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Star Wars Day

Yes, seriously – May the 4th be with you.

Poor sad sad people out there.

I have been a science fiction fan for many decades, pretty much all my life in fact, and I have never seen the point of Star Wars.

Many years ago, although in a galaxy pretty close to here, just prior to the release of the original film – whatever it is called these days – I entered a promotional competition in a newspaper where I had to answer 5 questions on science fiction. Now, remember, this was in the days when the Internet comprised about 4 mainframe computers, and the Web was still 15 years from being invented, so you actually had to know the answers. No googling anything back then chummy. Or Yahooing it, Or even, may the force protect us, Binging it.

I only, partially, remember two of the questions – what was the pen name of John Benyon, and something about which book references a chronocsynclastic infundibulum – but I got all five right, which I already knew before I sent the reply in – arrogant snot that I was – and I won a copy of the novelisation of the film.

Having read that piece of crap, which I guess I still have around here somewhere, I put off watching the movie for over 20 years. When I did finally see it I felt pretty justified in my indifference.

Worra lorra rubbish.

Seriously. Why do people watch that stuff?


  1. NickM says:

    Star Wars was the first movie I ever did see. I loved it. I was used to three channels on a B&W telly (with four Yorkshiremen etc…) so for a small kid it was utter magic. Looking at it now… It is utter drivel. Cats you say you are a life-long SF fan. Well, might I put it to you that is the reason you think it drivel? It took me until the prequels to release that Star Wars was not just bollocks but best bollocks. I mean you had to get beyond the surging John Williams tune and the fact that little Nick asked his dad (I was 4) If we could have a telly that size at home – bless my cotton socks! But seen in context it is utter shite. The only thing keeping it even vaguely together is Harrison Ford. Even Carrie Fisher in a metal bikini doesn’t save it. The chafing, the chafing!

    Which reminds me. The next time I am in Poland (my sister-in-law lives there) me and her boyfriend and assorted mates have a mission. They got a projection telly and we shall watch the entire extended editions of the LoTRs movies en bloc. I’m sure there will be beer and nibbles and I took it on sort of like a bet (I don’t welsh on bets) so I’m not sure I’ll enjoy it. Nah, I’m going to love it! It’s that sort of thing that budget airlines were invented for. Going to Poland to watch a set of movies made in New Zealand. Excellent!

  2. John Galt says:

    Worra lorra rubbish.

    Seriously. Why do people watch that stuff?

    ‘cos it’s fun.

    From John Williams fanfare in the opening sequence, through the death of Obi Wan to the destruction of the Death Star it is Space Opera at its finest, glorious, trashy and wonderful like many of Philip K. Dicks short stories.

    It’s easy to knock it, but as a 10-year old boy, it was the stuff of legend and remembrance, like the eternal summer of ’76.

    It is only diminished by the prequels, which were nothing but derivative bollocks.

    I was responsible for the music system at school during my final year and one school assembly we had the local Tory MP (Roy Galley) visit. He was introduced to tune of the Imperial March, half the kids and teachers got the joke, but the Head Teacher and Tory Boy were oblivious.

  3. RAB says:

    Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third KInd came out at pretty much the same time. We who were adults went to see Close Encounters and left Star wars to the children and their long suffering parents.

    The whole Star Wars series is just cartoon cowboys and indians in space.

  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    JG is utterly, totally, absotively, posolutely 1000% correct. Star Wars, the original trilogy that is, and I mean the movies themselves, were inspired fun!

    Yes, the “prequels” (I thought we had a word for that — pro-something — begins with an “l” — something Greekish? — or woodish … aha, I have it, “log”! — no, that’s not quite right. Here we go:)

    Prologue. The prologues were no good at all, well, maybe except for the special fx.

    And there were specific nods to the Golden Age. (I mean, the whole Space Opera thing is a generalized nod to the Golden Age.) The scene with Princess Leia in a bikini, chained up as a plaything for Jabba the Hut was right off innumerable pulp SF (and others too) covers. Hilarious, because I mean really, there couldn’t possibly have been anything salacious in the mind of Mr. Hut. He’s just not built for it. And the bar scene! Beautifully imagined, inspired by any number of scenes from people like Fritz Leiber and also, of course, all the down-and-dirty anything-goes bars in those Westerns of my childhood. Also, of course, in some of the Crime movies, like City Heat (Clint & Burt, wonderful movie, see the scenes where Clint plays the piano).

    I’m afraid Close Encounters didn’t do a thing for me. Nor [First?] Contact either. Simply fluffy.

