Technological Advancement and Star Wars

Lately we’ve been reading a lot of Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader books with the Geek Toddler. She loves them, and they’re great. We’ll probably talk more about them at some point. But there’s one page in particular that made me just stop and think.

Haha, common parent statement, right? And in this case it’s also totally true.

We get to see plenty of big space ship battles in Star Wars Episodes I-III. Lots of different ship types. Which, we know from seeing things like the Rebel Fleet in the later movies, sure, there are lots of different ship types in the Star Wars universe.

However, like the Death Star, the Star Destroyer is a product of the Empire. A product of an authoritarian war machine that only really exists for maybe 20-30 years? Wait, there’s a timeline, hold on…

Okay, so 23 years is how long the Empire is around? And 19 years between episodes III and IV (and Rogue One). In that time they develop and build Star Destroyers and a Death Star. Wow! Both the R&D and the actual manufacture there is impressive, even with the full might of an intergalactic state behind it.

As seen in Rogue One, so major coercion was needed, and I liked the point that was made about how they would develop the weapon sooner or later – just sooner with the help of a genius. That’s still a really tight window, and even if some of that development started before the Senate fell (might have I don’t know), that’s still a whole lot.

But Star Wars lore goes a whole lot further back than that. For one thing, there’s the whole Old Republic, a long time ago even from the standpoint of the films. I imagine there are books and other media in this era, but mainly there have been video games – so the most time-intensive and immersive form of media.

And there’s so much about the society of Star Wars that seems the same between the Old Republic and the movies. The droids, the crime, the relevant races, the Jedi…

I have always been a bit amused by this lack of change, but had not fully thought about how, once the Empire began, there was a massive surge in new technology. Even the Clones seemed like something that had been researched for a long while before finally coming together just in time to have some Clone Wars.

I suppose that the Old Republic is also missing from that canon timeline, sadly. So maybe this isn’t really a problem from a canon standpoint. But it’s sad to set history like that aside as well. What do you think?

3 responses to “Technological Advancement and Star Wars

  1. I thought a lot about this when I was writing SW fanfiction. It was always hard to parse and figure out where I could posit technological advancements or regressions when, as a whole, the GFFA seems technologically stagnant. The Empire brought some huge advancements in scale with machines like the Death Star and Star Destroyers, but I think it’s mainly scale.

    Cloning is an issue for me in the canon. They had this technology and it’s established somewhere that, toward the end of the Clone Wars, they were cloning body parts to keep the Clone soldiers active after grievous injury (see what I did there?) and yet we have a Vader suit rather than cloned lungs for Anakin. Presumably cloned lungs would have been feasible and required a lot less maintenance than a hyperbaric chamber and a suit.

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    • I really wonder if we’re going to find out more about how the Clone Army of Stormtroopers turned into the First Order, in terms of the fact that Finn isn’t a clone and he needs some backstory explored. Also, since we haven’t watched The Clone Wars, maybe there are some answers there… Still, I had not really thought about how cloning would have basically solved Darth Vader. Which completely changes this menacing figure, made even more intimidating by overcoming his disability. But it’s a disability he theoretically should not have.

      And it’s a good point, the Star Destroyers in particular are just kind of a scaled up version of a smaller ship. And their size often seems like a liability in the fire fights, so there’s an element of them only having seen so much testing in combat – they’re more for intimidation. They’re the next step in an arms race that the other side isn’t actually competing in. Even the Death Star was envisioned more as a Nuclear Deterrent, it feels like, and then was co-opted for actual use. And in Force Awakens, the reality-bending space shotgun planet thing… okay, that was built for use. But it’s also just a scaled-up Death Star.

      I’ve argued before that Star Wars is closer to a Fantasy story than a Science Fiction one, so in some ways the technology level functions more for the feel of it, functions more as a plot element. Technology as setting.

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      • Yeah, I definitely agree that Star Wars is science fantasy more than science fiction. The tech is primarily a setting and mood element.

        The characters in one of my fanfictions were trying to convince Vader to let them clone him new lungs, and we solved the canonicity problem by saying Vader would’ve rather been in the suit than vulnerable on the operating table again, which is plausible. That experience should have logically caused massive psychological damage. He underwent major transplant surgery without an anesthetic. (Which is another issue that really needs to be brought up somewhere.)

        I feel like the Empire was always trading on intimidation. Massive battleships, faceless soldiers, planet-sized battlestations, everything always either stark white or solid black.

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