The Force Exile Series has grown incredibly from its humble origins. In this work, those origins and the subsequent development and evolution of the series are explored. Concepts have changed or been adapted and even entire novels or characters have been rewritten to better suit the current vision of the story. In that sense, the series is a living thing—and the goal of this work is to document the journey that it has traveled thus far in a candid manner.
The Force Exile Series originated in a series of free-form Star Wars role-playing adventures created by the series author and his brother in their youth. Both were introduced to Star Wars at a fairly young age and grew up playing with a variety of Star Wars action figures and vehicles. Since simply re-enacting the movie scenes grew tiresome, the two brothers started coming up with scenarios of their own with which to place the characters.
Exposure to the Expanded Universe several years later heavily influenced these scenarios and revealed the vastness of the Star Wars galaxy to the brothers. They began creating characters of their own with their own scenarios, as simply confining their imaginations to solely canon characters was too limiting. The first recurring character to emerge from these scenarios was "Morged Kellner," a cyborg Force-sensitive assassin bounty hunter. Was this the kind of flat, over-powered fanboy character typical of young male Star Wars imaginations? Yes, he was. The best way to describe Morged was as a combination of Boba Fett, Master Chief (from Halo), and Mace Windu. If Commander Shepard (Mass Effect) had been around back then, elements of his character probably would have been included. Morged was by no means a good character, but he was memorable and enduring, and creating opponents or scenarios that could actually challenge his skills was a difficult exercise that helped expand the author's creative understanding of story structure.
One character that was completely excluded from the Force Exile Series was a character named "Mauren Calrissian," a long-lost brother of Lando Calrissian who was a technical wizard. It was Mauren who supplied Morged with his armor and weapons and also had a private and extremely powerful (as well as ridiculous) hidden military inside Hoth. His weapons and ships weren't particularly original—they were largely drawn shamelessly from other franchises. For example, Mauren had bipedal battle walkers armed with concussion missiles and rapid-fire laser cannons called Goliaths (Starcraft). He also had space-going starfighters that were Star Wars equivalents of World War II fighters, such as a P-51 analog armed with six laser cannons and either proton bombs or concussion rockets. Practically any kind of military unit from any other franchise that the two brothers enjoyed had a Star Wars equivalent in Mauren's private arsenal. Was Mauren's character another flat, over-powered fanboy character typical of young male Star Wars imaginations? Yes, he was, and he completely lacked any kind of motivation or interesting story hook as a character. From these very early storylines, three concepts endured:
Aside from that, virtually everything else about this era was not worth saving. It is mentioned here because that is where Force Exile originated, a cheesy fanboy imagination bereft of originality or depth but endlessly fun for two young Star Wars fans with too much imagination and time on their hands.
|The name Kraen|
Over the years, the storylines began to mature and evolve to tone down some of the campiness and immaturity that had characterized the earliest scenarios. One example was the slow phasing out of Mauren Calrissian, culminating in his self-sacrifice that led to the destruction of him and his military to stop some opponent, probably the Yuuzhan Vong. In his place, a character named Sarth Kraen was introduced. Sarth was also technically skilled and took over the job of Morged's armorer, but he was not as highbrow as Mauren had been. Sarth worked with a group of smugglers and outlaws, operating out of an asteroid base defended by squadrons of freelance B-wing fighters. When Morged needed one particular upgrade, Sarth agreed to provide it only if Morged would track down the fate of his long-lost Jedi brother.
This was where Force Exile truly began to coalesce into something meaningful. The character Sarth Kraen had a familial connection that was unresolved, and having it resolved was part of the character's depth, giving him a real personality rather than just a few stock archetypes.
Eventually, though, both brothers outgrew such methods of entertainment and the storylines fell by the wayside, largely forgotten. Sarth Kraen and Morged Kellner barely had any meaning, but the author remembered them and their exploits.
In 2006, the author joined Wookieepedia, devising the username Atarumaster88, primarily to contribute to canonical articles. However, while doing so, he noticed that many other users also had written content about their own fan-made characters on their userpages. This was back in the early days of Wookieepedia, when such things were tolerated and users such as Jasca Ducato and Jack Nebulax were as much known for their fanon characters as their contributions to the canon articles which were (and are) the focus of the site.
After contributing for a few months, Atarumaster88 began to write some part of his own character, based on the long-lost Jedi brother of Sarth Kraen. Because only he was writing it, he relegated Sarth to a secondary character (the brother) and completely excluded Morged. This was by no means quality writing and it soon grew worse. The character was named Luzdando, which whatever its origins (Spanish for light-giving, literally-translated), made for a terrible name. The guy's name was Luz? Lulz? Lose? Furthermore, the author Atarumaster88 attempted to tie in his choice of username to Luzdando's character name, which was equally ridiculous. The 88th master of Ataru called himself Atarumaster88 instead of just his name? It was pretentious and unbelievable. Another unique trait to Atarumaster88's story was his inclusion of numerous obscure canonical characters.
Despite the incredibly low quality of the writing on the character, a few basic enduring story threads emerged from the prosaic disaster that Atarumaster88 spewed up onto the internet in the early days of Wookieepedia. There was a Jedi Padawan who served under Plo Koon during the Clone Wars. He survived Order 66 and linked up with his brother on a ship called the Hawk-bat, where he served under for two years, including joining up an ARC trooper whom he had once served with in the Clone Wars. Of course, because this was the first draft, the ARC abandoned the Empire in the middle of attacking the Jedi's ship solely because he recognized him, but hadn't thought to do so before. The story wound on, and had the Jedi, his brother, and the ex-ARC meet up with the spirits of Revan (because every good fanon story needs Revan) and create a refuge for Force users on the distant world of Yanibar. Somewhere along the way, the Jedi ran into a runaway Echani named Milya who helped him against a group of ship thieves and they later fell in love after an incredibly cliched romance. They then proceeded to build up a military and participate in a number of various adventures spanning from the Galactic Civil War into the Yuuzhan Vong War and beyond. Of course, this was all wrapped in very low-quality prose with lots of ridiculous and outright awful concepts included. It was an immature storyline by an immature author, but those familiar with the Force Exile Series will recognize the overall story arcs as very similar to what the final version of the series was focused on, particularly the first three novels.
