RS Classic: Why Star Wars Doesn't Impress Me

>> Monday, August 16, 2010

Not ready for anything serious and I've been busy with work and rewriting the novel I'm writing right now, so keeping it light and reusing. I'd noted before that I'm a character person, but also a pick-a-parter. Here's an example of my pick-a-parting talent.

I was surprised at my reaction when I saw a discussion where Star Wars was described as “pure science fiction.” Hard science fiction is fiction that is firmly grounded in science, where the science is as much a part of the story as the characters. Despite my science background, I don’t write hard science fiction because I’m much more into characters than science.

However, Star Wars does not count as pure or hard science fiction. Why do you say that? Haven’t you seen the “Science of Star Wars” type shows? Yep. Not impressed. In reality, what did they do in Star Wars that made scientific sense?

They shot out of open portholes and landed crafts in bays open to space. They wander about on asteroids wearing only gas masks as opposed to full pressure suits. The ships are cool-looking, but impractical. Center of gravity on most are so out of whack as to make them challenging to fly realistically with or without atmosphere.

Actually, I guess I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. The story, of course, is old and proven, the kind of feel good story that’s been used over and over because it’s successful. Some of the characters are appealing (more so after the “first” one when someone besides Lucas did the dialog). Above, all, though, it had tons of glitz in a movie industry that had never seen anything like it.

But, even without the science, did the stories and details make sense? The weapons are highly impractical (explain, for instance, the advantage to being able to destroy a planet into dust - what have you really accomplished? Space dust is somewhat less than useful.). Hand to hand skills under such circumstances are, uh, superfluous. Why the stress on that? Exactly how many droids wander the deserts of Tatooine for the Jawas to be able to make a living off stealing them? And how come it took 13 minutes to fly at “full throttle” down the trench on the Death Star, but the whole Death Star is kilometers in the background seconds later.

What does the Empire achieve by “taking over” that they didn’t have working behind the Republic? Given the success of the robot fighters, what was the benefit of the clones? It’s not like they were encouraged to think independently since disobedience was punished by death. Why clone a bounty hunter for a flood of soldiers? Why would a space port, like that on Tatooine, not take off-world money or have a way of converting it? Why have a port then? Why in the world would anyone of conscience buy the freedom of a boy and leave the mother he adored?

Star Wars is an excellent example what happens when I’m not in love with the characters enough: everything that doesn’t make much sense leaps out and grabs me by the throat (including why Luke could be all but unaffected by the brutal and probably torturous death of the people that raised him, but devastated for three movies about the death of a man he’d known three days or so). I like Hans Solo and Leia else I might have a list for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but I guess you get the idea.


  • Roy

    I thought the Star Wars movies were fun, but that was it. I'm more into cyberpunk (been reading William Gibson for his whole career), so my "science fiction" movies tend to be harder edged and moody - the Matrix trilogy and Blade Runner among others. They don't seem to make movies out of the character based stuff. Too bad; there are several Ursula K. LeGuin stories I'd love to see on the screen, especially The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness.

  • Project Savior

    I had always thought of Star Wars as fantasy not science fiction. When I watched the original trilogy I had thought Mark Hamil was a bad actor that brought his character down. Then watching the prequels it became obvious that Lucas thinks that the main character shouldn't act for some reason.

  • The Mother

    You might possibly be the only person of our generation on the planet who was not in love with the characters.

    I feel the same way about Avatar. Not enough believability to make it work (for me).

  • Jeff King

    "I thought the Star Wars movies were fun, but that was it." Amen Roy...

    I don't need it to be real for me to enjoy it.

  • Stephanie Barr

    I'm all alone? Meh. I never was a joiner.

    Note that there were characters that worked for me, but the focal characters (the Skywalkers) never made a lick of sense to me. And that flavored how I saw the actions related to them.

    Were there as nonsensical notions involved with Hans Solo? Probably, but who cared?

    Truthfully, though my father was a stalwart fan, we usually just skipped all the Skywalker/Yoda sections of Empire Strikes Back.

  • Stephanie Barr

    By the way, Project Savior, I totally laughed out loud.

    I understand what you're saying about fun, Roy and Jeff. For ME (and perhaps me alone), I have to have characters I can identify with before I really enjoy something.

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