Version control ain't easy
January 25, 2017 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Most of us in the room were dumbfounded. “What did he say?”
At the end of the original film, Rebel ships fly along the Death Star trench in an attempt to blow up the space station. Look at the photo of the Death Star at the top of this post: can you point to the trench that Luke and the Rebels flew down to fire upon the exhaust port that would ultimately destroy the space station?
posted by michswiss (138 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mind (along with Death Star) blown. What next, Wookies are actually hairless & wear furry space suits?
posted by evilDoug at 6:02 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wookies are actually three Ewoks in a long coat.
posted by Naberius at 6:09 AM on January 25, 2017 [68 favorites]


Wookies: Ewok Double Stuf
posted by middleclasstool at 6:10 AM on January 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: "Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench."

Because the Death Star is actually a yo-yo.
posted by chavenet at 6:22 AM on January 25, 2017 [15 favorites]


Slow news nostalgia day?
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling Lucas didn't really think this through all that much. That shot of the X-Wings shows them clearly heading for the equatorial trench. I don't think he really cared much that the trench in the battle wasn't wide enough for the hangers, etc. He's just a hack and nobody cared about this stuff anyway until the Internet came to be.

That said, I think I had read somewhere years ago that the trench battle took place not on the equator but up around where the Arctic Circle would be. I don't remember where I saw that and maybe I'm making it up. It was pre-internet, perhaps in one of those cutaway books or something.

Anyway, fans ruin everything. I hate them.
posted by bondcliff at 6:29 AM on January 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench.

Because the tribute/homage to Dam Busters doesn't work as well without it?
posted by nubs at 6:31 AM on January 25, 2017 [23 favorites]


That said, I think I had read somewhere years ago that the trench battle took place not on the equator but up around where the Arctic Circle would be.

Well, the movie (gif from article) does show the trench being in the "northern" portion of the Death Star.

This was a fun article. Although, even being the nerd that I am, I'm not sure I thought about this particular issue before.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:35 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench.

because nobody fucks with mads mikkelsen that's why [retcon]
posted by entropicamericana at 6:35 AM on January 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


This is so strange to me. They showed in the onscreen graphic where the trench is. That's literally what I remembered when I saw the initial question. I didn't know where it was on the Death Star that I could point to it, but I remember the map and the line going up and down. My mind is now blown that most people think it's the equator trench - do people just not look at maps?
posted by Mchelly at 6:36 AM on January 25, 2017 [31 favorites]


The trench run is completely stupid anyway, for at least three reasons.

Hey gang, let's all get as close as humanly possible to the giant thing we're all trying to blow up! Awesome plan, dude! Let's zoom en masse along the surface of the Death Star, under constant threat of collision and/or tie fighter fire, to fire at the Hole of Ultimate Vulnerability from a weird angle that requires our cannon fire to somehow curve towards the target, instead of just shooting directly into it from a safe distance.

I get the feeling it was supposed to be a tunnel to the core, which would make more sense, but they couldn't figure out how to shoot it or something.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:39 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


do people just not look at maps?

You mean the map that shows the main laser aligned with the trench?
posted by bondcliff at 6:41 AM on January 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


Wookies are actually three Ewoks in a long coat.
posted by Naberius at 9:09 AM on January 25


Well of course. Makes sense to me.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:47 AM on January 25, 2017 [41 favorites]


Hey gang, let's all get as close as humanly possible to the giant thing we're all trying to blow up! Awesome plan, dude! Let's zoom en mass along the surface of the Death Star, under constant threat of collision and/or tie fighter fire, to fire at the Hole of Ultimate Vulnerability from a weird angle that requires our cannon fire to somehow curve towards the target, instead of just shooting directly into it from a safe distance.

Whoa whoa whoa there, cowboy. Remember the part where they were making their approach run, bombarded from 270 degrees of point-defense turrets? In the trenches, you can at least angle your deflector shields forward and only have to worry about evading fire from one direction. Sure, they could have entered the trench closer to the target, but every meter you spend flying above ground level is one more meter where the big guns (meant to take out cap ships, so ain't no X-wing shield gonna stop that) can hit you.

Also, we've established that the Rebel fleet isn't massed at Yavin 4, fighters are only reliably accurate at very close range, and the only projectile that can puncture the shield over the exhaust port is a torpedo, which has a very short operational range.

In conclusion, the Rebel assault was drawn up correctly to minimize losses and maximize success likelihood, the trench was longitudinal, and pistols at dawn.
posted by Mayor West at 6:47 AM on January 25, 2017 [68 favorites]


You mean the map that shows the main laser aligned with the trench?

After all these years of bemoaning the tweaks Lucas did for the Special Editions, we finally come across something that should have been fixed, but wasn't.

"George, we found an error in the Death Star map..."
"Don't bother me now. I'm working with the guys at ILM on this bitchin Sy Snootles performance."
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:49 AM on January 25, 2017 [39 favorites]


This article baffles me. Of course I can't point to the trench in question in that shot. The Death Star is fucking enormous. The trench is little more than like one x-wing wide. It's kinda like showing me this picture and asking me to point to Broadway.

(And no, I never for a moment thought the equatorial trench was the one in question. Why would you? As we see from the scene of the Falcon entering the Death Star--and as the article notes-- it's like a hundreds of times bigger than the trench Luke flies down.)
posted by dersins at 6:50 AM on January 25, 2017 [23 favorites]


My mind is now blown that most people think it's the equator trench

As the fine article explains in great detail with animated GIFs, the equator trench is the only trench we're ever shown in a distance shot of the Death Star. It's a natural assumption to make that they are flying in the one trench we see. Yes we're also shown a map showing a longitudinal trench, but the map is a small schematic image in one short scene. And the map doesn't even match the Death Star model, because again as the fine article explains the CG artist was given misleading info.

The film is inconsistent. It's OK to just acknowledge that. The inconsistency does not impact the fun we all had watching the movie, as evidenced by 30+ years of people either not noticing it or not giving a shit.
posted by Nelson at 7:00 AM on January 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


Not sure why this is breaking news, it was talked about ad nauseum in that Sinbad genie movie from the 90's.
posted by saladin at 7:04 AM on January 25, 2017 [52 favorites]


Slow news nostalgia day?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:25 PM on January 25 [+] [!]
No, not really. But I need a break from the shit storm happening elsewhere and this came up in my daily blog skim. Oh, and I made this post while two (two!) five-month old Maine Coon kittens were snoozing on my lap. It's a small, hah!, dose of happiness. (pictures might come later.)

I watched this movie (hangs head in shame) 72 times in it's year of release. My best mate was the projectionist at the local theatre. It's always fun to read something new about it that most folks haven't thought much about.
posted by michswiss at 7:07 AM on January 25, 2017 [17 favorites]


huh, neat.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2017


The minutiae that Star Wars fans worry about is endless.
posted by agregoli at 7:23 AM on January 25, 2017


I have a feeling Lucas didn't really think this through all that much.

I have a feeling that Lucas isn't the only one who shouldn't think this through all that much.
posted by delfin at 7:29 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


(Waves fingers in a vaguely Jedi manner) "This is not the Internet shit storm you want."
posted by evilDoug at 7:34 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


Dang, it took 2 minutes per frame on fancy pro equipment in 1977, and then 6 years later, we had the Star Wars arcade game.
Hm, although, now that I'm watching videos of the star wars arcade game, the trench model was not as complex as I remember.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 7:37 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


this kind of thing always provokes some kind of "why can't people just relax and enjoy the movie" response, which seems to miss the point that plenty of people think it's great fun to nitpick details in SF......like writing a science paper that proves Tribble reproduction is impossible, that kind of thing
posted by thelonius at 7:39 AM on January 25, 2017 [16 favorites]


I can totally point to Broadway in that picture
posted by Mchelly at 7:40 AM on January 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


It's always fun to read something new about it that most folks haven't thought much about.

I don't know if I ever figured out exactly where the actual trench run occurred, but I do remember thinking at some point during viewing umpteen-and-six that it couldn't be the equatorial trench because (a) that trench had to be massively wide; (b) it wrapped around the entirety of the Death Star, so there was no "end" where the thermal exhaust port could be.

I don't think I ever picked it apart deeper than that.
posted by nubs at 7:43 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm with Mchelly. It never occurred to me in nearly 40 years of watching this film that they were attacking the equatorial trench. Also odd that the article points to that shot of the X-Wings cutting across the equatorial trench as confusing, since a moment before Gold Leader or whoever says, "Cut across the equator and draw their fire." Also, much as Lucas deserves many criticisms, I highly doubt that he just didn't care about the layout or wasn't thinking about it. That battle was very carefully plotted and planned and every shot was very deliberate. It's totally clear in the movie exactly where everyone is, to me, much more so than in other similar films or, for that matter, in The Force Awakens.
posted by dellsolace at 7:46 AM on January 25, 2017 [14 favorites]


I knew it wasn't the equatorial trench. Clearly this makes me superior to a lot of other internet nerds.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:47 AM on January 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


I got it right! I'm so proud of myself.

And now as my gift to myself I will spend a few minutes sharing my favourite thing about the Death Star post-Rogue One, which is: learning just how much Darth Vader was sick of it. Not just in an "insignificant next to the power of the force" way either. You get the distinct impression that he's been saying for a long time that it was a bad idea that was bound to go wrong, and getting shut down in meetings because Krennic had better PowerPoint presentations. God only knows what he must have been thinking about Death Star 2, when despite the Death Star provably being a bad idea that went wrong, leading to massive loss for the Empire and a big publicity boost for the Rebels, the Emperor decides to funnel even more resources into building a newer bigger one. I imagine that's why Vader eventually throws him into a Death Star reactor shaft.

(And yet, what do the new kids in the New Order learn from two blown-up Death Stars and the collapse of the Empire as a result? "Let's build an EVEN BIGGER one, it's bound to work this time.")

Death Stars are now my go-to metaphor for those huge, grand, ill-advised things that big organisations get fixated on at times of uncertainty. Massively big? Ridiculously expensive? Claims that it will send a message in some big grand way about how big and grand we are to our enemies/competitors/customers/world at large? Lets us believe we are somehow recapturing the glory of a semi-mythical past? Full steam ahead, everybody! What do you mean, "not thought through" - I think you'll find our contractors have given us a very shiny brochure on exactly what it's going to look like, and that's all the planning we need!
posted by Catseye at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2017 [43 favorites]


There's also the clear fact shown in the Falcon tractor/docking scene that gravity goes in a completely different direction on the equatorial trench.
posted by qntm at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


In the movie (despecialized) here are images from the three shots showing the rebel approach:

https://imgur.com/a/RllCn

After that, they're all in the trench or above the surface and you can't tell what part of the Death Star they're over.

It looks very much like the trench they enter is the equatorial one.
posted by justkevin at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


When I saw "Version control ain't easy" in my news reader, I thought I was going to get something about Git, Subversion, Mercurial, TFS, etc. Instead I got Death Star info. Rarely am I that pleasantly surprised by a mismatch in title expectations, though I would have been fine if it had been software source control too..

I knew all along that the trench wasn't the equatorial one, but damn if I could tell you which one they did go down. Even their video graphic shows a Death Star with the main trench intersecting the dish, so I can't trust the in-movie references either as any meaningful guide.

The trench run is completely stupid anyway, for at least three reasons.

Point 3 (curved missiles and all) is valid, but there's a logic behind the other 2 points. For one, you have to get close to fire the missiles, or they'll just be picked out of the sky. For two, they were approaching from a direction that would have left them vulnerable had they taken the slower, scenic route around the Death Star's perimeter by staying much farther away until the last minute. For three, when aircraft are performing ground-combat operations (as opposed to bombing or air-combat), it can in certain circumstances make some bit of sense to get close and fly fast relative to the surroundings, sometimes even through valley-like structures, as it reduces the available reaction time of ground units and valleys can protect you from fire emanating outside the valley (remember, we're talking space lasers here, so reducing the number of turrets that can aim at you at once has its advantages).
posted by mystyk at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


but i dont understand why they didn't just have the giant eagles drop them off at the exhaust part in the first place
posted by entropicamericana at 7:53 AM on January 25, 2017 [76 favorites]


Trivia: the original trench run as scripted and shot included a failed attempt by Luke to bomb, and he had to go around and run again. There were other differences too, I believe--Vader might have been taken out by Han earlier on?

Marcia Lucas completely reedited the whole thing into something that made people cheer when Solo reappeared and when the Death Star exploded.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:58 AM on January 25, 2017 [14 favorites]


Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench.