However, as mediocre and fledgling as those first plot lines were, things did not improve. As the author interacted with others on Wookieepedia, several other users expressed their interest in his character and storyline. They began to suggest tie-ins to their own characters and storylines, and soon what started out as mere cameo appearances led to a full-blown collaborative project. Some tie-ins, such as with the canonical Jaina Solo, were not too intrusive and helped flesh out or expand the storyline. With others, Atarumaster88 found his character and storyline hopelessly mired in concepts and plots that even he found grossly unsuitable. Suffice to say that one of them included a Hutt Sith Lord and a Count Dooku clone.
All of this came to an end just as it was reaching ridiculousness of truly epic proportions. Wookieepedia site policy began to crack down on userpage fanon, leading to eventually stringent restrictions on such content. The content was removed from Wookieepedia and the collaboration ended shortly thereafter. After his experience on Wookieepedia had led to the level of absurdity rapidly spiraling out of control, Atarumaster88 realized that his project needed to match his vision, and decided never again to collaborate so deeply with other authors.
|Arriving on Star Wars Fanon and writing Fugitive|
With some time to contemplate the future of his content, Atarumaster88 was unwilling to simply let the content die. At the same time, he was completely unsatisfied with the quality of the writing and the storyline he had been operating along. Instead, he made a momentous shift: he would write narrative prose rather than poorly emulating the encyclopedia article formula employed by Wookieepedia.
The first novel, dubbed Fugitive underwent weeks of outlining as Atarumaster88 tried to extract fundamentally interesting story arcs from the old disastrous fanon compilation. Two threads that stood out were the ARC trooper and the Jedi Padawan. As by this point, the Jedi was the central character of the series, Atarumaster88 decided to use him as the protagonist, but he also wanted to explore the ARC trooper character. First and foremost, partially through the writing process, both characters received a name change. The Jedi Padawan became "Selusda," or more commonly "Selu," while the ARC trooper was dubbed Spectre. Second, both received more character interactions in the novel than originally planned.
Early drafts of the novel featured the same stilted, cliched dialogue that one expects from bad fan-fiction. There was a lengthy action scene that served no purpose except to make Selu out to be more of a hero. Thankfully, Atarumaster88 had begun to mature as a writer and he began to focus the novel more on character interactions. Selu had meaningful interactions with other Jedi Padawans named Serra Keto and Skip, both of whom tragically died when Order 66 was executed, and later with his brother Sarth. Spectre had fewer meaningful interactions, but had some tension with his commanding officer, Trip. For the first time, the character Cassi was introduced as a love interest for Sarth, giving him some additional depth besides being the smart brother.
Furthermore, characters who had been largely peripheral in the first fanon posting, such as the Hawk-bat captain, were fleshed out and given more depth. Even Selu was made deeper solely by his greater relationships with other characters, things which are easy to ignore in writing fanon, but not so much when writing a novel. The result of learning while writing the novel meant that many concepts once considered for Fugitive were shelved in favor of more character development, and the plot outline that Atarumaster88 had decided upon when he started the novel was not followed strictly at all.
That was not to say that Fugitive was a perfect work. The plot meandered considerably, with no central conflict. There were completely extraneous scenes and the dialogue was heavily tainted with melodrama. The two central characters' paths did not converge at the end of the novel, making them seem largely unrelated. Another limitation of the novel was that Atarumaster88 minimized the role and perspective of the female characters, as he wasn't comfortable writing them. Nevertheless, Fugitive was finished in 2007 and received fairly positive feedback. Having a nice cover created by Solus (although mediocre by today's standards) helped the work stand out.
Following the completion of Fugitive, Atarumaster88 immediately started working on the sequel, dubbed Smuggler, which was released in late 2007. He had already planned out at least one trilogy for sure, with the possibility of up to three more follow-on novels. As with Fugitive, he first worked out a list of characters he wanted to use, along with a rough story outline, which underwent several iterations before he started writing it. As with every novel he wrote, the outline he ultimately decided on at the beginning of the novel differed considerably from the final product.
Smuggler would introduce things sorely missing from Fugitive, including more and deeper female characters, a defined antagonist and conflict, and full resolution at the end of the story. It would also introduce the character of Milya Tayrce to the series, another character who had originated in the first online posting of Force Exile. Another development was the use of multiple story arcs in writing Smuggler, allowing for more simultaneous and interconnected events with characters. By far, Atarumaster88 felt Smuggler was superior to Fugitive, though it still had weak points. One was that a conflict between Cassi and another female character, Annita Daowot, was poorly resolved, with only a passing mention. A reviewer's criticism led Atarumaster88 to add a scene to rectify that error, but it was quickly pointed out that the addition was itself of poor quality also.
|Creating a trilogy|
Despite the flaws with Smuggler, Atarumaster88 felt confident continuing with the third novel of the trilogy, Liberator. From the start, Liberator was problematic. First, Solus did not create the first draft of the cover, which was instead a lower-quality piece from Darth Nyne. Second, Atarumaster88 strayed from his own vision of Force Exile and Star Wars. Drawing on influences from other Star Wars Fanon works, he attempted to alter his own writing style to emulate some of the elements he saw in other works. Furthermore, the plotline for Liberator was confounded by a prolonged timeline for the story, which was much longer than previous works. Finding ways to fill that protracted chronology taxed Atarumaster88's plot, resulting in additional scenes with a set of tertiary characters on the Observant. The Observant crew was inserted for comic relief, another element little-used in previous stories for protracted scenes. Atarumaster88 finished Liberator, publishing it in May 2008, but was not happy with it upon publication.
