It’s a fairly common conversation between scifi geeks – which scifi gadget would you most like to possess? With the wealth of choice out there, it could be difficult to get down to one firm candidate – I mean, how can you really choose between a lightspeed space craft and an instant teleportation device? A memory wiping device or a Sonic Screwdriver?
Between films, books and television there is a plethora of really cool gadgets that would brighten the life of any scifi geek. More than a few times at Uni I wished for a jetpack (I lived in the halls furthest from lectures and I really hate getting up early) or a laser gun (you know those people in lectures who ask really long winded, pointless questions two minutes before the end? No, I’m not a violent person, honest) or some sort of high tech comms device (there was never any signal at the SU). But if I had to make a choice, it would not be for anything so practical.
And the choice is very easy to make.
I first watched Star Wars back when Walkers Crisps were doing the Star Wars Tazos. I collected them avidly (even though I didn’t like crisps) because I was the sort of child who liked to collect things, and as my collection grew, my mother decided it was probably a good idea that I understood what I was collecting, mostly I think because she had a huge crush on Harrison Ford. We got the trilogy on video – the shiny version that came in a box with a silver Darth Vader head on it. It was extended/updated or something.
I think I watched those videos to death. I know video longevity wasn’t great – it only took an overenthusiastic VCR and all you had left of your favourite movie was chewed up tape – but I seriously must have watched each episode a hundred or more times. I loved the epicness of it all – the huge space battles, the sweeping politics, the incredible fights. And Han Solo… I’m very much like my mother in many ways.
But what I loved most of all were the lightsabers. I love swordfights anyway, always have; the skill and the grace – so much more watchable than boring gunfights. Lightsaber duels were like swordfights, only shinier. The colours, the flashes as they crashed together, the shzuuum noise they made as they cut through the air… It sent shivers down my geeky little spine.
And they haven’t gone out of date yet either. A lot of science fiction gadgets were pretty incredible ideas in their day, but modern technology makes them look old hat. Take the Hitchhiker’s Guide. When Douglas Adams penned his scifi classic, the idea of a book that held all the secrets of the universe was pretty far out, but with the advent of the iPhone and other pocket technology, all it would take was someone writing ‘Don’t Panic’ on the casing in large friendly letters and hey presto!
A truly enviable scifi gadget is one that will be cool for generations to come. The lightsaber survived a second outing, some thirty years after its first appearance (let’s face it, the best thing about Episode One was Darth Maul’s double ended lightsaber) and we’re still nowhere near creating one in reality. Plus, it is essentially a sword, and swords are still cool several centuries since they were the weapon of choice. Think how long shiny laser swords will remain cool based on this fact.
So, if I could have any one scifi gadget in real life, it would have to be a lightsaber, even though I’d probably chop off my own arm trying to use it.
After all, to quote one Captain Jack (the Time Agent, not the pirate) who has a sonic screwdriver?