My family an I just watched Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and I enjoyed it more than I ever had before by thinking of how amazing the galaxy of Star Wars is. Having just finished reading Orson Scott Card’s book Speaker for the Dead, I have an even greater appreciation of what an interstellar society would be like.
What I thought was most interesting about the film was something its makers probably didn’t intend. When Qui Gon Jinn left the space ship and set foot on Tatooine without any preparation I realized just how much technology it would take to make it safe to do that. Think about it. What is the likelihood that so many planets have the perfect atmosphere and gravity to support not just humans, but aliens from thousands of different stars?
This is a feet of massive scale. Somehow, the sentient species of the galaxy have managed to make every planet compatible with every species in the entire galaxy! This could be accomplished by a combination of a few things that we currently know of.
Massive Terra-formation (the changing of the planet itself) would be required, ranging from increasing or decreasing gravity, changing or even creating an atmosphere, and maybe even moving the entire planet, so that the planet is the “right” temperature. And they would have to do this to almost every single planet they encountered, because face it, not very many planets would be even close to being able to sustain human life.
Now that there are planets that are uniform, every species needs to be uniform. Large changes in the very genetic nature of the aliens would be required. Every species of sentient life form (and some non-sentient life forms) would need to be genetically modified so that it could breathe the same air as every other species, survive the same level of gravity as every other species (so as to not be crushed because of stronger gravity or accidentally destroy everything because of weaker gravity), and endure the starkly different levels of radiation than their home planet would usually have. Biotechnology would be able to help in some cases, but not in every case. Biogenetics and Biotechnology would also be used to make every species more adaptable to different climates, because there is no way that every planet would be the exact same.
In addition to modifying the body, the brain, or whatever passed as a brain for different aliens, would also have to be genetically changed. Vastly different species would surely speak in vastly different ways, and something would need to be done for aliens who don’t “speak” like “normal” aliens do, instead using various forms of communication from body language to physic thought. There would also need to be a huge change in the culture and way of thought for some species. With vastly different cultures would come vastly different ideas, and many cultures would be completely incompatible with a uniform galactic government, among other things, with some cultures whose sole focus would be warfare and other cultures which would have no concept of government.
And even after all that, I haven’t even started to talk about what it would mean to have a planet with an aquatic center, or why everyone knows English, or what a moon sized spaceship would be. Star Wars has suddenly become a lot more interesting to me 🙂