Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Life in Fandom: Star Wars, Aesthetics, & Characterization

Ruger Mk.IV Target ModelRecently, Ruger released the Mk.IV version of its long-running line of dedicated rimfire semi-automatic pistols. It occurred to me that this would be a good real-world referent for a Star Wars blaster pistol, so I sketched out some notes for one based on the Mk.IV Target.

While I did this little bit of world-building, resulting in the SRP-M4 blaster pistol, I ended up creating a few characters (one of whom uses the SRP-M4 as his sidearm) and sketching out an outline for a couple of stories. All of this was just me engaging in a little Star Wars fannish fun, and then it hit me that I should take a look at Wookiepedia to see if someone making the movies is already on my wavelength.

A180 Blaster PistolWell, someone on the team for Rogue One already thought much as I did, and put together this pistol for use by Jyn Urso. (Note: That Luger frame is a 3D-printed replica; no real Lugers were harmed in making this prop.)

The official designation is the BlasTech Industries A180 blaster pistol. I cannot believe that I didn't notice the aesthetics when I saw the film a few weeks ago. I knew Jyn swiped a pistol from the Yavin IV base, but I paid no mind to it even when she used it.

It's a bit of synchronicity, really. The other end comes from a thread at the RPG Site and why it was a mistake to not give the appearance of gear its full due in creating fictional settings, be it for gaming or literature. The character I had in mind for the SRP-M4 was a man based on the Amateur Historian character template found in West End's Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game, with a fondness for history and art- and becoming the Rebellion's counterpart to Grand Admiral Thrawn over time.

One's sense of aesthetics, and revealed preference for acting on that sense, is a nice way to use visual shorthand for characterization ends- be it for a specific character or for that of a group. (It's why uniforms are, and have always been, a thing in the real world; of course a fictional would do the same, explicitly or not.) Be it for fun at home, or for professional work, don't neglect this dimension; it's efficiency is too useful to dismiss in getting others to grok your man, your group, whatever, at a glance or in a word- it's practical symbolism, the sort used every day to sell us everything from food to ideology. Ignore at your peril.

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