Subject: In defense of the Death Star + five year Boardiversary
Posted on: 2021-03-04 23:48:52 UTC
Eeyup, hi. Still here, just slipped back into lurk mode for a bit and then all the sudden there it was, my five year Boardiversary. Doesn't quite feel real, like any moment now I'm going to realize no, of course I haven't been here that long. It's still year four or three or even two. Doesn't help that I first found this place five years before I joined. Stars, what a crazy decade. But hey, no use staring slack jawed into the abyss of time all day, there's fandom work to be done!
So, I've been thinking a lot about Star Wars. Not that that's terribly unusual for me, but I've hit upon a few things that seemed worth posting around here. The first of which is this: the Death Star actually makes sense. From an in-universe perspective, anyway. I don't have the training to speak to the science of it. Let's break it down, shall we?
First off, we all know blowing up planets is pointless. it requires an enormous amount of energy for no real benefit. Unless you're dealing with something like Warhammer 40K, but for most continuums you get exactly the same result from having one suitable capital ship fire on the planet from orbit for a day or two. Even better, you can be selective about your planetary devastation if there are bits you'd actually like to hold on to after you're done. Or if that doesn't matter to you a large asteroid accelerated by a tug or shuttle could easily save you the effort of even firing your weapons.
Point is, only the planet's surface really matters. A fact so obvious that not only does the Imperial Navy have a specific named order (Base Delta Zero) to implement this strategy, so does Starfleet Command (General Order 24). And of course the Covenant use it as standard procedure. So, if it's so obvious that blowing up planets is daft, why did the Empire waste such an absurd amount of time, manpower, and resources on building the Death Star? Because, I think, blowing up planets wasn't the point, it was a statement. Not just to say, "Obey or we'll kill you," that's Tuesday for the Empire. Rather, it says, "There is no possible way for you to stop us now." And as far as the Empire knew, they weren't wrong.
Obviously blowing up an entire population of presumably fairly wealthy tax paying citizens who are likely also much loved by the rest of the galaxy is a less than stellar PR move, but erasing an ancient and quite famous system from the galactic map does a spectacular job of demonstrating the power of the Death Star's superlaser. If it can blow up a planet, no ship in the galaxy could possibly withstand even a glancing hit from it. And it's no use firing at it either, its shield generators would have to be enormous, and anything really important is likely buried under literal miles of durasteel. The largest capital ships in the galaxy could have burned out their own reactors firing for days to no effect. Were it not for one tiny weak spot and a supernaturally lucky pilot, the Death Star would have been functionally invulnerable.
So, you've got an invincible space station. So what? The Empire could probably have produced hundreds of Star Destroyers in place of the Death Star, why not do that instead? Simple: every single one of those hundreds of Star Destroyers needs a captain, a crew, support ships, berths, marine contingents, and supply lines. All opportunities for a captain to desert, a crew to mutiny, a rival to capture or convert them, or subversive elements to destroy or even commandeer one. And over time those losses could add up to a fleet able to actually hurt the Empire. A path remains, however long, however dangerous and infeasible, to victory.
But you only need one Death Star. It could localize all that power in one location that could be overseen by the few people the Emperor actually trusted. Yes, it leaves the Empire slower to respond, but as long as it exists there is no chance for any rebellion, any Imperial secession, any rival power to ever achieve more than momentary victories. The Death Star will always arrive. Turn your world into a fortress, assemble a fleet that could fill a star system, hide in the deepest subterranean depths where no orbital scan can ever find you, it doesn't matter. The Death Star will come for you. There is no hope.
And that, I say, is why the Emperor built the Death Star. Because he recognized that the Galaxy Far Far Away would never truly be his as long as there was the slightest hope of defeating him.
And that's all I've got for today. Blimey I can talk when you give me a site without character limits. Been spending too much time in chatrooms and on social media, feels good to have some breathing room. Thanks for wading through my rambling while I dust out the fandom corners of my brain. Brace yourself for my next Star Wars adjacent ramble, canon schisms! Coming soon-ish to an internet near you.