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yotsuya

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2-Dec-2008
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Post
#1242699
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Shopping Maul said:

The way I see it, Star Wars simply did what rock bands have been doing for years. Someone mentioned that heavy metal didn’t exist when Black Sabbath emerged. That’s true of so many bands. What the hell was KISS? Glam? Metal? Neither - they were just KISS. What were the Chili Peppers? Funk? Nope. Punk? Nope. Rap? Uh-uh. Just a weird mix of lots of stuff. I’m pretty sure Kurt Cobain didn’t say one morning “let’s invent a thing called ‘grunge’ - I’ll call up Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder and we’ll start a movement”. Nirvana didn’t do anything new, but they certainly were unique.

Star Wars is Star Wars.

Except Lucas copied more than 5 established science fiction properties, all space opera, to base Star Wars on. Complete with sword fights, other primitive weapons, blasters, space ships, evil tyrants, advanced mental powers, stories of good vs. evil. characters you could call wizards, princesses, emperors, evil henchmen, aliens, and pretty much everything in Star Wars. He brought in Campbell and the samurai code, but that wasn’t all that unique, only how he did it. Heinlein would call Lucas an engineer - taking things that already exist and putting them together in a new way. The genius lies not in pure originality, but how well it resonated and became so popular. So Star Wars wasn’t doing something new and different. The comparison to something that was new and different doesn’t apply. It’s more like Star Wars is the 57 Chevy of movies. From a long line, but something was different and unique that made it extra special - just not something truly new.

Post
#1242696
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

ChainsawAsh said:

Also:

yotsuya said:

There is no genre of space fantasy. It doesn’t exist.

Says who? Is there an official list of genres that is set in stone for all eternity? Who made the list and why did they decide to add cyberpunk to it in the 1980s, but space fantasy is apparently strictly forbidden?

The people who write it, publish it, review it, and read it. Why create a new genre for something that already exists? Why create space fantasy when the object being called that fits in Space Opera. They create a new genre when there is something new and Star Wars wasn’t.

Yes, Lucas based on Campbell’s work, but that is just a compilation of myths and legends. Those myths and legends had already been used in other science fiction stories. Telepathy, telekinesis, and other ESP powers are so common that you can’t truly call yourself a fan of science fiction without knowing all the times they pop up. Isaac Asimov even wrote a story about a computer that became sentient and so powerful that it became God. His work is full of what you are calling magic and he is considered one of the three greats of mid 20th century science fiction, along with Clarke and Heinlein. I am not familiar with Clarke, but Heinlein didn’t shy away from what is typically called ESP either. And Star Trek and to a greater extent Space 1999 had beings with mental powers that put a Jedi to shame.

You are using the very things the science fiction has incorporated for decades to prove that it is not science fiction. That doesn’t really work.

Post
#1242694
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

ChainsawAsh said:

Yeah, seriously. It starts with a reworded version of “Once upon a time;” an evil wizard-knight who’s also a Lord kidnaps a princess while the princess tries to contact a good wizard-knight to help fight evil; the good wizard takes a lowly farmboy yearning for adventure under his wing and starts training him to be a knight; the pair recruit a rogue and his beastly sidekick to help them on their journey; the group infiltrates the evil castle to rescue the princess; the wizard-knights duel with swords…

…yep, no fantasy whatsoever in there.

Let’s see, Vader exhibits a total of one force power in the entire film (force choking Admiral Motti) so not really very wizard like. Princesses about in science fiction so that means nothing. So do farm boys. So those mean nothing. Ben is more mystic than magician and all he does in ANH is use a mind trick on some storm troopers twice (telepathy). Han has his origins in Northwest Smith and Hobar Mallow and space opera abouds with beastly alien creatures. And castle is your word. Fortress would be more apt - something that was very common on Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. And bladed energy weapons appeared long before Star Wars. So everything you try to pin to fantasy is a stable of space opera.

In Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation, the Mule performs much nastier tricks, actually killing people with his mental power. I can’t even remember what all Frank Herbert had Paul do. And list is larger of space opera good guys and villains who used the same, similar, or more powerful tricks. So… the wizard aspect is pretty well entrenched in science fiction. Some even get called wizards. Telepathy and telekinesis are normal science fiction tropes, especially in space opera.

Post
#1242692
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Mocata said:

I always thought Space Opera was just the scale of the stakes, the amount of melodrama, the amount of swashbuckling romantic adventure stuff included. The more it has the more operatic, i.e Death Stars and Galactic Empires. However Science Fiction can be all of these things while still being full of real ideas about people, culture, technology, warnings about the future, the decline of society or the impact of higher learning. i.e. Not Star Wars. In fact SW is more of a fairy tale than anything else. There are obvious disconnects between the content in SW and the content in Blade Runner, Star Trek or Planet of the Apes.

Well, Star Wars some pretty good warnings about fascism. It has its own technology. It is a fully fleshed out universe from religion to politics to technology and more. And you named two dystopian settings and a space opera series full of morality tales so there is bound to be a disconnect between them and Star Wars.

Post
#1242133
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

ChainsawAsh said:

Man, people have such rigid definitions of what is and isn’t sci-fi…

Most are confusing hard science fiction with science fiction in general. They are letting less than 10% dictate the entire genre and that is not accurate at all.

I guess the point I was trying to make that one time a couple days ago was that Star Wars isn’t and never was hard science fiction, and as such trying to find a scientifically plausible explanation for how anything works within the franchise is futile. Which is why I consider it fantasy within a sci-fi setting.

No, it isn’t hard SF, but at the same time, Star Wars by Lucas always stayed on the edge of probable and didn’t blatently tear apart the laws of physics. Abrams was 100 times more blatant and obvious and when you look at both what Lucas did in his 6 films and what most SF properties strive to do, they want you to believe so they either explain it or try not to be too obvious.

