Science fiction, comic books, and sex all have one thing in common: you always remember your first time.
Like many of my generation, the first real exposure to science fiction was Star Wars. Dating myself, I am old enough to remember when it came out in the theatre. I remember my father talking to one of our neighbors about it, saying how it was like nothing he’d ever seen. Few movies have had the impact on our culture that Star Wars did, and it surely impacted me. I have to admit, while I have vague recollections of Star Wars in the theatre, it is Empire Strikes Back that I have the most memories of.
It’s hard to describe to people born in the 80’s of the real phenomenon of Star Wars, especially the lines at the theatre. For Empire, my father took my younger brother and I up to the next town to see Empire in the theatre. There was, of course, a massive line. The line was so long, in fact, that we didn’t make it into the showing! We didn’t want to go home empty handed, but Dad quickly realized two young boys weren’t going to last long in a line on the sidewalk. The guy in front of us said he would save our spot and Dad took us over to get some ice cream and kill some time before going back to the line and making the next show. Empire was awesome and well worth the wait.
Every boy in my neighborhood had a lightsaber, many had lightsabers and Han Solo blasters, maybe even a toy X-wing or Millennium Falcon. It was everywhere, and we never tired of it. By the time Jedi came out, we were primed. Again, massive lines. That time, though, my father went to a local theatre (the Holiday Inn Cinemas in Frederick) and waited alone. My mom brought the whole family as it was closer to show time and we joined him in line for the last 30 minutes before they opened the doors. And I’ve got to tell you, back then even the Ewoks were cool. Don’t laugh, they were! Now, almost 30 years later, they’re almost an embarrassment. But, then? They were all right. I remember that and look at Jar-Jar in a different light. To a grown man, it was ridiculous. But my kids loved Jar-Jar. Maybe Lucas was smarter than we give him credit for.
My friends and I watched the Star Wars Wookie Christmas Special, we read the comics, and we watched it when it came on HBO. When the VCR came out, Star Wars was one of the few tapes we owned. It was an inspiration and it created a hunger for more.
I devoured all kinds of science fiction from then on, be it cheesy B Movies to used paperbacks. I thrilled to The Last Starfighter, ET, and Close Encounters and tuned in to Buck Rogers every week. I first heard Queen while watching the Flash Gordon movie, and Thundar the Barbarian was a staple Saturday mornings. When anime came around to our shores, I watched Starblazers every day, then Robotech.
Science fiction has had a profound impact on my life — and it all started with Star Wars.
What piece of science fiction first captured your imagination?