See, here’s the thing about science fiction: it has the word “fiction” right there in the name. Sci-fi movies aren’t meant to be dissertations on the reality of space flight or alien culture. If I wanted a lecture on quantum physics, I’d go audit a class at MIT. I go to sci-fi movies for the fun of the experience. So why are scientists always so keen on debunking Star Wars science?
That’s exactly what Dan Koboldt, renowned geneticist and principal investigator for the Institute of Genomic Medicine did recently. Together with other scientists, he edited a new publication entitled Putting the Science in Fiction, which hits bookstores today.
The book, with a foreword by recently fired Star Wars writer Chuck Wendig, is meant to be a guide for science fiction writers (like yours truly) so that they can be more accurate in the telling of science fiction tales. The byproduct of that? Discrediting some of our favorite Star Wars science.
Killjoy Scientists Debunk (i.e. Take the Fun Out of) Star Wars Science
Admittedly the book doesn’t focus solely on Star Wars. No, the scientists ruin our willing suspension of disbelief for many of our other, favorite fictional franchises as well. (Apparently Spiderman couldn’t happen in real life, either. Who knew.) The book does take direct aim, however, at Star Wars science. Koboldt tells c|net that Star Wars “is the easy target for space misconceptions.”
“Things don’t blow up in space, because if you want to blow something up in space that means you need oxygen – and space is a vacuum,” said Koboldt.
No sh*t, Sherlock. Next you’re going to tell us Yoda isn’t real, either.
Again, fans aren’t flocking to theaters to see Star Wars movies to then have roundtable discussions about the films’ scientific accuracy. (Okay, fine, even I had a problem with The Last Jedi’s slowest space chase in the history of space, but that was over-the-top ridiculous.) Star Wars science isn’t meant to educate; it’s meant to entertain. We, well, most of us, are smart enough to understand that Death Stars and lightsabers aren’t real. Conversely, we are also willing to eschew that knowledge for the purpose of losing ourselves for a few hours to fantasy.
Nevertheless, I understand why Writers Digest Books published the advisory tome. As a science fiction writer, I will likely buy it… but if I want to put space explosions in my books, I’m damn well gonna, and no scientists are going to stop me.
Now, leave my Star Wars science alone and pass the popcorn.