Death Star vs. Starkiller Base: both are unrealistic, the latter especially so (open spoilers)

I haven’t seen the movie. I can’t get over how much of a retread it is of Ep. IV. I expected it to be bad, but even in my negativity I didn’t expect such massive rehashing!

Anyhow, let’s talk about the Death Star and Starkiller Base. Both are unrealistic, but the latter is especially so.

Death Star

It apparently has a diameter of 120 km:

What’s unrealistic:

• It’s so huge, yet the heroes are able to accomplish all their tasks as if they were running around a fairly small base (I first saw this on and thought, That’s so true!). 120 km across means that, to get anywhere, you’d have hop in a jeep or something and take up to a few hours to get there.

• It’s not really clear why even a weapon that powerful would require such a large support system. It would seem that the weapon, its power source, and fairly small base for the operations and defense team would be enough. It does not end up sending out very many TIE fighters in its defense.

• Its fatal weakness is highly convenient, isn’t it?

The thing that I do find realistic enough about this base is that the Empire could afford to construct it. It does stretch the imagination with it being so big and in outer space, but the Empire is massive and has lots of resources. (What’s less realistic is the notion that something like the Rebellion could actually take the Empire on and win, but that’s another post.

The Starkiller Base has all of the unrealistic features of the Death Star PLUS the the totally unrealistic notion that something like the First Order could actually construct it! The First Order is not in control of everything like the Empire. It doesn’t have the resources, especially since the new base is a lot bigger than even the Death Star! It’s as if the writers think that such ultra-massive capital can just pop into being with a little spit and chewing gum. It’s just dumb as hell.

And the fact that they had to “go there” and even involve anything like a Death Star is such piss-poor, sub-fan-fic-level storytelling, that my mind is blown.


I, for one, am shocked - shocked!, I tell you - that a franchise based around space wizards with laser swords would play fast and loose with the laws of physics and economics.

You underestimate the credit rating of the dark side.

Seriously, though, it’s Star Wars. I don’t care about how Starkiller was paid for any more than I care about why some people are force sensitive and others aren’t.

Space wizards with laser swords and mind-control powers. To quote Qui-Gon Jinn, “credits will do fine.” Sure, that time was the exception that proves the rule – but what a rule! These aren’t the supply and demand you’re looking for!

I understand your comments, but, by that logic, you can justify anything in any fictional setting.

Fantastic elements are fine, necessary even, in a fantasy, but works still need to follow their own internal rules, explicit or implicit.

There’s no reason to assume the tasks they were wanting to accomplish were evenly distributed across the station.

  • The Empire delivered a freighter full of prisoners to a hangar near the detention block. That’s not a coincidence, that’s common sense.
  • Obiwan had to disable the tractor beam emitters that pulled the Millennium Falcon into this hangar. It makes sense that those emitters would be somewhere near where they need to do the most precise work - you wouldn’t want to try to thread a possibly resisting ship into a hangar bay from 120 km away, would you?
  • There was a control room near the hangar bay that had some authority over the detention block. Since it makes sense that they started near the detention block, it makes sense that the first control room they found was associated with the detention block.

In that case, one could simply go with “The Empire/First Order is a fascist regime that relies on slave labor and doesn’t care if its citizens starve so it can invest every last dollar on superweapons”, which, as North Korea shows us, is a real thing.

People complained back in 1983 of the huge disappointment in the third film that the plot revolved around all the good guys fighting nobody important in a forest and the big ending was a different bunch of nobodies blowing up yet another Death Star. “How could Lucas have been so stupid?” was the general response.

Making yet another movie with yet another Death Star, except bigger, is a huge reason why so many of the people not mindlessly in Awe with The Force Awakens are so even more hugely disappointed with it for its utter lack of creativity and its utter predictability.

It worked, apparently, because the majority of people really do seem to want more of the same only bigger. The rest of us just shouldn’t go. Which is my plan for the next set of episodes.

So, you haven’t seen the movie, but nonetheless, you’re all prepared to explain how it got stuff wrong?


Actually, it makes the most sense for all the major command-and-control interfaces to be located relatively near each other, precisely so that the people who are supposed to be working there don’t have to go on four hour jeep rides to get from one part of their job to another.

It’s not clear what sort of a support system a weapon that powerful would need, given that it’s an entirely imaginary technology. 99% of the mass of that station might be the power source necessary to fire a laser that big.

