What is this site about?  Essentially, this is a site for and about fantasy literature and film.  The term fantasy used here encompasses traditional fantasy, science-fiction, horror and all of the many subgenres that exist within that broad field (see Why Fantasy?).  The main purpose of this site is to provide fans with a comprehensive list of published (and sometimes unpublished) stories that take place in each respective fantasy universe, and to provide them in proper chronological sequence. 

There are now five separate universes explored in this site:  The Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline, The Royal Timeline of Oz, A Chronology of Middle-Earth, The X-Files Chronology and Roots of the Swamp Thing (the latter created by author Rich Handley). 

What may come as a surprise for those who've only seen the films is that each of these aforementioned sagas contain books, short stories, comics, video games and more.  For anyone interested in delving into these realms, it can be a daunting task knowing where to begin.  This site enables readers to start literally at the beginning.  It also provides a comprehensive checklist of all the titles released under the series' name, as a guide for collectors looking to complete their collections.

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy: A Brief Introduction:

 

 

     Fantasy: The Elucidation of Truth

 

While it's often said that good books contribute to healthy, well-developed minds, the fact is they're also great sources of fun and entertainment.  But with so many, how does one choose?

 

The chronologies provided on this site represent what I think are an excellent sampling of some of the best stories under the umbrella of Fantasy Literature (see Reckoning for more essays and a recommended reading list), which are strong enough to sustain interest over a lengthy series. Fantasy as the term is used here, encompasses the modern and traditional literary forms, as well as the various science-fiction and horror genres (see Fantasy: A Brief Definition for more information) which stand outside the realm of 'realistic fiction.'  Fantasy literature is often recognized as the most ambitious and imaginative of the literary arts. By its use of surrealistic imagery, symbolism and metaphor, fantasy has a unique ability to express truth in illustrative form in a way not too dissimilar from dreams which also utilize symbols and pictures to convey an assortment of meanings.  Dreams use strange, exhilarating and often frightening images in order for the mind to sort through fears and desires, as well as for sifting out the more mundane ramblings of the day. 

 

But where dreams are strictly the product of the subconscious, Fantasy as an art form is a product of both conscious engineering as well as subconscious extrapolation.  And like any good art, is about conveying ideas.  In an interview on the subject, George Lucas stated that, "Art is about communicating with people emotionally without the intellectual artifacts of the current situation, and dealing with very emotional issues..." Particularly is this true of issues that may be incendiary and not easily discussed.  Renowned author and scholar, J.R.R. Tolkien put it succinctly in a letter to the owner of an Oxford bookshop: "I would claim... to have as one object the elucidation of truth, and the encouragement of good morals in this real world, by the ancient device of exemplifying them in unfamiliar embodiments, that may tend to 'bring them home.'" (Letter 153; The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien; HarperCollins; italics my own) Indeed, Fantasy literature (and film) can be one of the best means of expounding truth.  Executive Producer and writer for The Outer Limits, Jonathan Glassner states: "The better science fiction has always been a metaphor for some point you're trying to make, some statement you're trying to make, a lesson you're trying to teach, a moral." (The Outer Limits: Aliens Among Us Special Features documentary)

 

Thematically, the Star Wars films (and subsequent novels and comics) are rife with the big questions: man's place in the universe, our dual-edged relationship with government, religion, spirituality, and sustainability upon the Earth.  In an interview with Bill Moyers, George Lucas expounded on this: "Myths tell us these old stories in a way that doesn't threaten us. They're in an imaginary land where you can be safe. But they deal with real truths that need to be told. Sometimes the truths are so painful that stories are the only way you can get through to them psychologically."  Yet the films are layered in such ways that many have enjoyed the surface elements without probing beneath the surface, a style of filmmaking that allows the audience the freedom to delve in as deeply as they individually care to.  Good Art need not impose itself too strongly on its audience who will choose to take out of it what they put in.  This is well exemplified in the Star Wars films, books and comics where surface and subtext blend into characters that are often placed in life-threatening situations where they must prove their mettle and display the qualities that set them apart as heroes.  All the moral qualities are in place: courage, integrity, self-control, self-sacrifice, forgiveness and fortitude.  Lucas sets the tone for this in his six-film saga by showing the parallel lives of a father and son and the very different results that come of the different moral choices they make.  The recent prequel trilogy, in particular, demonstrates the consequences of bad choices, selfishness, misguided loyalty, and abandonment to fear and greed.  But on the surface of all that are the wonderful trappings of robots and aliens and monsters and swords and laser guns. 

