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The Science of Star Wars:
An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

by Jeanne Cavelos

ISBN 0312209584 / 9780312209582 / 0-312-20958-4
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Jeanne Cavelos says, "Star Wars fueled my interest in space exploration and the possibility of alien life," leading her to a career in astrophysics. While these movies have inspired her, she admits that may not have been their intention.

In creating the part science fiction/part fantasy/part myth that is Star Wars, George Lucas did not seek to create a futuristic universe that agreed perfectly with our current understanding of science.... How realistic, how possible, is this galaxy far, far away?

The answer when A New Hope first came out was "not at all." But a strange thing has happened in the years since Star Wars first came out. Science is beginning to catch up with George Lucas.

Cavelos looks at Lucas's planets, aliens, droids, technology, and Force with both rationality and affection. The droids R2-D2 and C-3P0, among others, become more interesting and almost credible after her consideration.

The element of Star Wars that is most true to science is the sense of wonder it calls forth, which has very little to do with how close it is to a possible future. Or, as Steve Grand, director of the Cyberlife Institute, said to Cavelos: "I never try to let scientific implausibility get in the way of a good story!" --Mary Ellen Curtin [via]