Because the cultural appetite for new Star Wars stories has always vastly exceeded the ability or interest George Lucas had in actually telling those stories, the “expanded universe” of the Star Wars world was a bloated, ballooned thing that contained thousands of years’ worth of “canonical” stories–which is basically just a fancy way of scoffing at that book you liked because it didn’t officially happen in Star Wars.
That was an easy position for Lucas to take when his interest in expanding the Star Wars universe himself on film was nonexistent–if some video game had a neat idea, it didn’t mess with his plans to grant that to fans (and the guy who introduced “midi-chlorians” into the Star Wars canon himself might not have the most discerning standards to begin with). But after Lucasfilm and the entire Star Wars intellectual property was sold to Disney in 2011–with the very specific intention of making new Star Wars films for the rest of eternity–it was time to clean that up. There are still some stories that are 100% Star Wars legit, but if you’ve been wondering which ones they are and how they fit into the timeline of that world, figuring out exactly which ones can be a challenge.
Thanks to OuterPlaces.com, though, there’s finally a very easy way to determine where the Star Wars stories you’re looking at fit into the narrative: With this handy timeline, broken down by the number of years “BBY” or “ABY” (which is nerd-speak for “Before the first Star Wars movie” and “After the first Star Wars movie”) when each story takes place, you no longer need to sift through the sci-fi paperbacks or look at ancient video games to figure out which ones count.
And that list is pretty short, which is nice, too: Basically, it includes the comics published by Marvel, and all of the books, published in 2014 and 2015, the six original Star Wars films, the TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels, the forthcoming films–from The Force Awakens to the standalone Rogue One and untitled Han Solo prequel–and the Battlefront and Uprising video games that take place at the same time as The Force Awakens. Because the timeline contains, shall we say, stories of varying quality (i.e., the prequels are terrible), breaking it down by era makes sense–if you’re more interested in the classic Star Wars universe than what Jar Jar’s friends were up to, you can spend plenty of time in the “ABY” generation.
Ultimately, the timeline is a handy tool for a very particular sort of Star Wars fan: the kind who cares enough to want to know which stories actually “happened,” but who isn’t actually interested enough to read/watch/play all of that crap. If that’s a spot in the Venn diagram that you occupy, though, you’re in luck here.