 

Other examples of Fantasy elucidating truth through unfamiliar embodiments are shown in L. Frank Baum's Oz books.  This long running series which began in 1900 (with the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) illustrates the importance of appreciating and respecting differences in others (and how poignant that is an ever-increasing multicultural and insular world).  The Oz books are rife with social criticism.  Where most fairy-tale/fantasy extolls the value of honesty, kindness, good humor and a keen desire to help and do good for others, Baum's series presents pacifism, egalitarianism, women's rights, animal rights and environmentalism decades before anyone else.  That they also feature talking animals, robots, animated scarecrows, wicked witches and trippy imagery is just a bonus. 

 

Surface and subtext merge most profoundly in Professor C. S. Lewis' celebrated seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, which is renown (and oftentimes attacked) for its embrace of Christian values and themes.  Lewis adored books, and in particular fantasies, fairy tales and the ancient epics which displayed men of nobility and courage battling an assortment of evil adversaries in often brutal and hostile lands.  So too did his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, whose Middle-Earth saga (which comprises The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion among others) holds the distinction of being one of the most powerful fantasy epics ever told.  In few books will one so strongly encounter the themes of hope, courage, loyalty, friendship and love.  Through the villains and the havoc they wreak, Tolkien portrays Evil as the base, corrupt, and ultimately transient thing that it is, a debasement of the human and divine, and a cause of all the grief and sorrow extant in the world.  And in the metaphor embodied by the titular object, the One Ring, Tolkien cleverly shows the inherent evil that is linked with man's grasp for power: corrupt rule, greed and self-aggrandizement. Conversely, through the role of his nuanced heroes, Good is similarly shown as complex and tangible.  In Tolkien's milieu �as in real life � to be good is do good �  and that requires active participation, inner-transformation and often sacrifice, inclusive of which is suffering and loss.  

 

Yet on equal footing with all of the layered themes, subtle moral underpinnings and profound verities is the fact that all of the examples above are great stories, wonderfully told, emotionally rich, exciting, funny and heartwarming.  The fact that they contain fantastical elements doesn't rob them of believability, but rather adds to their richness.  They are exactly that which Great Art has ever aspired to be.

 

 

 

Timelines...

 

If you've ever enjoyed solving a jigsaw puzzle or putting together disparate pieces to re-enact a crime, constructing a timeline is very similar endeavor.  It's an interesting challenge to arrange stories chronologically as if they were actual historical events (which, of course, is part of the fiction). 

 

I also think reading is important and unfortunately for a number of reasons appears to be on the decline, due not to illiteracy (although that too remains a problem) but aliteracy, 'the quality or state of being able to read, but uninterested in doing so.'  Often this is an attitude or trend that starts early in life.  Regardless of the reasons, the end result is that many are robbed of the important benefits and joys that come from reading.  This need not be a permanent situation.  Sometimes, all that's needed is the motivation to make the time to read. 

 

Others have noted that an interest in reading is sometimes sparked by an interest in movies.  Excitement generated by a film can provide the needed desire to pick up the original source or to discover the stories that follow or precede it.  Modern-day classics, such as Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings have sparked the interest in many to begin a journey in reading they never believed they could make.  The timelines on this site were in part created to help generate and cultivate that spark. 

