By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
Editor’s Note: This was written before the advent of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Such an interesting name, isn’t it? What is a Tristar fan? Isn’t TriStar that Sony company? Well, it is, but that’s not what I’m referring to. It’s actually more like tri-star, triple stars. The three stars I’m referring to are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Stargate. What, you ask? Am I mad? No one’s ever really liked Star Trek and Star Wars! They’re two totally different franchises!
And you are absolutely right about that, but the whole notion that you can only like one or the other is rather backwards and dated, don’t you think? Sure, I completely understand that Star Wars is more fantasy than sci-fi (anyone could have told you that), but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It’s certainly one of the biggest space-oriented franchises in the world, and it’s earned it. Star Trek is another, understandably so, the two having come out around the same time, one more sci-fi, the other more fantasy, both equally influential. Stargate, the youngest one of the three, is definitely more sci-fi like Star Trek than Star Wars, but it certainly has its more fantastical moments. And just like Star Trek, it has references to the mythological deities of ancient history, writing them off as aliens (not sure how Thor will feel about that). So now, why those three? Let me explain. No, wait, that will take too long, let me give you a summary.
First off, Star Wars, if only because I feel a little closer to it than the others. The idea that fantasy doesn’t have to stay on Earth or in one timeline was exciting and is one of the key influences for the universe I’m in the process of creating (who knew building a universe could be so much work? And things are constantly changing!). The idea that powers don’t have to be confined to Earth? Fascinating. The characters and story were pretty good too . . . until Mr. Lucas decided to add a few things after the fact. The biggest problem was the addition of Jabba in Docking Bay 94. It definitely wasn’t needed; it was practically the whole Greedo conversation Han had just had, just without the who shot first bit. But anyway, that wasn’t the only thing that fascinated me. The whole blend of Eastern and Western storytelling and concepts really caught my attention. That was the first time I had ever seen such a blend, and probably will never see another like it. Fantasy and sci-fi, Eastern and Western, Star Wars blazed a trail that few have followed, unless they’re just not mainstream productions (no, published fanfiction doesn’t count). And yes, I am mostly referring to the original trilogy, but I did like some aspects of the prequels, despite some very cringey lines. Ugh. So, yeah, Star Wars inspired me and influenced me in such a way that I wanted to make my own universe, and let me know that even good, original ideas can make it to the big screen.
Next up is Star Trek, with a more sci-fi story and fascinating topics for a series. Growing up, the last seasons of The Next Generation were finishing up, Deep Space Nine was about halfway through, and Voyager was just starting up. Picard taught me to find the peaceful way first, Sisko taught me to learn from my mistakes and that hitting Q could be rather satisfying, and Janeway taught me to keep moving forward and achieve my goals, no matter how long it could take and what obstacles are thrown in my way. They taught me that you should never judge a person merely by their skin color, sex, disability, or anything that might make them seem different to you. What mattered was that these were human beings (and sentient aliens), and that each person should be treated with respect. My Catholic faith helped with that understanding as well and further cemented it in my mind and in how I choose to act and speak (though, for the most part, I still say embarrassing things and don’t always think things through until after the fact). They also taught me the thrills of adventuring and exploring and that there is so much beauty in the world, if people just stopped and looked around them. We shouldn’t keep our heads in the clouds for so long that we forget about the earth, but we also shouldn’t keep our heads in the sand and completely ignore everything around you. Life is exciting, life is colorful, life is a thrilling roller coaster, and it’s hard to see that wonderful beauty unless you are willing to keep your eyes and ears open to the wonders around you.
And last, but most certainly not least, is Stargate. Stargate SG-1, the first series, was about halfway through its run before we started watching it (my parents were already watching it; it was just coming on after our bedtime for a while). This was another one that really sparked my imagination, but Stargate Atlantis really did so especially. The notion of being offworld on an island that’s supposed to have sunk in the Atlantic (no wonder why we can’t find it here!) with portals that take you to different worlds (explained scientifically, of course) was especially fascinating. The only other time I had encountered portals was in fantasy, so to have something similar in a sci-fi series really intrigued me (even though I was fascinated by the wormholes that are a big part of Deep Space Nine too, I seemed to think they were pretty different. Well, in a way they are different, one is small and operated by humans, the other is huge and opens on a more sporadic schedule). The idea so inspired me that I have started using the idea for my own universe where the portals can be either utilized by a machine on islands similar to Atlantis or they’re magically opened by genies.
All in all, these three have particularly inspired and influenced my imagination, as they have for so many others. And why not? They have pretty good characters, concepts, and stories that, if you let them, will show you something different, something wondrous, something creative. Being a fan of just one isn’t enough; being able to spot the differences and similarities (cringey lines and the occasional bad directing not included) in how space is explored and what is found out there really helps one appreciate each one as its own thing. Comparing and contrasting usually only works to bring about a better understanding and a better appreciation for the stories that we enjoy and that inspire us. Sure, you don’t have to like all three to appreciate them, nor does it allow you to bully those who do. Each does have their problems (though I’m liable to think that Stargate has fewer problems than Star Trek or Star Wars), but that’s what makes them so enjoyable in the first place: they were made by humans, there’s bound to be flaws in the things you enjoy the most. But because you enjoy it, you can either help to fix those flaws, or even find them endearing (Anakin was on to something when he said love helps him see, it doesn’t make him blind. Could have said it a lot better though; one of the cringiest scenes ever. That director was not good with romance). So, that, my dear friends and fellow fans, is the briefest summary of a string of thoughts about why I’m a tristar fan, a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Stargate.
Oh, real quick, while Star Wars is the sci-fi fantasy adventure, Firefly and Serenity is the Western in space. If you haven’t checked that out already, please do. That, the original Battlestar Galatica, Flight of the Navigator, and the Last Starfighter were pretty memorable. I heard about Farscape and Babylon 5 later and saw an episode or two of Babylon 5, but they were fairly forgettable and certainly warrant a remake. Great idea, bad execution. But not all shows or movies got the same treatment that the big three got, and you never know which ones will stick with you. So if you haven’t watched another sci-fi series and you just stick with one, get out there and watch a few more! Getting only one person’s idea of space doesn’t do much for your imagination. And I hope in the process, you find a few that you end up liking.