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The Biggest Mistake George Lucas Ever Made
Or, I Stick My Head Into a Fandom That Will Likely Bite It Off
MILD, VERY GENERAL SPOILERS EXCEPT FOR ONE BIG ONE ABOUT THE THIRD SEASON OF THE MANDALORIAN.
So, I’m not talking about Jar Jar here, or any of the other vaguely and not-so vaguely racist alien characters from the prequels. I’m talking about George Lucas’s attempt to turn a perfectly good Space Fantasy into poorly considered Science Fiction by bringing midi-chlorians into it. With their addition, the Force stopped being this big mystical, magical thing. It became quantifiable. Measurable. Totes understandable. Science-ish.
From Wookeepedia: Midi-chlorians were microscopic, intelligent life forms that originated from the foundation of life in the center of the galaxy and ultimately resided within the cells of all living organisms, thereby forming a symbiotic relationship with their hosts. … The more of these tiny organisms a being possessed, the greater potential for power in the force a being had.
Suddenly, getting strong had nothing to do with how hard a Padawan worked. If they didn’t have the m-count, they’d always be backbench cannon fodder when the Sith came knocking. The big boys and girls were born with it. (I can imagine a gruff, drill-sergeant-type Jedi talking to an upstart Padawan: “You think you can take me on, kid? You ain’t got the midi-c’s for it.”)
Maybe George tossed the midi-chlorians in there so the audience (who already knew little Ani Skywalker would grow up to be a bad-ass) had quick proof that only Grand Jedi Master Yoda had better Force chops than the droid-building kid from Tatooine. But it was a bad move, story-wise, opening the door to plots about blood doping, Force steroids, cannibal Sith, used-menstrual-pad and band-aid theft, and the kidnapping of a fifty-year-old baby in order to drain off his blood to make an army of Force-powered clones of a 65-year-old Giancarlo Esposito. (Only one of those was canon.)
Fortunately, the solution to the problem is baked right into the Original Recipe Star Wars Universe.
Star Wars is blatantly anti-science. Sure, there are plenty of spaceships, hyperdrives, helpful droids, and blasters, but the truly good and powerful lay those aside in favor of comfortable robes, forest canopies, quiet temples, meditation, and the consumption of human flesh (see Ewoks). They feel for answers, they don’t get out the test tubes.
Star Wars heroes leave the hacking, puzzle solving, military analysis, and medicine to droids, and rarely, if ever, science their way out of a problem. (Wanna bet that even the worst Star Trek crew would have scanned for lifeforms before flying into a warm, moist asteroid cave? Would have at least scanned for breathable atmosphere before running outside the ship wearing only facemasks?)
Science-wise, the Republic (New and Old) and the Jedi are largely stagnant. They can’t be bothered to find a cure for Sudden Postpartum Sadness Death and I-Forgot-the Droids Dementia among aged Jedi. The only scientific advancement in the canon universe comes from the villains, who are only using it to build a better Death Star, clone the Emperor, or replicate themselves (as 65-year-olds). The bad guys are pretty dumb, but the good guys are willfully ignorant.
So here’s the solution to George’s Big Mistake (and admittedly I’m thinking about this because I’m watching Ahsoka and creator Dave Filoni also seems to be backpedaling on it a bit):
The Jedi have the causal relationship wrong. They discovered, probably by accident, that powerful Jedi have lots of midi-chlorians… and left it at that. Being bad at science they never tested the ‘greater potential for power’ theory, nor did they publish it in a respectable, peer-reviewed journal. The truth is, midi-chlorians are super attracted to folks who use the Force well, and like purrgil (Force-sensitive space whales that can tunnel through hyperspace) and Loth wolves (Force-sensitive canines that can make short hyperspace jumps through planets) can make short hyperspace jumps from mere muggles and into the strong Force users they are attracted to. Midi-chlorians are a harmless infestation.
Qui-Gon put the cart before the horse … again. And with the ‘greater potential’ theory debunked, the Force can go back to being mystical and Star Wars can sit comfortably as a total Space Fantasy.
(Almost. I’m sure I’m not the first one to think of this, but like I said, Ahsoka, and I’m not a great sleeper. And, yes, I am a Star Wars enjoyer of many, many years, and I’ve consumed most of the things. )
(Alright, here’s another thing. The human-looking people in Star Wars lived a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Despite their phenotype, they are not human. Which maybe is how they could run into a living space cave with only facemasks, or have the reflexes for dogfights at near lightspeed, or … Whatever.)
Meanwhile, Earth Retrograde, the sequel to 2022’s Mercury Rising, is out next month from Angry Robot Books. There’s a pre-order deal for the thing should you have a Barnes & Noble membership. It starts Sept. 6 and runs through Sept. 8.
That’s it from this side of things. Have a great day. -rob
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