This will be part two of probably only two blog posts which I wanted to write exploring my thoughts on the content and style of the Uplift Wiki moving forward into the future. Maybe I'm overthinking this, and we'll remain too small to really seriously explore these concerns. But, for the benefit of everyone else who has edited, or will edit, this Wiki, I wanted to share a little bit of my thought process as I create new articles.
This post, specifically, I wanted to talk about levels of canonicity. Once again, I'll draw examples from the Wikis I know best: Memory Alpha and Wookieepedia.
Any large fictional universe is going to have conflicts between different sources. Mistakes and omissions happen, and sometimes even the intent of the author, authors, or company controlling the universe will change as the years go by, leading to later books retconning earlier books. By necessity, different levels of canon must be established in order to avoid conflicts between Wiki editors with different viewpoints on the series. In some cases, such as that of pre-Disney Star Wars, the company in charge will ordain specifically what is canon and what is not. In other cases, such as that of Star Trek, the implied policies of the company will be interpreted and turned into directives by the fanbase.
On Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, there are two levels of canon: Canon and Non-Canon. Anything that appeared on the television or movie screen is an official part of the Star Trek universe. Anything else, whether it be deleted scenes, novel material, video games, comics, or roleplaying sourcebooks, is relegated to a non-canon, albeit licensed, status. In fact, Memory Alpha does not include any material from the Star Trek books, comics, or games, other than articles on the specific real-world publication itself—they delegate the task of covering the extended universe to a sister site, Memory Beta.
Wookieepedia and Star Wars took a different route. Before Disney obliterated the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it was divided into four, or sometimes even five, different levels:
- G-canon: that which appeared in the movies, or which came directly from George Lucas. This canon could not be overriden by any other level of canon.
- C-canon: that which appeared in officially-licensed books, comics, video games, roleplaying books, and other material. C-canon was considered a wholly official part of the Star Wars universe, unlike in Star Trek, and was sometimes elevated to G-canon when it was included in a later movie. C-canon could only be overriden by G-canon. In the final years of true Star Wars, a television series called The Clone Wars, which was made with heavy input from Lucas himself, often occupied a spot above C-canon but below G-canon.
- S-canon: standing for "secondary canon," S-canon typically referred to things such as old roleplaying books which were no longer official and old comic or novel adaptations of the movies which conflicted with what was seen on the screen (i.e. portraying Jabba the Hutt as a lanky biped with a walrus-like face). S-canon mostly consisted of that which had been C-canon but had later been retconned—though S-canon could be elevated back to C-canon if it was referenced by a newer source! Some elements of it which did not contradict G-canon or C-canon could also be considered canonical.
- N-canon; or "non-canon." Some works that were once C-canon or S-canon could be rendered completely N-canon, but for the most part this level was occupied by books which were obviously intended to be jokes, and to exist outside of the true Star Wars Expanded Universe (i.e. Star Wars Shakespeare).
So, since this blog post is already too long, how about I cut to the chase? I think that there are different levels of canon in the Uplift universe, and if I were to divide them along the same lines that Star Wars once used, I would do so thusly:
- G-canon: or perhaps "B-canon," for David Brin. This would be the six Uplift novels.
- C-canon: this would be Contacting Aliens and those parts of GURPS Uplift which we have no reason to doubt.
- S-canon: some claims made by GURPS Uplift, such as calling Galaxy Two the "Central Galaxy," describing some species in a fashion which does not seem consistent with the novels, or essentially claiming that all four other galaxies besides Galaxy Two are all but unoccupied (despite the fact that the complete evacuation of Galaxy Four was considered virtually unprecedented in Heaven's Reach) have to be taken with a grain of salt, and I would call them S-canon.
- N-canon: the only N-canon in the Uplift series would be "Gorilla, My Dreams," which was written by Brin as a joke and probably should not be taken as a serious part of the saga.