free hit counter code Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time

Availability: Ready to download

Debates on the authenticity of the Star Wars franchise and the hero-or-villain status of George Lucas are at the heart of these essays by bestselling science-fiction authors. The incredible popularity of the movies has led to the formation of strong emotions within the science fiction community on the strengths and flaws of the films, exemplified here by David Brin's attac Debates on the authenticity of the Star Wars franchise and the hero-or-villain status of George Lucas are at the heart of these essays by bestselling science-fiction authors. The incredible popularity of the movies has led to the formation of strong emotions within the science fiction community on the strengths and flaws of the films, exemplified here by David Brin's attacks and Matthew Woodring Stover's defense of the movies. This intense examination of the epic works addresses a broad range of issues—from politics, religion, and the saga's overall logic to the impact of the series on bookshelf space as well as science-fiction film. The question Is George Lucas a hero for bringing science fiction to a mass audience or a villain who doesn't understand the genre he's working for? is discussed before a final "Judge's Verdict" on the greatness—or weakness—of the franchise is reached.


Compare
Ads Banner

Debates on the authenticity of the Star Wars franchise and the hero-or-villain status of George Lucas are at the heart of these essays by bestselling science-fiction authors. The incredible popularity of the movies has led to the formation of strong emotions within the science fiction community on the strengths and flaws of the films, exemplified here by David Brin's attac Debates on the authenticity of the Star Wars franchise and the hero-or-villain status of George Lucas are at the heart of these essays by bestselling science-fiction authors. The incredible popularity of the movies has led to the formation of strong emotions within the science fiction community on the strengths and flaws of the films, exemplified here by David Brin's attacks and Matthew Woodring Stover's defense of the movies. This intense examination of the epic works addresses a broad range of issues—from politics, religion, and the saga's overall logic to the impact of the series on bookshelf space as well as science-fiction film. The question Is George Lucas a hero for bringing science fiction to a mass audience or a villain who doesn't understand the genre he's working for? is discussed before a final "Judge's Verdict" on the greatness—or weakness—of the franchise is reached.

30 review for Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Thanks to Netgalley! I'm not normally a reader of non-fiction unless I'm in a hardcore research mode, but I wanted this solely because I'm a fan of both David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover. It really had nothing at all to do with the arguments one can fling at the SW universe, whether to attack or defend. To do so is a very deep rabbit hole, indeed. Fortunately, it turned out to be rather amusing to hear Stover intimate that Brin was a Sith Lord in disguise and to show that Stover is an unabashe Thanks to Netgalley! I'm not normally a reader of non-fiction unless I'm in a hardcore research mode, but I wanted this solely because I'm a fan of both David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover. It really had nothing at all to do with the arguments one can fling at the SW universe, whether to attack or defend. To do so is a very deep rabbit hole, indeed. Fortunately, it turned out to be rather amusing to hear Stover intimate that Brin was a Sith Lord in disguise and to show that Stover is an unabashed apologist because he got paid for the novelization of Ep 6. (As well as a number of EU novels.) But that isn't all! I genuinely enjoyed most of the coherent arguments and definitely enjoyed the incoherent ones. I think I'll always enjoy the reading of the movies as the revelation that we live in a real holographic universe and Lucas is just trying to show us the path, and that the Jedi are just exploiting the bugs in the software universe to hack and exploit it. Bingo! I can't enjoy the movies more than THAT interpretation. :) But really, seeing the movies as a comedy in the old sense, that we enjoy them because it evokes a real sense of JOY? That resonates with me, too. I couldn't care less that the movies are monsters of science inaccuracy. Even if I understand science, and I do, it doesn't always make for stories that resonate, and often put too much burden on any tale to make anyone want to read it, let alone watch a movie about it. Did anyone see Gravity? Did anyone see anything other than a bunch of action sequences and silence? Yeah, that's because it was scientifically accurate, and to bring anyone's attention to that fact would kill the tension. :) But when it comes to the argument that women are consistently stripped of agency through the story arcs, I have to agree. Simply. Easily. Leia was treated poorly as a character, but Amadala's treatment was deplorable. Fortunately for the rest of us who have actually seen the new movie, I rejoice in the new direction, and pray that Rey continues to be badass throughout the next two movies. Prove that the valid complaint had taken root and will grow into something truly marvellous. :) This book came out right after Ep 6, and was given only a minor update *before* the release of Ep 7, so don't expect an cogent and relevant arguments either way that includes the new movie. I would have LOVED that, but timing is everything, and this was aimed primarily at the fanboys and fangirls who love to think about the franchise, and the best time to capitalize on that is in the tension before the film. Of course, now that the new movie is such a success, I hope to see more. :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I've really been enjoying SmartPop's anthologies, and this is one of the most entertaining. I am certainly part of the target audience: a life-long, passionate Star Wars fan whose love is tempered by feelings of frustration -- and even betrayal -- by Lucas's handling of the prequels and my favorite character. It was great to read essays by smart, talented people taking the saga so passionately, seriously, and yet with a sense of fun. Whether testifying for the prosecution or the defense, virtuall I've really been enjoying SmartPop's anthologies, and this is one of the most entertaining. I am certainly part of the target audience: a life-long, passionate Star Wars fan whose love is tempered by feelings of frustration -- and even betrayal -- by Lucas's handling of the prequels and my favorite character. It was great to read essays by smart, talented people taking the saga so passionately, seriously, and yet with a sense of fun. Whether testifying for the prosecution or the defense, virtually all of them could clearly recall what it was like to see "Star Wars" for the first time and how it impacted them. They agreed to participate in this project not just for the money, but because they *care* about the movies and the strengths and flaws they see in them. My favorite section was Charge #7 - "Women in Star Wars are Portrayed as Fundamentally Weak." I've written at length about the deterioration of the status and strength of both Princess Leia and Amidala, but prosecution witness Janne Cavelos went further than I ever have -- with the same sense of having been betrayed. She too had been a young teenage girl excited to see a female "action hero" in a science fiction advture, only to see that character systematically undermined in the sequels. My other favorite essay was by defense witness Karen Traviss, who addressed Charge #3 - "Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and are Driving Real SF Off The Shelves." She described her experience of being recruited to write a Clone Wars novel and how, despite being set in someone else's creative landscape, the experience engaged her at a deep level and helped her produce some of her best SF writing ever. (Okay, she has a direct personal interest in defending Star Wars novels, but the essay was terrific, and I've ordered the first of her books from the library because I became intrigued by an aspect of the Star Wars universe that had never interested me before.) Kudos to the editors for keeping the tone light. For all the passion in the writing, the entire book is liberally laced with humor, and both Brin and Stover remind themselves, each other, the witnesses, and the reader that this is all in good fun. Ultimately, everyone is united in their love for Star Wars and respect for its impact -- even if some wish that George Lucas had made some different choices along the way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    So this little volume debates Star Wars and whether or not it has harmed Sci-Fi writing or viewing. I brought pretty much because it has essays by Tanya Huff (who is on the prosecution) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (who is on the defense). Largely, I have to say the prosecution came after better. Many of the defense essays seem to take good natured pot shots at the opposition, and while I don’t think Stover really believes Brin is an idiotic corrupt Sith Lord, it does wear thin after a while, and So this little volume debates Star Wars and whether or not it has harmed Sci-Fi writing or viewing. I brought pretty much because it has essays by Tanya Huff (who is on the prosecution) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (who is on the defense). Largely, I have to say the prosecution came after better. Many of the defense essays seem to take good natured pot shots at the opposition, and while I don’t think Stover really believes Brin is an idiotic corrupt Sith Lord, it does wear thin after a while, and really don’t you have anything else? The both sides are largely made up of writers from Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres. The prosecution, that brings the charges, is led by David Brin. The defense is led by Matthew Woodring Stover, who wrote, among other things, the best novel adaption of the prequels. Of the defense essays, the best are the three by writers (including Rusch) taking about the impact of Star Wars on the book selling marketplace. They are the most supported and while they do focus on the question mostly from an author/seller perspective as opposed to the reader (an important factor), they are the most reasoned and factual. The responsible from the defense to the sexism charge is rather strange because the prosecution focused on the films and the defense on the novels, seemingly to indicate that both Leia and Padme are problematic in the films. Still several of the issues are funny. Stand out essays are the ones by John C. Wright, Lou Anders, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and John G. Hemry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    BenBella Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Star Wars on Trial: The Force Awakens Edition is a critical examination of this huge science fiction universe, dramatized and set in a mock courtroom. I chose not to take this book too seriously; after all, who can when the judge is a droid? I can surmise that I enjoyed it more than those who took these arguments to heart. The idea that Star Wars is really pure fantasy in a science fic BenBella Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Star Wars on Trial: The Force Awakens Edition is a critical examination of this huge science fiction universe, dramatized and set in a mock courtroom. I chose not to take this book too seriously; after all, who can when the judge is a droid? I can surmise that I enjoyed it more than those who took these arguments to heart. The idea that Star Wars is really pure fantasy in a science fiction setting was ridiculous to me, as anyone who went to the theater in 1977 to see the epic blockbuster Star Wars: A New Hope can attest. As the first mainstream science fiction movie, the ideas and concepts were brought down to a reasonable level so that all viewers could enjoy the genre. When it comes down to it, the passionate debate that the franchise has sparked in this book proves that Star Wars in total has made a lasting impact. Although some characters are more beloved than others, the entirety of the Star Wars universe has changed the way that most people view science fiction. I recommend Star Wars on Trial, with the understanding that readers will not take this as a strictly serious debate and enjoy the insider tidbits and passionate discourse.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shan

