Real Wars and Star Wars

There’s a really interesting article on io9 about SFF authors who served in the military, and how this informed their later works. Well worth a read, and features this blunt but powerful quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

The firebombing of Dresden was an emotional event without a trace of military importance… I will say again what I have often said in print and in speeches, that not one Allied soldier was able to advance as much as an inch because of the firebombing of Dresden. Not one prisoner of the Nazis got out of prison a microsecond earlier. Only one person on earth clearly benefited, and I am that person. I got about five dollars for each corpse, not counting my fee tonight.

It also reminded me that I somehow haven’t read Starship Troopers yet, which I should really get around to.

Oh, and Tor has a perceptive article on why J.J. Abrams directing the new Star Wars movie might be a bad thing. I don’t entirely agree that he’s not one to take artistic risks with his work–Lost was pretty out there at the time–but I accept the point they make about his Star Trek movie being awesome, but not really Star Trek. Hmm. Thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Real Wars and Star Wars

  1. Hmm… See, I thought the Star Trek movie was Star Trek—but then, my favorite series was DS9. I grew up with that and Voyager, so what I think of as “Star Trek” differs from the perception of someone who defines it by TOS or TNG.

    The question, methinks, with the new Star Wars movie is… What does the director perceive as being that which defines “Star Wars“? Whatever that is, it’ll satisfy some viewers, and it’ll disappoint others. As for if it’ll satisfy more viewers than it disappoints…we’ll just have to see. 🙂

    1. Hi Misti!
      The point he makes in the article about the recent Trek film that I (personally) agree with was this: “Star Trek (2009) is thematically not about science fiction, exploration, speculation about alien cultures, or any of the other nifty stuff that defines the spirit of Star Trek. Instead it’s a movie about destiny, good versus evil and unlikely heroes coming together.”
      I rewatched it a few weeks ago, and he’s right–none of those themes are really represented. But then if they were, would it be an entertaining two hours of movie? Maybe, but it would be less of a blockbuster, and that was clearly what they were aiming for. (And are with Into Darkness, too.)
      To be honest I’m not worried about the new Star Wars being disappointing, but I’m not a huge fanboy. I enjoyed the originals when I was a kid, thought the first two prequels were God-awful, and Revenge of the Sith was pretty good. I’ll see Episode VII, and judge it on its own merits.
      As long as there’s no Jar Jar Binks, I think it’ll be all right 🙂

  2. Thanks for the link to that Tor article! My main problem with it (although right in many respects, and well written), is that they don’t talk, at all, about the differences in genre between Star Wars and Star Trek. Thematically J.J.’s Star Trek was definitely closer to Star Wars than Roddenberry’s original vision, but it was still science fiction, for the most part. Star Wars is, and always has been, science fantasy, with more fantasy than science. The force was always more important than how lightsabers work. In a way, it was the antithesis to Trek.

    I guess the question is, will Abrams hold to that original, quasi-religious “feeling” that the Star Wars original trilogy had? Well, since he grew up in awe of Lucas, I’m pretty optimistic.

    1. I totally agree. From what I’ve read, Abrams is a massive Star Wars fanboy, so you’d expect him to understand what the franchise is supposed to ‘feel’ like. Plus he’s taken on both Trek and Star Wars, so he’s clearly not lacking in the confidence to put his own mark on it. We could be in for a treat.

      On the genre difference, I agree there’s a distinction the journalist could have dug into more. Though you do want to be a little careful with your definitions; SW was absolutely science fiction as well. Whether you want to call it ‘science fantasy’ – a term that’s gone out of fashion somewhat these days – or the more common ‘space opera’, either is a sub-genre of SF. And to be honest, Trek was never exactly ‘hard’ SF, of the kind Ben Bova or Stephen Baxter would write. Warp drives, anyone? 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Arza!

      1. You’re right. Star Trek isn’t hard SF; I just meant comparatively to Star Wars.

        You’re right about the use of space opera, but I still would never call SW outright sci-fi. Depending on where you’re focusing, I really think it’s fantasy—that happens to be set in space. That’s what Lucas always called it (but is the “author” dead anyways?) It’s influences were always fantasy-based, with a little Flash Gordon thrown in. The force is a system of magic, not science (although Lucas tried to change this in the prequels). That’s not to say it doesn’t have science fiction elements. And the battle between soft vs. hard sci-fi muddies things a bit.

        I guess it really doesn’t matter, and I’m not really arguing with you or anything. This all could probably be argued ad nauseam.

        Mostly, I’m just excited 🙂

      2. Well, Arthur C. Clarke said ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. So maybe any sufficiently far-future SF is indistinguishable from fantasy, too 😉

        I don’t know if you saw this post, but hero-of-mine China Mieville did a fantastic lecture on SF theory, touching on the perceived and argued difference between SF and fantasy. Well worth an hour to watch.

  3. Pingback: Is Abrams Good for Star Wars? « I'm Really a Robot

  4. Pingback: The Genre Difference: Abrams and Star Wars vs. Star Trek « I'm Really a Robot

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