Era of Rebellion
"Stang! Another Star Wars timeline!"
Even though there are lots of sites about Star Wars chronology (see my links page for the best ones on the 'net), I found that I did not agree with most of them where the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back was concerned. So, I had to come up with my own.
Ever since I read in the ESB novelization (back in 1985) that there were 3 years between the first two movies, I've been writing up timelines for that period. The first timelines were mostly "alternate realities" because of the many inconsistencies. For example, after A New Hope I had one path that went to the Goodwin strips then to ESB, another path to Marvel #7-38 then to ESB, one path to Splinter of the Mind's Eye... Those were the easy days.
When West End Games started to mention events from those different sources in one sentence, I decided it was time to revise my timeline to include everything. Of course I used the dates in the Adventure Journals' "Galaxywide Newsnets" as a starting point, but that led to too many problems. Then I came upon Jack Camden's ANH-TESB Chronology, and it just blew me away that someone else was trying to do the same thing I was doing. He even went further and had a timespan for each story. However, he had many of the stories labelled as "apocryphal", and I am more inclined to make everything fit together. Also, written back in 1996, Jack Camden's chronology quickly became outdated due to the incredible amount of new material coming out almost every month.
What was the basis for the placement of the stories?
Why did I choose to place the stories where they are? Well first of all, I time-locked the major events which are:
The evacuation of Yavin: The new Rogue Squadron game established that by 6 months after Yavin the base was evacuated. The final attack on Yavin 4 was led by the recently-completed Super Star Destroyer Executor, so any story in which it appears is placed after this event (Dark Forces game; Splinter of the Mind's Eye).
The building of Echo Base on Hoth: The Star Wars Technical Journal #3 established that it took 20 months to build the base, that's 2 years in SW time.
The Empire Strikes Back: According to the "Galaxywide Newsnets" in the Star Wars Adventure Journals, the Battle of Hoth took place 33 months after the Battle of Yavin. The Senate was disbanded around 35:3:5 (AJ #3) and the Imperials landed on Hoth around 38:6:9 (AJ #15). Although it is not usually my policy to use the dates from that source, because being news reports they could be released months after the fact, I used the dates where there was nothing else to contradict it. Aside for placement of the Battle of Hoth, I used this source to place the defection of General Crix Madine, and the date the Executor embarks on a hunt for the Rebel base.
The Rebels' stay on Thila: According to various sources from the RPG (Galaxy Guide 1; Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook Special Edition), the Rebels stayed on a temporary base on the planet Thila after they evacuated Yavin. This was after Luke discovered Hoth, but it would take some time before a base could be drilled out of the icy mountains. Although this is not depicted in any of the stories, this obviously has to be placed between 6 and 13 months. In fact, we could assume a period of tranquility for the Rebels, as the Empire has no clue as to where their new base is located. In "Starlog 32-4-1", the cartoon from the Star Wars Holiday Special, Darth Vader asks Boba Fett to try locating the Rebels' new base. Any stories that refer to Massassi base ("Tatooine Sojourn"), Yavin 4, General Dodonna (Star Wars 2: World of Fire; Starfall RPG module) or Hoth/Echo base could not happen in that period.
Then, I used some lesser events as "bookmarks". This helped create a sense of consistency to the whole thing. Some sources actually give a time period (Scoundrel's Luck has a month-long search for Vader, Marvel #29 has Valance on Centares for 5 weeks, Marvel #70 happens "right after [Luke] and Han joined the Rebellion"). But for the most part I had to find some reference points.
Vader's knowledge of Luke: Some stories have Vader sensing another Force user, and/or searching for the Rebel who destroyed the Death Star, without knowing his name. Stories like "Darth Vader Strikes" or the Wheel saga in the Marvel series. These would have to take place before Marvel #35 (recently expanded by Dark Horse's Vader's Quest series). Everything that has Vader knowing Luke's name, stories like "Gambler's World", "The Return of Ben Kenobi" and Splinter of the Mind's Eye, has to take place after that.
The bounty on Han's head: Jabba the Hutt put a bounty on Solo's head prior to Star Wars: A New Hope. Many bounty hunters are looking for him. But there is a short period where Jabba cancelled the bounty in exchange for his life, until he found out something else Han owed him. That period is between Marvel #28 and #37 and includes stories like the flashback in Marvel #50 and "The Second Kessel Run".
Luke's returns to Tatooine: Luke returns quite a lot to Tatooine, despite what he said in the movie. But reading those stories I found a logical order in which each visit has to take place. The first time he returns seems to be in "Tatooine Sojourn", where he has a flashback attack in the cantina, but does not go to his uncle's farm. The second time seems to be in Marvel #31-32, where he goes to the farm and almost cries, but walks casually in the cantina. The third time would be in Star Wars 3D #1, in which he feels he left a loose end by leaving the farm without an owner. Any other visit (The Mystery of the Rebellious Robot; Rogue Squadron game) would have to be after the Yavin evacuation.
Princess Leia's whereabouts: Leia has a couple of solo adventures, like River of Chaos, "Tilotny Throws a Shape" and Marvel #30, but according to a speech she makes to General Dodonna in Marvel #27, the latter is her first mission. So everything else must come after.
Some other minor reference points I had to keep track of were: Solo's reward money, Vader's whereabouts, the Rebels' number of X-Wings, Ackbar's rank (although this is very controversial) and the "Life Day" celebration on Kashyyyk where the previous one is mentioned in Rebel Dawn.
Some other stories are pretty vague as to when they take place, mostly because they do not feature the Heroes of Yavin. In that category are most of the RPG adventures and sourcebooks from West End Games, some stories from the Star Wars Adventure Journals (some of which were reprinted in the Tales from the Empire anthology), missions from the X-Wing game expansions, "Doctor Death: The Tale of Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba", from Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Dark Horse's "Tales from Mos Eisley". I also like to think the Jabba the Hutt series from Dark Horse and the game Rebel Assault II take place in this period.
The Battle of Yavin and the evacuation (0-6 months)
text only / graphics-heavy
Stories not yet placed
Thanks to the various authors who gave me so many hours of entertainment.
Also, thanks for the Star Wars Fanboy Association, an e-mail discussion group where everybody is always coming up with continuity fix-ups, particularly:
Joe Bongiorno for sending me photocopies of "Four New Adventures In Color!" and finding a solution for the two Life Days happening within 3 years.
Brian James Crewe for confirming the "Droid Dilemma" storybook doesn't exist, and letting me know of that website with the complete scans of the Blackthorne comics.
Rich Handley for providing me summaries of the Kashyyyk strip and the second Pizzazz story arc (and for writing those wonderful articles in SW Galaxy Collector.)
Pablo Hidalgo for naming the jungle planet from "Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell" and the TIE pilot from "The Day After the Death Star."
Abel "Halagad" Pena for sending me a taped recording of "Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell."
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