It’s been 40 years since the first Star Wars came out. Back then it wasn’t titled anything but Star Wars, A New Hope came later. And it holds a lot of meaning for me.
I was introduced to Star Wars back in Junior High by a friend. She was shocked I’d never seen it before. (I wasn’t.) I don’t think she expected me to latch onto it as much as I did. In hindsight, my favorite Disney movie at that time was the Little Mermaid. What resonated with me about the Little Mermaid was Ariel wanting to go someplace else and explore new things. Not Erik, not the love story that wasn’t a love story. But that desperate feeling of “I need to get away. I don’t belong here.” And in Star Wars, you had Luke, who felt the same way. So much so, that he was willing to join the Imperial Academy to get off of Tattooine.
Yes, Luke was willing to join the Empire’s military for a chance to get away.
I fell in love with the whole universe. We watched all three of them in a row I think. I found out there was music and books. Suddenly, my $4/wk allowance (this was the nineties) was spent scrimping and saving to buy a new Star Wars book whenever we went to Wal-Mart. They got me through high school drama. I had an hour and a half bus ride in to school in the morning and a two hour ride home so I had a lot of time to read. They were an escape.
Then George Lucas released the originals to theaters with better effects. Yes! When the Phantom Menace came out, well, I wasn’t over the moon but I was eager to see where he was going to take it. When I saw, I went back to my books with a shrug unimpressed. I had the expanded universe (EU.) I didn’t really need the new movies or anything. By the time they got to the New Jedi Order in the EU, I started to peter out in my Star Wars love. They killed Chewie. They turned favorite characters evil. They adventures in a galaxy far far away weren’t as hopeful and shiny anymore.
Which is rather ironic given to make A New Hope look grungy and lived in, the extras actually marched on the costumes to ‘age’ them. (mutters, I know too much trivia I tell you!) I pared my books and media down in spurts. Getting rid of bits of the EU that I didn’t like. (And accidentally left some of it behind when I moved, oh Bounty Hunter Wars & Han Solo trilogy how I miss you.)
The above picture isn’t even all of the Star Wars media in the apartment. I forgot my X-Wing and Falcon toys (they were sort of hiding, the Dark Empire comic collections, and the few video games I have of Star Wars, (Lego Star Wars, Pod Wars Racing, the only good thing from the Phantom Menace.)
In college while at Bluffton University, my department head organized a trip to the Toledo Museum of Art. I can’t remember the purpose of the trip. Maybe to look at a lace exhibit? However, it was during the time (early 2000s) when the Magic of Myth Star Wars costume exhibit was traveling around the country. It was going to be in Toledo while we were there. I was so excited. I took the extra money in order to see it and to buy the blue book in the picture. No one else did. We were fashion design majors. I don’t know what happened to the pictures I took while at the exhibit. I just remember being in awe of how different things look up close than what was on the big screen. (I loved the lace on Leia’s Bespin outfit for instance. Handmade from Holland. That is actually my favorite outfit from the entire trilogy.)
Star Wars was my gateway into science fiction. Sure, I’d seen an episode or two of Star Trek. It didn’t resonate with me like Star Wars did. (Maybe it was the lack of ‘must get away’ emotions. Altruistically exploring the universe is different than ‘I have to get out of here or else I’ll die’ message.) From Star Wars, I read Anne McCaffery’s Pern Series and her Talent series. I got into Frank Herbert. I read Asimov and Bradbury. I read Heinlein (some of which was really inappropriate for my age level.) And other science fiction stories that I don’t remember the names or authors of that were in the “local” (meaning 20 minutes away) town library. I even sought out science fiction christian stories! (There are one or two, not a lot. There was more christian fantasy, though still not a lot, than christian science fiction.)
It was the adventurous feel of Star Wars, the idea that there was hope to restoring order and justice to the Galaxy with the formation of the New Republic that always stuck with me even if I was reading about X-Wing pilots helping take back Coruscant or taking on Warlord Zinj or Luke’s adventures against his inner darkness and taking on Thrawn or Leia using every bit of her to make alliances and win political points even if they were points just to go rescue Han, again.
Star Wars was this natural progression for me from the Little Mermaid, to Brian Jacque’s Mossflower series (quests, fights, food!) and then Star Wars.
And they shaped my writing. If you loved the X-Wing pilots as much as I did, you’ll see echoes of that ensemble type story telling in The Lone Prospect. If you like Leia yelling at Han about how “I am not a committee!” You might see echoes of her in Roxana in the Dawn Warrior (or even in Savannah in The Lone Prospect.) Gorlouis and Gideon definitely have bits of Han and/or Lando in them. Ratchet & Clank, the Mandalorian Armor, Lost in Space (1997) and Star Ship Troopers inspired the armor used in the Lone Prospect. The speed bikes from Return of the Jedi and the motorcycle from Ultraviolet inspired my ideas for hovering motorcycles in the Lone Prospect.
I could go on and on.
I’ll never stop loving Star Wars for the escape and comfort it gave me, the good times, the laughs and sometimes even the tears.
And it all started with a bunch of cobbled together WW2 footage marked up with grease pencils, forty years ago.