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Old February 18 2012, 10:41 PM   #1
BillJ
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Star Wars Question...

Been on the fringes casually following the Star Wars franchise since 1977. I've seen all six motion pictures, played games such as Shadows of the Empire, Knights of the Old Republic I/II and am currently reading the novel The Rule of Two.

One thing has always bugged me...

The story in-universe spans roughly four thousand years. Has there been any explanation why technology and styles have went relatively unchanged?

If it weren't for the fact that Knights of the Old Republic tells you the story takes place four thousand years prior to the movies, it would be easy to mistake it (visually) for taking place in the same timeframe as the films.
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Old February 18 2012, 11:52 PM   #2
Set Harth
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Re: Star Wars Question...

BillJ wrote: View Post
The story in-universe spans roughly four thousand years.
Closer to forty thousand, if you include Dawn of the Jedi.
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Old February 18 2012, 11:54 PM   #3
sojourner
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Re: Star Wars Question...

It's a stagnate setting that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
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Old February 19 2012, 12:06 AM   #4
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Re: Star Wars Question...

BillJ wrote: View Post
Been on the fringes casually following the Star Wars franchise since 1977. I've seen all six motion pictures, played games such as Shadows of the Empire, Knights of the Old Republic I/II and am currently reading the novel The Rule of Two.

One thing has always bugged me...

The story in-universe spans roughly four thousand years. Has there been any explanation why technology and styles have went relatively unchanged?

If it weren't for the fact that Knights of the Old Republic tells you the story takes place four thousand years prior to the movies, it would be easy to mistake it (visually) for taking place in the same timeframe as the films.
There are dark ages where knowledge and technology is set back such as the when the Sith ruled the galaxy in the 2000 years before the Star Wars Saga or the Imperial Era itself that is the setting of the OT.
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Old February 19 2012, 12:08 AM   #5
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Re: Star Wars Question...

BillJ wrote: View Post
The story in-universe spans roughly four thousand years. Has there been any explanation why technology and styles have went relatively unchanged?
Well, most of human history (let alone prehistory) has been dominated by periods in which technology has remained at a fairly steady state or progressed very gradually. The era of rapid progress and change that we live in is actually the exception to the norm. Progress kicks into high gear when you have a combination of a need driving it, the available resources to make it happen, and the right social conditions to promote innovation; take one or more of those away and society resumes more of an equilibrium state.

For instance, China was once so far ahead of Europe technologically that they could've had an industrial revolution 700 years before Europe did. But they didn't because they had no need of one. Europe's industrial revolution was driven by a need for advances in transportation technology to acquire the wealth and resources found elsewhere in the world, particularly the goods and technologies found in Asia, and the need for advances in manufacturing technology to produce goods that could compete with Chinese ceramics and textiles. It was also driven by a social structure that promoted investment in technological innovation and territorial expansion. By contrast, China centuries earlier was self-sufficient and economically strong within itself, so didn't have the same need to compete, travel, and advance. They already had just about everything they needed, and if they needed anything from outside, the outsiders already came to them. Also, their social and economic structure promoted keeping things as they were; the nobility prospered by renting land to tenant farmers, so they discouraged territorial expansion or colonization, since if the tenants left, the rich and powerful would lose the basis of their wealth. So they didn't have the incentive to promote major change. Their technology did undergo refinements and innovations to an extent, but they were gradual, not revolutionary.

It's possible that the inhabitants of the Galaxy Far, Far Away have already reached a technological or social plateau. The technology they have seems to meet all their needs, and they've pretty much settled the entire galaxy already so there's no incentive to develop the means to travel farther. Hyperdrive already lets them cross the galaxy in hours, it seems, so I don't see why they'd need to develop anything better. Indeed, for all we know, there is nothing better. Maybe the laws of SW-verse physics don't allow for faster propulsion or smarter AIs or whatever. So there may be no further progress possible in certain areas.

There's also the ubiquity of droids to consider. That makes the GFFA somewhat equivalent to a slave society, structurally speaking. Slave societies in history have sometimes been ill-equipped for innovation, because practical labor and hands-on work come to be seen as the purview of the lower classes, so that the educated elites prefer to focus on more rarefied, abstract pursuits. This is why the nascent scientific revolution of Ancient Greece petered out -- because the people who had the brilliant ideas were generally not inclined to engage in experimentation or practical engineering, and so they remained abstract and unrealized. The peoples of the GFFA may have grown so complacent with their droid economy providing their needs that they don't take much interest in innovation.
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Old February 19 2012, 04:53 AM   #6
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Re: Star Wars Question...

BillJ wrote: View Post
The story in-universe spans roughly four thousand years. Has there been any explanation why technology and styles have went relatively unchanged?
Sci-fi writers, especially space fantasy writers, are notorious awful about that sort of thing. It's why planets usually only have one culture, climate, religion, and/or government. They're just wretchedly awful when it comes to being creative and more importantly believable, which is pretty ironic considering what they're doing.

In-universe it makes absolutely no sense. There's technology companies with massive research & development branches, such as Czerka in the Old Republic or Kuat Drive Yards in the "present." Hell, the very first movie is all about smuggling the plans of a technological marvel, with the expanded universe going even further with things like Super Star Destroyers and Interdictors. Yet... everything still remains largely the same.

Heck, they're rarely even original with broad concepts and races. Just look at Star Wars the Old Republic. If you want to be a stripper, you best be a twi'lek or else you'll need to find some other line of work.

