The following is the Preface to the book Linking Galaxies: Examining the Depths of Star Wars by Christian Corah and William Custer. The e-book is currently available for preorder and will be released with the physical copy on December 15th. Enjoy!
Star Wars is one of the greatest stories ever told and contains one of the greatest universes ever created. For multiple generations now, it has inspired and compelled many people, young and old. With Disney’s take over, we have been living in a golden age of Star Wars. We are not only getting new movies, but we are also getting new TV shows, books, comics, and video games. While all of this content is enjoyable on the surface level, there is a lot we can learn by examining the depths of Star Wars. This is the purpose of our book.
To do so, this book combines the content of Star Wars to different academic theories. For the actual Star Wars content, we pulled from the movies, TV shows, novels, comics, and video games that came out before the beginning of 2020 (some material after the cutoff point leaked into the book, but, for the most part, there is no material in this book that came out after the start of 2020). Because of that, there is potential that some material from the extended universe (Star Wars content beyond the movies) will be spoiled through the reading of this book. Content in the extended universe is unique because it has more freedom to take risks than the movies. This is because the material in the extended universe is not written for the big screen, where it must appeal to the masses. This causes the content from the extended universe to be some of the best within Star Wars. It’s not written for the casual fan. This is a key reason that we have chosen to include it as well, in addition to the movies that we all know and love. Also, the content will almost exclusively be from the Canon universe. We do acknowledge that there are incredible stories present in Legends, we are just choosing not to include them in our book.
We also want to point out that we have not even come close to collectively experiencing all of the material written about the Star Wars universe. While we are caught up on all the TV shows and have played the stories of the Canon video games, there are many comics and novels that we haven’t read yet. There is just simply so much out there that even though one of us is almost always reading a new comic or book, we just haven’t caught up to the expanding universe of Star Wars. We say this because you may be thinking of content from the extended universe that could be applied within our chapters that we didn’t think of. It is just likely that we are ignorant to the content or have not made the connection. So, if this does happen, we want you to feel free to contact us and let us know! Our information will be included at the end of this book. We will likely be making revisions to this book (especially because more and more content is coming out, we are truly living in the Golden Age of Star Wars!), so your suggestion could show up in a future addition!
Next to the movies, the TV shows have the second most significant presence in this book, in particular, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance, and The Mandalorian. While we suspect that many of our readers are Star Wars geeks like us and have watched all of these shows, we do acknowledge that not everyone either has the time or interest to watch them all. We will be supplying context and summary for all stories within the TV shows, but we also wanted to include a timeline at the end of this preface that shows how each of these shows fit within the Skywalker Saga. (For simplicity, we won’t be including all content that will be included in the book. If we included every single novel and comic, the timeline would be more complicated than it would be informative). This should help you have a better understanding of what to expect when we discuss each show.
Most of the theories we discuss are founded in storytelling, philosophy, and psychology. Many academics are present in this book, but the three most prominent people that have their ideas represented, other than George Lucas, are Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and Jordan Peterson. Campbell wrote the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949 that outlined the commonalities amongst all myths, also called the monomyth or the hero’s journey. This work directly inspired George Lucas’s plotline for Star Wars. Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist that developed many ideas in psychology and philosophy. Much of his work also inspired ideas within Star Wars, which will become more clear to you as you read on. Peterson is a modern day professor of psychology who is one of the great deep thinkers of our time. Many of his ideas, when applied to Star Wars, can be very insightful. You’ll see the impact of their ideas, and others in academia, spread throughout this book.
This application of academic theory to Star Wars is important because it undercovers the impact and significance of Star Wars. Some impacts are clear (but still important, like the impact on culture, which will also be covered), while some are not. Peterson states that there are many archetypical truths within storytelling, specifically fairytales. Stories are compelling because they reflect certain truths about ourselves and society: truths that we are not always aware of. So what we experience as a good story has a lot more going on within its depths. This is why we apply elements of psychology and philosophy to Star Wars, to uncover these remaining and hidden truths. And since Star Wars is such a compelling story, there are certainly many truths to uncover.
All of the chapters in this book were written by either Christian or Will (except for Chapter 8, which includes work from both of us). The beginning of the chapter denotes which author wrote the chapter. The chapters are organized based on the theory they are focused on rather than the characters or time periods that the chapters contain. This is because the Star Wars content within each chapter is diverse. We usually don’t focus on just one character or story. So it may feel like the book is jumping around from chapter to chapter as the theories change, but the central theme to the book remains: we want to make Star Wars feel more present and real to you. There are so many parallels in Star Wars to the world we live in and we want to shed light on them. The “takeaways” at the end of each chapter are used to highlight these parallels.
The chapters are also mostly independent of each other. While there may be references to other chapters within some, the content is still entirely the chapter’s own. Because of this, if you see a chapter that is of high interest to you, it does not do much harm to read this book out of order. Still, the book is organized in a way that makes the most sense to us.
The first three chapters of the book apply different psychological theories to Star Wars. Chapter 1 presents Carl Jung’s theory of the shadow and ego (which is also referenced in multiple other chapters throughout the book) and highlights the importance of getting to know one’s shadow self. Chapter 2 discusses the impact of early childhood trauma on behavior and how this knowledge should impact our interactions with others: specifically by creating empathy instead of judgement. The chapter follows the life of Anakin Skywalker to do so. Chapter 3 looks at how fans should act when feeling inspired (by Star Wars or something else) and why acting upon inspiration is so important. It is used as a solution for toxic fandom.
Chapter 4 is a standalone chapter that examines the wide impact Star Wars has had on culture. This includes what inspired Star Wars and Star Wars’ impact on Hollywood, the arts, geek culture, science, politics, and religion.
Chapters 5-8 examine elements specific to storytelling and characters. Much of this content is founded in the work of Joseph Campbell. Chapter 5 lays out different character archetypes found in stories, their representation in Star Wars, and the importance of said character. Chapter 6 analyzes different times Star Wars characters experience loss and how it affects their character. Chapter 7 is focused on different cave scenes in Star Wars. A cave scene occurs when a character enters a cave, faces what their fear most, and may receive treasure if successful. The chapter specifically examines what success looks like in the cave.
Chapter 8 is a transitionatory chapter because it includes elements of the previous chapters, characters, and elements of the next four chapters, qualities of a hero. Still grounded in the work of Campbell, Chapter 8 analyzes wanderlust: a quality of heroes that causes them to crave adventure and moves them to accept the call to the hero’s journey.
Chapter 9 takes a look at courage. All heroes must be courageous, despite their fear, but not all courage is created the same. This chapter examines multiple characters who express courage in different ways. Chapter 10 looks at the importance of spreading the boon. The boon is an object or idea that the hero collects during their journey. In order to finish their journey, the hero must bring the boon back to society. Chapter 11 looks at the complexity of redemption. Why a hero would want to redeem a villain can be perplexing. The chapter specifically examines the risk and reward ratios for redemption in an attempt to further understand it. Chapter 12 takes an in-depth look at leadership. After establishing what qualities of a strong leader are (most of these qualities come from the work of leadership expert Simon Sinek), the chapter analyzes several characters and comments on their leadership skills.
The final four chapters of the book are most applicable to performance psychology. This type of psychology explains motivation and teaches one to perform to the best of their ability. Chapter 13 specifically looks at different types of motivations and explains which character fits it best. Then, it makes clear advantages or disadvantages of the motivation through said character. Chapter 14 combines a magical element of Star Wars, the Force, to the real world, with automaticity. The point is to make you more aware of when your actions are similar to using the Force. Chapter 15 explains the importance of learning from failure. While we all know that we should learn from our failures to find success, it isn’t always done. This chapter helps in this process. Chapter 16 includes content from lightsaber battles where the winner is not clear. While the winner may have had some physical advantages, the chapter looks at what the winner did right, or what the loser did wrong, mentally.
By the time you’ve finished reading the book, we hope you’ve learned more about Star Wars, more about yourself, and more about the world around you.
Star Wars Timeline
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Rebels
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Episode IV: A New Hope
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Resistance
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker