "We really work as a team. That said, the final say always lies with Lucas Licensing."

The above paragraph serves as a correction on my part, since in the past I have also identified LucasBooks as a separate company, per its treatment on StarWars.com and elsewhere.  I did not then know that it was merely an imprint of Del Rey and part of Lucas Licensing's publishing department, as opposed to said department having split off from Licensing.   Special thanks to Sue Rostoni for answering the question of mine that guided my research and helped me clear that up.

(For the sake of brevity, "Lucas Licensing's publishing department" shall also be referred to as "LL Publishing", or "LLP".) 

B.  Rank

The above having been said, we can work toward acknowledging the sub-Lucas ranks appropriately, though we'll still want to exercise caution given the frequency of people misidentifying companies, departments, et cetera.

Lucasfilm has a Publicity Department and a Fan Relations Department, and the fellow in charge of the latter is directly responsible for answering fan questions regarding Star Wars and Lucas's feelings thereon.  Meanwhile, Lucasfilm also has subsidiary companies like Lucas Licensing, Lucas Online, LucasArts, ILM, and so on.   Many fans believe that these subsidiaries are authorized to make statements on how to understand the universe of the Star Wars films.  That view makes little sense, however . . .  Lucas and Lucasfilm make the films, not Licensing. They're salesmen of the Star Wars brand name, and though they have a department that does produce some of their own goods in addition to licensing the brand name to other producers, they most certainly do not speak for Lucas or Lucasfilm in regards to the facts within the films.

Secondary to the rank issue would be considerations regarding the age of the statement.  Naturally, it makes no sense for Lucas and Lucasfilm to be unable to change their minds, so we must accept that the newer quotes supercede the old in importance.    Of course, if we had a case of, say, one of Lucasfilm's janitors saying something tomorrow that was contrary to Lucas's statement from yesterday, we obviously shouldn't consider that an override.

And so, let us begin:


III.  The Star Wars Canon Policy

In the early days the Star Wars canon policy was a nebulous thing, as often happens in the beginning of a franchise.  When there wasn't much material anyway, there was little need.   And so for years, the most definitive statement on the matter was a quote often attributed to Lucas:  "As George Lucas says, the movies are Gospel, and everything else is Gossip".  The earliest online source for that quote that I've found comes from a reprint of a 1980 Fantastic Films magazine issue, though no additional details are provided.  Even by that point, though, the quote was given in a form indicating that it was common knowledge, though it now represents a largely forgotten piece of information.   (Nevertheless, when Star Wars EU author Andy Mangels was asked about that comment in 1995 (where the questioner applied it to the entire EU), he said "Sounds like a typical George quote.")

Confusion only started to set in during the 1990's.   By this point, the Star Wars brand name encompassed the films, film novelizations, a handful of novels, comic books, the old National Public Radio dramatizations of the films, West End Games (WEG) materials that had kept interest so alive, and other various toys and such.   With all the new and retold Star Wars stories, people were once again wondering what exactly constituted Star Wars fact.

Into the arena, WEG threw its voice.  A 1993 WEG publication had this to say:

"This and all other products that take place after the events depicted in Return of the Jedi are the author's vision of what may have happened. The true fate of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe remains the exclusive province of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, Ltd."

That quote rather clearly points out that WEG felt they weren't writing anything that could be considered factual in the Star Wars universe, at least insofar as post-RoTJ material.   Then, in 1994, the premiere issue of the licensed fan magazine Star Wars Insider (#23) appeared.  Inside the magazine was what would become the primary statement of canon policy used by many EU Completists, from the Vs. Community to Star Wars fan discussion groups.

"'Gospel', or canon as we refer to it, includes the screenplays, the films, the radio dramas and the novelisations. These works spin out of George Lucas' original stories, the rest are written by other writers. However, between us, we've read everything, and much of it is taken into account in the overall continuity. The entire catalog of published works comprises a vast history -- with many off-shoots, variations and tangents -- like any other well-developed mythology."

Those words were written by Lucas Licensing employees Allan Kausch and LL Publishing editor Sue Rostoni (though they are often erroneously attributed to "Production and Continuity Editors at Lucasfilm").  Those words . . . the first official declarations from anyone at a Lucas company in almost 15 years . . . were taken as the gospel on the subject for a long while by some Star Wars fans.  The quote established the contents of the canon (albeit in a haphazard order) and gave us a general sense of what canonicity is based on.   They also noted that, between them, they paid attention to much of the entire catalog of non-canon works of other writers.

