I remember when “Tales of the Slayer Vol. 1” (October 2001) came out, it felt to me like for first time the Buffyverse had a sprawling Expanded Universe similar to what “Star Wars” had developed. Starting here, a character need not be peripherally linked to Buffy in order to have their story told.
“How I Survived My Summer Vacation” (August 2000) is the only “Buffy” young-adult book that’s an essential read for all “Buffy” book fans, and it’s the first book that fits so nicely with the TV continuity that it can be considered unambiguously canonical. The full title includes “Volume 1” at the end, which suggests Pocket Books planned to delve into more summers between TV seasons. That didn’t happen, unfortunately (although the comics sometimes explored the summers), but at least this tome covers the summer between Seasons 1 and 2, which is a rich playground for fresh stories.
I’ll take my fix of new “X-Files” material where I can get it, but it’s irritating that in IDW’s third volume of “X-Files” short stories, “Secret Agendas,” Jonathan Maberry and his team (if there is one) still make too many errors. The line-editing gaffes, such as “peak” instead of “peek,” aren’t as numerous as in the first volume, but the number of continuity errors is inexcusable.
“The Truth is Out There,” the February follow-up to last year’s “Trust No One,” serves up another mixed bag of “X-Files” short stories that’s on par with the first collection. It’s not “The X-Files” at its finest, but it’s a fun assortment that will tide fans over between comic installments.
Because Lucasfilm is shifting its focus away from the Clone Wars era, we’re not likely to see a paperback anthology called “Tales from the Clone Wars” anytime soon. However, if you still have your back issues of Star Wars Insider, you can pretend you are reading a couple volumes’ worth of Clone Wars tales. The magazine published 20 short stories from issue 62-88 (2003-06); 12 were set during the Clone Wars, with two more shortly after that period. (Insider wouldn’t return to short fiction until issue 124, when it would once again become a staple of the magazine.)
Thematically, “Tales from the New Republic” (1999) isn’t all that different from “Tales from the Empire” — both collections chronicle the little guy, either amid the galactic war or amid everyday life in the galaxy far, far away. It’s also about the little guy in “Star Wars” publishing. West End Games’ Star Wars Adventure Journal was canceled in 1997, but a few lucky authors saw their stories get salvaged here (along with some of the best works that had already been printed in the journal) in the very last book of Bantam Spectra’s “Star Wars” license.
Just by paging through “The Essential Reader’s Companion,” it’s obvious that short stories make up a significant chunk of “Star Wars” fiction. Yet while the novels are easy to find, and 95 percent of the comics are collected in omnibus volumes, the short stories often have to be hunted down in magazine back issues or old web links.
Interviews with “Firefly” staffers often include the question of “What story ideas were never produced?” As such, we know they were kicking around episodes about Kaylee having to go undercover as a Companion, and the Alliance accidentally producing a herd of mutant zombie cattle (yes, for real), but we’ll probably never see those stories.
Jabba the Hutt’s palace in “Return of the Jedi” was George Lucas’s “faster and more intense” answer to the cantina in “A New Hope.” Also benefiting from a second chance was “Tales from Jabba’s Palace” (1996), the follow-up to “Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina” that had more room to play in, more screen time to draw from and more characters lurking in more shadows, even as editor Kevin J. Anderson got more ambitious with tying the stories together — something he toyed with in the previous volume.