Building A Galaxy Far Far Away: The Story Behind The Star Wars Expanded Universe

splinter So, I've got a major series of articles going up on Barnes and Noble this week: Building A Galaxy Far Far Away: The History of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.


I'm very excited for this series. It started out as something that I thought would be a fairly short article. As I researched more, there was more to the story, and it grew.


I want to thank the following individuals for their cooperation, time and interviews:

  • Alan Dean Foster
  • Barbara Hambley
  • Martha Wells
  • Steve Perry
  • Troy Denning
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Daniel Abraham
  • Lou Aronica
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Matthew Stover
  • Bill Slavicsek
  • Betsy Mitchell
  • Lucy Wilson
  • Kathy Tyers
  • David J. Williams
  • David Wolverton
  • Elaine Cunningham


I also need to thank two other people: Elizabeth Templeton, who's been diligently proofreading my work before I submit it, and Joel Cunningham, who's been editing the entire thing. Without them, this series wouldn't nearly be as good.

All in all, this comes to about 35 pages of material, or 16,000 words. It's a labor of love, and I have to say, I really want to go back and burn my way through the EU like I used to in High School.

Here's the entire series:

There were a bunch of books that were instrumental in having this come together. Interviews and other sources that I didn't conduct have been linked to in the piece itself:

  • Star Wars: The Essential Readers' Guide, Pablo Hidalgo
  • The Secret History of Star Wars, Michael Kaminski
  • The Making of Star Wars / Empire Strikes Back, J.W. Rinzler
  • How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, by Chris Taylor
  • The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Mark Cotta Vaz


Narratives of Modernization: China's History Of Science Fiction

china I have a new feature article up on Barnes and Noble's Science Fiction and Fantasy blog titled Narratives of Modernization: China's History Of Science Fiction.

This particular article was a long time coming: earlier this year, I attended Vericon as a guest. Ken Liu was the Guest of Honor, and had a lot of things to say about translating science fiction, and had a presentation called Heroic Translators, which was a really interesting talk.

He spoke about how translation worked, and how Chinese translators really had to play with language to get science fiction ported over from western languages to their own.

Along the way, I realized that I didn't know anything about Chinese history, other than the fantastic novel that Ken had just translated: Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem.

This led to a bit of an exploration on my part, and what turned into an incredibly difficult article to write. I had taken courses in Chinese Military history while taking my Master's, and I struggled with what was really an unfamiliar tradition. While researching this article, I also had to brush up on the last century of Chinese history, in order to provide the proper context for how this strain of science fiction emerged. What I thought would be a fairly straight forward article turned out to be a much more complicated and interesting one - the best sort of stories.

I used a bunch of sources and interviews for this, all of which are linked in the article, but I would be remiss if I didn't thank Ken for answering a bunch of my questions over the last couple of months, and for providing some of the inspiration for this piece in the first place.

Evolution of a Space Epic: James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse

Over on Barnes and Noble's SciFi & Fantasy blog, I've got one of the biggest articles I've ever written: the Evolution of James S.A. Corey's series, The Expanse. This has been in the works for several months now, and it's really exciting to see it hit the light of day.

This article covers the entire background of where The Expanse came from. It started as an MMO pitch, became an RPG, then a book, then a series, and now, a television show. In March, I visited the television set, and since then, I've been researching, interviewing and writing.

This was a helluva lot of fun to write about, and I'm looking forward to the television show. After all of this, I'm convinced that the show will be a big one, and one that'll be returning SyFy to its roots in a grand way.

Read the entire article here. It's a long read: 10k+ words.


I'm not going to annotate these sources, but here's the list of interviews and articles I drew quotes from. In the article, where an interview isn't linked, it's one that I conducted myself.

  • Daniel Abraham Interview | Paying the Long Price:


  • Interview | Daniel Abraham:
  • Daniel Abraham Interview:


  • An Interview with Daniel Abraham:


  • Interview With Daniel Abraham, Co-Author Of Caliban’s War:


  • Cover Launch: LEVIATHAN WAKES: Collaboration:


  • Interview | Daniel Abraham, author of THE DRAGON’S PATH:
  • Sophomore Slump II: Why We Have Fan Fiction:
  • Leviathan Wakes: A Chat with the Authors: Russell Letson reviews James S.A. Corey:
  • "Leviathan Wakes" is as close as you'll get to a Hollywood blockbuster in book form:
  • An Unapologetic Embrace of Sentiment: PW Talks with James S.A. Corey:
  • Interview: James SA Corey (Originally on SF Signal)


  • Some Big News About The Expanse:
  • Orbit signs up three new Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey!:
  • three-new-expanse-novels-by-james-s-a-corey/
  • Interview: James S.A. Corey Talks 'Caliban's War':
  • An Interview With James S.A. Corey on LEVIATHAN WAKES:


  • The Nomadic Alfred Bester, Renaissance Man:
  • James SA Corey Author Spotlight:
  • An Interview with Bestselling Author Ty Franck (James S.A. Corey):


  • James S. A. Corey on the Expanse TV Deal:
  • Syfy’s ‘The Expanse’ Ordered to Series:
  • Interview: James S.A. Corey:
  • James S. A. Corey’s The Expanse Series Adds a Third Trilogy!:
  • CIBOLA BURN is available now and a big announcement!:
  • How Soon Is Agent Carter Coming to TV? Plus Tons of Arrow News!:
  • Syfy Turns James S.A. Corey's Expanse Into "Game Of Thrones In Space":


  • Syfy orders 'The Expanse' series based on 'Leviathan Wakes' (think 'Game of Thrones' in space):
  • Interview with Ben Cook
  • Interview with Steven Strait
  • Interview with Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham
  • Interview with Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby
  • Interview with Liza Williams
  • Interview with Raja Doake
  • Interview with Daniel Docui

There's a ton of people to thank for their help here. In no particular order, the following people were instrumental in making this come to life:

  • Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham
  • Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby
  • Ben Cook
  • Steven Strait
  • Maureen Granados
  • Liza Williams
  • Raja Doake
  • Joel Cunningham
  • Karen Tyrell
  • Daniel Docui
  • Ellen Wright, Will Hinton, and Alex Lencicki.

Destination: Mars

So, I have a nonfiction piece up on Clarkesworld Magazine, one of the best science fiction magazines out there. This post covers a topic that I've been wanting to write about for a while now: how Mars was discovered, but also how as we learned more about it, our stories changed.

This is one of the distinguishing features of science fiction, I think. Looking over the genre's entire body of literature, you can see how authors have updated their depictions of a place in near-real time. The stories put together by authors like Wells and Bradbury are radically different than that of Robinson and Weir.

Moreover, this subject is a really interesting way to see how scientific innovation, research and discovery actively and directly impact the arts world. Authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Andy Weir were reading the latest research to come from probes and scientists.

When it comes to defining science fiction, many people point to a common definition: 'Science Fiction is fiction that cannot exist without a scientific component.' I think that an alternative should be considered: that science fiction literature is a genre that would never have existed without various scientific and industrial revolutions, and which directly comments on said impact of such revolutions.

Read Destination Mars over on Clarkesworld Magazine.

Short Story Sale: Fragmented, to Galaxy's Edge Magazine

I'm pleased to say that I've just made my first pro fiction sale! My story 'Fragmented' will appear in the new magazine Galaxy's Edge, which has featured authors such as Nancy Kress, Robert J. Sawyer, Kij Johnson, Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, Mercedes Lackey, Ken Liu, and quite a few others.

Fragmented has garnered the usual round of rejections, and I'm happy that this one is my first. Anyone who attended the Geek Mountain State / Renegade Writer's Collective Reading in September heard me read it, and that reading was a crucial element in getting the story properly edited and into the right shape. It's short: around 2700 words, and is about a soldier deployed on a devastating campaign.

Galaxy's Edge Magazine is published on a bi-monthly schedule. Stories from the current issue are displayed online, while print and digital copies can be purchased from various online retailers. I'll post links and a bit of background on the story when it's available - I don't know when that is just yet.

In the meantime, back to work. Hopefully, this will be a repeatable experiment.

Ernest Harmon's Battle of the Bulge

My author copies have arrived, so I know for sure that this exists: in the November 2012 issue of Armchair General, I've got an article on General Ernest Harmon, and his command of the 2nd Armored Division during the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944.

Harmon is someone whom I've come across a number of times since college. Olympian, World War I veteran, University President, and part of the invasion of Africa during the Second World War, he stands out for his gruff demenor and ability to overcome a number of challenges when faced with difficult situations. I pick up his story when the Allies faced a major counterattack by German forces. On December 16th, he and his command, the 2nd Armored Division (aptly nicknamed Hell on Wheels) were located in Germany. When the nature of the Bulge attack became apparent, he and his division drove to Marche, a 70 mile night journey over icy roads, where they were hit by the German forces, effectively stopping the attack.

You can read up on the actions here, from my paper on the Battle of the Bulge and Norwich University, which helped start up this article. I travelled out to Belgium last year, and was able to visit a couple of the battlefields at Ciney and Celles. Here's what the terrain looks like:

Harmon was a really facinating guy to write about, simply because he was so out there, and willing to bend rules and orders when he recognized a gap between what his superiors saw and what he, on the ground, saw.

The November issue of Armchair General should be heading out to subscribers (you can subscribe here!) shortly, and will be on newsstands sometime later this fall.