Monday, December 14, 2015

Names in SFF #12: Luke Skywalker

From Samuel R. Delany's review of Star Wars which appeared in Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy in 1977:

"Etymologists take note: the relation between Lucas and Luke is obvious. But note too that the name George comes from the Greek work [word] georgos: farmer, i.e., "earth man," or "earth walker." George Lucas / Luke Skywalker, dig? The film is a blatant and self-conscious autobiographic wish fulfillment on the part of its ingenious director.


"In addition to the play Lucas makes on his own name to generate Luke, the very texture and play of the film tells us Lucas would like to live in the future. Whatever the lessons this future has to teach us, about good and evil, about growing up or accepting courage, no matter how painful or unpleasant those lessons, this future is seen as a good place to learn them, a place where one will have a chance to apply them. It is not the future so many sf films depict, where things are so inhibited that, even if we learn something about life, we never have a chance to utilize that knowledge -- short of the place's falling completely to pieces within seventy-two hours of our learning it. And assuming we are lucky enough [to] survive. In short, there are many ways in which Star Wars is a very childlike film. This is to the good.

"[...] wouldn't that future have been more interesting if, say, three-quarters of the rebel pilots just happened to have been Oriental women -- rather than just the guys who didn't make it onto the Minnisota Ag. football team. [...] In the film world in the present, the token woman, token black, or what-have-you, is clearly propaganda, and even the people who are supposed to like that particular piece of it smile their smiles with rather more tightly pursed lips than is comfortable. In a science fiction film, however, the variety of human types should be as fascinating and luminous in itself as the variety of color in the set designer's paint box. Not to make use of that variety, in all possible combinations, seems an imaginative failure of at least the same order as not coming up with as interesting sets as possible.

In any case, Star Wars is a delight. (For those people who like literary parallels, it brings the sf up to about the Lensmen stage.) But perhaps the most delightful thing about it is that it brings so forcefully to the imagination the possibility of sf films that are so much better in precisely the terms that Star Wars itself has begun to lay out."

SFF names #11: Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver
SFF names #10: Bobby Shaftoe
SFF names #9: Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen
SFF names #8: Ged
SFF names #7: Shevek
SFF names #6: Buhle
SFF names #5: Parva "Pen" Khan
SFF names #4: Beth Bradley
SFF names #3: Rumpelstiltskin
SFF names #2: Lucy
SFF names #1: Winnie

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