Star Wars on Trial: Charge #3

By October 16th, 2015
Charge Three

Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and Are Driving Real SF off the Shelves

For the Prosecution: Lou Anders
For the Defense: Laura Resnick
For the Defense: Karen Traviss
For the Defense: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Lou Anders argues for the prosecution that popular Star Wars novels are being mislabeled in bookstores everywhere as “science fiction,” when in fact they’re actually just fantasy stories set in space. He argues that the “serious” SF literature is often ignored and over-looked, as the public associates SF with “childish escapism,” and that publishers are less and less inclined to give promising new authors the time to develop their audiences. Lastly, he claims that the novelizations teach other writers to be lazy in their descriptions and character development.

Laura Resnick, though not a fan of the novels herself, reminds us that “all art is subjective.” Karen Traviss, an original SF author turned Star Wars writer, describes her transformation as something like “moving from doing technical drawings to creating impressionist paintings with vivid colors.” Rather than restricting her, she said, writing tie-ins actually challenged her to expand her thinking and skill set. Finally, Kristine Kathryn Rusch argues that all SF should take a note from the adventure-filled fantasy of Star Wars and perhaps move away from more traditional “realism,” which she claims is “murdering the genre.”

Now it’s your turn—discuss this charge in the comments below by drawing from your own Star Wars expertise and utilizing new evidence from The Force Awakens. And be sure to always be respectful of your fellow Star Wars fans!

What is your judgment on Charge #3?

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  1. Ben

    This realm has nothing to do with Star Wars, and everything to do with the genre. Many people (Sturgeon, LeGuin, others) have written monographs on how the Sci Fi genre has always been plagued with rubbishy of the highest order. Others have made the rejoinder that every other genre suffers the same fate. The general conclusion, IIRC, is that publishers publish anything that will make a profit. It has also been argued that there are plenty of popular authors whose work is terrible. Of course I would be far happier if every author had the genius and talent of Borges, but then Borges would have merely been just another author.


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