What Do We Want the Future of Star Wars to Look Like?

The Rise of Skywalker has finally hit theaters and is retreating into the rear-view mirror. The conclusion to the so-called Skywalker Saga is the end of an era for George Lucas’s franchise, and now, it’s on Lucasfilm to figure out what to do next. We asked a handful of space opera, sci-fi, and fantasy authors about what they’d like to see next for Star Wars.

Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. And it hasn’t. Along with The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, Disney and Lucasfilm released two standalone films, Rogue One and Solo, as well as animated shows Rebels and Resistance, live-action series The Mandalorian, and a massive theme park, Galaxy’s Edge.

The finale of The Clone Wars is on its way later this month, the second season of The Mandalorian debuts in October (and it looks like additional seasons and spinoffs are likely), while new live-action shows about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cassian Andor are in development. While Disney CEO Bob Iger noted that they’re putting films on hold for a while, there are some other projects in the works: Rian Johnson is working on a new film trilogy, Kevin Feige is developing a project, Disney wants Taika Waititi to develop his own project, and Lucasfilm is about to embark on a big publishing initiative called Project Luminous, which is set to be unveiled later this month.

That’s a lot of Star Wars, but we still don’t know what some of these projects will entail. So what do we want to see out of the Star Wars franchise?

One overwhelming sentiment was to go beyond the exploits of the Jedi Order. James Cambias, author of A Darkling Sea and The Initiate, wants to see some new perspectives:

“There’s plenty of room for stories about, well, scruffy-looking smugglers, or farm boys leaving home in search of adventure who aren’t part of some hidden space-wizard lineage; or gamblers bluffing their way into control of entire planets; or crooks; or spies; or honest merchants. Heck, show us some Imperials doing something other than fighting Rebels!”

Becky Chambers, author of A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few concurs.

“In the wake of both Rogue One and The Mandalorian’s first season, I’m starting to think that Star Wars is better when the Jedi are on the sidelines of the story, or—gasp!—not there at all.”

“This is an enormous universe, and there’s so much more opportunity to explore the intricacies of empire and the realities of war when you treat the space magic as dessert instead of as main course. My inner kid who made lightsabers with markers and wrapping paper tubes is throwing a fit at this, but honestly, as an adult, I’m so much more captivated by the characters who have nothing more than a good blaster at their side. Give me more Finns and Cara Dunes. Show me the nitty-gritty personal consequences of all those exploding planets and space stations. That’s the kind of mess I’m interested in.”

Star Wars isn’t likely to completely jettison one its most recognizable feature, but Charlie Jane Anders author of The City in the Middle of the Night, explained that she wanted to go beyond Light and Dark sides of the Force.

“[It] occurred to me is that I’d like to see how people use the Force without that Jedi/Sith dichotomy. There have to be cultures and periods in history where people have harnessed the Force without imposing that Manichean dualism on it, and it’s possible the Force can do a lot of different things if you stop thinking of it as having a Light Side and a Dark Side.”

Mike Brooks, author of Dark Run, Dark Sky, and Dark Deeds had a similar thought.

“There’s surely some scope for a con-artist with mild mind-clouding powers, or someone who can use the Force to aid minor healing: just regular people using this ability to aid their daily life a bit.”

Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence, explains that The Mandalorian was one of “the most exciting pieces of Star Wars I’ve seen in a long time,” particularly because it got away from the Jedi vs. Sith drama. He says that it’s the everyday troubles that face characters that he’s the most interested in, and that it’s long been a central part of the world.

“Luke bums around the local truck stop with his loser friends; Han has credit problems with the mob. Uncle Owen’s worried abut the harvest. The Jawas just need more cut-rate droid parts. As a kid, this daily texture really helped me imagine having my own adventures in the Star Wars universe—not having Luke’s adventures, but having different adventures out there among the stars.”

For her part, Warchild and Gaslight Dogs author Karin Lowachee wanted to see more from the franchise’s underworld and western sensibilities, particularly when it comes to The Mandalorian.

“I’ve love to see Mandalorian novels with more explored in that post-ROTJ era. The happily ever after is rarely happily ever after. Besides the bounty hunter world, I feel there’s more that can be explored about what happened to all of the Empire employees (they can’t all be evil), and the Mandalorian is the right vehicle to poke at the gray areas.”

Lowachee also explained that she wanted to see more stylistic experimentation.

“I’m curious what a Noir Star Wars might look like, so for my own interest I’d love to see a writer/director experiment in that milieu—and not make it Blade Runner.”

John Scalzi seems to agree about expanding Star Wars’ genre boundaries.

“STAR WARS (intentional) COMEDY. I have spoken.”

Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice, Dreadful Company, and Grave Importance, explained that she wasn’t quite ready to leave the sequel trilogy behind.

“I’d absolutely love to see more novels, particularly exploring the villains of the sequel trilogy. Delilah S. Dawson’s Phasma is fantastic—I’d really enjoy it if we could get a similar deep dive into the background of General Hux, for example, and see more of Kylo Ren and his stupid lightsaber. There’s so much rich storytelling to be expanded on in the films.”

Katherine Arden, author of The Bear and the Nightingale, takes a slightly different view:

“I greeted the Disney era of Star Wars with excitement, but was quickly disenchanted by a series of slickly marketed, derivative, and inconsistent films. In my opinion, good storytelling took a backseat to making as much money as possible and the entire franchise has suffered for it. My only wish is to see a renewed focus on strong filmmaking with compelling stories.”

Andrew Liptak is a writer and historian from Vermont. He is the author of the forthcoming book Cosplay: A History (Saga Press, 2021), and his work has appeared in Clarkesworldio9Lightspeed, Polygon, Tor.com, The Verge, and other publications.

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