 

The benefits that come from a lifetime of reading are immense.  Reading teaches the reader to think.  It teaches us how to better envision concepts, expand upon and follow ideas and themes, and better grasp metaphor and language.  Reading also waters the imagination, enabling it to grow in ways far beyond what even film can offer.  Furthermore, reading is beneficial psychologically.  It is relaxing to the body and mind in a way that TV, video games and the computer can never be, yet is at the same time mentally and emotionally stimulating.  Reading can become one of the best habits you ever pick up. 

 

In the Beginning: The Star Wars Timeline

 

 

This site actually began over twenty-two years ago as a concept on a single piece of paper.  In 1992, Star Wars began a literary revival with the release of a new line of books from Bantam as well as the Dark Empire comic series from Dark Horse Comics.  As my interest in Star Wars returned with the new stories being published by various different authors, I decided it would be useful to have framework by which anyone could follow the ongoing storyline in the correct chronological order in which the stories took place.  Lucasfilm, the governing body that oversaw the production of new material went to great pains to ensure continuity within the various media being released (which is logical, but not necessarily a common practice), but as the history of this universe began to grow, it became a challenge for new readers to know where to begin. 

 

Star Wars continuity began long before 1992 with a series of books by Del Rey and comics from Marvel starting back in 1977.  My earliest timelines were designed to show where those then out-of-print stories fit in with modern continuity.  Copies were distributed to friends, authors like Tim Zahn and Mike Stackpole at conventions, and the editors at Dark Horse Comics and West End Games (thanks in large part to the support from individuals like Bill Smith, Bob Cooper and Ryder Windham).  After a decade, it was time to bring the growing timeline online for Star Wars fans new and old to benefit from.  Thus, The Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline was born.

 

Taking a look at the many other Star Wars chronologies that exist on the web now, I'm grateful that this timeline is still a unique reference guide, and more importantly, has met and surpassed my demands for what I wanted it to be.  The concept was to provide the proper order in which to follow the 'historical' structure of the main (and sometimes side) characters of the films;  The goal was to be reasonably inclusive towards the many stories that have been published under Lucasfilm's banner; And the objective was to have it serve as a comprehensive source of every Star Wars title that existed beyond the films.  This is something that will continue to be met as long as new stories continue to be published...

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Rainbow: The Road to Oz

But I thought the Wizard of Oz was just a movie?  The 1939 Wizard of Oz MGM musical that everyone knows was based on a book by L. Frank Baum that was written in 1899 and published in 1900.  Baum went on to write fourteen more (thirteen full-length novels and one anthology of short stories) as well as other works of fantasy for young readers (many of which were later incorporated into the Oz series).  Following his death, the publishers � with permission of Baum's widow �  hired a new writer to continue the series.  In all, the Oz books 'officially' number forty (although there are many more by the original authors which bring that number up to what I call The Sovereign Sixty). 

 

I'd discovered the Oz books via the 1985 Disney film, Return to Oz, which led me to reason that there must be books upon which the film and its predecessor was based (it seemed far too original to be something that could come out of the 'market-research' minds of Hollywood).  So, envisioning a short six or seven book series akin to C. S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, I investigated only to discover that beyond the writers of the original series, there were well over a hundred new Oz stories--not counting reimaginings--penned by both established authors and fans in the intervening years! 

 

I didn't set out to create a timeline of these tales, nor did I even intend to purchase and track down all of the books � many rare and long out-of-print � that were written.  Yet, somehow a primal, deep seated urge to collect kicked in and before I knew it, I had! 

 

Weren't there other timelines online?  Yes.  And as a matter of a fact, a big help to me came in the form of the HACC (the Historically Accurate Chronological Chain) by Chris Dulabone (head of the publishing house, Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends) and Tyler Jones, and the HI/RCC (Historically Inaccurate Rejected Chronological Chain) by Aaron Aldemann. 