What, the equatorial trench? As the article mentions, that's where all the landing bays for ships are, it's the transport hub. In real life, the guy making the model of the Death Star couldn't figure out how to get rid of the "equator" when he connected the two hemispheres he'd made. He eventually said "fuck it, I guess the Death Star has an equator or something." IIRC.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:02 AM on January 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


Hey gang, let's all get as close as humanly possible to the giant thing we're all trying to blow up!

I think the idea of the "trench run" was probably related to / inspired by the then-common (in 1977) but relatively new concept of low-level penetration bombing. If you were an aircraft or military nerd in the late 70s, and you were trying to come up with something that seemed like a futuristic / high-tech / cutting-edge tactic for blowing up Bad Guys, that would have been a logical choice.

The Death Star attack run is essentially a fictionalized, sexed-up version of what an attack aircraft would have done during a nuclear assault on the Soviet Union (probably not if it had happened in 1977, but if you were envisioning it happening in the not-too-distant future from that point), flying just off the deck to avoid antiaircraft defenses, probably taking heavy losses to fighter aircraft, with some aircraft designated to destroy incoming defenses, all so that in the end a small number of survivors would get an opportunity to pop off a nuclear standoff missile as soon as it's within range. And it would likewise have been largely a suicide mission.

The X-Wings even have some similarities to the Rockwell B-1A, the aircraft that would have served in that role (again, future as-seen-from-1977): the B1 has swing wings, transitioning from a high-altitude supersonic mode to a low-altitude subsonic mode during its "attack run" (penetration phase); the original SW movie makes a point of calling out when the X-Wings open their wings into "attack position". The X-Wing "targeting computer" even looks like mid-70s mockups of TERCOM systems.

From an aesthetic perspective, and again putting oneself in the mindset of the late 70s, just bombing the Death Star from a safe distance wouldn't have seemed futuristic at all. High-altitude saturation bombing was from wars of the past — WWII, Korea, Vietnam — and implies a sort of power imbalance (bombing the shit out of someone from a position of air superiority) that's very different from what I think was intended.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:05 AM on January 25, 2017 [27 favorites]


Still doesn't explain why there was an actual trench.

Because a) it looked cool and b) a surface attack would have required modeling (or matting) the entire surface of the death star rather than just the three walls of the trench.
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


Kadin, I'd say rather that the trench run was inspired by The Dam Busters.
posted by The Gaffer at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


Sure, they could have entered the trench closer to the target, but every meter you spend flying above ground level is one more meter where the big guns

But that only makes sense if you assume there are lots more guns around the exhaust port than at whatever point they entered the trench. Why make a suicide run to a point distant from the target and then do more difficult and dangerous flying to get there when you could just make a suicide run straight to the target?
posted by straight at 8:21 AM on January 25, 2017


Because it looks cool.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on January 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


But that only makes sense if you assume there are lots more guns around the exhaust port than at whatever point they entered the trench.

I'd say about twenty guns – some on the surface, some on the towers.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:29 AM on January 25, 2017 [16 favorites]


I've always wondered if a tiny little drone carrying explosives would have been easier than sending all your good planes and pilots. Maybe two drones, at most: the first one, a kind of R2 unit with wings, does stuff to the port to take out its shielding, the second one, sleek and skinny, flies down the long tube, then blows up.
posted by Caxton1476 at 8:44 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


But I need a break from the shit storm happening elsewhere and this came up in my daily blog skim.

If it wasn't for "slow news day" posts like this I would have stopped reading MetaFilter (and pretty much the entire internet) out of despair some time shortly after November 8th, so thanks for the fun little post, michswiss!
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2017 [15 favorites]


a surface attack would have required modeling (or matting) the entire surface of the death star rather than just the three walls of the trench.

Why not just take several frigates size ships and ram those into the exhaust port area? A planet killer is worth some ships, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why not just take several frigates size ships and ram those into the exhaust port area?

The target wasn't the exhaust port, it was the thing way down the pipe from the exhaust port.
posted by Etrigan at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


I've always wondered if a tiny little drone carrying explosives would have been easier than sending all your good planes and pilots.

There were likely a dozen superior plans of attack the rebels could have undertaken, however they were under a major time crunch and out of desperation had to throw together something very quickly. (Seriously, the time elapsed between the Millennium Falcon gang escaping with the plans and the actual assault on the Death Star is only a few hours, tops.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Death Star attack run is essentially a fictionalized, sexed-up version of what an attack aircraft would have done during a nuclear assault on the Soviet Union

The Death Star attack run is lifted straight out of the World War II movie The Dam Busters, including the dialog, flying low, bomb sight graphics, and the fact that Red Leader's attack run was actually successful.
(I am so sorry, I hate to be that guy, but I guess a Star Wars thread is the place for pedantic nerdery, if ever there was a place. Also, most people won't agree with me at all about Red Leader, but the rest is true.)
posted by surlyben at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


So let me preface my actual comment by saying that splitting hairs about the technical feasibility of spaceships in Star Wars is a fundamentally wasted effort. The ships bank like they're in atmosphere when they're in deep space. You could very easily send a small guided torpedo into the exhaust port from halfway across the star system and when it hit the death star it would be going so fast that nothing would be able to stop it. And you could always send a few thousand of them. But whatever.

My real comment is that like others I actually never thought he was going through the equatorial trench. I agree the movie is a bit confusing on this point, but heck, I don't know how far Mos Esley was from Luke's house either. It's not a travelogue.

Also, I sometimes wonder, given the crappy tech present throughout the SW universe if the humans there are actually capable of building anything. The major Rebel Alliance ships are all Mon Calamari. The X-Wings come from some far away shipyard that isn't human for all we know. Maybe the whole basis of the Empire is some sort of Human supremacist movement and they build the Death Star because it's actually the first decent space-based thing humans have ever built. And guess what? It's still shit.

The movies explain where storm troopers came from and the death star but they're pretty vague on the Star Destroyers and how the Empire got so many of them so quickly. Again, maybe they're just not human-built.
posted by GuyZero at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


While the attack was choreographed the way it was on account of The Dam Busters, more modern tactics like low-level penetration bombing and pop-up bombing show why it makes sense.

If you're in the trench, the only guns that can acquire you as a target are the guns physically inside the trench. If you're above the trench, there's a whole hemisphere's worth of guns that can acquire you.

The real question is why the TIE Fighters were pursuing the X-Wings into the trench rather than pursuing from above and dipping down slightly just to take deflection shots.

Marcia Lucas completely reedited the whole thing into something that made people cheer when Solo reappeared and when the Death Star exploded.

100% here for giving due credit to Marcia Lucas.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:58 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


Re The Dam Busters, I think that's definitely valid and sort of a complimentary theory, insofar as it was an actual example of low-level penetration bombing and has the "flying up the valley" aesthetic. (And the Death Star guns are certainly more reminiscent of flak cannons than Soviet SAMs; in fact the lack of guided missiles or drones in the SW universe in general is sort of odd, given the machine intelligence packed into a droid. As an apologia, I like to think that making intelligent missiles is considered unethical once you have sentient machines.)

Though I think the military's Cold War interest in the tactic helped it not feel dated to a late-70s audience. Or, put differently, if SW had been made in the late 50s before the resurgence of interest in low-level attack, I don't think the tactic would have read as 'futuristic', because the future at that point was supposed to be full of high-altitude, supersonic bombers.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a reason none of this makes sense and falls apart as soon as you focus on the details. I think we all know why that is -- Yavin 4 was an inside job.
posted by skewed at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there's a reason none of this makes sense and falls apart as soon as you focus on the details. I think we all know why that is -- Yavin 4 was an inside job.

well you're not wrong
posted by entropicamericana at 9:03 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


While we're getting all nerdgasm-y, what about gravity on the DS? Does it pull toward the "south pole" or the center (meaning all decks would have to be concentric). /derail
posted by gottabefunky at 9:11 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]



I can totally point to Broadway in that picture

which Broadway?

posted by dersins at 9:12 AM on January 25, 2017


All of them.
posted by oddman at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does it pull toward the "south pole" or the center (meaning all decks would have to be concentric). /derail

That galaxy is actually at the sweet spot of proximity to the Great Attractor, so all the space ships naturally have Earthlike gravity oriented to where the floors would be.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


While we're getting all nerdgasm-y, what about gravity on the DS? Does it pull toward the "south pole" or the center (meaning all decks would have to be concentric). /derail

I assume it's like a zeppelin and the actual habitable part is like a tiny little bubble inside an otherwise mostly empty structure of supporting beams and power generators and infinite pipes. The actual interior of the death star is probably no bigger than a star destroyer.
posted by GuyZero at 9:17 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yavin 4 was an inside job.

The chief engineer and the woman who stole the plans were related!
The droids who helped smuggle the plans once belonged to a top man in the Empire!
The princess who was a prisoner on it and the guy in charge of her interrogation were related!
The pilot who blew it up and the guy in the TIE fighter right behind him were related!

It all makes sense, sheeple!
posted by nubs at 9:17 AM on January 25, 2017 [20 favorites]


I'd kinda assumed it was on the Southern pole, 'cos like, it's the bum.
posted by lucidium at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


That galaxy is actually at the sweet spot of proximity to the Great Attractor, so all the space ships naturally have Earthlike gravity oriented to where the floors would be.

Also, space is not a vacuum, which is why there are no airlocks anywhere and explosions make sound.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


For me, the most compelling aspect of this is the PDF of the article in Fantastic Films giving a deep dive into the process by which Larry Cuba produced the schematic visualization of the Death Star featured in the film, using the resources at the Circle Graphics Habitat at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

The Graphics Habitat was since renamed the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and I finished my doctorate there in 2008, working with Tom Defanti, the developer of the GRASS software used to render the Death Star. The title page of the Fantastic article shows Larry Cuba standing in front of a huge bank of switches and knobs. That's the Sandin Image Processor, developed by Dan Sandin, co-founder of the Graphics Habitat / EVL.

To my knowledge, the Star Wars footage was NOT passed through the IP as the article asserts. I believe it was filmed directly off the Vector General. When you DO pass the output of GRASS through the IP, you get this amazing shit right here

Yes, the machine that rendered the Death Star was used to produce trippy visuals for live music performances during the 70s.
posted by rlk at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


While we're nitpicking, I don't really get the horror of being slowly digested over thousands of years in the Sarlacc. You'd die of starvation/dehydration/old age well before the first little bit of tissue breakdown from digestion occurred, so like, whatever. Hell, your natural flora would eat your dead body before the Sarlacc got nutrient one.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:23 AM on January 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


Wookies are actually three Ewoks in a long coat.

Why would that make sense? Why would they need a coat? They are both similarly furry! Clearly however there is a reason ewoks tend to wear hats, it is to hide their tender upper conjoining parts from the elements. The lower conjoining points are under the fur. The three gendered ewoks join as one at the time of wookbiggening.
posted by biffa at 9:29 AM on January 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


Why not just take several frigates size ships and ram those into the exhaust port area? A planet killer is worth some ships, right?

Because they would have been cut to shreds by the Death Star's defense systems long before they got close enough to do any damage.

The Death Star's defenses are based on the premise that only ships of a certain minimum size can carry enough firepower to actually do damage. Since those ships are big and not very maneuverable, the majority of the turrets trade rapid aiming for sheer terawatt-per-second output. Fighters, which can maybe scratch the paint a little, are too maneuverable to for the big guns to lock on but will eventually be taken out by the station's fighter fleet or a few of the smaller turrets.

This would have a sound design decision were it not for the fact that the Death Star had that (planned, it turns out!) design flaw. As it was, the Imperials were mocking the Rebel's tactics right until the Death Star exploded.

</nerrrrd>
posted by suetanvil at 9:29 AM on January 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ewok Centipede

no no, uh,

Wookie Ewokpede
posted by Existential Dread at 9:31 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


As it was, the Imperials were mocking the Rebel's tactics right until the Death Star exploded.

ALTERNATIVE FACT!

"We've analyzed their attack, sir, and there is a danger..."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]




Remind me again how the guy at the superweapon proposal meeting with the "no, see, we have this pretty simple linear accelerator that we put any sort of space debris you want in...thinking 10km rocks, myself, but whatever...anyway, drop a few of those at 10,000 kph and planet is molten goo" got kicked out?
posted by maxwelton at 9:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


scott max, you just don't get it, do you ?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:53 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Remind me again how the guy at the superweapon proposal meeting with the "no, see, we have this pretty simple linear accelerator that we put any sort of space debris you want in...thinking 10km rocks, myself, but whatever...anyway, drop a few of those at 10,000 kph and planet is molten goo" got kicked out?

