Tag Archives: George Lucas

Sci-Fi Prophecies

Ridley Scott, DGA Quarterly, October 1, 2010It has been long established that many of the modern marvels we now enjoy in our everyday lives were sometimes predicted hundreds of years before by fiction writers. Often devices and inventions described by science fiction writers of the past are made reality by the scientists who read these works as children.

Jules Verne's Nautilus

Jules Verne’s Nautilus

Director Ridley Scott has compiled information on some of the most inspirational science fiction writers for the Science Channel’s Prophets of Science Fiction.  Taking the scientific elements from the works of such sci-fi writers as Mary Shelly and Arthur C. Clarke, Prophets of Science Fiction explains, through interviews with authors and scientists, how the work went on to inspire an actual innovation.

A science fiction writer often has vision, but lacks the scientific prowess to make that vision a reality. Writers like Jules Verne imagined huge underwater submarines, space travel, and the tools of Arctic exploration more than 100 years ahead of their actual discovery. Writers like Verne and H.G. Wells predicted the future with startling accuracy.

Some of the featured authors, such as Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, have made numerous predictions that are yet to come true. Many in the field of robotics use Asimov’s work as a guide and Dick’s as a warning. Asimov is also the definitive master of all artificial intelligence writing. His influence on other sci-fi writers is apparent in many popular works.asimov6

The oddest inclusion in the program is George Lucas. Lucas in many ways is a fantasy writer. His definitive work and recent Disney property, Star Wars has a focus on things more supernatural than scientific. Lucas’ inclusion here has more focus on life saving and life extending medical technology. From Vader’s respirator to Luke’s prosthetic hand and even the surgical droids Lucas has predicted a great deal of medical tech.

Overall the program is quite watchable. Forgoing the usual reenactment style the show instead uses scenes from films based on the works in question. The remainder is filled in by animation, Interviews with scientists, futurists and current sci-fi writers and film makers and the thoughts of series producer and creator Ridley Scott.

The series is probably best summed up in a 1977 quote from George Lucas:

     “I would feel very good if someday I were 93 years old and they colonize Mars and the leader of the first colony says “ I really did it because I was hoping there would be a Wookie out here.”



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An Open Letter to George Lucas: Thank You

Dear Mr. Lucas,

You get a lot of flak from fanboys sometimes, but now that you’re basically retiring, I wanted to share how much your work has inspired me to be doing what I am today. No, I won’t ever be the billionaire you are. No, I probably won’t ever innovate and inspire multiple generations of creative people… But, I don’t aspire to that. And I don’t think you did initially, either.

Like most people in their late 20s, I saw Star Wars when I was very young. Return of the Jedi was released 26 days before the day of my birth, so the complete original trilogy has been around as long as I’ve been alive. I watched all three movies during a very important developmental time in my life. I was playing with Lego, action figures, and video games. I was beginning to read my first full-length novels, and I was actually starting to write out the adventures of characters of my own creation. It was a magical time in my life, and The Star Wars Trilogy helped solidify in my mind that ANYTHING was possible.

I was obsessed with your work for a long time. I would mow lawns to save up the money to buy all the Star Wars novels that would release. I knew the names of all the characters in the Cantina and Jabba’s Palace (Max Rebo should have his own spin-off TV series). I had reams of loose leaf pages full of the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, and, I’m sure, any number of Mary Sue characters (I didn’t understand the concepts of hackney, character flaws, or other typical fan fiction tropes).

The main point was, though, that I was reading. I was writing. I was creating. Because of Star Wars, I was introduced to other sci-fi and fantasy: Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Raymond Feist, Isaac Asimov, HP Lovecraft, Stephen King. I even credit Star Wars with getting me into reading comic books (I started reading the excellent comics by Dark Horse… I hope that they don’t lose the license due to the sale, because they are STILL telling interesting stories).

You, Mr. Lucas, made me a geek.

Thank you.

I was also inspired by your example. You wanted to make the movies that you loved and thought were interesting. I respected that. I don’t think you’ve ever taken the easy way out, so when it came time for me to decide to study what I loved at university (Creative Writing and English), or pleasing everyone else with a degree program I liked (and had half-completed) but didn’t love, I made the difficult choice to leave my major and start anew. I graduated a little late because of it, and sometimes I second-guess my decision, but here I am. I write for a living. I edit other people’s writing for a living. So, thank you for your example.

Sir, the possibility of you reading this letter is approximately 3,720 to 1 (probably less, but I wanted to make the Threepio joke), but I wanted you and everyone else that reads this to know that you have shaped my life in a myriad of ways. I probably have a beard today because of some unconscious desire to be a little bit like you.

Finally, I wanted to let you know how much I respect you for the charity work you do. You have a lot of money, and that could buy a lot of golden parachutes, but the amount of money you’ve pledged to give away to charity is inspiring.

So, for all the worlds and mythologies you’ve created, I thank you. While you’re retired, I doubt you will remain inactive, and I wish you the best. I, for one, would love to see you do those smaller movies you’ve been talking about for a long time.

Tj Johnston

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