“Interpretation is the key.”―Tagline[src]
The Alternative Star Wars Saga, also called the Alternative Saga, is a fan-fiction continuity created by Victor Dorantes, Wayne Lipman III, and Brandon Rhea after the merger of Brandon Rhea’s Alternative Saga and the Squishy Vic Series, although Dorantes has since left the project. Other contributors include Susan Donnam, Edward Oliver, and Brent Krajewski. The saga spans across a vast timeline, starting around 99,945 BBY until at least 7 BBY, with central characters in the Bac, Lanmaw, and Skywalker families. Central events include the Great Territorial War, the Clone Wars, and the Galactic Civil War.
Novels in the Alternative Saga include Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One and Star Wars: The Alderaan Affair. There are a number of planned novels and series such as the Chronicles of the Great War series, the Trials of War series, Star Wars: Betrayal, and My Father's Dreams. An animated spin-off of The Chosen One was also planned, but was later canceled.
On internet communities such as the Star Wars Fanon Wiki, TheStarWarsRP.Com and the Jedi Council Boards on TheForce.Net, the Alternative Saga has received praise from many readers and reviewers. Compliments range from what reviewers perceive to be strengths in dialogue and overall storytelling to the ability to take the existing Star Wars Saga and turn it into a convincing and engaging alternate universe story, something that some readers have noted is rare in rewrites of the Star Wars Saga. Although some reviews have been more tempered, the overall feedback has been largely positive.
As with the canon Star Wars Saga created by George Lucas, the Alternative Star Wars Saga is set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” It is also said to be "From the second saga, the Journal of the Whills." The earliest known story elements of the Alternative Saga take place in 99,945 BBY, when the Order of the Jedi Bendu, led by Matthew of Skywalker, fulfills a prophecy foreseen by a holy man and finds a species called the Whills. The Whills follow the Jedi Bendu to the pocket dimension of Ashlan Four, where they create the Order of the Whills. As foretold in the prophecy, the mandate of the Whills is to record the history of the galaxy in a manuscript called the Journal of the Whills, which they begin to do after Matthew of Skywalker explains to them the early history of the galaxy.
Millennia later, in 25,045 BBY, Conrad Bac and his wife, a married couple living on the Core World of Alderaan, welcome a son named Jonathan Bac. After Conrad is assassinated, Jonathan joins the navy of the Organian Empire during the Unification War, defeating the Anarchic Brotherhood of Planets in the final battle. Shortly thereafter, Jonathan becomes the first Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, a galactic government formed shortly before his election.
Sometime after 3,952 BBY, following the end of the Jedi Civil War between the Second Sith Empire and the Republic, with the monastic Jedi Order fighting on the side of the Republic, the Great Territorial War between the Republic and the Third Sith Empire begins. Participants in the war include Jedi Grandmaster Damien Nightblade, Jedi Knight Ussej Padric Bac, and Ussej’s lover Laili Jeyna Rendar. In the aftermath of this war, Ussej fulfills his destiny and becomes the Shaman of the Order of the Whills, enabling him to use the time stream, a body of water on Ashlan Four that the Whills use to view the timeline of the universe, to participate in historical events.
In 22 BBY, in retaliation for the enactment of the Republic Anti-Slavery Law that forbids the use of slave workers by Republic corporations operating outside of Republic jurisdiction, the Trade Federation shipping cartel blockades and subsequently invades Utapau, a planet in the far reaches of the Republic that was one of the main supporters of the law’s passage. The invasion begins after one month of failed talks between Utapau and the Federation, causing Queen Sabé Arcadia to flee her planet and find safe refuge on Coruscant, the central system of the Republic. However, her escape vessel is damaged while attempting to escape the Federation blockade, and it is suggested by Jedi Master Jard Dooku and Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, who were serving as ambassadors from Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum before they were targeted for assassination by the Federation, that they take shelter on the desert world of Tatooine. The queen agrees, and while they are on the planet they meet a nineteen-year-old moisture farmer named Annikin Skywalker, who must come to terms with the fact that he may be destined to be the savior of the galaxy.
Fifteen years later, in 7 BBY, a twelve-year-old farmer named Epin Lanmaw living on Alderaan begins to have romantic feelings for Alderaan’s princess, Leia Organa. Leia also starts to have feelings for Epin, beginning a relationship between the two. While he is sorting out his feelings for Leia, Epin also must try to understand his family’s past, particularly its link to the Sith Lord Darth Traya who died thousands of years earlier. Traya introduces Epin to the powers of the Force as well.
