The Star Wars galaxy may be far, far away, but the fanfiction it inspires exists within easy reach of those passionate enough to seek it out. When George Lucas and his collaborators created this expansive universe back in 1977, they just wanted to make a great space opera. They had no idea it would birth an entire franchise of TV shows, movies, comic runs, parodies…and Star Wars fanfiction.
More importantly, nothing could prepare Lucas for the sheer level of enthusiasm that fans would build around this brainchild. Many celebrate the fandom by creating costumes, going to fan conventions, and buying merchandise items. Others dive into the extensive world of Star Wars fanfiction to explore the universe in a different way.
What is Star Wars fanfiction?
Star Wars fanfiction either pulls directly from canon or it asks, “What if?” Writers who play around with canon simply want a deeper understanding of the world in its present condition. Others use fanfiction to ponder how things might’ve turned out if they’d gone differently in canon.
For example, Luke Skywalker leaves his Jedi training on Dagobah to rescue his friends in The Empire Strikes Back. “Skywalker Falls” by Phillipe363 gives readers a brief but interesting glimpse into how Luke staying like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda wanted could’ve changed his destiny for the worse.
Readers interact with Star Wars fanfiction for many of the same reasons. They want to experience canon as written by other fans or they want to explore a different version of their favorite stories. Or they want to see themselves represented by their favorite stories in a way they don’t otherwise experience.
In many ways, fanfiction acts as a comfort zone for many fans. They experience their version of their favorite universe on their own terms — even if they have to insert themselves in the story. Fanfiction contains a little bit of something for everyone — from romance and drama to horror and suspense.
Genres & Types of Star Wars Fanfiction
While this unique mode of storytelling contains many genres, specific ones have become the most popular since fandom went virtual. Most Star Wars writers and readers alike flock in droves to romance so they can ship (or romantically link) their favorite male characters in slash or female characters in femslash stories.
Other fanfiction genres include angst, alternative universe, fix-it, fluff, hurt/comfort, and sm*t. “One H*ll of a Mess” by Noelia_G, for example, focuses on the fluff potential of Poe romancing his way into Finn's heart in The Force Awakens. Meanwhile, “Dominoes” by meridianpony reimagines the Domino Squad of The Cone Wars into a fix-it fanfiction story where instead of dying, they stick around and save the day.
No matter where fanfiction writers take their readers, though, it all starts with a solid headcanon. They can imagine themselves in Star Wars as a self-insert or live vicariously through a Mary Sue stand-in. Stories can be short, like with drabbles or one-shots, or novel-length creations (like “Rebels: An Alternate Tale” by SirLoozElite).
Modern Star Wars Fanfiction Sources
In the olden days of Star Wars, fanfiction enthusiasts had a plethora of independent websites at their eager fingertips. While TheForce.net remains, many of its brethren have fallen into obscurity along with sites like Angelfire and GeoCities. Most fans these days get their kicks on the major websites.
Archive of Our Own (AO3) contains in-depth stories. “The Story of Finn” by LullabyKnell follows the impact of Finn’s rebellion on his fellow stormtroopers. Speaking of The Last Jedi, “Sky Marked Souls” by AnonymousMink explores the soulmate bond between Rey and Kylo Ren.
Livejournal takes a more meta approach to Star Wars fanfiction. Instead of exploring relationships, most of these stories also look closely at individual characters. Chameleon_irony wrote “About Fathers” to “look into the minds of Vader, Luke and Leia during The Empire Strikes Back.” The same author wrote “Justify” to “look into Anakin's disturbed mind as he kills the younglings in the Jedi Temple” during Revenge of the Sith.
Tumblr, Fanfiction.net, and Wattpad thrive on readers imagining themselves in their favorite stories. The writers of this particular brand of Star Wars fanfiction insert themselves and their readings into different galactic storylines — but mostly the ones where they can make out with Din Djarin.
Star Wars Fanfiction Zines
So much of Star Wars fanfiction came from and still thrives in zines. These booklets gain traction in different parts of the fandom, and fans share them via email, physical mail, or virtual downloads. Before the internet, zines helped fans share their fanfiction stories.
Even now, zines continue to act as a bonding experience for fans. Some cater to specific ships like Han Solo/Luke Skywalker and Captain Rex/Ahsoka. Others fully dedicate themselves to exploring the mythos around the Sith. Everyone has a chance to find something they like and have it delivered right to their inbox, mailbox, or straight to their download folder.
The Rest is (Fanfiction) History
Star Wars fanfiction has a rich history within the fandom. It goes back to the original trilogy and remains a fundamental part of some people’s experience as fans. Whether imagining themselves within it or just playing with its characters (like shipping Obi-Wan Kenobi and Commander Cody), they just want to go deeper into the story.
Fanfiction opens up a world of possibilities for exploring one’s passion for Star Wars. Sometimes, though, readers and writers alike want to get silly with the existing universe. They want to see themselves in the story, or they want to explore fun concepts. In a way, they take to fanfiction the same way force users take to lightsabers — as naturally as breathing.