Star Wars

Star Wars
Lazer Swords and Thundersabers

Michael Fiegel | 1 Jul 2008 13:02
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Lightsabers have also been associated with katanas, most recently in the game No More Heroes wherein protagonist Travis Touchdown wields a "beam katana." Yet the lightsaber is obviously not a katana, which has a sizeable tsuba, curved blade and single cutting edge. A more accurate comparison would be to the shinai, the bamboo practice weapon used in kendo.

Also worth considering is the Roman spatha, a two-foot-long cavalry sword with a straight blade and a stunted guard resembling a lightsaber handle. If King Arthur was real, Excalibur was likely a spatha, especially if Arthur was Roman (as the recent film King Arthur depicts him).

Whatever its shape, Excalibur was no ordinary sword; it was magical, and glowed "as bright as thirty torches." It was also notably unique; as with Diablo II's Lightsabre, an "Elite Unique Phase Blade," Excalibur acquired value because of its rarity. However, it is not the only magical glowing sword ever wielded by a hero: Joyeuse changed color "thirty times a day"; Tyrfing "shone and gleamed like fire"; Caladbolg "made a circle like an arc of rainbow when swung"; Tolkien's Glamdring, Orcrist and Sting glowed blue, and Anduril shone "like a sudden flame." Even Amber's Grayswandir is described as "renewing its eyetricking, shapeshifting stretch, acquiring a glow of its own."

Why does a lightsaber glow? One answer is that lightsabers are powered by a diatium power cell surrounded by a power field conductor and vortex ring that channel energy through crystals towards an energy gate that converts the energy into a refined arc wave flowing out of a positively charged central lens and then back down to a negatively charged outer ring as it passes through cycling gyroscopic field energizers.

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The other answer is somehow more satisfying: Lightsabers are simply magical swords in the Clarkian sense, technology that's so advanced it's indistinguishable from magic. Mythically and symbolically, lightsabers represent Man at his best, according to Jeffrey Parks: "Conceptual, Unlimited, Unstoppable, Elegant, Noble, Refined, Efficient."

"Swords will always represent the hope in the mental struggle of what man is and what he will become; man's future, unlimited potential," said Parks. "Lightsabers represent the power and responsibility over the future inner man."

In other words, lightsabers are indeed an elegant weapon for a more civilized time - not long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but yet to come in our own world. May the Force be with us.

Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and game designer, and the creator of Ninja Burger. He is currently designing a totally awesome game with Turpitude Design. He used to own all the original Kenner Star Wars toys, but broke every last one.

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