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Jim
2008-Mar-31, 03:12 PM
A member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society was on NPR just now explaining that G&S led to Star Wars.

Isaac Asimov was a big G&S fan (even wrote a book on their works). He was trying to develop an idea for a short story, but was coming up short.

I therefore tried a device I sometimes use. I opened a book at random and set up free association, beginning with whatever I first saw. The book I had with me was a collection of the Gilbert and Sullivan plays. I happened to open it to the picture of the Fairy Queen of Iolanthe throwing herself at the feet of Private Willis. I thought of soldiers, of military empires, of the Roman Empire—of a Galactic Empire—aha!

And thus was born the Foundation series, with its Galactic Empire.

As it happens, George Lucas is a big Asimov fan. When he was trying to come up with a good SF story to tell, he decided to borrow from Asimov's galactic empire... and thus Star Wars was born.

So, light opera leads to space opera.

mike alexander
2008-Mar-31, 03:27 PM
How excellent. Heck, G&S even had a version of the Force:

SERGEANT: On your allegiance we've a stronger claim.
We charge you yield, we charge you yield,
In Queen Victoria's name!

KING: You do?

POLICE: We do!
We charge you yield,
In Queen Victoria's name!

(PIRATES kneel, POLICE stand over them triumphantly.)

KING: We yield at once, with humbled mien,
Because, with all our faults, we love our Queen.

Jason
2008-Mar-31, 03:59 PM
Hmmm, I recall Asimov saying that he stumbled on the idea of doing the fall of a galactic empire from Gibson's History of the Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire, with some help from his editor John Campbell, not from random association with Gilbert and Sullivan.

Matherly
2008-Mar-31, 04:02 PM
(Darth Sideous Sings)

I am the very model of a Sith Lord Indeterminal
My complex plots lead heroes into fates that are regretable
I am adept with sabre, lighting, and TK that's formidable
My Clone Troopers crush anyone who's loyalty's questionable

:D

Moose
2008-Mar-31, 04:09 PM
Funny, Mike, I was thinking of the original scene in Mos Eisley:

Sergent: We intend to marry your Droids.
R2D2: Dwoooooooo....
C3P0: R2 says: Against our will! Against our will!
Ben Kenobi: Oh! But you mustn't do that! Tell me. Those are picturesque uniforms, but I don't think I've seen them before. What are you?
Sergent: We are all single gentlemen.
Ben: Yes, I gathered that. Anything else?
Sergent: NO. Nothing else.
Luke: Ben, don't believe them. They are Stormtroopers. The famous Stormtroopers of Penzance.
Ben: The Stormtroopers of Penzance?! I have often heard of them.

*Ben thinks*

Ben: [Force persuade] Do you mean to tell me you intend to deprive me of these, my sole props of my declining years, and leave me helpless, unbefriended, and alone?
Sergent: [Failure:] Yes, that's the idea.

*Ben gets a bit more desperate*

Ben: [Force persuade] Tell me. Have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?
Stormtrooper Privates: [Success:] OH! DASH IT ALL!
Sergent: [Success] Here we are again.
Ben: [Force persuade] Have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?
*Luke looks around curiously*
Sergent: [Success:] Often.
Ben: [Force persuade] Yes. Orphan. I say, have you ever known what it is to be one?
Sergent: [Failed:] I say 'often'.
Privates: [Also failed:] Often! Often! OFTEN!
Ben: Er, ah, when you say [phonetically] 'often', do you mean orphan: a child who has lost its parents, or often: um, frequently?
Sergent: Eh, Oh! Ho ho! I see what you mean! Often: frequently.
Ben: Ah, hah, you said often: frequently.
Sergent: NO! Only once.
Ben: [force persuade] Exactly. You said often: frequently only once.
Sergent: [Success:] We said often: frequently only once.

*The Sergent, thoroughly confused, waves Luke past.*

weatherc
2008-Mar-31, 04:22 PM
Hmmm, I recall Asimov saying that he stumbled on the idea of doing the fall of a galactic empire from Gibson's History of the Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire, with some help from his editor John Campbell, not from random association with Gilbert and Sullivan.I seem to remember the same thing as you from my reading of the introduction to the Foundation series. I don't think he mentioned Gilbert and Sullivan at all in that introduction.

Jim
2008-Mar-31, 04:45 PM
The Asimov quote in the OP is from here:
http://www.pannis.com/SFDG/TheFoundationTrilogy/theStoryBehindTheFoundation.html
He does mention Gibbon in the next paragraph.

Swift
2008-Mar-31, 05:18 PM
It is amazing what one can find on the Internet...
The G&S Version of Star Wars (http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/newsletters/precious_nonsense/star_wars)

("I Am the Captain of the Pinafore"/Pinafore)

Tarkin: I am commander of the Death Star!
Stormtrooper Chorus: And a mighty fine commander, too!
Tarkin: You're very, very good,
And be it understood,
I command a right good crew.
Chorus: We're very, very good,
And be it understood,
He commands a right good crew.
Tarkin: Though I really do abhor
Her cause, the Senator
Will I treat most gallantly;
I have never used a whip
Or torture on this trip
And would never treat her cruelly!
Chorus: What, never?
Tarkin: No, never!
Chorus: What, never?
Tarkin: Hardly ever!
Chorus: Hardly ever treat her cruelly!
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more,
For the kind commander of the great Death Star!
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more,
For commander of the great Death Star!

weatherc
2008-Mar-31, 05:28 PM
The Asimov quote in the OP is from here:
http://www.pannis.com/SFDG/TheFoundationTrilogy/theStoryBehindTheFoundation.html
He does mention Gibbon in the next paragraph.Ah. Good to know. Funny I didn't remember the Gilbert and Sullivan bit at all. It has been about 20 years since I had read that story about the writing of Foundation, though.

KaiYeves
2008-Apr-01, 12:33 AM
In The Cinema of George Lucas, the influences stated are The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell, but not Asimov.

Jim
2008-Apr-01, 02:26 AM
Asimov.

Lucas also claimed that the Third Reich was an inspiration. I'm sure there were several for different aspects of the whole story.

But, the parallels between Asimov's empire and Lucas' are there.
> A truly galaxy-wide empire.
> The capital of the empire (Trantor/Coruscant) is a planet with a single, all-encompassing city.
> The hope to reclaim the past greatness springs from one planet (Terminus/Tatooine).
> There is a small group of "specialists" dedicated to that reclamation (Foundation/Jedi Knights).
> That small group uses a little-understood "system" or "power" to achieve their goals (psychohistory/The Force).

(deleted reference to wrong Campbell)

Here's a good article on the subject:
http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/movies/feature/2002/04/10/lucas/

mike alexander
2008-Apr-01, 03:38 AM
One big difference was that Asimov made no nonhumans in his Empire. Basically, he was getting around John Campbell's (teeny-tiny) biases. To paraphrase Flanders and Swan:

The humans
The humans
The humans are best!
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest!

agingjb
2008-Apr-01, 03:58 AM
Gilbert's observation that everyone is either a little liberal or else a little conservative may have been an early step in the science of psychohistory.

Jim
2008-Apr-01, 01:00 PM
I have a suspicion that G&S played a role in at least one story in the Foundation series.

(Spoiler)

The Emperor sends a representative to Terminus. He tours the planet, making several public speeches that seem to indicate the Emperor's undying support for the Foundation's efforts.

However, one scientist has been parsing the speeches, dissecting each phrase, looking for the true meaning of what the representative has been saying.

After several weeks and numerous speeches, the results are... nothing. Everything he said was negated by something else he said.

Now, if that's not the plot to a G&S opera...