Monday, April 1, 2013

My Introduction to the Stars

Though I’ve always had a fascination for the night sky, that’s not the introduction I’m talking about, nor am I talking about hobnobbing with celebrities out in L.A. What I’m talking about is my introduction to the science-fiction genre (Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, etc.) and all the Stars that go with it.

Early Exposure
I remember watching Star Wars - A New Hope for the first time as clearly as though it were yesterday. I was just 10 years old at the time and staying with my dad in his mobile home in Westerville, OH. As I was going back to my mom’s house down in Sugarloaf Key, FL in a couple days, dad wanted to show me something special and so rented the VHS of A New Hope for us to watch that evening. I had no idea what I was in for. I sat on our makeshift couch enthralled by the action taking place on the screen. The film had my attention from the get go. I sat and watched with anticipation as the door to the Tantive IV was slowly cut away by Darth Vader and his stormtroopers. I tried (mostly successfully) to hold back my tears as Luke discovered that his aunt and uncle had been killed. I even found myself holding my breath as Luke fired off his “one-in-a-million” proton torpedo shot, destroying the Death Star and saving the day. In a mere two hours I went from totally oblivious to completely hooked. When dad told me the next day that there were more, I insisted we go rent them to watch that very night. I just had to have more. We watched The Empire Strikes Back that night and I found myself no less impressed than I’d been with A New Hope the night before. I went to bed that night wondering if Darth Vader had been lying, how they could ever get Han back, and what the next movie may hold. Unfortunately I had to wait an entire week to find out (look it’s a long time when you’re 10) as the video rental place didn’t have Return of the Jedi. When I did finally sit down to watch it, I was back at my mom’s house and watched the tape on a 15” CRT TV with an attached tape player in my bedroom. My questions from before were answered and I had a couple surprises waiting for me as well such as Leia’s family tree. Still the film raised even more questions which took a bit longer to find answers to. I wondered what happened to the rest of the galaxy, would Luke rebuild the Jedi Order, and what if anything would come of Han and Leia. These and other questions started a quest for answers and a love for the genre that has grown as I have and transcended the purpose of merely satisfying my curiosity.

Stops along the Way
As I continued to immerse myself in the Star Wars community I found hidden treasures that few know about and that I’m happy to have stumbled upon. Things like the two live-action Ewok movies Caravan of Courage and Battle for Endor, which while, looking back, are not the most impressively made movies of all time did still expand the universe for me and breathed new life into my growing passion.

Like most fans of my age I had my parents buy me as many Star Wars figures as I could convince them to and even tried to make my own Star Wars figure out of cardboard and masking tape. Unfortunately the custom figure didn’t work out, but I had a whole squadron of home-made x-wings along with a y-wing and of course the Millennium Falcon.

At long last I found my first Star Wars video game; Rebel Assault II for the PC. I’m not ashamed to admit that I played that game for hundreds of hours, blasting tie fighters and maneuvering a commandeered YT-1300 (similar to the Millennium Falcon) through a series of winding twisting tunnels. This of course led to others such as X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, Galactic Battlegrounds, and Force Commander.

The New Trilogy
When Phantom Menace came out, like many I couldn’t wait to see the new film. Unfortunately I was still in elementary and had difficulty convincing my mom to drive me to the midnight showing at the closest theater, half an hour away. When that first weekend rolled around however my bottom was firmly planted in the theater seats soaking up all that the film had to offer. Of course having seen the originals hundreds of time already I knew instantly what Senator Palpatine was trying to do and who little Anakin would eventually become. Though the movie didn’t (and still doesn’t) get a great deal of positive feedback I found that I enjoyed it and that it offers insights into the tensions that were present in the galaxy at the time that precipitated the events taking place in the original films.

This new film spawned a whole new campaign of merchandising that included new figures, toys, and even a line of Star Wars Legos. At this point I still bought a few figures here and there, but had mostly moved past that phase of my life and was looking forward to the new video games that would no doubt come out as a result and the wait was not in vain. Around this time I got my first console gaming system, a Nintendo 64, for Christmas and eventually acquired the four Star Wars titles that came out for it. Though I enjoyed them all the best by far was Rouge Squadron. To this day I can’t get a gold medal on all the missions, but I never stopped loving the game. Other games came out during this period of new film releases like Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for the PC and Jedi Power Battles for the PlayStation. Needless to say I had plenty to keep me busy.

The Results
Beginning in college and ever since, my love for Star Wars has blossomed into a love for science-fiction and fantasy and the questions these genres raise. I found myself forced to consider what is and isn’t moral, are we alone, where are we going as a species, and what lies beyond. Ultimately these questions led me to theology and philosophy and of course Christianity where I found that many of my questions were answered. It’s safe to say that the Star Wars franchise has shaped who I am today and I’m proud to say that Star Wars will always have a place in my N3rd C0rn3r.