So I guess if I were to try and pigeonhole it into a genre, I can’t. It’s (soft) sci-fi. It’s space opera. It’s fantasy. It’s adventure. But I’d argue “sci-fi” is the least important of those to the franchise.

It isn’t fantasy. It doesn’t share anything in common with typical fantasy worlds. It does, however, share every single point with space opera (which is the most popular and dominant sub-genre of science fiction).

It’s absolutely not, however, hard sci-fi or speculative fiction or whatever label you want to put on stories that are about scientifically plausible technologies.

Well, it is speculative fiction. That is the joint genre name for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. And I’m arguing that it is not in any way hard science fiction and that those who are saying it isn’t science fiction are only using the definition of hard science fiction and are ignoring over a century of literary history of the larger science fiction genre. Lucas didn’t ignore it. He copied it. He hit every trope for it to fit into space opera and general science fiction.

There is no genre of space fantasy. It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t need to because it is either a cross over story that has aspects of fantasy and SF (and Star Wars has no aspects or tropes of fantasy), or it is standard Space Opera.

Post
#1242130
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Astroboi2 said:

So the tech setting of Star Wars does make it science fiction. Space wizards are typical fare for space opera. The Mule in the Foundation stories, Paul in Dune, Gary Mitchell in Star Trek.

Except that Star Wars doesn’t take place in the future, while those other stories do. That’s the main difference.

Time setting is immaterial. Steampunk is science fiction set in the past. And you can have Space Opera set in the past (it has been done many times). Just the typical convention is to set it in our future when we have higher tech (or lower in the case of post apocalyptic SF).

Post
#1242128
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

DuracellEnergizer said:

Astroboi2 said:

So the tech setting of Star Wars does make it science fiction. Space wizards are typical fare for space opera. The Mule in the Foundation stories, Paul in Dune, Gary Mitchell in Star Trek.

Except that Star Wars doesn’t take place in the future, while those other stories do. That’s the main difference.

So if someone were to write a story about an advanced alien civilization set in the distant past — and for the sake of argument, let’s say there were absolutely no mystical elements present — it still wouldn’t qualify as sci-fi?

Sounds stupid to me.

Yes, it would be science fiction. Future or past is not a requirement.

Post
#1242003
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Mocata said:

SW doesn’t present a situation in which technology truly impacts anyone’s lives. Death Star withstanding of course. But in most other situations it simply exists. This isn’t some kind of High-Tech/Low-Life cyberpunk universe where everyone who isn’t in touch with their spiritual side suffers in a dystopia. It’s just dressing to disguise the space wizards core of the story.

Just as the technology is just a player in the Foundation series which is really a futuristic retelling of the fall of the Roman Empire - with a twist that someone is trying to save all the knowledge. Just as technology (which is deliberately downplayed) in the Dune stories which are a political drama with the protagonist turning into a messiah and religious leader. Both are Space Opera as is Star Wars. The technology is the backdrop and the story of each could be moved, but the character of the stories relies on that technology. Solo is a smuggler and the Falcon his a key part of his character. Luke’s piloting abilities. The light saber - a high tech version of an ancient weapon. You find the same sort of things in the Foundation. Where math of a mysterious nature that is never explained can tell the future to some extent. Where the resource poor planet Terminus becomes the new center of the galaxy through their miniaturization and advanced knowledge rather than from force of arms. And we are never really given any clue as to how the spice of Arakis, derived from desiccated worms, allows for folding of space or seeing, or the voice. Technology is the color and backdrop. It is the canvas that gives these different created universes their character. The stories Asimov, Herbert, and Lucas tell, are borrowed and modified to fit. That is typical for science fiction. If you watch the original Star Trek, it is full of borrowed ideas and pulp science fiction ideas of the day as well as biting social commentary and just plain good stories. Few of them require a science fiction setting, but it gives the stories their color and the technology, even if never explained or even addressed on screen, provided inspiration to hundred of scientists and inventor. They never once talked about the sliding door or the medical monitor. They were just there, yet we now have sliding doors and medical monitors are standard in hospitals (though not cord free yet). Because of Star Wars, people want to find a way to make a lightsaber and holographic games. Why? because the tech inspired even if the story doesn’t depend on it. It enriches the story and give it the unique flavor.

So the tech setting of Star Wars does make it science fiction. Space wizards are typical fare for space opera. The Mule in the Foundation stories, Paul in Dune, Gary Mitchell in Star Trek.

Post
#1241998
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Shopping Maul said:

Yotsuya (great thread by the way), do you happen to know the extent to which Lucas employed Joseph Campbell throughout the OT? Gary Kurtz claims it wasn’t such a huge factor until further into the series. I ask this because I couldn’t help but reflect on our back and forth re ROTJ. I’m not familiar with Campbell so this is pure speculation, but it seems to me that Lucas leaned more heavily on the mythical aspects of the story in ROTJ where he’d been relying on more ‘logical’ cues in the previous films. For example Yoda says Luke has to face Darth Vader in order to become a Jedi, but I feel that someone like Kershner would have had Yoda (or Obi Wan) preface it with the need for a Jedi to ‘face his deepest fear’ or something similar in order to contextualise/ground the idea (the prequels seem to attempt it with ‘Jedi trials’). Even Luke’s final battle (as I’ve been moaning about for some time!) seems to be more broadly metaphorical/symbolic than practical in terms of actually being of help to the rebel cause. I’ve also seen Lucas describe the Ewoks as the mythical ‘creature on the side of the road’, which was of course achieved with Yoda in TESB but realised with significantly more blatant cuteness in ROTJ. There’s even the moment where Luke says “I can’t go on alone”, clearly marking that point in the journey, whereas Obi Wan’s death and Luke’s being left alone in ANH were more or less written on the run.

