Science-Fictional Higher Education


A little while ago, my post on “The Physics of Non-Physical Systems” provoked some good discussion about how science, broadly construed, works in fiction. Perhaps “fails to work” would be a more accurate turn of phrase, since Joshua brought up a good point about the (ahem) midichlorians George Lucas introduced in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Why was everybody so annoyed when George Lucas brought up midichlorians in Episode I? Because the idea of microscopic life forms giving people superpowers is unscientific? Or because reducing “force sensitivity” to a bunch of microorganisms in your blood contradicted all the crap about will and focus that was central to the original trilogy?

If the former, then why do so many geeks enjoy X-Men or Spider-Man, whose premises are every bit as biologically nonsensical?

I pause to note that “midichlorian” is not in the Firefox spelling dictionary. Woot.

In reply, I said that if “force sensitivity” really were reducible to symbiotic microorganisms living in your cells, and if your Galactic civilization has enough biotech to be able to clone people — fer chrissakes! — then you should be able to genetically engineer Jedi as potent as you want, and bulk up the Force quotient of anybody you like with a simple serum injection. Come to think of it, you should also be able to nullify Force powers by genetically engineering a virus which attacks midichlorians!

There: I’ve just invented a better movie than the ones George Lucas made. The good guys can be a bunch of grad students at Coruscant University who are tired of endless dynastic warfare and don’t want to pledge their allegiance to either wing of a deranged royal family.

In writing the above, I failed to realize that such a school really exists in the Star Wars faniverse, and that an unknown number of eager fen may find their way to my hatred and snark via an innocent Google search. Oh, dear.

Honestly, I was just slavishly copying the “Galactic University” on Isaac Asimov’s Trantor, capital planet of the Galactic Empire. I never would have imagined that anything in Star Wars might be ripped off from the Foundation Series. Mm-mmm. Never in billions upon billions of years.

One thought on “Science-Fictional Higher Education”

  1. Well, actually, I think that was the origin of the “Reborn” from Jedi Knight II.

    (How do I still remember that? I only really bought that game to run around with a Lando skin and a purple light saber. Lando be a mothafuckin’ pimp. You know he and Leia hooked up while Han was frozen in Carbonite. Jaina and Jacen (in my defence, I had to look up their names) were totally Lando’s kids.)

Comments are closed.