Cyberspace: Newark Copyshop

The transition from Beijing to the Newark copyshop is more involved. After he travels around a bit, he realizes he needs to be looking back in Newark. He “rewinds” using a pull gesture and sees the copyshop’s pyramid. First there is a predominantly blue window that unfolds as if it were paper.

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And then the copyshop initial window expands. Like the Beijing hotel, this is a floor plan view, but unlike the hotel it stays two dimensional. It appears that cyberspace works like the current world wide web, with individual servers for each location that can choose what appearance to present to visitors.

Johnny again selects data records, but not with a voice command. The first transition is a window that not only expands but spins as it does so, and makes a strange jump at the end from the centre to the upper left.

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Once again Johnny uses the two-handed expansion gesture to see the table view of the records. Continue reading

Escape door

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There is one last interface in The Faithful Wookiee we see in use. It’s one of those small interfaces, barely seen, but that invites lots of consideration. In the story, Boba and Chewie have returned to the Falcon and administered to Luke and Han the cure to the talisman virus. Relieved, Luke (who assigns loyalty like a puppy at a preschool) says,

“Boba, you’re a hero and a faithful friend. [He isn’t. —Editor] You must come back with us. [He won’t.What’s the matter with R2?”

C3PO says,“I’m afraid sir, it’s because you said Boba is a faithful friend and faithful ally. [He didn’t.] That simply does not feed properly into R2’s information banks.”

Luke asks, “What are you talking about?”

“We intercepted a message between Boba and Darth Vader, sir. Boba Fett is Darth Vader’s right-hand man. I’m afraid this whole adventure has been an Imperial plot.”

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Luke did not see this coming.

Luke gapes towards Boba, who has his blaster drawn and is backing up into an alcove with an escape hatch. Boba glances at a box on the wall, slides some control sideways, and a hatch opens in the ceiling. He says, deadpan, “We’ll meet again…friend,” before touching some control on his belt that sends him flying into the clear green sky, leaving behind a trail of smoke.

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A failure of door

Let’s all keep in mind that the Falcon isn’t a boat or a car. It is a spaceship. On the other side of the hatch could be breathable air at the same pressure as what’s inside the ship, or it could also be…

  • The bone-cracking 2.7° Kelvin emptiness of space
  • The physics-defying vortex of hyperspace
  • Some poisonous atmosphere like Venus’, complete with sulfuric acid clouds
  • A hungry flock of neebrays.

There should be no easy way to open any of its external doors.

Think of an airplane hatch. On the other side of that thing is an atmosphere known to support human life, and it sure as hell doesn’t open like a gen-1 iPhone. For safety, it should take some doing.

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If we’re being generous, maybe there’s some mode by which each door can be marked as “safe” and thereby made this easy to open. But that raises issues of security and authorizations and workflow that probably aren’t worth going into without a full redesign and inserting some new technological concepts into the diegesis.

Let’s also not forget that to secure that most precious of human biological needs, i.e. air, there should be an airlock, where the outer door and inner door can’t be opened at the same time without extensive override. But that’s not a hindrance. It could have made for an awesome moment.

  • LUKE gapes at Boba. Cut to HAN.
  • HAN
  • You won’t get any information out of us, alive or dead. Even the droids are programmed to self-destruct. But there’s a way out for you.
  • HAN lowers his hand to a panel, and presses a few buttons. An escape hatch opens behind Boba Fett.
  • BOBA FETT
  • We’ll meet again…friend.

That quick change might have helped explain why Boba didn’t just kill everyone and steal the Falcon and the droids (along with their information banks) then and there.

Security is often sacrificed to keep narrative flowing, so I get why makers are tempted to bypass these issues. But it’s also worth mentioning two other failures that this 58-second scene illustrates.

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A failure to droid

Why the hell did C3PO and R2D2 wait to tell Luke and Han of this betrayal until Luke happened to say something that didn’t fit into “information banks?” C3PO could have made up some bullshit excuse to pull Luke aside and whisper the news. But no, he waits, maybe letting Luke and Han spill vital information about the Rebellion, and only when something doesn’t compute, blurt out that the only guy in the room with the blaster happens to be in bed with Space Voldemort.

I can’t apologize for this. It’s a failure of writing and an unimaginative mental model. If you are a writer wondering how droids would behave, think of them less as stoic gurus and more as active academies.

A failure of plot

Worse, given that C3PO says this is all an Imperial plot, we’re meant to understand that in an attempt to discover the Rebel base, the Empire…

  • Successfully routed rumors of a mystical talisman, which the Empire was just about to find, to the Rebels in a way they would trust it
  • Actually created a talisman
  • Were right on their long shot bet that the Rebels would bite at the lure
  • Bioengineered a virus that
    • Caused a sleeping sickness that only affects humans
    • Survived on the talisman indefinitely
  • Somehow protected Boba Fett from the virus even though he is human
  • Planted a cure for the virus on a planet near to where Han and Chewie would find the talisman
  • Successfully routed the location of the cure to Chewbacca so he would know where to go
  • Got Boba Fett—riding an ichthyodont—within minutes, to the exact site on the planet where Chewie would crash-land the Falcon.

Because without any of these points, the plan would not have worked. Yet despite the massive logistics, technological, and scientific effort, this same Empire had to be stupid enough to…

  • Bother to interrupt the mission in progress to say that the mission was on track
  • Use insecure, unencrypted, public channels to for this report

Also note that despite all this effort (and buffoonery) they never, ever used this insanely effective bioweapon against the Rebels, again.


I know, you’re probably thinking this is just some kid’s cartoon in the Star Wars diegesis, but that only raises more problems, which I’ll address in the final post on this crazy movie within a crazy movie.

New You Selector

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In addition to easy sex and drugs, citizens of Dome City who are either unhappy or even just bored with the way they look can stop by one of the New You salons for a fast, easy cosmetic alternation.

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At the salon we get a glimpse of an interface a woman is using to select new facial features. She sits glancing down at a small screen on which she sees an image of her own face. A row of five unlabeled, gray buttons are mounted on the lower bevel of the screen. A black circle to the right of the screen seems to be a camera. She hears a soft male voice advising, “I recommend a more detailed study of our projections. There are new suggestions for your consideration.

She presses the fourth button, and the strip of image that includes her chin slides to the right, replaced with another strip of image with the chin changed. Immediately afterwards, the middle strip of the image slides left, replaced with different cheekbones.

In another scene, she considers a different shape of cheekbones by pressing the second button. Continue reading

Slideaway bed

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When Korben stands up, his bed recognizes the change. In response it pulls the messy bed and linens away, where they will be “autowashed,” i.e. automatically sanitized, remade, and sealed in plastic (for bedbug protection?) A fresh bed rises up to replace the messy one as the bedframe slides into the wall.

This automated response might be frustrating if it presumed too much. Say, if Korben got up in the night to use the restroom and came back to find his bed missing, so you’d want it to be as context-aware as possible. And there’s evidence that it’s not too smart a system. Later in the film Cornelius hides in the bed and is nearly suffocated as it tries to autowash the bed with him in it, and wraps him in plastic. I get the comedy in the scene, but really, if it had the sensors to know when Korben was laying down in it, it should have a safety that prevents that very thing when a person is there.

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Korben does have manual controls. There are two panels of pushbuttons at waist height, about a meter apart on a sliver of wall above the bed recess. We don’t get great views of these panels, but we do see Korben using one of the buttons to hide General Munro and his cronies in the hideaway refrigerator. In the glimpses we get we can see that there are six buttons on each panel, each button labeled with a high-contrast icon. The leftmost button on each controls the bed. Pressing it when it’s hidden opens it. Pressing it when it’s open closes it and, as we saw before, starts the murderous autowash.

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All told it’s a pretty awesome system. The agentive part of getting up is handled seamlessly. The alarm has gone off, Korben’s up, and having the bed disappear saves space in the room and removes the temptation of Korben’s slinking back to bed and making himself late for work. And to summon the bed or hide it manually at some unusual time, Korben has understandable, accessible controls. The main down side is the lack of a safety or panic button, and the comparatively minor annoyance that Korben has to tear that plastic off every night even if he just wanted to pass out after a long day of saving the world.