A three-meter wide exhaust hole that you need literal magic powers to hit?

No, I don’t think that’s terribly convenient at all.

I thought you hadn’t seen the movie yet? How do you know how big the First Order is? How do you know that it’s not big enough to build something like Starkiller? How big does an interstellar empire need to be to pull that off?

FWIW, Starkiller Base, while bigger than the Death Star, may actually have been easier to build. Whereas the Death Star was an entirely manufactured moon, Starkiller is a hollowed-out planet - basically, exactly what you just said the Death Star should have been: a giant fucking gun hooked up to a power source, with a small command structure. “Building a moon,” and “hollowing out a planet” are both impossible techs, so I can’t say which would be harder, but there’s a good argument to be made that Starkiller is actually the smaller engineering feat.

I think you should actually see movies before you start talking about them.

Even if they were the same size, the Death Star method would still be easier. It would be easier because you have to move less material to build a metal box than to hollow out an equally large void in rock, and it’s a more predictable process - you know approximately how strong each piece of metal is going to be, whereas a planetful of rock is full of cracks, odd materials and voids.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the First Order didn’t build Starkiller Base from scratch. It could be something the Empire had been working on for decades and which they put the finishing touches on. It could be something left over from the Hundred-Year Darkness a thousand years ago. It could be an ancient Rakata superweapon that the First Order found and decided to play up like they’d built it. Nothing the First Order claims about itself or its achievements should necessarily be taken at face value.

Wait a second. Did someone suggest North Korea has a Death Star? :confused:

It seems to be a big coincidence that Han’s ship is sucked in anywhere near where Leia is being held. Would they only have tractor beams right in that one spot? Theoretically, they would need them evenly dispersed across he surface area of the sphere, since a ship could come from any direction.

But Leia seems to be held near the actual command center, since that’s where she views the destruction of her home planet, and it doesn’t seem as though it takes her a long time to be brought there. There is no real reason why she should be held near where her ship is first sucked in.

But let’s assume that her cell is near that original area and Han’s ship just happens to be sucked into that area. Even granting all this, the scale of the base seems pretty darn small. You never see the characters have to run across vast hangars or anything. Heck, I have done interpretation in large factories where I was probably walking a couple miles a day inside. Just getting from the production area to an area where we were measuring samples was a brisk walk of several minutes. And this is building that is a tiny fraction of the Death Star’s size.

Damn right you can, especially in sf and Fantasy.

Star Wars does. It’s set by it’s very nature in a galaxy where such a device makes sense. You’re bringing in things in our universe, not Star Wars’.

You just need enough of an imagination to understand this.

The Star Forge should have been have kept in canon and reused, it would happily explain why the First Order had access to such resources and material. Plus I just have a really soft spot for The Knights of the Old Republic; it was still being Star Wars when the movies were serving up racist comedy frogs.

Well, if you start at assembly, sure. But you have to manufacture all that metal, which means digging it out of the ground somewhere. If you’re making titanic holes in a planet anyway, making titanic holes that can hold your titanic gun is not a significant additional expense. Plus, think how much you save on the shipping!

Actually, it would be kind of cool if it turned out that the planet they turned into Starkiller base had already been hollowed out before the First Order got there - by the Empire, when they were building the Death Star.

If it is in the position of strength the Empire was in, then it’s believable. But that doesn’t seem to be the position it’s in (though the movie seems to have done a poor job of making it clear exactly what is going on). North Korea holds territory in a stable manner and thus can build up a military. The First Order seems more like ISIS.

You need to pay more attention to the news.

The Rakata are canon by dint of their homeworld having been mentioned in the Visual Dictionary, so it’s not entirely impossible that the Star Forge isn’t part of the new canon as well.

It seemed pretty clear to me that the First Order is in control of a significant chunk of the galaxy outside the Republic’s jurisdiction. They’re not rag-tag renegades - they have a stable enough territorial holding that they’ve had twenty-ish years to abduct infants and raise them to be killing machines, and to build up an officer corps of fanatically loyal types like General Hux.

What? No. Where are you getting this shit? They’re a massive military organization, with vast resources, in control of multiple planets. They’ve been around and in control long enough that they’ve got a giant army of grown men they kidnapped as infants and raised to be soldiers.

Seriously, if you want to talk about the movie, go see the movie first. It ain’t that long.