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The excitement about a new “Star Wars” film has been building for months, reaching a fever pitch as casting started to leak. Carrie Fisher tweeted about it! Yes, Peter Mayhew will return as Chewbacca. It can’t be a Star Wars film without C-3PO and R2-D2.

Then, just in time for Star Wars Day (May 4), the fandom exploded like the Death Star when producer J.J. Abrams tweeted a photo of the table read. Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa are back!

“Episode VII” is not a reboot but the promised continuation of the “Star Wars” saga as originally laid out by George Lucas almost forty years ago. It will tell the tale of the rebuilding of the Republic. (For hardcore fans, a new timeline has been released that does not include the lore created in the “Extended Universe.”) In case you want to brush up on the “Star Wars” universe in book form, check out “Star Wars,” the novel by George Lucas, but ghostwritten by award-winning novelist Alan Dean Foster.

The official casting announcement confirmed that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are returning, joined by an intriguing new cast.

22-year-old British actor John Boyega is confirmed as the hero, but filmmakers are keeping his storyline under close wraps. Will newbie Daisy Ridley, also British and the only other woman in the cast, be the daughter of Princess Leia.and Han Solo? Adam Driver, best known for his work on the series “Girls,” is reported to be the villain. Stage and “Harry Potter” film vet Domnhall Gleeson, seen on Broadway in “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” could be Luke Skywalker’s son. Will Max von Sydow be a Jedi? And what role, exactly, will Andy Serkis (Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings”) play?

Director J.J. Abrams commented, “It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again.”

“Star Wars: Episode VII” is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015. We can’t wait!

In the meantime, while you’re counting down the days until 12/18/15, you can impress your friends with this handy batch of “Star Wars” trivia:

– When George Lucas was writing his space epic, he had a lot of characters and ideas, but no clear narrative. Then he reread a book he had read in college, Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” The Hero’s Journey, common to many forms of storytelling and described by Dr. Campbell, provided the focus Lucas needed to shape his story.

– The novel “Star Wars,” published under the name of George Lucas, was ghostwritten by the award-winning science fiction novelist Alan Dean Foster and is considered an outstanding science fiction novel in its own right.

– Between “in canon” novels and “Expanded Universe” (referred to as EU) the “Star Wars” books are a multi-million dollar industry.

– Alan Dean Foster also wrote the SPLINTER OF A MIND’S EYE, which was meant to be the basis for a low-budget followup in case Star Wars was not a success. The story centers around Luke and Leia, and takes place between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” By the time it was published, Star Wars was a huge success, so no film was ever made.

– Sci-fi novelist Brian Daley wrote The Star’s End trilogy that centers around Han Solo and Chewbacca. Set prior to “Star Wars,” they are considered the first “Extended Universe” novels and gave Star Wars fans hungry for more story something to tide them over until Episode V.

is a theater, film and sci-fi nerd who met her fabulous Australian husband while vacationing in Walt Disney World. She lives with him, their two perfect daughters, and the most lovable dog in the world in the Pacific Northwest.

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