Design flaws

I was thinking about Star Wars today as one does. Not the prequels, I am not prepared to waste any thought on those, but the original trilogy and The Force Awakens – which I thought was the bomb, by the way.

So think about it: A New Hope, the bad guys build a great big Death Star, things were looking pretty good for the Empire, when the rebels zipped right in through some ventilation shaft and blew the thing to smithereens.

Too bad, we’ll do better next time, eh, Vader?

Return of the Jedi. New Death Star – ok, it was not quite finished – … but guess what? The rebels buzzed it again, found another one of those handy vent shafts and bombed the DS to kingdom come. Umm. Yes, that would qualify as an egg-on-face moment for the design team.

Now at this point in time, if I were the chap in charge of design in the Empire I might start questioning my judgement, as the mechanisms of failure were worryingly similar in both cases. And Death Stars do not come cheap. Further, if I were the boss of the chap in charge of the design department, at this point I might start to wonder whether it might not have been a better idea after all to go with my gut feeling and stick with my original choice for that position, rather than hiring some distant, jumped-up Palpatine progeny.

So along comes The Force Awakens. This time round the New Order is taking no chances, forget them Death Stars, they are so yesterday, dahling, the newest craze is hollowing out planets and channeling the power of a sun through them, turning them into a humungous super-cannon.

Can’t possible go wrong, they said.

No prizes for guessing… yep, the rebels zip in through one of those ubiquitous shafts into Starkiller Base and demolish the whole thing. Rats, who could possibly have seen that one coming?!

Seriously, though?! This learning curve is so flat, in comparison the Netherlands look pretty mountainous! Surely it would occur to some bright spark in the design department that whatever is built next, to make damn sure there are no X-Wing Fighter-sized shafts that lead to anything crucial? Like, let’s eliminate any blindingly obvious bloopers right off the drawing board straight away!

But then maybe there were other factors in play, maybe they were attempting to save material in order to cut costs (after having lost the first two DS, conceivably the budget might be a bit tight)? Or maybe design considerations? Maybe they were trying to build especially light?

But hey, it’s just fiction.

I don’t know what made me think of all this today…