Squishy Vic Series
The Squishy Vic Series is a fan fiction series founded by author Victor Dorantes, one of the creators of the Alternative Star Wars Saga. While the Squishy Vic Series is an independent fan fiction series, it was one of the founding works of the Alternative Saga. The series first appeared on TheForce.Net in a series of role-plays carried out on the website’s forums, during which time Dorantes developed his main character, Narod Antrell.
Although Antrell was originally just an article on Star Wars Fanon, the Star Wars wiki of fan invention, Dorantes decided he would write a narrative work of fan fiction, Knighthood, based on the character. The Squishy Vic Series briefly merged with author Brandon Rhea's fan fiction series, but Dorantes continued to operate independently and released Acceptance, originally titled Knighthood.
Brandon Rhea’s Alternative Saga
In late 2004, Brandon Rhea began to work on a fan fiction series titled "Brandon Rhea's Alternative Star Wars Saga," a series that would serve to re-imagine and reboot the Star Wars Saga similar to how Batman Begins and Casino Royale re-imagined and rebooted the Batman and James Bond film series, respectively. The series started off as the Alternate Trilogy, a series of three stories that were to be written by Brandon Rhea and fellow author Gregg Tasoulas. The stories would rewrite the canon films Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, while leaving the prequel trilogy intact, and would follow the same basic premise of Luke Skywalker redeeming Darth Vader before the death of Emperor Palpatine. However, Rhea and Tasoulas decided to work on their own series once their ideas began to conflict.
For his own series, Rhea planned to write six new episodes, with Episode IV to Episode VI being completely different from the original trilogy, and Episode VII to Episode IX being based on the original films. Rhea eventually incorporated Ussej Padric Bac, his role-playing character from TheStarWarsRP.Com, into the expanded universe of the Alternative Saga, where Bac ended up becoming one of the saga’s primary characters. He wrote a number of drafts of a now-postponed novel titled Shadows of the Jedi: The Legend of Ussej Padric Bac, but he put that on hold in favor of writing Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One, which he continues to work on now as a re-imagining of the prequel trilogy. This novel continued to be part of the Alternative Saga after the merger with the Squishy Vic Series.
The overall Alternative Star Wars Saga continuity was created in early 2008 by Dorantes and Rhea, based on a merger of the Squishy Vic Series and Rhea's Alternative Saga. Author Wayne Lipman III, who had collaborated with Dorantes in the past, joined the project shortly thereafter. Rhea’s fanon was comprised of most of the larger-scale galactic events in the series, whereas Dorantes and Lipman focused on characters that did not have major roles on the galactic stage. Lipman's work brought in characters such as Epin Lanmaw and Darth Traya, both of whom had an unknown connection to one another that would be explored in Lipman's novel Star Wars: The Alderaan Affair. The three authors also decided to retain the name "Alternative Star Wars Saga" from Rhea's work, as they believed it made the most sense due to the project's goal of being a re-imagining of Star Wars.
Eventually, Dorantes decided to leave the project, stating his desire to work on his own continuity, now once-again titled the Squishy Vic Series. His series was therefore removed from Alternative Saga canon. As of summer 2009, Lipman and Rhea continue to work on the continuity, with Rhea working on projects such as The Chosen One and Lipman working on The Alderaan Affair.
The Chosen One
Set in 22 BBY, The Chosen One by Brandon Rhea is the beginning of a re-imagining of the canon prequel trilogy. The story is about Annikin Skywalker and how he goes from being a “mild-mannered farmer to potentially being the prophetic savior of the galaxy.” Other characters involved in his story are Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ophuchi Clan leader Sarus, and Jedi Padawan Padmé Naberrie. Rhea has stated that The Chosen One is “a coming of age story where Annikin has to reconcile what he wants to do with his life with the fact that he may be destined to save trillions of people from the Dark Lord of the Sith.” A final release date for the novel is not currently known.
The Alderaan Affair
Set in 7 BBY, The Alderaan Affair by Wayne Lipman III re-imagines the early years of Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan and focuses on how she meets a young farmer named Epin Lanmaw. Other characters are explored, but most of the novel will be devoted to the relationship between Lanmaw and Organa. Lanmaw will learn that he has sensitivity to the Force from Darth Traya, a Sith Lord from thousands of years earlier who is somehow connected to his family.
