With The Force Awakens on the horizon, publishers will launch all kinds of new novels, junior novels, children’s books and reference books leading up to and accompanying the movie’s release. This post will summarize what is known so far and make a few educated guesses. None of the information in this article is strictly speaking new – it has been floating around the world wide web for a while, though for some part only in German at my main project Jedi-Bibliothek.de – but it has never been compiled in this fashion and odds are you will discover some bits of information that you have missed previously.
Some of this information is based on leaks from here and here that have since been corroborated by official listings in publishing catalogues and on Amazon (more on that later). While the juicy details will not be revealed before Celebration Anaheim, we already know surprisingly much and can deduce quite a bit more. Also, for the purposes of this article, we will ignore movie-based calendars, which you can already find aplenty on Amazon, to be released as early as July.
The Three Stages
Let’s start with the most obvious question: When will there be books introducing us to the new movie? The answer is: not before September 2015. And after that date, there is a staged publishing schedule that regulates the flow of officially approved movie spoilers. Let me list those stages first before going into more detail on each of them. These stages have been named by me, but they reflect how things will work out as far as I can see.
- 1. The Introduction Stage (September/October 2015): Books released in this time period will offer first glimpses into the post-Return of the Jedi timeline. Also expect the first wave of books featuring artwork of ships, characters and locations from the new movie. Hints about the movie’s plot will be present, but they will literally be just hints.
- 2. The Pre-Release Stage (November/early December 2015) This stage will feature the first wave of spoilers. We will get a book on the art of Episode VII, we will get prequel (junior) novels and a bunch more. However, as this stage coincides with the second season of Star Wars Rebels, only one half of the new books will focus on The Force Awakens, the other will focus on Rebels. This stage ends with a wave of partial movie adaptations on December 15, 2015. There is a chance that the movie novelization will already be published in this stage (see below).
- 3. The Post-Release Stage (December 18, 2015 and beyond): The fun begins. No more concern for spoilers. Publishers will go all-out. Full adaptations, more reference books and tons of children’s books from various publishers.
When researching these books, you will encounter two seasonal codenames that have been put in place by Disney Lucasfilm Press after the aforementioned leaks back in November. The most frequent is “Winter Tales” and it is quite easy to decode: the movie is released in winter. Duh. The second name you will find is “Autumn Travels” – a codename for the leaked “Journey to Episode VII” tetralogy of junior novels. These books are released in September (ergo, “autumn”, or “fall”, for you Americans) and the connection between “journey” and “travels” is so obvious that I don’t know why I am even pointing it out. There is a third codename, “Telegraph Hill Movie”, but that one has become obsolete as it has been largely replaced by “Winter Tales”; only one title is still listed under that title and it is marked as cancelled.
Stage 1: The Introduction Stage
Update: A few hours after we published this article, Disney decided to do away with “Autumn Travels” and reveal the actual titles of the books. Well, we won’t complain – instead, you can find the titles below.
Disney Consumer Products will launch the first wave of Episode VII-based merchandise in September 2015, and books are no exception. Do not expect to find movie-related books on store shelves before September 1, 2015. We know of the following books, currently listed as “Autumn Travels” by Hachette Book Group. All these books will be released as hardcovers on September 4, 2015. These books are part of what has been leaked as the “Journey to Episode VII” series of middle-grade novels, though that title may not be final.
- #1: Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure (formerly: Journey to Episode VII: Han Solo), Hardcover, Disney Lucasfilm Press, $12.99, 9781484724958 (age group 8 to 12)
- #2: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure (formerly: Journey to Episode VII: Luke Skywalker), Hardcover, Disney Lucasfilm Press, $12.99 USD, 9781484724965, (age group 8 to 12)
- #3: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (previously titled Journey to Episode VII: Princess Leia), Hardcover, Disney Lucasfilm Press, $12.99, 9781484724972 (age group 8 to 12)
- #4: Lost Stars (formerly: Journey to Episode VII: The Fall of the Empire/The Rise of the Rebellion), likely to be written by Claudia Gray, Hardcover, Disney Lucasfilm Press, $17.99, 9781484724989 (age group 10 to 14), plot details available here
Officially confirmed is a children’s book titled Ships of the Galaxy (Amazon listing) by Studio Fun (release date September 8, 2015; target age group 6 to 9 years) that will feature the most prominent starships from the previous six movies as well as officially introduce a new ship from Episode VII.
