From time to time, I’ll see a reader of Star Wars fiction give a longsuffering digital sigh, cock a jaded eye at all the newbies on the board/list/whatever, and say, “Oh, geez. Another Star Wars novel with Jedi and Sith. I’m just, you know, so sick of the whole Jedi-Sith thing. And you would be too, if you were only as well-read as me. What I want is a Star Wars novel about how hard it is to be a toilet-cleaning droid on Coruscant. Now that would be interesting.”
This has always struck me as a bit weird. We could, after all, offer similar complaints about epic fantasy. I mean, all those swords and magic and dark lords get annoying. And urban fantasy? Please. Don’t even get me started on the whole world/veil beyond the visible, which only the gifted/magicians/devilborn/whathaveyou can truly see through/into (or we could think across genre and complain about all those Chosen One books, or all those quest books, or all those damned books with MacGuffins).
Those would strike me as equally weird. Swords and magic and dark lords are integral to a lot of epic fantasy, and the conceit of the veil/hidden world is common in urban fantasy. And, yea verily, the Jedi-Sith dualism is at the core of most Star Wars fiction. And that’s cool, baby. That’s as it should be. That’s what makes those kinds of books those kinds of books. But it doesn’t make books that feature those things the same as all other books that feature those things.
Well, why the Hell not, Paul?
In a word — execution.
The details of the story matter. They’re what give a story its emotional core (or its lack thereof). They’re what make it a good or bad story. The rest of it is, to some degree, mere costuming. Thus, in the context of Star Wars, not every Sith is Maul or Vader or Palpatine, and not every Jedi is Obi-Wan or Luke. Or at least they shouldn’t be, provided the author is delivering a well-executed story.