A.  "And Here Our Troubles Began"

Even at this early juncture, there was room for confusion and the beginnings of the Star Wars fandom Canon Civil War.   Lending support to the Purist side, Lucas had called everything but the films mere gossip, and the writers of that 'gossip' agreed.   Lending support to the EU Completist side, the folks from Licensing were acknowledging the Lucas-oriented canon but saying they also took the work of others into account in their 'overall continuity' . . . seemingly in contradiction to Lucas and WEG.

At the same time Lucas seemed a little vague on the matter, thanks to a choice in phrasing that has confused many.  In his preface to the 1994 republication of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, originally published in 1978, he said:

After Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story- however many films it took to tell- was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy.  But these were not stories that I was destined to tell. Instead they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided.  Today it is an amazing, if unexpected, legacy of Star Wars that so many gifted writers are contributing new stories to the Saga.  This legacy began with Splinter of the Mind's Eye, published less than a year after the release of Star Wars.  Written by Alan Dean Foster, a well known and talented science-fiction author, Splinter was promoted as "further adventure" of Luke Skywalker.  It hit bookstores just as I was preparing to write my own "further adventure" of Luke, in the form of a script called The Empire Strikes Back

Some EU Completists mistakenly took the above to imply that Lucas considers the novel stories to be part of "the Saga", and therefore a true and factual part of the Star Wars canon universe.   They considered this idea to be in agreement with Insider #23, despite the fact that it would directly contradict the 'works of George' versus 'works of other writers' notion that Rostoni and Kausch had mentioned.

In actuality, Lucas identified Splinter as being progenitor of the legacy of new stories whose authors were just inspired by "my story" Star Wars.  He certainly didn't consider Splinter a real adventure in his universe.   After all, as Lucas said in a 1999 interview, "I don't even read the offshoot books that come out based on Star Wars" . . . hardly the act of one who feels the works to be a factual part of his universe.  He also contrasts Splinter's "further adventure"-ness with the further adventure he himself wrote.   Finally, he paid no attention to it (and, indeed, contradicted it wholesale) when making his own further adventure.  Those who've read Splinter are more than aware of its many continuity errors in the light of Lucas's further adventures such as TESB, and made even worse now by the prequels (i.e. the alternate history of Vader's arm).  Basically, Lucas ignored Splinter completely, despite being responsible for its creation.  But, as creator and owner, that's his prerogative.

B.  A Tale of Two Canons

The seemingly-contrary statements between Lucas/Lucasfilm and Lucas Licensing continued to appear over the next decade, fuelling Purist vs. Completist warfare.   With the quotes taken as a whole and at face value, there could be no victor . . . the quotes really did contradict, and thus the two sides would always be at war.

There were occasional efforts to bridge the gap.   In 1996, Steve Sansweet joined Lucas Licensing as part of their Specialty Marketing arm.  In 1998, he got the opportunity to write the Star Wars Encyclopedia.  In his preface, he presents a canon policy interpretation that synthesizes the views of both sides:

"Which brings us to the often-asked question: Just what is Star Wars canon, and what is not? The one sure answer: The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition -- the three films themselves as executive-produced, and in the case of Star Wars written and directed, by George Lucas, are canon. Coming in a close second we have the authorised adaptations of the three films: the novels, radio dramas, and comics. After that, almost everything falls into a category of "quasi-canon.""

While the term "quasi-canon" was diplomatically vague enough to allow both views, it actually said nothing at all . . . even Sansweet's one sure answer was just the films.   The civil war thus continued unabated, and the less nebulous (but contradictory) quotes were favored.  Many found the contradictions confusing, over and above the contrary positions . . . after all, how could Lucas say one thing and these other people manage to say something else?   The Purists generally took to ignoring these lesser statements in favor of Lucas's own words, while the EU Completists generally attempted to ignore the face-value meanings, re-imagining Lucas's words into something non-contradictory.

Both sides were wrong.  In reality, there is very little contradiction because two separate canon policies exist under the Star Wars label.   One, known informally as the 'canon policy', is maintained by Lucas and Lucasfilm, Ltd.   The other, termed the "official continuity policy", is maintained by Lucas Licensing.   

1.  The EU Continuity and the OCP

The Lucas Licensing policy covers those materials that LL Publishing and other departments of Licensing create.  The new era of Star Wars licensing came in 1989, with the Bantam contract for new adult fiction.   The origins of the EU Continuity and the "official continuity policy" (OCP) are described in an Insider magazine:

"In the early days of the publishing department, Wilson worked closely with her administrative assistant, Sue Rostoni (now managing editor of the department as well as editor of all adult fiction) on the editorial projects. The two of them decided that to maintain quality, it would be crucial to monitor the storylines of all projects and ensure that none of their books contradicted one another. This continuity decision became one of the department's biggest challenges--and greatest successes."

Sometime during the creation of the six-book Glove of Darth Vader series circa 1990-1993, Lucy Wilson (now Lucas Licensing Director of Publishing) and Sue Rostoni chose to establish and maintain a continuity in the Star Wars books.  This would later be codified into the Ballantine contract in 1997.   Unlike the Star Trek novels, each of which is basically a universe unto itself that's based on one or more of the Star Trek series, the Star Wars EU storylines were intended to flow with one another.   Thus, the books would form a cohesive whole that remained, as Rostoni put it in 1994, "true to the Star Wars saga", and could thus theoretically be 'plugged in' to the continuous universe seen in the Star Wars films.   

New material would conform to this continuity, and older materials (the Glove series, et cetera) would have non-fitting bits chopped out, with the rest of the work remaining and being considered as part of the continuity.   Even the West End Games materials, the makers of which had disavowed their own accuracy in 1993, were included in this.   The Expanded Universe, now armed with its OCP, thus became a self-referential, offshoot entity . . . in addition to theoretically remaining true to the Star Wars films, it was intended to remain true to itself.   Rostoni made this more explicit in 2001: 

"Our goal is to present a continuous and unified history of the Star Wars galaxy, insofar as that history does not conflict with, or undermine the meaning of Mr. Lucas's Star Wars saga of films and screenplays."

Maintaining this continuity is, of course, no small task.  As Rostoni pointed out in 1994, this internal continuity was "vigorously protected".  New authors were sent all sorts of EU materials in addition to the films, including the EU "bible" that Rostoni maintained that covered the chronological details of the published works.

A.  An Evolution of Terms

Within a couple of years, Rostoni had chosen to give this Licensing chronology "bible" a different name:

"To keep it all straight there is 'the Canon,' a time line of major events and the life span of characters prepared by the continuity editors at Lucasfilm and considered the in-house bible of the Star Wars universe. When further reference is needed, there are also stacks of binders listing everything from starship blueprints to the biographies of characters..." 

In two years, Rostoni went from describing "the screenplays, the films, the radio dramas and the novelisations" as the "'gospel', or canon" (with the rest described with the "continuity" she and Wilson decided upon) to declaring the "Canon" to be the LL Publishing "in-house bible" of EU data.    By 2001 she had extended this even further, (though she did manage to correctly identify the company this time):

"Canon refers to an authoritative list of books that the Lucas Licensing editors consider an authentic part of the official Star Wars history. Our goal is to present a continuous and unified history of the Star Wars galaxy, insofar as that history does not conflict with, or undermine the meaning of Mr. Lucas's Star Wars saga of films and screenplays. Things that Lucas Licensing does not consider official parts of the continuous Star Wars history show an Infinities logo or are contained in Star Wars Tales. Everything else is considered canon."

We can thus see the evolutionary path of Rostoni's inclusive use of the term 'canon' to refer to LLP's official continuity.   Licensing was aware that their canon was not the same as the film canon of Lucas . . . Rostoni referred to a heirarchy with the Insider #23-listed canon at the top, with Licensing materials beneath.   Lucas Licensing database administrator Leland Chee referred to the difference in this way in 2003:

""Lucasfilm canon" refers to anything produced by any of the Lucas companies, whether it be movies, books, games, or internet. "Movie canon" is only that which you see and hear in the Star Wars films."

Chee's statements are of interest, despite the potential confusion caused by his use of the phrase "Lucasfilm canon".  Circa 2000, Chee had helped to codify the OCP, maintaining the EU "bible" in the form of a computerized database called the Holocron.  As Chee describes it:

"The Holocron is an internal database maintained by Lucas Licensing that tracks all the fictional elements created for the Star Wars universe. The database includes material from the films, books, comics, videogames, trading cards, roleplaying games, websites, toys, cartoons, and just about every officially sanctioned fictional element of the Star Wars universe."

"Understand, that the Holocron's primary purpose is to keep track of Star Wars continuity for Lucas Licensing, and to some degree Lucas Online. To my knowledge, it is only rarely used for production purposes."

The Holocron makes use of a canon field coded with a G, C, S, or N, and as Chee described it in 2004:

"Anything in the films and from George Lucas (including unpublished internal notes that we might receive from him or from the film production department) is considered "G" canon. Next we have what we call continuity "C" canon which is pretty much everything else. There is secondary "S" continuity canon which we use for some older published materials and things that may or may not fit just right. [...]  Lastly there is non-continuity "N" which we rarely use except in the case of a blatant contradiction or for things that have been cut."

"By everything else I mean EVERYthing else. Novels, comics, junior novels, videogames, trading card games, roleplaying games, toys, websites, television."

One noteworthy difference between Chee's 2004 description and Rostoni's 2001 description is how individual details are treated.   Rostoni referred to the LLP canon as a list of books . . . Chee refers to individual datapoints, and says that "a particular source would never be discounted in its entirety, only those elements of that source that are contradictory."  Since 2003, however, any difference that might've existed no longer does.  Rostoni noted that even in the case of materials made before the OCP was adopted, they've managed to "logically and realistically incorporate some of the elements of the books into the established continity [sic]".

Finally, it appears that the non-continuity N-level is distinct from those materials marked with an Infinities label.  "Infinities" works are those EU materials which, in the words of Chris Cerasi, have events which "may not have necessarily happened in the rest of the expanded universe".   These are generally written knowingly, such as the example of a Darth Maul versus Darth Vader fight story.

And so, the particulars of the Lucas Licensing official continuity policy have been established.  Controlled by Lucas Licensing, this policy covers the merchandise and storylines created by Licensing's publishing department and other licensees.  

Based on and extrapolating from Lucas's Star Wars films, screenplays, production notes, and other materials, the Expanded Universe that LLP has created also is intended to maintain internal consistency among its continuous storylines.  The end result is a unique entity under the Star Wars brand name based on the work of numerous authors in numerous media.

B.  The Role of Lucas:  EU Completism and the EU-Vision Thesis

One topic EU Completists frequently mention is the role Lucas plays in the Expanded Universe.   The basic idea behind their position that if he is involved in guiding the EU and shaping it to his vision of Star Wars, then it must be true canon Star Wars to all.    Those who are most familiar with the Paramount canon policy can of course be confused by this position . . . after all, Roddenberry had his hand in all sorts of Trek non-canon, but no special authority is claimed on that basis by most people.  Likewise, Canon Purists dismiss this idea since even if Lucas is involved in some way, the work remains derivative of his Star Wars since he himself did not create it.

The actual level of Lucas's involvement is important in pondering the issue.  After all, Lucas himself stated in 1999, "I don't even read the offshoot books that come out based on Star Wars."  He's also said that ""Star Wars" has had a lot of different lives that have been worked on by a lot of different people. It works without me."   And in 2001, he said "I donít get too involved" in the EU.

None of those are statements which would seem to indicate that Lucas oversees or guides the EU.   On the other hand, he's also quoted as saying "I didn't want someone using the name 'Star Wars' on a piece of junk" in regards to Star Wars merchandising, which would imply some level of quality review.   Further, various authors have claimed to have received guidance in some way from Lucas.

So, which is it?  Well, the nature of the indirect guidance of authors is explained by LLP's Sue Rostoni:

"In general, George doesn't see the overall story ideas or concepts. If there is a sensitive area, or if we are developing backstory for a character he's created or mentioned in an interview, we can query him to get more information, his approval, or whatever. And yes, we always query him if we're doing something drastic to a film character. I believe he does read the concepts for the games though."

This is the same basic concept that Lucy Autrey Wilson, now Director of Publishing, describes in the roundtable discussion of the Vector Prime e-book.  She states:

"When we first started doing original Star Wars publishing, the editorial group consisted of me, Sue Rostoni,and later Allan Kausch, who was originally hired as a continuity consultant. Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, was also creatively involved, and we would get input from George Lucas through a series of Q&A memos in which we asked for guidance on big plot points and ideas."

