I was recently listening to the latest episodes of the ForceCast podcast (fantastic show, every Star Wars fan should be listening!) and they have been discussing a very interesting and controversial topic: whether or not a story should be written that involves the death of Luke Skywalker. This discussion stemmed from a recent blog post which basically said that the current EU stories rely too much on Luke Skywalker, rather than focusing on other characters. Also that the quality of the stories has deteriorated over the years, particularly the handling of the characters, to the point where Luke no longer resembles the character we were introduced to in the films. So according to “FANgirl” of fangirlblog.com, the solution would be to kill off Luke.
Here’s the original blog post: Luke Skywalker Must Die
This topic seems to have sparked a pretty heated debate among Stat Wars fans and opinions seemed to be split right down the middle, even between the two hosts of the podcast. Of course I love a good Star Wars debate, so I figured I would share some of my own thoughts on this topic.
I admit that I am a long time fan of the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” or “EU,” but do agree with the general opinion that the current EU stories are not nearly as good as back in the days of say the Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command written by Timithy Zahn in the early 90s). That being said, having Luke Skywalker’s death take place in a book wouldn’t bother me very much, as it would Jason, one of the podcast hosts. I would be interested in reading some kind of grand, epic conclusion to Luke’s story. Obviously I would prefer to have that story be told from George Lucas himself. But since that seems very unlikely, the only way we will ever know what eventually happens to Luke will be if it’s told in a book.
However, I do also see a point that Jason made on the show that Luke Skywalker is so much bigger than any book, and the story of his death should be accessible to a bigger audience than just those people who read the books. So, if this story were to be told, it should not take place in the last few pages of some throwaway book at the end of a nine book series. If they were going to go through with this, it would have to be done right, or else is should not be done at all. So here is how I think a story about Luke Skywalker’s death should be handled:
1. I think in order to reach a wider audience, this story should not just be told in a novel, but have all sorts of tie-ins, such as comics and video games. Think Shadows of the Empire or The Force Unleashed.
2. It should be a standalone story. The story should begin and end in one book (or one trade paperback comic, or one video game). I think a lot of fans would be interested in finding out how Luke Skywalker dies, and are not going to want to read nine books to find out what happens. The story would have to be targeted at the fan who potentially has never picked up any other Star Wars book. References to other EU sources would have to be kept at a minimal. A few “Easter Egg” type references might be nice for the EU fans. But the reader should be able to immediately follow what’s going on, and be able to follow the story to it’s conclusion without having to read any other books. The same would go for any tie-in material. A comic, or a video game, should also be self-contained so that when you get to the end, you know the whole story without having to wait for more comics or more video games to come out in order to find out what happens.
3. They have to get the right author in order to tell this story. A really solid author who is very knowledgeable about Star Wars, and about these characters. Personally, the only one I can think of who would have any chance to pull this off is Timothy Zahn. It would be even better if there was some sort of collaboration with George Lucas himself if at all possible.
4. And this last point I cannot stress enough: Luke’s death MUST count for something! His death should not take place just to advance the story, or correct the problems of the EU. He needs to die nobly, fighting for something important. He can’t just get shot in the back or fall off a bridge (like Capt. Kirk’s death in Star Trek Generations). He would have to die with lightsaber in hand, knowing that his sacrifice would mean saving all his friends or even the entire galaxy. If the stakes were any lower than that, I don’t think it would be worth the sacrifice of Luke Skywalker’s life.
And I think it goes without saying that if someday, George decides to tell this story himself in the form of another Star Wars film, then this story would pretty much become null and void. And I’d be okay with that.
Any Star Wars fans reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. You can also hear the whole conversation, including an interview with FANgirl herself, by checking out these episodes of the ForceCast: