5 Questions: Timothy Zahn

Star Wars has a huge universe.

Author Timothy Zahn is at least partially responsible for expanding it.

Sure, George Lucas created Star Wars but during its creation he relied on a great many others to bring his vision to life. Actors. Directors. Screenwriters. Editors. Special effects people. Etc. That belief in others eventually bled over from the original trilogy into comic books, RPGs, cartoons and a whole host of other formats that helped to spread the mythos throughout our cultural lexicon and has kept it fresh in our hearts and minds for decades.

Ironically enough, Star Wars books did not really play a part. They were dead before 1991.

Then Timothy Zahn wrote Star Wars: Heir to the Empire.

Set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Tim single-handledly revitalized Star Wars books and created characters many readers consider to be the best in the Expanded Universe. Heir to the Empire went on to be a bestseller and its two sequels—Dark Force Rising and The Last Command—completed the Thrawn trilogy.

Since then, Tim has returned to the universe that he’s helped establish, writing a number of Star Wars books at different times over the last twenty years. Today, happily, is also one of those days. Star Wars: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn is published right now, returning Tim to some of those great characters we have come to know and love. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Mara Jade, Thrawn and the Hand of Judgment. To name a few. The events of the novel are set before Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. A time period fans love.

Here is a bit more about Star Wars: Choices of One:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn comes a brand-new Star Wars adventure, set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring the young Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the beloved Mara Jade.

The fate of the Rebellion rests on Luke Skywalker’s next move.
But have the rebels entered a safe harbor or a death trap?

Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal.

Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgment. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz’s treason and smash the Rebels for good.

But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played.

Don’t miss the new novella by Timothy Zahn, “Crisis of Faith,” featured in the 20th anniversary edition of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire

To celebrate today’s release of Star Wars: Choices of One, Tim offered to answer a few questions about the new book, Heir to the Empire, and what he’s currently working on!


Shawn Speakman: Hi Tim! STAR WARS: CHOICES OF ONE is published today in fine bookstores. Tell Unbound Worlds readers a bit about the book?

Timothy Zahn: CHOICES OF ONE takes place three months after ALLEGIANCE. Once again there are rumblings of possible treason within Palpatine’s Empire, this time from the governor of a border sector who’s offering a safe haven to the Rebel Alliance in return for protection against an alien warlord with ambitions toward his territory. Naturally, Han, Luke, and Leia go in to check it out. Just as naturally, Emperor’s Hand Mara Jade isn’t far behind. Add in the five fugitive stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgment and assorted other characters, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.

Which is, after all, what Star Wars is all about.

SS: Was it enjoyable returning to some of the characters you’ve helped immortalize over the years?

TZ: Oh, absolutely! Part of the fun of writing Star Wars is coming up with new adventures, and the rest is finding new ways for the classic and new characters to interact. That’s especially tricky with Rebellion era stories like CHOICES, where certain characters can’t interact with each other, and established future events have to be protected or worked around.

SS: 20 years have passed since the publication of HEIR TO THE EMPIRE, a book that reignited Star Wars publishing in all formats. To commemorate the anniversary, Del Rey Books is releasing HEIR TO THE EMPIRE as a hardcover in September. I understand you annotated the edition. Tell us more about HEIR TO THE EMPIRE: The 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, what can fans expect and did you have fun revisiting it?

TZ: The annotations are a large part of it. There are nearly two hundred of them, covering everything from what I was thinking at the time I wrote a particular section, to little bits I put in that people might not have noticed the first time through, to the always-popular questions of how Mara and Thrawn came to be. There are also two different forewords, one by me and the other by HEIR’s original editor Betsy Mitchell, plus an afterword by Howard Roffman of LFL licensing. Oh, and there’s also an 18,000-word novella featuring Thrawn, Pellaeon, and Baron Fel that forms a sort of bridge between CHOICES and HEIR.

SS: Do you know if DARK FORCE RISING and THE LAST COMMAND will be given a similar treatment?

TZ: I’m told that if HEIR sells well enough to justify bringing out 20th anniversary editions of the other two books of the trilogy, Del Rey is more than willing to do so. I hope so — I already have some ideas for possible novellas to include in those reissues, and I’d really like a chance to write them.

SS: What are you working on now? And do you think you’ll return to the Star Wars universe in the future?

TZ: I’ve just finished the first book of a new series, SIBYL’S WAR, for Tor Books. After that, I’ll be starting on the first book of my third Cobra trilogy, COBRA REBELLION, for Baen Books. As to whether there are more Star Wars books in my future, that’s going to be up to Del Rey and LFL. However, I do have half a dozen ideas to pitch, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Star Wars: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn is in bookstores today!

May the Force be with you….