It seems to me that Campbell/mythology was a factor in SW/TESB - along with westerns and Flash Gordon and all the other stuff mentioned in this thread - but may have taken a more blatant hold in ROTJ. Or am I, as Leia would say, “imagining things”?

Cambell’s work was based on myths and legends, but only relied on those in so far as they are the oldest, most persistent, and most iconic types of stories. He apparently studied stories from around the globe. But what his work entails are basically instructions for telling a story that feels old and taps into our deep cultural memory. I read most of it and as a writer it was informative, but full of things I didn’t need. So the myth part is not really part of his aim - he was aimed at getting to the heart of the story telling. ANH and TESB are filled with Cambell’s influence as Luke begins the hero’s journey. The entire OT is filled and Luke traveling along the hero’s journey. Ben even gives the ultimate goal in ANH when he tells Luke he must learn the force. Then after he dies he sends Luke to Yoda to be trained. So Cambell is there and has huge impact on the story from the beginning. And the Ewoks were just mini-wookies. That battle was originally supposed to be the Wookies against the Empire. I don’t see any more influence on ROTJ than the previous two films. I think he used it to a lesser degree in the PT and I heard that at least Rian Johnson used it for TLJ. I suspect that Lucas saw his use of Cambell as something more akin to fantasy without realizing that it was already a staple of science fiction.

The hero’s journey was a key element in the old romance adventures that speculative fiction was born from. It is key in the Planetary Romances of the early 20th century and the Space Operas of the mid 20th century. They obviously weren’t reading Campbell, but the were tapping into the myths and legends that were his sources. You can really see that in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings where Tolkien was drawing on Finnish, Norse, and English traditions, myths, legends, and folk tales and using them to create his fictional Middle Earth before Campbell ever published his work (1949). The first John Carter book follows the same pattern as well. Campbell just compiled everything you would need to know in one place and gave it meaning and reason. But Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Foundation, and Dune (Lucas’s known inspirations) are full of the western tradition of the hero’s journey and samurai movies are full of the eastern traditions. So he got it on all side and from all source and made it really strong and solid. Luke’s story is much closer to classic mythology like Hercules as a result. At least in terms of the beats of the story.

Post
#1241942
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

chyron8472 said:

RogueLeader said:

I’m not saying either side is right or wrong, but I do get yotsuya’s perspective.

If you worked at a bookstore, for example, and you had to choose whether to put Star Wars books in the fantasy section or the science fiction section, which section would you put them in?

But Star Wars books treat the science of the SW universe differently than the movies do. The TFA novel actually explains how Starkiller Base’s primary weapon works and how it can destroy planets while on the other side of the galaxy. The movies don’t do that. In the movies, the science takes a backseat and is almost never explained.

That is the difference between movies and book and has nothing to do with genre. In a movie you only deliver what you absolutely have to in order to tell the story. In an book you have more room to flesh out the world. No movie is as detailed as the book.

Post
#1241919
Topic
4k77 - shot by shot color grading
Time

Ronster said:

UnitéD2 said:

Imgur

I’m not sure it’s really better than what Dr Dre did. As Yotsuya said, it’s very difficult to find the balanced amount of red.

Hues and saturation messing with your perception… The others look good though well done 😃

Well, in this set you have made Luke and Ben jaundiced. Where is the red in their skin tones? Far too much yellow and not enough red.

Post
#1241913
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

I think the question we need to answer is what is science fiction. That is the part there seems to be a lot of confusion over. Everyone here seems to agree what Star Wars is about, but not where it fits.

Let’s go back to the beginning… well, sort of. Science Fiction goes back a long way, but for practical purposes, it really became something different with Jules Verne. He is the father of modern science fiction. What are his stories about? Adventure. That is the type of story he was telling. He took current technology and extrapolated where it might go and found new stories to tell. Not everything he wrote about was even plausible at the time. He dreamed of how technology could make our future better and wrote about it.

Now, the next big name in science fiction was H.G. Wells. He also was very science minded, but he didn’t write adventures. His stories are warnings of what not to do. Instead of imagining how technology could help, he tended to write about how it could harm. He was not against technology, but against abusing it. His stories are darker.

The next big name I know of is Edar Rice Burroughs. He created John Carter and Tarzan, among others. With John Carter and the Barsoom series he created what became known as planetary romance.

There are lots of writers in between. Some well known in their day, some still known. C.L Moore’s Northwest Smith stories (or similar ones) where a clear inspiration for many Star Trek writers as well as those writing about traders, smugglers, and pirates. She was one of many writers who also dabbled in Fantasy.

Then in the middle of the 20th century you have the big three, Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. Some of their stories about with science. But Asimov was inspired to craft the Foundation stories (originally short stories and novellas and later compiled into 3 novel length books) which are pure Space Opera. There are so many famous names, but some of the ones I know are Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, James Blish, Philip K. Dick, Frederik Pohl, Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson. Today one of my favorites is Jack McDevitt. And when you examine the stories and what they are about, it is not just science. Science often takes a back seat. Sometimes science underlies the story and drives it, sometimes it is along for the ride. What is consistent across the genre of science fiction is technology. One branch of science fiction even goes back in time to the 19th century and explores what kind of inventions could have been created with that level of technology (its called Steampunk as a play on Cyberpunk).

So how does this relate to Star Wars? Well, when you examine the scope of what science fiction covers, is very broad. This idea that the story has to focus on science is false. That concept is confined to hard science fiction - one of the smaller branches of the genre. Most tend to stick to the roots of the genre and tell stories of adventure and excitement. The Honor Harrington universe by David Weber is a fairly blatant reworking of Horratio Hornblower. Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series is about a future antiquities dealer and his assistant who keep getting caught up in mysteries. His Academy Series is about space exploration. Isaac Asimov’s Robot/Empire/Foundation series (he eventually merged them all together) is about a civilization that grows from earth and 50 colonies to a galaxy spanning Empire that collapses and one man’s plan to shorten the interim to a new civilization. It is full of technology, but light on science. Heinlein brilliantly described micro gravity in the 1940’s. His ideas ranged from requiring military service for citizenship to inventors. Clarke gave us the story behind 2001 and then took it further in 3 sequels.

What is accurate for most, is that the writer kept the story grounded in science, but the stories are not about science. It is about science and its effect on people and society and how no matter what level of technology, you can tell a good story about people. Science fiction writers have been inspired by anything from the dangers of the atomic bomb to a world low on resources would miniaturize everything. A great many writers focus on the setting and keep the science behind the scenes. Some just adopt a futuristic setting and tell a good story.

So science fiction isn’t about the future. It isn’t just about science or technology. It is about how those things affect the people and impact the story. Dune is a political drama set in a world where thinking machines are outlawed and powdered dead worms fuel the economy and space travel. Foundation is a mirror of the fall or the Roman Empire, but with a plan to save the knowledge and rebuild.

Most great science fiction series can be described without using any science or technology at all.

So science fiction is not just hard science fiction, but also space opera, dystopian, alien invasion, cyberpunk, steampunk, social science fiction, space western, alien contact, military, time travel, colonization, alternate history, and post-apocalyptic. None of this is considered fantasy. None of it. Very little of it focuses very much on science.

When you apply that knowledge to Star Wars, it is just another space opera. It is just like John Carter/Barsoom, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Foundation, Dune, Star Trek, and so many others. What Lucas did was tie the story to our oldest mythic tales in how the story was constructed. He is not the first to do that. Greek myths have been the fodder of science fiction stories for over a century. While there was a genre called space fantasy for a brief time and there is a genre called science fantasy, Star Wars has its roots and firmly fits in space opera, probably the most prolific sub-genre of science fiction. Absolutely nothing Lucas did in his story telling for the saga deviates in the slightest from the space opera format. He put things together in a completely unique way, but he followed all the standard tropes of space opera and nothing he did was truly new or original. The force is a religion, the Jedi are a warrior order, light sabers are just a piece of technology (that appears in many stories going back to the 30’s). They are tropes common to space opera and other sub-genres of science fiction going back more than 80 years. And no one has cared to establish space fantasy as an official sub-genre. It is just an alternate name for something that already existed.

It is like saying Data in TNG is not a robot. All androids are robots.

Star Wars is in the the science fiction sub-genre of space opera.

Post
#1241893
Topic
Ranking the Star Wars films
Time

Anakin Starkiller said:

yotsuya said:

Anakin Starkiller said:

Science fantasy is an oxymoron. Star Wars is fantasy. Space fantasy if you want to be specific. The problem is people tend to equate fantasy to the past and sci-fi to the future, and see them as otherwise interchangeable. In reality, sci-fi is more like a historical story set in the future. It’s supposed to be believable as something that could happen in our world.

That is the definition of Hard Science Fiction. Most science fiction does not fit that definition. Arthur Clarke wrote hard science fiction. Isaac Asimov wrote what gets called soft science fiction. The distinction is scientific accuracy vs. science inspired. All of Lucas’s inspirations in the science fiction genre are soft science fiction (Dune, Foundation, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon). The emphasis is not on science but on using what science can project to tell a story of adventure. Lucas sets his as a fable by placing it a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but he is not the first to do that or the only one.

To be science fiction, it has be about science.

Anyway, we’re going on tangent endlessly debating something nobody is likely to change their minds on. Let’s get back on topic.

That is the definition of hard science fiction, not the science fiction genre as a whole. The genre was born from adventure fiction of the 19th century and has always been quite loose with the science. Even scientists like Asimov didn’t make their stories just about science.

Post
#1241736
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

DominicCobb said:

yotsuya said:

DominicCobb said:

yotsuya said:

The force is 90% ESP and is a minor part of the story told. Luke’s journey is mostly to become a warrior to defeat Vader and the Emperor and then Luke makes a twist by sacrificing himself to save his father and his father kills the Emperor, sacrificing himself in the process. Luke’s main story is not dependent on the force, but on his own character.

Not true at all. The Force is integral to Luke and his story. It is at the philosophical core of the series. A power that connects every living thing on a deep and spiritual level. A power that can be used for good, to help others, or for evil. Luke’s story is about using that power with responsibility. By sacrificing himself, he’s trusting in the light side of the Force, in the belief that love and care for others will save the galaxy. When Vader makes his sacrifice, he’s choosing the Force, giving into something greater than him.

It’s telling that even in Rogue One, the film that’s possibly the most sci-fi of the series, the Force still plays an important role.

The Force is really the religion in Star Wars. It provides the moral compass for the characters. That is especially notable in Rogue One where it is a matter of faith, not special abilities. Tarkin even calls it a religion in ANH. Take away the ESP aspect and the core story remains unchanged. I’ll agree that the light and dark aspect of the force is integral to the story, but the powers used are not. Take away the powers and leave it as a religion and the story is little impacted.

“The Force is not a power you have. It’s not about lifting rocks. It’s the energy between all things, a tension, a balance, that binds the universe together”

The Force isn’t a religion, the Jedi are. The Force is more akin to a deity - a supernatural entity - that actually exists in universe. The Force is not simply a matter of faith, it is a matter of fact. Saying the Force is nothing more than ESP is a fundamental misunderstanding of it. Take away the “powers,” and it’s still a driving, uh, force in the universe.

No, I’m not misunderstanding. This is what genre analysis is. If you question if something is genre related you see if you can cut it and keep the core story intact. Cut out the force powers and you would get essentially the same story. So the force powers are not a genre determiner (even though the are an expanded ESP which is a standard science fiction trope).

