Tim is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, with his Thrawn Trilogy — which introduced the infamous villain Grand Admiral Thrawn to Star Wars canon, as well the Imperial capital planet of Coruscant, and the assassin-turned-hero Mara Jade — kickstarting widespread interest in the SWEU in 1991.
Even as these works have been relegated to “Legends” status, Tim’s creations proved so popular and so compelling that they have since been reintroduced to canon, with Tim himself writing the new authorized backstory of his most famous creation in the novel Thrawn.
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In some circles Timothy Zahn is known as “the man who saved Star Wars.” Difficult as it may be for younger fans to imagine, after the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, interest in Star Wars began to wane. Follow-up releases in the franchise, including two made-for-television Ewok Adventure films and a children’s animated series (notably missing any of the movies’ protagonists or villains), threatened to relegate Star Wars to mere kiddie fare, abandoned by the rest of pop culture.
Tim’s novel Heir to the Empire, which set out to depict the fate of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, the Rebellion, and the Empire after the events of Return of the Jedi, treated the Star Wars universe as serious science fantasy and revived interest in the franchise at just the right time.
Still, despite being the hero that saved Luke Skywalker, there’s more to Timothy Zahn than just Star Wars.
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But for a twist of fate, Tim would have been a doctoral physicist. Tim attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died, and Tim never completed his PhD.
Fortunately, in 1975, he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and his work was good enough that Tim became a professional writer. His fallback career seems to have worked out alright.
Over the past four decades, Tim has become one of science fiction’s most popular voices, known for pitting realistic human characters against a well-researched background of future science and technology. He has published over forty novels, nearly ninety short stories and novelettes, and four collections of short fiction.
Best known for his many Star Wars novels, Tim is also the author of the Blackcollar series, the Cobra series, the Conquerors series, the young-adult Dragonback series, and the Quadrail/Frank Compton series. He has also contributed to the Honor Harrington, Terminator, and Starcraft universes of science fiction. Along the way, Tim won the Hugo Award for his novella Cascade Point.
Today, Tim continues to write science fiction, including Star Wars tie-ins, because why stop doing what you’re good at? Tim and his wife Anna live in Bandon, Oregon. They have a son, Corwin Zahn.
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