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April 14, 2019

Timothy Zahn is Planning More Star Wars Books, Teases Thrawn Tetralogy at Star Wars Celebration

During Star Wars Celebration, author Timothy Zahn sat down on the Fan Stage to address his 30 years writing for Star Wars.

Star Wars Celebration celebrates everything about Star Wars from the films to the books to the droid builders and beyond.  Timothy Zahn is a beloved author in the Star Wars universe.  The Chicago native has authored 13 books, including this summer’s Thrawn: Treason.

Bria LaVorgna, a writer for StarWars.com, moderated the panel with the beloved Star Wars author.  Zahn has signed two previous non-disclosure agreements and said that breaking them would result in giving up both the first born and dominant kidney.  While it made for somewhat of an entertaining panel, it also meant him having to dance around answers when it comes to the upcoming book, Thrawn: Treason.

Thrawn: Treason

What we do know about Thrawn: Treason is that the book deals with the relationship between Grand Admiral Thrawn and Director Krennic’s Stardust program.  The Stardust program played a key role in the plot of Rogue One, because it’s the program under which the Death Star was constructed.

Zahn ended the panel by teasing a new character in the upcoming Thrawn: Treason.  It came with the caveat of whether or not he could actually reveal anything.  After all, this is a man who signed two different NDAs!  Dancing around while answering is bound to happen at these panels.  Krennic is all about power while Thrawn takes a different focus to getting things done.  Thrawn would prefer a surgical strike with the minimal amount of necessary force to Krennic’s all-out destruction.

Zahn writes these newer books in a way that serves the current canon but also to where they would fit in with the previous books relating to Thrawn.  It’s more or less a means to an end by not having to rewrite the character’s history.

As for that brand new character’s name and who they may be associated with, he couldn’t say too much:

“His name is assistant director Ronan.  He is one of the assistant directors on Stardust, extremely loyal to Director Krennic, not really liking Thrawn much at all.

But what about the most important question? Does Ronan wear a cape? “It is a thigh-length, not full length.  He’s only an assistant director.”

On being asked if his character of Captain Gilad Pellaeon would make an appearance after being referenced in Star Wars Rebels, Zahn responded:

“It remains to be seen.  Now that he’s canon, he’s fair game.”

While Captain Pellaeon is a part of the Legends series and formerly canon, the one reference to him gets Thrawn’s right hand man back into Star Wars canon. When the decision was made to consider the former Expanded Universe as non-canon, it meant a number of fan favorites would probably never see the light of day again. With Thrawn coming to Star Wars Rebels and now Pellaeon being referenced, things are changing.

Bria asked about the odds of this happening.  Zahn – as any Star Wars fan might say especially if they’re a fan of C-3PO – replied “Never tell me the odds.  Two non-disclosure agreements!”  At this point, his Del Rey editor was put on the spot, putting at his kidneys at risk.

Padme and Anakin

Originally, Thrawn: Alliances was going to be about Thrawn and Anakin. Anakin would have been looking for Ahsoka and that Anakin would be looking for her.  The story group told Zahn that Ahsoka Tano was off limits.  She couldn’t even be referenced. Padme was offered instead.

On Padme, Zahn said:  “I thought Padme had largely been wasted in the prequel movies but they really got her to blossom in the Clone Wars. You got to see her doing not just kick-assery but diplomatic abilities and such….this is a character with really good skillset – what can I do with her…I’m going to do Padme really well here.”

Capes and Hugs

When it comes to non-superheroes wearing capes, the only one that Zahn likes is Zorro. This preceded a discussion about Lando Calrissian, Han Solo, and their hugs in two different films. It’s not unfair to say that Solo lends a new perspective to many events in The Empire Strikes Back.

What Zahn mentioned about the hugs is something I missed completely altogether when I saw Solo last year. Note the scene where Han hugs Lando and takes the Falcon away from him. Zahn believes that Lando would remember this. When the Falcon lands in Cloud City, Lando gives him a similar hug in a way that he warns Han. Han misses the signal altogether.

Thrawn vs. Thanos

After revealing that he did not watch the new trailer yet, Zahn addressed who he thought would win in a fight between Grand Admiral Thrawn and Avengers villain Thanos.  It was preceded by a reference to last year’s ending of Avengers: Infinity War.  Regarding the number of viewers of the trailer:

“It would be 80 million without Thanos.  Yes, I’m looking forward to Endgame.”

Who would win in a battle between Thrawn and Thanos? He had quite the answer:

“I would not ever want to–he would probably take him down before he started.  I will tell you one similar story.  There was a convention a couple of years ago and there was a supervillain smackdown panel.  There were four bad guys and the audience picked four of them.  Thrawn was one of them and then the bracket would go on–the panel would discuss it, the audience would vote, and go on to the next one.  It ended up with Thrawn vs. Lex Luthor.  The other three panelists got to go first and they decided who would win, Lex or Thrawn. It got to me and I said, ‘Thrawn would try to recruit him.  Thrawn would find out what he wanted and see if he could come to an accommodation.’  He would probably work something like that with Thanos if possible with an eye towards if things go south, I will have a plan.  He would not waste a resource like Thanos and his army unless it was necessary–unless that’s the threat he’s looking at–in which case he would demolish him…and yes, I would watch that movie.”

Is it too far-fetched to want to see this happen?  Based on the fan reaction, many of us would like to see this happen!

Any regrets?

In one of the more entertaining parts of the panel, Zahn lamented that he will likely never be able to write for Doctor Who:

“The panel begins at the same time this one ends and my TARDIS is in the shop…I want to write for Doctor Who but they told me that you have to have a British passport to do that.  Seriously, they want the British to write.  They don’t want a flood of Americans coming in.  However, I feel that it’s only a matter of time before Disney buys the BBC.”

The Future

After decades of playing around in a galaxy far, far away, what is Zahn’s future with Star Wars? It certainly sounds like he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon:

“I would like to do more.  That’s going to be up to Del Rey and Lucasfilm.  But the problem right now with Treason, we will have two separate Thrawn trilogies.  This is going to be very confusing.  We need to add a fourth and have a Thrawn tetralogy.  Here’s where I mentioned this to an editor and she turned to a colleague and said, ‘See how smoothly he does that.’ I will definitely be pitching a fourth book, maybe a fifth, and maybe a sixth depending on how things go.  As long as Del Rey is willing to buy them and you guys are willing buy them, I’ve got a lot of stories…it’s always at the pleasure of Lucasfilm ultimately, and Del Rey, Penguin Random House, whether they want what they want from me if anything.  I’ll say it again.  If I’m never asked another Star Wars book, I’ve had my say. I’ve a lot of fun and I’m content.”

Thrawn: Treason will be available this summer.

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