Thursday, October 1, 2009
How Big Were the Death Stars?
Sometimes you have to see this stuff to believe it. Someone spent a great deal of time and mental energy trying to estimate the actual size of the first two Death Stars, rejecting out of hand the dimensions published in "secondary materials" (such as the Star Wars rpg by West End Games) as unfeasible.
My favorite line probably occurs during the discussion of the X-Wing flight through the big trench on the first Death Star, where the numbers displayed on their targeting scopes are used to estimate the actual length of the trench. "The devil's advocate might suggest that the numbers on the target scopes were arbitrary, merely put there to give the impression that the starfighters were approaching their goal at high speed." (Emphasis mine.)
One might even suggest that the entire design of the Death Star and the majority of the spacecraft, aliens, and weaponry in the original Star Wars was arbitrary (A galaxy of humanoid aliens? A giant space worm in an asteroid? Blaster bolts slow enough to dodge? Body armor that does nothing to stop said blaster bolts?) to give the impression of cool space stuff when it's really more of a fantasy story. And a fun one. Except for the most recently made movies, which suck.
Later on, I suspect they paid more attention to the design, except for the continued and disturbing lack of guard rails, because there's no evidence that they were paying attention to the plot. Although they did write the dumbest conceivable high-tech military confrontation: robot drones versus amphibians fighting at archery distances on land? Really? That's a set-piece right out of the 17th century. In a galaxy far, far away, military commanders, artificial and biological alike, were idiots.
I didn't note any commentary wondering why the Empire didn't take an actual small moon, hollow out the parts needed for the planet-destroying weapon mechanism and its support equipment/staff, strap on some engines, use the moon's own mass as ready-made armor, and save the Imperial budget untold quadrillions of whatever it is the Empire uses for money.
Because we're not dealing with logic applied in terms of common sense; we're dealing with logic applied to determining what is canonical and what is not. This sort of thing makes it easier to see where the impulse to conduct religious doctrinal debates comes from.