Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

More thoughts on “The Force Awakens” (contains spoilers)

I laughed about the science-fantasy violations of the laws of physics in A New Hope back when it first came out. Beam weapons that end at three feet, and will cut anything except each other? Six energy beams that cancel vectors and merge? (I always thought that Lucas missed the boat on light-sabers: instead of glorified samurai swords, imagine fighting with weapons that can’t be parried or blocked, except with the Force itself. Then, you’d have to be a Jedi to duel with one, since a battle would be an aerial dogfight of Force flying and Force pushing as each tried to get inside the other’s guard without getting tagged in turn. I originally speculated that the lightsaber was actually a “Force” blade with the laser effect there merely so you could see where it was, but material published since is to the effect that the blade is a contained plasma effect and it’s well established that you don’t have to be a Force user to wield a lightsaber, although it helps--.)

In a number of ways, The Force Awakens is even worse, and in possibly damaging ways. The biggest one is the change in hyperspace travel. In the Starkiller battle sequence, not only do the Rebels have real-time intelligence of what’s happening at Starkiller Base (weapon status, etc.) which has to be light-years away, but then, the fighter wing is launched and instantaneously transitioned to the Starkiller planet. In the previous episodes, hyperspace voyages took days if not weeks. I suppose it’s possible that, in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi hyperspace drives might have progressed, that doesn’t explain how the Millennium Falcon (that hasn’t even had the interior cleaned in 30 years, evidently) can do the same trick (let alone operate--).

Spaceship hulls are evidently composed of something with a strength approaching Larry Niven’s monocrystalline “hullmetal*”. On Jakku, we see the hulks of at least two Star Destroyers that have crashed there, but retain most of their hull integrity, very surprising for vessels that were presumably built in space with no capability for landing. And, again, the Millennium Falcon seems well-nigh indestructible, surviving Han Solo’s below nap-of-the-Earth approach to the Starkiller, which shears off a sizable forest of mature trees, as well as Solo’s controlled flight into terrain landing.

Which makes one wonder, why don’t they make Storm Trooper armor out of that stuff? The standard plastic/ceramic seems to be totally useless. If you are a Captain, like Phasma, not only do you get issued a name instead of a number, you can have metal armor, which is way heavy (based on the footstep sounds) and probably power-assisted, but she still gives up immediately just because a pistol is pointed at her helmeted head. So, what good’s the armor?

Of course, blasters, or their ammunition, seem to have been upgraded, too. Bolts even from Rey and Solo’s pistols detonate with the effect of a concussion grenade, sending troopers flying, which makes one wonder what the minimum safe range for use is? If Solo had shot Greedo with a bolt like that, Greedo would have splattered, the table would have gone through the roof, and Solo probably would have been blown backward through the wall.

The Starkiller is frustrating, since it’s one of those descriptions where the ludicrous explanation could have been vastly improved with a few added words of dialog. As written, the Starkiller uses the entirety of its star for power, literally causing the star to “vanish” at peak power. The star magically reappears after the dirty work is done. Instead, one could have said that the Starkiller uses the entire output of the star, causing it to become briefly invisible due to sucking up all the visible light. Given the science-fantasy milieu it’s not reasonable to expect the production to bother with a science consultant, but couldn’t they have a “does this make any sense at all?” consultant?

*Hullmetal

Better known as the “General Products hull material”, it is made of energetically reinforced nano-scale macro molecules. Transparent to visible light, and highly durable, the nearly impervious state allows for vehicles and structures to be built to withstand ridiculous amounts of punishment. GP hulled ship Lying Bastard crash landed on the Ringworld floor while moving at over 770 miles per second. It was also blasted by a large ultraviolet laser, the Ringworld's meteor defense, triggered by the Ringworld in its own sun (Stasis field triggered in defense as well).
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Tags: fantasy, movies, science-fiction
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