More than 20 years before the Golden Trio Apparated into our hearts forever, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford schwummed and pew-pewed their way into becoming a cultural phenomenon. Generations have been left to harness that appeal in other entertainment media, and — for those who are still trying — I've got 20 books Star Wars fans will love.
A long time ago, in a franchise now owned by Disney, there was the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). Comic books, novels, video games, you name it: if it 1) was Star Wars and 2) wasn't a movie, it was part of the EU. And while the EU gave us some really spectacular moments and characters, it had gotten more than a bit messy.
Because the last thing you want is a contradictory canon, Disney decided that only certain EU materials would be accepted in the new Star Wars canon, and made everything else apocryphal. Today, when people sit down to create new Star Wars material, they can use or disregard anything they find in the EU.
So, if they want to make Nomi Sunrider canon again — and fulfill my nerdy little heart's desires — they can! If they want to take her name and turn her into a blue Twi'lek with a third eye, they can! Disney's move is all pretty brilliant, really, because it's turned the EU into a treasure trove of Star Wars myths and legends.
Now, a brief note on how this list has been put together. If you are a Star Wars die hard who owns every book — EU and New Canon — and reads science fiction almost exclusively, I'm sorry. This list is not for you, and you probably will not find any new book recommendations here.
However, if you're a Star Wars fan who isn't familiar with the franchise's extra-film media, and hasn't read much science fiction, classic or contemporary, congratulations! You'll probably find lots of cool stuff in here, and that excites me.
This list of books for Star Wars fans contains only four Star Wars novels: two from the EU, and two from the New Canon. A mishmash of classic hard sci-fi, YA novels, and feminist science fiction make up the remaining 16 titles. Here are my top book recommendations for Star Wars fans.
May the Force be with you, readers.
1. Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
Set during the Clone Wars, Dark Disciple follows a Jedi Knight and a former Sith Acolyte on their mission to assassinate Count Dooku.
2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Alana and Marko have just had their first child, but there's little time to celebrate. The interracial couple hail from two sides of an intergalactic war, and they're being hunted down.
3. Shade's Children by Garth Nix
With the Overlords came the Change. Now children grow up in prisons and are harvested into monster-building materials at age 14. But some of them have escaped, and they're planning to fight back.
4. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Hyperempathic Lauren has grown up inside a Los Angeles gated community, safe from the anarchy outside. But when the life she knows is destroyed, Lauren must strike out on her own to plant a new religion: Earthseed.
5. Bloodline by Claudia Gray
The Empire has been defeated, and now the Rebel Alliance must shift gears to rebuild the galaxy's infrastructure and shape the New Republic. Once again, Senator Leia Organa is at the forefront of the movement, but a terrorist attack may threaten everything she's fought for.
6. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sparrowhawk, the reckless young student of Ogion, summons an ancient evil he isn't prepared to deal with in this fantasy classic from Ursula K. Le Guin.
7. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Shortly after they break up, two teenagers are forced to band together for survival when a war between two megacorporations hits their atmosphere.
8. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Hyperion follows a group of devoted travelers on a pilgrimage to meet their god, Shrike. According to legend, Shrike will only allow one of them to live, and will grant that person a wish. But, with the world falling apart, what do they have to lose?
9. Revan by Drew Karpyshyn
Revan left for war a Jedi, but came back a Sith. Now, he's been brought back into the fold, with all of his memories wiped. The problem is, there's something very important he can't afford to forget...
10. Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
This story collection brims with magical realism, light sci-fi, and fantasy. Zombies, ghosts, and chickens take center stage in Nalo Hopkinson's eclectic fiction mix.
11. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
The psychohistorians have seen how their utopian civilization ends. With time to prepare, they set out to shorten the impending dark ages by 97 percent. But they did not foresee the Mule...
12. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The ancillaries of the Radch empire are empty humans, driven by a consciousness they download from their ships. Breq is the last surviving ancillary from the Justice for Toren, which disappeared 19 years ago, and she's looking for answers.
13. Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
You can credit Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy with launching the EU. This Return of the Jed i sequel follows Luke, Leia, and Han as they try to secure the fate of the New Republic and the Jedi Order.
14. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
A Canticle for Leibowitz opens 600 years after nuclear war destroyed the world. Knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, has become anathema in the new order of things. But the Albertian Order of Leibowitz have been collecting as many books and relics as possible, for use when the world is ready for them again.
15. Dune by Frank Herbert
Jessica was never supposed to give birth to a boy. It wasn't time for him yet, and, who knows, maybe the legend is nothing more than that? But Jessica did have a boy, Paul, and he was destined to change the galaxy forever.
16. Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
With arms instead of legs, the Quaddies are the best space laborers ever made, but they are classified as medical samples, and suffer horrific abuses as a result. When a new technology precludes their use, and the Quaddies' fate is left up to their corporate owners to decide, their trainer, Leo, may be the one to save them all.
17. The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Arthur Dent's having a bad day. His best friend just revealed himself to be an alien, his home planet's been destroyed to create a galactic superhighway, and now he's stuck on a journey through space that might not ever end.
18. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin is a mild-mannered "Third": the third child born to a family in a world bound by population limitations. Still, someone seems to think that he has the chops to make it through Battle School. But are they right?
19. Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
Having found few habitable planets they can colonize, the Earth Company builds spacestations instead. Downbelow Station orbits Pell, a planet inhabited by peaceful, technologically limited primates. When unrest threatens to become war, the Earth Company creates its own paramilitary force, which could spell the end of humanity's non-colonial policies.
20. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
When climate change ravages the earth and a worldwide empire crumbles, an inevitable rash of wars breaks out over the basic necessities. In the middle of the chaos, a woman named Essun sets out alone in pursuit of her husband, who has murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter.