On Star Wars

Millions for Special Effects, Not One Cent for Writers

By John G. Hemry

In the beginning, there was a spaceship.

Then there was another spaceship. A really big one, chasing the first spaceship.

After that came the real fun. Guys in white armor firing blasters! Comic-relief droids! A beautiful princess with an attitude who kicks butt! A menacing figure in black with the voice of James Earl Jones! A colorful rogue! A wise old teacher who was what everybody wanted their grandfather to be like! A big, hairy Wookiee! Best of all, a typical teenager stuck in the middle of a nowhere place who just knows he’s special, and turns out to be so special he’s going to save the entire galaxy!

And the audience saw that it was good.

Star Wars made a lot of movie viewers happy, made George Lucas a lot of money and made dollar signs pop up in the eyes of movie studio executives everywhere. Perhaps most importantly, the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV: A New Hope) raised the bar for what an SF movie should be. Star Wars wasn’t just fun, it wasn’t just exciting, it was also a great story, well told and well acted.

This shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was. One of the unfair things about science fiction is that the field always seems to be judged by the general public based on the lousiest representatives of the genre. And (let’s face it) SF has been cursed with some incredibly poor movies. The movie usually cited as the worst movie of any kind of all  …

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