CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

'Star Wars' author compares homophobic fans to the Empire

Author Chuck Wendig tells fans to "stop being the Empire" after they criticize him for making the lead character gay in his novel "Star Wars: Aftermath."

Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
3 min read

Enlarge Image
Fans have mixed reviews of the new novel "Star Wars: Aftermath." LucasBooks

When it comes to debating the finer points of a galaxy far, far away and the characters that inhabit it, "Star Wars" fans are a vocal bunch.

So after author Chuck Wendig made main character Imperial Officer Sinjir Rath Velus gay in "Star Wars: Aftermath," a novel released last week, some fans expressed their displeasure.

Sinjir's sexuality is established in the book, but not the focus of the story, which traces the officer's adventures after he rejects the evil Empire following the Battle of Endor featured in the film "Return of the Jedi." There's also a lesbian couple who serve as background characters in the novel.

"I don't think that his [Sinjir's] sexuality needs to be this giant plot point, but at the same time, it's part of who he is as a character, and I thought it was an interesting moment," Wendig told Entertainment Weekly last week. "Especially since you don't necessarily see it as much -- not just in Star Wars but just in science-fiction."

But not everyone was happy with Wendig's decision to make his "Star Wars" hero gay in a book that is part of the official "Star Wars" canon known as the Expanded Universe, or EU.

Some fans who don't believe the "Star Wars" universe has room for gay characters have "="" page="" with="" negative,="" one-star="" reviews"="">flooded Amazon's "Aftermath" page with negative, one-star reviews. In fact, one-star reviews count for 40 percent of the book's overall reviews. These negative reviews shouldn't impact the sales ranking of the book thanks to Amazon's ranking algorithm, which pays attention more to the quality of the reviews, rather than the quantity.

Granted, many of the one-star reviews do not comment on the inclusion of a gay character, but of the plot and writing itself. Others clearly can't accept gay characters in their "Star Wars" books.

"We are then force fed the backstory of one character being gay and another being a lesbian. This has nothing at all to do with the story, just fitting it in because we are all supposed to be O.K. with this stuff because it is P.C.!" Amazon user RockNRollPirate posted with a one-star review.

Wendig himself commented in his blog that the onslaught of negative Amazon reviews are not only about his including a gay main character in "Aftermath," but also "Star Wars" fans who don't like his writing style; fans who don't like the idea of a new set of stories becoming "Star Wars" canon; and fans who are angry that his book didn't answer all their questions about events that happen between the films "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" and the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

In a message to bitter fans, Wendig said: "If your love of the EU drives you to campaigns like this, or hate-tweeting me or hate-mailing me, you've stopped being a fan. That's not what being a fan is. Loving something is fandom. Hate isn't, or shouldn't be, part of it. Fandom is about sharing awesome things with like-minded people. It isn't about spreading hate and forming spiteful tribes."

As for the fans complaining about the main character being gay, Wendig had this to say: "You're not the Rebel Alliance. You're not the good guys. You're the...Empire, man. You're the...oppressive, totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars."