Why a Bunch of Science Writers Are Writing About a Fictional Planet

22 July 2014 by Matt Shipman, posted in Uncategorized

Image credit: Vincent Carrozza, at www.6amcrisis.com and www.fb.com/vincent.carrozza

Image credit: Vincent Carrozza, at www.6amcrisis.com and www.fb.com/vincent.carrozza (used with permission)

Tatooine is a desert planet, home to Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hutt, as well as a menagerie of large beasts: banthas and dewbacks, krayt dragons and sarlacci. Tatooine is also, of course, not a real place.

Science writing aims to convey ideas, engaging and educating readers on topics from biology to astronomy. Because science writing is focused on real efforts to understand the real universe, you might reasonably ask why a collection of science writers have chosen to spend time and creative energy writing about imaginary animals from a planet that does not exist. (Links to all of the “Science of Tatooine” posts are below.)

Sporting my "Welcome to Tatooine" t-shirt. (Photo credit: Julia Ellis)

Sporting my "Welcome to Tatooine" t-shirt. (Photo credit: Julia Ellis)

The short answer is that in science writing, as with all writing, it’s easier to capture an audience’s attention if you have a good story to tell.

The public first heard of Tatooine when Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) opened in theaters in 1977. In the years since, the Star Wars franchise has expanded to six movies (and counting), television shows, books, and merchandise ranging from action figures to lunchboxes. There are millions of fans who can recite the films’ dialogue verbatim, and many millions more who are at least somewhat familiar with the Star Wars characters. Yoda and Darth Vader have entered the realm of mainstream pop culture.

Why does this matter?

It matters because many people are extremely interested in this “galaxy far, far away” – and the worlds that inhabit that galaxy are themselves inhabited by a host of strange and wonderful creatures.

In this collection of blog posts, science writers have decided to use one of those worlds, and the creatures that live there, to explore and explain issues ranging from anatomy to ecology.

The goal of these posts is not to debunk the tenets of a fictional universe. Instead, we want to use Tatooine as a focal point for discussing scientific ideas that help us understand our own universe – and to have fun doing it. If anyone has erred on a point of fact with regard to the Star Wars universe’s extensive mythology, please forgive us.

We hope you enjoy your educational excursion to Tatooine!

Here are all of the entries for the Science of Tatooine Blog Carnival:

Tatooine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeDavid Ng

Functional Anatomy of Tatooine Megafauna (Hyperspace Transmission Received)John Hutchinson

Science of Tatooine: WaterAdrienne Roehrich

Cascading Planetary-Wide Ecosystem Effects of the Extirpation of Apex Predatory Krayt dragons on Tatooine – David Shiffman

The Limits of Animal Life on Tatooine – Maggie Koerth-Baker

Tatooine’s Tangled Bank – Plants Evolve in a Galaxy Far, Far Away – Malcolm Campbell

Diary of an Interplanetary Naturalist - The SarlaccJoe Hanson


8 Responses to “Why a Bunch of Science Writers Are Writing About a Fictional Planet”

  1. [BLOCKED BY STBV] The Science in Star Wars: Wissenschafts-Autor*innen schreiben über Tatooine | Kotzendes Einhorn Reply | Permalink

    […] Why a Bunch of Science Writers Are Writing About a Fictional Planet – Matt Shipman Science of Tatooine: Water – Adrienne Roehrich Tatooine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – David Ng Functional Anatomy of Tatooine Megafauna (Hyperspace Transmission Received) – John Hutchinson Cascading planetary-wide ecosystem effects of the extirpation of apex predatory Krayt dragons on Tatooine — David Shiffman The Limits of Animal Life on Tatooine — Maggie Koerth-Baker Tatooine’s tangled bank – plants evolve in a galaxy far, far away — Malcolm Campbell […]

  2. Mary Reply | Permalink

    Someone in our Google+ group linked the Wired article, which led me here. Clever way to reach out about climate change. There is a growing group for writers and artists at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/115741961764552168724. I think the other members would be so thrilled to see you and your team participate! We are always looking for creative ways of talking about climate change.

  3. [BLOCKED BY STBV] Nerdcore › Links: Dark Tourism, The Pickpockets Tale, Sowetos Skhothanes, Notchs Audio Steganography and the Snyths of Fear Reply | Permalink

    […] Why a Bunch of Science Writers Are Writing About a Fictional Planet – Communication Breakdown: Tatooine is a desert planet, home to Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hutt, as well as a menagerie of large beasts: banthas and dewbacks, krayt dragons and sarlacci. Tatooine is also, of course, not a real place. Science writing aims to convey ideas, engaging and educating readers on topics from biology to astronomy. Because science writing is focused on real efforts to understand the real universe, you might reasonably ask why a collection of science writers have chosen to spend time and creative energy writing about imaginary animals from a planet that does not exist. […]

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