Wednesday 30 December 2020
Over on Twitter, Ty Franck, one-half of gestalt SF author James S.A. Corey (the creative team behind The Expanse) alongside Daniel Abraham, has ruled himself out from being involved in a continuation or conclusion of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
The news is not entirely a surprise: Franck and Abraham are close friends and collaborators with Martin on other projects, and Martin has made it clear over the years that he plans to complete A Song of Ice and Fire himself, come what may, so they are respecting his wishes. However, some fans have expressed some hopes that, should the concluding volumes of the series continue to frustrate Martin's creative juices in a timely manner, he might consider bringing in other people to at least help map out a plan for him to execute.
This kind of collaboration has become commonplace in modern fantasy. Brandon Sanderson, who is writing both his own huge fantasy series with The Stormlight Archive (four of ten planned books completed after a decade) and a much larger multiverse of interconnected series, has a huge array of beta and gamma readers who provide detailed feedback, as well as various experts in fields like geography, geology and military tactics, whom Sanderson can call on for advice as needed. The two authors of the Malazan series, Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, can call upon one another for plot or character advice. Before he died, Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan had a number of fellow writers and assistants (including his wife Harriet, who was also his editor and an editor on other fantasy series like The Black Company) he could call on for assistance when stymied by a story point.
In fact, Martin has already collaborated with Daniel Abraham to some degree on A Song of Ice and Fire. In 2005, when the manuscript for the fourth book had ballooned out of control, it was Abraham who sat down with Martin, assessed the situation and recommended pulling the completed story arcs out of the manuscript to create a smaller fourth book focused on one geographical area. This led to the splitting of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Although not a universally satisfactory or popular decision, it did at least clear the logjam at that point and allowed the series to continue (although other logjams did emerge later on). In more recent years, Abraham has been working on the graphic novel adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire and has received some information from George about the planned ending to the books so he knows what novel stories he needs to follow closely and which can be jettisoned for clarity.
Martin himself has also reversed his once-firm stance that he would not create outlines to follow, feeling that they inhibit the spontaneity and invention of writing. In 2013 he sat down with Dan Weiss, David Benioff and Bryan Cogman to create an outline of the rest of the saga that could be used in crafting an ending to the TV show Game of Thrones (it remains unclear to what extent this outline was followed in crafting that ending, with Benioff and Weiss confirming a number of story points were 100% their invention whilst others came from Martin). Whilst that outline was oriented around the TV show (so probably doesn't address the facts of characters the show had already decided to ignore, like Arianne or Aegon the Maybe-Pretender or Jon Connington), it does mean that some forethought has gone into the ending.
Franck's statement indicates that at one point, he and Abraham would have considered working on such a project - only with Martin's express permission, approval and consent, obviously - but that has now past.
GRRM's highly reasonable response to questions over his mortality.
Of course, the question has also arisen in the event that Martin suffers Early Existence Failure before the series ends. Martin considers - quite rightly - the question to be gauche and in bad taste. He has indicated that currently his estate is under firm instructions not to let anyone else finish the series, especially after seeing what happened to his friend Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber sequence when another writer decided to pen a subpar continuation of the series (not to mention the fate of Frank Herbert's Dune series, which some feel has been demeaned by the addition of poorly-conceived and badly-written prequels and sequels). He has, however, expressed admiration for the work of the late Christopher Tolkien, who spent many long years carefully presenting J.R.R. Tolkien's complete and incomplete manuscripts about Middle-earth, with editorial commentary.
Martin began writing A Song of Ice and Fire in the summer of 1991, publishing the first three volumes in relatively short order: A Game of Thrones in August 1996, A Clash of Kings in October 1998 and A Storm of Swords in August 2000. The pace of publication has since slowed, with A Feast for Crows following in 2005 and A Dance with Dragons in 2011. The sixth and penultimate volume, The Winds of Winter, is currently underway (and with recent positive and encouraging updates about progress) but with no release date set. Martin has also produced three novella prequels to the series: The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2002) and The Mystery Knight (2010), and the novel-length history tome Fire and Blood (2018), as well as co-writing companion volume The World of Ice and Fire (2014).
The fifth season of the TV series based on James S.A. Corey's The Expanse is currently airing on Amazon Prime. The ninth and final novel, in the Expanse novel series, Leviathan Falls, is due out next year.
Tuesday 29 December 2020
Friday 25 December 2020
Tuesday 22 December 2020
The BBC and HBO have confirmed that His Dark Materials will be returning for a final season.
The news came after the finale for the second season aired, which engendered a largely positive critical reception but a more mutated commercial one. First-night viewing figures in the USA were half what they were for the first season, although UK figures broadly held firm. However, it appears that HBO regards a complete package as a more valuable and appealing property in the long run. Given the nature of the project as a co-production, and its relatively low budget compared to most HBO properties, the financial outlay was seen as worthwhile in return for a complete story.
The third season will adapt the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, the longest and most ambitious of the novels, and sees Lord Asriel and his army of misfits and rebels mounting their offensive against the Authority and its servants, the Magisterium.
Early development work on a third season has been underway for months, with the plan being for the season to consist of eight episodes, six of which have already been fully written by Jack Thorne. An idea floated much earlier in development, of adapting the final novel across two seasons to help offset vfx costs, has apparently been abandoned.
Dafne Keen, Amir Wilson, Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy are expected to return for the final season.
Philip Pullman is currently writing the third and concluding novel in The Book of Dust, a sequel trilogy to His Dark Materials (following on from La Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth). Some elements from the sequel trilogy have been brought into the TV series, with the possibility of them being more formally adapted at a later date.
Monday 21 December 2020
Saturday 19 December 2020
J. Michael Straczynski has confirmed that Neil Gaiman is the first current author to pen a story for the release version of The Last Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison's long, long-gestating anthology project.
As discussed previously, The Last Dangerous Visions was the third in a series of anthologies Ellison planned to publish in the 1970s, as the ultimate word on the scale and scope of the SFF field at the time. The project was immensely delayed, ballooning to enormous size, and eventually seems to have been shelved, although Ellison vowed to eventually release it. After his passing in 2018, the project was taken up by Straczynski, now serving as the executor of the Ellison Estate.
The project has been somewhat reconceived (in line with Ellison's oft-stated intentions) with the idea to include a number of new stories by modern authors in the contemporary SFF field, along with up-and-comers and even one debut author. The project is planned to be submitted for publication in 2021.
Straczynski is providing additional information on the project over on his Patreon page.
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman end legal case against Wizards of the Coast, promising "exciting news"
Animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks will arrive in the UK on Amazon Prime on 22 January.
The animated show launched in the USA in August, but its release was brought forwards due to scheduling issues with the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to delay the third season of sister show Star Trek: Discovery. As a result, negotiations for the show's overseas sales had not been undertaken.
After negotiations and discussions with several partners following the show's highly positive reception, Amazon Prime agreed to pick up the show as a companion piece to Star Trek: Picard. The classic Star Trek shows and Discovery all air on Netflix in the UK and most other overseas territories.
In addition to the UK, Amazon Prime have picked up the rights for Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India.
Season 2 of Lower Decks is due to air in the US, and now presumably overseas via Amazon Prime, in 2021.
Friday 18 December 2020
In particular, there was a significant “break” in production between the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise airing in 2005 and J.J. Abrams’ movie Star Trek being released in 2009, with a new cast replacing the original actors and a new timeline – the Kelvin Timeline – being created for this series of films to take place in. When Star Trek: Discovery began airing in 2017, the creators officially stated that their new series was taking place in the original or “Prime” Timeline. However, very quickly they began making changes in the areas of visual design, continuity and backstory that seemed to contradict this. Even casual viewers who didn’t pay close attention to such things were confused as to where and when the show was taking place. The question is therefore worth asking, do the new Star Trek shows really take place in the Prime Timeline, given the evidence to the contrary?
This is pretty straightforward. Alex Kurtzman is the executive producer of the new wave of Star Trek shows, which includes the in-production Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (plus their associated Short Trek stand-alone minisodes), as well as the in-pre-production Section 31, Prodigy and Strange New Worlds. He is the effective successor to Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek and showrunner of the original series and the first season of The Next Generation) and Rick Berman (who oversaw all the shows produced between 1987 and 2005). Kurtzman has unequivocally started all of these shows take place in the Prime Timeline, the same timeline that The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise took place in.
Some evidence backing this up has been shown. Picard was presented as a direct sequel to both The Next Generation and Voyager, featuring characters and actors from both shows and some flashbacks to events in those shows. Discovery used shots from The Original Series in a “story so far” sequence, and featured scenes from a Next Generation episode as a historical recording in its third season. Lower Decks has featured characters from the earlier shows, such as Q, Captain Riker and Counsellor Troi, voiced by the original actors.
So, the official word is simple: the new shows are set in the Prime Timeline. There is, however, significant evidence that disputes this.
The amount of contrary evidence is impressive:
The Starfleet of 2256 exhibits significant technological superiority to not just that of 2266, as depicted in The Original Series, but even the 2360s and 70s as presented in TNG, DS9 and Voyager. Most controls involve holographic interfaces, communications are accomplished by holographic projection, and forcefields are rigid, constantly-visible structures. Federation starships of the era are significantly larger and faster than their Original Series counterparts (even ostensibly of the same class, with Discovery's version of the Constitution-class being 50% larger than the TOS version), with far larger rooms. Klingon vessels show extreme variants from their Original Series versions (although designs more faithful to TOS do start appearing in the second season). Federation shuttles now seem capable of high warp speed, unlike their TOS counterparts which required special “warp sleds” to travel at moderate warp velocities. The USS Discovery itself sports a “spore drive” allowing instantaneous travel anywhere in the Milky Way Galaxy, a drive far more advanced than anything seen in previous series where it took (circa Voyager) a year to travel 1% of the diameter of the galaxy.
On a character level it is revealed that Spock has an adopted human sister, Michael Burnham, who has not previously been mentioned in any prior iteration of the franchise despite playing a significant role in events, including sparking a war with the Klingons.
In the most notable difference, the design of the Klingons has been radically changed, with the Klingons now sporting immense curved skulls completely different in shape and size to anything seen before, and most of them are hairless (although there are some attempts in Discovery’s second season to change this, with some shown growing hair). The Klingons show a distinctly different attitude to honour and glory than their previous incarnations.
In another notable difference, the Constitution-class USS Enterprise NCC-1701 which appears in Discovery’s second season and is due to return in Strange New Worlds features significant design differences from both the original starship as it appeared in TOS, TAS and the refitted version from the films, including being half again larger. Confusingly, flashback material to the TOS pilot episode The Cage, which takes place two years before Discovery (and eleven years before the rest of TOS), depicts the original Enterprise, suggesting on a literal level that the starship was heavily modified and increased in size before its appearance in Discovery and will, at some point, be heavily modified back again, which I think we have to assume is not the case.
Supporting In-Show Evidence
In Star Trek: Discovery’s third season, the “Kelvin Timeline” of the three J.J. Abrams-produced movies (Star Trek, Into Darkness and Beyond) is specifically identified as an alternate timeline completely separate from the Prime Timeline which the other shows take place in. This appears to be an attempt by the writers to put the issue to bed. In addition, Discovery’s third season also depicts the planet Vulcan as still being extant but the planet Romulus having been destroyed, whilst in the Kelvin Timeline the status of the two planets has been flipped (Vulcan is destroyed and it is implied that the Romulans, forewarned of the destruction of their world by the Hobus Supernova in the Prime Timeline, will be able to save their world).
