Saturday, October 09, 2010

The saga of an imperial architect

Of the many untold stories of the Star Wars universe, one I'd like to hear is the story of the imperial architect that designed the Death Star.

Okay, so obviously he already was doing a pretty bang-up job to be able to make a space station of such unprecedented size and scope, that it was sometimes mistaken, briefly, for a small moon, at least by scruffy nerf-herders. Doubly so that it was able to also include within it a planet-busting weapon of surpassing, and also unprecedented, power. And you probably can't blame him for the security flaws in the computer networks; that was probably an IT guy thing. Probably the revisions to security policies was held up in committee. About the only big problem with his architecture is his insistence that guardrails on catwalks just ruin the aesthetic. But every architect has to find some quirky way to "make his mark".

So imagine how crushed he was when he found out his masterpiece was destroyed because he forgot one little bit of protective baffling on an exhaust vent. And how it must have felt to think, oh, no, Vader's gonna be pissed.

But apparently he didn't lose his job (or his larynx), at least not right away. Instead, sitting on top of his greatest triumph, cruelly snatched from him, they gave him a job that made the previous one seem paltry and easy. Design a fully-functional Death Star that looked entirely like it was in mid-construction. It must be practically hollow, a bare, exposed skeleton, yet still able to withstand its own weight, still structurally sound. It still has to have working energy systems capable of operating the planet-buster, and worse yet, that has to be so well shielded -- despite the lack of a body to part of the station -- to appear non-functional. It even has to be able to defend itself. That would be like asking an architect to make something that looked like the Empire State Building midway through construction, all exposed girders, but to actually have an invisible but working elevator that could go sideways too, as well as hidden anti-intrusion alarm systems on all the wide-open faces.

Somehow, he managed it, too. What a triumph of engineering. And what did he get for his troubles? Probably nothing. At worst, he was on site overseeing construction when it went kablooey. At best, his boss lost his job and he was out of a very lucrative contract probably before he was paid for it, forced to beg the new regime for work. "Oh, well, Princess, yes, I was the guy who built that trap that your admiral so cunningly spotted, but hey, it was just a job, right? I can build traps for you now! No, no, I don't mean traps, I mean, spires to celebrate your... whatever it is you stand for. I don't care, I can build anything! Hey, come on, give a guy a break, I have droids to feed!"

I wrote this post a few weeks ago, and in the time since then, but before it posted, the show How I Met Your Mother made a similar joke. Feh on them! Wish I'd posted earlier.

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