Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 6

New to this? You can still win! Here's the official rules.

Say it with me: Andrew Leon got the points for Question 5, but I will award 10 bonus points if you can also say who else that actor played in the movies -- you don't have to be the first; just leave the character's name in a comment today and collect your 10 bonus points.

And that's not even today's QUESTION! Which I will get to in a moment, before I point out something silly about the Star Wars Universe, today that silly point being something that was said in this otherwise-interesting article from Mother Jones about how cost-effective the Death Star might have been to build. Kevin Drum, the author, calculates that the Death Star would have been super-cheap, relatively speaking; by my math, the Death Star as a percentage of the Empire's Gross Domestic Product would be the equivalent of what the US spends on NPR these days.

That's not my quibble. My quibble is this: Kevin Drum says that "the original Death Star took a couple of decades to build," and where does that come from?

we accept that there's no Death Star in progress when the Empire begins at the close of Revenge of the Sith -- not a given, because remember those clones were around for a long time -- then the Death Star is fully operational when Luke and Han get captured and then blow it up (which means by the way that the Death Star, first pronounced fully operational at the start of A New Hope lasted what, weeks? Tops?)

(Which also means that Luke completed his X-Wing training in perhaps several hours, since it was established that he'd never been off Tatooine before but he was able to pilot an X-Wing in the Battle of Yavin, which means in turn that whatever Academy Luke was pining for in the beginning of A New Hope must have been the equivalent of the University Of Phoenix, but also which means, as I think about it, that Luke was going to join the Empire, wasn't he? The Rebels didn't have an Academy, did they?)

Anyhoo: Aside from the fact that nobody on board the Falcon had any idea what the Death Star was and so the Empire managed to keep a planet-sized weapon a secret from everyone including Han Solo whose business it was to keep track of where the Empire was so he wouldn't have to keep dumping his cargo and incurring the wrath of Jabba and a secret like that would be hard to keep for "a couple of decades," -- I mean, we haven't even been able to keep any of our government secrets from Ron Paul, which is how he knows about the AIDS -- the fact is it didn't take decades to build the Death Star, it took about a year or so.

I know that because between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the built a second one, and while I'm not entirely clear on that timeframe, it couldn't have been very long, could it? Everyone was about the same age in Part VI as they were in Part IV, so unless Death Star building technology took a quantum leap in about two years -- absurd, given that other technology had actually not advanced much in the two decades the movies took -- the Death Star actually took only a few months to build.

To compare Star Wars' tech levels to our own, consider: We first announced plans to build the International Space Station in 1993; we 19 years later have a station that can only hold 6 people and hardly has room for a decent trash compactor monster. The Space Shuttle, which is probably the most complicated machine humans have ever built, began being designed in the 1940s before launching in 1981.

Oh, you're waiting for the question? It's worth 17 points:

What was the dominant feature of the surface of Saleucami?

You don't know how hard it was not to type "salami" there. Took me three tries. As always, first correct answer in the comments wins but every answer is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing -- with the first winner announced TOMORROW!

And: you still get 5 points per mention on your blog; make a mention of it, and let me know so I can give you the points. Why, you could've caught Andrew Leon already! Don't you feel foolish for not realizing it. Just go mention me, say, 100 times. (Use the picture taken from my good side.)


Rusty Webb said...

Wookies. The planet was full of wookies.

Also, the actor in yesterday's post played a wookie in another movie. Probably a Star Wars movie.

Rusty Webb said...

Ah hell, was it impact craters with living things inside them? I just looked up the damned answer and still don't know. Stupid Internet.

Andrew Leon said...

Silas Carson also played Nute Gunray in all three of the prequels and Lott Dodd in The Phantom Menace.

As for today's answer, I'd say give it to Rusty. His answer isn't very detailed, but it captures the gist of what was going on there.

I think you're trying to bait me with the whole Death Star thing, aren't you? But I'm not gonna stoop to that. Except to remind you that it is shown being under construction at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

Andrew Leon said...

Unless you're actually looking for the bulbous plants as the answer. That seems to be the thing that is pointed out about the surface of the planet, but they grow around the craters that Rusty was talking about.
Some sources don't mention the craters at all or the fact that there is only water on the surface of the planet because of the craters, but every source I found does mention the bulbous plants.

Briane P said...

Andrew: I'm sure that's true about the end of ROTS. Which means that there must have been a phenomenal leap in technology in the two years or so between the final three movies.

Unless what slowed construction of the first one was an infestation of trash compactor monsters that the Empire never quite rooted out? By ROTJ they must have had space exterminators.

Andrew Leon said...

Actually, the idea is that the 2nd Death Star was already under construction before the 1st one was destroyed. And the 2nd one was still years away from actually being space ready. After the 1st was destroyed (3-5 years before Return of the Jedi, depending upon who's doing the timeline), they changed the plan on the 2nd to get the weapons systems up and running on the 2nd.

Briane P said...


What you said.

Uncle Grumpy Bulldog said...

I have no idea what's on planet salami. Lots of delis? I wonder if it was in the "Rebellion" video game? I love that game. You get to take over the galaxy as the Rebels or Empire. It was sweet.

Andrew's right that they show the Death Star under construction at the end of Sith. I thought in one of the early books they explained why no one saw the Death Star because it was in some secret facility through a black hole or wormhole or something. Plus space is really huge and most ships travel from star to star. You park the facility between stars out in the Outer Rim or something and who's gonna see it?

Andrew Leon said...

Yeah, it was in some really dangerous maze or something. I don't quite remember. I think it was talked about in one of the Zahn Thrawn books.