Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"... and I don't like Star Wars"

(... in the words of Freddie Mercury)

That's not quite true - but I'm some way from thinking that Star Wars is the definitive movie series of all time, as some people seem too - apparently, Wikipedia has articles on just about every character from the film series. Here is one on Jabba the Hutt.

Around the time that I was at university, I was a member of the British Science Fiction Association. You may be surprised to know that this had little to do with things like Star Wars. Stuff like this was referred to as "skiffy" - a contraction of the media term "sci fi" - as distinguished from good science fiction, which should properly be referred to as "SF". This may sound snobbish, but there is a real distinction in quality of writing, and appeal, between the two. For one thing, a recognition of fundamental science - like the fact that sound doesn't travel in space.

So, anyway, Star Wars is kind of fun. I haven't seen Episode 3, but I understand that the portrayal of the temptation to evil is very powerfully done. I have no doubt that there are elements of "universal heroism" and "universal villainism" about Luke and Darth Vader respectively. I like the characters, and the whole thing is pretty burned into the collective psyche of the developed world. But ...

@ There are the usual cliches - in addition to sound travelling through space, you have aerodynamic spaceships that seem to turn in space by banking (you need to be generating lift for this to work, which means there needs to be air), hyperspace and so on.
@ Large numbers of different intelligent species are presented, who all seem to have the same moral sense as humans, but no suggestion as to the likelihood of them actually evolving.
@ Military force seems to rely on large numbers of effectively inept human or human-like soldiers who couldn't hit the side of a barn at 50 metres.
@ Energy seems to be generated from nowhere by everything. I mean, what powers the robots? What powers the weapons?
@ It seems pretty unlikely that a spaceship will ever be built the size of a "destroyer", let alone a "deathstar". What's the point? And if you were to build something that size, it seems pretty implausible that it would have just one vent, accessible down a long passageway, which would have an opening that would allow you to destroy it. Any empire risk analysis would have identified and removed that long before the rebels managed to download the blueprint of the station.
@ The pantheistic idea of "the force", known only to a handful of the star travelling people, is silly. To identify yourself as "jedi" on census forms is even sillier.

Anyway, there we go. Will anybody rise to defend the series against the forces of grouchiness? The worrying thing is that, given how much my son likes young Anakin, I suspect in a few years' time it will be him. Now there's a strong idea for a movie for you ....