    Entertaining. Definitely worth reading, maybe not cover to cover. One of the best essays is the very last one, a smart and funny defense of the movies' plot problems that gives a long list of plot holes but concludes that they don't matter - to take the story seriously is to miss the point. All the essays are from SF writers, editors, etc. David Brin turns out to be a pretty funny guy. I discovered I don't know Star Wars nearly as well as I thought I did - I saw the first movie many times in the Entertaining. Definitely worth reading, maybe not cover to cover. One of the best essays is the very last one, a smart and funny defense of the movies' plot problems that gives a long list of plot holes but concludes that they don't matter - to take the story seriously is to miss the point. All the essays are from SF writers, editors, etc. David Brin turns out to be a pretty funny guy. I discovered I don't know Star Wars nearly as well as I thought I did - I saw the first movie many times in the theatre in 1977, saw the next two opening weekend and several more times, but the prequel trilogy I think I've only seen once each. This is a Smart Pop book, and there are a whole bunch of others that look intriguing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Brin lined up pairs of science fiction authors and fans to debate the important questions of the Star Wars universe--is it more democratic and optimistic than Star Trek? How does the technology actually work (i.e., if there are land speeders, why have big, heavy things on spindly legs?), did Lucas have any idea what the endgame is supposed to be? The tone is light, but imbued with the love of people who actually have thought about these things at great length.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Whitehead

    Star Wars on Trial is based on an article for salon.com that David Brin wrote a number of years ago. The premise of which was basically a forum for him to rant about how popular Star Wars is and how unworthy it is of that popularity. David Brin is, by all accounts a brilliant author and an incredibly intelligent man — as far as I can tell form listening to his interviews, which really only means that he is confident and well versed in the subjects he talks about. Matthew Woodring Stover is an au Star Wars on Trial is based on an article for salon.com that David Brin wrote a number of years ago. The premise of which was basically a forum for him to rant about how popular Star Wars is and how unworthy it is of that popularity. David Brin is, by all accounts a brilliant author and an incredibly intelligent man — as far as I can tell form listening to his interviews, which really only means that he is confident and well versed in the subjects he talks about. Matthew Woodring Stover is an author of Star Wars tie-in fiction as well as some other things. In this book he sets out to defraud David Brin — in a mostly light-hearted way — of his delusions about Star Wars. The ‘trial’ is presented as a series of accusations that must be expounded upon and defended against by each side. David Brin presents the accusations and then each of the authors calls on other well-known authors, writers and artist to provide essays in the defense or prosecution of said terms. The format works pretty well for that. Each of the authors present well-written and mostly well-thought pieces. Many of the arguments make sense for both sides, though some of the accusations are just plain stupid to begin with and some of them are indefensible from the start. 1. The Politics of Star Wars are Anti Democratic and Elitist: This first charge is indicative of the style of nearly all of the succeeding charges. If the first three movies are taken without the newer ones then this accusation has little to nothing to stand on. With Lucas’s addition of Episodes I-III he retroactively gave Star Wars a message that was wrong and decidedly uncomfortable on so many levels that it becomes almost shudder inducing. This accusation is almost inarguably true with the consideration of the new movies. (This is why I try, with all my might, to ignore the existence of those new movies.) 2. While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious or Ethical Beliefs: This seems like a silly argument to be having. I am not aware, except perhaps in George Lucas’s own mind, of any claims of mythic significance for Star Wars. It most certainly has cultural significance but nothing can really claim to have that until it already does and the argument is moot. That Star Wars is based on myth and heavily leans upon the Campbellian mythos is also understood but I do not see any kind of disconnect between leaning on myth for story material and not having a message or moral to engender. The problem here is one that much of children’s literature contained for many years. Until the advent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland almost all the children’s books were intended to teach some moral or cultural value to their readers. Then Alice took her dream induced trip down the rabbit hole and readers and writers alike discovered that not all stories need have a message. Star Wars, I think (again speaking of the original three movies), is a story without a message, other than good guys win. (It’s unmistakable, also, that there are definitely unintended messages hidden in there: Luke is a good guy but he wantonly slices his way through anybody that gets in his way, Yoda tells people not to bother trying if they don’t think they can do it, Darth Vader, murderer of millions, can be redeemed and forgiven because… These are no more intentional than the anti government, antiestablishment, slavery loving overtones of the newer films — they’re just slightly less insidious.) 3. Star Wars Novels are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and are Driving Real SF Off the Shelves: It’s statements like this that make Brin sound like an overstuffed shirt. What is ‘real SF’ anyway? The claim that it is driving this so called ‘real’ stuff off the shelves is also the most ludicrous claim that I have ever heard. If not for Star Wars there probably wouldn’t be a Science Fiction shelf for ‘real SF’ to be driven off of. Unsurprisingly the defense had three authors contribute to debunking this obvious fallacy. I understand and agree with much of the criticism leveled at Star Wars — especially as I’ve gotten older. Lucas’s callous treatment of life, ethics and logic is almost insulting on many levels. I can get behind most of those arguments about the shortcomings that are inherent in the stories, characters, and scenes. One thing that is completely inarguable, though, is that Star Wars made modern movies, television and books into a market. Without Star Wars we would have none of those things in the same scale that we have them today. The same argument can be used for Harry Potter and Twilight. Despite the flaws, it is inarguable that the number of people that read and enjoy reading books today would not be the same scale had those books not existed. Society loves mediocrity and, as a whole, we love turning our brains off and having fun. Star Wars (Harry Potter, etc.) have provided that for a significant number of the world’s population. 4. Science Fiction Filmmaking has been Reduced by Star Wars to Poorly Written Special Effects Extravaganzas: No argument here, though my cynical nature tells me that Hollywood would have gotten there anyway, one way or another. Movies like Transformers can’t be wholly blamed on Star Wars — Michael Bay and the American public need to shoulder some of that burden. 5. Star Wars has Dumbed Down the Perception of Science Fiction in the Popular Imagination: I’m not really sure what this is saying except that David Brin is embarrassed that the important books that he writes are associated with Star Wars through genre titles. Most of the world has a mistaken view of science fiction that is not entirely the fault of Star Wars, though I think the argument could go either way. Star Wars, when it first came out, was an attempt by George Lucas to build something that harked back to the old days when he was a child and the pulp magazines put out stories by Leigh Brackett and Jack Williamson about swashbuckling sword fighters that roamed among the stars seeking justice (The Empire Strikes Back was even written, in part, by Leigh Brackett). The argument is that as a result of it’s success the film and television industry has been stuck in that same era as inspiration for their source material. Again, I think Hollywood would have made the bad choices anyway, it is Hollywood, after all, that’s what they do there. The new science fiction released in film each year is consistently about forty or fifty years behind the curve. In other words the fresh new movies that people get so excited about are based on stories that were written in the mid-sixties. This means that the popular perception of science fiction is at least forty years old — probably fifty. Again, I don’t think I would argue with you either way if you wanted to claim it was Star Wars’ influence that caused this. 6. Star Wars pretends to be Science Fiction but is Really Fantasy: I don’t actually see why this is a problem. It also strikes me as a little bit elitist and hypocritical to accuse something of not being good because it doesn’t follow genre conventions. Raise your hands if you’re surprised to hear Star Wars is fantasy… 7. Women in Star Wars are Portrayed as Fundamentally Weak: There’s actually little to argue here. Leia is smart and amazing in the first movie. She resists torture at the hands of Darth Vader, she mouths off at Han and Luke when they come to rescue her (‘Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?’) and fights off stormtroopers while they are boarding the Falcon. That’s not to say she don’ts have flaws. As an administrator and politician she never once administrates or politicizes but that’s not her fault as much as it is Lucas’s. By the time the new movies came out Amidala is portrayed as a simpering milquetoast politician who can’t really do anything without a man to help her — even if the man is only eight years old. It gets worse from there. There is a general trend in Hollywood over the last couple of decades where women are given less and less to do and are being shoved into slots that fill cultural stereotypes more than ever. Star Wars is no exception to this backward trend, unfortunately. 8. The Plot Holes and Logical Gaps in Star Wars Make it Ill-Suited for an Intelligent Viewer: Maybe. Star Wars has plot holes. Some of them so big that you could literally drive the Death Star though them. Stover claims that, according to George Lucas that’s the point. Star Wars is supposed to be inconsistent logically, scientifically, thematically… I’m not sure what it gained by this except that it has allowed fans to spend countless hours devising explanations for the logical fallacies in the universe. If George Lucas created all the gaping holes in his story in order for the authors of the dozens of novels to have more room to explore the universe then he is a genius. I suspect, rather, that they are just plot holes. He threw the whole thing together on a whim, didn’t think too hard about it and was surprised when it became popular. He doesn’t have answers. Fans are much better at that anyway. My biggest complaint about this book is that the two authors who edit the essays and provide the opening and closing statements seem to have strikingly different agendas. Brin comes off as a pompous fool who thinks Star Wars would have been better if only George Lucas had called him up and taken his advice. Stover treats the whole thing like a farce referring to Brin as a Sith Lord at every turn and cracking terrible Star Wars themed puns whenever the opportunity arises. The essays themselves are mostly well-written and well-thought pieces. Each author giving some good arguments. Many times I would read the prosecution essay and be convinced that, yes that is all true. Then I would read the opposing view and find myself swayed. In the end I had to come to my own conclusions, which is the point, so in that I would say that this book is a success. This probably won’t be a popular book, most people just won’t care. People like what they like. If you are interested in examining Star Wars critically, both good and bad aspects of it, then this is one of the better sources to turn to. I learned a few things. I wanted to headbutt Nick Mamatas (which I think is what he was going for, so good for him). I rolled my eyes at some of the arguments, I laughed at others. It also made me think, which is never a bad thing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donna Parker

