Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A Brief Note Regarding Lightsabers

The lightsaber is one of the coolest fictional weapons ever created, but its creator George Lucas just doesn't deserve it. Know why?

He insists on calling them "laser-swords." Really, he does.

This isn't a new bit of information, just something that bothers me from time to time. I mean, really... Laser-swords? Leaving aside entirely the fact that "laser" is an acronym that would be meaningless in a galaxy long ago and far away, the name "light saber" is just so much more... elegant. "Laser sword" is just dumb.

(This is honestly the kind of thing that keeps me up at night...)

Oh, you're not the only one.

We just rewatched these, and although I'm no expert in swordplay, I've often thought that the two-handed style Luke and Vader use is just splendid.

I've only handled a claymore, however, and not a saber. I've been employed as a model at conventions to show how well balanced a properly forged claymore can be, and that even a petite woman can handle one.
>>(This is honestly the kind of thing that keeps me up at night...)

You think that's bad, try having Seals and Croft's "Summer Breeze" rolling around your head at nap time. :)
You know, I honestly think George has been going out of his way the last few years to deliberately needle the hard-core fan base with stuff like this. The original trilogy never, ever used the term "laser sword" (although they do mention "turbo lasers," so the acronym obviously does exist in this galaxy). My theory is that he's grown tired of the whole fanboy thing, so he passively-aggressively lashes out with crap like "laser sword" and "nobody liked C-3PO back in the day either, so why should they like Jar-Jar now?" It's sad, really, the level of contempt he seems to feel for his own creation and legacy...
Patty, one of the other things that keeps me up nights is thinking about how lightsabers would be balanced. When the "blade" isn't being projected, the center of gravity is in the handle, obviously, right in the hand of whomever it holding it. But when the blade extends, does that beam of light carry any weight, shifting the center of gravity further out, so that it balances more like a real sword, or does it stay inside the handle?

A few years ago Allison and I did some kind of virtual reality game at Disney World that incorporated lightsaber-like swords. Before you put on the VR helmet, you picked up what looked like a heavy flashlight that was cabled to the floor. When you had the VR helmet on and the lightsaber "turned on," a weight inside the handle shifted upwards, from the bottom of the handle to the top, so that it felt like the blade had just come out at the same time that the VR rig was projecting the image of the lightsaber extending. And having watched Star Wars repeatedly since the late seventies, that seemed completely right to me.

Of course, there's no rational reason why a beam of light or energy or plasma or whatever it is should have any appreciable heft or weight, but when did rationality ever define how things in Star Wars worked...?
Of course, John, now I have Seals & Croft running through my head, as well...
You may well be right, Jason. In some interviews it does seem that he occasionally bears some animosity towards the "fans," as he calls them, somehow distinguishing them from the "audience."
I remember the first time I realized the guns fired discreet packets of light with a beginning and an end.
They don't shoot continuous red beams? (Or is it yellow, or blue...?)
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