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|Cover artist||Dave Seeley|
|January 31, 2006|
|Preceded by||The Final Showdown|
|Followed by||The Approaching Storm|
Outbound Flight is a novel set in the Star Wars expanded universe, released on January 31, 2006. Written by Timothy Zahn, it is a prequel to Zahn's Thrawn trilogy (1991–93). The book was released by Del Rey, first in hardcover, then in paperback in January 2007. The cover art is by Dave Seeley.
The book, which is set five years after the events 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, tells the story of the mysterious Outbound Flight Project mentioned in Heir to the Empire (1991), Specter of the Past (1997), Vision of the Future (1998), and Survivor's Quest (2004).
Characters featured in the novel include:
- Kinman Doriana
- Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo/Thrawn
- Admiral Ar'alani
- Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano
- Syndic Mitth'ras'safis
- Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth
- Jedi Knight Lorana Jinzler
- Obi-Wan Kenobi
- Anakin Skywalker
- Mace Windu
- Jorj Car'das
- Dubrak "Rak" Qennto
- Maris Ferasi
- Count Dooku (mentioned only)
- Yoda (mentioned only)
- Qui-Gon Jinn (mentioned only)
- Darth Maul (mentioned only)
- Padmé Amidala (mentioned only)
Zahn said in 2006 that the idea for the expedition known as Outbound Flight "began life basically as a throwaway line". He explained:
It was a way to confirm for the readers in Heir to the Empire that Joruus C'baoth was indeed a clone and not the original Jorus, as well as to provide another reference to Grand Admiral Thrawn's military skills. It also seemed like something Palpatine might reasonably have done: create something else to distract the Jedi and perhaps prune away some of the troublemakers in advance of his full extermination scheme. If I'd known that I'd eventually write two books dealing with the project, I'd have definitely tried to come up with a classier name.
Suggested by Sue Rostoni at Lucasfilm, the novel was initially scheduled to be published in 2002 just before the release of the film Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It was subsequently rescheduled for November 2005, and then January 2006. The storyline was not originally intended to be connected to that of the 2004 novel Survivor's Quest. Lucasfilm and Del Rey had planned that novel as a Luke/Mara parallel to Tatooine Ghost, a Han Solo/Princess Leia book being written at the time. During the outline process, Zahn got the idea to have Survivor's Quest cover what was essentially the end of the Outbound Flight story before the beginning was explored in Outbound Flight, already in the works but scheduled to be published second. Zahn said of writing the novel, "as always, it was immensely fun to play tactics with Thrawn", and noted, "between this book and Survivor's Quest, I've said pretty much all I have to say about Outbound Flight."
Publishers Weekly called Thrawn the "true star" of the novel, noting that his attack on the ship, secretly influenced by Palpatine's agents, "insures his own eventual exile from his race and sets other sinister wheels in motion".
- "First Look: Outbound Flight". StarWars.com. March 22, 2005. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- "Timothy Zahn: Outbound Flight Arrival". StarWars.com. January 31, 2006. Archived from the original on February 4, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- Podcast - TFN podcast including Timothy Zahn talking about his upcoming Outbound Flight novel
- Official CargoBay Listing