The Alternative Saga currently has a number of works scheduled for release in the future. Edward Oliver, an Alternative Saga author, will be working on Star Wars: Trials of War, a series that will tell the story of the Clone Wars between Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One and Rhea’s future Star Wars: Episode II - Dawn of an Empire. Brent Krajewski, also an Alternative Saga author, will be working on a novel called Disciple about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Jard Dooku. After The Alderaan Affair, Lipman will begin work on two additional stories. The first is Veil of Darkness, which will continue the story of Epin Lanmaw, and the second is Betrayal, which will be about Darth Traya and her connection to the Lanmaw family.
As for Rhea, he will be working on Star Wars: Chronicles of the Great War, a series that will tell the story of Ussej Padric Bac before he became the Shaman of the Order of the Whills, as seen in The Chosen One. Along with this series will be a first-person narrative titled My Father's Dreams. This short story will chronicle the life of Jonathan Bac as the character retells his life story to an interviewer who is writing a story about him. Release dates for this and all of the aforementioned works have yet to be set.
Influences for the project have come from a wide variety of sources. While Dorantes was still in the project, his Alternative Saga work was largely influenced by the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola film The Godfather due to its focus on family. Other influences for family included the film Selena, about the murdered singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, as well as the Walt Disney films The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Dorantes also stated that themes such as friendship were inspired by The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Titanic, and Starship Troopers. Star Wars canon influences included Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Darth Bane trilogy. Many of these influences are no longer part of the current Alternative Saga due to Dorantes’s departure.
While Lipman has found inspiration in horror novels written by Stephen King, he is generally influenced by the music he listens to. Bands such as Slayer, DevilDriver, and Slipknot play influential roles in the development of his work because of how he feels they convey anger and aggression that he can use for the characters. Lipman also believes that Killswitch Engage’s album The End of Heartache does a good job at influencing emotions of pain and loss, which can be used to portray those emotions in a narrative.
Using different sources than Dorantes and Lipman, Rhea has found influence in religion, particularly the ideas of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. For example, when Steven Alldis, the founder of TheStarWarsRP.Com, and Rhea were laying the groundwork for the character Ussej Padric Bac in 2005, it was decided to use the name “Ussej” due to it being a respelling of “Jesus”, the name of the Christian savior. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament, also forms the basis of a story in Rhea’s work. Two final influences include TheStarWarsRP.Com and the television show Smallville.
Reception towards the Alternative Saga and the works within it has been generally positive amongst those who have read and reviewed them. In an issue of the Completely Unofficial Star Wars Fanon Newsletter, Darth tom, who was then an editor of the newsletter, called Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One “an excellent read, and a literary masterpiece in relation to here on [Star Wars Fanon]”, as well as “an excellent addition to the world of Star Wars”. Reviews on TheStarWarsRP.Com and TheForce.Net have been equally positive; on TheStarWarsRP.Com, Hunter Manuel stated that he believed the novel should be published, and on TheForce.Net users commented that they were “blown away by the spectacularity” of the novel and that it is an incredible alternate universe story. Unit 8311, then an editor of the Completely Unofficial Star Wars Fanon Newsletter, stated that while he was not a fan of Star Wars rewrites, he felt that The Chosen One and other Alternative Saga novels were better reads than other alternate universe works.
Joe Butler, a user on Star Wars Fanon, praised Star Wars: The Alderaan Affair author, Lipman, for his work on the novel, saying that Butler could “feel the emotion [and] the adrenaline”, even though Lipman was not “fluffing up [the] writing with cotton”. Although fellow Alternative Saga founders Rhea and Dorantes noted a certain lack of detail in some points of The Alderaan Affair, they nonetheless praised the work as well. Along with Star Wars: The Drewton Legacy, a photonovel series by Andrew Barton, The Alderaan Affair co-won the "Best Fan Work" award in the Fourth Star Wars Fanon Wiki Awards.
Notes and references
- Brandon Rhea's StarWars.com Blog
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One
- Where there's a Whill, there's a Yahweh
- Brandon Rhea discusses Chronicles of the Great War
- Star Wars: The Alderaan Affair
- Into the Realm of Star Wars
- Victor Dorantes's StarWars.com Blog
- Completely Unofficial Star Wars Fanon Newsletter The Chosen One review
- TheStarWarsRP.Com Feedback Thread
- TheForce.Net Feedback thread
- Completely Unofficial Star Wars Fanon Newsletter featured and good article reviews
- Talk:The Alderaan Affair: Part VI - Ghosts Of The Past
- Talk:The Alderaan Affair: Part I - A Boy Named Epin
- The Fourth Star Wars Fanon Wiki Awards
- Alternative Star Wars Saga Wiki on Wikia