You can try to rationalize it all you like, but it's not going to work. The only real answer is simply bad writing and a lack of creative and original thinking. But then, very little makes any sense whatsoever in the Star Wars universe. Style over substance is their hallmark.
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Old February 19 2012, 06:09 AM   #7
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Re: Star Wars Question...

The Star Trek universe remains essentially static in every major respect from Archer's time through Janeway's. It ain't history, just a fairly simple story.
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Old February 19 2012, 06:25 AM   #8
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Re: Star Wars Question...

The problem is that people view Star Wars as sci-fi, or even hard sci-fi, when it's a fairy tale pure and simple. If you're looking for a logical development of technology, then you're going to need to look elsewhere.
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Old February 19 2012, 06:35 AM   #9
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Re: Star Wars Question...

The possibility of a technological plateau and a droid labor pool are interesting ideas. Which I might agree with, if not for the fact that the Star Wars EU is basically in constant flux and warfare. And such things breed technological developments, even if it is only faster and more powerful ships, or more powerful weapons. Those breakthroughs leak through into other fields and have a trickle down effect across the whole spectrum technology.

Just in the settings of the movies and couple dozen years of EU in-universe history after them, we see all sorts of advances. Super weapons(Sun Crusher, I'm looking at you), cloaking technology, the progressively more advanced fighters Y-wing to X-wing to A-wing to B-wing to E-wing to whatever.

By comparison, I just finished reading my first Warhammer 40K novel and that universe also is apparently stagnant technologically more or less, but only because advanced technology led to some sort of massive AI war, and since then AIs have been banned and technological advances have been outlawed or something. My knowledge of that universe is very slight(but it sure does deserve the "Grimdark" label), but I like that there is at least an attempt to explain things.
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Old February 19 2012, 06:55 AM   #10
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Re: Star Wars Question...

The Death Star is a fairly obvious example of a technological advancement in the Star Wars universe.

The way Han Solo brags about the Millennium Falcon being able to make "point-five past light speed", it is also suggested that innovations are occurring in the area of hyper-drive motors. Or, at least that's how I always interpreted that.
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Old February 19 2012, 07:22 AM   #11
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Re: Star Wars Question...

It's not explicitly stated as far as I know, but I always got the implication that they've reached the limit of what the physics of their universe will allow.
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Old February 19 2012, 04:07 PM   #12
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Re: Star Wars Question...

sidious618 wrote: View Post
The problem is that people view Star Wars as sci-fi, or even hard sci-fi, when it's a fairy tale pure and simple. If you're looking for a logical development of technology, then you're going to need to look elsewhere.
That's true. But mainly I just wanted to call attention to the unexamined assumption that continuing technological progress is a universal norm, and that technological stability is somehow an aberration that needs to be explained. We tend to think that way because we've lived in a state of rapid progress all our lives and our society has been in one for centuries, so it's easy to assume that's the way things have always been and always will be. But a few centuries is a very short time in the grand sweep of history, let alone the entire lifespan of our species. The big-picture reality is that what we've known all our lives may just be a phase society is currently going through, and that phase could eventually come to an end. So while it's true that Star Wars is a fairy tale in space, it's also true, though largely unrealized, that the premise of a society being technologically stable for thousands of years is not necessarily implausible.


CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
The Death Star is a fairly obvious example of a technological advancement in the Star Wars universe.
In the sense that it's a bigger gun, maybe, but that's hardly an impressive advancement. Building a bigger weapon that has more power packed into it doesn't necessarily constitute a fundamental advance in technology, just a greater allocation of existing resources into weaponry. Heck, if you want to destroy all life on a planet, you can just toss an asteroid at it, or crash a ship into it at a high fraction of lightspeed. Actually disintegrating the entire planet is a ridiculous degree of overkill, when all you really need is to render the surface layer uninhabitable. The Death Star's power was arguably as much about propaganda as technology.


The way Han Solo brags about the Millennium Falcon being able to make "point-five past light speed", it is also suggested that innovations are occurring in the area of hyper-drive motors. Or, at least that's how I always interpreted that.
To me it sounded more like he was bragging about having the most souped-up car around. I mean, the Falcon is an antiquated, broken-down freighter, not a state-of-the-art ship. In the Imperial Era, I doubt that anyone other than the military is getting state-of-the-art tech; everyone else, particularly the outlaws, would have to settle for more low-grade assembly-line stuff or whatever still-viable Republic-era tech they could scrounge together. It's more likely that Han's boast simply meant that he'd been able to upgrade its engines with the best parts he could beg, borrow, or steal, and make it run as close as possible to the peak of the existing range of ship performance.

By analogy, if a street racer says his ride can do 200 MPH, he's not saying that it represents some fundamental technological breakthrough in automotive propulsion, he's just saying that he's been able to improve its performance to near the upper limits for that existing technology.
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Old February 19 2012, 04:24 PM   #13
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Re: Star Wars Question...

Unfortunately, these days Lucas' comments on the subject seem to imply that Han has a better navicomputer than everyone else.
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Old February 19 2012, 05:00 PM   #14
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Re: Star Wars Question...

I can't remember where I heard it, but apparently between Knights of the Old Republic and the Prequels there was some big apocalyptic conflict that blew civilization away and it was only after thousands of years they'd returned to the tech level of KOTOR.
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Old February 19 2012, 05:52 PM   #15
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Re: Star Wars Question...

So far that's just fan speculation. I suggested the idea to someone a few years ago and he rejected it outright. Shrug.
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