- May 24, 2014
I don't agree with categorizing Star Wars as sci-fi. Yes, there are a lot of sci-fi elements in the universe, especially in the EU, but everything in the movie screams "space fantasy", not "science fiction". The science of things is barely important. It is a story full of magical and Just Works™ elements that happen to be set in space, in the past.
I feel like this raises the obvious question of what is Science Fiction anyway?
Traditionally, science fiction writers were often futurists, they were often trying to seriously imagine a future that might exist based on what they understood about science and the trajectory of society. But there's also always been this very strong imaginative, literary and philosophical component to science fiction as well. The inclusion of paranormal and psychic themes in science fiction, for example, is way older than Star Wars. It probably comes from Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End, which is essentially a story about humans discovering that the universe is not actually a rational place and that there are forces beyond the ability of science to understand.
There are plenty of people out there who think that paranormal abilities or magic are possible and that some hypothetical "enlightened" humans with a true understanding of reality would have figured it out. Part of why Clarke wrote Childhood's End is because he was actually one of those people. Similarly, while it may be set in a galaxy far far away, Star Wars clearly takes a lot of its ideas about the force from things like the human potential movement and the esoteric martial arts craze that began in the US in the 70s. It's not just some random fantasy stuff, it is stuff people did and still do think is real.
I think the divorcing of science fiction from science goes back pretty much to the beginning of science fiction as a genre. Heck, Francis Bacon (the "father of empiricism" himself) actually wrote a piece of "science fiction," it was about a secret island where everyone was Christian because God had revealed the truth to them via a miracle. Make of that what you will.