I’ve been engaged in a curious debate on the Canon page, where I explain according to the absolute best logic all my years of study have provided me, what the “true” Star Wars timeline is. I’m not carrying the debate any further, you can read it there — it’s puzzling stuff — but I thought I would re-post this from HS where I detail the reasons requiring a strict canon such as the one I’ve detailed.
Canon comes from the Greek κανών, which meant a reed or rod, specifically a measuring rod. So the metaphor is obviously for a standard by which something is measured. Something which is canonical, therefore, is according to the rule or standard. There is another use of the word canon which suggests works of a particular author, such as Shakespearean canon.
Now, allow me to explain my argument for why there is a need for anyone who claims to even like Star Wars to understand and define their own canon. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, “canon” provides a standard by which items can be evaluated and approved. It is not possible to simply say, “I just like Star Wars” and walk away, unless your brain is fully capable of ignoring all contradictions of time, place, character, and reference. George Lucas is a man who loves money, whatever else you can say about him, and he’s allowed anyone to come frolic in his universe who wants to if it would get him a little money. The first film came out in 1977, and early novels were produced throughout the 80sby various scifi authors such as Brian Daley and Alan Dean Foster. There are two more films in the “original trilogy,” and a “holiday special” so horrifyingly bad I’ve never pursued seeing it. Then in the early 90s, Lucas commissioned Timothy Zahn to write the first of a new series of books to continue the saga. This started with what is now called the Thrawn Trilogy in 1991. Authors collaborated loosely and were instructed not to touch on any events dating before the original trilogy, as this was what the new prequel trilogy was going to touch on. So for about a decade, a number of really shabby and quite a few really awesome books were produced. However, they weren’t the only ones in on the ball game: there were a few spin-off children’s TV shows (Ewoks and Droids), an entire universe of comic books, children’s books, roleplaying games, and radio productions. People love Star Wars and can’t get enough of it. When the flaming misery of The New Jedi Order was produced after Lucas’ particular commission from Timothy Zahn to write a cap for the whole series, I realized the need for a canon without realizing that’s what I was doing. Finally, then the prequels came out: three more films that produced spin-off novels for all ages, new comic books, computer games, and parodies. Two Clone Wars-based idiotic TV shows were produced and a really horrible little cartoony movie, and don’t even get me started on the new video games! Regular Star Wars, Lego Star Wars, Robot Chicken Star Wars . . . And unfortunately, as with pretty much all other writing since the turn of the last century, all the newest writing is complete and utter garbage with dubious grammar and shocking continuity.
You could fill ten boxes with the stuff that exists with Star Wars stamped on the cover. (And I have.) And here’s the most important fact: they all contradict each other. An early series of juvenile books perpetuates that Palpatine had an insane son, but no evidence bears this out; likewise, the same series perpetuates that Vader’s glove could be found on the floor of the Mon Calamarian ocean, “blown there by the force of the Death Star’s explosion,” utterly ignoring that no explosion can blow something lightyears away, and Vader wasn’t even on the Death Star when it blew. (The same series also has Han buying a house on Cloud City and marrying Leia in direct contradiction of the events of The Courtship of Princess Leia. More here) The comic books by and large contradict the official book series, except for the comic trilogy Dark Empire which gets mentioned in the books. The ghastly NJO contradicts the entire fact that the series was supposed to end at Vision of the Future. Everything anyone ever said about Boba Fett before 2002 contradicts everything everyone ever wrote after 2002. The Clone Wars TV series and movie contradict the films and standard practice. You simply can’t accept everything with Star Wars on the cover if you want to avoid insanity!
Naturally, everyone who likes Star Wars acknowledges the canonocity of the original trilogy: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are the building blocks we all start with. Now, I think I’ve said before, Star Wars is like a coloring book: George only painted very broad outlines for us, and anyone can easily come in and make it any color they want. You are perfectly free to choose your own canon (but I think you’re an idiot if you don’t choose mine! . . . okay, kidding!), acknowledging that due to internal contradictions, multiple fanons will, despite being able to coexist, override each other. For example, you might be an avid video gamer, but there’s no such person as Starkiller. You might love The Clone Wars TV series, too, but both of these things indicate Anakin or Vader taking on apprentices which simply is not demonstrably possible in the context of the other media. So you might choose to accept their canonocity over that which I list here, but keep in mind I have put these materials through extensive review, am always researching and studying new information as it comes to light, and have made the most logical possible choices in constructing and creating this canon.