As far as comics are concerned, we do not have any official clue if there will be an introductory comic series by Marvel at some point, though it’s a good guess Marvel won’t ignore the new movie. However, we know from Amazon listings and from the Random House homepage that Del Rey/LucasBooks will publish a new, yet-to-be-revealed novel on September 1, 2015. This would coincide with the DCP launch and I think chances are good that the placeholder title Untitled Novel #24 will turn out to be the first canon post-ROTJ novel.
September will also see the release of a Winter Tales Doodle Book by Zack Giallongo “featuring adorable illustrations of characters, ships, and settings from Star Wars: Episode VII”, according to the November 2014 leak. In October, we will also get a Winter Tales Book and Magnetic Play Set: “Featuring characters from Episode VII, this epic play set includes two coloring and activity books, six play scenes, two magnetic panels, and fifty magnets. […] Readers will love exploring the new worlds and characters of Star Wars: Episode VII with this exciting play set!” These books are for children aged 6-8 years.
Stage 2: The Pre-Release Stage
Here’s when it gets interesting. We leave the juvenile sector behind us and get some “adult” content.
The Art of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be published by Abrams Books on November 2, 2015. Now, this is an artbook and no novelization, but if MakingStarWars.net has proven one thing, then it is that concept art can reveal quite a bit and officially-revealed artwork may even prove or disprove some of Jason’s reports and rumours. Therefore, this is the first book that will actually have the potential to offer spoilers for the movie. This book is priced at $25.
In November, Disney Lucasfilm Press will likely only publish Star Wars Rebels books, including a novelization of the first episode of season 2. However, Del Rey has another untitled Star Wars novel listed as hardcover and ebook for November 3, 2015. Now, given that the art book will already offer some insight into the plot, this might very well be an early novelization of The Force Awakens. I am not convinced, as Disney Lucasfilm Press will save their novelizations for release week and spoiler management seems to be a huge concern for Lucasfilm this time around, but seeing as I have not yet discovered any listings for other Del Rey Star Wars novels in 2015, this might be it. Also, dates are always subject to change, so who knows, we might see this book moved to December 18, 2015 after all.
Note: With Del Rey placeholder listings, ignore any authors you may see attached to them, especially with the Untitled Novel #4. The authors attached to UN#4 are leftovers of a previously cancelled reference book celebrating Star Wars fandom.
In release week, on December 15, 2015, we will get several World of Reading young readers that will adapt short scenes from the movie, but more interestingly, we will get the Winter Tales Character Novel. According to the November leak, that is an “original, 240-page middle grade novel based on characters from Star Wars: Episode VII. This novel will have the same look and feels as the three character-driven novels from the Journey to Episode VII program. Those Han, Luke, and Leia novels will be perfectly complimented by this book, which introduces the three new heroes from Episode VII.” Three new heroes? Well, I bet this book will show what Rey, Finn and Poe are up to right before the movie begins. Note that this book is no adaptation but an original story.
Stage 3: The Post-Release Stage
Anything goes. The movie is out, so are all the spoilers you could possibly want. If the Del Rey novel from November 3, 2015 is not the movie novel, we will get it now. There will also be more storybooks from Disney Lucasfilm Press and the folks at Studio Fun have the age range from 5 to 7 years covered with Star Wars: The Force Awakens Mix & Match on December 18, 2015. The Mix & Match book will allow you to “mix and match heads, torsos, and feet from lots of different creatures and characters” from The Force Awakens.
As far as a junior novel adaptation of the movie is concerned, there is the Winter Tales Movie Junior Novel, which is currently listed for March 1, 2016 after previously being listed for December 22, 2015 and December 18, 2015. Most likely, this date shuffle exists to throw people like me off the scent, and maybe – just maybe – it has been cancelled or actually postponed, but I find that highly unlikely. The same goes for Winter Tales Read-Along Storybook and CD, another adaptation of the movie by Disney Lucasfilm Press, currently listed for March 1, 2016.
I have also seen an obscure Del Rey listing for “Untitled Novel #33” in January 2016, ($38, ISBN 9780345511362), which will either be a belated and very expensive movie novel or no novel at all, but a “Making of Episode VII” book or something like that. We shall see.
Always in motion the future is
Now, if you have read all of this, you know everything there is to know regarding Episode VII-related Star Wars literature at this point. More details and information about books that aren’t on our radar yet will become available at Celebration Anaheim in April, but until then, let this article be your guide. And remember: all dates are subject to change and the dreaded axe of cancellation may hit any of these titles at any time (but let’s hope it won’t).