Say, what happened to the Emperor’s forces at the end of Return of the Jedi? In the old Expanded Universe canon, the Empire collapsed quickly after the downfall of its central government, with the Imperial remnant scattering about under dozens of petty warlords. But with the coming of the new trilogy, all that history’s been wiped clean, and sci-fi novelist Chuck Wendig has been brought aboard to create a trilogy of books filling in the three-decade gap between Jedi and The Force Awakens. EW has an exclusive excerpt from the first book, Aftermath, and as it turns out, in this version, the Imperial forces don’t go down without a fight. It’s an ending that has much more in common with our post–Iraq War sensibilities, while also syncing up perfectly with the need for entertainment franchises to have continuous stories with no concrete endings.
For instance, here’s the new canon’s version of that happy montage showing crowds celebrating the downfall of the Empire, which in this telling quickly turns into Coruscant’s own Boston Massacre.
Chains rattle as they lash the neck of Emperor Palpatine. Ropes follow suit—lassos looping around the statue’s middle. The mad cheers of the crowd as they pull, and pull, and pull. Disappointed groans as the stone fixture refuses to budge. But then someone whips the chains around the back ends of a couple of heavy-gauge speeders, and then engines warble and hum to life—the speeders gun it and again the crowd pulls—
The sound like a giant bone breaking.
A fracture appears at the base of the statue.
More cheering. Yelling. And—
Applause as it comes crashing down.
The head of the statue snaps off, goes rolling and crashing into a fountain. Dark water splashes. The crowd laughs.
And then: The whooping of klaxons. Red lights strobe. Three airspeeders swoop down from the traffic lanes above—Imperial police. Red-and- black helmets. The glow of their lights reflected back in their helmets.
There comes no warning. No demand to stand down.
The laser cannons at the fore of each airspeeder open fire. Red bolts sear the air. The crowd is cut apart. Bodies dropped and stitched with fire.
The lesson, it seems, is that there’s no such thing as different wars — “just one, drawn out again and again, cut up into slices so it seems more manageable.” In other words, if the new movie is just the same conflict over again, you can’t be disappointed!