I’ve been cogitating on this for awhile but a Tweet by James Davis Nicoll precipitated me into revealing a key insight:
This was not the original problem that had been annoying me but it has the same solution.
The issue that had been bugging me was the inconsistent way of travelling between planets. In the films but also in The Mandalorian (less so in cartoons), characters fly in space ships between planets in two ways:
- Using hyperspace as faster than light travel.
- Using sub-light speed engines.
For example, in The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon travels from the ice planet Hoth to the cloud planet Bespin without a functioning hyperdrive. There’s no shortage of examples of science fiction which just ignores the speed of light but Star Wars is unusual in having an explicit system of surpassing the speed of light but also apparently not actually needing it.
Of course, if some star systems are really close then the whole thing would be consistent. However, how could you have such densely packed solar systems? James’s question is a clue that reveals a broader answer.
The answer: the scale of Star Wars is tiny.
Everybody and every ship and every planet is actually miniscule. All the characters are just micro-organisms. All those huge weird looking monsters? Insects and bugs and stuff! They even look like scaled up creepy crawlies because that is what they are.
Now I note that there is some overlap with the notable theory that everybody in Star Wars are bees https://www.tor.com/2014/04/30/every-human-in-star-wars-is-really-a-humanoid-bee/ but I’m only addressing size here and not species.
Note that this also explains a lot of the weird physics in Star Wars and inconsistent technology. Everything is tiny and that means some quantum effects that just get averaged out for us giants, directly impacts the little people of Star Wars.
The theory does mean that many references to “star systems” can’t be literally true. A star can only be so small and there’s no way for a literal star to be so small as to make the proportions work. However, ‘star’ can refer to any hot, glowing thing around which cooler objects orbit.
Each ‘planet’ is a chunk of matter orbiting some hot, radioactive fragment. Some are really close and some are so far away that to get there in a reasonable time requires warp travel. Everybody on the planets is tiny and what to us would be mini-beasts terrorise the little micro-people.
Having established this, we can now answer many questions about cross-fandom comparisons. For example, could the Starship Enterprise defeat the Death Star? Yes, because the Death Star is just a few millimetres in size and the only problem Captain Kirk would have is finding it. Could Doctor Who defeat Darth Vader? No, because Darth Vader is far too small for the Doctor to find him and so the Doctor would need to make him bigger (like that one time he made a virus human size) and then Darth Vader would be regular size and quite scary.
While you are here, a reminder that Disney are still not paying Alan Dean Foster for royalties earned on books he wrote in multiple franchises. That’s not a tiny issue!
ETA: James’s more insightful take on the issue is here https://www.tor.com/2020/12/18/why-is-the-star-wars-universe-full-of-megafauna/