It would appear that the combination of in-show evidence and the “word of God” of the showrunners places the new Trek shows firmly in the original Prime Timeline, despite the significant evidence to the contrary.
A Brief Guide to Time Travel in the Star Trek Universe
This, however, is not necessarily a contradiction. In fact, repeated and well-established precedent in Star Trek has the existence of parallel universes and alternate timelines being a relatively rare phenomenon in that setting. The Original Series introduced the Mirror Universe as an alternate timeline which it was possible to travel to and then back again, an idea revisited in Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. The Next Generation episode Parallels then confirmed the existence of a multitude of parallel universes, formed by branching decisions and alternate events playing out to that in the Prime Timeline. The Kelvin Timeline is yet another parallel universe, believed to have been created by the travelling of a Romulan mining ship into the past (although given that significant changes to the timeline had already occurred by the time of the mining ship’s arrival, such as Federation starships like the USS Kelvin showing differing designs and being much larger than ships in the Prime Timeline, it has been argued that the Romulans and later Ambassador Spock had merely travelled to a pre-existing reality, reached only due to the deployment of red matter).
However, virtually every other episode of Star Trek featuring time travel does not involve a parallel universe or splinter timeline being created. Instead, the Prime Timeline itself is dynamically rewritten to take account of the changes. There are almost too many examples of this to list, but a short number of highlights follows:
- The Allies failing to win WWII and never achieving interstellar flight capability due to the success of Edith Keeler in keeping the USA out of the Second World War, instead of being killed in a car crash in 1930. When Keeler’s death as reinstated in the timeline, history returned to normal (TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever).
- When the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C was removed from the timeline and transported forwards twenty-two years, it dynamically re-shaped history to plunge the Federation into a war with the Klingons which it was losing. When the Enterprise-C returned to its own time, saving a Klingon outpost from Romulan attack and inspiring the signing of a new peace treaty, the timeline dynamically reverted to its prior configuration (TNG: Yesterday’s Enterprise).
- During an accidental sojourn to the year 2024, the crew of the USS Defiant were inadvertently responsible for the premature death of Gabriel Bell, who was supposed to be killed by police forces, triggering riots which would result in one of the world’s biggest, sweeping social justice reforms. Bell’s premature death caused alterations to the timeline causing the Federation to cease to exist. Captain Sisko impersonated Bell and falsified information to show he had been killed, causing the timeline to return to normal (DS9: Past Tense).
- Captain Sisko’s death in a warp core overload caused the future history of the Alpha Quadrant to play out extremely differently; fifty years later, his son Jake found a way of reversing the overload and allowing his father to survive. Sisko’s presence caused history to unfold very differently (including apparently the Dominion War, which did not take place in the previous iteration of the Prime Timeline). This is unusual in being a reset or permanent change to the Prime Timeline overwriting the original and being allowed to stand, rather than being reverted (DS9: The Visitor).
- The Borg launched a massive assault on Earth but were halted when their main ship was destroyed by a Starfleet battle group. At the last moment a secondary Borg vessel travelled back in time to 2063 to halt First Contact between Earth and Vulcan, and call in the Borg of that time to assimilate both worlds. This resulted in the Prime Timeline dynamically shifting to a state where Earth and the entire Federation were overrun by Borg. The USS Enterprise-E travelled back to 2063 and destroyed the Borg incursion, once again resetting the timeline to its former state (Star Trek: First Contact).
- The USS Voyager, lost in the Delta Quadrant, returned to Earth after twenty-three years. Ten years later, Admiral Janeway, discomforted by many aspects of the long trip home, went back in time and changed history so Voyager returned home after only seven years in the Delta Quadrant, with many more of its crew intact. This change to the timeline was also allowed to stand (Voyager: Endgame).