    The problem with you guys is, you’re all too young. (A few of you have overcome your limitations, though, like JG. *g*) It’s Space Opera. It’s for fun. It’s not supposed to have a Deep Philosophical Message. And it’s not like Bladerunner and all the follow-on dystopian non-flicks (because they’re all filmed in black-on-black, there is no flicker), which get to be just inscrutable and depressing after awhile.

    This reporter loved S.W. (the original trilogy), and Independence Day, Armageddon*, and Men in Black. ——Also, by the way, Apollo 13. And, in the same category of entertainment, though not SF, the Indiana Jones œuvre.

    Speaking of which: “Bond. James Bond.” With Q’s impossible gadgets, and Mr. Blofeld, fella with an ominously portentous Persian. Would grow up to be Pizza the Hut, if he had any humanity about him. (Nevertheless, personally I enjoy Mr. Connery’s Pa Jones much more than his Bond.)

    *Which I have heard trashed by people with absolutely no sensayuma, as being incorrect “scientifically”! It’s fiction, dears, purely for trashy entertainment. You ought to acquaint yourselves with the Dean Drive, and — perhaps closer to actual goings-on — the highly scientific Drake Equation. Not to mention Alternative Energy, such as Wind Turbines.

    Deal with it!



  5. Julie near Chicago says:

    Oh, I forgot to say. All the S.W.’s have one flaw, and it’s a big one. It’s the names. “Tatooine?” “Count Dooku”? Count Doofus!

    Of course the Big Four were fine, and Darth Vader is an inspired moniker. *applause*

  6. Lynne at Counting Cats says:

    I quite enjoyed the first two movies – the original ones that is. They were pure escapism. The true rot set in with those *&%$ing ewoks. Everything went rapidly downhill from that moment on.

  7. Sam Duncan says:

    “The whole Star Wars series is just cartoon cowboys and indians in space.”

    Which is, as John and Julie say, fun. (Hello, Firefly!) And let’s not forget, that’s all it was ever supposed to be: a modern evocation of 1930s and ’40s serials like Flash Gordon (and surely nobody’s going to claim that it’s as bad as the official Flash Gordon remake of 1980?). No, it’s not the Greatest Movie Ever Made, but it’s a laugh. A pleasant, mindless, way to spend a spare afternoon.

    And don’t forget either that it was the first mainstream film to show technology that’s out of our reach as an unremarkable part of ordinary life, in a state of disrepair. That was actually quite special. Ridley Scott gets all the credit for that kind of thing with Alien and Blade Runner, but Star Wars did it first. (That’s another reason the prequels suck, by the way: they’re shiny, corporate, political, and remote. Deliberately so, and it doesn’t work.)

    Having said all that, I was never caught up in the SW hysteria of my peers – Star Wars Day, indeed! – and came to the series comparitively late (didn’t buy them on VHS until the mid-’90s, and they’re still the only copies I have), but I wouldn’t say it’s bad.

  8. CountingCats says:

    Dean Drive? the Drake equation? Of course I am aware of them. How could a lifelong SF (not, I repeat NOT, SciFi*) fan not be?

    As to Bond, in the earlier Sean Connery movies all those gadgets, well, worked. It was only later that they started violating reality.

    *SF, SciFi? Well, to be honest, I don’t care.

  9. RAB says:

    Oi! I didn’t say that Star Wars wasn’t fun, the first two were, and I called them right… they ARE cartoon cowboys and indians in space for a generation that had not grown up with the Lone Ranger, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on their flickering vertical hold going 14″ black and white sets.

    Talking of which… Freeview in the UK has the most bizarre tv channel yet. It’s called Bonanza. Tuning in is like being on a spaceship on route to Alpha Centauri at close to the speed of light and catching up with all those tv signals that were beamed out there in the 50′s and early sixties. Yes it is old episodes of Bonanza. and for good measure old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies, I love Lucy, and the Lone Ranger too. I watched a full episode of the Lone Ranger just for old time’s sake. I loved the Lone Ranger when I was four. I used to watch it at my gran’s every Saturday, with a big glass of orange cordial made with soda water, and a plate of biscuits. Well it it is utterly bloody ludicrous now…. Tonto, things don’t look good. We are surrounded by those pesky redskins and I’m sure they plan to peg us out cover us in honey and leave us to the mercy of the killer ants… Who is this “Us” you speak of KImosabi?

  10. John Galt says:

    Oh, I don’t know. Flash Gordon might not be an Oscar winner, but at least Max von Sydow won the Best Actor (Meilleur Comédien) award at the Napierville Cinema Festival in 1980. It’s something, I suppose.

    Plenty of high camp action and featuring not only the overwhelming Brian Blessed (patron saint of ham actors everywhere), but voluptuous Ornella Muti, voted “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” in a world wide poll of readers in 1994 by the magazine Class.

    Onward my brave Hawkmen!

  11. CountingCats says:

    I would have thought someone, anyone, would have addressed those two questions by now.

  12. Julie near Chicago says:

    Um, Cats, dear, calm yourself. :>) No one would dream of accusing you of ignorance regarding either the Dean Drive or the Drake Equation. (Speaking of which, what did you think of The Arrival?) In that remark I was addressing, specifically, the idiots who think that Armageddon is to be taken seriously enough to be legitimate as a target for pedants. But your issue is Star Wars, not Armageddon.

    . . . What two questions?

  13. Tim Newman says:

    My dad told me Star Wars was one of the firsts films that adults could take children to and not be completely bored. Before then, you had either had films for adults (not adult films!) which kids couldn’t watch, or kids’ films which held no interest for adults. Star Wars was entertaining for both. And there were some great scenes, the nightclub scene in the first one was great, as was the first entrance of Darth Vader. But I agree that it went rapidly downhill with the Ewoks.

  14. John Galt says:

    Dean Drive


    In this blog we might rail against the legislature of our respective nation states but we observe the Laws of Thermodynamics and the Newtonian Laws of Motion where they are not in material conflict with General and Special Relativity young lady!

    So take your Drake drive, overbalanced wheel, float belt and capillary bowl and shove them where the local stellar object is permanently eclipsed :-)

    Hail Albert, full of grace.
    Our equations are with thee.
    Blessed art thou among physicists,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy noggin,

    Holy Einstein, Father of physics,
    pray for us poor idiots,
    that don’t quite get your brainy outpourings,
    now and at the hour of our final exam.

  15. Julie near Chicago says:

    JG, thy poetry wilt live forever and anon, aye whilst wilting not the slightest.

    Blessed are we who inhabit the Galtian Universe, for we shalt die not of despair nor yet of boredom, but rather of overtickling of the ribs and the outpouring of vital humors onaccounta the Humour and the Wit of thy Words.

  16. Penseivat says:

    So we have loads of different aliens, all subject to the same atmospheric pressure of 14 lbs per square inch, and all able to breathe same level of oxygen/carbon dioxide as humans and being roughly the same size. This is not science fiction, this is science fantasy and, as such, should be derided for the rubbish it is. For instance, people originally fromEarth who lived on Mars would, after several years, be unable to live on an earth style environment. Apart from War Of The Worlds, most science fiction is shite!

  17. John Galt says:

    Apart from War Of The Worlds, most science fiction is shite!

    Sorry Penseivat, have to disagree with you there. Yes there are authors like L. Ron Hubbard that produce dross by the hundred-weight, but there are far more worthwhile science fiction authors (Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, etc., etc.)

    The difficulty with Science Fiction is that the themes seldom translate well to the big screen, in fact Firefly was probably the cult success it was because it was written for TV with the rather disjointed movie kind of hacked on the end.

    Even such big-screen successes as Blade Runner are primarily about directorial themes and effects, certainly it bares little resemblance to the book on which it is based.

    Another example is Dune, which is actually brilliantly written Science Fiction, but the movie was just awful.

  18. Mr Ed says:

    There is only one true Science Fiction Superhero, Ace Rimmer.

    And he is but a pale imitation of Captain Eric Brown, CBE, DFC, AFC, RN.

  19. CountingCats says:

    Best Science Fiction movie made? Enemy Mine

  20. NickM says:

    Bollocks Cats. Enemy Mine is OK but it ain’t no Bladerunner. The best SF novel I ever read was probs Neuromancer. I liked computers before but then I fell in love. “The sky above the port was the color of television tuned to a dead channel”. It is Raymond Chandler with hackers. And I have a weakness for Molly.

  21. John Galt says:

    Enemy Mine? isn’t that the one where Lou Gosset Jr gets pregnant?

    Ewww, no.


  22. Sam Duncan says:

    “It is Raymond Chandler with hackers.”

    You’ve just completed a thought that has lurked half-formed in my mind since the late ’80s. That’s exactly why I liked Neuromancer. Even though it’s a load of nonsense. (I think. Haven’t read it for years. Couldn’t make head nor tail of it at the time. Then again, I couldn’t make head nor tail of anything much back then. Maybe it’s time to dig it out again.)

  23. NickM says:

    Definitely give it another go Sam. The only real drivel in it is a hint towards the end that cyberspace coms violates special rel. What is amazing is how influential it was in terms of actual, “making it so”. What I dislike about the critical reception of Neuromancer and the Sprawl trilogy in general is the extent too which it is presented as a dystopia. It isn’t it is set in a criminal underworld. There are scenes where the likes of Case and Molly are in shopping malls and stuff and it isn’t dystopian. That is part of the reason for my Chandler comparison.

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