• John Faherty

Star Wars versus Star Trek- The Stages of Civilization

When Ben Kenobi says to Luke Skywalker in A New Hope “before the Dark times, before the Empire”, but when exactly is he referring to? I know he meant specifically before the rise of Darth Vader and the end of the Old Republic. However, The Republic as it is portrayed with all of its slavery, corruption and ceaseless state of war was not exactly the bastion of enlightenment. Not to mention that all of this went on at least with the tacit approval of the Senate and the Jedi council.

A few years back, I watched a documentary in which Michio Kaku used the universes of Star Wars and Star Trek as examples for future stages of advanced civilization as proposed by scientist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. In the example Star trek was used as an example of a civilization of the first kind that had the ability to master the power produced its home star. Star Wars was given the designation of the second type with the ability to manipulate that power at will. With power like that you could, destroy a planet with a Death star.

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Mr. Kaku is correct with respect to the technology. However, it is difficult for me to imagine how such a rotten decrepit society like the Galactic Republic could function on a level where such technology could have been created. Star Trek on the other hand has a utopian streak wherein all of the ills of humanity are part of a barbaric past. In Star trek lore the twentieth and twenty first centuries represented the darkest age, the precipice where the human race stepped back from the brink of extinction. In a sense these images represent two opposing views one of optimism versus pessimism. Star Trek is looking to a progressive future where humanity looks outward to the stars with a sense of naive adventure. Star Wars is a bleak universe of desperate causes where despots rule virtually every world. And there is a constant struggle between the powers of the dark and the light side.

Though I would imagine given the choice we might all choose to live in a the Star Trek world, its promises , however, seem a little hollow. This is perhaps why the Star Wars universe feels somehow more human, despite its universe being far more unrealistic . If we are we hard wired to sympathize or relate to a characters struggle within a story In Star Wars if you took away the technology it could be western or a samurai themed and it wouldn’t miss a beat. I know that in both universes there is a timeline of events upon which the cannon of events is plotted. In Star Trek their past is familiar territory to us. We're living it right now. We have that precipice ahead of us. How they got to where they are in the story is anybody's guess. First contact with the Vulcans; I doubt somehow that would work. The Star Wars timeline goes thousands of years into deep in the past and its story is one of constant and unchanging strife all the way back to the beginning.

These are two of the most popular franchises in science fiction today. With literally hundreds of books comics television programs and films, there seems to be no limit to their marketability. However, In both cases there are still gaping holes in the story of how these universes came to be. Is it too late to have an early post industrial Star Trek? Or perhaps someone could create a dawn of the age of force users that includes the development of their amazing technology. In either case there is ample room within both universe for exploration.

Let me know what you think

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