Droids and Cybernetics are a problem for Star Wars stories

Roman McClaine
Dec 19, 2019 · 3 min read
I got yer cyber-Sith right here!

Since the very beginning of Star Wars, droids have been both essential characters and MacGuffins of Star Wars storytelling. In the original trilogy, droids were mainly limited to co-piloting space ships and serving in protocol functions (such as translating up to six million different forms of communication). But starting with the prequel trilogy, droids and cybernetically enhanced organics have played a much more prominent — and combatant — role, one which the writers might not have fully thought through. These cyber-droid innovations create logical paradoxes which could wreck any story arc in any of the movies, TV shows, or books.

Consider that we’ve seen all of the following in Star Wars:

  • Droids fly ships and do things faster, stronger, and better than organics (even the force-sensitive ones)
  • Droids with built-in shield generators
  • Droids with field-artillery-grade blasters
  • Cybernetic enhancements fused with an organic brain and mechanical bodies that give a non-force-sensitive organic the speed, power, and precision to fight and defeat Jedi knights
  • Force users being rebuilt with cybernetics and droid parts without losing their ability to use the force

Why can’t these elements be combined?

What if Emperor Palpatine gave some random but skilled bounty hunter the General Grievous cybernetics and mechanical body package? Add a built-in shield generator and four sets of blasters from the B2 battle droids and this warrior could, by himself, take on an entire legion of storm troopers and kill them all without the troops landing a single, effective shot. Think this might alter the outcome of some of the existing stories?

Now imagine if Palpatine had given such an augmentation to Darth Vader!

The feat above — going one-on-legion — could be repeated, but this time with shields down as Cyber-Vader combined force perception with computer-mechanical sensors could deploy half a dozen light sabers, and deflecting all incoming blaster bolts right back to their source… and he could keep this up indefinitely (or until he got bored and reached out with the force to crush the throats of all of the remaining troopers).

Since the abilities that would allow him to sense, engage, and kill adversaries would be largely based on computer programming, Palpatine could have a lock-out programmed in such that Cyber-Vader would be unable to target or even command harm to the Emperor. (And for good measure Palpi could implant a kill switch or self-destruct bomb just in case Cyber-Vader learns to code). Think that might annoy Cyber-Vader, fueling his hatred and feeding his dark-side power? (“Let your hatred flow… I can feel it!”)

Given these possibilities, if someone did this in the Star Wars universe it would be as disruptive as The Mule was in the Foundation trilogy.

So was nobody in the galaxy far, far away smart enough to realize this possibility and exploit it? I find these potential paradoxes… disturbing.

Roman McClaine

Written by

I own microphones and computers and know how to use them. I have spoken.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade