The Rise and Fall of the First Galactic Empire

Mr Peel

Mr Peel lives and works in New Jersey. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

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78 Responses

  1. Michael Drew says:

    In the place of the lame summary of events that scrolls up the screen (in trapezoidal perspective) before Episode IV, your summary is what should roll before Episode VII.

    Seriously! Send it in!

    Yes! Now! It’s not too late!Report

  2. Glyph says:


    • LeeEsq in reply to Glyph says:

      Does this mean that all the trailer footage is fake and the real movie is just Carrie Fisher as Senator Leia answering questions from conservative Senators for two hours?Report

      • Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Senator, we have questions as to why you stored the highly-sensitive Death Star plans on your personal R2 unit, rather than on a secure State Department server, and later had his memory wiped.”

        “Wiped? You mean like an oil bath?”Report

  3. Glyph says:

    Also, this seems relevant: Space Wizards tend to get left out of the official narratives:

  4. LeeEsq says:

    Star War’s weakest bit or one of them isn’t that the chronology never made much sense. Nobody forgot about the a-bombs after they happened. They were actually a big obsession for years. The same should be true about the Force and the Jedi and the Death Star. You don’t forget about things like that even if you are a bit to young to remember them.

    Also, Star Wars needs more togas.Report

    • Guy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Dan’s whole point is that the only people who know about the Force during the rebellion are Obi-wan, Yoda, Vader, Palpatine, and Luke, plus sort of Han and Leia. At the end of the rebellion, the four with a motive to talk about that stuff are dead, and who would believe Luke if he told everyone about the Force? Maybe if he did demonstrations and took on students, but clearly he didn’t as of this movie.Report

      • Dan Scotto in reply to Guy says:

        Yep. We are privy to their conversations as viewers of the movies. But regular folks in the Star Wars galaxy are not.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Guy says:

        During the Rebellion, sure.

        The part of the chronology that doesn’t work is between the Original Triology and the prequels. It’s only 20 years of time. That’s not nearly long enough for the Jedi to be forgotten, not when they were on the front lines of the Clone Wars and anyone watching the news could see that they had unusual powers beyond just laser swords. Not when they’d been the primary peacekeepers of the galaxy for a thousand years. We’re not talking skepticism about religious beliefs here; we’re talking about people saying, 20 years after the Reformation, “The Catholic Church? Nah, never really existed. It was just made up.”

        (Also, Obi-Wan Kenobi went from looking about 30 during the Clone Wars to looking 70 or 80 twenty years later.)Report

        • Guy in reply to KatherineMW says:

          I think it’s closer to the total dismissal of Sophist thought after all of them died and their arguments were only known from their enemies, but I get what you’re saying and I think you’re basically right as far as that goes. Of course, there’s a lot of weirdness in the transition from prequels to the OT – the originals give the impression that the Republic was an old, old system, probably on the level of the Roman Republic vs the same Empire circa Nero, or maybe even Flavian. Plus the elements of the Civil War are bizarre: none of the armies are large enough to be noteworthy on a galactic scale and the motives of the separatist faction are never explained.Report

        • Glyph in reply to KatherineMW says:

          Obi-Wan Kenobi went from looking about 30 during the Clone Wars to looking 70 or 80 twenty years later.

          His pupil turned on him and murdered a bunch of children, in a children’s movie. Ben probably hit the bottle pretty hard in the intervening years.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

            The pupil be decided to bring in to the fold, against the advice of the big boss who thought the guy was way too dangerous. That’s an awful lot of guilt to carry around, not to mention having to live with decades of “Told you so I did”.Report

        • Zac in reply to KatherineMW says:

          (Also, Obi-Wan Kenobi went from looking about 30 during the Clone Wars to looking 70 or 80 twenty years later.)

          He would have been 57 at the time of his death. Given that he spent the final two decades of his life as a desert hermit, I don’t think he looks much older than you’d expect.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW says:

          We don’t know what type of media exists in the Star Wars universe but considering the intergalactic tech and the generally high civilization level, including an entire city planet according to the prequels, there has to be enough of their equivalent of news reel footage of the Jedi in action. Its not like the existence of the Jedi is a secret. They aren’t a hidden order but out in the open. They have no problem using the Force in public even in none battle situations. Most people have some knowledge of the Force and what it can and can not allegedly do even if they might be skeptical about some points.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Guy says:

        The Wookies knew about it. Chewbacca saw Yoda in action back in the day. Weird he never told Han about it. Plus there were thousands of clone (later storm troopers) that saw them. They never talked about that while sitting around the break room?Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    This reads like the prologues to David Edding’s Belgariad and Malloreon where the very secular Tolnedrans and Melcenes try to make sense of what is going on but ignore all the Gods walking about.Report

  6. Tod Kelly says:

    I really loved this.

    One thought though, which I confess I had when I first watched the trailer: Do we know that everyone forgot about the Force and the Jedis?

    I ask because this was a thing I asked myself once after the first movie came out. Luke has to be told about Jedis, and the Force, and my initial assumption was that it was so long ago everyone forgot. But thinking about that years later, it hit me that everyone else seemed to have heard of them: Han, Jabba, Jabba’s assistant, the officers aboard the Death Star. Leia knew. I decided that the reason Luke hadn’t heard much about all of this wasn’t that it had been forgotten. It was that he was a farmer on a backward planet out in the middle of nowhere.

    At least from the trailer, this seems like just as likely a possibility with the new film. The woman who doesn’t seem to know much about Jedis and the Force and such is from the same backward planet. And it appears she’s a scavenger, or at least a woman of meager means.Report

    • Guy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I mean, you’ve heard that the Nazis had the forces of Hell and/or aliens on their side. Do you think any of that stuff is true?

      Of course, this stuff probably applies in both cases: Han, Jabba, and the other sophisticates probably don’t believe 90% of what they hear about the magic space wizards, as implied in the historical piece. At least not until a magic space wizard shows up and starts dicing people.Report

      • James K in reply to Guy says:


        And even then, a light sabre is a piece of technology – technically anyone could use one, if they were trained well enough. How much force-using do most of those characters actually see? Jaba sees the Jedi Mind Trick at work, but it doesn’t work on him and of course a group of charlatans would be good at manipulating people. Yet more proof that “The Force” is just stage magic, backed up with a little technology.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to James K says:

          I think what makes the lightsabre + force combo special is the whole “guy shoots at a guy holding a lightsabre” thing.

          If the guy holding the lightsabre has the force? The guy holding the gun catches some blaster in the teeth. If the guy holding the lightsabre does not have the force? The guy holding the gun gives a speech about bringing a lightsabre to a blaster fight.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

            Eh, I don’t know that the Force is required to deflect the blaster fire. In the movies it’s remarked that blaster fire is highly inaccurate (confirmed by every Stormtrooper we see).

            And, blasters aren’t lasers (that is, they aren’t firing at the speed of light).

            First, let me comment on the ground base’s blaster shots. The average for these things is just 34.9 m/s (78 mph). This is in the ballpark of a baseball pitch. Compare this to the speed of a Nerf gun bullet at about 10 m/s. This means two things:

            A Jedi deflecting blaster bolts with a lightsaber is about the same as a baseball player hitting a pitched ball.
            Playing with Nerf guns and plastic lightsabers in the backyard isn’t too terribly different than the movie.

            Actually, it wouldn’t be all too terribly difficult for any normal person to dodge one of these blaster bolts — especially if it were fired from so far away. Maybe this explains why the Storm Troopers suck so bad at shooting. They don’t suck, it’s just that Han, Chewie, and Luke can easily dodge these bolts when far enough away. The Storm Trooper, on the other hand, can’t dodge. Why? Because those blasted helmets block their vision. You can’t dodge what you can’t see (well, except for Luke).

            (emphasis added by me, since):

            Master swordsman Isao Machii uses his sword to slice a 100-mph baseball in half just 30 feet from where the pitching machine fires the ball:


            • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

              Anybody can hit the first one. It takes the force to hit 20 in a row in the space of 4 seconds.Report

            • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

              The blaster is a melee weapon. Which is reasonably practical, if you’re using it in corridors on a spaceship. Because not breaching hull integrity is a far more important thing than actually catching the damn idiots breaking into a base.Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Glyph says:

              The difference is that a baseball pitch to be a strike is aimed at a narrow volume of space, none of which is directly at the batter. And the batter still usually misses it, and sometimes fails to get out of the way of a (poorly aimed?) ball to the head.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

              The average for these things is just 34.9 m/s (78 mph). This is in the ballpark of a baseball pitch.

              Not just any baseball pitch, a knuckleball.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Not really. It is at the upper end of R. A. Dickey’s knuckleball velocity, but he throws an unusually fast knuckleball. A typical Tim Wakefield knuckleball was about 65 mph. 78 mph falls nicely within the typical curveball range.

                Also worth keeping in mind is that the guy down at the adult rec league who pitches a 78 mph fastball is blowing the batters away.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                When the strike of ’94 was looming, ex-MLer Bob Stoddard was pondering being a replacement and accepted an invite to use our rec league as a live tuneup. He’d never been great in pro terms, and was out of shape, out of practice, and out of training. If his FB was more than kissing 80, I’d be amazed.

                He was perfect over the six innings when he faced us (if anything, he ran out of stamina, not stuff). Somewhere between 10 and 13 by strikeout. I’m proud of being the only guy who didn’t strike out at least once in their two at-bats – and that was only by completely selling out at 1-2 looking for a slider low and away, and even that just doomed me to a groundout to first…Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

            Yes, but that doesn’t prove the Force exists.

            Plus, we’re sorta viewing from a universe where people can’t really do that, so we know it’s magic. And a universe where everyone is a baseline human.

            Imagine you live in a universe where you’ve seen some news recordings of a group of monks that can block blaster bolts, and, let’s say, jump rather high and land safely. Both of which can easily be explained by the *decades* of training that Jedi have, and various technology assists. (This is a universe with cyborgs and part-human species and nanites and sentient computers.)

            They *also* claim to have other powers, but it’s not like Jedi mind-tricks make the news, so that’s probably just them being charismatic.

            They *claim* it’s magic. But it seems likely that this magic thingy is just their religion, and they’re just really really well trained. Perhaps humans can be trained to those levels, if you start young enough.

            But, under the Republic, you might believe the magic, if you happened to watch that holovid of a Jedi saving those kids from a speeder using telekinesis on holoyoutube. Or you might think it’s just tricks.

            But then the empire happened, and all that stuff was taken down off the holonet anyway, and now it’s 20 years later, and even if you were alive back then, everyone sorta knows all that was just religious mumbo-jumbo.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

              What *WOULD* prove the force exists?

              It’s people like you that gave us Midichlorians, David.

              People like you.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oddly enough, I don’t mind midichlorians, but that’s because I ignore everything everyone says about them.

                In my mind, midichlorians are just things that generate the Force, and everything else is delusional religious nonsense from the Jedi.

                We already know the Force is created by living things, and in the EU, there is an animal that can dampen the Force, and an intelligence species that was severed from the Force, so we already know species can have weird relationships to the Force. So maybe it’s just one species responsible for (almost) all access to the Force in the first place!

                Everyone being ‘infected’ by midichlorians actually makes a *hell* of a lot more sense than convergent evolution of all life in the entire galaxy just happening to get access to the same energy field. I like it! (I’d like a less stupid name, but whatever.)

                But they are not intelligent, they do not whisper in your ear, they are frickin symbiots. They do not allow virgin births. All of that is delusional gibberish from the Jedi, gibberish we have no evidence is true.Report

            • Glyph in reply to DavidTC says:

              But CCTV footage from Cloud City, of Darth Vader telekinetically ripping machinery from the walls and flinging it at Luke, has like 7 trillion hits on YodaTube…

              And anyway, this whole midichlorians mess throws “magic” into question. Are midichlorians some sort of symbiotic life form that have their own ways of appearing to bend physical laws? My guess is that they can somehow manipulate magnetic fields; this could account for inducing amnesia via “mind tricks”, and lifting X-Wings out of swamps.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Glyph says:

                What makes you think that footage would get out? And these days, people with laptops can make fairly decent special effects Jedi fights. What do you think slicers can do in a future with uncountable shackled AIs wandering around? (Droids).

                I’d imagine the Empire would not just suppress the Jedi-Religion-Works stuff really darn hard, but would also push the view into Imperial Dogma. Taught to schoolchildren, repeated on all the official channels. After 20 years of dedicated indoctrination, what would people believe?

                If you hadn’t actually seen a Jedi, what’s so hard about convincing people that they were just a religion that was considered ‘neutral’ and thus useful for diplomacy? Especially with so many dead over the course of the war, unable to correct the record?

                Especially if you cover up the rest with a second layer — Yoda’s assassination attempt, against the ‘so called Sith’ as evidence of how their religion had caused them to become fanatics. They tried to assassinate the head of the government because they thought he was their metaphorical Satan. Poor guy barely survived!

                So you give those people who don’t buy the official line a list of conspiracies and excuses — they became fanatics, they were plotting to gain more power, they used religion to get the acceptance of the masses, etc. And add in “secret military tech” — their lightsabers, for instance — to cover the rest. (As noted elsewhere).

                Plenty of good conspiracies and believable stories, and an official line that they used to be rather useful (negotiator-commanders who were studiously neutral in all affairs) and sadly they got too fundamentalist and started seeing Satan all over the place.

                Any ‘video’ of magic powers is obviously ‘shopped, probably by some religious true-believers.

                Now after Alderaan blew up, well — people might reconsider. But even if Luke created an Academy and pumped out Jedi like there was no tomorrow, in a galaxy of uncounted trillions — it’d take a LOT more than 20 years of geometric growth to get enough numbers for the average person to even have a ‘friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who swears’ story.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Morat20 says:

                And these days, people with laptops can make fairly decent special effects Jedi fights.

                Additionally, ‘video’ in the Star Wars universe is *really really crappy*.

                Seriously, everyone seems to use holograms…and hologram tech there is monochrome, staticy, and six inches high at the most.

                I mean, yes, in the prequels, we get that a few times as a communication channel, and perhaps that’s the best you can push over a intersteller connection, I’ll buy that. But it happens even without bandwidth problems, like Leia’s recording in A New Hope.

                Meanwhile, I don’t think we’ve ever seen an actual 2-D video playing there. Or even a computer screen. Ever. In any context.

                Is 2-D video even a *thing* in the Star Wars universe? (Yes, I know it exists in the EU.) Or did they somehow skip it and go straight to holograms…which are still basically the quality of 1930s television.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

              As the old saw goes, any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.

              The Jedi had all sorts of technology they controlled & kept the secrets of to themselves. Take lightsabers. Not exactly mass produced, are they? Why? Because you need a Kyber crystal, and not just any crystal, but one attuned to the Force & the Jedi/Sith in question. So while anyone can pick up & swing a lightsaber, only well trained, Force sensitive people can build them using crystals found on only a handful of planets.

              Ergo, secret technology. A lot of other force powers can be similarly rationalized away. Even really big displays can be rationalized away. Think about us humans today & how eager a lot of people are to attribute divine intervention to random events. There is no reason why it can’t work the other way.

              PS lightsabers & blaster bolts – lightsabers are tightly focused plasma fields, as are blaster bolts. Plasma fields are contained by very powerful magnetic fields. The Jedi trick of blocking blaster bolts is mostly physics (magnetic fields attracting & repelling each other).Report

              • greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If blasters are inaccurate and easily dodged why don’t people use hand held machines that emit solid pieces of hard metals and at very high speeds?Report

              • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

                Unintended consequences of very strict gun control regulation in the Old Republic.Report

              • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

                Nonsense, i have video documentary proof that one man can build a simple cannon out of ordinary materials which is deadly enough to kill a large reptilian life form. Projectile weapons should be readily available.Report

              • greginak in reply to greginak says:

                Or just maybe the use of blasters is a giant jedi mind trick on the entire galaxy. Subtly get them all to use inefficient and easily evaded weapons so that the Jedi are more powerful. If the rubes knew they could just build bullet emitters the Jedi would be screwed.Report

              • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

                “What the?! These things have been firing Gummi Bears the whole time!”Report

              • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

                At least the gummi bears might make the jedi portly over time or they could trip over them. That would be more effective then the slowest projectile weapon system ever.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                Because those would break the spaceship. Blasters just bounce. (because the spaceship is made of mirrors)Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The Jedi had all sorts of technology they controlled & kept the secrets of to themselves. Take lightsabers. Not exactly mass produced, are they? Why? Because you need a Kyber crystal, and not just any crystal, but one attuned to the Force & the Jedi/Sith in question. So while anyone can pick up & swing a lightsaber, only well trained, Force sensitive people can build them using crystals found on only a handful of planets.

                The EU sorta goes back and forth as to whether or not a Jedi is needed to build a lightsaber. And they also go back and forth on exactly how ‘personal’ lightsabers are. (I.e., whether a Jedi building his own is some sort of Force-important thing, or if it’s just a rite of passage.)

                It seems possible that Jedi’s, *if they want to use the Force to help them*, have to get a crystal attuned to the Force and somewhat compatible with them, but if you weren’t actually going to use the Force at all (Because you weren’t a Jedi), you could just get any old Kyber crystal and build a lightsaber.

                PS lightsabers & blaster bolts – lightsabers are tightly focused plasma fields, as are blaster bolts. Plasma fields are contained by very powerful magnetic fields. The Jedi trick of blocking blaster bolts is mostly physics (magnetic fields attracting & repelling each other).

                You are correct about canon, but this actually makes no sense. Lightsabers cut through almost anything. Blaster bolts just…scuff the walls, and even when they hit people, just sorta leave a smoking hole instead of, you know, going straight through them like would happen if you threw a lightsaber at them. Also, normal armor blocks blaster bolts, but not lightsabers, you need special armor to stop lightsabers. (Well, I *assume* normal armor blocks blaster bolts, otherwise stormtrooper outfits are really really stupid.)

                I guess that’s explained by blaster being like 1/10th the power and using Bespin gas instead of the crystals, but, seriously, that seems like an obvious design issue.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                Clearly Lucas was a film student & not an Engineer/Physicist when he wrote Star Wars, or he’d have worked this crap out in detail ahead of time (with supporting equations in his notes), instead of relying on fans trying to reverse engineer the base concepts out of the crap that looks good as special effects.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to DavidTC says:

                The EU sorta goes back and forth as to whether or not a Jedi is needed to build a lightsaber.

                Fishing Brussels and its fishing regulators.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

              Wait, that was too hostile.

              Okay, from inside. We know that the Force flows through all living things. Humans, whatever Yoda was, whatever the Mac Tonight guy was, all those guys.

              We know that it is inheritable, to some extent, and shows up more in some families than others *BUT* hey, it flows through all living things.

              Sure, we can have disciplined people who are monks, but the Sith are big on the whole “let your hate flow through you” thing so I’m sure that there are a lot of Force Sensitive people out there who developed Force powers that they don’t even know they have. (For example, I’ve heard it argued that the bullcrap at the end of the first movie that involved Jar-Jar tripping and falling and killing robots was untrained Force doing its thing. Same again for Anakin blowing ish up without even knowing what he was doing when he was piloting the A-Wing or whatever it was).

              As such, the Jedi Religion is something that you’d think that more people would be delighted with because it would be a religion that actually has *RESULTS*. That thing you do where you instinctively grab the tool out of the toolbox without even looking? That thing where you talk your husband into going down to the store tonight instead of tomorrow like he wants to? That thing where you just knew to bet on the longshot instead of Sebulba?

              Showing up on Sunday morning helps you get even better at that sort of thing. It’s not just the toolbox anymore. It helps you with the fridge and with outfits. It helps you not only win fights with the spouse but helps you not have them. It helps you not only win when you go to the track, but you don’t get addicted to gambling and you give a good chunk of the winnings to the charities that happen to need it most.

              The Force *WORKS*.

              You know the Crossfit guys? Imagine that times a kabillion.Report

  7. Kolohe says:

    I think this post is great, but I also think this post requires a trove of data greater than either the KGB archives or wikileaks could provide combined. Look what’s going on with Seymour Hersh and the back and forth of what definitely did and definitely not and maybe perhaps could be happened with the Bin Laden raid.

    New Republic scholars are going to have a hard time picking through fact, fiction, and myth from the period just before the Battle of Naboo to just after the Battle of Yavin. The Empire was at war with the Separatists. The Empire had always been at war with the Separatists. But Order 66 needs to be either justified or buried deep. Having Jedi be the good guys helping Brave Little Naboo will not do. There’s very few people alive during the period that could provide a counter-narrative to whatever the Empire is peddling as the official story of the Clone Wars, and the Empire has 30 years to fudge with the computer systems to make them read what they should.

    After the Battle of Yavin, the record is probably more complete, because the Alliance is starting to write their own story, but we still don’t know how the politics shook out after the Battle of Endor. As everyone knows by now, it’s comparatively easy to depose of government, but hard as a Bantha’s horn to install a new one. In any case, there’s a lot of inconvenient facts for the new government too. For instance, was the Admiral of the Fleet ever held accountable for leading the Rebel Alliance into a trap?

    There’s also a question of how much Battle of Yavin and later got publicized. The first Death Star was a military secret, it’s destruction also one. (The Imperial Press does have to say something about the death of Gran Moff Tarkin, but a simple ‘killed in action heroically’ suffices.) The destruction of Alderaan couldn’t be covered up, but it could be explained (‘Emperor calls for Asteroid control’). Then the rebels spend the next couple of years on the run, with the Empire always one Friedman unit from finally crushing them.

    The second Death Star, also a military secret. (most military contractors can actually keep secrets). It’s destruction kills everyone involved in its operation and construction. We are lead to believe (in some, more recent sources) that the fall of Coruscant happened pretty much right away, but most analysis indicates that it was actual death of the Emperor and the elimination of Sith power on the minds of the planet that led to the revolution, not news of the 2nd Death Star’s demise. So, bottom line, with all the conflicts of interest the Rebel leaders had and the various magical and million to one events that needed to occur, there’s good reason for the New Republic government to keep some things quiet, and promote the legend where it suits them.Report

  8. Doctor Jay says:

    “It’s true. All of it. The dark side. The Jedi. It’s real.”

    “Even the part where Greedo shot first?”

    “Get out.”Report

  9. Burt Likko says:

    I just watched The Phantom Edit for the first time. You know, the fan project where some guy edited the three prequels into a single two-hour movie, to see if he could salvage a good movie out of the mess that was the prequel trilogy.

    In my opinion, it was a tighter and better story, but still weighed down by bad dialogue and clunky, phoned-in acting. One thing that the editor was able to do very well was convey the potency of the droid army, and its utility to the separatist movement, as well as the way Palpatine manufactured a crisis, and played both sides of that crisis, so as to consolidate political power within himself. Less exposition, but more storytelling.

    I wouldn’t watch it again. While the editor did indeed significantly improve the product, the product ultimately cannot rise above the flaws baked into it.Report