A Possible Solution
Therefore, it is possible to create a solution which satisfies both the “Word of God” that the new Trek shows take place in the Prime Timeline whilst also taking accounting of the exceptionally large number of discrepancies that appear to contradict that.
In Star Trek: Discovery we learn that Michael Burnham was adopted as a young girl by Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and taken to live in his home on that planet. Shortly after arriving, she was nearly killed by a vicious predator that lived in the vicinity and was only saved by the intervention of her own mother, using the time-travelling "red angel" exosuit (Discovery: If Memory Serves). Logically, the timeline would have been adjusted back and forth by these events.
This means that in one version of the timeline, Burnham would have been killed by the predatory animal just a few days after arriving on Vulcan. In this case, Spock would have never thought of her as his adopted sister, it being a regrettable and sad event taking place several decades in the past and not an event he would have any cause to mention to his later comrades (or if he did, only as a trivial anecdote). Burnham’s deletion from the timeline would mean that the Klingon War of 2256 would have likely never taken place, in keeping with previous versions of the Star Trek timeline (in which clashes and lower-key conflicts with the Klingons had been reported prior to TOS but a full-scale war which brought the Federation to its knees was never mentioned). In turn, the war never taking place means that Section 31’s advanced intelligence AI, “Control,” was never prematurely activated and never became an existential threat to either humanity or the galaxy at large.
Similarly, without the outbreak of war, there was no reason for Starfleet to pour resources into the highly dubious and fringe experiments being conducted by Doctors Paul Stamets and Straal, meaning the Spore Drive would never have been invented.
Thus, Burnham living or dying creates a massive shift in the Prime Timeline which explains most of these discrepancies in one go. The butterfly effect would mean apparently completely unrelated events would also take place, resulting in more and more tenuous changes (such as relatively minor design shifts in the Federation’s Constitution-class starship design programme). The changes to the appearance of the Klingons would not be impacted by Burnham’s survival, however, and can only be explained by other, as yet unknown time-travel adjustments to the Prime Timeline.
Fortunately, such other adjustments have clearly taken place. In the 30th and 31st Centuries, humanity and numerous other races engaged in a Temporal Cold War (later heating up into the Temporal Wars) which reached back and forth across centuries and was fought on many fronts. Voyager hinted at such a conflict and Enterprise confirmed it. The war threatened the cohesion of the timeline, and by the early 32nd Century the powers of the Star Trek galaxy have voluntarily destroyed their time travel technology to protect themselves. Constant time travel conflicts and adventures taking place post-Voyager and pre-Discovery could have easily resulted in the rewriting of the Prime Timeline in numerous ways, further explaining discrepancies such as the appearance of the Klingons.
Answer: The new Star Trek shows do take place in the Prime Timeline, but a version which has been rewritten or adjusted by time travel as shown as possible in Star Trek many times before, and these revisions can explain all of the discrepancies seen in the show.
Obviously the real reason for the differences is that the writers and producers of Discovery and its successors wanted to create a new visual aesthetic different to what had come before, and far more spectacular (although also massively and somewhat inexplicably over-designed, but that's what we have to go with). Fans have been somewhat annoyed by this because it contradicts what has come before.
In the early TNG era, it was unclear if the show would respect the visual continuity of The Original Series. In the second episode of the series, The Naked Now, a visual of Captain Kirk's Enterprise appears on a monitor seemingly depicting its appearance during Season 1 of the original show (specifically during the events of The Naked Time) and the movie Enterprise is shown, not the original ship, leading to speculation that TNG was going to pretend that the movie Enterprise was the ship's appearance during the original show rather than its more primitive, original form. TNG also used the movie Klingons rather than the original design. DS9 initially seemed to go the same way, even bringing in specific Klingon characters from TOS now wearing the movie-style makeup (in the DS9 episodes Blood Oath, The Sword of Kahless and Once More Unto the Breach, and the Voyager episode Flashback).
