Credit: Jules Heath/2015 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s say you fired a beam of light into the sky at the exact moment J.J. Abrams said yes to directing the launch of a new Star Wars trilogy. As of right now, it would still be traveling through the vast emptiness of space, more than a year from the nearest star to our own.

When you think about it that way, the makers of The Force Awakens were moving a lot faster than lightspeed.

In that same three-year period, Abrams and his cast and crew ventured through unfathomable timespace to an entirely different galaxy – and back again. They bring with them the start of a new saga that pretty much our entire pop-culture- consuming planet is awaiting.

The good news: It’s almost here. The bad news? As Yoda says, “Patience you must have.”

While you’re waiting for Dec. 18 to arrive, Entertainment Weekly has you covered with a special double issue this week devoted to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

These collector editions feature four different covers: Han Solo striking a familiar pose with his blaster, Rey wielding her staff, Finn on high alert, and R2-D2 and C-3PO (basically chilling.)

Here’s just some of what you’ll find inside:

Behind-the-scenes of The Force Awakens

From the origins of George Lucas handing off his saga to a new generation, to how the artists and storytellers unleashed their imaginations to come up with new creatures, locations, and characters. This story talks to the major players and reveals never-before-seen images from the film.

We go light on spoilers, but Abrams does tease a few character details, including background on Lupita Nyong’o’s alien pirate Maz Kanata, what name Princess Leia is known by now, and what we need to know about Starkiller Base, the planet-sized weapon glimpsed in the movie’s poster.

The Return of Han Solo

We venture into Harrison Ford’s airplane hangar in Santa Monica for an in-depth interview with the death-defying actor about surviving his real-life plane crash, surviving a Millennium Falcon door slamming on him during filming, and Han Solo surviving long enough for the actor to play him again.

Where Is Luke Skywalker?

We can’t answer that question. (That’s the movie’s job.) But Abrams and Mark Hamill explain how the last Jedi went from hero to intergalactic man of mystery. The galaxy’s memory of Skywalker may have faded, but don’t worry – the filmmakers have not forgotten him.

Finn and Rey

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega talk about breaking down racial and gender barriers in Star Wars, as well as finding friendship – in real life, and onscreen – through a desert scavenger and a runaway stormtrooper who have more in common than you’d expect.

Creatures and Vehicles

Secrets of BB-8 and the Jakku alien huckster known as Bobbajo, and tech specs from the production design team for Rey’s rust-flecked speeder and the refurbished Millennium Falcon.

Dressing the Galaxy

Molly Smith writes about the costumes and make-up of The Force Awakens and its predecessors, detailing the secrets of Kylo Ren’s mask, Han Solo’s jacket, and Rey’s desert gear – and some of the more iconic outfits from the original trilogy.

The 1-Minute Guide

Your go-to guide to each of the previous six Star Wars films. Kevin P. Sullivan’s wry rundown is for those who, you know, haven’t had time over the past 38 years to stay current.

Canon Fodder

Once there was the “expanded universe,” and then it shrunk. Darren Franich explores the known reaches of which stories make up the current Star Wars galaxy, from the comics, to games, novels, TV and film.

Check back to throughout the day. We’ll be revealing some new images and information soon….

Pick up Entertainment Weekly’s special Star Wars: The Force Awakens double issue on newsstands Friday, or buy it here.

Credit: Jules Heath/2015 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Jules Heath/2015 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Jules Heath/2015 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Jules Heath/2015 Lucasfilm Ltd & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)Carrie Fisher as Leia

Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

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  • J.J. Abrams
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