Star Wars

Star Wars
Property of George Lucas, LucasFilms Ltd.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The evolution of Star Wars

While reading "The Courtship of Princess Leia," (I'm not even 100 pages in yet, and enjoying the heck out it!), I've started wondering about the evolution of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Not of the books, or the movies (more like devolution with the new movies, I'd say...) but the actual universe itself. If normal science, physics, and laws of our own world apply - which they seem to, roughly - I feel like evolution would work the same way as well. So when Dave Wolverton wrote how a bar/casino in the underparts of Coruscant was built "90 thousand years ago," I started wondering if humans even existed as humans (the way we think of them) on Coruscant 90 thousand years before "Courtship" takes place. I'm sure it was an exaggeration, a way to illustrate how long it took to build the city-world into a city-world. But 90,000 years is a really long time, and I feel like some evolution of humanity and alien life would have taken place not just on this world, but on all the others as well. I'm pretty sure Cro-Magnon Man would not have been building bars, or anything more difficult than some sort of rough dwelling.

This all got me thinking about the timeline of the universe, the evolution of the alien and human worlds, and ultimately, how humans came to this universe. Is it really our own universe hundred of thousands of years from now (my secret, favorite theory)? Is this some far off galaxy - as George Lucas tells us - that humans were taken to and left to thrive? Or, the most likely idea of all, it's just a fictional universe where the main race is human and they don't evolve because that would ruin the story. These are deep and philosophical questions to Star Wars nerds such as myself.

I do think Coruscant was built over a very long period of time, however 90,000 years seems like a bit TOO long. Maybe there's a hard and fast timeline for this sort of thing now, but back in the day Wolverton must have had to make up his own numbers. I wish he would have given it a bit more thought than just plucking 90 thousand out of the air. Maybe have done some research to see where in the evolution chain humans were at on our planet 90,000 years ago and adjusted as needed. Just a quick google search turned up that 90,000 years ago, a homo sapien scientists call Y-chromosomal Adam existed. Basically, the first version of the modern day human. It's incredibly interesting, here is the wikipedia website: I doubt this version of human would have been able to build a bar on some distant world, but that's just me.


  1. I love that being a Star Wars nerd doesn't preclude the asking of thoughtful, thought-provoking questions. Here are my thoughts ...

    As I was reading your post (awesome points made, by the way!), it made me think of an idea I first encountered in one of my children's literature courses last year, wherein there's a sort-of sliding scale of Science Fiction/Fantasy. Basically, there are five notches on the spectrum, ranging from hard science fiction down to science fantasy and all the way out to Fantasy (with a capital F). The science/fantasy (aka Space Opera) is where Star Wars seems to fall. Depending on the author, it can be super technical (Zahn), where point-3 passed lightspeed is an actual scientific idea based in actual science or simply bear some vague resemblance to scientific ideas but be more about creativity than actual science (Wolverton).

    In Star Wars, it seems like it kind of depends on the focus of the author. Wolverton, it seems to me, aims to be creative in the context of a futuristic universe, using ideas of science but not worrying as much about the scientific solidity of his ideas as about the rich and creative canvas he's painting.

    I think that, for the most part, he does fairly well, although it's clear that he needs to be cautious of exaggeration that even someone reading for enjoyment migth find irritating in its overzealous exaggeration. This gets problematic as well when authors (not just Wolverton) talk about time in terms of "generations" instead of years.

    I got slightly sidetracked from your original idea about evolution, which is fascinating, too. If you're right, it's possible there's a Tolkien-esque basis in history. I mean, obviously not ACTUAL history ^_^ But Tolkien based his Middle Earth on historic concepts in Earth's history. A strong argument can be made that Lucas initially did the same thing (I mean, The Chosen One? Hello!) and the EU authors have continued to build their own interpretations into that mosaic.

    In other news, I only just started "Courtship" this morning. Now I'm the one who's behind ...

  2. It was fun to do a little research to see how plausible Wolverton's timeline would be. And it is an interesting question on the scientific evolution of humans and aliens in the Star Wars universe. Obviously, humans of this universe are the same as humans on Earth. But it does make you think about the way humans would evolve in a different universe. They wouldn't be the same on different planets, they would evolve with to fit the planet's quirks, so to speak. Like in Dark Life by Kat Falls, when the Earth is covered in water, some people begin to evolve so as to survive more easily in water. It just poses an interesting question that I don't think is explored at all in the EU books.

  3. I think it's back to that idea I was exploring (somewhere on the blog) of the spectrum of sci-fi/fantasy literature. It seems to me that Star Wars has never been anything but science fantasy so there's not a ton of room for heavy-duty science in it. The focus has always been on the characters and their relationships and lives, with the sci-fi environment designed to locate said characters in an adventurous, challenging, unique environment. As I think you'll see when we get to the "Legacy" series, some authors choose to use the sci-fi setting to explore current world issues in our world. Again, though, less about the science than about the social elements of the universe.

    Yeah, "Dark Life" skates an interesting line between sci-fi and dystopia that I think is pretty unique. It's not actually set very far in the future....

  4. That is a good point. I only posted about this one sentence because it was jarring and pulled me out of the book. Which is a good thing, because it also forced me to do some research and now I'm more knowledgeable than I was before.

    It will be fascinating (terrifying?) to see how our world evolves in the next 50 years. Imagine that we will actually be here to see it!