However, the producers changed their mind. The TNG episode Relics recreated the original Enterprise bridge on the holodeck, down to the big buttons and 1960s-style colour scheme, and later DS9 episodes such as Trials and Tribbleations depicted the original ship and sets faithfully, with character discussions on the classic, retro stylings of the time period. Enterprise, in its fourth season as recently as 2005, reconfirmed this by reusing the original show's visual design in its episode In a Mirror, Darkly. Both DS9 and Enterprise also acknowledged the visual change in Klingon makeup design and the latter even provided an explanation (not a particularly convincing one, but still).
Thus, when Discovery decided to completely jettison all previous visual continuity in favour of its own designs, it seriously irked fans who felt it was a totally unnecessary complication that could have been easily avoided by, for example, setting the far-more-advanced-looking Discovery a long time after the TNG era, a conclusion that the producers themselves reached by removing the Discovery and its crew to the 32nd Century in the show's third season. Unfortunately this reprieve to the canon is only temporary, with the forthcoming Strange New Worlds likely to cause yet more headaches.
Thursday 17 December 2020
Note: I previously reviewed DS9's third season as part of a wider review of the third through fifth seasons twelve years ago. That review can be read here.
Tuesday 15 December 2020
Sunday 13 December 2020
In sad news, science fiction and fantasy author Phyllis Eisenstein has sadly passed away at the age of 74.
Eisenstein was born in Chicago and began publishing fiction in 1971, with "The Trouble with the Past" (a collaboration with her husband Alex) in New Dimensions 1, edited by Robert Silverberg. She was nominated for the Hugo twice: for her novella In the Western Tradition (1982) and the novelette Nightlife (1982). She was nominated for the Nebula three times, for In the Western Tradition, "Attachment" (1976) and The Island in the Lake (2000). She also won a Balrog Award for Born to Exile (1980) and was a British Fantasy Award finalist for Sorcerer's Son (1980).
She only published six novels in her career: Born to Exile (1977) and In the Red Lord's Reach (1989), in the Tales of Alaric the Minstrel series; Sorcerer's Son (1979) and The Crystal Palace (1988) in the Book of Elementals series (published in an omnibus under that title in 2002); and the stand-alones Shadow of Earth (1979) and In the Hands of Glory (1981). She completed two further novels, The City in Stone (an addition to the Book of Elementals sequence) and The Walker Between Worlds (the start of a projected new series, The Masks of Power). The former was left unpublished when the publisher, Meisha Merlin, collapsed in 2007, and the latter because she wanted to complete the entire trilogy first.
She did issue a short story collection, Night Lives: Nine Stories of the Dark Fantastic, in 2003 in collaboration with her husband, and edited several anthologies. The bulk of her short story output remained uncollected, however.
Eisenstein was also active in critiquing work by friends and colleagues. Arguably the most influential of these moments came in 1991 when her friend George R.R. Martin passed her the first few chapters of a novel he was working on set in an imaginary world, but featuring no SF, magical or fantastical elements at all. He was struggling with what to do with the story. Aware of his admiration for writers like Tolkien, Zelazny and Howard, she urged him to "put the dragons in" and turn it into a broad work of epic fantasy. Martin complied, resulting in the novel A Game of Thrones (1996). Martin acknowledged Eisenstein's influence by dedicating the third volume in the series, A Storm of Swords (2000), to her.
She passed away after a short illness and is survived by her husband.
Saturday 12 December 2020
GAME OF THRONES prequel series HOUSE OF THE DRAGON gets three new castmembers, including a former DOCTOR WHO
Friday 11 December 2020
BioWare and EA have released teaser trailers for new games in the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series.
The Dragon Age IV teaser hints that the game is still set in the mage-realm of Tevinter and will focus - once again - on a new hero arising to stand against the forces of evil, backed by familiar characters like Varric. The trailer ends with the name "Dragon Age," hopefully just a placeholder and not an indication that BioWare are going to rename the game just Dragon Age to confuse people. The game has been in development for some years, although the team was co-opted to help finish both Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem. The game now appears to be in full development at BioWare, but no release timeframe has been given.
