Since we have some of the same interests, I often find myself talking sci-fi/fantasy with one of my co-workers. This is the same one that gave me the Star Wars notebook at Christmas, so you see what I mean. However, we do sometimes have differences of opinion. Not so odd, I hear you say, no-one’s going to agree all the time. I totally agree with you there. But there is one of her prejudices that has been coming up lately, thanks to things like Rogue One, Alien Covenant and my lending her a battered copy of Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings. And this one I don’t agree with, at least not completely.
She has a… distrust, I think that’s the best way of putting it, of prequels and the like, which she considers re-writing history. Or at least, the history she’s familiar with. This seems to be based mainly on the Star Wars prequels. Now I don’t have the time to debate the merits (or lack thereof) of those films, and even if I did, I’m not sure what I could add that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. Let’s just say that I can see some of her reasoning and leave it at that.
But I do think, provided it’s done carefully, prequels can help deepen our understanding of the worlds we’ve come to love. Depending on how far before they’re set, we can see how characters become who we know them to be, the chain of events that lead to the situations already encountered or reveal things about characters we might not have any other way of knowing. Plus there’s the fun (for me, anyway) of making the connections between past and present.
The reason I’m thinking about all this, besides the conversations mentioned above, is that I have my own prequels, sort of. I’ve said elsewhere that I have a few House Valerius short stories in the offing. All are set before the main series, ranging from two thousand to ten years before, and focusing on some of the histories I didn’t have the space to go into in the books. Hopefully, since I haven’t actually put any of the series (beyond a couple of small samples on here and some test readers) out in the world, I’m not in much danger of contradicting myself. But still, it is food for thought…