    Regrets I've had a few, then again too few to mention. So what if my life is riddled with plot holes and logical gaps? I have flaws and quirks (I say adorable, some may beg to differ). I’m thoughtful and thoughtless. Brilliant and oh so dumb, sometimes astonishingly, at the same time. I’m a gloriously human jumble. So why do we expect our entertainment to be perfect when we aren't? As humans, we get caught up in things, even now, computers are galactically buzzing about the new Star Wars, loving it, trashing Regrets I've had a few, then again too few to mention. So what if my life is riddled with plot holes and logical gaps? I have flaws and quirks (I say adorable, some may beg to differ). I’m thoughtful and thoughtless. Brilliant and oh so dumb, sometimes astonishingly, at the same time. I’m a gloriously human jumble. So why do we expect our entertainment to be perfect when we aren't? As humans, we get caught up in things, even now, computers are galactically buzzing about the new Star Wars, loving it, trashing it, or both, and it hasn’t even hit theaters yet. I admit, my unease intensifies as The Force Awakens. There were times, I'm sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew-ie and I didn't want to become blaster fodder. And Disney buying Star Wars made my complicated relationship go full Death Star explosion (scared of it I am). But Star Wars On Trial looked interesting, so I let the tractor beam pull me in (that's no moon, that's a blog post!). I consider myself an intelligent viewer (is that an oxymoron?), so I selected the 8th charge against the accused iconic franchise, The Plot Holes and Logical Gaps in Star Wars Make It Ill-Suited for An Intelligent Viewer. I agree, sometimes watching these movies, I just want to say, go home Star Wars you're drunk, but I believe those who consume the story are culpable, not the storyteller. Upon first review of the charges, perhaps it does seem like only morons would enjoy movies like Star Wars - I’m paraphrasing, the witnesses for prosecution, Nick Mamatas and defense, Don DeBrandt were actually quite witty and eloquent. Star Wars certainly did it all and not in a shy way, oh no, let the record show George Lucas took the blows, and did it his way. I'll state my case, of which I'm sorta certain, the details of the story aren't nearly as important as the story itself. Why? Because we are the story. We are Yoda, who trained Luke (more or less), but once said Anakin was too old to train, back in the days of surplus Jedi. We are Obi-Wan Kenobi, I mean, Ben Kenobi hiding Luke Skywalker in plain sight, on a barren planet where most everything wants to kill him - guess we know who the favoured child was. We are Darth Vader (really, you didn’t recognize your own kids?), Han Solo, Amidala, Picard, The Avengers, The Doctor, Sherlock, Buffy, Leia, Luke (ewww, dude, you kissed your sister), The Lorax, Bugs Bunny, Scarlett O’Hara, Rick Grimes (You think it’s a plot hole, but it ain’t!), Rocky, Capt. Jack, Batman, Frodo, C-3PO, Scully, Mulder, Scrooge, Kirk, James Bond, Edward Scissorhands, Simpsons, Reddington (The Blacklist is a logical gap, who cares, watching James Spader read menus would be entertaining), Chewie, Daryl Dixon, Darcy, Katniss, Joker, Boo Radley (having a moment), The Griffins, Keyser Söze, Willy Wonka, Don Draper, Bridget Jones, Charlie Brown, Harry Potter, Walter White, Spock, R2-D2 (the real hero of SW) and more... No spoilers, I enjoyed all the sci-fi and fantasy authors, including, but not limited to David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover who diligently prosecuted and defended the idolized, intriguing, yet infuriating series while the Droid Judge (This isn't the Droid Judge you're looking for) attempted to keep order. Star Wars, innocent, guilty, or just in the wrong place at the right time, you decide, vote at http://www.smartpopbooks.com/star-war... or www.BenBellaBooks.com And enter to win a free copy of Star Wars on Trial from BenBella Books (Canada or U.S only). In the comment box below, tell me your most hated or loved plot hole or logical gap (any book, movie, TV show, or life). Notification via droid (or me) November 15, 2015 - all contact will be confidential. I would say life isn’t logical. How could it be when we live it on a baffling blue ball twirling in space like a tattered ballerina in a vintage music box? Stories are told by humans and therefore, delightfully flawed. Think of it like extra cheese on lasagna, yes, it's irrelevant, but does that mean it shouldn't have happened? Life is messy. Take a bite. And Star Wars has Muppets...isn't that enough? Your true destiny? To always...do it your way. May The Force Be With You http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/11/05/g...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie "Jedigal"

