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In 1977, moviegoers watched in awe and wonder as they were transported — for the first time — to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. It was a breathtaking vision of a fully-developed universe; we saw the seedy underbelly in Mos Eisley Cantina, we were thrilled by the heroics of the Rebellion, and we watched with horror as the Empire's might destroyed an entire planet. The quality of world-building in A New Hope is incredible, and the whole Star Wars franchise rests upon it.
Incredibly, that was 40 years ago, and Star Wars has gone from strength to strength. By 2012, Disney was willing to cash out an incredible $4.05 billion to buy the franchise; by 2015, Fortune had estimated that the franchise as a whole was worth a staggering $42 billion, when you factor in sale of merchandise, video games, New York Times bestsellers, and more. To give you a sense of just how astounding that performance is, here's a comparison with some other major franchises — and with the total GDP of a couple of countries.
With the release of #RogueOne, more New York Times bestsellers, a boom in merchandise, and #StarWarsRebels, that's only going to have increased. No surprise, Lucasfilm intend to celebrate the 40th anniversary in style — and over the weekend, we finally got our first hint as to how.
'From A Certain Point of View'
Lucasfilm and Del Rey have just announced 'From A Certain Point of View'. Debuting in October, this is an anthology of 40 short stories from 40 different authors. As they explain:
"Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for."
Authors have been teasing this for quite some time over on Twitter, using the somewhat odd hashtag of #OperationBlueMilk.
The authors include fan-favorite Star Wars authors Claudia Gray (Lost Stars, Bloodline), John Jackson Miller (A New Dawn), and Alexander Freed (Battlefront: Twilight Company, Rogue One). What's more, countless new writers are joining Star Wars for the first time — including Meg Cabot, Zoraida Cordova, Jason Fry, and Renee Ahdieh!
In a delightful twist, it seems Lucasfilm and Del Rey have chosen to make this a huge charitable event:
"All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book — a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books — valued at 1 million dollars — to support First Book and their mission of providing educational resources to children in need. Over the past 16 years, Disney has donated more than 57 million books to First Book."
The Anthologies are Back!
Naturally, Lucasfilm and Del Rey are claiming this as something we've never seen before. They're right — from a certain point of view. We've never seen an anthology focused in quite so tightly before, but in truth Star Wars has a rich history of anthologies like this. Back in the '90s, Bantam published a series of anthologies under the title 'Tales' — Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Tales from Jabba's Palace, and Tales of the Bounty Hunters. Just as in the case, the 'Tales' books focused on the Galaxy's less prominent characters, often focusing in on the seedier side of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away.
The 'Tales' are firm fan-favorite books, and the prospect of more anthologies is one that will leave fans thrilled. Even better, this idea opens up the possibility of a whole range of further anthologies, one exploring every movie. It's setting a precedent that has fans buzzing with excitement!
So this is how Lucasfilm choose to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars; by bringing back a fan-favorite idea, and giving us a fresh glimpse into A New Hope. Speaking as a Star Wars fan myself, I simply couldn't be more excited for this book. With such a range of talent assembled, and an already-beautiful canvas on which to paint, this anthology promises to be a classic.