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Why Star Wars is not science fiction, and related matters…

“Science Fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen, though often you only wish that it could.” – Arthur C Clarke.

Has anyone else noticed how easily people get confused between fantasy and science fiction? Yes, these two kinds of storytelling are related and sometimes intermingle to a degree, but they are different genres.

I once explained the difference this way. In Star Trek, the Enterprise goes to warp speed because of some confusing gobbledegook about dilithium crystals, quantum tunnels, inertial dampeners and the warp drive. In Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon goes to light speed because it can. How it goes to light speed is utterly, utterly irrelevant in a story concerned with fairy tale themes.

Let’s be completely clear on this: Star Wars is not science fiction. It is fantasy; a fairy tale that happens to be set in space. Perhaps the setting is what confuses people, but just because something takes place in space doesn’t make it science fiction. Consider Gravity as another recent example. It is a disaster thriller, not science fiction.

Science fiction is often referred to these days as speculative fiction. That is essentially what science fiction used to be at its core: speculation as to how technological advancement would impact humanity. Some of these advances have indeed come to pass. Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea for instance anticipated submarines and nuclear power. HG Wells’ The Time Machine anticipated various world wars caused by technologically advanced weapons. 1984 speculates about a surveillance society with such alarming prescience that people often mutter “Orwell was right”. Huxley’s Brave New World by contrast is, I believe, even more prescient, where populations are deliberately distracted by pleasures, the media and a great deal of trivia to distract them from the real problems in life. But Star Wars is not concerned with where technology may take us. How can it be? It’s set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

The possibility of contact with an alien race is another mainstay of science fiction, whether we are invaded by malevolent aliens intent on conquest (War of the Worlds), or if we meet aliens with more benevolent purposes in mind (Close Encounters of the Third Kind). But the world of Star Wars is populated by so many bizarre alien creatures that when one walks past no-one bats an eyelid. Their existence is a given.

Most science fiction also grapples with the question of what it means to be human in a world of rapidly advancing technology. This question is deep at the heart of science fiction movie classics 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner, as well as the short stories they are based on (Arthur C Clarke’s The Sentinel and Phillip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep respectively).

In the above examples, artificial intelligence evolves to the point where it has consciousness and arguably even a soul. But in Star Wars artificial intelligence is strictly there to serve organic life. Robots are programmed to be good or evil (or very, very camp, in the case of C3PO). Technology has its place, but in the end it is human intuition (with a little help from the force) that triumphs – for example Luke turning off his computer when he destroys the Death Star. The victory of primitive Ewok weapons over superior but faceless technology is another example. Courage and imagination in the face of overwhelming odds are what wins the battle in Star Wars, not technology.

In science fiction, when the question of what it means to be human is pondered, the genre in general does not allow for the existence of God unless he turns out to be a super intelligent alien of some kind. Whenever divine beings of any kind turn up in Star Trek or Doctor Who they are there purely to be debunked as frauds taking advantage of primitive civilisations.

Frank Herbert’s Dune provides a key example of this kind of thinking. In the story, the primitive Fremen have a prophecy about a Messiah being who will lead them to freedom against the various other planets who exploit their world due to the precious space travel enabling spice it contains. However, the only reason they have such a prophecy is because the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood deliberately planted the prophecy in their religion centuries earlier, because they have been manipulating bloodlines and experimenting with genetics to create such a being – a being they will ultimately control so they can control the flow of spice. The irony of the story is their super-being – the protagonist of the story, Paul Atreides – ultimately turns against the Sisterhood and really does lead the Fremen to victory. Yet there is nothing divine about his appearance. The whole set of events is the result of centuries of genetic engineering.

There are a few rare exceptions (the more recent version of Battlestar Galactica is arguably a case in point) but generally God has no place in science fiction. By contrast God, gods, mystical beings or even mystical energy fields are welcome in fantasy because they stand in for the intangible sense of divine purpose felt by the over ninety per cent of people on Earth who believe in a higher power of some kind. The force in Star Wars is a good example of this. It is not an allegory, but it can be made to fit just about every religious belief on the planet. Christians in particular have preached sermons off its key themes of good versus evil in classic David and Goliath fashion, as well as the overcoming of evil in oneself. Such themes are a mainstay of fantasy and fairy tale, and one only has to think of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Narnia books to begin to understand what genre Star Wars really resides in. George Lucas even used the term “space fantasy” as a guiding concept when the project was conceived.

One of the ironies of the fantasy genre – when it’s at its best at any rate – is that the stories are not really about elves, orcs, dwarfs, trolls etc. They are about very deep spiritual themes including the obvious good vs evil/overcoming temptation biggies mentioned above, as well as friendship, courage, loyalty, sacrifice, finding one’s niche and so on. They can also contain much darker themes and stark warnings.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a warning that children should listen to adults. Time Bandits, by contrast, is about how parents should listen to their children. Coraline is about appreciating one’s parents. The Wizard of Oz is about appreciating one’s family and home. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is about sexual jealousy. A Series of Unfortunate Events is about coming to terms with grief. On an even darker note, Pan’s Labyrinth is about the devastating effect of war on children.

I would argue the whole of The Lord of the Rings is about growing up, and Gandalf’s relationship to the hobbits is the key here. I don’t think Tolkien did this consciously, but to me it is clear that he is Gandalf and the hobbits are his children. The Hobbit was written when his children were still young, but The Lord of the Rings was written as they grew up (and in some cases went to war). The penultimate chapter The Scouring of the Shire (omitted from Peter Jackson’s films) is the most important part of the story because it shows how the hobbits can now fend for themselves and don’t need the constant supervision of a father figure any longer.

On a similar note, inherent in the first Star Wars film is the joy of leaving home and parental figures to discover your place in the world. However, inherent in the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, is the unpleasant discovery that having gone through the rite of passage of leaving home, life can be very tough.

To conclude, the concerns of science fiction and fantasy are clearly different. For those who still think Star Wars is science fiction rather than fantasy, consider the scene where Obi Wan sacrifices his life so Luke and the others can escape from the Death Star. The events are identical to Frodo and the Fellowship escaping from the Mines of Moria in The Lord of the Rings. The only difference is that the Star Wars scene takes place on a space station.

Star Wars is not science fiction. It is fantasy.

UPDATE: Since I published this piece a few years ago, it has become by far the most popular article on this blog. Those of you who have read, enjoyed, agreed, disagreed, commented, or interacted in any way, thank you. Those of you who have since gone on to read other articles or, best of all, discovered my novels, thank you even more. Indie authors like me need all the sales, reviews, and publicity they can possibly get, purely to make a living, so it is really appreciated. If you’re reading this and are interested, I’ve penned several novels – chiefly gothic mysteries (for grown-ups) and adventure stories (for children). Some of these were self-published, and three of them – Spectre of Springwell Forest, The Irresistible Summons, and Phantom Audition – were traditionally published. Please find out more by clicking “About the Books” at the top of this page. Thank you again.

59 replies on “Why Star Wars is not science fiction, and related matters…”

Star Wars is definitely fantasy, and you’re right: the presence of space ships confuses people. But why should it? If every movie that had a space ship in it was automatically SF, then doesn’t that mean every movie with a horse in it is automatically a Western? Obviously, Ivanhoe is not a western (and yet one could argue that The Road Warrior, which includes no horses is). It’s a limitation on the part of the audience. They just don’t understand.

“Gravity” is, I think, science fiction in that it posits something that could happen, and obeys physical laws, albeit in a dumbed-down form. Yeah, it’s a disaster movie, but it’s an SF disaster movie. It’s plausible. Nothing in STar Wars is remotely possible. Nor, for that matter, is anything in Star Trek, which likes to double talk its way through life, but it’s science is about as consistent as a manic want, and half as likely. doctor Who, by it’s nature, violates a fundamental law of the universe (causality) and you really don’t have to go any further thn that. So, end of the day, 99% of the SF people encounter is basically fantasy with SF trappings, they just don’t recognize it because most people don’t realize FLT really is impossible, or that a person can not de-evolve into a bug like Mr. Barclay did.

I guess if I have a point – arguably I don’t – it’s that people don’t know what’s possible, so they don’t really grasp how much of the stuff they accept is impossible. That sounds snobby, probably, but I don’t mean it that way. I agree with you.

“Nothing in STar Wars is remotely possible.” Robotic prosthetics, speeder bikes, and blasters (plasma-based ray guns), even the possibility of a giant base as an artificial planet or Moon…yeah, they had been used before in SF, so? The Force is something that perffectly belongs to mysthicism, but even such great mysterious power could have sense from the POV of Quantum physics, and we had not exploited fully the abilities of the human mind…

It is a fundamental misunderstanding of science fiction to claim that that if the technology in a story is impossible or the science is bad then it’s fantasy. Fantasy is not a garbage bin for science fiction that doesn’t measure up. It’s a genre in it’s own right. For that matter we’d have to add all the cop shows that have ricochets generate sparks and cars exploding on impact. But inaccuracy is not fantasy and any definition of science fiction that excludes almost all of what people call science fiction, is a bad definition,

That’s not what is going on with Star Wars. His point is that science and technology is irrelevant in Star Wars. The story isn’t about space ships, blasters or light-sabers or even what it means to be human. Star Wars is about courage, faith, good and evil, legacy, destiny and mysticism. These themes are more germane to the fantasy genre. It’s Lord of the Rings, It’s King Arthur, it’s Oedipus, it’s the Bible. Interstellar took the time to explain the science behind gravity, black holes, and tesseracts. It used that scientific information to weave a narrative about a human struggle to survive using the human instinct for exploration and very basic principles of physics, Star Wars, just said here is space magic, deal with it.

Exactly David. In 1967 we did not have cell phones but here was this show called Star Trek showing people using wireless communication devices. An engineer from Motorola got the idea for the cell phone from watching Star Trek. There is a whole documentary on how Star Trek changed the world showing various tech from ST that is actually in development. We have launched at least one deep space probe using ion propulsion and the idea came from Star Trek. Yet because of the Q some want to call all of ST Sci Fantasy. I noticed that the sci part is taken off by the author. Sci Fantasy is a mix of science fiction and fantasy.

People put too much emphasis on the fantasy which in SW is the Force. Remove the Force and you got science fiction. I do not understand that in order for it to be science fiction then we have to talk about the moral implications of blasting people away with a plasma gun.

Alien was horror in a science fiction setting. It did not go into some expose of the moral ramifications of using technology. It was simply a means to an end and the setting.

“courage, faith, good and evil, legacy, destiny and mysticism” That is just wrong. It is wrong in that Westerns use this same thing so are they Fantasy now? There are only so many stories to go around FFS and these tropes are used over an over again in ALL genres of movies, shows etc.

We could remove the soldiers in Saving Private Ryan with being knights of the round table on a noble quest. Look at the above. In that quest they are tested for courage, faith, the question of good and evil, legacy, destiny and I am sure we can find some mysticism in there. Except it is in a WWII setting. We could again take the same setting and make the planes dragons and put it into a medieval fantasy setting.

“Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.”

The OP seems to make it sound like for it to be sci fi then we have to sit and discuss the technology and its moral ramifications to humanity when it is simply the definition I quoted. What is the possibility of time travel? Oops fantasy now.

Science fiction is a setting as opposed to medieval fantasy. The fantasy part would be supernatural things, orcs, elves etc. In a sci fi setting Instead of swords they are using laser blasters and what not. Battlestar Galactica is a space opera:

“Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance and risk-taking.”

Isn’t that also SW is in spades? What is funny is this wanting to label star wars purely one thing when it is a mixture.

The plausibility of the science/technology has nothing to do with whether something is fantasy or science fiction. Sci-fi in particular can exist in the present or past as well, and requires no world mechanics that don’t already exist. It just happens that plausible, futuristic technology is a great way to create a premise and explore the ramifications of some change to the world as we know it.

Interesting thoughts. Personally, I think our definitions of science fiction perhaps differ a little, but I do agree that people don’t necessarily realise what is actually possible.

A large portion of your argument seems to be that because Star Wars contains elements of fantasy, it is therefore fantasy, not sci-fi. However, I don’t think these categories are mutually exclusive. I’d say it’s sci-fi with a (large-ish) dollop of fantasy.

Take you quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Science Fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to.”

So, like, the Death Star? Armies of genetic clones?

Take this other quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

How can we be sure the Force is not something physical, a natural phenomena, or something even technological (some sort of advanced radio signal type thing – on steroids), that is just unknown the the inhabitants of the films and/or extended universe? The force is, after all, detectable because of Midi-chlorians – the “intelligent microscopic life forms that lived symbiotically inside the cells of all living things. When present in sufficient numbers, they could allow their host to detect the pervasive energy field known as the Force.”

Just throwing all this out there for the sake of geeky argument. I don’t actually care one way or the other.

Yes, well the midichlorians were just one of many mis-steps in the prequels, so I prefer to ignore them. The force remains, as far as I’m concerned, a mystical energy field with it’s own agenda, not a blood disorder.

I don’t really buy your Death Star/armies of clones argument either. I doubt you’d argue with me if I said The Lord of the Rings belonged in the fantasy genre, yet that contains the equivalent items – ie the One Ring and humungous armies of orcs.

The One Ring isn’t an equivalent item to the Death Star. It’s an item that moves corporeal entities into the spirit world and vice versa, while acting as a metaphysical force of temptation that can only be resisted by humility and mercy. The Death Star is a big machine devoid of any moral qualities that blows stuff up. It’s not Tolkien. It’s Doc Smith.

Of course it is kind of funny when people claim that Star Wars isn’t science fiction and Star Trek is because of the force. How many capricious gods and demons did Captain Kirk encounter?

