When I was a kid, I lived and died for Return of the Jedi. My uncle had a laserdisc player and one of those gigantic TVs with the RGB light bulbs up front, and the only things suitable for minors he had were Star Wars movies. Since I was about 3, I didn’t really appreciate A New Hope (by far the best of the three) and The Empire Strikes Back just depressed me, so I fell into Return of the Jedi like so many other pre-adolescents not yet cynical enough to realize Ewoks were just plushier Wookies and that George Lucas stopped trying as soon as Luke stared out into space to ponder a galaxy in which he was the son of the antichrist.

I’d sit on the floor, Indian-style, and watch the movie while the grownups did grownup things, like talk about earthquake proofing my uncle’s Californian mansion or argue the Blancato Tomato Theory (don’t ask). Those times are some of my earliest memories, so intrinsic to my formative years that Darth Vader’s raspy breath was more comforting than a nightlight, and the galaxy far, far away was where I lived when I slept.

I fell out of science fiction until I was older, not out of disinterest but because sci-fi, with the exception of Star Wars and The Ewok Adventure, is just so adult. The themes the genre tackles – fascism, love, war – are beyond your average 8-year-old. I was in high school before I really got back into speculative futures, due in part to the new Star Wars movies. And even though they sucked, they sucked in the right way: I didn’t give up on the series, I just thought there was more out there. And there was.

And that’s what we’re discussing here in issue 136 of The Escapist, “Lost in Space.” Howard Wen touches base with kings of the open source space sim community to see where those of us who reach to the stars can go to practice for our maiden flight. Joel Kelly takes a look at sci-fi as a way to investigate how people of the past viewed the future. Our own Russ Pitts chronicles how he fell in and out of love with space. Thomas Wilburn takes Half-Life‘s science down a peg and asks just how far the good Dr. Freeman’s MIT degree takes him in City 17. And I collaborate with The Escapist‘s newest team member, Junior Editor Jordan Deam, to take a look at how science is catching up to sci-fi, even if I’m still waiting for a damn light saber.


Joe Blancato

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