Like I said, humans.

If they went evil, the Mon Calamari planet buster would fuck you up from parsecs away.
posted by GuyZero at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


This would have a sound design decision were it not for the fact that the Death Star had that (planned, it turns out!) design flaw.

And a brilliant design flaw it was indeed! The plan required only a suicide attack from dozens of fighters that would have been a complete failure if they had not lucked out and gotten the galaxy's last potential-jedi pilot to join the alliance literally a day before the attack.
posted by skewed at 9:58 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's really sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low you aughta see it sometime, it's a sight. A big plane like '52, vroom! There's jet exhaust, frying chickens in the barnyard!
posted by ckape at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


It's been a long time since I read it, but I seem to recall the Alan Dean Foster novelization (ghostwritten) was explicit about the trench being in the Death Star's polar region.

Anyone questioning the trench run tactics clearly never played X-Wing. After playing through hours of space combat to get to the trench run, only to fail miserably because my poor, 90's-era 385 refugee from a corporate desktop couldn't render frames fast enough, I started trying alternative strategies. Why not dive in at full speed from a high altitude, spend only a small amount of time in the trench, blow this thing and go home? Turns out, that exposes you to many, many more guns on the surface AND attacks from TIEs from all angles. I died even quicker that way.

Finally, why did Luke's torps take a 90 degree turns down the exhaust port? Simple: He used the Force to guide them in. Red Leader hit the target squarely, but his torpedoes only impacted on the surface. The 90 degree turn was too much for the projectile's guidance systems. Luke turned off his targeting computer, after being told by Obi Wan's ghost to "use the Force." Those were unguided projectiles—dumb missiles—he was firing at the exhaust port. That hole in one was his first use of Force telekinesis.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:06 AM on January 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


"We've analyzed their attack, sir, and there is a danger..."

"Now? In our hour of triumph? Get back to cleaning the toilets."
posted by suetanvil at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


If it doesn't spin what the heck is equatorial about it? Is there some kind of weird negotiation before each battle about which way is up? Right hand chiral perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic in each system? I guess whichever way the designers put on the plans as up?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:12 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


well, there seems to be some sort of psuedo-gravitational force that permeates deep space in the Star Wars galaxy, which accounts for how the fighters turn and bank as though they are in a planet's gravitational well. There might be some sort of atmosphere in deep space there too, which accounts for all the sounds we hear in battle. So probably something with that influences how all the ships and death star are aligned. It's pretty sensible when you think about it, really.
posted by skewed at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


The plan required only a suicide attack from dozens of fighters that would have been a complete failure if they had not lucked out and gotten the galaxy's last potential-jedi pilot to join the alliance literally a day before the attack.

Or they could have used any pilot familiar with bullseye-ing womp rats in their T-16 back home. In other words, they were really counting on Biggs Darklighter.
posted by drezdn at 10:40 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


So probably something with that influences how all the ships and death star are aligned.

One of the most pleasing things for me about Rogue One is that roughly half the time we see the Death Star, the dish is in the lower hemisphere.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:42 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


Because they would have been cut to shreds by the Death Star's defense systems long before they got close enough to do any damage.

Not if they jump out hyperspace near the DS, aim for the port and then fire torpedoes at it as they jump back into hyperspace. Doesn't work the first time, just lather and repeat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:42 AM on January 25, 2017


While we're getting all nerdgasm-y, what about gravity on the DS?

Whatever the designers wanted. Artificial gravity is clearly a thing in the SW universe: see interior shots of the Millennium Falcon when it's in space, for example.

Although I suspect the designers oriented the artificial gravity in such a way as to maximize the opportunities for people to needlessly fall to their deaths.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:44 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


So, why not get a big ship, one of their capital ships, put a single astromech droid on it (or however many droids are needed) and have it jump out of hyperspace in the middle of the death star?

Wouldn't that work, really, really, really well?

Maybe place a bunch of bomb on it to. Just to be sure.
posted by oddman at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Krennic thought it was cool to turn the Death Star upside down when you shoot, like when guys in gangster movies hold their guns sideways

Not if they jump out hyperspace near the DS, aim for the port and then fire torpedoes at it as they jump back into hyperspace. Doesn't work the first time, just lather and repeat.

Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, despite this new Abramsian nonsense of exiting hyperspace into planetary atmosphere.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


Frankly, the Death Star is huge because a moon is HUGE. The equatorial trench is probably the width of the Grand Canyon, if not the Valles Marineris on Mars. The canal that the Rebels fly through is tiny in comparison. It's all about scale.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:46 AM on January 25, 2017


Although I suspect the designers oriented the artificial gravity in such a way as to maximize the opportunities for people to needlessly fall to their deaths.

This is the real fatal flaw in the death star.

Perhaps there are never any handrails because one designer thought the whole thing would be in zero-g and then someone else came along and installed gravity generators. But when you get the combination of no handrails, massive multi-story pits and artificial gravity there's really no conclusion to draw except that some designer actively wanted lots of people to fall to their deaths.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


So, why not get a big ship, one of their capital ships, put a single astromech droid on it (or however many droids are needed) and have it jump out of hyperspace in the middle of the death star?

Wouldn't that work, really, really, really well?

Maybe place a bunch of bomb on it to. Just to be sure.
posted by oddman


This bothers me in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. FTL drives themselves- however it works in that system - are just begging to be turned into humongously destructive weapons, but nobody ever does it.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


the Empire is full of white dudes who are convinced of their own smartness and superiority, of course they don't need handrails or space OSHA, those things are for special snowflake space liberals and if somebody falls to their death off a catwalk well that's just one less stupid person in the gene pool amirite top kek
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


This bothers me in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. FTL drives themselves- however it works in that system - are just begging to be turned into humongously destructive weapons, but nobody ever does it.

In Star Trek, if memory serves, objects traveling at warp don't actually have momentum (or inertia, maybe? Who knows.), they're instead magically contracting space in font and expanding it behind to "move". So in that case you could imagine a collision just kind of stopping you, or something.

