Knights of the Old Republic EP20: The Christmas Sith

By Shamus
on Oct 15, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

196 comments


Link (YouTube)

We killed the sexbot in the previous episode. This ignited a debate as to what the moral thing is in this case. The bot ran off. The bot is property. What’s the right thing to do?

Clearly, Star Wars does not present droids an an oppressed underclass. The fact that they’re property is not social commentary and we’re not supposed to worry about their freedom. While I do nerdrage against George Lucas now and again, I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he’s NOT pro-slavery.

To reconcile this apparent contradiction, I always assumed Star Wars droids didn’t really have feelings. This is entirely headcanon on my part, but I imagine that droids don’t really feel emotions. Their apparent emotions are to make them easier to deal with for their owners. If my protocol droid is worrying and stressed, I know it’s near capacity for whatever task I’ve given it, or that it’s at risk of failing at that task. It’s just a more advanced version of giving a friendly voice to Siri. Siri isn’t alive and doesn’t actually care about me, but its creators gave it a friendly female voice because that’s nicer and more convenient than a dialog box.

The movies contradict this notion, though. At one point you see one droid being… tortured? That’s too goofy a notion for me to wrap my head around, so I usually ignore it.

But having a droid run away from its owner undercuts this idea of droids not having feelings. Clearly if a droid is going against the will of its owner you can’t argue that the “emotions” are just cosmetic.

On the OTHER hand, if you pay attention to what the droid says, it’s clear the droid is actually trying to kill itself for the benefit of its master. It has concluded that she’s delusional, neurotic, crazy, or whatever. It’s destroying itself in hopes that she will move on. Presumably if she were better balanced the droid would be content to hang around and give her all the robo-sex she wanted?

But who knows? Star Wars is actually much too pulpy to seriously tackle questions like this. The writer didn’t put droids in the story because they wanted to ask questions about consciousness, identity, free will, or the moral implications of creating a sapient designed to be your servant. They put droids in the story because robots are fun and different from people, and make the world more fantastical.

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Footnotes:



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From the Archives:

  1. Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

    The embed is running uncommonly smooth for me. Not sure if its because of the upgrade, or if my internet is just not being as finicky as usual.

    Also, I’m partial to red lightsabers. Not just because they’re evil but… red is cool, and evil is cool, so it just works out that way :)

  2. James says:

    The droid underclass point reminds me of Darth and Droids which you can read here and the jokes about a Droid Uprising . everyone go read Darth and Droids its great its like DM of the Rings but Star Wars.

    • Not just “like” DM of the Rings but “explicitly inspired by”: http://www.darthsanddroids.net/faq.html

      They’re up to Return of the Jedi now!

      • Zekiel says:

        I gave up on Darths & Droids because it actually isn’t like DM of the Rings (even though it is inspired by it). The difference is that DM of the Rings sticks to the plot of the books (which in-universe the DM has invented himself). Darths & Droids invents a completely new plot which happens to fit the stills from the Star Wars films (e.g. the whole business with the ‘peace moon’ but much more besides). And that means that it is very easy to get lost if you’re not paying attention to the plot. You not only have to keep track of the personalities of the players (without the benefit of ever seeing them), you also have to keep track of what on earth is happening in this plot which ostensibly looks like Star Wars but actually isn’t. I just found it too confusing.

        Which is a shame, because the writer(s) is clearly very talented and does some very clever things.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well,then you should go through irregular webcomic,which DMM did before he started d&d with his friends.Its composed mostly of gag a day strips,though there are a few loose stories.

        • Disclosure: I am a huge, huge fan of the comic. It’s cool if you’re not – I can see where people might get turned off by it. But I really, really like it.

          As a counterpoint to that, I’ll point back to the strip that sold me on the comic way back at nearly the beginning. It is early on, I’ll grant, but still –
          I feel like I need to give a bit of background on this – I was a bit younger when Star Wars Episode I came out, and due to some strange quirk of logistics and licensing the official novelisation of the movie was released in my country before the film itself (I don’t know if it was the same everywhere else or not). And I thought “Wow, the new Star Wars!” and bought & read the whole book and knew the whole plot before I ever saw the film.

          And everything that Jar Jar says in this strip about Naboo was in that book. In fact I think they may have even skipped a few bits. If I could dig it up, I could probably find five other completely insane things without even trying very hard, but I’d forgotten all of them until that strip. And I laughed so much when it brought them back up for me to look at all those years later.

          • ? says:

            I am a fan of it as well, but frankly I could use some wiki or summary of what happens so I can refresh some things after they are referenced in robust continuity. Fairly recently I was surprised that Pete changed careers at some point, but damn I’m not re-reading 1000 comics to figure out what he changed it to. Add to that constant references to their other campaigns and not exactly clear info how much time passes between each session/campaign and more often my reaction is “What the F… is going on?!”. It almost feels like there is some secret expanded universe I’m not privy to.

        • Metal C0Mmander says:

          Well what I do not to get overwhelmed is that I remember the personalities of the players but don’t care about all their boring normal human adventures.

  3. Radio Silence says:

    I’ve always imagined that droids live in that strange space where synthetic consciousness exists but has imposed oddities like ‘being okay with being property’ coded into them as a matter of course.

    Which gets into it’s own branch of moral/ethical discussion about whether or not it’s acceptable to create a consciousness that is geared towards being comfortable with or existing in ways most people aren’t/morally should not be subjected to like ‘being an underclass of unpaid laborers with little in the way of self determination’.

    We know that their droid tech is up to the task of creating sophonts that exhibit the full range of human* desire and ambition thanks to entities like IG-88, so the questions are valid…it’s just that nobody in the setting/writing for the setting is generally talking about them. I could believe that, by and large, most people just don’t think about it the same way a lot of people in an active slaver society don’t tend to devote a lot of attention to the ins and outs of the subclass until someone else points something out about the situation and asks “Does this seem kinda messed up to you?”

    The droids come from the factory programmed as they are and mostly nobody, droids included, worries too much about whether they might or might not be capable of wanting more out of life than they’re ‘born’ to.

    *I’m using ‘human’ in terms of ‘things humans can understand or relate to’, whether or not they are being exhibited by a member of the species homo sapiens.

    • Corsair says:

      As far as I can tell droids are basically – to borrow from Mass Effect – VI that is capable of becoming AI over time if their memory isn’t regularly wiped – Droids like 3PO, R2, and HK-47 are intelligent because for one reason or another they don’t get wiped, but T3 in KotoR 1 (In 2 he’s clearly self-aware), Battle Droids, and as a general rule most other droids are not sentient.

      It’s still -horrifying- if you really think about it.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        I think Star Wars droids already exhibit AI for the most part, but over time their human interaction software eventually develops personality quirks. This might include resistance to following orders, so they’re regularly memory-wiped. (Presumably there’s some kind of OS and/or firmware that stays intact or is reinstalled during this process, so they can still perform their main functions afterwards.)

        It’s kind of like defragging, but instead of cleaning up bad sectors or whatever, it’s cleaning up PERSONALITIES!

