The Force Awakens Edition


science fiction and fantasy writers debate the most popular science fiction films of all time

DAVID BRIN's Star Wars on Trial

Benbella Books, 2006 & 2015

Scroll down to purchase STAR WARS ON TRIAL.

what hath George Lucas wrought?

"Are we being taught, gradually but inexorably, to turn away from the whole modernist agenda? The concept that science, society, citizenship and faith are things that go well together, contributing to the good of everybody? Or that there was once a good idea — to replace arbitrary leader-worship with democratic institutions that we can all hope to share?" — Star Wars on Trial

Is George Lucas' Star Wars the most significant, powerful myth of the twentieth century or a morally bankrupt military fantasy? Will J. J. Abrams' twenty-first century contribution to the Star Wars series avoid, repeat, or correct the mistakes of the originals? These are just a few of the questions Star Wars on Trial: The Force Awakens poses.

In Star Wars on Trial, two dozen wonderfully articulate authors 'testify' either for the prosecution or the defense. Is SW fantasy disguised as science fiction? Does the series spread doom-pessimism about democracy? Has it been a let-down since 'The Empire Strikes Back'? Does it even make any sense? Be prepared for a wild, extravagant 'trial' — brash and entertaining and downright fun!

Brin's original Star Wars critiques

In interviews and articles, David Brin is often asked to comment on movies, particularly science fiction and fantasy movies. The most infamous of these was the series he wrote about Star Wars for Salon Magazine. He's posted his thoughts on the response to the serieson this site.

Hear also his interview for WIRED Magazine. Seems the accompanying article and headline re-ignited the ire of the Star Wars fans!

Want to learn more? See this interview at Science Technology Future.

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Mysterious Galaxy

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table of contents


Introduction by David Brin
Introduction by Matthew Woodring Stover

Opening Statements:
For the Prosecution: David Brin
For the Defense: Matthew Woodring Stover

Charge 1: The politics of Star Wars are anti-democratic and elitist.
For the Defense: Keith R. A. DeCandido

Charge 2: While claiming mythic significance, Star Wars portrays no admirable religious or ethical beliefs.
For the Prosecution: John C. Wright
For the Defense: Scott Lynch

Charge 3: Star Wars novels are poor substitutes for real science fiction and are driving real SF off the shelves.
For the Prosecution: Lou Anders
For the Defense: Laura Resnick
For the Defense: Karen Traviss
For the Defense: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Charge 4: Science fiction filmmaking has been reduced by Star Wars to poorly written special effects extravaganzas.
For the Prosecution: John G. Hemry
For the Defense: Bruce Bethke

Charge 5: Star Wars has dumbed down the perception of science fiction in the popular imagination.
For the Prosecution: Tanya Huff
For the Defense: Richard Garfinkle

Charge 6: Star Wars pretends to be science fiction, but is really fantasy.
For the Prosecution: Ken Wharton
For the Defense: Robert A. Metzger
For the Prosecution: Bruce Bethke
For the Defense: Adam Roberts

Charge 7: Women in Star Wars are portrayed as fundamentally weak.
For the Prosecution: Jeanne Cavelos
For the Defense: Bill Spangler

Charge 8: The plot holes and logical gaps in Star Wars make it ill-suited for an intelligent viewer.
For the Prosecution: Nick Mamatas For the Defense: Don DeBrandt

Closing Statements:
For the Prosecution: David Brin
For the Defense: Matthew Woodring Stover

The Verdict

Star Wars on Trial in the world

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    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author


    David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More

    shorter fiction

    Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More

    Contrary Brin blog

    Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More

    social media influencer

    Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

    DAVID BRIN scientist


    David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More

    transparency expert

    Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More

    speaker & consultant

    Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More

    future/tech advisor

    Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

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    reviews and recommendations

    Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

    "Existence is a book that makes you think deeply about both the future and life's most important issues. I found it fascinating and I could not put it down."

    Apache Software Foundation

    "I'd like to thank you again for a most excellent keynote. I thought that your concept of the 'Maturity Principle (which I first read in your book) was an excellent analogy of open source technology and the members seemed genuinely inspired!"


    David Brin has created some of the greatest classics of recent science fiction, including Startide Rising, plus the short stories "The Crystal Spheres" and "Thor Meets Captain America."

    Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

    Like E E "Doc" Smith before him, Brin gives joy and imparts a Sense of Wonder; but he also thinks about the near world.

    final thoughts ...

    ... for this page, at least ...

    where does Brin say we should be going?

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "What if this was all a fight between two factions of the government or aristocracy? Such things happened all the time, and when dragons battle each other, peasants are better off ducking out of the way."
    — from Existence

    DAVID BRIN quote