The Death Star is devoid of moral qualities? What? The existence of an item capable of destroying a planet on a whim necessarily has immense moral implications. The reason Star Wars is not sci-fi is that it does not explore those moral implications; rather, it encourages the audience to tacitly accept the Death Star as evil, and to conceptualize it nothing more than an obstacle for the heroes to overcome–in other words, the hero’s journey.

What makes a story mechanic an “element of fantasy” and not an “element of sci-fi” is not what it does, nor how it is explained, but rather what it means. Whether the force is magic or biology is irrelevant. Do you know how we know it’s irrelevant? Because it wouldn’t change anything about the movies one bit either way.

What matters is the role the force plays in the story, and what that role means. The force plays some role in the story, but it really only affects the personal skill and strength of certain main characters. So it’s like a character trait. Other than that, there aren’t really any implications on the world itself. The Force is just a thing that some people have that makes them good at fighting. Another story could use something that is identical to the force to make a sci-fi story, but that would be a different story than Star Wars.

Samuel, the Death Star in of itself has no moral qualities. It is just an object. The viewers and those within the film place moral qualities to it by arguing over its use.

“The reason Star Wars is not sci-fi is that it does not explore those moral implications; rather, it encourages the audience to tacitly accept the Death Star as evil, and to conceptualize it nothing more than an obstacle for the heroes to overcome–in other words, the hero’s journey.”

What? Sure they explored the moral implications of the Galactic Empire possessing such a weapon and determined it needed to be destroyed. Hence why did people steal the plans to it so they could destroy it? They even mention the lives that sacrificed to get such plans. That just did not happen moments before it showed up to destroy the rebel base. It was far more than just an obstacle to overcome. It was a moral implication of a great power possessed by the Galactic Empire who was seen as evil. Upon learning of a second death star being built it was imperative the rebel alliance find it and destroy it.

The Hero’s Journey was getting the death star plans to the rebel alliance. That was the main plot of A New Hope. Obi Wan you are my only hope.

Wrong. The midis have been so vastly misunderstood and incorrectly complained about as having been explained as the Force…. NO. Wrong. they are not… they are mere messengers of it.. pay attention- nothing was changed….. its still a mystical energy field with it’s own agenda…that was explained in Season 6 episodes of Clone Wars… (watch it, you might learn something)
Also it was a tool to show how the Jedis discovered others and to show how out of tune they were with the force. Using biology and not their instincts or the Force itself.

Clarke’s definition is crap. Look. It is simple. Could you remove the science element and still tell the same story? The setting is irrelevant. Star Wars is just The Hero’s Journey IN SPACE. Real science fiction, on the other hand, hinges on the science issue. Blade Runner – no replicant’s no story. Gattaca – no designer babies, no story/. Star Trek, depends on the episode – Balance of Terror is just destroyer vs sub IN SPACE, not science fiction, Spock’s Brain, yea, just really really bad science fiction.

This is the best comment, in my opinion, because it is the only definition proposed that makes “science fiction” say something non-trivial about a story. Most other definitions are purely aesthetic in nature. Are there aliens? Are there Robots? Is it in space? None of those questions are interesting enough to warrant their own categories, since the underlying novel can still be about practically anything. You can write a cut-from-the-cloth romance novel in space with aliens, and it’s still a romance novel.

Sci-fi is an indispensable genre because it gets us to look at ourselves and our world as it is, or as it might be. It takes more than casting a robot as the sidekick to do that.

Clarke’s definition, as you point out, obviously is not a real definition, but rather half heuristic and half humor.

So let’s go through that list. Blade Runner: Make the replicants really convincing clay men/golems/shapeshifters. That’s pretty much it, except also maybe change the weapons to magical equivalents and have Tyrell be a wizard or something. Gattaca: Super easy, just replace “outer space” with “outer lands” and have the class issues be more based upon race. The way Freeman impersonates Morrow is by getting a wizard to change his face with magic. Star Trek: Depends on the episode. The only episode I saw had it very easy to replace the science with magic, being that it was the one about language barriers (also simple moral, wow). Most of the technology is irrelevant, and the teleporter shares the function of numerous magics and spells.

Setting isn’t everything, but plot also isn’t everything. You can tell a story through many different settings and have them retain a similar theme, but have different ways of achieving it. Just because you can adapt something into a different genre, it doesn’t mean that you can invalidate its original genre. Anabasis and the Warriors are different genres, aren’t they?

