My <i>Star Wars</i> Generation

George Lucas's sci-fi classic electrified young imaginations. Now we're all reaping the benefits.

I destroyed the Death Star at least 1,000 times between the ages of 12 and 13. I imagine most boys did the same back in 1977. We all hopped in our imaginary X-Wing and dropped those two bombs down the chute to send Peter Cushing and the rest of the Death Star crew into oblivion.

That was the power of Star Wars.

I remember sitting in the theater, stunned by what I was seeing on that big screen. Although the film was set "a long time ago in a land far, far way," I quickly dismissed the historical reference and imagined it as my own future. I was awed by the hyper-speedy space ships, the intelligent autonomous robots, the light sabers—all of it. Despite all of the sci-fi accoutrements, the movie itself had a Western look and feel to which I and others could relate. This was the genius of George Lucas: By marrying science fiction with an old-fashioned Western and a World War II air battle, he made crazy high tech palatable to the broadest possible audience.

He likely inspired an entire generation of sci-fi writers, scientists, moviemakers, and tech journalists like me. In fact, this legion of people—who may still be in the movies thrall and could aptly be called the Star Wars generation—are just coming into their own and influencing society in, Im certain, countless ways. Theyre writing books, building businesses, running Web sites, making movies, and inventing tech gear—all of which probably owe a little nod to Lucas, Luke, Han, and Obi-Wan.

There is a downside to all this. Its the disappointment I and others in the Star Wars generation feel when we look at how far we remain from the SW ideal. When Lucas wrote Star Wars back in 1973, we were only a year or so removed from Apollo 17, our last flight to the moon. How could Lucas or anyone else know that we wouldnt stray further than just outside our own atmosphere for the next 35 years (and counting)?

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