Star Wars vs Star Trek

Sometimes I think about the differences between Star Trek and Star Wars. Honestly, I think the biggest difference between the two universes was that Star Trek (DS9 excluded and not in a bad way) was generally about hope. That's really the central, core tenant of the show.

In the future, all these worries and burdens and injustices we have now will be behind us. For example, it said (in the 60's) that if you're a woman, there's a place for you on the bridge, just like everyone else. If you're black, eventually nobody will care. If you're blind, you can still be chief engineer of a Starship.

I think this is why Trek appeals so much to the GLBT crowd. The idea -- the hope -- that in the future, life will be governed by tolerance and reason. That there's a place for everyone and replicated food means nobody goes hungry.

Star Wars represents, I think, a more grim picture of the future (again, not in a bad way). There's injustice and authoritarianism everywhere. People will kill you for old debts, for being a member of an almost extinct religion, or for opposing the state. There are wars spanning across solar systems. There is money, corruption, politics, and weapons of mass destruction.

For people who prefer this world, I can imagine why it's appealing. It's adventurous, engaging and realistic; as we can see in the modern day people don't abandon their preconceptions and hatreds just because technology marches on. In Trek there's no money, but the reality is people want to make a buck; the basic idea of currency has been with us for so long we rightly can't imagine a world without it.

So what do I prefer?

I love them both, because I agree with William Shatner. Star Trek and Star Wars are different, and they give a totally separate picture of the future.

When writing Lacuna these are some of the issues I think about. For example, one of the long-running issues I've had with Trek is... If everything's so egalitarian and racism is a thing of the past, then where are all the Chinese people (1/4 of the world's population)? Instead of the 'token asian', shouldn't each ship have a token white guy?

Accordingly, the majority of the crew of the ships in Lacuna (at least, the ones of the TFR Beijing) are Chinese. Unlike Trek, people didn't give up their nationalities in this future; and nationalities tend to clump together when all mixed up, like oil and water. Old terrestrial grudges show up occasionally too, something that Trek was only able to explore in allegory.

Sci-fi is such a fun and vibrant setting to write in, in particular because of this tradeoff of hope vs realism.