Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Me & Star Wars: Guest Post by Ty Johnston

Last month Ty Johnston was gracious enough to let me guest post on his blog.  Now, he returns the favor with a great story on growing up with Star Wars, and how it impacted him as a writer:

I’m going to talk about Star Wars, but I want to say right here up front that I am not a Star Wars fanboy or geek or anything of the sort. I enjoyed the original trilogy, especially the first movie, and I found elements of the more modern trilogy which I enjoyed, though it just wasn’t the same experience for the most part (whether that was because I was older or because George Lucas had lost his mind is debatable).

I am 42 years old,and as an author of speculative fiction, I would by lying if I said Star Wars had never had an influence upon me and my chosen career. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am not sure those of older and younger generations can appreciate the effect Star Wars had upon my generation, commonly referred to as Generation X within the media and broader culture.

When the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977 (I refuse to call this film “A NewHope”), I was eight years old. Before seeing the movie, I had showed some interest in science fiction and fantasy literature. My first memories of reading are of comic books, after all, a graphic and literary medium filled with the speculative. I also remember being somewhat of a fan of the Star Trek re-runs on television,including owning a number of Star Trek action figures and even the USS Enterprise bridge play set with the twirling transporter. Also, in 1977, I discovered The Hobbit, at first through the Rankin-Bass animated television show, then through the actual novel.

So, I was no stranger to fantasy and science fiction, even at such a young age. But Star Wars was so much more. I repeat, Star Wars was so much more. Star Wars made speculative fiction more accessible, as before science fiction and the like had seemed only upon the fringes of society, and was difficult to find in movie theaters, book stores and even on television. Before Star Wars, most sci-fi television I remembered were re-runs of shows from the 1960s, most of them in black and white. They had titles like “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits,” and were obviously from a different time than the one I was steeped in during the 1970s. Men wore suits out on the streets. Cars were bigger, longer, sleeker. Women dressed up to cook dinner. Etc.

After the success of Star Wars, science fiction was everywhere. New TV shows abound, and it seemed every week there was some new (though usually awful) sci-fi movie at the theaters. Also, whereas before I could hardly find any science fiction or fantasy at local book stores, now their were names like Bradbury and Heinlein and Asimov popping up all over the place.

But maybe it was just where I grew up in central Kentucky. I’m only offering what I remember. Anyway, Star Wars brought speculative fiction out to the world at large. The movie affected me personally because it only gave me more impetus to want to be a writer, especially a writer of the speculative. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a fiction writer, even at very young ages, and Star Wars pushed me along.

By the time The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, I was eleven and ready for more. The first fist fight I ever got into in my life came after my first viewing of The Empire Strikes Back. My school chum John and I went to see the movie together. Afterward, we got into an argument about whether or not Darth Vader was really Luke’s dad. John said Vader was. I said, “No way! He was lying!” One thing lead to another, gangly punches were thrown, and I ended up with my first bloody nose.

To make matters worse, three years later, I was proven wrong.

I could go on, but I don’t want to keep boring you, dear reader, with Star Wars stories of my youth. But let it be said that Star Wars gave me a push when it was needed, so I can thank George Lucas for that.

I’ll add one last little tidbit, then I’ll shut up. Though I have numerous complaints about the modern Star Wars trilogy, in the very last of the films,Revenge of the Sith, for the first time in nearly two decades, I actually felt like I was watching a Star Wars movie again. I felt the thrill of being that young man once more. So, I suppose I also have George Lucas to thank for that.

But I don’t care what anyone says, Greedo shot first!

Ty Johnston is the author of such epic fantasy novels as City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb, and Ghosts of the Asylum. He is also known to pen a horror,dark fantasy or literary tale from time to time.

Find out more at hisblog:


Darby said...

Thanks so much for your post, Ty. Your story about getting a bloody nose for the blasphemy of Vader being Luke's father - priceless. It's impossible to separate out Star Wars from its influence on my writing. I was younger than you at the time, and it shaped just about every way I look at art, good and bad.

Ty Johnston said...

Thank you, Darby. It was a blast to relive those old memories.