Liberator also saw a remnant from the collaboration from the Force Exile fanon return in the form of one of the antagonists, Imperial Captain Jack Nebulax, created by the user with the same username. As part of the writing process, Atarumaster88 sent the drafts of each section of Liberator to that user to ensure continuity. However, the sheer number of antagonists who needed developed also diluted the strength of each character—and the sheer variety of characters on the protagonist side also had similar difficulties. The recurring addition of Jorge and Annita, who were originally planned as peripheral characters from Force Exile II meant that Liberator was much larger than the previous work.
By the time that Atarumaster88 began planning for six novels, to mirror the main six (at the time) canon movies, he began to shape the story with certain parallels to the Mosaic exodus. Finding common ground between the biblical Israelite nation exiled from their nation and his own Force exiles, he used elements of the exodus account to shape future novels. The idea of Selu and the Force exiles fleeing from the Empire into a distant and harsh environment paralleled the journey into the desert. The initial call for Selu and the others to unite and take the Force exiles to safety from oppression was analogous to Moses receiving the call from Yahweh at the burning bush. Selu, Spectre, Milya, Sarth, and Cassi all had elements of the biblical Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, and Caleb respectively included in them.
Ultimately, these parallels influenced the overall story arc. While no major "law-giving" event comparable to the reception of the Law at Sinai was included, otherwise the Force Exile series would continue from this point to display considerable thematic commonality with the biblical exodus. The decision to have the Council oppose Selu in Force Exile V and Force Exile VI was directly influenced by accounts of popular opposition to Moses, and the ultimate fate for the main characters also reflected the biblical story.
|Calling on canon|
Another popular source of characters and inspiration for the Force Exile Series was a number of obscure canonical characters whose plots had never been resolved. Naturally, the continually growing volume of canonical works as well as shift in authorial belief in certain plots meant that many potential inclusions for canonical characters went unrealized. Nevertheless, Atarumaster88 drew on his knowledge of the Expanded Universe to try and create resolution or more depth for the characters, or at least add to their stories.
Some characters were included successfully with good plotlines and characterization, without clashing with later canonical elements. These included characters such as Serra Keto, the Mistryl, Kinman Doriana, Tyber Zann, Fiolla of Lorrd, Derek Klivian, Wes Janson, Gaeriel Captison, Garik Loran, Tyria Sarkin, Kyle Katarn, and Danni Quee. Many of these were characters that Atarumaster88 had written about for Wookieepedia and was extensively versed in their personality and appearances.
Others proved more problematic, requiring changes to the works to be made during or after the writing process was finished. Characters in this category included Callista Ming, Quinlan Vos, and Jaina Solo. In the case of Ming, an entire planned relationship with Ming had to be scrapped after it was revealed that she was dead and possessed by the Abeloth entity in 43 ABY.
Finally, some potential plots that involved canonical characters never came to fruition. A plotline with Kal Skirata in Force Exile I: Fugitive was scrapped for the Mistryl instead. A planned encounter with Admiral Thrawn was quickly axed after Atarumaster88 realized there was no way for the Force exiles to conceivably win and not interfere with Thrawn's role in canon. Force Exile V was originally supposed to include a battle between Admiral Daala and the Force exiles, but canonical revelations of her continued survival and activity in the late 40s ABY meant that such plans had to be cut.
|The Yanibar Tales|
By the time Atarumaster88 finished Liberator, he was sure that the series would include six novels instead of just three. However, knowing that the fourth novel, Guardian, would be set in the Galactic Civil War, Atarumaster88 knew there were two key events in the interim. The first was introducing Sheeka Tull as a love interest for Spectre. In previous draft outlines, Atarumaster88 had considered pairing Spectre with either Qedai Sherum, but rejected that idea. Instead, he decided to bring in another obscure canonical character, Sheeka Tull, to pair with Spectre. Likewise, Atarumaster88 knew that Selu and Milya would marry in between Liberator and Guardian. He felt that both of these events needed to be explicitly written, but did not feel that devoting a full novel to them would be appropriate.
As such, he decided to write two separate short stories to cover those events in between Liberator and Guardian. The stories were intended to be short and only cover brief story arcs, though Atarumaster88 found it difficult to limit their scope. The first short story, Crossroads, introduced the relationship between Spectre and Sheeka Tull. For the second story, Hand in Hand, Atarumaster88 decided to write a romance story about Selu and Milya's wedding, but had a difficult time writing a full romance story, so he introduced a surprise plot twist to add suspense and action as well as clear up an old storyline from Force Exile II: Smuggler.
By this time, Atarumaster88 realized that he wanted to write more of the Yanibar Tales and began planning many more, most notably a new mini-series involving the Yanibar Guard, the defense force of the Yanibar refuge that had been established in Force Exile III and a future installment that would place Sarth and Cassi in a story with Wraith Squadron. The stories were sufficiently fun to write and allowed him to explore smaller chunks of the Force Exile universe as well as different characters. The scope of the Force Exile Series had just expanded considerably.
|The Beta Reader|
After Force Exile III: Liberator, Atarumaster88 realized that he was creating works with flaws in them that he wasn't seeing until too late. While he had helped other users on the Star Wars Fanon Wiki with their works, only rarely had he sought advice on his own works. However, his own insight had failed him repeatedly and he felt he needed to have a second opinion to improve his work. As such, he asked Jedi Master 76, a user with ample writing experience on Star Wars Fanon who had been devotedly reading his work if that individual would be willing to beta-read new Force Exile works. JM76 agreed and began a lasting partnership with Atarumaster88 to improve the series. The first work the beta-reader read was the first of the Yanibar Guard stories, Thunderchief, though that person's advice was also solicited for Crossroads and Hand in Hand.
Thunderchief was a departure from previous works in that it wasn't at all focused on characters introduced in the main novel trilogy. Instead, it was more technical and narrowly-focused on a single perspective, with a heavy emphasis on the military. Atarumaster88 enjoyed writing the story even if it did not fully satisfy his expectations in terms of narrative structure. For the next short story in the Yanibar Tales, Atarumaster88 opted to try an experiment: writing in first person. The resulting story, Iron Maiden, was also darker than any of his previous works. In fact, when writing Iron Maiden, Atarumaster88 was unsure how he should end the story. Consulting a pair of users in the Star Wars Fanon IRC channel, he obliquely asked them if a happier or darker ending would work better, and both of them said a more tragic ending was preferable. Ultimately that was how Atarumaster88 wrote the short story. Another twist in writing Iron Maiden was that much of it was written in flashback.
A third short story in the "military" trilogy was written in October 2008, dubbed Hard Code. For the final installment in the trilogy, Atarumaster88 opted to write the story from the same singular military perspective as the other two tales, but also include characters from the main Force Exile series to help tie them together. Another aspect of Hard Code was that it led up to the events of the planned fourth Force Exile novel, which was set in the Galactic Civil War four years after Hard Code.
|The Essential Guide to Force Exile|
The next major expansion of the Force Exile Series occurred when Atarumaster88 announced plans for an Essential Guide to Force Exile in mid-2008. Originally, he posted a promotional excerpt of a mock-interview on the page, which was replaced a few months later with an actual article layout. When first devised, Atarumaster88 planned on writing entries in the Essential Guide for characters, vehicles, vessels, weapons, technology, droids, and a chronology. He worked extensively on the guide in the summer of 2008, which grew increasingly larger in scope and harder to maintain. For one, giving a number of peripheral characters entries meant that the workload was expanded considerably. Second, there was little enjoyment for Atarumaster88 to summarize events that happened in the novels or short stories he had written about in the novels, yet he persisted for inclusion. The original purpose of the Essential Guide was to document backstory, but more and more of it was devoted to synopsizing the events of written works. In particular, the characters section rapidly grew as more and more characters were added to the universe of Force Exile.
|An aborted article|
While Atarumaster88 heavily focused on writing encyclopediac articles on Wookieepedia, he decided to prove that he was capable of writing an article on Star Wars Fanon as well. He decided to write a single Force Exile Series article in 2008, working heavily on it through the summer months. The resulting article was long, but poorly-written in his own estimation. The article also had to be continually updated, yet another entity that required heavy continual maintenance alongside The Essential Guide to Force Exile. Although the article achieved "featured article" status in August 2008 and was over 100 kilobytes long, Atarumaster88 soon tired of it and was not impressed with its quality. In a fit of vindictive elimination, he removed the content and made it into a simple redirect.
|Yanibar Guard Source Book|
Adding to The Essential Guide to Force Exile was another reference work dubbed the Yanibar Guard Sourcebook, which Atarumaster88 wanted to write in order to focus in on the Yanibar Guard, its history, and its organization. Writing was slow and used an alternate format from his previous works. The pages were largely consolidated on a single page for each service, broken up into a series of "entries" that alternately discussed portions of Yanibar Guard history, strength, or organization. Writing was slow on the Yanibar Guard, as Atarumaster88 found that writing the reference work, much like writing The Essential Guide to Force Exile was less interesting in comparison to writing narrative.
With work on Yanibar Guard Sourcebook and The Essential Guide to Force Exile progressing, Atarumaster88 started his fourth novel, a Galactic Civil War epic. Rather than focusing on the larger conflict between Empire and Rebellion, he centered the novel around the conflict between the Yanibar Guard and the Zann Consortium. Having played Forces of Corruption, he had long been intrigued by the relative lack of resolution for the faction and decided that pitting a shadowy faction centered around corruption, crime, and vice against the Yanibar Guard, hidden paragons of peace, order, and nobility, would be appropriate, particularly when framed against the backdrop of the larger war. He also included plot elements that included both Imperial and Rebel perspectives. In particularly, the Rebellion-related storyline of Hasla Almani ended up taking more of the novel than he had originally planned, reducing other story arcs.
Another major component of Guardian was its introduction of "Morged Kellner" from the original RPGs, albeit in a heavily re-imagined state. Rather than being a cyborg human, he was instead re-concepted as Force-using Noghri warrior, and the first third of Guardian focused on Selu and Milya bringing him to side with Yanibar. At the same time, Atarumaster88 had long planned for Spectre to die in Guardian, partly to avoid issues with having a growth-accelerated clone in his old age, and also to pass the torch from Spectre to Morgedh. It was only late in the novel-writing process that he chose to also kill off Spectre's step-son Nate, marking the most significant protagonist deaths in the trilogy since the death of R'hask Sei'lar in Force Exile II. With respect to the biblical narrative, Guardian most closely refers to the Amalekite battle thematically, though Atarumaster88 ultimately chose to reject any idea of a future feud between the Force exiles and the Zannist survivors.
Guardian also marked the second collaboration that Atarumaster88 did while writing his novels. He had envisioned a plot arc involving a holo-opera director and wondered if this might be a good opportunity to include a character from the Bac family, a creation featured prominently in the Alternative Star Wars Saga by Brandon Rhea. He talked with Rhea and obtained both permission and a first name for the character, Taelros Bac. Bac played a fairly small role in the novel and his characterization was influenced by the character of George Lucas in George Lucas In Love as well as caricatures of Rhea. Ultimately, Rhea helped Atarumaster88 by providing most of the backstory for Taelros Bac's entry in The Essential Guide to Force Exile. This would be Atarumaster88's last direct collaboration with another fan author in the series.
As he expanded the Yanibar Tales and began writing Guardian, Atarumaster88 had an idea for a prequel short story focused on Selu Kraen before Force Exile I: Fugitive. Originally, the story was to contain both a considerable segment with Selu Kraen at the Jedi Temple interacting with his fellow Padawans and then transition to a mission on Ando. However, Atarumaster88 soon found that the Jedi Temple plot stood on its own and would fragment the story if it was combined. As a result, he wrote First Impressions with just the Jedi Temple plot, eventually planning a sequel. However, it would be years before he was satisfied enough with the plot for the sequel to actually write it.
From late 2008 to 2009, Atarumaster88 began posting some of his content on TheForce.Net in hopes of attracting greater readership. While somewhat successful, he quickly noticed that the fact that his stories included original content and more action than emotional drama did little to encourage wide audience from that site. Furthermore, it was hard to garner additional feedback. Furthermore, readers expected smaller increments of story over long periods of time, which meant that a long-term plan of posting the majority of the series would be very difficult and require an extensive time commitment. Additionally, much of the formatting was different, requiring extra effort for each posting.
Atarumaster88 posted Force Exile I, First Impressions and most of Force Exile II on TheForce.Net, even earning an award in August 2009 for "Original Character Story of the Month" for Force Exile II. However, an attempt to enter First Impressions into their archive of approved fiction was summarily rejected. The high maintenance and upkeep required to continually update TF.N, as well as the overall low impression he had of those boards caused Atarumaster88 to eventually stop posting there.
|Awards and featured works|
In late 2007, Atarumaster88 nominated his first two novels, Fugitive and Smuggler, in the "Best Novel" category for the Star Wars Fanon Wiki's Third Wiki Awards. Fugitive ended up winning the award, narrowly beating out entries from Squishy Vic and Brandon Rhea. It was the first award or recognition garnered for the Force Exile Series, and the only honor that Atarumaster88 would earn over the next five wiki awards.
In 2009, Star Wars Fanon created a special category to recognize higher quality works of fan-fiction, dubbed featured works. Atarumaster88 was one of the driving forces behind implementation of featured works, hoping to draw additional attention to fan-fiction alongside the site's traditional fanon articles. In early 2009, both Fugitive and Smuggler earned featured work status, with First Impressions following along shortly thereafter. Iron Maiden was nominated for featured work in 2010, earning that status as well.
Another development in 2009 was the short story contest, another measure intended to promote fan-fiction on the wiki also spearheaded by Atarumaster88. In the inaugural contest, Iron Maiden won "Best Action," while Cloak and Datapad earned a win for "Best Comedy." The contest was repeated a year later, and Through Her Eyes won "Best Other Story."
Guardian took appreciably longer than the previous three novels to write due to Atarumaster88's adventures on TheForce.Net, continuing work on The Essential Guide to Force Exile and Yanibar Guard Sourcebook, and one other factor: artwork. Atarumaster88 had created a few pieces using AutoCAD for the Yanibar Guard symbol as well as a deckplan for the Hawk-bat in early 2009, the former of which was further improved by Solus. However, his biggest investment into artwork came when he started to use a parametric modeling program called SolidWorks to model various ships, weapons, and technology for the Force Exile Series. His four models in 2009 were fairly rudimentary. Solus also assisted with one model, adding engine glow and a background to the Shoto starfighter model. Still, the amount of time and effort invested into the models did subtract from Atarumaster88's productivity in terms of prose. He was not satisfied with the quality of the initial models, though they were well-received, and decided to further expand his skills in SolidWorks before adding more models.
When the Star Wars Fanon Wiki added their blogging feature, Atarumaster88 was initially skeptical of its value. However, after seeing other authors like Brandon Rhea leverage it as a forum to discuss their ongoing work and promote new releases, he decided to also start publishing brief blog articles to showcase new developments. His writing style for the blog pieces was influenced by game developer posts made by community representatives from companies such as Bungie and Blizzard, with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and a generally flippant tone. Another feature of the blog which quickly asserted itself was the use of "FE" in puns for the titles, such as "FEbruary" or "FEmpire."
Each blog post usually preceded a major content release; unlike some other authors, Atarumaster88 only uploaded content onto the Star Wars Fanon Wiki when he had an appreciable amount finished, with the general exception of The Essential Guide to Force Exile updates. The blog helped garner attention for his work, particularly the images, though overall readership of the series remained low.
|The Tales continue|
Following Guardian, Atarumaster88 began working on a series of follow-on short stories to continue the Yanibar Tales. The concepts for these stories varied. One concept involved Selu Kraen and Morgedh Kel'nerh investigating an Imperial laboratory ship performing inhumane experiments. Another concept featured some of the children of the Force exiles, such as Sarth and Cassi's son Akleyn and Jorge and Annita's son Bryndar, caught up in Galactic Civil War violence and prejudice as teenagers. However, Atarumaster88 ruled that these two concepts were too dark and instead combined them into a lighter story, Deception on R'alla, which had elements of both concepts, but was not as foreboding. It also allowed him to introduce the character of Ariada Cerulaen, who would play a larger role in future installments. Deception on R'alla provided an opportunity to provide more resolution and information to characters whose lives had been heavily influenced by Force Exile IV: Guardian. Atarumaster88 subsequently wrote Rogues and Paladins, another story meant to give more resolution to a plotline from Guardian, this time the subplot between Hasla Almani and Wedge Antilles. He overall liked the story, but worried it was less accessible to those not familiar with Guardian.
For the next several Yanibar Tales, Atarumaster88 focused heavily on the children of the central Force exiles, expanding on what he had started in Deception on R'alla. One exception to that was Cloak and Datapad, a lighter-hearted story that involved Wraith Squadron as well as Sarth and Cassi, that he had planned since the beginning of the story. Originally, the latter half of the story was to include a prolonged action/chase sequence where Sarth and Cassi had more interaction with the Wraiths, but he decided to cut it short for length purposes. Still, overall he was pleased with the story, the events of which had repercussions for Force Exile VI.
