Stories of humanity cloaked in sci-fi tales
Published 5:10 pm Friday, May 6, 2022
Enthusiastic Star Wars fans tend to enjoy the beginning of May each year. That’s because May 4 is unofficially celebrated as Star Wars Day. The date sounds similar to “May the Force be with you,” a memorable quote from the franchise.
For added fun, fans tend to extend their celebrations to the next day as well, calling it “Revenge of the Fifth,” a play of words on the movie title “Revenge of the Sith.”
I wrote a column a few years back about the fan-made holiday. The phrase was first used in 1979 and fans ran with it in the decades since. Toronto hosted the world’s first Star Wars Day event in 2011 to bring fans together for costume contests, trivia, and more. Disney, which has owned the rights to the franchise for a decade now, also hosts events in their parks to have fun with the day.
In that old column, I also made some suggestions of things to do to celebrate May the Fourth from home. Those ideas included beginning all your emails with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, doing some Stormtrooper shooting practice with a Nerf gun (the goal is to NOT hit the target), styling your bathrobe like a Jedi robe, and waving your hands at the grocery store’s automatic doors to open them with The Force. My personal favorite, however, was “if anyone owes you money, simply freeze them in carbonite.”
Of course, May the Fourth has already passed by this year, but you can make a note to have fun next year (or even get an early start now! I won’t judge.) But the annual fan celebration got me thinking about science fiction in general, and how we’ve had so many great series, movies, books, and franchises over the years to tell interesting stories in the genre.
Star Trek is probably equally (if not more) popular compared to Star Wars. The franchise has graced television and movie screens over the past few decades. It imagines a future where humanity has stretched farther than the confines of our home planet, a future where we “seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a more idyllic future is still something that resonates with audiences of all ages today.
The Doctor Who series, produced in the UK, is one of the longest running science fiction television series of all time. It tells the story of the Doctor, an alien Time Lord, who often gets involved in various situations throughout the galaxy (in the past, present, or future) with his human traveling companions. The series can be both amazingly uplifting and incredibly heartbreaking, showcasing the different ways we can make an impact on the world around us.
Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time, and made a profound impact on the genre just as it was really starting to develop. I’ve barely made a dent in reading his works, but I have read several of his Robot short stories. The speculative stories envision a future where robots are developed with artificial intelligence, and that plays a role in how they interact with humanity. The story makes you think about what limits of technology can or cannot be surpassed.
Well before my time, one of the most popular science fiction names was The Twilight Zone, the anthology series telling a number of memorable stories with all kinds of science fiction trends. Episodes of the series often opened with narration, something along the lines of “you’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.” With an opening like that, you knew the story was going to be something that’ll make you think long after the end credits rolled.
And these are only a few examples of the most popular science fiction. The genre can take so many different forms. Just a few examples include The X-Files, the Stargate franchise, Battlestar Galactica, the Alien movies, Dune, the Jurassic Park franchise, Phillip K. Dick’s novels, Douglas Adams’ stories, The War of the Worlds, and so many more.
Even though many science fiction stories may be focused on fictional aliens or sentient robots and the like, at the heart of each story is a tale of humanity. They range from cautionary tales of impending disaster to hopeful stories of striving to reach our potential. I think they’re all fascinating in their own ways.
Decades after the first Star Wars movie was released, the franchise is still gaining numerous fans all around the world. We may not live in a world with lightsabers and Jedi and “the Force” but it’s still fun to enjoy. And, as with any science fiction story, we can always find something relatable to real life buried within the fantastical.
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7206.