Steve Sansweet of LFL Fan Relations confirms this in concept, saying that "LucasBooks has always checked with the boss to make sure that none of its projects interferes in any way with anything that he is planning."   Licensing's version of events is also confirmed by the report of EU author Michael Stackpole, who was involved in the creation of the New Jedi Order EU book series.  As he recounts:

"In March of 1998 and again in 1999 I attended meetings at Skywalker Ranch along with Shelly Shapiro and Steve Saffel of Del Rey; Sue Rostoni, Lucy Wilson, Allan Kausch and Howard Roffman of Lucas Licensing; and authors James Luceno and Kathy Tyers to set up the series, then work out the details of its progressions."

However, Lucas was not wholly uninvolved . . . the querying relationship continued.  Wilson, along with Shelly Shapiro from Del Rey, state:

"LW: George Lucas has been involved in all of the spin-off Star Wars publishing, but only on big concepts or plot points. The initial five-year NJO plot outline and early thoughts on who might die were sent to him in the form of a Q&A memo and subsequently discussed by phone.

SS: I would characterize his role as limited but important. Heís the one who said the alien invaders could not be dark side Force-users, that we couldnít kill Luke, that we had to kill Anakin instead of Jacen (we had originally planned it the other way around). Other than that, he occasionally answered some basic questions for us, but that was rare. Mostly he leaves the books to his licensing people, trusting them to get it right.
"

Shapiro also recalls that "We didnít get Georgeís permission to kill Chewie in particular: Chewie was simply not one of the characters George said we could not kill."   Roundtable participant and EU author James Luceno stated: 

"Several times at Skywalker Ranch, George was sitting almost within armís reach, but I never got to speak with him. [...] His objection to Anakin Solo being the main series protagonist was, I think, possible confusion with Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy of movies."

And so, condensing all these comments, it appears that Lucas's involvement is both limited and rather passive in regards to the EU novels.   Even beyond the novels, Lucas's involvement is limited.   As Rostoni pointed out, "He knows the comics very well -- after the fact. He reads the comics."   Lucas's involvement in the comics, then, is no different than that of any fan.   However, she did note that he reads the game concepts, and it has been reported elsewhere that he offers up some suggestions to LucasArts regarding those games.

So, in general, Lucas is simply not involved in the EU in anything more than a limited, passive way.  LL Publishing checks with the boss on major events with film characters and certain other major story ideas (the NJO, for example, was a tale that spread across 19 books).     But still, even the pre-NJO policy of not killing off film characters in the novels didn't originate with Lucas.   Lucy Wilson states that it was "our policy that no author could kill anyone who originated first in a script written by George" (emphasis mine).   And then, when asked, he didn't tell them which to kill . . . only the ones not to kill.  

That is not the firm hand of control claimed by EU Completists in their EU-Vision argument.   Lucas is not bent on shaping the EU to his vision of Star Wars . . . if anything, his role is akin to a 'corporate suit' making sure that brand name quality is maintained, which takes us back to the idea that Lucas didn't want the Star Wars trademark smeared by being "on a piece of junk".

Nevertheless, it would also be unfair to say that the EU is completely dissimilar to Lucas's vision.  As Chee puts it, "The EU is bound by what is seen in the most current version of the films and by directives from George Lucas", and he also states that "More of the EU is based on Lucas's view of the universe outside the films than you are probably aware of."   As Chee and others have pointed out, the Expanded Universe is guided by the movies, movie novelizations, unpublished early script versions, unpublished author interviews with George, George's revisions to the novelization manuscript, production notes, Lucas's unpublished notes, and of course the Q&A memos.  Thus, there is definitely some Lucas in the EU, if even indirectly, and provided he doesn't change his mind.   We can never know exactly what comes from Lucas, but there's something of his idea of Star Wars in there.

However, the makers of the EU know that they are not creating Lucas-level Star Wars canon, even if their works are canon by the terms of LLP's official continuity policy and are influenced by their perception of Lucas's desires.  LLP Managing Editor Sue Rostoni is firm in this position.   She's noted that they're trying to create a history which "does not conflict with, or undermine the meaning of Mr. Lucas's Star Wars saga of films and screenplays."  She's stated that Lucas "doesn't see the extended universe as "his" Star Wars, but as "ours."She's pointed out that "It's our job to manipulate the EU into fitting George's future movies, which often contradict stuff we've done", which is no doubt caused by the fact that Lucas "doesn't give us much information about his future movies until he's making them. In general, George does not take the EU into account when he's making his movies."  She's explained to Wayne Poe that "the books follow the continuity of the films as best we can taking into account that George follows his own continuity, and rightly so."  And, she notes that "If George had continued making SW films past Return of the Jedi, I don't think they would have reflected what the SW authors have written", even though per Lucas Licensing's OCP they are a legitimate expansion of the universe of the Star Wars films.