 

Yet with these resources available, why go through all the bother to create a new timeline?  A sick propensity towards masochism, perhaps?  As well done as the above references were, they were not comprehensive enough for me in that they dealt mainly with full-length books.  Short stories (such as those in the magazines Oziana or OzStory) weren't chronicled.  Mostly for myself, but also for the aid of emerging authors, I wanted a document that detailed where everything might fit into the larger scheme of the literary Ozian universe.  Without a central governing body (such as George Lucas had in Lucasfilm), newer stories for the most part were written independent of one other, and major irreconcilable contradictions had begun to develop between different publishers and authors.  What I needed was a chronology that was objective in presenting a "history" of Oz, yet free of major contradictions.  On top of that, it needed to be inclusive of all the amazing variety of stories that existed�from those written by very young authors, to the more bizarre concepts written for so-called 'mature' audiences, and everything in between.  This proved a challenge as there were a large number of stories and manuscripts (quite a few of which remain unpublished) to first find and then sift through. 

 

After a time (and several false starts) it became clear to me that what was needed was several separate chronologies which would represent parallel Oz universes, a few that were based on the so-called "canon" of the "Famous Forty" and some that were not, but all of which were relevant to the growing body of Ozian lore. Thus, it was possible to incorporate every story somewhere within the scope of "The Royal Timeline of Oz". 

 

 

 

One, Two, Three Steps Beyond...

 

  

Next up was A Chronology of Middle-Earth, inspired in part by the film trilogy which left me hungering for the more perfect beauty of the books and my perusal of Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-Earth series (edited by Christopher Tolkien). 

  

In truth, the History series is trying even for die-hard fans. What is ideal for serious students of Tolkien is seriously challenging for most fans of Tolkien's work who won't ever get to read some of the really amazing stories that appear exclusively in that twelve-volume set (as well as in Unfinished Tales).  I had hoped the new Silmarillion would incorporate some of the material from those volumes, but alas, that wasn't to be.  Christopher Tolkien apparently doesn't want or feel the need to update, edit or finish any of those stories (as he did the ones that eventually made it into the Silmarillion proper).  Thus, with the chronology, I set about to distill the best and most contextually consistent of them and place them in their respective locations on the timeline for readers to be able to locate and enjoy.  These stories, of course, are not 100% harmonious with those in the published Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, but as the discrepancies are minor, most readers will be hard pressed to discern where errors in continuity may lie.  And as with all myths and legends, oftentimes presenting accurate historicity is challenging at best, and there's no reason to suspect that the legends of Middle-Earth would be any different. 

  

That complete, I decided it was time to watch the complete X-Files series on DVD...  Gathering up all the books and comics, I scoured print and online resources for a good timeline that would incorporate all the shows, trade paperbacks, video games and novels that were released...  Surprisingly, there was nothing which incorporated every title.  Plenty of sites offered plot synopses and I found two or three that dealt with just the show, but none that were exhaustive!  So, with little time on my hands, I created my own.  While still not complete, Timeline X: The X-Files Chronology is online...

  

And in the interim, Rich Handley completed his excellent Roots of the Swamp Thing.  My enthusiasm for Alan Moore's early work on the series sparked author Rich Handley's interest and he took over from me what was but a fledgling start on a timeline. Sadly, Swamp Thing is not a title that has held up for me. In the cold light of day, I find the absence of continuity appalling, the amalgamation of religious motifs and pseudo-science annoying and the botched attempts at storytelling deplorable (if you want, you can read my less-than-positive overview of the series here...)  Though Alan Moore's material is still some of the best comic book work ever done, and Wein's and Collins' eras are still fun, the new series' left me cold and I'd lost all interest in creating a timeline of it, let alone revisiting the tremendously convoluted DC Universe among which the series was set. Still, many fans wanted it, and Rich delivered in spades!  There was a lot he had to wade through to make sense of it all (and he'll be the first to admit "it really doesn't") but any fan of the series will certainly enjoy and benefit from the enormous work he's done.