The Mass Effect trailer features as Asari walking through a snowy wasteland with a destroyer Reaper in the background, after a camera pans across wreckage and the ruins of a Mass Relay, hinting that the game will take place after the events of Mass Effect 3 rather than following up on the other-galaxy shenanigans of Mass Effect: Andromeda. This new Mass Effect game is very early in development.
The move is hoped to restore confidence in the fanbases of both games after the heads of both franchises resigned from BioWare last week.
Lucasfilm have confirmed they have a large number of new Star Wars projects currently in development. As with Disney's recent slew of announcements about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars news focuses primarily on television.
The exception to the TV news was the formal confirmation of the next Star Wars feature film. Rogue Squadron is scheduled for release on Christmas Day 2023 and will be helmed by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. Jenkins' father was a US fighter pilot who flew F4s for the US military, making the appointment appropriate. Jenkins' video and the logo both show a Rebellion-era T-65 X-wing, suggesting the film will be set around the time of the original trilogy or maybe shortly afterwards.
The only other movie news was confirmation that Taika Waititi would be helming a Star Wars movie. Nothing was revealed about the content other than it is "fresh" and unusual, hinting that Waititi will be bringing his signature comedic slant to the franchise. This isn't Waititi's first space rodeo, since the director previously helmed an episode of The Mandalorian in its first season.
The TV show news was divided between things we knew about and new announcements. Andor began shooting two weeks ago and sees Diego Luna return as Rebel spy and intelligence operative Cassian Andor, and will depict his adventures in the run-up to the events of Rogue One. Genevieve O'Reilly also returns as Mon Mothma. Obi-Wan Kenobi is due to start shooting shortly and will be set on Tatooine ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and nine years before the events of A New Hope. The film sees Ewan McGregor return to the role of Obi-Wan. Curiously, it will also see Hayden Christensen reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, presumably in flashback sequences or maybe visions of some kind.
The Clone Wars is getting a sequel series in the form of The Bad Batch, focusing on the members of Clone Force 99, a group of discontented Clone Troopers, in the months and years following the fall of the Old Republic. Another animated series, Visions, will feature 10 anime-inspired short films from Japanese animation studios, whilst A Droid Story will focus on R2-D2 and C3-PO getting into scrapes with a new character.
The Mandalorian is getting two spin-off TV shows which will be set in the same timeframe. Ahsoka will pick up with Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano and follow her adventures, possibly using the World Between Worlds as a narrative device. Rangers of the New Republic sounds like it will be a more original idea focusing on the people helping build up and extent the New Republic's influence.
Lando is a spin-off show focusing on Lando Calrissian (natch), but it's unclear if this will be a show focusing on Billy Dee Williams's older version of the character or Donald Glover's younger version, or perhaps both (with the former framing flashbacks to the younger).
Most intriguing is The Acolyte, a show set during the High Republic era. This era is the focus of a new series of novels and comics set in a time period 400 years before the prequel movies, and it'll be intriguing to see what the TV series will add to the experience.
Lucasfilm also confirmed their first two non-Star Wars projects since the Disney acquisition have been fully greenlit. The fifth Indiana Jones movie will start shooting in the spring with James Mangold directing, whilst the Willow TV series will start shooting in March in Wales.
The Lucasfilm release schedule is as follows:
- Rogue Squadron (25 December 2023)
- Untitled Taika Waititi film (2025)
- Indiana Jones 5 (tbc)
- The Bad Batch (2021)
- Visions (10 episodes, 2021)
- Andor (12 episodes, early 2022)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi (6 episodes, 2022)
- The Acolyte (tbc)
- A Droid Story (tbc)
- Ahsoka (tbc)
- Lando (tbc)
- Rangers of the New Republic (tbc)
- Willow (tbc)