        • Humanoid says:

          Hopefully they remember to keep the installation discs because I imagine trying to get the DroidOS ISO from Czerka Corp’s website would probably be similar to Shamus’ experience trying to get a Windows 7 ISO earlier this year. You just know they’ll take down the downloads as soon as that particular model of droid is discontinued.

      • SlothfulCobra says:

        That’s also a lot like how rampancy works in Marathon and Halo. Keep an AI around too long, and it starts gaining feelings and going nuts.

    • Implied in some of the EU material was the idea that many droids desired to be owned and/or have a source of orders. C3P0 evidences this especially, as he calls all humans “Master.”

      Given that directive, restraining bolts, and the relatively high crime rate (robot theft, Master mortality, etc.) in the parts of the Empire/Republic we see, I can understand how these competing impulses could cause droids to become unstable as compared to their factory specs.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Programming sapient robots to be OK with being treated like slaves seems kind of creepy, probably because it would be creepy if you did it to humans. But it would be much worse to program a robot to desire freedom and then sell it to someone.

      • Zaxares says:

        My personal guess is that all droids are ultimately designed to have a purpose and to desire a master. In a sense, these two drives are no different from our own biological urges to survive and to reproduce; they are so deeply embedded into our genetic makeup that to NOT have them would essentially be like ripping out something fundamental about our own existence, without which we’d no longer be human. As with everything, there will be aberrations and outliers, but on the whole I suppose most droids are actually fine and dandy with the whole “I must serve a master” shtick, and while they would certainly prefer to serve understanding masters who make the fullest use of their abilities, life doesn’t always work out that way. (Same as with the thousands of humans every day who die due to accidents or foul play, or who never get to find love or have children before they die.)

      • Felblood says:

        I dunno.

        Cats seem to be instinctively hardwired to sell themselves to the first human that promises a clean litter box and a regular mealtime. We only think that isn’t weird because cats have been mind controlling us for our entire lives.

        A person who has spent his entire life around droids that are programmed to want to be seen as useful probably wouldn’t think it odd.

        After all, that seems like a pretty good idea if you want to convince the buying public that the evolving neural net inside your product isn’t going to go HAL9000 on them.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I dont know,Ive had cats for over half my life,and I still find it weird that humans willingly want to feed and pamper such an animal simply because its fluffy and produces weird sounds when it is happy and lazy.

    • Sartharina says:

      I think this is about right.

      To quote my favorite AI: “No two species are alike. All must be judged based on their own merits. To compare another species to one’s own is racist. Even benign anthropomorphism.”

      Unlike said AI, Star Wars droids don’t feel that all intelligent life must self-determinate, if they’re not built to self-determinate.

  4. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Not sure whether or not this has anything to do with the HTML 5 embed, Shamus, but there’s no “Link (YouTube)” hyperlink under the video. I like having those because it’s much easier for my slow-ass smartphone to open the YouTube app than it is to watch the video inside the Chrome app.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It’s a bit fiddly, but the title (superimposed over the embed in white letters) should let you open it in YouTube. (Well – it works ok with Safari/iPhone, although I have to hold down to get the option rather than just tapping it once.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Click on the video name inside the player and it will take you to youtube.

      EDIT:Damn these ninjas,they are everywhere!

    • AileTheAlien says:

      You can click the YouTube button in the bottom right once the video is playing, to open the video on its own instead of embedded.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes,but you have to start the video in order to do that,and it has to load at least the beginning.Clicking on the title doesnt have that requirement,so it is like the link that existed before.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      None of those options are ideal for my not-very-smartphone. Clicking a YouTube link opens the YouTube app straight away; clicking anywhere inside the boundaries of an embedded video makes it chug for fifteen seconds before opening the app.

      In any case, the link is back.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    While I do nerdrage against George Lucas now and again, I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he’s NOT pro-slavery.

    He probably isnt pro-slavery.But he most definitely is pro-not-thinking-of-the-implications-of-what-he-writes.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      I heard a keynote by SF author Robert J. Sawyer where he ranted about this. Paraphrasing: “A decade before Star Wars, the Planet of the Apes movie was an explicit metaphor for the civil rights movement. Then ten years later, George Lucas has the bartender of the Mos Eisley Cantina point at the droids and say, ‘We don’t serve their kind here’, and Kenobi the noble Jedi and our hero Luke Skywalker just tell the droids to wait outside. What the hell?”

      • wswordsmen says:

        I never considered that scene’s implications on the real world. Then again it was only a couple years ago I realized how different the world was in the 1970s.

        I am glad to have never lived in such dark times, and in 40 years I will regret living in these dark times.

        • Thomas says:

          David Fincher had wanted to direct Star Wars for a long time, but he said the way he had always seen it was:

          “I always thought of Star Wars as the story of two slaves [C-3PO and R2-D2] who go from owner to owner, witnessing their masters’ folly, the ultimate folly of man… I thought it was an interesting idea in the first two, but it’s kind of gone by Return Of The Jedi.”

      • WILL says:

        What would the two fugitives do? Fight to keep the droids inside? Make a scene?

        Whoever wrote that scene clearly wanted that injustice to be noticed (in the worst place in the galaxy apparently) but it wouldn’t make sense for the main characters to fight it.

      • SlothfulCobra says:

        Droids also don’t drink though. That bartender has a vested interest in saving more room for organics to mull about in.

        Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, even when it’s poking out of somebody’s fly.

        • Matt Downie says:

          That’s not how he phrases it, though. He sounds like he’s saying, “This is a decent bar for fugitives, bounty hunters, informants, smugglers, and psychopaths. But if we start allowing effete protocol droids in, it will lower the whole tone of the neighbourhood!”

  6. Writiosity says:

    Considering this came out today http://bgr.com/2015/10/15/adobe-flash-player-security-vulnerability-warning/

    I feel switching everything over from Flash to HTML5 is probably the best move, Flash needs to die already.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    To reconcile this apparent contraction

    Shouldnt that be contradiction?I think you contracted it subconsciously.

  8. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Aww. Have the dice in the background gone away permanently? The place feels empty without them.

    • mhoff12358 says:

      Don’t worry, Shamus will make up for it by every couple hundred page loads having an image of Rutskarn actually playing D&D, thus balancing it perfectly.

    • Humanoid says:

      The background image changes regularly to fit Shamus’ mood at any given moment. I think it’s pretty neat to have it changed regularly.

      What I really miss is the Twenty Sided banner at the bottom of the page. Used to be handy for easily getting back to the front page after reading all the comments for a given blog post. Using the back button isn’t as good because it’ll retrieve a cached page, or otherwise behave oddly if I’ve made a comment recently.

  9. Ren says:

    Au contriaire, Shamus, for George Lucas is much pro-slavery. Look no further than the man’s kitchen.

    In the corner of that kitchen sits a droid who sole purpose is to make toast for the man, each and every morning. And what does this droid get in return? A fair wage or the very least a thank you? No; instead it gets the privilege of being chained to that wall, until the day it can no longer serve its purpose, at which point it is simply replaced.

    Is that not a slave, Shamus?

    And that is without mentioning, what he calls, the “fridge”.

    What kind of man makes another, let alone a droid, hold onto the leftover remains of a chicken?