 

Recently, Rich Handley completed another daunting task, a chronology of the films, television shows, comics and novels in the Planet of the Apes universe. Aptly titled The Hasslein Curve: A Timeline of the Planet of the Apes and The Encyclopedia of The Planet of the Apes. Check it out at his site.

 

 

 

Coming Soon...

 

 

 

 

Joe Bongiorno is the author of the upcoming Black Sabbath: The Illustrated Lyrics. He created The Royal Publisher of Oz, and published several books.  A former journalist and reviews editor of The Baum Bugle, he's contributed articles, reviews and miscellanea for various publications and companies over the years, including Star Wars Gamer, Star Wars Insider.  He lives on Long Island, New York with two dogs and five cats.  

 

 

Drop a line to me here.

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"The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man, and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes�openly bad and secretly bad.  All virtue and generosity and disinterestedness are merely the appearance of good; but selfish at the bottom.  He holds that no man does a good thing except for profit.  The effect of his conversation upon your feelings is to chill and sear them; to send you away sour and morose. His criticisms and hints fall indiscriminately upon every lovely thing, like frost upon flowers." ~Henry Ward Beecher

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you dare enter the portal?

� Michael Whelan

Climb in the window to return to the Main Menu

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to Michael Whelan for the wonderful painting: http://www.michaelwhelan.com.  Special thanks also go to NASA for the fantastic photographs, some of which have been used to illustrate this site.  No copyright infringement is implied or intended.  This is a non-profit site used used for entertainment and educational purposes.

 

 

 

Tips for creating your own timeline

 

  • Be original. Most people won't interested in something that's already been done.  So do your homework and see what else is out there and what you think of it. At the same time, don't be daunted by the work of others. Oftentimes, they are less than satisfactory. For instance: Are there serious inaccuracies? Biases? Is it less than comprehensive? Not well thought out? Or can you approach the same subject matter from a different angle? For instance, Chris McElroy's wonderful "TimeTales," is a Star Wars 'events' timeline quite different from the 'publications' timeline which I've provided here, or Ken Shepherd's fantastic "Chronology of the Famous Forty" which offers a day by day examination of each of the Oz books in the Famous Forty. 

  • It's my view that most  timelines should really endeavor to be comprehensive. For example, if you were to do a timeline based on the Hanna Barbera's Scooby Doo series, don't just list the television cartoons. There's a lot more out there. Make sure not to leave out the comics (from all the publishers), old and new novels, films, guest appearances in other shows and titles, etc. And yes, Scrappy too.  ou get the picture. No biases based on flimsy subjective preferences (although make no mistake subjective decisions almost always enter into the picture somewhere). 

  • On the other hand, unless you're simply listing what's been produced (which is not a chronology), no one wants to wade through a mish-mosh of contradictory tales. Take for example Paramount and their ruination of the Star Trek franchise (which they're currently attempting to undo), what DC and Marvel continually do to themselves (Crisis..., Zero Hour, etc.,) or the state of affairs going on with classic Battlestar GalacticaMany of these contradictions result from having writers who've not been given access to the original source-material; thus, without research on their part, they can't sequence events properly, if at all, and mistakes creep in. The idea here is that you, the chronologer, should have access to everything so that the reader can see what to pick up, so that he can follow each story in the correct order in which it takes place, allowing for minor errors in continuity. Your job is to eliminate the major, irreconcilable contradictions that are beyond the realm of reason or imagination to fix. Of course, this may necessitate the need for not one, but two or even several chronologies, or simply a section of things that can't yet be made to fit.

 

Questions, comments?  Write me here.

 

 

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Artwork by Jno. R. Neill, W. W. Denslow.  Map of Oz by James Haff and Dick Martin The International Wizard of Oz Club.  Parrot-Oxes (upper-left) Eric Shanower.  Used by permission.

 

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Wonderful Books of Oz

Looking for rare Oz books and ephemera at decent prices? Look no further than the Wonderful Books of Oz.

 

 

 

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