The Death of an Icon

Bradford C. Walker, one of the better and more productive members of the cultural shift in fantasy and sci-fi circles, has a new IP on the way – The Star Knight Saga!   Look at this great concept art, and hit up his site for more information and a look at the full picture.

For the past 30 years, nothing has been as iconic a representation of the Star Wars universe as the light sabre.  The look and the sound of the thing immediately conjures up the image of a brown-robed warrior-monk who fights for truth and justice.  Those brave few men whose discipline and training allow them to use such a dangerous weapon to great effect.

The power-sword has never been unique to Star Wars.  From Fritz Leiber’s “rods of wrath”, violent energy blades that appeared in his 1943(!) story, Gather Darkness, to the late 1970s Sunsword of Thundarr the Barbarian, and everything in between and following along, the concept of a sword…but more powerful and visibly radiating that power, is a stable of science-fantasy.  And yet, something about the implementation in Star Wars made them seem more rare, mysterious, and unique that setting in a way that no other IP could match.

Until lately.  It started with the over saturation in the Prequels, then became worse when any random waif or garbage man could pick one up and use one effectively and without lopping off his own arm accidentally.  The death of the light sabre’s stranglehold on our imaginations probably came when one of the two most iconic wielders of said weapons chucked his family heirloom lightsaber over his shoulder with a silent shrug.

Okay, Luke.  I’ve followed your lead when it comes to trusting myself, choosing my friends over my own training, and loving my father come what may.  If you think light sabres mean nothing, who am I to say otherwise?

For some time now, and I’m only just noticing this major shift in my own perceptions, the light sabre is no more special or unique than dark lords, space fighter dog fights, or planetary princesses in need of rescue.  It’s just another energy blade, and so just one more aspect of space fantasy that doesn’t immediately conjure up images of the Skywalker family.

Looking at Mr. Walker’s promising artwork, it struck me that it doesn’t look at all derivative of Star Wars.  It’s its own thing, still well within the space fantasy genre, but it doesn’t have to fight its way through a lot of Star Wars baggage to establish itself.

Congratulations, Disney.  In your handling of Star Wars you squandered more genre real-estate than you realize.

About Jon Mollison

Jon Mollison was weaned at the literary knee of Tolkein, Howard, Moore, and Burroughs. He spent decades wandering in the wilderness of modern genre fiction, wondering when the magic and wonder went out of the world of dragons and space ships. In his darkest hour, he encountered a wise man who handed him the open secrets to crafting works that emulate the stories of the great authors who built the genre. They are easily summarized in but two words: Regress Harder. Now one of the twelve champions of the Pulp Revolution, his self-published works represent a more direct lineage to the tales of action, mystery, romance, virtue, and pure unalloyed adventure than the bland imitations churned out by New York City publishing houses in recent decades.
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