Star Wars seems much happier to just let magic be magic, but one would presume that hyperspace does something similar, otherwise indeed everyone'd be ramming each other more than they already were.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2017


Hey, the empire has tons of hand rails - Vader even had to throw the emperor over one. The problem is that they're too low, presumably because jawas or those horrid little scrap workers from cloud city draft all the safety standards. Same problem as the Millenium Falcon having terrible wookie accessibility.
posted by The Gaffer at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


it ain't like dustin' crops, boy
posted by entropicamericana at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2017


Although I suspect the designers oriented the artificial gravity in such a way as to maximize the opportunities for people to needlessly fall to their deaths.

You know how in Dune the most feared fighters come from places so dangerous you have to be incredibly badass just to survive? Same idea.

Doesn't seem to have been actually effective, though.
posted by ckape at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, Jabba's barge had a similar problem. Since the implication is that all Hutts are gangsters, Jawas are thieves, etc., we can look at who dies and how they died to form a portrait in negative of the people from planet standards and practices.
posted by The Gaffer at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2017


This bothers me in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. FTL drives themselves- however it works in that system - are just begging to be turned into humongously destructive weapons, but nobody ever does it.

Yeah I assume that they both stole their FTL drives from Lensmen and that they work by nullifying inertia allowing you to accelerate almost infinitely.

Now, where's the gigantic magnet that pulls the iron right out of you blood?
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


a kind of R2 unit with wings

That would be pointless unless they also had some kind of propulsion mechanism, and if that were the case it would have been shown in one of the movies by now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:09 AM on January 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


That would be pointless unless they also had some kind of propulsion mechanism, and if that were the case it would have been shown in one of the movies by now.

ugh, I think I had literally suppressed that memory up until now, thanks.
posted by skewed at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2017


But when you get the combination of no handrails, massive multi-story pits and artificial gravity there's really no conclusion to draw except that some designer actively wanted lots of people to fall to their deaths.

Look, one designer built a fatal flaw into the Death Star. Some other designer made sure that there were no safety handrails and lots of deep pits in every construction project. Sabotage of the Empire took many forms.

Remind me again how the guy at the superweapon proposal meeting with the "no, see, we have this pretty simple linear accelerator that we put any sort of space debris you want in...thinking 10km rocks, myself, but whatever...anyway, drop a few of those at 10,000 kph and planet is molten goo" got kicked out?

"Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this...rock? What? Somebody get me a death ray or something!"
posted by nubs at 11:17 AM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


FAKE NEWS
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:20 AM on January 25, 2017


It's a space opera, not science fiction. Can you imagine Luke and Darth Vader dueling in a universe where the Dark Forest principle shapes all interactions between alien polities? I mean, the first change is that Jedi weapons wouldn't be lightsabers, that's for sure.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


This thread is the best thread. I love all of you beautiful nerds.
posted by Mchelly at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


This bothers me in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. FTL drives themselves- however it works in that system - are just begging to be turned into humongously destructive weapons, but nobody ever does it.

Exactly. It would be something different narratively and cinematically, which is why I would someone would do it. Battlestar Galactic came close with this brilliant move of pulling a reasonably realistic FTL drop in an atmosphere, but no film or show has even tried anything similar.


Look, one designer built a fatal flaw into the Death Star. Some other designer made sure that there were no safety handrails and lots of deep pits in every construction project.

Pretty sure these design specs was insisted on by the Emperor to make everything grand looking, while whittling out clumsy fools.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:43 AM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


It all makes sense, sheeple!

Now it just needs someone like Alexia Jon-sin of Alternative Facts to do a few breathless takes with "wake up sheeple". Could be a nice 'art project' for someone.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:13 PM on January 25, 2017


Pretty sure these design specs was insisted on by the Emperor to make everything grand looking, while whittling out clumsy fools.

"Put a handrail around that pit in my throne room. No where else on the station, just there. I certainly don't want to fall to my death.... What, close up the entire thing? No, don't be absurd, I'm sure a handrail will be sufficient."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:19 PM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


So in Star Wars, defense projects don't go to the lowest bidder, and corners are never cut?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:30 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't really get the horror of being slowly digested over thousands of years in the Sarlacc [...] You'd die of starvation/dehydration/old age

The Sarlacc is clearly some rare form of reverse-parasite, where it keeps its prey alive in its digestive tract via a forced symbiotic relationship while slowly consuming it. This seems like a slightly inefficient digestive mechanism, and I question whether — given the normal size of prey one would expect in an arid desert — throwing a bunch of full-size humanoids down its gullet wouldn't kill it. (Which brings the number of hapless and probably rare animals killed by Luke and Co. on Tatooine to two. The poor rancor!)

Alternately, Jabba just likes to engage in poetic license.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


While we're nitpicking, I don't really get the horror of being slowly digested over thousands of years in the Sarlacc.

OK, maybe it's not as bad as being roasted in the depths of the Slor, bit it's pretty bad.
posted by thelonius at 12:43 PM on January 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


HOW ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE KITTENS?!

[Pix please, michswiss. You're my only hope.]
posted by Space Kitty at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


While we're nitpicking, I don't really get the horror of being slowly digested over thousands of years in the Sarlacc.

Imagine having to talk to the same people for a 1,000 years, who are also being slowly digested.

"Yeah Stan, we got it, you're miserable, we're ALL miserable. At least you still have both hands, so quit whining."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:00 PM on January 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


Maan, I seen Star Wars and Planet of the Apes EIGHT TRILLION TIMES!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 1:06 PM on January 25, 2017


While we're nitpicking, I don't really get the horror of being slowly digested over thousands of years in the Sarlacc.


I had this same issue when I saw ROTJ at 9 years old... I thought the Sarlaac somehow dramatically prolonged your life, but you had to live in the Sarlaac pit the whole time, so it would be a pretty horrible way to die. The alternative interpretation, that the writers didn't think too carefully about dialogue, did not occur to me.
posted by skewed at 1:27 PM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


I recall reading some Expanded Universe (or whatever) collection that had a story with Boba Fett escaping from the Sarlacc. I think there was some business about it keeping you alive and feeding on your identity / memories / agony.

A lot of that material was sort of not very good.
posted by brennen at 1:31 PM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


I recall reading some Expanded Universe (or whatever) collection that had a story with Boba Fett escaping from the Sarlacc. I think there was some business about it keeping you alive and feeding on your identity / memories / agony.

Turns out that "sarlacc pit" was another name for the University of Tatooine Department of English Graduate Studies.
posted by GuyZero at 1:35 PM on January 25, 2017 [23 favorites]


Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, despite this new Abramsian nonsense of exiting hyperspace into planetary atmosphere.

OMG. I just realized that Abramsian bullshit is pretty much the same bullshit he pulled in Star Trek with the infinite-range transporter.
posted by straight at 1:48 PM on January 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


If you're in the trench, the only guns that can acquire you as a target are the guns physically inside the trench. If you're above the trench, there's a whole hemisphere's worth of guns that can acquire you.

But...but...if you can get to the trench, you don't need to be in the trench. Go straight to the exhaust port.

Anyone questioning the trench run tactics clearly never played X-Wing. After playing through hours of space combat to get to the trench run, only to fail miserably because my poor, 90's-era 385 refugee from a corporate desktop couldn't render frames fast enough, I started trying alternative strategies. Why not dive in at full speed from a high altitude, spend only a small amount of time in the trench, blow this thing and go home? Turns out, that exposes you to many, many more guns on the surface AND attacks from TIEs from all angles. I died even quicker that way.

But the game is cheating to make you play it like the movie. Unlike the Empire, the game knows you're headed for that one exhaust port and has the direct route from space (the game also knows where you're starting from in space) to the port more heavily guarded than the almost-identical route from space to where you enter the trench.
posted by straight at 1:55 PM on January 25, 2017


There's a bunch of just-so stories about why the trench run would be necessary.

Imagine the trench has guns along the top that can shoot spacewards but that can't shoot down because then they'd be shooting the death star, like guns on a modern naval ship. Once someone is on the deck, the big guns are useless. And there's lots of turrets by the exhaust port so if you fly straight in you'll get shot up. But there's another place further away where there's no turrets. So you have a weak spot that's undefended but only along one path of approach.

But really it was so Lucas could film Dam Busters in space.
posted by GuyZero at 2:12 PM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Alternately, Jabba just likes to engage in poetic license.

Nonsense, every line of dialogue is a literally true description of the universe. Even when delivered by characters who would not be in a position to know or who have previously been demonstrated to be untrustworthy or prone to embellishment.

But...but...if you can get to the trench, you don't need to be in the trench. Go straight to the exhaust port.

The targeting computers suck and obviously need at least a minute of relatively straight flying to get a lock. Impossible outside the trench, achievable inside the trench.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:15 PM on January 25, 2017


If it doesn't spin what the heck is equatorial about it? Is there some kind of weird negotiation before each battle about which way is up? Right hand chiral perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic in each system? I guess whichever way the designers put on the plans as up?

and


well, there seems to be some sort of psuedo-gravitational force that permeates deep space in the Star Wars galaxy, which accounts for how the fighters turn and bank as though they are in a planet's gravitational well.


This would presumably also account for the fact that spaceship battles in Star Wars don't take advantage of the freedom to fly in from any angle, but instead have ships engaging each other roughly on the same plane as each other. Why do we never see one fleet or ship attacking another from what, to the pilots of the latter's perspective, would be top-down? Why do they all share basically the same orientations? These aren't airplanes.
posted by kenko at 2:20 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


OMG. I just realized that Abramsian bullshit is pretty much the same bullshit he pulled in Star Trek with the infinite-range transporter.

I generally liked TFA, but if you wanted to argue that J.J. Abrams pretty routinely discards the veneer of plausible consistency — or maybe I should say the architectural underpinnings of willing-suspension-of-disbelief — in the fictional universes he's playing in, well, I won't quibble.

(I mean, I'm aware that this is sort of a ridiculous thing to say about fictional universes as already inconsistent and handwavy as ST and SW both are, but I feel like it's a real thing. There are a couple of moments in TFA where one sort of goes "WHERE THE FUCK ARE THESE PLANETS SUPPOSED TO BE IN RELATION TO ONE ANOT... oh fuck it nevermind, I hope the lightsaber bit is cool." And this is a property you feel like he actually gives a shit about and probably exercised all sorts of caution with. His Trek is, like, made of those moments but minus the part where the lightsaber bit is cool.)
posted by brennen at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Imagine having to talk to the same people for a 1,000 years, who are also being slowly digested.


I give you one vision of what it might be like.
posted by nubs at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


You mean the map that shows the main laser aligned with the trench?

That explains it all. The Empire obviously changed the design, some time after the date of the plans stolen by the rebels. The attackers are working with a map that isn't accurate any more, but it's close enough to give them some clues. They start near a landmark they've sighted near the equatorial area of the death star, then they fly around engaging in visually dramatic dogfights until they find the right spot.
posted by sfenders at 3:21 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


This would presumably also account for the fact that spaceship battles in Star Wars don't take advantage of the freedom to fly in from any angle, but instead have ships engaging each other roughly on the same plane as each other. Why do we never see one fleet or ship attacking another from what, to the pilots of the latter's perspective, would be top-down? Why do they all share basically the same orientations? These aren't airplanes.

cause there's no Ender Wiggin in the Star Wars universe, that's why
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:38 PM on January 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


Why do they all share basically the same orientations? These aren't airplanes.

They don't want to run into the dark matter floors or ceilings.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Why do they all share basically the same orientations? These aren't airplanes.

Presumably half the secret to discovering hyperdrive is finding a privileged frame of reference.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well, if we're spoiling the magic of Star Wars by pointing out its direct influencers, the main title isn't entirely unique--it's clearly very inspired by Erich Korngold's music from King's Row:

A back-to-back comparison

One that's intercut more closely
posted by LooseFilter at 6:53 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


cause there's no Ender Wiggin in the Star Wars universe, that's why

So it follows there is no OS Card in that universe, which makes it a blessed place indeed.
posted by maxwelton at 7:42 PM on January 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


The Battle of Yavin.
BBY Zero-Zero.




I imagine death fears even the Empire’s armory
This is where it gets me: in my ship
The Death Star’s ahead of me
If this is the end of me at least I’ve Wedge Antilles
X-Wings at our hands, a squadron, and Porkins with me
Then I remember that P. Leia’s expecting me,
Yeah I know that it’s weird that she kissed…
Me? I gotta go, gotta get the job done
Blow up the Death Star, for the Rebellion!

S-Foils in position!
(WHAT?)
Foils in position!
(WHAT?)

We move into the trench and we move as one
Is it north-south or east-west, I’ve no idea
Are there any Bothans left? None of this is clear!
We will fight up close, use the force and stay in it
Avoid the turbolasers or we’re in deep shit
Through the magnetic field hold on tight!

(HOLD ON TIGHT!)

You have your orders now go, man, fight!
Sorry, just saw Hamilton. Now I understand. Everything is Hamilton.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:51 PM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'd never imagined the trench was the same as the equator. Wasn't the equator supposed to be large enough, and had hangars large enough to dock Star Destroyers? Clearly the trench had to be a separate part of the Death Star.

Nah, the thing that has begun to bug me more and more (exacerbated by TFA) is how little time passes in ANH. Isn't it less than a week, from start to finish, with the only real mitigating question being how long it takes to travel from Tatooine to Alderan?

And with TFA, somehow being able to see the energy beams from Starkiller Base in broad daylight, then the beams visibly destroying planets that should be (literal) light years away exploding in the (again, broad daylight) sky, or the idea that an XWing could make a quick ten minute reconnaissance trip to Starkiller Base and back just ruins the entire concept of time and space.

That and the utter lack of non-X-Wing ships. Where were my A-Wings? My precious, precious B-Wings?!
posted by Ghidorah at 10:18 PM on January 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wookie Ewokpede

The Ewok word translates into English as 'Wookiepedia', a term which celebrates the value of the links which inform the wookie.
posted by biffa at 4:37 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Why do we never see one fleet or ship attacking another from what, to the pilots of the latter's perspective, would be top-down?

"You're all clear kid, now let's blow this thing and go home!"
posted by radwolf76 at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


just ruins the entire concept of time and space.

Time and space have always been fluid in the SW Universe; everything in it moves at the speed of plot like nothing else I've seen (consider RotS, where the Emperor is able to time his departure to rescue Anakin from the lava pit with pretty amazing precision). The first couple of movies featured hyperspace journeys that at least took a few hours; since then, everything has moved to appear where it needs to be just when it needs to be there.
posted by nubs at 11:11 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Luke flying from Hoth to Dagobah to Bespin in his X-Wing really blows apart the whole idea of travel time in hyperspace. Even assuming there's some kind of waste elimination system built into Luke's flight suit, there's no way he spent more than 12 hours in that thing.

For reference, I was curious what would be considered a "long duration fighter sortie" in modern military thinking and turned up this paper, which mentions in the abstract that anything over four hours is considered "long duration" and starts to require special design considerations from the aircraft. It also gives an idea of some of the issues pilots run into on these missions.

Of course, some of those considerations wouldn't apply to Luke's case, given that we can assume R2-D2 is handling most of the navigation while in hyperspace, and I already granted the possibility that his flight suit handles waste elimination. But, unless we assume that the Galaxy Far Far Away has some kind of easily-administered, fast-waking soporific with little-to-no effect on combat effectiveness, it really stretches believability that X-Wings would have hyperdrives at all if hyperdrive flights taking multiple days were commonplace.

Actually, and I might be missing something because it's been a while since I watched the original trilogy, I think the only hyperdrive flights that took more than at most a few hours in the movies might have been a) Tattooine to Alderaan in ANH, and b) Rebel base to Luke's hideout in TFA.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:53 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


*cracks knuckles* Well, if we're opening the pandora's box of travel times in the original trilogy, I've always thought that the travels of the Falcon in Empire don't make a lick of sense unless its implied that they're on the ship for insane amounts of time - but maybe experiencing relativistic time dilation - on the way to Cloud City without a hyperdrive. Dialog makes it clear that Hoth and Cloud City (Anoat system) are in different star system, so we're talking light-years of travel here.

(the one upside of this problem is that it also lets you assume that Luke was on Dagobah training a lot longer than is implied)

And don't give me that extra-textual bunk about backup hyperdrives from the RPG. Phooey. *spits*
posted by the phlegmatic king at 12:06 PM on January 26, 2017


Phooey. *spits*
posted by the phlegm atic king


FTFY
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:42 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


This bothers me in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. FTL drives themselves- however it works in that system - are just begging to be turned into humongously destructive weapons, but nobody ever does it."

Setting aside that it would make for a boring movie it could be something similar to MAD. I mean the Russians and the Americans have had proxy wars against each other and against rebels/free-fighters etc. on numerous occasions since both sides have had enough atomic weaponry to destroy the planet and no one has used atomic weapon in anger. A Star Wars universe war that breaks down into flinging relativistic masses is game over for everyone. Hyperspace engines are not hard to either acquire or operate; no one would be safe on any planet/moon anywhere.
posted by Mitheral at 5:39 PM on January 26, 2017


Well, but didn't Starkiller Base use hyperspace to accelerate its planet-destroying lasers? The movie -- thank god, honestly -- was very light on specifics, but I still got that impression very strongly from various pieces of dialogue combined with the trippy light show that blew up the five core New Republic planets simultaneously. (Wookieepedia cites the TFA novelisation for a ton of details on how the specifically is supposed to work, but eh. Hyperspace make laser go fast is enough for me.)

Also, I feel like planet-destroying superweapons throw the whole MAD thing out the window anyway.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:46 PM on January 26, 2017


Luke flying from Hoth to Dagobah to Bespin in his X-Wing really blows apart the whole idea of travel time in hyperspace. Even assuming there's some kind of waste elimination system built into Luke's flight suit, there's no way he spent more than 12 hours in that thing.

I refer you to Gemini 7, where two astronauts spent 14 days in space, each in space about the size of Luke's cockpit. And they pooped in bags, while the other guy was sitting right next to them. Luke had it pretty good.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Do you think it feeds through to R2 and he ejects it using the gizmo he used to ping out the lightsaber in RotJ?
posted by biffa at 5:01 AM on January 27, 2017


"it could be something similar to MAD. I mean the Russians and the Americans have had proxy wars against each other and against rebels/free-fighters etc. on numerous occasions since both sides have had enough atomic weaponry to destroy the planet and no one has used atomic weapon in anger. "

That might explain why governments don't do it. Even still we'd have assume that the Rebel Alliance sees itself as a government and not merely a guerrilla group.

That wouldn't explain why random terrorists or fringe, more radical, rebel groups (hey there Saw Gerrera/Forrest Whitaker) don't do it. Indeed given the Empire's development of planet destroying super-weapons one would think that would embolden the more radical dissident groups (surely the Rebels aren't the only one, ever during the original trilogy).
posted by oddman at 7:44 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


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