If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point? You don’t create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones. – Jane Espenson
In almost 40 years of existence, Star Wars has done some good work in terms of diverse characters, though there is still room for improvement, even in more recent creations.
I grew up with favorites such as Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. I fell in love with Mara Jade when reading Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in the early 90s. I jumped up and down when we got Mace Windu, Bail Organa and Padme Amidala in the Prequel Trilogy. I can’t wait to see the new trio in Episode VII, as well as the new and returning characters.
Star Wars has had recurrent missed opportunities with depiction of disability. So far, most romance and characters presented were straight. I hope to see more characters of colors and other species have important roles in the future, as well as even more compelling female characters of all ages.
Yet, the franchise has done good things since it was created. It was what prompted me to return to my collection of essays A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars, and revise it, as well as add two new chapters. Tackling the whole universe would be a lifetime work, but the following essays aim at shedding some light and discuss aspects of diverse representation in the franchise:
- Introduction: Why Representation Matters and Why Star Wars has a Role to Play
- Chapter 1: Star Wars Rebels: A New Text to Link the Old
- Chapter 2 : Lando Calrissian : Iconic Scoundrel
- Chapter 3: Star Wars’ Jedi Younglings: A Benevolent but Controversial Education System
- Chapter 4: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II – A Milestone for Star Wars Female Characters
- Chapter 5: Mara Jade: Pillar of the Star Wars Expanded Universe
- Chapter 6 : Female Wizards: Jocasta Nu and Kreia
- Chapter 7: Tenel Ka: Negotiating Acquired Disability
- Chapter 8: Nala: The Missing Link between Disney Princesses and Leia Organa
The New Revised Edition will be available in Kindle format on September 9 (print version TBA later this year), on all Amazon sites, including Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada. You can also find the book’s Goodreads page here. I’m always happy to connect with my readers!
What about you, fellow Star Wars fans? What aspects of diversity do you think were well done in Star Wars and which ones do you hope to see improve in the future?