io9.com recently had their Sci-Fi/Fantasy March Madness poll, and it came down to Star Wars versus Star Trek. It was a predictable final two, but one that was very hard for me to choose between. On the surface they appear to be similar: they take place in space, they have a multitude of alien species, and they both get in quite a few skirmishes, but they are in reality very different.
Star Wars is a mystic fantasy with a mysterious and powerful ancient religion, and no matter how far things progress, they will always stay the same. Humanity can’t get better than it is. There is no light without the dark. Star Trek on the other hand is totally Sci-Fi. Everything can be explained by science, and humanity is always getting better. Give humans more time, and they will make themselves in to better people.
Those are both interesting premises (one person broke it down between theocracy and communism, and he wasn’t far off), and I love to delve in to their worlds, but the fantasy element is what makes Star Wars end up winning this battle for me. It allows my imagination to run wild. Sure it is a bit pessimistic about human nature (so am I), but it gives me space ninjas with laser swords, and a hope that one day I will be able to turn off my light switch at night by just concentrating really hard. I guess I will always be thirteen.
That doesn’t mean the space exploration, and constant state of discovery that Star Trek provides is lost on me. It just doesn’t give my imagination the same sort of jump start that Star Wars does. I love both these franchises very much, but in the end if I had to pick one it would be Star Wars, prequels and all. I hope next year io9.com doesn’t force me to pick between DC and Marvel, because that would just be cruel.