Is Star Wars Science Fiction?

A lot of people classify Star Wars as fantasy, putting it along side The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  Some are generous enough to call it a specific kind of fantasy: science fantasy.  But they still refuse to give it a science fiction label.  The problem is no one has ever established an official definition of science fiction.

Star Wars has two problems, the first of which is that it includes so many fantasy elements.  It has a boy going off on an adventure, it has wizards with magical powers, and it even has a princess who needs rescuing.  If the sciency parts were all taken out, the story could still work.  Rather than a galaxy far, far away, it could be set in a mythical land like Middle-earth; Luke could ride a horse rather than fly an X-Wing; and Yoda could be an elf instead of an alien.

The other problem is that when science does come up, it’s often wrong.  For example, spaceships make banked turns even though there’s no air resistance in space, and the term parsec is used as a measure of time (it’s a measure of distance, at least in our galaxy).  And if it’s not flat wrong, the science feels out of place, like the whole midiclorian thing in Episode I.

Depending on how you define science fiction, maybe Star Wars still fits in.  Personally, I think there’s enough sciency stuff for Star Wars to qualify.  It has droids, hyperspace, and cloning.  Even if it doesn’t have detailed explanations of how these things work, they’re still there, and I think the story would lose a lot of its charm if it were set in a mythical land with an elf named Yoda.

So while I understand why people might disagree, I still consider Star Wars science fiction.  How do you feel?

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