Moving to Freedom, .Org

You’ve reached Chewbacca’s voice mail; please leave a message.

Book Cover: 'Han Solo's Revenge' by Brian Daley

I’m reading Han Solo’s Revenge, which I first read as a teenager in the ’80s. (The book was published in 1979.)

In one scene, at a spaceport on a “highly industrialized, densely inhabited planet,” Han has sent Chewie away on a task, but then a potentially dangerous meeting comes up:

His first impulse was to find Chewbacca […] But if he had to hunt the Wookie among the guild halls and portmaster’s offices, it could take the rest of the long Bonadan day.

What, they don’t have cell phones in the Star Wars universe?

That’s the peril of science fiction. Writers of SF can be so forward looking, but they’re still rooted in their time, which makes for increasing “reality shear” over the years. George Lucas, and by extension, Brian Daley, imagined this advanced star traveling civilization in much detail, yet personal communications devices are conspicuously absent.

It’s the kind of thing that becomes jarring in 2009, when even our primitive planet-bound civilization has nearly ubiquitous connectivity. For sure in densely inhabited places, where we’re steeped in it. Cell phones are everywhere, along with Wi-Fi.

As a kid in 1984 (let’s say), and likely for most other readers at the time, it didn’t seem strange that a Captain and his First Mate would be out of touch. Especially at a spaceport on a highly industrialized world. (Maybe it’s those silly IAA regulations to blame.)

In 2009, apparently, the missing technology is noteworthy enough to inspire a whole post on some blogs.

It gets even better later on. At the same spaceport, Chewbacca is on the Millennium Falcon and Han is stymied from entering by evildoers. How to get a message to him? No problem! Han sneaks into a nearby “cargo lifter” and flashes the headlights to send a message in Morse code.

(Who needs cell phones when you have idle cargo lifters and Morse code?)