And, while some EU authors have apparently believed they were getting a chance to make something real in George Lucas's Star Wars universe, Dark Horse Comics editor Peet James points out that "Lots of people have been working on lots of SW extrapolations for the last twenty years, in good faith. There were never any promises from George Lucas or Lucasfilm regarding the acceptance of their work into some wider canon."

(Part Two Coming Soon)

Example Case:  

1.  The Death of Boba Fett

One topic that frequently comes up in the Canon Civil War is the demise of Boba Fett depicted in Return of the Jedi.  

In the film, a love tap from a stick wielded by a blind Han Solo activates Fett's jet pack.   This causes the smooth operator's jets to fire, rocketing him away on what the script describes as his "last flight".  After some distance he slams into the metal side of Jabba's barge, at which point he falls a couple of stories into the sand near the Sarlacc monster's pit.   He then rolls without so much as a scream "directly into the mucous mouth of the Sarlacc", to which the Sarlacc responds with a belch.   If that weren't bad enough, at least two extra minions of Jabba are flung in behind him.   If that weren't bad enough, the remnants of Jabba's barges are then piled on top, after the very large and destructive explosion which destroys them.

So, most people assume that Boba Fett is dead.  However, Boba Fett became a very popular character.  Lucas, in a 1997 MTV interview, said "I'm mystified by it. He's a mysterious character. He's a provocative character. He seems like an all powerful character, except he gets killed."   This is reinforced by the RoTJ DVD commentaries, in which Lucas refers to "Boba Fett's death" and calls it "a misstep that we wouldn't make more out of the event of his defeat".   Lucas did not identify just which of the many bad things that happened to Fett that day actually did him in, but he's very clear in that Fett is dead.

In the Expanded Universe, however, Boba Fett was shown to be alive after the time these events would've occurred.  The importance of this cannot be overstated.   If Boba Fett is dead in the Canon but alive in the EU Continuity, then we have a clear example of the parallel universe idea in action.   Separate histories mean separate timelines, and separate timelines mean separate universes.

EU Completists have objected, rather amazingly, that Lucas's opinion on the matter is irrelevant.   They believe that since we do not technically see Boba dead in the film, then it can be assumed he is still alive.   This prevents any contradiction between the film and the EU.  

However, that argument is wrong on many, many levels.   Besides everything that happened to Fett in RoTJ, there's the simple fact that it doesn't matter.   Even if we could step into the Star Wars universe, beam Fett out of the Sarlacc, and check for a pulse . . . it simply wouldn't be of consequence whether we found one.   Why?  Because Lucas thinks he's dead in his movie.   Five years after Fett's return in the EU, Lucas was talking about how he got "killed" in the movie.   Five years after that, it was still Lucas's opinion:  "in George's view -- as far as the films go -- the baddest bounty hunter in the Galaxy met his match in the Great Pit of Carkoon where --unfortunately for Mr. Fett -- the ghastly sarlacc made its home", as Sansweet noted in 2002.    So, despite the fact that "Lucas also approved Fett's comeback in the expanded universe", Lucas nevertheless continued to believe Boba to be dead in his film universe for at least a decade.   Even when, with the Special Editions and DVD editions, he had the opportunity to change it, he explicitly decided not to per his DVD commentary.   (And this is not a man scared to change his films . . . witness the changes to the Han and Greedo encounter in ANH.)

And so despite the objection, we find ourselves at the original conclusion.  Separate histories mean separate timelines, and separate timelines mean separate universes.   We have it straight from Lucas and confirmed by Sansweet that these separate histories exist, and have been acknowledged as such for over a decade. 

Therefore, the facts of one universe are not necessarily the facts of the other.

(And incidentally, Boba Fett is a wellspring of separate histories.   The EU version of Boba's backstory was destroyed wholesale by Lucas when he made Attack of the Clones, though EU retconning (i.e. retroactive continuity changes . . . the sort of manipulations of the EU that Sue Rostoni mentioned) has helped to smooth this over in the EU.)

On to the Star Trek Canon Policy