Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII rumor or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
We’ll begin with big news on the gaming front coming out of the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). During its traditional pre-E3 press conference on Monday afternoon, game publisher Electronic Arts announced, to massive applause, a new title in the Battlefront series. This will be one of EA’s first Star Wars games under its multi-year exclusive contract with Disney, and it will be developed by EA’s DICE studio, which produces the similar Battlefield games. EA didn’t give us any details about the game, which is currently titled Star Wars: Battlefront, so we don’t know how much it will cost, what platforms it will run on, or when it will be released. To whet our appetites, EA did show a half-minute trailer, which featured a snow planet, a crashing snowspeeder, and a lumbering AT-AT –– no doubt a nod to the inclusion of a Hoth level in the game.
Having played both previous Battlefront games on my computer until my eyes hurt, I am thrilled about this news. When Battlefront II was released, it packaged many levels from the original Battlefront alongside new maps, enhanced graphics, and new gameplay elements like starfighter combat and expanded trooper types. If EA’s new title can do the same thing –– and with Battlefield developer DICE at the helm, that certainly seems likely –– it will have a smash hit to rival the critically and commercially successful Battlefront II. In the years since 2005, when that sequel was released, The Clone Wars and the Expanded Universe have introduced so many new locations, characters, and organizations that could provide material for EA’s game. Imagine playing as a member of Black Sun or the Bounty Hunters’ Guild instead of the same four galactic-level factions that we’ve become familiar with in the first two Battlefront games. In summary, the prospects for this game are as bright as Tatooine’s twin suns, and I can’t wait to play it.
We may have to wait a few years to play Star Wars: Battlefront as a member of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, but we’ll be able to delve deep into their world this fall when Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Code: From the Files of Boba Fett is released. This new “packaged book,” which follows in the footsteps of The Jedi Path and The Book of Sith, will include a text called “The Bounty Hunter Code” as the central element, but it will also include accessories like a Kaminoan saberdart, Boba Fett’s captain’s license, and an Imperial wanted poster for Han Solo. The book, written by Daniel Wallace, Ryder Windham, and Jason Fry, will be released on October 15, 2013. If the Jedi and Sith tomes are any indication, you should add this to your Amazon wish list (or pre-order cart) right away.
In other book news, Del Rey recently took the wraps off of the second title in its Empire and Rebellion trilogy. James S.A. Corey’s entry in the trilogy, starring Han Solo and Chewbacca along with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, will be called Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves. Each book in this trilogy is a stand alone adventure featuring the Original Trilogy’s “Big Three” characters in that era. Martha Wells’ novel, Razor’s Edge, is set for an October 1st release. Honor Among Thieves is due out in Spring 2014.
Battlefront was by far the biggest gaming news, but this week also saw the announcement of Fantasy Flight Games’ Beyond the Rim adventure for its Edge of the Empire roleplaying game. If you’re into tabletop RPG adventures, you should check this one out. Fantasy Flight Games describes it as “a full-length adventure in three acts that carries players from the bustling, hub-and-spoke space station known as the Wheel all the way to the surface of a deadly jungle planet at the edge of Wild Space.” Sounds like fun!
J.J. Abrams made a few statements about Star Wars Episode VII at the Produced By Conference on the Fox studio lot, and the blogosphere was there to soak it all up. Deadline reports that Abrams demurred with a sly “No comment” when asked about the extent to which his movie would hue to or ignore the Expanded Universe. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams did elaborate somewhat on the balancing act that he had to undertake. “It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.” Abrams also said that he and his family would be relocating to London at the end of this year so that filming could commence on the project in early 2014.
We continue our series of check-ins with Episode VII’s principals with a look at Kathleen Kennedy’s storied film industry career courtesy of USA Today. The publication interviewed Kennedy for their “Innovators and Icons” series, and she discussed hot topics like the gender imbalance in high-level Hollywood positions and the future of the movie business in the age of new media. Check out the full USA Today article right here.
If you’re hoping to pick up autographs at Celebration Europe II, you should know that autograph pre-order tickets are now available for purchase from licensed autograph company Official Pix. From now until July 10th, you can buy your tickets and avoid the hassle of having to grab them at the convention. Confirmed CEII guests include Ian McDiarmid, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Jeremy Bulloch. If you’re planning to get autographs from these or other celebrities, now is the time to take care of those purchases. Trust me when I say that you’ll have better things to do at this convention than stand in a line to buy tickets to stand in another line. You’ll be swamped with panels, exclusive collectibles, and meet-ups, and you won’t want to wait to buy autograph tickets.
Former Lucasfilm fan relations head Steve Sansweet recently posted a great article on The Official Star Wars Blog about the park in downtown San Anselmo, California that George Lucas is helping to build. Lucas, a San Anselmo native, donated the land that the park will occupy. He also donated a life-size bronze statue of Yoda sculpted by Lawrence Noble and a larger-than-life-size Indiana Jones bronze sculpture, the only one of its kind. Construction at the park is still underway, but it already looks great. Head over to Sansweet’s blog post for information about contributing to the construction fund. Donation perks include having your name “inscribed on leaves of a bronze ‘giving tree’ in the park.” Between the bucolic setting and the iconic bronze statuary, this seems every bit like the “mecca … [for] the worldwide community of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fans” that Sansweet describes.
Lastly, I want to bring your attention to a fascinating journal article that was recently published in Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies. The study’s author, William Proctor of the University of Sunderland, UK, solicited input from members of TheForce.Net’s forums, and the resulting article provides a scientific overview of the state of online Star Wars fandom. Proctor describes his article as “a temporal snap-shot of a cultural moment” – namely, the few years in between the announcement of Episode VII and the film’s release. I am a data and research fiend –– I love tracking political polls –– and for years I’ve been waiting to see this kind of analysis of the Star Wars fan community. Whether you’re a casual observer of the Star Wars phenomenon or a college psychology major with an unofficial minor in Star Wars, you’ll find something fascinating in Proctor’s journal article (PDF link).
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He also co-hosts The ForceCast podcast. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.