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Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time (Smart Pop series) Paperback – May 11, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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About the Author

David Brin is the author of 15 novels, including Earth, Startide Rising, and The Uplift War, and numerous short stories. He is the recipient of three Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award. He lives in Encinitas, CA. Matthew Woodring Stover is the author of the film novelization Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith, as well as Blade of Tyshalle and Star Wars: Shatterpoint. He lives in Chicago, IL.
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Product Details

  • Series: Smart Pop series
  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Smart Pop (May 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193210089X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932100891
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,749,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Daiho VINE VOICE on August 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Back in 1999, physics professor, NASA consultant, and science fiction writer David Brin contributed an essay to Salon.com highlighting the logical inconsistencies in the (up until then) four Star Wars films and pointing out what he saw as the darker philosophical and ethical underpinnings of the series - a feudal universe in which elite, super-powered beings control the fate of civilization, a galaxy where might is right, in which the life of the commoner is to be ruled by The Jedi or The Sith.

"'Star Wars' Despots vs. 'Star Trek' Populists" generated a tremendous amount of interest and feedback from Star Wars and science fiction fans and over the years on his own website Brin came back to the topic now and then, (often, he laments as an aside in "Star Wars on Trial," taking time away from his other writing projects). With the release last year of the final chapter in the Star Wars film series, Brin is back to update his arguments and lead the prosecution in "Star Wars on Trial," a book-length collection of critical essays on the six-film cycle and its relationship to film-making and science-fiction. The book is organized conceptually around a trial, with a prosecutor leveling charges and a defense counsel attempting to poke holes in the state's case.

The six charges brought to court are, in order: 1) The Politics of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic and Elitist; 2) While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious or Ethical Beliefs; 3) Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and Are Driving Real SF off the Shelves; 4) Science Fiction Filmmaking Has Been Reduced by Star Wars to Poorly Written Special Effects Extravaganzas.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Intellectually, the Prosecution wins the case with flying colors. Emotionally though, the Defense makes some very good points.

The book is written with humor and enthusiasm, all contributors from both sides are obviously having fun and it should be noted that everybody acknowledges the fun and entertainment value of Star Wars and its ability to make us dream. Including David Brin who gives praise and respect to George Lucas in his opening statement (p.47).

I think the book will appeal not only to Star Wars critics, but to its fans as well. An extremely entertaining read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a big fan of the Star Wars films over the past decades, I'm always looking for some insight and critical thought on the saga. This volume delivers a fair measure of that. Structured around a mock trial of Star Wars in general (and by reduction, its creator, George Lucas), this book levels a series of eight charges against the stories and then invites a collection of writers to take the pro and con sides of the issue in their essays. The "prosecutor" is noted SF writer David Brin, (who takes the whole thing a bit too seriously in my estimation, but if he didn't adopt that position, I guess we wouldn't have this book) and the defense is lead by writer Matthew Stover, best known (at least to me) for his novelization for Episode III, who's a bit flippant in responses, perhaps in an effort to counteract Brin's dourness.

I found some of the "charges" rather silly as stated. For example, that Star Wars pretends to be science-fiction but is really fantasy hardly seems worth arguing. I can't imagine that anyone with much of an understanding of SF would mistake Star Wars for SF, nor do I think that was Lucas' intention. Rather, he seems to have set out to create a modern myth, a fairy tale, that just happens to be set in a galactic milieu, with spaceships instead of horses and lightsabers instead of swords. Similarly to blame the films for their numerous and decidedly less competent imitations strikes me as trumped up, indeed. But these accusations provide the various authors with the opportunity to examine the saga's place in, and impact on, modern pop culture, and that's worth reading about.
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