It’s a crazy time for fans of the galaxy really far away—for me especially. In 24 hours I’ll be in Orlando, Florida attending my very first Star Wars Celebration (I still need to pack)! It’s just starting to hit me that everyone I’ll be around will be as passionate about Star Wars as me. I am so ready! 

Since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm over 52 months ago Star Wars fandom has been picking up momentum and has no signs of slowing down. How many new Star Wars podcasts have sprouted up in the last few years? I think the number is equal to 12 parsecs; the distance kind. 

Looking back ten years to 2007, Star Wars fandom was in a very different position, Revenge of the Sith, the last (as we knew it then) Star Wars film was released two years prior, and the only talk of anything new on the horizon was a live action television series that never happened, and a possible animated series called The Clone Wars (2008-2013, 2014 on Netflix only).

I recently just finished reading The Star Wars Vault. It’ s a great look at the franchise since its inception over 40 years ago through the eyes of authors Stephen Sansweet, known to Star Wars fans as the Jedi Master of all Star Wars collectors and the chairman and president of Rancho Obi-Wan, and Pete Vilmur, head of fan relations at Lucasfilm. This book represents a nostalgic look back at a film saga that had such an impact on pop culture it’s overwhelming to grasp. Published in 2007, Vault is a beautiful oversized hardcover book that comes with a hard sleeve, which the book slides into.

“Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilm Archives” is no exaggeration. Vault holds more memorabilia than the Millennium Falcon holds cargo. According to the description Vault contains:

  • “50 interactive, rare and some never before published memorabilia, including reproductions of Lucas’s own handwritten script pages, flip-through catalogs, swag, posters, T-shirts transfers, stickers, blueprints, production notes, and animation cells,”
  • Hundreds of photos and pieces of art.
  • 2 CD’s containing over 2 hours of vintage radio ads, original cast interviews, excerpts from the NPR Star Wars radio drama, Carrie Fisher’s Holiday Special performance of Princess Leia’s song. George Lucas commentary and other tracks that tell the story of everyone’s favorite galactic saga as never before.

What struck me most about this book was the overall sense that at the time, Star Wars was on a path to nowhere. I intentionally purchased this book in preparation for Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, as a fun look back to the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. As I read it however, especially towards the latter chapters that covered celebrations up to Celebration IV in May 2007, I desperately wanted to go back in time and tell Stephen and Pete that it’s not over. More films are coming! Just be patient. The Clone Wars will be great, and wait until you see Star Wars Rebels!

The feeling I was left with at book's end reminded me of the state the franchise was in during the much talked about, “dark times” circa 1985-1990. Maybe not as dark, but there definitely was a sense with the fans of, what do we do now? The biggest difference was the internet. We have social media to keep the fandom connected. Podcasts were already a thing (though the topics were harder to come by; book covers anyone?) Personally speaking, during the first lull I was 10-15 years old and I had plenty of other interest to keep me busy. But as we grow older and our perspectives change.

As I entered this galaxy 2 years prior to Star Wars, looking back at 40 years of Star Wars is like looking back at my life. It’s been a part of my life for most of my childhood then from my teenage years onward and has only snowballed from there. In 40 years I’ve graduated from playing, pretending, and imagining to reading, writing, and collecting. Though my love for the franchise hasn’t died down one bit—if anything it has grown.

What happens in ten years when we look back at 50 years of Star Wars? I can almost imagine the U-turn in philosophy in 2008 when The Clone Wars begins, and we meet Ahsoka Tano, 2012 Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm; George Lucas retires. New films are announced with the new one out by December 2015. Stand-alone films will fill the gaps in between the saga films. 2013 The Clone Wars series is cancelled, 2014 a new animated series begins that focuses on the early days of the Rebel Alliance. Star Wars themed land at Disney World and Disneyland is in the process of being built with a completion year of 2019.

It is indeed an intense time to be a fan—40 years have gone by and the next 40 are on the horizon. We gaze at them, twin suns hovering overhead, in wonder of what’s to come. Daydreaming. Our minds looking away to the future…

May the future of the Force be With Us.

Eric Onkenhout

@EricOnkenhout or @WritngEric

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Tags: Star Wars , Celebration