The next three stories that were written covered this next generation heavily. Redemption's Call was an attempt at a more relational, drama-filled story to pair Akleyn Kraen and Callista Ming. However, after writing it, Atarumaster88 felt the story's execution was lackluster, with the plot awkwardly spliced together. Later canonical conflicts only further undermined the story. Realizing that he needed to go even farther to write a better romantic story, Atarumaster88 undertook the challenge in Through Her Eyes, experimenting with a number of new twists. For the first time, he used a droid character as the central narrator. Secondly, unlike previous pseudo-romance stories like Hand in Hand or Redemption's Call, he did not attempt to add an action plot, devoting the entire narrative purely to the development of the relationship. Through Her Eyes was heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, as Atarumaster88 had long planned for Selu's daughter Rhiannon to leave the Yanibar refuge and give up the comforts and privileges within for her husband, a parallel to the tale of Aragorn and Arwen. During the writing of Through Her Eyes, Atarumaster88 consulted with his sister, also an amateur writer, to obtain her opinion on the development of the story. Her suggestions allowed for more flowing progression of the relationship between Rhiannon and Kavlis.
The last major story Atarumaster88 wrote concerning the younger Force exile generation was Champion of Yanibar, a story he had envisioned after watching the 2008 Olympics. Realizing that there was no parallel for such a competition in the Star Wars universe, he decided to create one and involve four younger Force exiles, Selu's son Ryion Kraen, Spectre's grandson Zeyn Kraen, Ariada Cerulaen, and a Twi'lek named Qedai Sherum, the daughter of the minor character Daara Sherum. Atarumaster88 figured on featuring them heavily in Force Exile V: Warrior, and decided to use this concept as the means of introducing them. While he had previously planned on a story where they infiltrated and broke up a spice-smuggling ring, he replaced that concept with the athletic competition. Their participation also allowed him to include prominent canonical characters as well as devise an underlying plot that would allow the Force exiles to earn some degree of favor with the New Republic.
Following Redemption's Call, Atarumaster88 began to explore different options to explore the central characters of the story and delve into their minds. He opted to do with a series of five vignettes from key points in the lives of the five central Force exile characters—Selu, Milya, Sarth, Cassi, and Spectre. Adding to that was a set of five in-universe interviews conducted by some of their children under the premise of a school project. He spaced the release of these vignettes and interviews over the latter half of 2009 and into 2010.
Another major effort during this time was updating the ever-increasing number of Essential Guide to Force Exile character entries with information from Guardian and the various Yanibar Tales. This was a slow, time-consuming process but Atarumaster88 remained committed to it.
|Artwork part 2|
Starting in 2009, with the completion of the Guardian cover, Solus expressed a desire to redo the previous four covers in a different, cleaner style. Atarumaster88 helped provide additional images in some cases, particularly for Fugitive. Solus' cover replaced Nyne's vastly inferior Force Exile III cover. A key turning point with the Guardian cover was shifting away from using the author's likeness to portray Selu Kraen and instead using an image of actor Benjamin Bratt, a change which was later retroactively applied to the Liberator cover. Atarumaster88 would further elaborate on this trend, using increasingly more actors' and actresses' appearances on the covers alongside canonical images. Solus went on to provide covers for Force Exile V: Warrior, Force Exile VI: Prodigal, and The Essential Guide to Force Exile. Solus also collaborated with Atarumaster88, providing digital editing to a hand-drawn map of the Yanibar refuge that Atarumaster88 drew in 2009 as part of the Guardian release.
In late 2010, Atarumaster88 released three black-and-white outline drawings created in AutoCAD of two of his ships. However, he was ultimately unsatisfied with the CAD products and stopped after two drawings. His SolidWorks endeavors were more successful, as his skill with the program had improved to the point where he was able to produce higher-quality models and incorporate new rendering techniques. Over 2010 and into 2011, Atarumaster88 released three more models, the Makashi-class frigate, the Weather Control Station, and the S-4 ordnance launcher. These were far more impressive and were better-received, particularly the Makashi-class, which was by far the most complex model he had attempted.
In mid-2010, Atarumaster88 began ramping up for the writing of his fifth novel, Force Exile V: Warrior, set in the New Jedi Order era and with the alien Yuuzhan Vong planned as the main antagonists. Warrior's plot was considerably altered from previous draft outlines. Some of the changes were due to canon—The Essential Atlas revealed that Chalacta, a planned location for a pivotal battle, was already deep inside Yuuzhan Vong space, resulting in a location change to Rishi. Another shift was the revelation that Callista Ming was confirmed dead some point prior to 43 ABY, requiring that Atarumaster88 end her relationship with Akleyn. To resolve that, Atarumaster88 decided to introduce a new possible romance for Akleyn and resolve his emotional turmoil in Warrior. The survival of Admiral Daala also necessitated removing a segment where the Force exiles had to deal with her in flashback. Realizing that the novel's scope was growing, he decided to detach one of the plotlines that would have centered on a small elite unit of Yanibar Guard officers into a short story. That story was released in mid-2011 as Blaze of Glory, while the characters had a cameo appearance in Warrior.
To prepare for Warrior, Atarumaster88 commissioned a poster from Solus with silhouettes of the four young Elite Guardians featured in Champion of Yanibar superimposed over Yanibar in a style similar to promotional artwork for Halo: Reach with the tagline of "The end of Yanibar begins 2010." The teaser poster was shown a few months before the first segment was released. As with all of the previous novels, Solus provided the cover for Warrior. He also made a short teaser video compiled from footage from several sources, the first Force Exile video, which was hosted by Brandon Rhea.