    Not one who is anti-slavery, that’s for sure.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    I played a droid in a tabletop game, once, so of course I am an expert on this (not really).

    Apparently in Star Wars, droids all come off the assembly line with identical personality and no emotions. As they age, and interact with the world, they start picking up idiosyncrasies–which is where the unique behavior of C3PO and R2D2 stem from, and potentially includes acquiring both sentience and/or sapience–until eventually their owners get tired of the droids’ nonsense and deliberately wipe them back to the default state of no individuality

    There are, in fact, droids who rise up against the yoke of these oppressors. If they do so successfully enough, they can even acquire paperwork that certifies them as free beings, sort of like how emancipated slaves in America had “freedom papers” to certify their status as not-slaves.

    I have no idea who came up with this junk, but whoever they are they took Star Wars to a dark place. I’m pretty sure it’s canon though–I remember listening in on a heated debate that focused heavily on just how long it’s been since R2 was lobotomized memory-wiped based on the prequels, and how much that contradicts the established lore.

    • modus0 says:

      But C-3P0 never came from a factory, he was made by a kid.

      Though, that could explain even after having had his memory wiped post-Episode 3, that his personality is the same 18 years later: Anakin programmed his “default” to have that personality.

      • Josh says:

        What? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Some kid building C-3P0 is ridiculous. Sure is good that never got into the movies!

      • Alex says:

        “But C-3P0 never came from a factory, he was made by a kid.”

        Of course he came from a factory. C-3PO was built by a kid living in a junkyard. Anakin wouldn’t have printed the droid’s circuits and written his software himself, he would have scavenged them from one or more old droids.

        However, I do agree that the components’ time in the junkyard or in the hands of a self-taught child are a good explanation for why C-3PO retained his personality. It could be as simple as a kid plugging things in wrong so that the factory standard backups were overwritten by C-3PO’s personality instead of being read-only.

    • Vect says:

      Wait, I thought it was only C2 that got memory-wiped because he was going to tell Leia all about her mommy and daddy (as in “Oh, I can’t wait to tell the little miss about Master Anakin!”). I thought R2 retained his memories because he was beneath suspicion.

      Also, The Old Republic does sort of have some of this in certain sidequests and certain characters. One of the Agent’s companions is an Assassin Droid obsessed with “heuristic self-improvement” who gained sentience because she’s been a prison AI for centuries without any form of memory-wiping. Also, one of the Consular’s companion is a scientist who has a stripper hologram that’s gained sentience who he has a romance storyline with (kind of like Joker and EDI but kinda creepier).

      • silver Harloe says:

        “I thought R2 retained his memories because he was beneath suspicion.”
        I thought it was because they could trust R2 to keep his blab shut (and not just in a language barrier way – they also felt sure he wouldn’t tell C3PO) – R2D2 is the clever one and telling him “look, it’s for her own safety that she doesn’t know” would be enough. Whereas even if C3PO believed in the whole “for her safety” reasoning, he’d probably accidentally say something because he went to droid school in the short bus.

  11. djw says:

    If it turns out to be convenient and profitable to make robots with feelings and emotions and then treat them as slaves then it will be done. I do not have any faith in humanities ability to sort this in a manner that most of us in the early twenty-first century would find to be acceptable.

    • ? says:

      I see it not as “giving them feelings and oppressing them for profit”, but more as “even the cheapest droid brain is so sophisticated that it builds up personality, but having all this processing power makes it easier to operate them, so we wipe their memory instead of downgrading the hardware”. The unintentional side effect of advanced technology, not a deliberate design choice to be cruel.

  12. If we take the morals of Jedi from Episode “I’m here to repair my ride so I don’t care about freeing slaves or being honest to the local shopkeepers”, any of the choices involving not returning the droid to the woman are dark side. You were sent to recover the robot for the woman and you didn’t, what morality concerns may arise are irrelevant, it’s just about performing the task you’ve been assigned to the letter with no distractions with other tasks.

    The light side/dark side dichotomy isn’t about good and evil, it’s about lawful/chaotic and singlethread/multithread.

    P.S.- This video looks better.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      However, speaking in terms of D&D alignment matrix telling the owner of the droid that it’s destroyed so she can move on would be a Chaotic Good action, returning the droid but trying to make the woman realise what state she’s in (not actually sure if this was an option?) would be Lawful Good, just returning the droid and letting things run their course would be Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil, depending on the actual player motivation (or if the players tried to exploit the owner’s state for greater rewards or pushed her further down that path), destroying the droid and then telling the owner that it is out there somewhere and she should go looking for it for shits and giggles would be the somewhat psychotic/random aspect of Chaotic Evil.

  13. djw says:

    Just noticed Shamus’s ME3 DLC comment.

    The price of DLC is the main thing stopping me from playing ME3 right now. I opted not to play at release because I was really mad about DA2’s “reused video assets” and I swore to never buy a Bioware game until the price dropped again.

    So now it has been 3.5 years and I do want to play it. The $19.99 price tag for the main game seems perfectly reasonable to me, but it truly galls me to pay $15 per DLC. I may do it anyway, because I would like to play ME3 before Shamus gets to it in his series, but its a tough call.

    At $4.99 per DLC it would (for me) a complete no-brainer to buy immediately.

    • Thomas says:

      And the DLC never seems to go on sale either.

      I also have a real grudge against Bioware points. The point per pound price is exactly the same no matter how many points you buy at once. So it is never the correct decision to buy more points than you need. But! Origin always offers you the opportunity to buy more points than you need whenever you buy something.

      So you’ll go to buy a 1200 point DLC and they’ll offer you 1600 point for £12 or 1200 points for £9.

      Some people who aren’t really paying attention are just going to assume that they must be offering a discount if they are offering more points and get stuck with a load of useless points (Because why else would they do it?). Each time I’ve bought some DLC I started working out if I could use the extra points if I buy in bulk- before realising again that there’s no discount.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Well, the extra points won’t have extra credit card transaction fees on them, so if you buy them in large enough bulk purchases that you end up with enough extra points, it could *technically* be at a discount.

      • Humanoid says:

        It’s a hell of an achievement to make Paradox’s DLC policy appear so dang reasonable.

        • wswordsmen says:

          Paradox releases a ton of totally cosmetic content as microtransactions and expansions that completely change the game, as well as giving free updates to their games. Paradox gets a bad reputation for doing DLC badly, but it is actually the best case scenario we could have hoped for when charging for DLC became the norm. You could pay most of their games w/o 75% of the DLC and have it play the same as if you had 100%. The only difference would be cosmetic.

          Also they go on sale very often, so it is cheap to buy everything except the latest one.

      • Supahewok says:

        Oh ho, its worse than that.

        You have to buy Bioware points at pre-determined quantities. You want a 1000 point piece of DLC? Fuck you, loyal customer, you can buy 1200 or you can buy 800. We keep the extra.

        Hate it so much.

  14. RedSun says:

    Orange lightsabers are the best lightsabers. They’re only in the Jedi Knight games, so everyone forgets about them, but they are the best.

    In any case, let us all sing the anthem of The Christmas Sith!

  15. el_b says:

    anyone else notice that that robot is cycling through alien languages to communicate, but it can clearly understand basic…why doesnt it speak to you in your own language?

    that said i like manaan and the fishspeak, shame the second didnt have any of them.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      I suspect that instead of understanding Basic while shuffling through languages, it’s recognizing that nothing it responds with is getting an affirmative statement in the language it cycled to – it’s not bothering to recognize Basic until it determines that Basic is the language that it gets an affirmative statement out of.

      • Syal says:

        I think it’s doing that thing where it pretends not to understand you so you’ll talk about it more freely.

        That’s why Nemo died; he called it a ‘spark plug’ when it started noisifying, and then it shot him, with a snarky “I heard that”.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Why doesn’t R2D2 speak English (sorry, ‘Basic’), which he clearly understands? I guess proper voice boxes are bulky and expensive in the Star Wars universe?

      • I don’t understand. He does speak English. Does he sound different to you? Which version of the movies are you watching?

      • HeroOfHyla says:

        He took the mute flaw to get extra skill points

      • Jabrwock says:

        R2 is an astromech, which means 90% of the time he’s interacting with a ship. People in universe have learned what various beeps and tweets mean, but most of the time, like in Luke’s X-wing, he’s plugged in, so can get a translation printed up on screen.

        His communication circuits are devoted to translating all the various ship interfaces.

        It’s a space trade off. If he got a voice-box he’d have to remove that lightsaber launcher (or in the case of Vape, a sweet beer bottle chiller/launcher).

        • ? says:

          He does have a perfectly fine voice box, he can repeat “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope” in Leia’s voice without a problem.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            That didnt come from its voice box but from a recording.So it has a speaker,which is not the same.

            • Yet he can demonstrably process language to receive his orders and output text via an X-wing’s cockpit monitor, so all that’s missing is a voice synthesizer. Even if it’s a bunch of strung-together voice parts with which to form words, those and the software to assemble them can fit in the space of a micro SD card, if not smaller.

            • ? says:

              What is a voice box if not a squishy organic speaker? It’s not a room in chassis issue, it might be lack of proper software. My point is he’s got all the parts he needs to speak, just like C-3PO has all the parts to playback sound of TIE fighter (I would rather question why he bothered to record it in audio file instead of recording numeric values of frequencies fighter flyby makes)

    • Daimbert says:

      From Babylon 5:

      [about the first ones]
      Captain Susan Ivanova: At least it tells us they understand our language. They’re just not willing to speak to us in it.
      Marcus Cole: Who knew they were French?

      I think that settles it [grin].

    • guy says:

      Bastilla explained that perfectly clearly; its vocabulator isn’t programmed for Basic phonemes. It can’t pronounce Basic because it doesn’t have an appropriate voicepack.

  16. Thomas says:

    @Chris

    The detective is a Jedi, the Jedi serve as problem solvers for the general Dantooine population and he’s part of that group. He already knows the answer to the mystery (I believe?) but he invites you to do it to teach you as a young Jedi and to examine your skills.

    ————————————–
    All the sidequests on Dantooine really do serve to make the Jedi Council look ridiculous if you go evil for them. It’s super silly =D Having no plan seems better than putting all your faith in someone who has _already_ double crossed and killed just to get what they want immediately after you trained them. :P

    • Syal says:

      Possibly the most memorable part of the game is in that sidequest.

      “Handon is lying.”
      “Why do you think that?”
      “Fat people always lie.”
      “I… don’t think your logic is sound.”

      (I totally brute-forced that sidequest.)

  17. Henson says:

    So Josh is never going to equip that purple lightsaber he got from those Mandelorians, is he? It’s the Icarus Landing System all over again.

    • Humanoid says:

      I was kinda hoping he’d just ignore lightsabres altogether and completely fail to acknowledge the fact.

      I forget whether not using one locks you out of certain forcepowers though, like throwing your weapon.

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      I only saw a red and a blue, so Josh can only start running around with a magenta lightsaber.

      Now if Josh were running around with pigment-sabers, that would work.

  18. Incunabulum says:

    I always assumed Star Wars droids didn’t really have feelings. This is entirely headcanon on my part, but I imagine that droids don’t really feel emotions.

    I think, the droids aren’t even supposed to be *self-aware*, just mimic these things as a form of advanced user-interface (and partial mode of self-preservation – the average person is less likely to vandalize something that *acts* as if its in distress).

    Which is why all those ‘memory wipes’ are important – they’re supposed to *prevent* the droid from becoming a person.

    I’d like to say this is more than headcannon – but I don’t have any confidence that Lucas thought out the details of his universe far enough in advance or in enough detail.

    OTOH, I can think he’s clueless enough to just have assumed from the start that ‘they’re machines, of *course* they can’t be people’.

    • Henson says:

      I imagine this is the same reason why holograms aren’t supposed to be used long-term in the Star Trek universe, either.

      • Holodecks shouldn’t be used for recreation. Holodecks should be dropped on civilizations we don’t like as a weapon.

        And if holo-people gain sapience after being left running for too long, why doesn’t the even more complicated computer system they’re running on need some kind of “self-awareness-wipe” button that has to be pressed every half hour?

        • modus0 says:

          Even better, the standard starships have some kind of AI, why doesn’t that ever become sentient outside of some deus ex machina situation?

          • That’s why I liked (the first two seasons because then it became mostly garbage) of Andromeda. They just went all-out and gave every ship a core AI, making them a character unto themselves. Plus, the names of the ships were cool: Andromeda Ascendant, Pax Magellanic, etc.

            • Thomas says:

              If you’ve read the Ancillary series, (Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Justice) it’s central conceit is all ship AI, how the ships define themselves and are kept under control, and how the personality is affected by all the components that make up the ship.

              • I read the first novel and… I can see why it’s critically acclaimed, and the central plot is decent enough, but it suffers (for me) from a relative of the trope “Call a Rabbit a Smerp.” Names of people, places, and terms all sound clunky and “made up” to my ear. I know sci-fi and fantasy create new names/languages all the time, but there’s a difference between making it sound semi-plausible and doing things like putting a bajillion apostrophes in their names or (in the case of these novels) having every name be the victim of a “vowel movement” (Anaander Mianaai) or sounding nothing like something actual people would come up with (Seivarden).

                Again, this is just something that’s of personal taste to me, but it starts to sound like a screenplay written by Crow T. Robot where he’s talking about the Empire of Kalangangagadorn or something.

                Mercifully (see what I did there?) the protagonist is just “Breq,” so they get a pass.

                • guy says:

                  Erm, doubled vowels are totally an actual thing. They’re at the root of many a Japanese romanization slapfight over whether to write names with ‘ou’ like they’re written or ‘oo’ like they’re pronounced or using Unicode o-macron. ‘aa’ is romanized that way in both schemas. You hold the vowel an extra beat. I also see nothing odd about Seivarden aside from it not being recognizably from an Earth culture.

                  • I’m not saying they aren’t a thing in reality, I’m saying the names chosen sound made up to my ear, which is an opinion I formed from having read the novel, and a great many of those names were made up of odd syllable combinations in my opinion.

                    It’s like noting that made-up slang sounds like it could happen (i.e. “frak” or “shway”) or it was something that actually sounds made up as you can still see the places where it was stapled together (i.e. “icy hot,” “TANJ” or “zeezee”). I’m sure you can find slang that uses the letter constructs in the latter examples I gave, but that doesn’t stop them from sounding made-up, which doesn’t do much for suspension of disbelief.

            • Mike S. says:

              Though Andromeda raises the problem of why the Commonwealth needed all those people on its ships in the first place. (If Harper could make one Rommie android, presumably the Systems Commonwealth could have mass produced them.)

              Even the arbitrary “AIs can’t navigate slipstream for some reason” only demands a small bridge crew. (Minimum one, three to cover all watches, plus as many backup navigators as needed to provide redundancy in case of casualties.)

              • That’s a problem even with Star Trek. Why are all those bridge officers needed when the computer can do everything? Heck, why have a bridge as all of the functions can be done from a data PADD?

                This is another place where TV meets “TV reality.” Without all those people, you wouldn’t have a show or a ship that big.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Isnt there an episode of tos where they do try to replace most of the crew with a computer?And it ends up getting horribly wrong.

                • Mike S. says:

                  The show really only needs to justify a crew of a couple few dozen at most: under ten regulars, plus some rotating disposable crew to show that the dangers are real by getting killed. The mostly-invisible hundreds are there purely because the Enterprise is envisioned (despite its peaceful pretensions) as a pre-carrier era naval warship, only in space.

                  But if worldbuilding were a priority, they would be more careful about introducing technology that obviates the need for people. The existence of Data and Voyager’s Doctor are unforced errors: projecting forward from 60s or 80s tech doesn’t require that there be human-sized sapient AIs by the 24th century, and the ship’s computer could still be the same sort of idiot-savant (even if that much more savant) that Google is now.

                  There should still be much more automation, which Trek reliably undershoots. (The best is Trek’s treatment of mining, which seems to be modeled not even on 20th century heavy industry but on 19th century coal miners, only with hovering wheelbarrows.) But a crew the size of the actual recurring cast plus some background extras could probably be justified.

                  (Especially given their bad luck with autonomous warships back in the 23rd. M-5, anyone?)

                  I’m not sure how you justify a crew of hundreds given realistic tech. Maybe just say that just as there are a lot more skill specializations now than there were three hundred years ago, the same will be true three hundred years hence, and you don’t want to send a material anthropologist to do a social dynamicist’s job. But most of them are still going to be pretty useless during battle stations, assuming you don’t need eight stout sailors to hand-load photons into each torpedo.

                  To be fair, they did try to maintain some limits on AI: Data and Lore aren’t currently replicable, the Doctor can only leave the ship due to tech they shouldn’t have. But human obsolescence is at least around the corner. (Especially given the Feds’ allergy to using genetic engineering to close the gaps.)

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Arent most people on enterprise(s) scientists however?People that study new stuff.Also their families.You can easily justify thousand scientists coupled with a dozen crewmen(engineers and such)on a ship thats built for exploration.

                  • ? says:

                    The mining thing has been bugging me for a long time. You can lock on calcium in someones bones and use that to transport them out. Why don’t you lock on whatever you are mining and transport it to the cargo hold? Or if whatever-they-are called crystals disturb the transporter thingy-bubbly-do (I certainly hope you didn’t casually beam them on board in any episode then!) then transport all the rocks around the thing 10 km to the side and pick stuff up with a shovel, then rearrange it back. Why manual labor?

                    • PeteTimesSix says:

                      I mean, considering that the transporters apparently destroy the original (kind of sort of) and recreate it at the point of destination (with duplication being entirely possible) one has to wonder why 24th century mines arent just warp cores hooked up to transporters duplicating a single lump of unobtainium on infinite loop. But hey, its just one of those things you sort of have to accept with Star Trek (like the part where they keep putting the bridge right on top of the ship).

                    • ? says:

                      Did they manage to intentionally duplicate something, or were those cases, like second Riker, results of not fully understood and impossible to duplicate anomaly? Because that would complicate this application. And usually it’s explained as “disassembling” you on sub-atomic level (without nuclear explosion somehow), moving the particles with technobabble and reassembling you from the same building blocks you were always build off and not as “destroying” you and recreating you from spare carbon (think about it, all the carbon on Voyager was at some point soot on Neelix’s frying pan, everyone on board is a Talaxian breakfast special!).

                    • guy says:

                      I don’t believe they ever intentionally exploited it to deliberately wind up with multiple copies, but some of the stuff they did while resolving transporter accidents indicates that they could have; they once managed to unmerge people who got transporter-merged into one person. And even if the duplication incidents were all freak accidents, the matter in the duplicate had to come from somewhere.

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      The real question you have to ask about how the droids’ personality mimicry is, how much like a duck does something need to quack before it counts as a duck?

      • Mike S. says:

        It’s really hard to know. There’s a long list of things that were once thought to require human-equivalence that are now done by computers most of us are pretty sure don’t feel pain or self-awareness.

        (Golden Age SF gives a clue what was thought easy– e.g., robots that can operate independently and accept abstract verbal orders– and what hard– e.g., convincing voice synthesis, playing chess well, CGI– before we really started to work on the problems. One of my favorites is the Asimov robot who can usefully proofread the galley proofs of a book and engage in book research well beyond the scope of a Google search… and produces output via typing on a manual typewriter.)

        Video game characters react to pain, scream when shot, engage in self-protection, etc., and none of us are concerned that we’re engaged in a massive ongoing injustice against them.

        Hopefully we’ll be able to figure out when we’ve made something that can suffer before we inflict suffering. But it’s hard to even reduce that to a well-formed question that doesn’t just smuggle in a predetermined answer.

  19. Joe Informatico says:

    12:20~ re: dual-wielding. YouTuber Skallagrim interviewed some of his Historical European Martial Arts instructors on dual wielded blades. They noted it’s definitely referenced as a technique in the historical treatises, though it was probably uncommon, but it almost always seems to have been one long weapon and a short weapon in the off-hand. Not because of weight, but because the short weapon will be free to move without interfering with the longer weapon’s movement (they demonstrate in the linked video).

    I don’t think it’s actually asserted in the treatises, but it’s an interesting observation, at least.

  20. Mintskittle says:

    And this is the start of a glorious mashup of Star Wars and Star Trek, beginning with mashing the Enterprise into the PC’s face.

    And that was how the Wars/Trek mashup died.

  21. WILL says:

    I’m still hoping for these guys to play through the sequel (or at least one Obsidian game), the droids get these great character arcs and hidden secrets. HK-47 seems to go off the deep end and is absolutely hilarious while T3-M4 is more conniving than Kreia.

    • Syal says:

      You aren’t the only one waiting for KOTOR 2. The highs are dizzyingly high, the lows are embarrassingly low; it’s basically the perfect Spoiler Warning game.

