Star Wars/Original Trilogy

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Name: Star Wars
Abbreviation(s): SW, Wars
Creator: George Lucas
Date(s): Star Wars Original Trilogy & related
Medium: Film, radio, books
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Star Wars is a space opera film series with a huge worldwide fandom and a massive impact on pop culture. The first film was released in 1977 and spawned an entire new fandom in a matter of months of its release.


The Original Trilogy is, continuity-wise, the middle of the saga, telling the story of a farm boy who rescues a captive princess and winds up a crucial part of the Rebellion against the Empire. The Trilogy movies are:

However there are also additional properties such as The Star Wars Holiday Special, Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor; while the Star Wars Radio Show was a radio play version of the three movies. The Holiday Special, along with the two Ewok-centric movies and the novels and comics which also were released during this time, were considered part of the Expanded Universe until April 2014, when George Lucas announced all EU material was non-canon, except for The Clone Wars movie and two cartoon series. Select parts of the old EU material is now known as "Star Wars Legends".


Fandom History

Editor of Spectrum, M.J. Fisher predicted in Issue 34 (September 1977), predicted the fan reaction to the new movie:

By next year, at the very least, a new fandom will spring into existence: Star Wars fandom. But why a whole fandom for just one movie? Why so much excitement just for two hours of fantasy on film?... The mundane reviewers suggest that people are tired of all the disaster films, the film jammed with social commentary, heavy symbolism and heavy meanings. Or maybe there hasn't been a big escapism film in a long time, and Star Wars luckily cased in by appearing at just the right time? Or maybe the special effects just swept everyone up in an identical wave of enthusiasm? Yet, not only has the mundane public turned out in record numbers to see Star Wars. Fandom has gone all out, too, and not Star Trek fandom either. All of the SF-related fandoms are talking about Star Wars: comix fandom, Sword & Sorcery, even Tolkien... Just to look at Star Trek fandom in particular, the popularity can be traced to the fact that Paramount has stalled far too long in bringing out the new series. Star Trek fandom was ripe for Star Wars to find a willing audience. Another thing about Star Wars is the scope of the film. There is an epic quality to Star Wars... It's a grand tale full of adventure and suspense... Star Trek never had that epic quality. The whole of ST might have, but you might have to think a while before you could grasp it all. Star Wars shows that epic tale in the space of two hours, so that you don't have time to lose a single instant of it... A Star Wars fandom seems almost destined. Zine should appear shortly and one can only wonder when the first Star Wars convention will be. As in the case of ST fandom in the late '60's and early '70's, it will probably be a case of Star Wars appearing as part of the programming in regular ST, SF and Comicons, until a large enough cult exists to hold separate Star Wars cons... Many of them have already instituted SW panels, and Star Wars characters now swamp the costume competitions with a multitude of Lukes, Solos, and Wookies. [1]

Star Wars fandom grew rapidly, with fan clubs, zines, and fan-run conventions, surpassing even these predictions. In 1978, the editors of the Star Trek fanzine Sol Plus advertised for new submissions, saying: "...and please, Star Trek only, no Star Wars!" This showed that Star Trek fans were increasingly writing Star Wars material, and sending it to Star Trek editors for publication. [2]

Cover of an issue of Empire Review, portrait of Our Founder

By 1979, however, Star Wars was being recognized at fan run conventions and the first FanQ awards were given to Star Wars fans: Maggie Nowakowska for her Star Wars stories the Thousandworlds Collected series, and Martynn, who illustrated Star Wars stories.[3] In 1980, the annual convention for fanzine producers and readers moved from Michigan to New York for one year. "The name, Mos' Eastly Con, showed the growing influence of Star Wars. Organizers evenly split the panels between Star Trek and Star Wars; the remaining panels covered general topics (such as "the art of editing")." [4]

Things were a little slower outside of the States, but they eventually caught up:

It is important to try and all about the relationships between Luke, Leia and Vader. All we knew back then was that Luke was in love with Leia, Leia might be in love with Han, Vader had killed Luke's father and we'd not yet met the Emperor. There had been comics and novels of course since Star Wars but it was generally understood that none of these were canon.

In 1979 we were tantalised with morsels of info, Bantha Tracks had published a picture of Boba Fett in #5 revealing that he was a very dangerous individual. And Lando Calrissian was announced as an old buddy of Han Solo's. But it wasn't until October 1979 that things got really exciting (for me anyway). I went to my first convention at the NEC. A publicist from Lucasfilm was there and he showed some slides from the film, mostly Ralph McQuarrie production paintings and then later on they showed a 90-second trailer to [The Empire Strikes Back]. It was amazing; it looked different to Star Wars somehow. I remember jolting back in my seat when the Falcon banked suddenly into the camera to avoid an asteroid.

I remember that Star Wars was not that highly regarded at the time. Sure it was a huge worldwide success but the general critical consensus was that Lucas had simply been very clever at cannibalising the old movie serials and pulp stories.

There really didn't seem to be any Star Wars fandom in this country [the UK]. In the USA it was different. They were already producing huge volumes of Star Wars fan fiction and letterzines were full of intelligent debate.

1980 arrived and things started hotting up. The February issue of Starlog contained an article about the various rumours regarding The Empire Strikes Back, one of the rumours was that Darth Vader would turn out to be Luke's father. Ridiculous! [5]


One of the earliest fan clubs was The Royal Order of the Rebel Forces formed in 1977. It was run by Paula Truelove, who was later co-editor of the Harrison Ford fanzine Flip of a Coin. Another club was Forces of the Empire[6], which was established in 1980 and is still in existence today. Clubs were not restricted to the United States: both the Moons of Yavin Fan club in England [7] and Maikel Das's Northern German Star Wars group [8] located in Hamburg [9] sprang into existence and operated for many years, producing both fanzines and art.


the front cover of Warped Space #26/27, published in July 1977, the artist is Gordon Carleton

Star Wars fannish material began to appear in zines almost immediately. In September 1977, a fan wrote: "I know of at least 4 zineds in ST fandom who are already planning zines..." [10]

There was an official Star Wars newsletter that did publish some fan art and meta articles by fans. Bantha Tracks[11] was published from 1978 to 1987 by LucasFilm as part of the Fan Relations department.

The first zines:

Before the internet, fans kept in contact via regular mail and letterzines, which were small, cheaply produced zines that printed letters from the subscribers, often including new zine announcements, meta discussions and essays, and flame wars as well as friendly chat and news about the movies and the fan community. Some fan club groups also produced their own letterzines, some including members' fan fiction and fan art. Three key letterzines were Alderaan (1978-1981), Jundland Wastes (1981-1983), and Southern Enclave (1984-2000).

Hundreds of zines were published and sold by fans through the mail and at conventions such as MediaWest*Con; some are still in production or available through used zines sales at conventions or on eBay.

For more on zines, see Star Wars Fanzines.

Star Wars fanzines and other fan works continued to be published through the 1980s and 1990s, with interest in the fandom waxing and waning over the years, often timed to the release of a new movie.

Expanded Universe

In 1991, Heir to the Empire, the first Star Wars tie-in novel was published. It was a major entry in what would become known as the Expanded Universe or EU. The Expanded Universe was a major drive of fan activity prior to the release of the first prequel film, The Phantom Menace, in 1999. Many characters who appeared only in the EU, such as Mara Jade, became extremely popular among fans. In April 2014, when George Lucas announced all EU material was non-canon, except for The Clone Wars movie and two cartoon series. Select parts of the old EU material is now known as "Star Wars Legends".

See Star Wars Expanded Universe and Star Wars Legends for more details.

Some Difficult Times

After Return of the Jedi was released, Star Wars fandom entered a trying period. There were no new movies on the horizon, and the last one had been somewhat of a letdown, anyway. The wounds opened by debate in Jundland Wastes, much of it pointed and painful, caused many fans to lick their wounds and back off.

There were some dark years ahead as SW fandom came to terms with the irreconcilable differences that exist among its members. Differences of opinion seemed to automatically transform into accusations. Sarcastic “how could you possibly believe that…” comments escalated into personal attacks on the opposing fan’s moral judgments. The word “fascist” had been used before to deride arguments in favor of the Imperials, but now fans were accused of such attitudes simply because they disagreed with another fan’s opinion. As mentioned earlier, fandom finally got angry enough to engage its most powerful defense: shunning. The instigators of the worst hostility found their letters were ignored; received and printed, yes, but no one responded. The topics and conversations flowed on around them without the slightest indication that their hostility mattered to anyone. And, eventually, those hateful letters stopped coming to the editor. Unfortunately, people were already well-burned. The legacy of the bad days muted lively discourse for years. The assumption that an unconventional opinion would automatically inspire a return to arms seemed accepted by many fans. People couched opinions with self-abasing modifiers, or simply waited for someone else to speak up. And, often, no one did — in print. There were some dry periods amongst the LoCs. Slowly, SW fans found their way back to a livelier conversational exchange. Articles began to reappear. The Pro SW novels began to appear, rekindling interest in younger fans. Rumors of new movies became facts and everyone wanted to share their speculations. And then came The Web. [12]

Move To The Internet

In the mid to late 90s, Star Wars fanfiction began to appear online in multi-fandom mailing lists, archives, and personal author sites, and finally in new Star Wars-centric archives. At first, much of the new fanfiction available online was drawn from the new Star Wars novel series, such as The Jedi Academy Trilogy (first published in 1994) and the X-Wing Series (beginning in 1996). The Corellian Embassy started up in 1998, with the goal of getting movie fanfiction from the older fanzines of the 70s and 80s online where new fans could find it. It was followed by sites like the Organa-Zation, SWA-L, The Sith Academy, The Force.Net's fanfiction section, Elusive Lover, and many others. There were also online fan clubs, such as the Star Wars Club. Many of the early sites were on free services like GeoCities or AngelFire, and have since been lost. A few of the Geocities websites have been archived and are listed List of GeoCities Fansites#Star_Wars here. A comprehensive list of websites featuring Star Wars fan fiction and fan art, mailing lists and resource websites can be found on Stay On Target; an earlier incarnation was The Complete Star Wars WWW Listing from 1995.


See also List of Star Wars Relationship Names




(see also List of Original Trilogy Star Wars Zines)

Mailing Lists/Newgroups/Archives


Mailing Lists

  • Dark Luke archive link "This group is for discussion and fanfic of a galaxy far, far away in which Luke Skywalker did turn to the Dark Side of the Force. Theories, stories, etc. all welcome. Slash stories encouraged. Redemption fic welcome. We even like Mara, as long as she's dark. You need to be above the Age of Consent in your location. For more information:" (2001-2003)




Fanfilms and Vids


Other Fanworks


Filks/Filk Songbooks

Meta/Further Reading


External Links



  1. ^ The editor of "Moonbeam" says: "I believed for almost 30 years that it was in fact the first primarily Star Wars fiction fanzine, but I recently learned that Skywalker, the exceptional Star Wars zine edited by Bev Clark, was in fact first by a couple of weeks. Ah well. I was still one of the first, and probably the first on the East Coast..""My Life in Fandom - Deb Walsh's Zines - Moonbeam". 2012-07-14. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16.
  2. ^ Actually, according to the dates on the zines themselves, "Moonbeam" was first; perhaps there was an understood wiggle-room with the distribution?
  3. ^ From Bev Clark in Southern Enclave #10: "AGAINST THE SITH came out a few weeks before SKYWALKER, no more than six. Neither was the first SW fanzine, exactly. The very first fanzine was a small, poorly produced effort out of Long Beach, called THE FORCE; it was more like a traditional 5F fanzine in that it didn't have much fiction. It was also what is bluntly called in SF fandom, a crudzine. The first fanzine to print all SW fiction, though admittedly as a single issue of a fanzine that was not devoted to SW to the exclusion of all else, was MOONBEAM 3, which came out in the late fall of 1977 or the early spring of 1978 before either AGAINST THE SITH or SKYWALKER, at any rate. SKYWALKER was certainly in preparation by then, however, it began in September, 1977."