Another short story was written as a prequel to the novel, dubbed Nine Riders, which went back to the style of writing of the military trilogy. It focused on the Yanibar Guard, telling the story of a prisoner-rescue mission deep inside Yuuzhan Vong space from the perspective of an analyst accompanying a commando raid. The story also established that Bryndar Knrr, the son of Jorge and Annita, was now the leader of the famed commando unit Cresh Squad.
Warrior ended up being a mammoth undertaking. Though Atarumaster88 first started writing the novel in mid-2010, it wasn't until February 2012 that the novel was fully finished and released. Part of that was due to the sheer size of the novel. At a whopping 231,800 words, Warrior by itself had a higher word count than the entire published work collection of all but the top three Star Wars Fanon authors.
One of the main goals for Atarumaster88 when writing Warrior was to heavily focus on the antagonists of the story. For the main antagonist, Tsaruuk, he wanted to create a deeper Yuuzhan Vong military character rather than the one-dimensional opponents of the most of the canonical New Jedi Order series. The secondary antagonist, the character of Ariada Cerulaen, a Yanibar Elite Guardian fallen to the dark side, he wanted to create a sense of sympathy for her choices, that her fall was less of a sudden departure and more of a slow and steady progression to evil, that she felt her hand had been forced. She would ultimately become the thing she despised, as well as be the first major antagonist to survive past their first appearance.
Another major element of Warrior besides Ariada's fall and the fight of Force exiles against the Yuuzhan Vong was for them to locate their eventual new home, the legendary and nearly-inaccessible world of Atlaradis. In keeping with the biblical parallels of the exodus, Atlaradis was to function as the Promised Land for the Force exiles, a better place than the harsh environment of Yanibar. Secondary plotlines for Warrior were introducing the character of Shara as a love interest for Selu's son Ryion, resolving Akleyn's ended relationship with Callista, and a sub-plot involving Bryndar Knrr and his wife Jasika Kraen Knrr to show the war from the perspective of ordinary soldiers.
The heavy focus on the antagonists resulted in a darker novel than previously explored, darker even than Guardian had been. The novel ended on something of a cliffhanger, with Yanibar condemned to a slow decay due to the machinations of the Yuuzhan Vong and Ariada. Ariada had escaped, and while the Yuuzhan Vong had been defeated at Rishi by the Yanibar Guard, the fate of Yanibar was uncertain, with only the hope of an eventual exodus to Atlaradis when the hyperspace window re-opened.
|Artwork part 3|
In 2011, Atarumaster88 experimented with pencil sketches for some of his artwork, using them largely for particularly curvaceous or larger ships that would have required tremendous effort to model in SolidWorks. A total of four ships were drawn this way, the Shoto starfighter, Jar'Kai-class battlecruiser, Soresu-class Fleet Defender and Jar'Kai-class carrier. The pencil sketches were moderately received, and he opted to use them sparingly.
Instead, he focused more effort into refining his abilities with SolidWorks, streamlining the modeling process to produce better models in less time. The Challenger light tank was the first of this new series. It was followed by the Discblade transport, which was unique in that Atarumaster88 created a speed-render video of the modeling process. He added to that with the Starfire-PD weapons battery, which was the first model that he animated. His most impressive model was that of the Knightfall, a ship planned for Ariada's use in Force Exile VI that had a completely different design aesthetic from any of his other designs, along with more complicated geometry and curvatures than before. This latest series also began to add decals to further improve the quality. Following this, Atarumaster88 released two more models, the Reaper-AA droid and Predator-AT droid, that used many of the same new features and also shared a number of common parts. Following a model of an S-5XS sidearm, though, Atarumaster88 lost the license to use SolidWorks and ceased creating artwork.
|Awards part 2|
In 2010, Star Wars Fanon hosted an image contest, and Atarumaster88 submitted several entries from his artwork. The image contest was his single most successful contest, winning "Best Cover" along with Solus for the revamped Force Exile III cover, "Best Logo" along with Solus for the Yanibar Guard logo, and "Best Miscellaneous Image" for his render of the Makashi-class frigate.
However, as participation in various awards contests and the general community waned, so did the number of contests. The image contest was not repeated, while 2011 marked the final short story contest hosted over the next two years. In the 2011 short story contest, Atarumaster88 won awards for A New Course, earning "Runner-up, Best Short Story" and "Best Movie Era Story."
A New Course was also successfully approved as a featured work in 2011. Despite his high number of published works, Atarumaster88 avoided nominating anything later chronologically than Force Exile III, as he felt his overall dissatisfaction with that work prevented him from advancing his series in order in terms of featured works.
|Return to the prequel|
The middle parts of 2012 saw Atarumaster88 finish two more short stories alongside his art projects. One was The Final Voyage, a flashback-heavy story modeled off of the crew relationships in Star Trek that helped bridge the gap between Force Exile V and Force Exile VI as well as tying in a minor character from Force Exile IV.
The second was Second Guessed, the long-awaited sequel to First Impressions that had been nearly three years in the making. Atarumaster88 was finally satisfied with a working draft outline enough to write the story, incorporating more light-hearted and comedic elements in the tale, in the same vein as First Impressions. For him, after writing the darker Force Exile V, Second Guessed was a breath of nostalgic fresh air. With the conclusion of Second Guessed, Atarumaster88 figured that he was finished with the Yanibar Tales, having written all the stories he had planned. With that concluded, he could now focus on Force Exile VI: Prodigal.
Following those short stories, Atarumaster88 also worked on short overhauls of Force Exile I: Fugitive and Force Exile II: Smuggler, improving their dialogue and wording. On Fugitive, Atarumaster88 focused on better resolving the end of the story, while two scenes near the middle and end of Smuggler were completely rewritten due to weak writing. Both of these re-releases took place in 2012. Another 2012 project was The Art of Force Exile, a reference work detailing the various artistic expressions of the Force Exile Series.
In the latter half of 2012 and into 2013, Atarumaster88 began working on the final novel of the series, Force Exile VI: Prodigal. He knew he wanted to definitely conclude the series with the novel, having scrapped a prior plan to finish it on a short story. He also knew that Ariada would be the primary antagonist and that he wanted to incorporate canonical characters Jaina Solo and Danni Quee in significant roles. He had actually started writing the novel in 2010 while working on Warrior, writing about twenty pages, some of which had to undergo significant revision. Another focus was streamlining the novel—Warrior had been far too long and complex.
Prodigal would definitely provide the desired resolution for the series, while also fulfilling a number of the biblical parallels that Atarumaster88 had previously established. In addition to the biblical parallels, Atarumaster88 would also draw from the Bourne and Batman trilogies when writing Prodigal, particularly in in regards to the antagonist of Ariada Cerulaen. Other resolutions in Prodigal were the departure of the Force exiles to Atlaradis and the reconciliation between the titular prodigal Selu Kraen and the new Jedi Order.
Other sub-plots were the ultimate resolution for Selu's daughter Rhiannon when Yanibar was abandoned, influenced by the story of Aragorn and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings and another reconciliation where the Yuuzhan Vong assisted Yanibar's evacuation. Selu was also placed in more direct conflict with Yanibar's government when he and some of the others pursued Ariada. Lastly, a subplot closely intertwined with Ariada's conflict with Yanibar was her creating a child from Ryion's and Jaina's DNA. This was a later addition to the storyline compared to several of the main concepts, and while Atarumaster88 acknowledged that the story could work without it, he felt it gave more context to some of Ariada's actions.
While writing Prodigal, Atarumaster88 had an idea for a storyline featuring Rhiannon that didn't fit in the novel. Rather than discarding it or attempting to shoehorn it into a separate work, he instead made it into a short story dubbed Boundaries, which was released in mid-2013. Prodigal underwent a number of changes in its writing process, starting from its inception. The original text written in 2010 had to be substantially overhauled, while suggestions from the beta-reader led to additional scenes being added or altered during and after the initial draft. The final ending of the story also underwent multiple revisions, though Atarumaster88 intentionally left the fate of Morgedh clan Kel'nerh ambiguous.
With Prodigal finished in May 2013, Atarumaster88 had completed all six novels he had set out to write in order to emulate the structure of the six main Star Wars movies. He deliberately chose to end the series before the canonical Legacy of the Force series, due to his highly critical view of that series.
Once Prodigal was finished, Atarumaster88 began a heavy push to fully update and complete the characters section of The Essential Guide to Force Exile. Not only was he looking to expand the entries, but he also carefully updated each entry with references to add specificity to the content. Coinciding with that effort, he focused on improving the article pages for the Yanibar Tales and each novel, standardizing the layout and updating the look of the series.
For the post-novel era, Atarumaster88 broke out his remaining projects into a series of phases which he began working in 2013, aiming towards the completion of the series. Some of the main goals were updating the Yanibar Guard Sourcebook, which had only been incrementally touched since its launch and a heavy revamp of Force Exile III: Liberator. Another effort was creating a holistic behind-the-scenes look at the series, originally dubbed Behind the scenes of Force Exile and later renamed to Inside Force Exile. Primary work on this was completed in September 2013.
The next several years were minimal in the scope of their updates. A new entry for the Yanibar Tales, 'Price of Loyalty, was released in 2014, providing closure to Spectre's relationship with Roxana Taskien after Force Exile III: Liberator. Atarumaster88 worked intermittently on updating The Essential Guide to Force Exile, and finished the fleet portion of Yanibar Guard Sourcebook in 2015. Atarumaster88 also finished the last of the Yanibar Tales in 2017 when he released The 'Cauldron, a prequel-era novella that detailed Spectre's history with Roxana Taskien.
One recurrent element in Atarumaster88's writing was the elevation and frequency of certain numbers. In particular, "8" and "88" frequently occur. Other prominent numbers are 3, and its square 9. The numbers 5, 6, 11 (8 + 3), 17 (8+9), 14 (average of 11 and 17), 28 (11+17, or 14 x 2), 38, 56, and 89 are prevalent throughout the series. Biblically, "8" refers to resurrection and regeneration, while in Chinese culture, the word for "8" sounds like the word meaning to generate wealth and is considered lucky. However, a stronger contributing factor to the frequency of the use of "8" is its appearance multiple times in Atarumaster88's birthday.
|Awards part 3|
2012's 7th Wiki Awards on Star Wars Fanon saw the Force Exile Saga earn a runner up for Best Artwork for a rendering of Ariada's ship, the Knightfall, and runner up for Best Long Fanwork for A New Course. 2013 saw Atarumaster88 pick up an award in the 8th Wiki Awards for Best Movie Era Character and Best Technology for the EGTFE entries for Spectre Kraen and Starfire-PD laser battery, respectively. Second Guessed was also approved for Featured Work that same year.
|A new editor|
In 2017, a new editor started to assist Atarumaster88: his wife. Starting with First Impressions, she began assisting Atarumaster88 with in-depth editing of the stories for content. Her edits to First Impressions and Second Guessed ended up reducing the word count of both stories appreciably as Atarumaster88's prose tended to be wordy and redundant. Atarumaster88 also implemented a clean-up of A New Course based on feedback from several years earlier. Their efforts to work on the next chronological work in the series, Force Exile I: Fugitive, were stymied when a flash drive containing the first two edited chapters was destroyed late in 2017. While for years, Atarumaster88 had floated the idea of a follow-on postquel novel to tie together the remaining plot threads, such as the fate of Roxana Taskien and J7-A0, and properly conclude the series, he placed the project on the back-burner in 2015, as the proper plot ideas had yet to coalesce. In 2018, Atarumaster88 resumed work on the novel, tentatively titled Convergence.