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To Space Opera or to Not Space Opera, That is the Question.

Hmmm, never heard of Trigan Empire, nor Codoverse.

Codoverse I assume refers to a universe that Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven wrote some stories in together, and JP wrote some by himself or with other coauthors. Most famous is certainly the JP&LN collaboration The Mote in God's Eye.

Timeline for the series runs from JP's John Christian Falkenberg stories, in which the superpower controlling Earth and its colonies is a joint "CoDominium" of the USA & USSR; to a trilogy set on the planet Sparta ending with the breakdown of the CD (and presumably total nuclear war on Earth) and the leading military leaders on Sparta (both CD and mercenary) swearing loyalty to the young Prince of Sparta as Emperor of Man; to the far future Second Empire period in which Mote and a few others take place.
Codoverse I assume refers to a universe that Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven wrote some stories in together, and JP wrote some by himself or with other coauthors. Most famous is certainly the JP&LN collaboration The Mote in God's Eye.
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Jennifer Pournelle for the Moties end
SM Stirling & Jerry Pournelle for the Falconberg end.
In the World War subseries Doug McElwain, John F. Carr, and Don Hawthorn
In the short story anthologies, not easily found... so I'm not listing.
Understand that LFL had figured that Jedi was likely to be the end of the line. Most series stopped there.
In 1986, IIRC, there were three movie-based novels, 3 Han Solo novels, 3 Lando Calrissian novels, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and the Marvel daily strips in several runs, plus the Marvel movie comics. Splinter was decanonized when Empire came out. Good, but not where Lucas wanted it.
The spin off TV show, Ewoks & Droids, was not commercially successful... nor was it popular.
The Holiday Special was ... well received at the time, but a lot of people found it less palatable on rewatch. (have watched it once a decade... But I like variety shows)

The studios hadn't green-lit a fourth, as it looked like everything was nicely wrapped up in RotJ... There were plenty of threads to pull on, but the studios didn't find it credible that a fourth was worth it.

It looked like Star Wars was going to be a dying property. Along comes Costikyan and WEG... and make an offer - a rather low ball one, if the WEG staff on their forums were to be believed. The video games were somewhat trailing off in sales, too...
But 1987 was the year consoles went 16 bit. Sure, MS/IBM PC's had been around for a few years - but PCs only had EGA - VGA wasn;t out yet, and Windows looked rather crappy, most people who could were using MSDos without Windows... CP/M was still not dead yet, and the best graphics for home computers were running CP/M... the best home graphics were the Atari 520 ST and the MSX2 lines.

520ST was 640×400.
MSX2 standard was 512x424i or 512×212p, using the Yamaha V9938
The Macintosh Plus was 512×342, but only in B&W.
PC's with EGA were getting up to 640 × 200 on a CGA or EGA monitor or 720×350 on a monochrome.

So, unless looking hopefully in the tech mags, the market for Star Wars looked saturated.

And so, thinking that it was simply milking the last dregs... LFL made a deal with WEG. Between new consoles, VGA, better MS-DOS, Better MSX, Color Macs, and such, the videogame market fired back up, WEG launched just in time for Christmas, and the Sourcebook brought a bunch of non-gamers into gaming.

The WEG deal was still LFL approving content before printing, but there was so much missing that was needed for RP that, according to the designer's notes, LFL let them invent a lot.

For many gamers of the early 90's, WEG was their first RPG, and their only RPG. A notable sliver vs AD&D 2e... but still. It was also in big box book stores, next to only a few other RPGs - Usually D&D and DragonQuest, often Marvel and Star Frontiers.

I've this soft spot for Star Frontiers -- I played it before I played Traveller, but nowhere near as long. I didn't get a copy of SFAD until about 1986...
But all plans for SFAD dropped when I got a copy of WEG Star Wars.

Or, depending on how you look at it, how much they'd cede to novelist Timothy Zahn. But I have no inside information on how much Zahn was provided with line direction, or editing for continuity, so it might come to the same thing.
Zahn said in an interview that he was literally told by LFL to use the setting info in WEG.

Ultimately, Lucas wasn't willing to fund the Zahn trillogy himself, and the studios were still thinking the fan base was a fluke. Lucas was busy with Indiana Jones and other projects.

By the time Lucas realized that he was going to have a market for more movies, the actors were looking too old for the parts as described in the novels... it was over a decade for the actors, but only a couple years for the characters. And there wasn't CGM/CGE to age regress them yet.

I'm reminded some of the Star Wars novels were good, not just as Star Wars, but good in their own right. That's not always the case with licensed properties. I dropped them anyway at one point because there were just so many, but I might revisit Aramis' list above to see what holds up, and what I missed.

Yeah, there are some great ones for Star Wars - the Jedi Academy series was never canon, but is a great alternate series for the YA demographic.

Courtship, Truce, and Zahn are the ones WEG loved best, and it showed. But they also incorporated the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian series into the SWEU.

Trek has equally good stuff. Even Shatner manages to write a couple interesting ones. The STEU is so insane in the 90;s...
But the mid-80's FASA setting was a great one. Unlike LFL, Paramount knew their fan base was rabid, and made it clear to FASA that they could develop their own canon, but it wasn't going to be adopted by Paramount. Plus, there was at that time a second licensed trek setting: The Star Fleet Universe from ADB via TFG... The SFU has continued to grow, forbidden to use anything newer than the SFTM and SFMRM.... and none of the characters... The 80's had lots of heated discussions over which was better, FASA Trek, SFU, or the Novels...

Oh, and John Ford was a writer of novels and for FASA.
Vondra MacIntire was, IIRC, an SFB Rated Ace. There were several others with SFU-isms in their Novels.

Now, there were a few truly terrible Trek novels and Star Wars novels...

In an interview, Lucas noted that the licensed tabletop games revitalized the franchise and are what allowed him to actually bring it back to the big screen. Paramount had been doing licensed games since they bought Desilu. Desilu had been doing so since the show hit season 2.

Both franchises also had benefits to the other - they weren't the same kinds of Space Opera. But they both allowed fans to eperience parts of the universes of the franchises. They saw each others successes, and realized they could drive the way...