    My two cents: Book = Good; Website = Disappointing. Hidden benefit - introduction through these essays to the writing of around 20 authors! I'm one of those people who both love Star Wars and hate it too. Okay, I don't hate Star Wars itself, but there are some things about it that just drive me batty. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one. This book is not a weighty philosophical treatise on the merits of Star Wars as art form, cultural phenomenon, etc. Instead it is a light but thoughtfu My two cents: Book = Good; Website = Disappointing. Hidden benefit - introduction through these essays to the writing of around 20 authors! I'm one of those people who both love Star Wars and hate it too. Okay, I don't hate Star Wars itself, but there are some things about it that just drive me batty. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one. This book is not a weighty philosophical treatise on the merits of Star Wars as art form, cultural phenomenon, etc. Instead it is a light but thoughtful exploration into some of the ideas floating through the SW fan community. I enjoyed it, but I think that, like the movies, if you take it too seriously, you are going to miss out. This book is in the form of essays written on behalf of the prosecution and the defense, with some "cross-examinations" of witnesses in the "courtroom" conducted by Brin and Stover. Some of the essays are rather serious, and some entertaining. There is at least one that is just wacky. I read the table of contents at the bookstore, and had to buy it, and am glad I did. Charge #1: The politics of Star Wars are anti-democratic and elitist. Charge #2: While claiming mythic significance, Star Wars portrays no admirable religious or ethical beliefs. Charge #3: Star Wars novels are poor substitutes for real science fiction and are driving real SF off the shelves. Charge #4: Science fiction filmmaking has been reduced by Star Wars to poorly written special effects extravaganzas. Charge #5: Star Wars has dumbed down the perception of science fiction in the popular imagination. Charge #6: Star Wars pretends to be science fiction, but is really fantasy. Charge #7: Women in Star Wars are portrayed as fundamentally weak. Charge #8: The plot holes and logical gaps in Star Wars make it ill-suited for an intelligent viewer. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I found myself reading the prosecution argument and saying, "yeah, that's right". Then I'd read the defense argument and say, "yeah, you tell him." And of course, I also disagreed at times. And as I mentioned this is NOT weighty philosophy, so at times you'll find some logic holes in the arguments on either side reminiscent of the logic and plot holes being pointed out in the subject matter. Why it works for me is that there is room for debate. Even though I ended up mostly agreeing with the Defense, there was a case to be made for both sides, which is what makes these questions worth asking. And this is what I have truly loved about SW fans. They ask these questions. They don't just sit back and accept whatever cockamamy junk is thrown at them. For instance, what percentage of SW fans accept the idea of Greedo shooting first? Okay what percentage born before 1997? The only big beef I have is with the website. After you read the book, you are asked to perform the duty of the jury, and weigh in with your opinion at a website. The website is really a bit lame. There's an introductory page, and then an online forum. For those familiar w/forums, a section has been set up with an opening thread for each of the nine "charges". For a couple charges, forum registrants have created a voting "poll", but not for most, which just have discussion. I personally think a no-registration-required poll should have been set up on a main page, separately from the forum, to track an overall reader consensus. While I once had more time to devote to my love of SW, currently it's all the time I can muster to read SW expanded universe novels, and maybe some supplemental material like "Star Wars on Trial". I do not have time to have a discussion about each charge. I do think that the small additional investment in the website I suggest is not too much to ask for those of us who can't benefit from a time-consuming forum interaction.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jason Schneeberger

    Thanks to BenBalla Book and NetGalley or the review copy of this book. This was a fun read that playfully, yet thoughtfully, examines many different aspects of the Star Wars mythos. From the use, or lack thereof, of religion in the series, to the argument that Yoda is actually evil, to the relevancy of movie tie books, to a look into the sexism that prevails throughout the saga, there is a little bit of everything that is debatable here, in the Star Wars Universe. The way this books works, is se Thanks to BenBalla Book and NetGalley or the review copy of this book. This was a fun read that playfully, yet thoughtfully, examines many different aspects of the Star Wars mythos. From the use, or lack thereof, of religion in the series, to the argument that Yoda is actually evil, to the relevancy of movie tie books, to a look into the sexism that prevails throughout the saga, there is a little bit of everything that is debatable here, in the Star Wars Universe. The way this books works, is several authors, writers etc contributed in a fashion of one being for the subject at hand, and one being against it and both (or multiple) parties lay out their case a the court room. At first, I didn't really care for the layout of the debates in this book being like a court room battle. I know, I know, the book is called STAR WARS ON TRIAL for crying out loud, but it just felt like the layout got in the way...at first. As the debates got more interesting, I warmed up to the prosecution and defense state of the book, which was over seen by Droid Judge. Like I said, it was done in a playful manner, but the debates and subsequent cross examinations in this book were quite interesting and bring to light a lot of valid points, like just how worthless all of the Jedi leaders are in the prequel trilogy and how Luke actually did the right thing in the long run by disobeying Yoda. There are many fascinating aspects to the franchise discussed within this book that I never considered or even thought of before. Just about any Star Wars fan that is interested in dissecting the franchise and taking a deeper look into the mechanics of what makes this universe work (or not work for that matter), is going to find quite a lot of interesting opinions and thought provoking ideas in this book. I give this one 4/5!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott James

    A thoughtful and impassioned look at how Star Wars does and does not stack up against the rest of science fiction culture. As a long-time fan of both Dr. Brin and Star Wars, and as a science fiction writer who also finds grievous faults with all movies in the series not named Empire Strikes Back, I found this a welcome and brutally honest pulling back of the curtain. This series of essays concerns itself primarily with the faults of the films themselves, and only briefly with the expanded univer A thoughtful and impassioned look at how Star Wars does and does not stack up against the rest of science fiction culture. As a long-time fan of both Dr. Brin and Star Wars, and as a science fiction writer who also finds grievous faults with all movies in the series not named Empire Strikes Back, I found this a welcome and brutally honest pulling back of the curtain. This series of essays concerns itself primarily with the faults of the films themselves, and only briefly with the expanded universe. As a game designer, someone who's worked with the franchise multiple times, I have a higher than normal familiarity with the oevre, and came to it slightly more forgiving than I should have been. Keep in mind that the "prosecution" stays on point with the movies' problems, while the "defense" moves immediately to the books as an example of why Star Wars is great. Neither addresses the entirety of the fan culture (games, toys, costuming, conventions), and if you're expecting some sort of vindication in that area, you'll be disappointed. As such, I recommend this book to anyone who likes any part of Star Wars as a whole, and especially to all you Anakin apologists.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Drew Allen

    On the whole, I thought it was a very interesting discussion. I thought most of the arguments were fairly balanced on both sides of the argument with one major exception: the "charge" that Star Wars is fantasy, not science fiction. There is no question in my mind that Star Wars is fantasy. (In fact, when it first came out, I described it as science fantasy.) The one author who argues against this is not at all compelling. First, because his major emphasis is that Star Wars is fun, which is irrel On the whole, I thought it was a very interesting discussion. I thought most of the arguments were fairly balanced on both sides of the argument with one major exception: the "charge" that Star Wars is fantasy, not science fiction. There is no question in my mind that Star Wars is fantasy. (In fact, when it first came out, I described it as science fantasy.) The one author who argues against this is not at all compelling. First, because his major emphasis is that Star Wars is fun, which is irrelevant to the "charge", and his contention that fantasy is dark is completely off base. He obviously never read "Myth Adventures", any of the Xanth books, or even Bored of the Rings. On the whole this is an entertaining read for anyone who really likes science in their science fiction or likes Star Wars. There is something for both sides.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    I suspect that calling this, "The Force Awakens Edition," was largely just to tie it in with the current movie, not that there's anything wrong with that. If it hadn't been rereleased to cash in on Episode VII, I may never have known that this existed. It's quite fun. I like the concept, and apparently BenBella books have released a whole slew of these media books pertaining to various SF and fantasy movies and TV series. The title is fairly self-explanatory. It's a delight to read such articula I suspect that calling this, "The Force Awakens Edition," was largely just to tie it in with the current movie, not that there's anything wrong with that. If it hadn't been rereleased to cash in on Episode VII, I may never have known that this existed. It's quite fun. I like the concept, and apparently BenBella books have released a whole slew of these media books pertaining to various SF and fantasy movies and TV series. The title is fairly self-explanatory. It's a delight to read such articulate and educated opinions. All involved make their points well, with varying degrees of tongue in cheek. My opinion of each of the films hasn't really been swayed by any of this, but I did gain some new insights. The Star Wars franchise is much too large for any criticism to seriously matter, but that doesn't mean we still can't have fun debating the pros and cons.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Am so happy a friend gave me this book! Such a great analysis-- not only of the SW franchise-- but of the state of sf in general. A great source for getting ideas for further reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    p.40 Brin uses the philosophical conundrum, ”would you go back in time and kill Hitler as a boy, if given a chance?” A nitpick but, Palpatine is the shot caller here. Vader's master has mentored others. Charge #1: The Politics of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic and Elitist. Democratic vote has gone against them (Jedi Order, Amidala and Organa: Rebel Alliance in its infancy). Palpatine's propaganda and sway over the council shows him as a shrewd politician, playing the game to his favor rather than to p.40 Brin uses the philosophical conundrum, ”would you go back in time and kill Hitler as a boy, if given a chance?” A nitpick but, Palpatine is the shot caller here. Vader's master has mentored others. Charge #1: The Politics of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic and Elitist. Democratic vote has gone against them (Jedi Order, Amidala and Organa: Rebel Alliance in its infancy). Palpatine's propaganda and sway over the council shows him as a shrewd politician, playing the game to his favor rather than touting his elite status; Palpatine destroys that council for his empire by the opening of A New Hope. I favor the defense. Charge #2: While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious or Ethical Beliefs. During David Brin's cross examination, he asks “if what you stay is true, why didn't George Lucas give us a hint, a line of dialogue, wink,” a sledgehammer; he wants Star Wars more obvious with the messages Defense brings forth, otherwise its speculation and interpretation... p.131 Brin: …willing to admit... that Luke winds up defying his Jedi Masters, questioning their authority. Overcoming their mistakes and helping to bring a new Order that might—one can hope—rise above the flaming lunacy that both sides of the old Force represent. Which they obviously cannot. The EU is a never-ending roller-coaster of light and dark fluctuations. Standing outside the EU, the Skywalkers remain the lynch pin to imbalance and balance. I favor the Defense and the Prosecution, but SW does portray ethical beliefs. The Courtroom pages fail to delve further. Charge #3: Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and Are Driving Real SF off the Shelves. p.147 Anders: The public has no problem with distinguishing the good stuff. This undermines his argument that the public cannot find Real SF and Real Entertainment. An effort is needed on the readers behalf to find what entertains, not the publishers nor bookstores; they will follow the money but also their own sense of excitement: hand-selling and word-of-mouth. The Internet belies the “nothing on tv, nothing on the radio.” Go to the library and truly browse the shelves. I favor the Defense; TRUE SF has given way to the 'melting pot' and a dollop of the fantastic has been added; SF cannot be limited to the dour tone of technological doom. Charge #4: Science Fiction Filmmaking Has Been Reduced by Star Wars to Poorly Written Special Effects Extravaganzas.p.193 Hemry: Yes, A New Hope resulted in lots of rotten SF movies hitting the screens, but it also inspired some good stuff and it taught a generation of moviegoers that SF and good movies are not incompatible things. Now Hollywood 'knows' … that lousy SF movies with great special effects of can also make good money. Studios are seeking and have always sought bankable brands/franchises: Jaws, Planet of the Apes, etc. Bethke is skirting the issue that effects overran story in cinema. In the world of Technicolor, Wizard of Oz and its sepia tones contrasting emerald green, big explosions and stuntmen upping the ante, an audience is drawn to the spectacular. He faults Lucas for sci-fi's downfall by using the medium's greatest asset: visual storytelling. I favor the Defense. However influential Lucas is, he was inspired by... We choose our delights and they may or may not be monetarily re-enforced or squashed. Charge #5: Star Wars Has Dumbed Down the Perception of Science Fiction in the Popular Imagination. p.228 Huff: Star Wars was the grandpappy of media tie-ins and has become a shorthand definition of science fiction for an entire generation. It isn't just that Star Wars—simple, sparkly and not exactly cohesive under critical analysis—has wiped out any literary merit science fiction has gained in the minds of the general public; it's worse: there are adults, with children of their own, who have never lived in a world where science fiction wasn't reeling under the weight of Star Wars. There are adults who have never known the science fiction section of bookstores when they weren't dominated by media tie-ins. The adults living in a world without this 'weight' grew up before radio, before marketers had a singular and easy platform to reach little boys with lunch-pales and BB guns. The great-grandpappy would be Disney; he grabbed everyone's imagination and then sold them a piece, sold them a day-pass. I favor the Defense. If you're facing a dumb perception of SF, then counter it with an intelligent one. Charge #6: Star Wars Pretends to Be Science Fiction, but Is Really Fantasy. Cavelos: [Leia] remains on the sidelines during ep.IV... a cheerleader. At the awards ceremony, she is in the position of a commander, but she does not wield the power of one. She is a valued participant within the Rebellion and award medals are for two New Rebels who performed their task. Cavelos: The most serious blow to the coherence of Leia's character comes with the revelation that she is Darth Vader's daughter. From the beginning of the trilogy, we have seen Leia's loyalty to the man she believes is her father, Bail Organa. She goes to Tatooine at her father's bidding, and she shares with her father a love of their home planet and their people, and a hatred for the Empire. Thus the news that Bail is not her father and that Vader is should be a huge blow to her. Yet Leia reacts as if she's on Prozac, saying she's “always known.” This is not convincing on any level. Unless she's adamantly fighting from the other spectrum, that her hatred and anger has faded into a mind-boggling disappointment over the death and waste. p.326 Cavelos: On the Ewok moon, a strong intuition would again provide more motivation for Leia to act. If she has a sense that the Ewoks are key to the Rebel victory, then she should be much more proactive in gathering intelligence... Standing around saying you're lost and eating a granola bar aren't really effective... Similarly, she fails to work toward an alliance once she gets the Ewok village, instead giving herself another makeover. 3PO does more to gain their help—and that's about the biggest insult I can give to any character. It's a big insult to suggest that linguistics aren't necessary when creating an alliance; you need an interpreter. Stover snarks about one point of Cavelos's argument rather than debate her on any point. Cross examination is a sham, artless wit and banter. p.330 Spangler: Although there have been some definite missteps along the way, strong female characters like Leia have appeared in the Star Wars prequel and in the EU. In addition, she has made an impact on pop fiction as a whole. Rather than counter Cavelos's argument he agrees, but asks us to instead 'look at the impact Lucas had!' Spangler sites Lucas's intention of making the saga all about Leia and the 'boys can't hang.' The boy that is Lucas can't hang with that story perspective and admits, “eventually, I shifted it to...” p.330 Spangler: Now, almost 30 years after A New Hope, seeing a strong woman in an action-adventure film doesn't produce the same surprise that it used to. “Thirty years ago” Lucas may have been thinking counter to “jiggle TV” when he made his heroine tape her breasts down, but we have Sigourney Weaver's Ripley operating a robot forklift, in a 'wife beater,' looking mussed up and sweating; that was a surprise. She was taken seriously and shown how to handle a machine gun. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, in The Avengers, surprised me; she controls the scene while tied to a chair; she outwits Loki, looking scared and fearful. But she walks away, with a smirk, having him admit his intentions. p.339 Brin: In Empire... Yoda and Obi-Wan look woefully at the departing Luke, both of them certain that his rebellious action will result in disaster. (It doesn't.) “No,” answers the oven mitt. “There is another.” That statement—so filled with dramatic portent—promised a big payoff. When we learned that the “other” was Leia, that was just fine! Our appetites were whetted for her to do something marvelous! Only then... … Do you feel that there was a payoff worthy of this clue? Spangler: I don't think that Leia could've suddenly manifested powers in Return... equal to a or greater than Luke's. That would've been a deus ex machina. And I don't think she could've confronted Vader directly. Suddenly manifesting powers in Lucas's story yes, but under Cavelos's tightening of the character? I favor the prosecution. Charge #8: The Plot Holes and Logical Gaps in Star Wars Make It Ill-Suited for an Intelligent Viewer. I favor the Presecution. All the “plot holes and logical gaps” should be sewn up, the story should make sense. Does this inherently make it ill-suited for the intelligent viewer? Aside from this remark, George Lucas, Mining “The Courtroom” pages for interesting debates was tedious and sometimes rewarding. Their banter and acknowledging a robot judge were not fun, not imaginative. Is this an attempt to take the sting out of its critique? It's unauthorized.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gartland

    Reading this book, I found some helpful tips on shopping for science fiction. It introduced me to Nick Mamatas, whose writing I like. (I already liked David Brin's writing.) I can't say that I'm a fan of Star Wars. I've only watched 6 movies. That's twice as many as I should have watched. This book covers a lot more plot detail than I remember. Wading through all of that was sometimes boring. Sometimes it taught me something new--like hitherto unknown vectors of attack for critically analyzing st Reading this book, I found some helpful tips on shopping for science fiction. It introduced me to Nick Mamatas, whose writing I like. (I already liked David Brin's writing.) I can't say that I'm a fan of Star Wars. I've only watched 6 movies. That's twice as many as I should have watched. This book covers a lot more plot detail than I remember. Wading through all of that was sometimes boring. Sometimes it taught me something new--like hitherto unknown vectors of attack for critically analyzing stories. Some of the entries were meandering tales about authors' personal lives, instead of cogent arguments. I noticed this was more often true among the guest writers who authored Star Wars novels. One of the charges made against Star Wars is that it is fantasy instead of science fiction. To address this charge, many interesting definitions of science fiction were put forward. Bruce Bethke's was particularly quotable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    In this book, a a number of science fiction authors and others proceed to debate and critique star wars. It's mostly a set of loosely linked essays, with a cute framing story about "star wars on trial." The essays and topics were mixed, of course, and I didn't read all of them. But I thought there were some good things there. Scott Lynch I thought in particular made a smart and interesting point I hadn't seen before -- Luke is an improvement, in moral terms, over the older Jedi -- he is honest an In this book, a a number of science fiction authors and others proceed to debate and critique star wars. It's mostly a set of loosely linked essays, with a cute framing story about "star wars on trial." The essays and topics were mixed, of course, and I didn't read all of them. But I thought there were some good things there. Scott Lynch I thought in particular made a smart and interesting point I hadn't seen before -- Luke is an improvement, in moral terms, over the older Jedi -- he is honest and loyal to his friends, whereas they are aloof, self-righteous, and deceitful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mer

    I enjoyed the format of the book, dictation of a courtroom trial, and I enjoyed the banter between the two 'lawyers'. The amount of detail presented by each of the authors is mind boggling; I clearly am not a 'dyed in the wool' Star Wars fan! I was gratified to see I was not alone on my opinion of the prequels.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book was alright, but tried too hard to be funny. There was no point in reading the arguments because I feel it is obvious that Star Wars is a fantasy story, so why take it so seriously? A lot of this information I read in this book I had read in the previous Star Wars books I had to read for this class so everything felt super repetitive to me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Skip Sneeringer

    Fun, but the later questions are sort of dull. Is there really a debate as to whether Star Wars is pushing hard SF off bookshelves? Doesn't seem worth discussing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joey Hines

    I love Star Wars. I'm a big unabashed nerd about it. But if you're a nerd about anything -- and everyone's a nerd about something -- you know how it is: some people just don't get it. The SW novels I enjoy have a nasty reputation for being devoid of valuable content and full of poorly-written baloney. (I felt the same way about Pride and Prejudice, but whatever.) I believe that everyone should read whatever the hell they want to read, but I'm a sensitive dude, and sometimes other people's judgmen I love Star Wars. I'm a big unabashed nerd about it. But if you're a nerd about anything -- and everyone's a nerd about something -- you know how it is: some people just don't get it. The SW novels I enjoy have a nasty reputation for being devoid of valuable content and full of poorly-written baloney. (I felt the same way about Pride and Prejudice, but whatever.) I believe that everyone should read whatever the hell they want to read, but I'm a sensitive dude, and sometimes other people's judgments make me insecure. Sometimes it seems like there's a whole world of deeeep, profound sci-fi by cool indie authors that I'm missing out on by reading all these SW books. I believe in confidently letting your freak flag fly, but I also understand the value of questioning "the truths we cling to", so I was drawn to this book of pop culture criticism, which debates whether Star Wars is an ebullient Force of good or an evil money-hungry Empire. The overall presentation is entertaining. David Brin, who's some kind of critically respected sci-fi author, leads the prosecution, and Matthew Stover, who is cream-of-the-crop when it comes to SW authors, leads the defense. Different authors and essayists "testify" on various facets of the SW saga. A Droid Judge mediates. Amusing stuff. Where do I stand after reading this? I've already told you I'm a nerd, so feel free to take my confirmation bias into account, but I think most of the arguments against SW are tired and short-sighted. They repeatedly cite the unrealistic science ("There's no noise in space!" and "FTL travel doesn't make sense!") as if this is news to anyone. They also love to point out PLOT HOLES, as if this makes them clever. Personally, I don't need every step of a story spelled out for me, and I'm okay with some things being unexplained. In fact, I like the more ambiguous elements of the SW series, as they spark imagination and have helped foster a creative community of authors, artists, filmmakers, and fans. I do love Jeanne Cavelos's chapter on the treatment of women in SW. There are really only two female characters in the first six films, and both are terribly marginalized. Leia in ANH is an incredible feminist icon, but by ROTJ she is so watered-down, it's embarrassing. That slave outfit should never have happened. Her Skywalker heritage and Force abilities are so obviously tacked-on as to be pointless (at least in that particular film). Leia's development was definitely shortchanged in favor of the male leads -- and Padme didn't fare much better. That being said, this book doesn't address any of the new material from TFA. We now have Rey, and soon we'll have Jyn, and it looks like Disney is committed to giving SW a more progressive universe, much as they have with their Marvel properties. My favorite essay from the defense is Robert A. Metzger's interpretation of SW as comedy, in the Shakespearean sense. With rare exceptions, we don't laugh at Shakespeare's comedies, but they end happily, and they make us feel joy. Too often, I think pessimists confuse themselves for intellectuals. As a decided optimist, I deny this correlation. I like Bradbury, Vonnegut, Dick, and other "literary" sci-fi, but I also like my Wookiee books. As far as making people happy and hopeful, I think SW is one of the most successful stories out there. I sure enjoy it more than 2001. The most moving moment of the defense is when Don DeBrandt cites Einstein's well-known quote, "Imagination is more important than knowedge." I'm also reminded of Thoreau, who wrote, "The question is not what you look at, but what you see." There's no such thing as objectively good art. Some works will resonate with more people than others, but the biggest variable is the work's audience and whatever is going on in their lives at the time. This is probably why I felt meh about Pride and Prejudice -- I didn't catch it in the right mindset -- and why Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin will always have a place in my heart (it's like she wrote those songs for 13-year-old me). Look at what Alan Moore and Grant Morrison were able to do with Batman/Superman. Those guys grew up reading pulpy comics from the 60s/70s, found their imaginations stirred, and went on to turn those properties into undeniable art. The same thing is happening with SW, as the franchise falls into the hands of those who have grown up as fans, and I can't wait to see the results. I probably won't read a book like this again. It was fun enough, but I kept thinking, "I could be reading Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor or those cool-looking new Lando comics instead." Life's too short to let other people make you feel guilty about stuff you like.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin O'Brien

    This is not a book for everyone, but it is interesting for the right person. My initial impulse to read it was because of the involvement of David Brin, whom I follow on Google+ and consider a very intelligent observer of society. And the book grew out of an article he wrote some years ago for Slate Magazine that compared Star Wars to Star Trek, and found Start Trek to be the better series for reasons that might not immediately come to mind to a casual observer. The lens that Brin chose to shine This is not a book for everyone, but it is interesting for the right person. My initial impulse to read it was because of the involvement of David Brin, whom I follow on Google+ and consider a very intelligent observer of society. And the book grew out of an article he wrote some years ago for Slate Magazine that compared Star Wars to Star Trek, and found Start Trek to be the better series for reasons that might not immediately come to mind to a casual observer. The lens that Brin chose to shine on these was one of what they say about people and society. Star Wars comes from a long tradition of mythic fantasy, as should be well known. George Lucas was pretty open about being influenced by Joseph Campbell in writing these Star Wars stories, and the influence clearly shows. And these kinds of mythic fantasy stories are about heroes, and generally they are special people. Anakin Skywalker is named, among other things, the "Chosen one", and is revealed to be different in various ways, from birth, from others. (See midichlorians). And in these kinds of stories people who are born special are always the focus. The rest of us are just a backdrop to their story. Star Trek, by contrast, is about ordinary people. It is just their circumstances that are extraordinary. While none of us could ever by Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi, we could all imagine ourselves joining Starfleet and rising to captain a Starship. The people here are just like us, and we can identify with them. The reason this kind of thing matters is when you consider that our attitude towards these stories may also say something about our attitude to our own society. And that is where Brin likes to go with this analysis. If you look to special people to solve problems, you are more likely to look for a savior of some kind to come along and solve all of our current problems. And that is antithetical to how a democracy functions. A democratic society should be one where each of us rolls up our sleeves and makes solutions to problems. A subtext to this is the tendency to employ Social Darwinism to exalt those who have had success as naturally better than those who have been less successful. As a scientific view of society it is pretty much useless, but it is being pushed energetically right now by forces that are trying to drag us back to Feudal-type of society where your place in the world is largely settled by birth. I think this is a tendency that should be energetically resisted, as does David Brin. One last connection that occurred to me is that I support Free Software, which is software made by people and offered for free use. And wherever possible I resist using proprietary software offered by companies that only "license" the use and reserve the right to take away that license any time they feel like it. I think that is an example of preference for democracy in action.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie Capell

    I’m writing this review quite a few years after I read the book, but I remember it was extremely well-received by my sci-fi book club, giving us many topics to talk about. The book is comprised of a series of essays by many well-known sci-fi authors, organized around the conceit that they are arguing either for or against a particular charge that has been leveled against that most beloved of sci-fi franchises, Star Wars. Some of the authors present arguments that are just plain silly (yes, I’m t I’m writing this review quite a few years after I read the book, but I remember it was extremely well-received by my sci-fi book club, giving us many topics to talk about. The book is comprised of a series of essays by many well-known sci-fi authors, organized around the conceit that they are arguing either for or against a particular charge that has been leveled against that most beloved of sci-fi franchises, Star Wars. Some of the authors present arguments that are just plain silly (yes, I’m talking about you, Robert Metzger) but most of them understand that the topics they have been given are bigger than Star Wars, existing as indictments of sci-fi as a genre. The charge that Star Wars is anti-Democractic and elitist had actually never occurred to me before reading this book, but once I read Keith R A DeCandido’s argument I found myself reassessing much of sci-fi through this lens and realizing he had a very valid point. The essays on women in Star Wars were another high point. The essay by Jeanne Cavelos,”How the Rebel Princess and the Virgin Queen became Marginalized and Powerless” was the best in the book. In it, Cavelos makes a convincing case that Leia, who starts out as a powerful leader of the rebellion, very quickly is relegated to the submissive and powerless role of victim while the men are cast as her rescuers. This is a perennial problem, not just in science fiction, but in most Western literature and cinema and is a point worth discussing. This essay changed the way I read most books and should be required reading in every women’s literature class. But I don’t want to give the impression that this book was a serious, hard slog through the marsh of literary criticism. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, such as this one from Jeanne Cavelos’ essay: “If Leia has a ‘bad feeling’ about Cloud City, then she should investigate, not change her clothes and braid her hair.” Another of my favorite quotes comes from John C. Wright’s “May the Midichlorians be with You,” in which Wright states that there is neither ethics nor religion in Star Wars. Instead, he makes the case that the Force “is for doing super-ninja-leaps with Way Cool psychokinetic powers.” In another excellent essay, “Star Wars as Anime,” Bruce Bethke points out that Lucas borrowed from so many sources, from Buck Rogers to the Hidden Fortress, that you can find any influence you are looking for. “For example, the story of the original movie can also be summarized as, ‘A restless young boy chafes at life on the farm, until he meets a wizard and is swept away to a wondrous land where he meets some munchkins, a tin man, a cowardly lion and Harrison Ford as the scarecrow.’ ” Serious readers of science fiction will find a lot to think and argue about in this ingenious book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    S.

    I feel like this is worth reading if you are a dedicated Star Wars fan, a fan of David Brin, or a science fiction writer yourself. The essays cover some larger questions about the role and effect of science fiction on culture that are worthwhile if you're interested in the topic. However, I'm not sure who decided to pit Mathew Woodring Stover against David Brin. This book is an intellectual bloodbath if I ever saw one. Stover just doesn't have the debate skills to construct a good argument and Br I feel like this is worth reading if you are a dedicated Star Wars fan, a fan of David Brin, or a science fiction writer yourself. The essays cover some larger questions about the role and effect of science fiction on culture that are worthwhile if you're interested in the topic. However, I'm not sure who decided to pit Mathew Woodring Stover against David Brin. This book is an intellectual bloodbath if I ever saw one. Stover just doesn't have the debate skills to construct a good argument and Brin is a skilled master. What's worse, Stover adopts a writing persona for his portion that is abrasive, petty and childish. Where as Brin might make a quip belittling what he thinks is a bad idea, Stover returns fire with direct personal attack and the result leaves you embarrassed for him. Brin attacks ideas that he doesn't agree with. Stover attacks the people who hold ideas he doesn't like. There is a huge difference between these two approaches, with the former being productive argument and the latter being antagonistic needling. Stover comes off sounding self important and condescending, which is ironic since the bulk of his argument is built around the idea that the criticism of Star Wars is just the angry fuming of a bunch of humorless kill joys who don't know how to play. Let me repeat: Stover ends his argument by saying that David Brin, the man who wrote science fiction novels about space-faring haiku-speaking dolphins, yes that David Brin...is just a party-pooper-super-serious-downer who doesn't know how to have a good time. On the up side, there are several quality essays for both sides of the debate, including a delightful submission by Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards series).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Read this review and more on my blog. I received a free copy of Star Wars On Trial: The Force Awakens Edition for my honest opinion. You have to be very interested in Star Wars to appreciate this book. Essentially, Star Wars On Trial is a bunch of hardcore Star Wars fans discussing (not really discussing, more like arguing) different aspects of Star Wars, like plot holes. Their are 9 different 'charges' that have been argued. The Politics Of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic And Elitist; While Claiming M Read this review and more on my blog. I received a free copy of Star Wars On Trial: The Force Awakens Edition for my honest opinion. You have to be very interested in Star Wars to appreciate this book. Essentially, Star Wars On Trial is a bunch of hardcore Star Wars fans discussing (not really discussing, more like arguing) different aspects of Star Wars, like plot holes. Their are 9 different 'charges' that have been argued. The Politics Of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic And Elitist; While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious Or Ethical Beliefs; Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes For Real Science Fiction And Are Driving Real SF Of The Shelves; Science Fiction Filmmaking Has Been Reduced By Star Wars To Poorly Written Special Effects Extravaganzas; Star Wars Has Dumbed Down The Perception Of Science Fiction In The Popular Imagination; Star Wars Pretends To Be Science Fiction, But Is Really Fantasy; Women In Star Wars Are Portrayed As Fundamentally Weak; The Plot Holes And Logical Gaps In Star Wars Make It Ill-Suited For An Intelligent Viewer; and Considering All The Factors Above, Overall, Star Wars Has Been Damaging To Science Fiction Readers, Writers and Moviegoers. Even though it is called 'The Force Awakens Edition', Star Wars On Trial does not contain ANYTHING to do with The Force Awakens. I did enjoy Star Wars On Trial, and some of the points raised are quite valid; but since I found it misleading regarding 'The Force Awakens', overall it could have been better.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This review and more can be found at Book of Bogan Disclaimer: I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Star Wars on Trial is part courtroom drama, part goodnatured philosophical discussion, and occasional open warfare between several contradictory sides, in a debate about the value and values of the Star Wars movie and cultural franchise. Let me get this out there - I love Star Wars! I love Star Wars in ways I can't even explain, but somehow resonate within me. I suspe This review and more can be found at Book of Bogan Disclaimer: I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Star Wars on Trial is part courtroom drama, part goodnatured philosophical discussion, and occasional open warfare between several contradictory sides, in a debate about the value and values of the Star Wars movie and cultural franchise. Let me get this out there - I love Star Wars! I love Star Wars in ways I can't even explain, but somehow resonate within me. I suspected therefore that I was not going to like this book. Drawing on a series of essays by science fiction authors - including those who have written in the Star Wars universe, and others - the two primary lawyers - Matthew Stover for the defense, and David Brin for the prosecution - break down and analyse the films and books series. They have clearly gone over these films with a fine tooth comb. I think what I came away from the book with is that one should not simply consume media in a passive way, and think about the information we absorb into our brains passively while watching films, and reading books. While it reminded me of a number of classes I took during my liberal arts degree, and does lend itself to academia, this is a pretty accessible book for people wanting to have a bit of a laugh, or a serious discussion. In the end I am not sure who won, but it didn't change my love for the universe.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    This is a fun book for fans of the Star Wars universe, and looks at the films (and other related media) in an analytical way. It is written in the form of a court case and is divided up into specific questions with responses from opposing viewpoints. The discussions are, for the most part, intriguing and did make me aware of certain aspects of Star Wars that I wasn't really conscious of. Because all of the questions have responses from opposing views, at times they come across as forced, as if y This is a fun book for fans of the Star Wars universe, and looks at the films (and other related media) in an analytical way. It is written in the form of a court case and is divided up into specific questions with responses from opposing viewpoints. The discussions are, for the most part, intriguing and did make me aware of certain aspects of Star Wars that I wasn't really conscious of. Because all of the questions have responses from opposing views, at times they come across as forced, as if you're listening to a high school debater who was assigned their stance on an issue. It does remain pretty fairly balanced in its presentation, and would serve as a good jumping off point for discussion with others. I would recommend it to those Star Wars fans who are interested in and comfortable with looking at the genre through a critical lens as well as analyzing the culture surrounding the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Grooms

    This was a fun book to read. Accessible to anyone who has watched the first two Star Wars trilogies, this books features "witnesses" (usually science fiction writers) arguing through essays over the merits of Star Wars across a broad range of categories, including politics, logical consistency, gender, and the effect on science fiction as a genre. The framework of Brin and Stover acting as attorneys in front of a "Droid Judge" was amusing and not overdone. While the law student in me wishes they This was a fun book to read. Accessible to anyone who has watched the first two Star Wars trilogies, this books features "witnesses" (usually science fiction writers) arguing through essays over the merits of Star Wars across a broad range of categories, including politics, logical consistency, gender, and the effect on science fiction as a genre. The framework of Brin and Stover acting as attorneys in front of a "Droid Judge" was amusing and not overdone. While the law student in me wishes they had stipulated some common standards of assessment, some of the arguments were over whether Star Wars should be taken seriously enough to pass verdicts of this sort in the first place, so I understand why the "proceedings" were loose (for the record, I sided with the defense more often than not). The "Force Awakens Edition" aspects were negligible - essentially a couple of introductory essays anticipating Episode VII and modified cover art - so I wouldn't be picky about which edition you buy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Franco

    Two supposed experts—never heard of them—argue as to why Star Wars is so great and why it isn’t. There’s a droid judge. Other people I’ve never heard of testify—the original meaning, not the urban slang—to that effect with their own essays, and then get cross-examined. I’m surprised by how much of this tediousness I enjoyed. Helps that there was plenty to laugh at, especially between the councilors. I managed to annoy myself by thinking one side had a great point and then instantly the rebuttal Two supposed experts—never heard of them—argue as to why Star Wars is so great and why it isn’t. There’s a droid judge. Other people I’ve never heard of testify—the original meaning, not the urban slang—to that effect with their own essays, and then get cross-examined. I’m surprised by how much of this tediousness I enjoyed. Helps that there was plenty to laugh at, especially between the councilors. I managed to annoy myself by thinking one side had a great point and then instantly the rebuttal had me thinking, “That’s true too!” I loved that the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was mentioned, as all of George Lucas’s catalog was fair game. But let’s be honest: this is an old book masquerading as a current edition, supposedly given a makeover due to the new movie. Not true. With renewed interest in the series they could have simply been honest about it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I started reading this 3 years ago based on a fellow Star Wars fan's recommendation, and when I first picked it up I was so charmed by the premise and utterly engaged by the different arguments. However, it quickly grew tiring and although I meant to, I never returned to finish it and never felt particularly motivated to do so. My status updates on the book from back in 2013 sum it up pretty clearly: 15% - LOVE THIS 30% - Stover is deeply obnoxious and really overly smarmy. I actually think he low I started reading this 3 years ago based on a fellow Star Wars fan's recommendation, and when I first picked it up I was so charmed by the premise and utterly engaged by the different arguments. However, it quickly grew tiring and although I meant to, I never returned to finish it and never felt particularly motivated to do so. My status updates on the book from back in 2013 sum it up pretty clearly: 15% - LOVE THIS 30% - Stover is deeply obnoxious and really overly smarmy. I actually think he lowers the IQ of the average reader with all the windy winking and plugging his books. 36% - Kind of hard to focus... 58% - This has become pretty exhausting and not close enough to enjoyable to finish The end.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.