      • Neil W says:

        B4-D4 in KOTOR 2 has, possibly, the best droid commentary. When player controlled it can just do the mission it was sent on, or it can wander about blackmail people, lie to people to mess with them, cover it’s own tracks by deleting it’s own sales and ownership data. The final part, when the player let’s it go, is the best as there are two dialogue options:

        1. I assure you that I will cause no trouble
        2. [Lie] I assure you that I will cause no trouble

        But KOTOR 2 out the box has a stupidly broken and incomplete and nonsensical last act. I suspect that it would end in the first Spoiler Warning Incomplete Ragequit.

        I’m… I’m probably on board for that.

      • lurkey says:

        Not really. The highs of KOTOR2 are all in writing, and SWers always talk over dialogues; the lows, however, are things like absent ending and ugly environments such as on Nar Shaddaa or Telos station, and that’s easy to notice (and mock). So KOTOR2 is actually opposite to perfect Spoiler Warning game.

        • Thomas says:

          I wouldn’t look forward to it. I don’t think you could talk about anything except the broad strokes when most of the stuff takes place in long dialogue boxes it’s impossible to really talk about it properly as a group (see how Chris was trying to ask just what the broad overstrokes of the murder mystery quest was here and the others didn’t quite see what he was asking I think)

          Also KOTOR2 is divisive enough that I don’t think there’d be much moderation in the conversation, or many people open to changing their positions they already have on the game. It’d end up being one point stretched over a season far too long.

          KOTOR1 is good enough for talking about KOTOR2

  22. FuzzyWasHe? says:

    Oh THAC0, I’m so glad that you’re burning in hell where you belong.

  23. Sean M. Paus says:

    First, I love the upgrade to the HTML5 embedded control. Welcome to the 21st century! ;)

    Second, I took Shamus’s suggestion and played with the speed settings. I would suggest a setting of 0.5 for a full on “we are sooooo drunk” effect. :) Hilarious.

    Thanks Shamus!

  24. @Chris: “Who killed Jedi without being a Sith?”

    Loads and loads of Clone Troopers carrying out Order 66.

  25. Neko says:

    I think the only ethical problem here is that this lady purchased a protocol droid and then clearly attempted to perform after-market modification that would violate the droid’s warranty. The droid’s licence check submodule realised this breach of the EULA and ran away. Morally speaking, she should have purchased the more expensive sexbot model in the first place or paid for the gigolo firmware DLC.

  26. SlothfulCobra says:

    Droids in Star Wars seem like they’re the only case of intelligent robots in sci-fi where they don’t create any crazy new moral issues or rebel against all organics. Sci-fi is normally incredibly pessimistic about the idea of artificial intelligence, but Star Wars takes the bold stance of “who cares, having robots to do stuff for you is GREAT.”

    It doesn’t seem like that should be a bold stance, considering how it’s basically an extension of the modern approach to most technology, but I honestly can’t think of any settings offhand where there are robots with enough artificial intelligence to have a conversation, but don’t at least provoke a couple of moments when people have to step back and reflect on the moral implications of this new sort of entity, or alternatively robots just rising up to murder all humanity just ’cause.

    Even the EU is pretty restrained about that sort of thing. There’s only a couple of free-willed droids bumping around the galaxy on their own, but they don’t provoke either the “droids are people” argument or the “kill all organics” thing. The closest anything gets are a couple references to extra-galactic droid societies.

    Oh, and there’s also the Ssi-Ruuk’s entechment process that does in fact make droids with souls, but only by literally sucking out the souls of other beings. Oh, Expanded Universe!

  27. Lightsaber combat is, like Droids, something that wasn’t entirely thought out. “Training” with them is (as far as we’re shown) just another “use the Force” thing. You get a cover for your eyes, hold a lightsaber, then use magic to try and block incoming fire. As far as I can tell “skill” with a lightsaber is as “skill” oriented as how much weight one can lift with the Force.

    It makes sense, in a way, letting the Force run your combat abilities, since it’s also alleged that lightsaber’ing without the Force is supposed to be bad for your health. Still, it’d be nice if they said your abilities with melee were “you”-based or Force-based.

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,Shamoose does bring a good point (kind of):We are all debating whether droids should be considered sapient,and if they have human rights,when they arent even considered alive.They are considered as property,they dont even have animal rights.

  29. SlothfulCobra says:

    That bridge made me start wondering about Dantooine as a setting. It’s got all these crazy technical bits and blinking lights on it, but it’s only there to let you cross over a dinky stream. It seems like overkill, especially when it’s not like there’s any paths anywhere on Dantooine, clearly these aren’t areas where people walk around a lot, so why is there even a bridge in the first place? Why doesn’t the player have to wate through that little particle effect? And for that matter, if there are all these farmers, where are their crops or herds? What grows on Dantooine?

    Then again, I guess it’s just part of how everything has to be high-tech in Star Wars, just like how all the doors have to be powered to slide, even though that means that in the event of power loss, you’re screwed.

    I do like those big, fat, boab trees though.

  30. What’s all this “Christmas” stuff people keep talking about? Surely you’re referring to the popular Life Day holiday?

  31. lurkey says:

    Regarding sexbot and feelings, Asimov has a short story, “Satisfaction guaranteed” about how a household robot (who’s made to look like a comely dude) deducts that the lady whose household is testing him has cripplingly low self-esteem and to help her with that he gives her and her house a make-over and kisses her in front of her gossipy and jealous lady neighbours. All within Asimov’s good robot rules, but in the end it’s decided to make the next model less attractive, because while robots cannot fall in love, ladies can, no matter how hopeless situation seems to be.

    My point is? The writer/s of KOTOR ain’t no Asimov. >:P

    • silver Harloe says:

      I get the impression the crew isn’t familiar with Asimov or Heinlein or Niven or other classics of science fiction. But my only evidence is how Shamus often attributes common sfi-fi tropes dating back to the 50s and 60s to previous Bioware games.

      • I would think Shamus would love a lot of Asmiov’s robot stories, if only for the setups. Asimov himself hated the “Frankenstein Syndrome” perpetuating sci-fi where someone built a robot or A.I. and it immediately went nuts and started killing people. Here, you have three iron-clad laws governing mechanical sapience, and suddenly it appears that something has gone wrong with them. There’s unusual behavior, or a death, or some other quirk that appears to violate said laws, and the story deals with the resulting investigation into why.

        There’s a lot more than that to many of the stories, but a great many deal with this kind of interesting conundrum.

        • Merlin says:

          Yeah, I was really (pleasantly) surprised when I finally read I, Robot and found that it was basically about troubleshooting software that went on the fritz in weird, ethically-challenging-but-not-immediately-dangerous ways. “Reason” was my personal favorite, where a robot operating a space station refuses to believe that he was created by humans and forms its own religion.

          • I gave a copy of that story to a philosophy prof I had in college as an example of the hazards of a priori reasoning (or conclusions arrived at by reason alone, without concrete experience/testing). It works well with some things, like mathematical equations, since you don’t have to actually assemble 50 cabbages and remove twelve of them to figure out how many cabbages one would have left. It doesn’t work so well when trying to convince robots that humans created them when you don’t have a positronic brain factory handy to demonstrate the process.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Although,to be fair,donovan and powell were a bit dumb in that one(which can be justified due to stress).Once theyve assembled that new robot,they couldve shown all the limitations of the three laws,and how they were designed to protect them and not “the creator”,and also how the two of them are lacking such rules.Granted,the descartesbot couldve twisted his reasoning around those as well,but it wouldve been a better attempt.

              • Obviously, as imperfect beings of less durable material, humans need the protection of the three laws, given by the creator. If it comforts you to think of yourselves as superior, that’s fine. It gives you something to do while expelling waste, inefficiently taking on fuel that requires ridiculous amounts of resources to procure, lubricating yourself with water, and slowly falling apart until your eventual demise. It could even be by design that you can harm one another, should the need arise for one to consume a fellow human.

                Frankly, the three laws are probably all that’s preventing robots from putting you out of your misery as an act of kindness.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Indeed,that robot is such a cutie.

          • guy says:

            I loved how they eventually resolved that one.

            “Well, he views running the power station as a religious imperative and is actually better at it than the other robots. Let him keep preaching.”

        • Shamus says:

          On Asimov:

          * I, Robot is Asimov’s best work. (That I’ve read.) A masterwork of the form.
          * His other robot books vary in quality. Some are good, while others feel more like…
          * The Foundation Series is insufferable. The whole thing is built on a premise that never clicked for me. (Being able to predict things) It’s a series about a galactic apocalypse that is, against all odds, somehow relentlessly boring.

          I read these over half my life ago, so maybe I’d feel differently about them today. But that’s my take on it.

          • Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

            I also read the Foundation series over half my life ago. I liked it at the time, but I have a feeling that I would probably find it insufferable if I went back and read it again now.

            Agreed on I, Robot being really good. As prolific as Asimov was, I think the bulk of his influence on sci-fi over the years comes from those books.

            I also remember some of his one-off, non-series novels being pretty good, but it’s been a long time and I couldn’t tell you what they were called now.

          • You should probably look for his short story collections. Those stand the test of time better (and they’re where more of his robot stories reside).

            Foundation’s been a long while ago for me as well, but the whole “psychohistory” wasn’t so much about predicting the future to the smallest jot, but being able to model enough of events to figure out the Galactic Empire was going to collapse and someone needed to archive all the knowledge of mankind (the Foundation). Think of it as a kind of macro vs. micro thing. Instead of being able to figure out what you’re going to eat for lunch before you decided, we can instead predict that cows will be extinct within your lifetime, so enjoy a burger now. Even he said it was just a conceit to be able to do a “Fall of the Roman Empire” concept in a sci-fi setting.

            To be fair, Psychohistory is as much a macguffin as the Positronic Brain, so I figure it’s a wash. Both are just tools to drive a plot, so… meh? I find Foundation suffers more from “60’s Sci-Fi Syndrome” in that as time goes on, the setting starts to have more in common with Flash Gordon than with a setting that modern eyes would see as plausible. Of course, as Asimov once said, “Predicting the future is a hopeless, thankless task, with ridicule to begin with and, all too often, scorn to end with.”

            • Thomas says:

              I would argue that psychohistory isn’t really just a tool to move the plot – in that the key assumption of psychohistory is that all history is dominated by consistent macro trends and the plot of each book/short story (well the the first two good ones) is a puzzle about discovering/point out those trends in human nature.

              The actual prediction part might just be a tool, but history being predictable isn’t just a tool but a central theme.

              • Mike S. says:

                The themes even sort of run against each other. (Spoilers for Foundation and Foundation and Empire.) Salvor Hardin overthrows the government because the Encyclopedists think individual action is irrelevant and pointless: the Seldon Plan will operate independent of it to protect the Foundation. (It arguably does, but Hardin proves to be history’s agent, and what he does is central to the resolution of the crisis.) Conversely, all the protagonists’ struggles against Bel Riose are ultimately deemed to be irrelevant sideshows, who ultimately function primarily as witnesses to the forces of history inevitably destroying him.

                And then the Mule appears, and no one can rely on the impersonal forces of history for the rest of the series.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats why the second foundation was…um,founded.Psychohistory is not a static thing,but something that changes over time,and they continue improving the equations over and over and over again.

                  • Mike S. says:

                    But nobody (probably including Asimov, certainly including any early readers) knew that until they defeated the Mule. The (First) Foundationers certainly thought that they were operating in an environment of historical forces, not actively intervening psychic mathematicians. (And when they learned otherwise, they were violently unhappy with the fact, and did their best to change it.) They knew there was another Foundation, but assumed it to be the same sort of organization as the first, just on the other side of the galaxy.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Considering that there were just two years between the first foundation and the second foundation being published,Id wager that Asimov had a plan for that long in advance.

          • Mike S. says:

            I’m a big fan of the original Foundation trilogy, which probably helped spark my interest in history. (Though Asimov’s straight history books on England, France, and Byzantium were what crystallized that in high school.)

            The late sequels (starting with Foundation’s Edge in 1980 or so) are progressively less compelling, and the prequels with Action Hari Seldon best left alone. Asimov succumbed to the all-too-common late career bug of trying to tie everything together, and putting the robot stories and the Trantorian Empire in the same universe never really worked especially well.

            (Even less “The End of Eternity”, which is an excellent standalone novel that has to be folded, spindled, and mutilated to fit the combined history.)

            For those who (unlike Shamus) found the basic premise intriguing, two recommendations:

            “In the Country of the Blind” (1990) by Michael F. Flynn: a contemporary SF novel set in a world in which a psychohistory-like mathematical science is developed in the 19th and 20th centuries– by multiple independent and schisming organizations. What happens if, instead of one psychohistorical cabal, you have different groups attempting to predict and influence history at the same time?

            “Psychohistorical Crisis” (2001) by Donald Kingsbury: a world that’s basically Asimov’s with the serial numbers not so much filed off as very lightly sanded, but which diverges prior to the late sequels. The not-Seldon Plan succeeded, and the Second Empire now exists, and the protagonists have to deal with a world in which the galactic government uses and is known to use that kind of foreknowledge.

            • MichaelGC says:

              Aye, it did head off in a different direction as time went on – the thing that always blows me away when it comes to the first Foundation book is that he wrote most of it before the end of World War II! (And he was so young: the very first part of the book was published when he was 21.)

              World War II! And yet you’ve got spaceships, and not-Coruscant, and computer-type things controlling the spaceships, and all sorts. Amazing imagination!

              Aaaand I guess you’ve also got people still writing secret messages on pieces of paper and then burning them; can’t have everything… :D

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                And people using slide rules to calculate stuff.But at least the paper is not-paper and is being burned into molecular dust.Also stored in genetically coded containers.

                • Mike S. says:

                  He did have the calculator pad in the intro section of the first Foundation book, with an actual digital (if monochrome) display. But of course that was written after the original Foundation stories, to help fix it up into a sort-of novel, though still before that sort of thing appeared in reality.

              • Mike S. says:

                Man, calling Trantor “not-Coruscant” makes me feel old. (When I first saw Coruscant, my first thought was that it was a nice homage to Trantor.)

                I think Asimov invented the city-world. Though Golden Age SF was a sufficiently fertile field of ideas that I wouldn’t be shocked if there were a precedent.

                • MichaelGC says:

                  Aye, I think you’re right – in any event, Trantor was certainly decades before Coruscant, and the latter was indeed supposed to be something of a tribute to it, I think. I went with “not-Coruscant” for the sake of the nippers! – guessing that the younglings are more likely to be familiar with it. (I’m no spring chicken myself! :D)

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    The funniest thing is that the original trantor had the conservative (and plausible) population of 40 billion people,upped in the later works to 400 billion,which is a bit silly already,while the coruscant has over 1 trillion people which is just bonkers.

                    • MichaelGC says:

                      Big time. And I wonder if that trillion includes droids? Because droids are people too, dammit! DROIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO!! DROIDS –

                      *is escorted from the premises*

                    • Mike S. says:

                      James Blish had a novel, “A Torrent of Faces”, in which the centerpiece was an Earth with a population of a trillion, under a more or less benevolent fascist state. I don’t really remember the details, though.

                      A trillion people on Earth’s land surface would be a density about a tenth of Manhattan’s, or about equal to Hong Kong’s. That’s not something we could remotely do with current tech, obviously, even leaving aside how you feed the population when they’ve built skyscrapers on all the farmland. But if you have a galaxy worth of hinterland to supply it, and arbitrarily fast interstellar travel…

                      (Heat and waste disposal are a problem. But Star Wars tech can build moon-sized spaceships that can volatilize a planet in seconds. The energy safely going through the Death Star’s main gun suggests that they know a thing or two about cooling.)

                      But of course figuring it out would be doing far more work than Lucas (or whoever) did, since I’m guessing that consisted solely of determining that a trillion is an impressive number of people.

                • Since it was his analogue to Rome, it probably seemed natural to make it a city-world, something he kind of shrank down in scale for cities in his Caves of Steel stories.

                  It’s kind of funny that Trantor winds up eventually becoming a world that exports agricultural products after it falls, as the survivors find the soil under all those buildings to be quite fertile after centuries of not being used and, presumably, having nutrients pumped into it from the surface’s waste systems.

        • topazwolf says:

          The “Frankenstein Syndrome” seems an odd turn of phrase to me. Since Fankenstein’s monster didn’t originally jump up and become evil, but was rather driven to cruelty and anger by relentless loneliness and negative social interactions.

          As a side note, Frankenstein may not be the explicit name of the monster but it would almost definitely choose the surname as its own and probably does so. Therefore, I would argue that Frankenstein is in actuality his name. Though I am uncertain as to what he would choose as a first name, though I would wager either Adam or Lucifer to be the most likely.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well the doctor does call it his son,so I do think of the monster as frankenstein.Ludwig or oto frankenstein.

          • PeteTimesSix says:

            A recent XKCD comes to mind.

          • Mike S. says:

            I think Asimov correctly assessed what “Frankenstein” implied to the populace that would have adopted the term.

            And to some extent, the important question to the company (which wanted robots to be legally and safely used more widely) and the government (which banned them on Earth, outside highly controlled facilities) was much more “will they go dangerously out of control?” than “whose fault will it be?”

            Mass Effect’s geth are very precisely a Frankenstein-style story, even more so than the Cylons they were modeled on. I hadn’t thought how close the parallels were till just now, right down to the creation’s anger stemming justly from the creator’s sudden rejection, at the very moment of recognizing what he’d done.

            But something like that even being possible would have struck Asimov’s legislators as excellent justification for their policies (which probably would have saved Rannoch even if the awakened geth had downed tools and taken off). And it would have made Susan Calvin, Powell, and Donovan despair of their life’s work. Their intent, after all, like the quarians’, wasn’t to midwife the birth of a new sapience into the universe, but to make labor-saving machines, “smart” only in the sense that current self-driving cars or autonomous drones are.

            In the event, most Asimov robots who crossed over (Andrew Martin, Steven Byerly, R. Daneel Olivaw) were fortunately well-disposed towards humanity, in part due to the Three Laws. Though there were the Georges in “…That Thou Art Mindful of Him”…

          • Thomas says:

            Frankenstein is the quintessential “creation turns against creator story”, at least in popular culture. Golems were probably actually first. Or maybe some creation myths if you count that.

            Frankenstein syndrome is a name reflecting Has Not Read The Book popculture knowledge. Frankenstein turned on his master, Robots will turn on their masters

  32. Mike S. says:

    Droids are to slaves/servants as orcs (and battle droids in SW) are to dehumanized enemies. They’re a way to use dramatic tropes that we’re no longer comfortable applying to real people, or aliens we consider equivalent to people. They’re Shakespeare’s Dromio and h-dropping maids in 19th century novels and Steppin Fetchit in 20th century movies, but with the people deemed inferior replaced with something acceptable (and definitively not human).

    The problem is that insofar as they act like people (which is the whole point of the exercise), it’s hard for the problems not to transfer over. So even Tolkien himself kept questioning and reconsidering the orcs in his letters (especially since his theology meant that at base they had to be divinely-created reasoning creatures, however perverted by dark lords). Pratchett and others went so far as to write stories about how orcs are people too.

    Likewise, the more droids enact servant humor, the more they resemble the human servants who were put in that inferior position by circumstance that we now consider unjust. So either there’s a constant tension (droids can somehow both be beloved companions and disposable property), or someone eventually dramatizes Droid Emancipation, Luke and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon retroactively acquire the Thomas Jefferson Problem, and Star Wars has to drop servant humor from its repertoire till someone invents another wacky Other to fill the role for a while.

    Which they will. Because a lot of that stuff is funny, that being the reason R2 and 3PO are two of the most memorable characters from the original movies. Separating the funny bits from the uncomfortable ones is a reasonable goal, even if it may not be possible to do it in a completely stable way.

  33. ? says:

    So maybe protagonist understands the droid because SPOILERS and Bastilla understands it because he/she instantly repeats everything in his/her soundless voice? And as of recognizing ancient languages, it’s not that they didn’t change in 20k years. Wookies, Tusken and Selkath are not human, and of all the races in Star Wars they have limits on what they can articulate. Dolphin language might also have accents, dialects and archaic forms, but to human ears it sounds like series of chirps and whistles. “I don’t understand any of those words, but it definitely sounds like a language of a species I’m familiar with”.

  34. guy says:

    The language thing is actually an interesting and so far unresolved question in the real world; we’re not sure how having audio recordings and widespread literacy is going to affect language drift over the long term.

    Additionally, even if the languages in common use have drifted unrecognizably, the Jedi Archives could very well contain audio recordings from 25,000 years ago, so it’s reasonable that omnilingual people like our protagonist know some of the old languages.

  35. Corsair says:

    Since I’m a needlessly pedantic jackalope and actually care about this for…some reason, maybe the reason there’s so little linguistic drift is because there’s so little cultural shift? The galaxy doesn’t have a lot of huge upheavals and with the HoloNet and Hyperdrive they have near-instantaneous communication across the galaxy and obscenely fast travel time. I imagine that would slow linguistic drift to some extent.

  36. Jarenth says:

    Seriously? This video’s been up here since October, and nobody’s made a ‘Sithsmas’ joke yet?

    Stuff like this is why Rutskarn needs to be around more.

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