Getting some distance from Star Wars

I read this article on io9 and passed it on to Mike, and then we had this exchange via email.

Mike: I can’t help wondering what else Lucas might have achieved in the last few decades if he’d not pithered away so much time revising a re-revising his old films.

Matt: Lots of good stuff in here. I also have been able, for the first time in my life, to step back and contemplate Star Wars more dispassionately over the past year or so. And my reaction has been about the same as this guy’s: “How did this thing, enjoyable as it is, ever eat up so much of my interior real estate?”

Mike: The more I think about SW — which is still a lot — the more I think that it’s really all about not just the original trilogy, but the original movie. That’s where most of the goodness is.

Matt: Which is kind of ironic, since the the sequel movies that I pined for since I first learned of the concept are finally coming out.

But maybe that’s a good thing, because if they’re good, I’ll finally be in a position to love them because they’re actually good, and not simply because they’re Star Wars. I didn’t love the LOTR movies just because they were LOTR movies – in fact, that’s the main reason I was geared up to hate them. So they didn’t even come from a standing start, they had to overcome my initial resistance. That might be a healthy thing for a Star Wars movie to have to do, too.

Mike: Right. Whereas the Hobbit movies started out with my goodwill, and
progressively frittered it away.

I’ve also been thinking about this lately in the context of RPGs (not surprising, since eventually I think about just about everything in the context of RPGs). Until very recently, I almost exclusively played WEG d6 Star Wars. I knew about other systems – even back in high school, I’d been the “system nut” who collected rulebooks and occasionally experimented with them – but none of them had ever clicked with me enough to pull me away from 1e Star Wars.

But in the past year I’ve played two other systems that I’ve really liked, enough that I am either playing them right now (D&D 5e) or will play them again soon (Trail of Cthulhu). And that has been healthy. Up until very recently, I wasn’t really into fantasy roleplaying, and if I was going to do sci-fi roleplaying, why wouldn’t I just use Star Wars? The obvious answer is, what if I want a different kind of experience? What’s scary is that until recently, I didn’t really want any other kind of experience.

Strange Stars cover

One recent prod in the direction-other-than-Star-Wars was picking up Trey Causey’s Strange Stars, a rules-free setting book with so many evocative hooks that pretty much every page makes me want to roll up a character and jump in. Strange Stars has all kinds of cool sci-fi goodness that would make for great RPG fuels but wouldn’t fit into Star Wars. Turns out, I needed that. Plus the cover homage to TSR’s Star Frontiers – easily the coolest game I never played – hits all the right notes for me. If I get a game together, and I really want to, you’ll undoubtedly read about it here.

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