I'd been batting around ideas for a State of the Debate 2008 for awhile, even back when it would've been 2007, and thus wouldn't have rhymed quite so nicely. Of course, I've been ever so busy for the past several months, and thus many ideas for updates, blog posts, and so on have been left by the wayside, if not forgotten altogether. But this one keeps re-appearing in my brain.
A State of the Debate, by its nature, is not meant to cover every little detail. Here, we primarily wish to ponder some of the grander themes and overall tracks of the debate.
For the purpose of this post, we'll accept as accurate some statements of the opposition.
My opponents have long listed the the matters of canon policy and the technology of the Death Star as what they consider to be my two primary arguments. While I never considered it in that way, it is true that those two topics bring us to our major points of logical departure.
Their assumption of selected EU material's validity for the purpose of analyzing Star Wars tech (even allowing them to re-understand clear film evidence) carries them far, far away from views that a normal movie-goer would hold. Also, their assumption that the Death Star uses raw, focused reactor energy to annihilate worlds results in much of their beliefs on Imperial reactor power and firepower, as they initially derived estimates by simply scaling downward. That is to say, they simply assumed years ago that a turbolaser was a small superlaser, with a linear firepower relationship joining the two. Ignoring that this would result in ridiculous blaster firepower, this scaling view informed all other firepower estimates, even those that ought to have been taken independently.
Meanwhile, we have argued since at least 2002 that the EU is not valid for the purpose of understanding the Star Wars universe of Lucas. While there might've been room for almost-reasonable doubt at first, the matter became quite settled a couple of years ago, what with Lucas et al. repeatedly stating that there are two separate, parallel universes with the EU being the other. This means that analyzing the Expanded Universe for info on the Lucas universe would be like watching "Mirror, Mirror" to find out about Trek technology, or learning history from alternate history books like Fatherland.
The pro-Wars debaters still refuse to accept this point, instead choosing to ally with the similarly-stuck "EU Defense Force" types who are also emotionally invested in claiming that the EU is not to be discounted for any purpose. But despite such irrational resistance, their position has been thoroughly discredited.
As for the Death Star, we have maintained since at least 2002 -- based on analysis of the films and novelizations thereof -- that the Death Star is not a brute-force weapon directly transferring its reactor's energy . . . instead, the superlaser produces a highly destructive hyperspace-related matter-energy conversion. This was the only useful way to explain the rings added to the Special Editions, material disappearance, and so on, effects which the other side chose instead to ignore. It was also the only way to satisfactorily explain how a vehicle powered by simple fusion could have a planet-busting raygun.
In what must seem the ultimate betrayal for the EU-phile pro-Wars side, the Star Wars Expanded Universe now forces this position, as well. October 2007's Star Wars: Death Star novel also discusses the superlaser in terms of a hyperspace-related matter-energy conversion, with hyperspatial reflux rings and target matter that disappears into hyperspace. Even the reactor technology, despite use of the EU's "hypermatter" nonsense, is incapable of planet-busting energy levels except under catastrophic superlaser misfire conditions, similar in broad strokes to our explanation of the destruction of DS1.
This means, in short, that their cherished EU now officially agrees, in principle, with what their arch-rivals have maintained for years. They can continue to argue the point by trying to scour older EU sources for contrary-sounding minutiae, but only at the expense of their own logical consistency.
And so, with the canon debate also long-settled, the situation they are faced with is quite terrible for them . . . what they view as my two primary arguments are both now lost.
Even putting the best spin on things (emphasis on spin), they are faced with a Catch-22. Either they can try to argue the point of the superlaser at the expense of the EU, or they can argue the EU at the expense of the superlaser.
There is, of course, a certain irony to all this. For all the work that's gone into ST-v-SW.Net . . . for all the debates and postings and so on . . . it was generally outsiders who decided the issues. Lucas and Lucas Licensing personnel clarified the existing facts, but the Death Star novel was an independent construct of the two authors (barring the outside chance that they somehow stumbled upon this internet backwater and paid attention to some of the same details I presented in the Death Star Research Project).
But given the vitriolic, irrational taking of sides that I have long railed against . . . the sort of us vs. them war mentality that is so often prevalent in this, the most unimportant of topics, just as it is in American politics (which often seems tamer by comparison) . . . that was really the only way it could've happened. Their 'Darkstar Derangement Syndrome', to coin a phrase, has been too prevalent, and thus nothing I or anyone espousing similar views could've said would've convinced them.
That having been said, there's no reason to presume that they will be convinced by anything.
- When faced with devastating facts in the canon debate, they withdrew into a virtually impenetrable groupthink, outright ignoring the facts and patting one another on the back for doing so.
- When faced with devastating facts from the EU regarding troop numbers far smaller than their pulled-from-the-air quadrillions, they attacked and made threats against the author, who now seems to rather enjoy slipping in additional jabs in her continuing EU writings. Nowadays, the author's numbers are ignored despite their repetition in the EU.
- When initially faced with the Death Star novel, their claim was that this increased the Death Star's firepower and reactor power to unknowable levels, instead of decreasing it from their already-expanded values.
With all those facts in mind . . . and oh so many others from similar stories . . . the future will likely not involve an acceptance of the facts.
The pro-Wars Vs. Debate subculture has seen its heyday, what with one of its members contributing to the EU a few years back, but with its assorted attacks on EU personnel they have served to isolate and marginalize themselves rather effectively, and as they continue to spout quadrillions in the face of everyday Star Wars EU readers who see millions, they will continue to be viewed as off their collective rocker . . . especially as their vitriol increases.
Thus I would wager that they will engage in continuing re-imagination or outright ignoring of the Death Star novel, with the same 2002-era myths of theirs told and retold.
Meanwhile, Star Trek will have a film in late 2008, with Star Wars possibly having a TV show in 2009. Thus the topic itself will probably not be dying out anytime soon, and . . . years behind as I already am . . . I'll continue to have work to do, thus enabling me to get even further behind without even trying.
There's much more that can be said on the State of the Debate 2008, but for now . . . with the rather serious exceptions of the author being AWOL and all the pages being in need of updates . . . ST-v-SW.Net's position is strong as ever.
And, with the continuing presence of StarfleetJedi.Net in the pro-Trek side, along with its forum that the SDN pro-Wars side have failed to destroy, the debate itself is proceeding apace.