22 October 2009

Sci-Fi and Strategy (Again)

Thanks to Andrew Exum and Adam Elkus for opening my eyes to this topic--the analogies between science fiction/fantasy and military history are pretty much everywhere. (Just ask Tom Ricks and Reach 364). You can even find them at one of the greatest humor sites on the Internet, Cracked.com.

Cracked.com does a lot of "Top x stupidest Star Wars y" lists, but one they published today actually hit close to home. It's called "5 Reasons Star Wars Sequels Would be Worse than Prequels".

You see, the Star Wars Expanded Universe (called the "Exploited Universe" in one of the best SW prequel parodies) has basically run out of ideas and gotten incredibly lame. For example, the ending of Return of the Jedi pretty much killed off the best bad guys in the series. What's a Star Wars writer to do? Aha--they can use that whole cloning loophole from Episode II to clone Emperor Palpatine millions of times! You can never run out of enemies now!

Yes, I realize that cloning the Emperor basically cheapens the whole plot of the six movies, which are basically about Anakin Skywalker destiny as the "Chosen One", who eventually destroys the Sith, but who needs mythological symbolism anyway?

The ending of Return of the Jedi also leaves us with some very bad assumptions. You see, most of us had assumed that, at the end of the movie, the tyrannical dictator is overthrown, the Rebel insurgents now have control of the galaxy, and are now capable of setting up a new government based on peace and justice.

Think again! As Cracked.com points out about the Star Wars expanded universe:

The Emperor's plan to recruit Luke to the dark side failed, and Darth Vader redeemed himself by dunking the raisin-faced bastard into the reactor core of the Death Star like Lebron James. Vader, electrocuted and hairless--and decidedly not James Earl Jones--died and the Death Star exploded, effectively wiping out the Sith, releasing their chokehold on the Galaxy and infuriating whoever was the lienholder on the destroyed battle station.

Simultaneous celebrations were held on countless planets because evidently news travels fast through the infinite expanse of fucking space. Our heroes dance with some teddy bears and the credits roll.

Not so fast...

In the unofficial "sequel" stories, this happens:

That is, the Empire keeps rolling right along, imposing space-tyranny on all who stand in their way.

And the thing is, it's hard to argue with the idea.

Neither the Emperor nor the Death Star had ever been a threat to the Rebellion, so, you know, fuck those first three movies. The Imperials had been able to control the Galaxy without a Death Star for a couple of decades, relying instead on fleet warfare and ground support for good old fashioned genocide. As for the Emperor, does killing the leader of a tyrannical government with a powerful and loyal army immediately end the entire conflict?


According to the majority of the books and comics set after the original trilogy, with the Emperor gone, there were hundreds of Admirals, Generals and Politicians who vied for control of the Galaxy. Without a universally accepted leader, the Empire spiraled into a civil war.

The Rebellion is still, well, a Rebellion, which means it still has to gain victory over the remaining Imperials to win, who are in turn fighting amongst themselves. And so, the Skywalker family, which you may remember as being the entire point of the Star Wars saga, fades into the background as we watch the Rebels continue to fight two different Empires for 20 more years. During that time it's fair to assume billions more people died and trillions more words of poorly written dialog were spoken.

1 comment:

SJ said...

I always did find that fascinating about the various post-OT books that I've read. Heck, Iraq isn't even a good example because the Empire still had entire functional fleets and thousands of worlds worth of military garrisons.