Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Galactic management #1

So, in a shocking revelation, a Forbes staff-writer knows less about Star Wars than I do (nb. this is not necessarily a point in my favour!).

Here's my riposte to that article, from a google plus conversation -- with footnotes now hyperlinked...

The Emperor was entirely selfish -- he didn't care if the Empire continued after his death (although presumably he wasn't planning on dying!) and from his perspective there was simply no need to consider a power structure to follow him. In fact, as Tim Zahn makes clear in the wonderful Thrawn series of books, the Empire is still going 5 years after the Emperor's death, albeit in a more fractured and limited form. Other EU books show that there are still scattered warlords derived from the old Empire even 10 years after the fall. By putting power in the hands of regional governors instead of a central bureaucracy, the Empire in fact appears to have been far more resilient to conquest than the Old Republic, which appears to have been turned from the inside into an Empire by a single ambitious prick in only a few years.

Not in the films, but Zahn makes a terrifying case in Heir to the Empire that in fact, the Emperor used the Force to low-level mind-meld all of his subjects into a sort of super-hive-mind bent to his will. What is more of a stake than being directly controlled by the leader himself, eh?

Of course, Vader was different. Petty and vindictive. No wonder the Emperor was tiring of his lieutenant and looking for some fresh blood. And, having wiped out all of the Jedi [fn1] he had few options for a replacement. Now that definitely was a mistake and a lesson for us all: monopolies are bad for everyone.

The second death star, as the author completely fails to note, was built -- not even completed -- as a trap to lure out the Rebel Alliance, who would no doubt be convinced that this second giant space station who terrorize the galaxy. In fact, since DS2 was supposed to be five times as large as DS1, and was nearly completed in the three years between ANH and ROTJ, the Emperor clearly could have completed a second smaller Death Star and chose not to. He also cleverly lured the rebels' Bothan spies into believing the DS2 was not yet functional and that a strike was likely to be successful. DS2 even had a force field capable of deflecting the snub-fighters that destroyed DS1!

The Emperor's real failure was not building DS2, but in a failure of empathy. A failure to believe that Vader could hold any residual feelings for his son. The cruelty of torturing a father's child right in front of him, presumably in an attempt to cement his mastery over Vader. The Emperor clearly had Vader on too long a leash -- perhaps, now more machine than man, using the force brainwashing would have simply destroyed Anakin's frail form. Perhaps the Emperor was simply gleefully overconfident, he certainly appeared that way.

The Empire's final failure, of course, was the underestimation of the Ewoks on Endor. "An entire legion" of the Empire's finest were bested by a small army of teddy bears. Perhaps both Anakin and Sidious failed to learn properly from Yoda, who declared "size matters not". Certainly the Ewoks were far better prepared, and operating in friendly territory already laced with guerilla warfare traps, but were still only stone-age natives. Perhaps the Emperor simply wasn't able to Force-direct such a large battle both in space and on the surface while simultaneously attempting to turn Skywalker on the DS2. Perhaps that was Luke's cunning plan all along, to stretch the Emperor's mind control powers so far that something had to give.

1: all, that is, apart from about a billion force-sensitive people who escaped the purges in various ways or were born after them: Kyle Katarn, Mara Jade, Corran Horn, and of course Luke and Leia.

(Part 2 - Galactic Management: Ewok Edition)

No comments: