We here in Star Wars fandom have treasured the stories of Luke, Han and Leia. Our siblings in Star Trek fandom likewise loved Kirk, Bones, and Spock. In both camps, we find ourselves now at the end of this year having witnessed the tragic shattering of our unbreakable bands of heroes.
There can be no doubt that sci-fi fans have endured our own Annus Horribilis. As I write this, the world mourns the passing of giants in our imagination. Leonard Nimoy was hard enough. To take Carrie Fisher from us was an irreparable tear in the fabric of our collective psyche, and adding her mother Debbie Reynolds tonight seems to be a cruel affirmation of the words spoken to a crestfallen Indiana Jones in his later years: “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.”
And it seems even in the waning days of 2016, the list has only grown longer, spanning every form of fandom, and adding to already unacceptable loses. We lost our Professor Snape and our Willy Wonka. We lost our Purple Rain. We lost our Major Tom. We lost our Faith. And now it would be so easy, for so many reasons, to say we’ve lost some Hope, as well. And yet…
When I was eight years old, I understood very little. My hamster wheel mind didn’t grasp much beyond my next tour of the neighborhood on my Huffy. And then I saw Star Wars, and man did it twist my empty melon. A wistful daydreamer, a brash young princess, a scoundrel, his best friend, and a crazy old wizard charged through an amazing universe in front of me in 70mm. As I sat there in the dark, I fell in love alongside millions of other children. I fell in love with a bizarre world I was struggling to understand, with relationships I barely conceived (I thought Darth Vader kidnapped Leia so he could marry her). I fell in love with Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Ben, lightsabers, TIE Fighters and X-wings. And I fell in love with Princess Leia.
Forty years have followed, and I have at times found myself drifting like poor J. Alfred Prufock, scuttling along the seabed of my middle age. Like many people on the back 9 of their years, I have many collections of things, some things I wanted, some things less so. I have collections of daily pills, a keychain I’m constantly trying to consolidate, debts, grandchildren, fond recollections, regrets, lessons, ineffective hair tonics, tax returns, and unfulfilled dreams. But out of all those collections, the one I treasure the most is the one that Star Wars gave me. I have hopes.
It’s a funny notion that as I get older, the feeling I cling to more is Hope. You’d think that would have been first to go along with all the hair now absent from my head. But I say again, I wouldn’t have such a silly notion if it weren’t for that eight-year-old goofy kid spellbound by Star Wars. Sure, many would tell you how Star Wars is about Redemption, or Light versus Darkness. It’s so clear to me now. Star Wars is exactly now what it started out to be, and the very reason it made my heart race for the first time. Star Wars is about Hope. Hope than one person can change the world, hope that evil can’t triumph forever, hope that heroes still exist, hope that love conquers time and space, hope in a hereafter, hope in the present.
So let’s end this year. Let’s end it as fast as we can and let’s race into the future. Because we don’t have the luxury of wasting indomitable spirits like Carrie Fisher. She didn’t live a life like she did, sharing all along her triumphs and defeats, her vast talents and her personal foibles, so we could simply lay down in our shock and grief in response to her sudden passing. She lived an amazing life, she gave us amazing memories, and she left us with one last portrayal of our heroine. And if we could aspire to live a tenth of her life, we’d all be a force to reckon with. She, like many of our most special heroes, left us her own brand of Hope. We need it. Let’s not waste it.
Happy New Year from Dark Moose, age 8.