So if you can cut out the mystic force power and the story is solidly space opera and every other aspect is space opera (including the first TESB script being written by the queen of space opera), then the argument that Star Wars is closer to fantasy falls apart. It isn’t fantasy and Lucas calling it space fantasy doesn’t make that a valid genre and doesn’t make it closer to The Hobbit than to the pillars of classic science fiction. the pillars of classic science fiction are either hard sci-fi or space opera and if you quiz people, they will know the space operas better. The early ones were called planetary romances, but the style of storytelling expanded with the addition of FTL to span the galaxy instead of planets and took on the name space opera. That is exactly what Star Wars is, space opera.

Post
#1241724
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

DominicCobb said:

yotsuya said:

The force is 90% ESP and is a minor part of the story told. Luke’s journey is mostly to become a warrior to defeat Vader and the Emperor and then Luke makes a twist by sacrificing himself to save his father and his father kills the Emperor, sacrificing himself in the process. Luke’s main story is not dependent on the force, but on his own character.

Not true at all. The Force is integral to Luke and his story. It is at the philosophical core of the series. A power that connects every living thing on a deep and spiritual level. A power that can be used for good, to help others, or for evil. Luke’s story is about using that power with responsibility. By sacrificing himself, he’s trusting in the light side of the Force, in the belief that love and care for others will save the galaxy. When Vader makes his sacrifice, he’s choosing the Force, giving into something greater than him.

It’s telling that even in Rogue One, the film that’s possibly the most sci-fi of the series, the Force still plays an important role.

The Force is really the religion in Star Wars. It provides the moral compass for the characters. That is especially notable in Rogue One where it is a matter of faith, not special abilities. Tarkin even calls it a religion in ANH. Take away the ESP aspect and the core story remains unchanged. I’ll agree that the light and dark aspect of the force is integral to the story, but the powers used are not. Take away the powers and leave it as a religion and the story is little impacted.

Post
#1241700
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

Anchorhead said:

DrDre said:

DominicCobb said:
Absolutely baffles me. Technology is of exactly zero importance in Star Wars. It’s there, that’s it. The films are not about that at all. They are modern myths, and very clearly so. You cannot with a straight face tell me that Star Wars is more similar to Shelly and Verne than to Tolkein and Arthurian legends.

I disagree with this statement. The original Star Wars trilogy was very much about technology. In fact the original Star Wars can be seen as a critique of the modern world, where technology supersedes spirituality punctuated by Motti´s remark “This space station is now the ultimate power in the universe!” This to me is one of the more interesting aspects of the first movie, namely that the Jedi and even Darth Vader himself are seen as relics of the past in a galaxy dominated by technology.

I’m not at all speaking for Dominic, so he should correct me if I’m off. I think he’s noting that technology doesn’t drive the story in-universe. Luke has a speeder because that’s how you get around, vaporators are how you get water, droids are the labor pool, space ships are how you travel from planet to planet, etc.

I had that in my original response as well, before I trimmed it. Technology, far superior to ours, is the world in which they live. The story at its roots is; old man enlists the help of a farm boy to go rescue the princess and fight the bad guys.

That story can be told in just about any timeline or setting.

Yes, but the genre of the story is tied to the setting. Set it in the 19th century in the southwest and you have a western. Set it in the 9th century in France and you have a historical fiction. Set it today and you have contemporary fiction. Set it in the future (or a long ago high tech society) and you have science fiction. The setting is where you find most of the tropes. If you can tie the tropes into the story in such a way that the story really isn’t the same without them, then you have something indisputable. But what Lucas did was tie Star Wars to Campbell. Campbell’s work is not tied to any genre - it is tied to story telling in general. So what Lucas did was to tie into science fiction tropes to tell his samurai story based on Campbell’s work. He pulled in space ships, robots, FTL, artificial gravity, ESP, and a galactic empire. He envisioned an series of full length movies in the spirit of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, but left the camp behind. He kept the whimsy for the kids, but also crafted a serious story for all ages (that was the purpose of Cambell’s work). Outside of Campbell and the Samurai, his influences are all science fiction.

And the choice is not hard science fiction (based on real science and plausible futures) or fantasy. If you think that you are not much of a science fiction fan because you just dumped 3/4 of the genre into fantasy. Most science fiction is soft science fiction, meaning that you tell a plausible story and make it sound possible. Hard science fiction is just telling a possible story with little to no exploration of things that have not been proven to be possible. Fantasy on the other hand is telling stories of the impossible. Usually mysticism and magic provides the suspension of belief. Face it, we have no record of demon hoards ravaging the world or super demons breaking their bonds to endanger the world. We can conceive that FTL and artificial gravity could exist some day even though science currently says it is impossible (they once said going faster than sound was impossible). Older stories that explored our solar system before we really knew what it was like have not been rendered fantasy by new scientific discoveries. They are still science fiction, just outdated. Jules Verne’s works have not ceased to be science fiction just because some things have come to pass and others have proven impossible. They are still science fiction and always will be. The science is just outdated.

The force is 90% ESP and is a minor part of the story told. Luke’s journey is mostly to become a warrior to defeat Vader and the Emperor and then Luke makes a twist by sacrificing himself to save his father and his father kills the Emperor, sacrificing himself in the process. Luke’s main story is not dependent on the force, but on his own character. You could set Luke’s story in any genre, but Lucas chose to borrow from science fiction for the setting. Star Wars is as much science fiction as Foundation, Dune, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon.

Post
#1241597
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

DominicCobb said:

SilverWook said:

The asteroid belt in our own solar system was of concern with early unmanned probes until it’s actual composition was better known.
https://www.spaceanswers.com/solar-system/can-you-fly-through-the-asteroid-belt-unharmed/
No giant slugs of course.

“You’re not actually going into an asteroid field,” “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1,” the implication in both being that going through any asteroid field is incredibly dangerous.

Look, I don’t care if in reality some asteroid fields are dangerous or not. Doesn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t matter to the movies I watch, clearly. That’s the point. In Star Wars, they don’t do a scan or some shit of this particular asteroid field to see how dangerous it is, they just barge right in, with it being dangerous as a given. Even Threepio’s numbers are just complete random bullshit, done to establish the threat in a way that’s true to his character (and, of course, Han’s).

And how many times do they do the exact same thing in Star Trek?

Post
#1241596
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

SilverWook said:

IIRC, Lucas was trying to differentiate Star Wars from hard science fiction, like 2001. Magazines like Cinefantastique took issue with the term, possibly because they felt the movie was a step backwards from THX-1138.

Flash Gordon is definitely space opera, and we all know Lucas originally wanted to make an FG movie, but couldn’t get the rights.

Yes, while Flash Gordon predates the term, it definitely is. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Star Wars is considered a space opera. It came as part of a movement in the 70’s that asserted that space opera was not just the old stuff, but was still being produced. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_opera

And being in the writing and publishing business, one of the things I have spent a lot of time on is what is a genre and how to define it. Part of that is sticking to what is in use and not inventing your own. Book sellers don’t want new genres, there are enough already. Unless that new genre comes with something very popular and can sell books. Science Fiction and Fantasy are pretty stuck. Even the Vampire craze has been confined to the urban fantasy genre title.

Currently Amazon has no genre called Space Fantasy. Star Wars is listed under Space Opera, which is under science fiction.

Post
#1241593
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

DominicCobb said:

yotsuya said:

And the difference between science fiction and fantasy can be summed up by Arthur C. Clarke himself. Any technology sufficiently advanced will appear a magic. Soft science fiction leans toward assuming we will find those advances and tries to not explain them very clearly (often not explaining typical tropes at all). When the tech is low and you still have magic, that is when you have fantasy. That is the line between science fiction and fantasy. If you provide tech to do the things that seem magic or provide even a quasi scientific explanation for it, it is science fiction. If there is some mystical source of the power - some deity usually - then you have fantasy.

Even by your arbitrary definition, Star Wars is still fantasy. The only time in the films provide a “quasi scientific explanation” for the force is TPM, and it’s no surprise that that’s one of the things people hate the most about that film.

You can split hairs any way you like, but the fact of the matter is simple. Star Wars does not care about how tech works. It never has. How does a lightsaber work? Oh, a crystal of course. A fucking magic crystal. The laws of space physics are completely irrelevant. It’s not just ‘sound in space,’ it’s how the ships move, it’s how an asteroid field is dangerous to traverse when in reality it never would be, it’s how long it takes to get from place to place, and yes, it’s whether or not you can see a beam shoot across the galaxy. When a new piece of tech arrives in the Star Wars universe, checking to see if it fits into how things work in reality is the exact wrong way to do it. Whether you think it’s fantasy or not (it is), you cannot disagree that is is a significantly fantastical world, where tech and physics follow a fundamentally fantastical set of rules.

Ben called it an energy field. Try finding that term in fantasy. That is an SF quasi scientific description.

Most space operas don’t care how things work. Most things just work. Read some of the classic space operas. Does Isaac Asimov ever explain how a force field belt can have an atomic power unit the size of an almond? No. Does he explain how the force field works? How it covers the body while not extending to other things? No. That is space opera - a long standing and respected genre of science fiction, not fantasy. You are looking at this through the eyes of hard fantasy. For many of those writers/readers/fans, most things that are called science fiction are fantasy, but theirs is the minority opinion. Fantasy doesn’t claim it, science fiction does. And in truth, both are part of the larger speculative fiction genre and share many of the same awards. Both came from the old romance adventures, such as Ivanhoe. Science fiction just introduced science to the mix and was pioneered by many as far back as Cyrano de Bergerac, then Mary Shelly, and most famously Jules Verne - considered the father of modern science fiction. Fantasy was born out of the Arthurian legends and then exploded after The Hobbit. But the big difference is science and technology vs. magic and myth. Star Wars falls on the science and technology side and is not claimed by the fantasy side at all. Where is the magic? If you say the Force and the Jedi, you aren’t up on what cuts it as magic. As early as 1977, Lucas had Ben explain it away. Yoda further explained it away. As simple as that may see, that is more than Tolkien ever did. Magic needs no source or if it does, it has a source that science can’t explain. But the distinction between science fiction and fantasy is magic vs. science and there is way too much science in Star Wars for it to be fantasy. It isn’t hard fantasy by any stretch, but it is soft fantasy - specifically space opera.

The real point is that science fantasy isn’t a modern genre term. It is not in use at all. It is championed by some hard science fiction people, but most of the science fiction publishers and writers put out soft science fiction that is very similar to Star Wars. Some people have called out Star Trek as science fiction while saying Star Wars is science fantasy. Sorry, but they are the same. While the stories they tell have some differences, both rely on the same tropes. Sound in space, telepathy, telekinesis, instantaneous intergalactic communication, faster than light travel, artificial gravity. energy weapons with visible beams, people shooting lightning out of their hands, people controlling other people, robots, questionable science (at times Star Trek has been better, but when they aren’t they are worse than Star Wars). In fact, Star Trek features beings who could beat any Jedi or Sith with little effort. Some of the beings featured on the original and next gen were so powerful they really couldn’t be beat. Not by force anyway. So there is no more magic in Star Wars than there is in Star Trek. Are they both science fantasy? Well, the proper genre term is space opera. Has been for 70 years. (Space Opera - a novel, movie, or television program set in outer space, typically of a simplistic and melodramatic nature.)

Post
#1241587
Topic
Ranking the Star Wars films
Time

OutboundFlight said:

yotsuya said:

OutboundFlight said:

In A New Hope, all of a sudden there was sound in space.

Not the first SF film to do that.

Fair, but it still contradicts real life. Therefore, star wars physics is not equal to real life physics. So you can’t say SKB contradicts star wars physics, unless at some point in the franchise they say "it is impossible for a red planet destroying beam to be seen throughout the galaxy. > >

In Empire, all of a sudden you could fly to other planets without the need of hyperspace.

Not the first SF film to do that. Besides, if you consider each system named to be a planetary system rather than a star system, all those planets could easily be circling the same star and no laws of physics are broken.

But that’s not the case: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Bespin_system. According to Wikipedia, Bespin and Hoth are three systems away, which is impossible to reach at regular speed.

In Return of the Jedi, all of a sudden a moon sized space station can be flown through under the span of a couple minutes, besting even an explosion.

They aren’t flying faster than light so what’s your point?

The Death Star 2 is 200 kilometers in width, about 100 to the center. How does a ship fly through all that in a couple minutes? It’d have to be very fast, and in that case crash into something.

In The Phantom Menace, all of a sudden every star system in the galaxy could meet in one room.

This is just silly - not SF at all and not the first council of many civilizations seen.

A New Hope stated there were thousands of worlds under the Empire’s rule, and that fear will keep the local systems in line. That means all the tiny local systems must all be present at the senate meetings, and that is just impossible given what we were shown.

In Clones, all of a sudden you can erase the existence of a planet and no one will notice.

Well, as this was just in the Jedi Archives, this is hardly SF related in any way.

So no one in the Jedi Order didn’t stop and think "hey wasn’t there a planet here? Or just go on the regular republic database and notice a planet?

In Sith, all of a sudden the galaxy will just unanimously join a new Empire led by a scary guy making contradictory claims despite a prior civil war having just ended.

Now you are stretching things. It is based on 1930’s Germany and many other countries that have let a dictator/emperor take over.

Right after the CIS finally surrenders and joins back to the Republic, they notice exactly what they feared was going to happen and just roll with it? If they went into action beforehand why not now? This is like if a bunch of German Socialists rebelled against Weimer but then just didn’t care when the Nazis rose to power.

Star Wars physics have been contradicting themselves since day one.

Well, as a lot of those had nothing to do with physics, that really isn’t a point. Shall we talk about how Star Trek constantly broke the laws of physics? Don’t pretend any hollywood SF franchise or film was truly faithful to physics. They take short cuts and break the rules all the time. Constantly. That does not make Star Wars some other genre besides science fiction. But even so, most do a pretty good job of not being too obvious or providing some in-universe explanation to gloss over the errors. TFA didn’t even bother to do that.

Umm… Star Trek redesigned their species for the sake of looking cooler. If they changed the look of Chewbacca and the Wookies in Ep 7 I think JJ. Abrams would have been assassinated by the purist Star Wars Fandom.

My point with this is to bring up that the PT and to an extent the OT are just as guilty as the ST is. Would you have preferred if Finn and Rey had not seen Starkiller, and someone just tell them instead? There’s a little thing called show, don’t tell, which people love to say about TLJ but criticize TFA for accomplishing.

A system is never defined in any Star Wars film. 3 systems away means nothing unless you know what system refers to. It is like sector or quadrant. Either you use a standard term of measure or you define it. Sure, most people assume system means star system, but that is never explicitly stated and you can use that to refer to a planetary system as well, such as Jupiter and its moons.

And I’m still confused by why you think a gathering of all the senators of the republic must have a representative from every planet present. The US Senate has two representatives from every state, but our states are a political construct and we don’t have representatives from every city, town, or village. Just what the political constructs are that a senator represents is never indicated so there is no reason to think that the meeting is impossible. Plus we never see the entire senate chamber, only from a certain level down, so we don’t know how vast it is. The building is quite large on the outside so there could be a lot more than you are seeing.

And your complaint about how fast the Falcon exits the Death Star is a bit unfounded. If you go by screen time, they exit in 40 seconds. Based on the 160 km diameter of Death Star 2, that works out to be about 4500 miles an hour. Or about twice as fast as the SR-71. That is assuming it isn’t time compressed for drama. That also works out to be about 1/4 escape velocity for and Earth sized planet. So not all that fast.

My point is that your list of complaints is not a valid list of breaking the laws of physics. The parts that break the laws of physics lie in instantaneous holographic communication across the galaxy, hyperspace travel, telepathy, telekinesis, calling something that can be seen moving a laser, calling it a laser sword, ships flying though space like they fly through air, sound in space, and the list goes on and on. But none of these is unusual in soft science fiction. They are the norm. Star Trek did most of these first (except flying through space like flying through air - they skipped that one as well as light sabers). It is obvious that a lot of of the science gaffs in Star Wars can be fixed by terminology. Blasters do not fire lasers, but bolts of glowing plasma. TFA pretty much establishes that the word system does not refer to a solar system but a planetary system (fixing the gaff in TESB). Isaac Asimov even came up with a propulsion system that would explain the way ships fly - gravitic propulsion. Definitely not hard science fiction, but he used it in his later novels. It is also consistent with the use of anti and artificial gravity in the Star Wars universe.

The difference in some of these can be clearly differentiated by watching Babylon 5. The Earth tech is very much in keeping with hard science fiction. Rotation for gravity, fighters that obey the laws of physics in combat. But the aliens who are more advanced have the typical soft science fiction tech of FTL via hyperspace, artificial gravity, powerful energy weapons, etc.