There is “hard” Science-Fiction, and “soft” Science-Fiction…and there is also SCIENCE FANTASY, which is also a legitimate genre, too. But even if STAR WARS belongs to the last cathegory, denying its roots would be ignorance: Space Opera, that particular branch of SF, which certainly is more into the “soft” Science-Fiction, doesn`t deal with the specualitive, “nuts and bolts” that some Asimov and Clarke`s love so much, but it is actually a natural extension of the regular adventure fiction, like Westerns, Pirate stories, and Samurai epics. George Lucas himself said that his “galaxy far, far away” is a fairy tale set in Space, and there is nothing wrong with Fantasy; I do love Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Lord Dunsany, and some other masters of the Fantasy Quest-themed type of story. STAR WARS is actually a “mythopoeia”, a mythical Hero`s quest in the tradition of the classics, like KING ARTHUR BEOWULF, or THE ODISSEY, but wrapped up in a FLASH GORDON/BUCK ROGERS type of adventure, and I am thankful it came to pop culture, because its success opened the door to great SF films like BLADE RUNNER, ALIENS, and ENEMY MINE, and it spawned my liking for “Galactic epics” like THE FIFTH ELEMENT, FIREFLY and more recently GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY…Just a question, especially to the SF “legalists” who think that SF does neccessarily needs to be “hard” to be good, and equates “pulp” as “bad”; It is Frank Herbert`s DUNE, an important critically acclaimed work, Science-Fiction, or Fantasy?

I agree with one of the previous posters who noted that SciFi and Science Fantasy are not somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, the best way to define Science Fantasy is through set theory. It is simply the intersection between the set of all SciFi and the set of all Fantasy. Consequently, Star Wars is a member of all 3 sets. I’ll admit that the most accurate description is Science Fantasy, but that does not make Star Wars not SciFi in my book.

Star Wars is Sci-Fi, get over yourselves. People like the author of this article like to try and draw lines on the Horizon. “Oh but light sabres can’t be made” yes, thats why ‘Fiction’ is in the title. Fiction; “something that is invented or untrue”.

It is Space Opera, my friend, with a nod to Fantasy, to be precise. And yet, because i loved the original trilogy, i have a thing for any cool “Western/Pirate story/Robin Hood adventure” in Space

Daniel, a Space Opera is science fiction:

“Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance and risk-taking.”

Battlestar Galactic is also a space opera. It just handles the space physics better.

If Star Trek contains significantly more elements of Sci-Fi than Star Wars, which it does, then it’s hard to classify them the same way. We could say “Star Wars is kind of sci-fi” or “Star Trek is very Sci-Fi”, but that sounds weird.

Sci-Fi / Fantasy is really a spectrum. It can vary by the specific movie or episode, for one, but Star Wars, Star Trek, and all the other movies/shows mentioned contain elements of both. I argue that Star Wars is fantasy with elements of Sci-Fi, whereas Star Trek Sci-Fi space (pun intended) with elements of Fantasy and Star Wars is on the opposite end of the spectrum as Fantasy with elements of Sci-Fi. That would be a good way of describing them. Star Wars is certainly more fantasy than sci-fi, so I don’t think it’s fair to label it “Sci-Fi”. It should be “Fantasy” or “Fantsy/sci-fi”. Star Trek is “Sci-Fi” or maybe “Sci-fi/fantasy”

More detailed reasoning:

While the technology is irrelevant/used as props in some episodes, that same technology is the focus or basis of many, many others. Science and technology are central to Star Trek; the various hypothetical components of transporters, warp drive, holodecks, deflectors, shields, etc etc, are explored in considerable depth many times. Problems are caused by and solved with these technologies, and are not merely props, but integral parts of the majority of stories in some way or another. New technologies are invented to solve problems, often by combining old technologies or applying new knowledge. Everything revolves around exploration and intentionally expanding knowledge of the universe! Star Trek cannot exist without these things. (Note that I am referring to the TV series and movies from TOS through Enterprise, and not the newer movies or Discovery, where things have a more Star Wars feel (in their delivery, not their content)).

By comparison, science and technology in Star Wars are part of the story and appeal, but mostly to set the stage. There is no curiosity for the hypothetical inner-working of things to any appreciable depth, nor does Star Wars show/tell in story how technologies are advanced, design, constructed, etc. The plots depend upon the use of technologies, but they are mere props in the story. (Again, Star Trek does use technology as props quite a bit, but anyone who’s watched many episodes/series already knows the hypothetical science behind them and has seen stories that are dedicated to, or cover in depth, those things).

[…] Think about it. Despite common belief, Star Wars is not Science Fiction. As fellow author Simon Dillon explains, “Let’s be completely clear on this: Star Wars is not science fiction. It is fantasy; a fairy tale that happens to be set in space. Perhaps the setting is what confuses people, but just because something takes place in space doesn’t make it science fiction.” [2] […]

I think the better question to be asked is. Who really cares? Just enjoy it and stop over analyzing and putting things in categories. It’s a story and a good one at that.

I don’t care that much but I care a little, and the reason is that I like sci-fi proper as a genre, and I’m not that into fantasy. So if I tell someone I like sci-fi, and they are like “oh Star Wars?” then I have to explain, well, no, [insert much longer explanation of what I like here.] If we could agree on what sci-fi means, and if we could agree that it should mean something OTHER than “adventures in space” or “adventures with aliens” then it would make our language more useful.

** Wow! Their is a lot you do not know about Star Wars. I know that Star Wars began around 1904 in the art studio of pop culture artist, Maxfield Parrish. George Lucas said that it was the art work of Parrish that directly inspired his Star Wars films, CBS Interview 2014, also – The Lucas Effect, page 282.**
I own the last documentary film footage, photos and artifacts of that powerful estate art studio of Parrish, it was senselessly destroyed in 1995.
So I have begun my quest to bring this story to the public light with this vital information in art and now Star Wars history, here are your true answers my friends,,,,, This is epic material. Parrish created that art work in that destroyed art studio and now Lucas is buying up the Parrish paintings for his new museum and one of the headliners is, MAXFIELD PARRISH!

I need all the help that I can get, this valuable info I own must go all over the universe, check out these sites with this very historic and real info,
Type this site in and it will blow you out of the water, “BIG INFO”!! ||
( The Game of Nerds origins of Star Wars the case for Maxfield Parrish ).

Thank you for your time,
Yes, the force does exist.
Robin Lee

“Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance and risk-taking”

I’ve always had a problem with Star Wars being called a fantasy movie and my reasons have little to do with it taking place in space. You might disagree that the movie being based in space makes it sci-fi however I disagree that a scientifically explained aspect of the movie is fantasy. Their ‘magical powers’ are not fantasy as they can be explained away as the biological trait of an alien. You know, midi-chlorians. Google it if you aren’t a fan. ALIEN. As in, from a galaxy far far away. They aren’t human at all. How is this not sci-fi again? Anyone who calls aliens fantasy over sci-fi must be lacking in I.Q. points. Are you off your meds or something?

I always thought the midi-chlorian thing was out of place (and I agree, is much more a Star Trek type thing) in what is much more of a fantasy setting. If you read my article again you will see it is the themes of the Star Wars films that for me place these more in the fantasy bracket rather than the science fiction bracket, not the fact that they contain aliens or other science fiction iconography. Thematically, whether they are orcs or Tusken Raiders, they pretty much serve the same narrative function.

I have a BIG story here: Did u know that it was the art work of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired the feel and look of STAR WARS films? page 282 The Lucas Effect. I own the last documentary film footage and evidence of the iconic estate art studio of Maxfield Parrish. I can see why Lucas was inspired, the estate Parrish used all the elements around for those paintings. When at that estate u walked in those paintings, they surrounded u.The beautiful art studio was sadly destroyed and I filmed the tragic and senseless demise of art history and of STAR WARS history ** It is my theory and these are my papers that in 1904 Star Wars was truly created in that studio of Maxfield Parrish. Parrish also created that massive and unique studio he created that estate and it was a well spring of inspiration for the masterpieces that so inspired George Lucas ! This is a lost chapter in art and STAR WARS history– it must surface and we must get this story global, all hands on deck. If logic dictates then it is vital that Lucas learn of this story. The truth will set Parrish free and also his model, Sue Lewin, she was the captain to his ship and she needs to be known too, she was fabulous learn more about her, help her!
May the force be with us all and the force does truly exist I met the force at the Parrish estate and it is still here helping, Thank u for your help, get to work!! Robin Lee

Hello again, Tis I , Robin Lee coming back with more big info on Star Wars and all that. Remember that Lucas said that it was the art work of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired the feel and look of Star Wars films. Well….. another discovery here, thank you force. I am trying to vindicate the kind model in the Parrish masterpieces, Sue Lewin. **Lucas used her likeness for Princess Leia ! Sue Lewin and Carrie Fisher look almost exactly alike ! So where does this go ? It is part of this story and these discoveries mean something I do continue to ask for help getting this story all over the place, it is a puzzle and others may have a piece to it. We need to connect and let us get this story out and help Sue. Girl power is really needed but guys, come on use the force it is all over the place and drag your brains out to play. This is important to the art world and the world of Star Wars big time. The Fisher- Lewin theory is there, that I do know because I am tapped into this informative frequency. I feel positive on this. We will get this movie out yet as it continues to need more data, I thank you for your help, need all on board please, hop on Thank you and get to work, please. keep this going, I know some one has info. Robin Lee, Maine

“But in Star Wars artificial intelligence is strictly there to serve organic life. Robots are programmed to be good or evil (or very, very camp, in the case of C3PO).”

This is not relevant. It is not the purpose of technology that decides the genre. You could quibble with some of Asimov’s Robot series on these grounds, that the Laws of Robotics make it not sci-fi since the robots are just there to serve humans. Rather, what matters is the role the technology plays in the story. In Star Wars, it makes no difference that C3P0 is a robot. He could just as easily be an alien, or an unusually stiff human. His character is just a character. His “robotness” does not change the story in any way.

“the genre in general does not allow for the existence of God unless he turns out to be a super intelligent alien of some kind.”

That is an arbitrary statement. I think a lot of good sci-fi has been written on the premise that supernatural events happen in modern society as predicted by the bible. It explores how, despite the claims of many people, we live in an entirely secular, materialistic society, and it puts to test how atheists and supposed believers alike would react to mere stories made real. So God, even a literal, biblical Good, is actually a great sci-fi tool.

“For those who still think Star Wars is science fiction rather than fantasy, consider the scene where Obi Wan sacrifices his life so Luke and the others can escape from the Death Star.”

You also ended this essay with an example that has little to do with anything. Sacrifice is a pretty universal theme in a ton of stories. (50-year old spoiler coming) Paul sacrifices himself at the end of Dune Messiah, which has little to do with the genre of the rest of the book. Moreover, one scene in a book or movie generally cannot decide the genre.

Overall, I agree with your larger point, and some of your reasoning, but I would argue you actually don’t go far enough. While technology and sci-fi are closely linked, even technology does not define the genre. The reason advanced technology is so ubiquitous is that it is a blank check with which the author can purchase any premise he or she wishes, and it is from that premise that a science fiction story may emerge. However, no advanced or non-existent technology is strictly required. For example, there is a lot of sci-fi that explores the fallout of a nuclear war. Nuclear weapons exist today, and a nuclear apocalypse is physically possible at this very moment. If a story uses that premise, and proposes nothing that is not currently possible today, it may very well still be sci-fi, even though there is no futuristic technology. What there is is a premise that pertains to society and humanity, and a story that explores that premise.

LOTR has nothing to do with father / children. It is inspired by his experiences during the first world war, of feeling like a very small person carried away by a huge industrial war machine.

I would say that in sci-fi the bridge between the impossible and the possible is made in a scientific way, or at least in a way that either it seems possible, or that there seem to be some kind of logic in it (in the existence of the bridge between the impossible or the possible) for the common sense. In fantasy, the bridge is just there, there is no explanation, it’s part of the scenery.

Better idea…Genres are made up. The distinction is unrealistic, and Star Wars matches the oldest of sci fi from H.G. Wells, to Star Trek, to Who Goes There, etc. Reality….Story is a separate reality with its own laws of nature, including our own. All of it is made up, period. Even if I wrote soemthing completely based on our physics, it would not be real or a part of our world. It would only be a clone or lookalike to our laws of nature, physics, and history. In the end a lot of writers end up understanding physical principles and then creating new ones as well. This is done historically by the original genre of sci fi, in fact. It has been more rewarding to dream of fantasy in science than to try and copy strictly our laws. One, it doesnt change the fact science fiction is unrealistic. Bob walking in the park is unrealistic. All of Story is unrealistic. In our world…but in the Secondary World, the fiction is real and has a continuity of laws. If it breaks that continuity, then it is just to disbelieve and disenjoy it, but not befoe. Contrasting our world with the Story only proves we are not real in the Story, have contradicted its laws with our own, and the Story is only concerned with itself.
Two…Force Fields are real now. This was the softest of sci fis, the most space fantasy thing of all….Yet it is now coming true from a variety od directions and models. Star Wars looked like, smelled like, and operated on similar principles to sci fi it was only the fact they did not explain what we already knew from watching Star Trek or could guess or read in books later. Not explaining itself doesnt change its konship to sci fi, or realism. And in the light of Arthur C. Clarke, who has yet to understand Sci Fi….In that there has never been such a thing. No sci fi has ever been a hundred percent plausible nor came true. Star Wars and other stories are therefore equal. Genre is meaningless, every part of Story is nonexistent, being like or dislike our world does nothing to its reality and consistent realism. Belief is a choice merely on our part, and we are stupidly generalizing disbelief all the time now and have become unrealistic in our attacks on all fiction, not just Star Wars or Fantasy. Sci fi makes up stuff as a theory, historically. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong. Scientists lied for 6 decades about Relativity because they didnt want to admit Star Trek was right. Star Wars and hypsrspace are different techniques with the same idea in mind. Good sci fi writers have also fleshed out much of the science in Star Wars beyond the movies long ago too, and even George Lucas and these kinds of stories were always smarter than the science geeks who believed we really thought there was sound in space, didnt know we were making UFO maneuvering machines in our rocketry, or how to make a flashing glowing laser beam in the vacuum of space…out of plasma or charged particles. Star Wars does not reprasent itslef as sci fi, but there has never been a difference, nor with the fact sci fi makes up like fantasy with a mere hope that they get lucky and guess the future. Anything other than that, hard sci fi that doesnt invent new concepts and made up hypotheses…not traditionally what we call sci fi, and not what has had the most success in predicting the future believe it or not.

Read Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories. It is universal, some of the statements on the Secondary World, in that paper, and you can use the bob analogy and his noninfluence on us and us on him as proof nothing of Story exists in our reality, nor anything of us exists to dispute the science of superman and Death Stars.

By the way, read Wookieepedia. You will be shocked by how many scientists say the Death Star needs too much power to be real, yet the movie said this from the getgo, and yet scientists have handpicked the absurd sci fis they will believe in like using the mass of a solar system to build a Dyson Sphere around a star and even thrust it around. They consider that more scientific? Doesnt sound like wisdom…

Oh and the first scientists believed in God, atheist. Unfortunately, you break the Law of Biogensis to say life formed on its own from nonliving chemicals in Evolution. So there is your fantasy…

And abstracting the physical and historical realities of a fantasy or any story including Star Wars to say they are just metaphors or spiritualism is stupid and ignores spiritualism and pseudospiritualism of longstanding sci fi. Moral themes doesnt make the identity of the whole story nor the realism or physical weight of its internal reality. That line between sci fi and fantasy is a joke! One sci fi writer tried saying sci fi is about change, and fantasy is a cycle. And then conveniently said star wars is a fantasy therefore, like any other sci fi fan who is messed up and hating for life for no real reason other than we didnt show the copper wiring on our power cells. Im not sure exactly how you could read Star Wars as a cyxle per se in the movies alone. I mean there is some stuff beyond the movies, but that really defines the difference? And really the personal cyxle like in life has been observed before makes it unrealistic? And I can write change in a fantasy Story, yes siree…No such thing as genre!

[…] I certainly wasn’t the first one (or the only one in this instance particularly…), nor will I be the last to fall victim to confusion generated by the genre-bending of cultural products that can be categorized as fantasy or science fiction. A well-known instance is the Star Wars series being categorized as fantasy rather than science fiction films. (If you still need some persuasion before accepting this, read this.) […]

You can notice in Star Wars that there is very little technological advancement. The technology is almost the same even if you go back thousands of years in that universe.

Interesting, but I disagree. Star Wars IS science fiction.

1) There are aliens and they are in space.
2) Technology is a central theme in its story, specifically how technology can be used to destroy civilization.
3) Telekinesis, telepathy, and other “Force” powers are ‘science fiction’.
4) Science fiction and fantasy are not mutually exclusive genres.
5) Where people are saying people who call it science fiction are being “confused” by the space ships, technological monstrosities, ray guns, remote control battle droids, more droids, even more droids, cloning, space laser swords, the aliens, the asteroids, and space, they don’t notice that they are focusing on a magical dad and his magical son, who are literally a tiny part of the overall storyline.

Literally, two characters do not change the fact that well over half of the theme and action are science fiction, especially since the fraction of “fantastic” element is limited to pulp era science fiction (telekinesis and telepathy). Is Dune no longer science fiction, because it has elements of the “impossible” (possession and prophecy)? Is Star Trek no longer science fiction, because it has elements of the “impossible” (various aliens that are functionally omnipotent “magical” beings)? Are William Gibson’s cyberpunk novels no longer science fiction, because it has elements of the “impossible” (the magical Loa and voodoo).

Further, classic science fiction, like A Trip to the Moon (1902) would no longer qualify as “science fiction” by this overly strenuous standard. Most of L. Ron Hubbard’s work would also no longer qualify as “science fiction”, simply because it’s rubbish science. Unless we’re forced to evacuate long standing examples of the science fiction, or we’re forced to evacuate this “puritanical” and utterly arbitrary delineation.

In my opinion, a piece of work should be examined based on its dominant genre’d setting. If it’s 51% set in a science fiction setting, then it’s science fiction. It’s technically possible to have a piece of work be 51% magic and 49% space action and thus technically a “fantasy”, but Star Wars, where technology has, for the most part, supplanted the magic in Star Wars (and this is clearly a major theme throughout the series), very clearly isn’t that. Incredibly advanced technology is the major theme in Star Wars.

It’s science fiction.


The main plot of A New Hope is taking death star plans to the rebel alliance so they can blow it up because they feel it is immoral for the Galactic Empire to possess such a weapon. They used technology to get there. Technology is used to stop them. etc etc.

If you remove the Force what are we left with?

Alien is a horror movie set in a science fiction setting. It is nonetheless science fiction.

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