And the difference between science fiction and fantasy can be summed up by Arthur C. Clarke himself. Any technology sufficiently advanced will appear a magic. Soft science fiction leans toward assuming we will find those advances and tries to not explain them very clearly (often not explaining typical tropes at all). When the tech is low and you still have magic, that is when you have fantasy. That is the line between science fiction and fantasy. If you provide tech to do the things that seem magic or provide even a quasi scientific explanation for it, it is science fiction. If there is some mystical source of the power - some deity usually - then you have fantasy. Lucas gave us a quasi scientific explanation for the force in 1977. He dredged up an out of date genre description that everyone in the science fiction entertainment industry ignored because what he created is space opera. Not space fantasy, but space opera. It amounts to the same thing and it is firmly science fiction, not fantasy. I’ve read some of the stuff that actually crosses the SF/Fantasy genre line and Star Wars is way to the SF side of that line.

This idea that it must be realistic to be science fiction is laughed at by science fiction writers, most of whom write soft science fiction. Only hard science fiction authors and fans make the claim that space opera is more fantasy than science fiction. Hard science fiction is only about 10% of the entire science fiction side. And the fantasy people laugh and say that it has spaceships so it isn’t fantasy.

Anyway, end of discussion here I think. I made a new thread if anyone cares to continue this conversation.
https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Science-Fiction-or-Space-Fantasy-what-is-Star-Wars/id/62732

Post
#1241586
Topic
Science Fiction or Space Fantasy - what is Star Wars
Time

This is to continue a conversation that started in the ranking thread. Lucas called Star Wars Space Fantasy, but that is not a current genre of science fiction or fantasy, so what is it really. Does the force and lightsabers and the weak science make it fantasy, or does it fall in line with classic science fiction tropes and belong in Space Opera? Share your opinion.

Post
#1241581
Topic
Ranking the Star Wars films
Time

Anakin Starkiller said:

Science fantasy is an oxymoron. Star Wars is fantasy. Space fantasy if you want to be specific. The problem is people tend to equate fantasy to the past and sci-fi to the future, and see them as otherwise interchangeable. In reality, sci-fi is more like a historical story set in the future. It’s supposed to be believable as something that could happen in our world.

That is the definition of Hard Science Fiction. Most science fiction does not fit that definition. Arthur Clarke wrote hard science fiction. Isaac Asimov wrote what gets called soft science fiction. The distinction is scientific accuracy vs. science inspired. All of Lucas’s inspirations in the science fiction genre are soft science fiction (Dune, Foundation, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon). The emphasis is not on science but on using what science can project to tell a story of adventure. Lucas sets his as a fable by placing it a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but he is not the first to do that or the only one.

Post
#1241518
Topic
Ranking the Star Wars films
Time

DominicCobb said:

yotsuya said:

snooker said:

It’s not sci fi! Just because it shares elements of the genre doesn’t mean it’s sci fi!

I’d suggest moving this argument to a different thread.

Starting it elsewhere might be good, but if you do, I challenge you to name one aspect of Star Wars that can’t be found in something clearly acknowledged as science fiction. Find one thing. I’ve read science ficton that goes back to the 30’s and you can’t do it because everything Lucas did has been done before in science fiction. Everything.

I don’t think you’re looking at it the right way at all. We’re talking about a genre here. A genre is more than just a collection of components that are found in the story, it’s how the story is told.

Not to mention, if I said “look at Braveheart and tell me one thing it does that can’t be found in Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings,” that doesn’t make Braveheart a fantasy film. There’s a lot of things that sci-fi does that SW doesn’t.

Well, as both science fiction and fantasy were born from the old Romance (not to be confused with the modern Romance genre) tales, the flaw is not in the way I am looking at it. Science fiction and fantasy are part of a larger genre called speculative fiction. They share a huge amount, especially in how they tell the stories. What has become known as Space Opera is virtually the same as epic fantasy except for the science/magic aspects being interchanged. Experts at genre classification label Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, Foundation, Babylon 5, Stargate, Doctor Who and John Carter of Mars as Space Opera. It involves long, epic tales, magic with a scientific explanation, faster than light travel, and many other tropes. It is what makes good movies and TV. Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings are Epic fantasy which has the exact same type of story telling. Space Opera by its nature contains many implausible things that have, in that universe, been found to work. Faster than light travel and teleportation are two of the biggest with telepathy and telekinesis not far behind. Artificial gravity being another.

This is different from urban fantasy, high fantasy, fairy tales, dark fantasy, gothic fiction, hard science fiction, cyberpunk, dystopian, alien invasion, or the true crossovers between fantasy and science fiction. Lucas made up Space Fantasy in 1977. Star Wars is space opera. It fits that sub-genre of science fiction in every single way, from the tropes to the story telling. I think Lucas was trying to say Star Wars was different, but as it turns out, he is very much a copy cat and nearly everything he included, especially in OT, was borrowed from one of the pillars of science fiction. He added campbell’s heroes journey and mixed in some samurai (neither of which have nothing to do with fantasy). But plenty of science fiction is based on retelling those ancient legends from which Campbell drew his theories. The place you will find reference to a space fantasy is Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series (John Carter), but that is an old genre category before any of the modern categories were defined. Lucas may have dredged up the old label, but in modern genre classification the Barsoom series is Space Opera. Hard science fiction purists like Arthur Clarke claim that all Space Opera (see the list above and he specifically cited Star Trek) is space fantasy. But the problem is that fantasy doesn’t claim those stories and rejects them as fantasy because they don’t fit. But when you look at the big names of science fiction, you find space opera after space opera. They are the stories that capture the imagination and sell books. And there is a real crossover area where you have science and magic (not explained away with science) in the same stories that borrow from both fantasy and science fiction and merge the two. Star Wars doesn’t fit that category at all.

So if you must insist on calling Star Wars Space Fantasy, that is a sub-sub-genre of Space Opera which is a sub-genre of Science Fiction, not fantasy. That is where Star Wars fits in the slew of genres and sub-genres. The key is in Star Wars itself when Ben talks of the force. He calls it an energy field created by all living things. Fantasy would never use the phrase “energy field”, but science fiction would. That is a classic Space Opera explanation of something that is beyond science.