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February 10, 2011

Tree people

Compare and contrast two forms of ethnography, one science fantasy and the other science fiction. It is anyone's guess which is which.

Not Endor: The Korowai, also called the Kolufo, are a people of southeastern Papua. Photos by George Steinmetz.

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Endor: Opinions are mixed as to whether the Ewoks regarded their own species as food animals. The Korowai, not so much.

In 2006, the television show 60 Minutes claimed that when someone in Korowai society is convicted of being a khakhua (secret witch doctor he or she is tried, and if convicted he or she is tortured, executed, and eaten.

Nobody appreciates the word "cannibal" around these parts but when you find yourself being eyed up alongside the sweet potato it is time to politely but firmly excuse yourself from the table.

By extension: Why were the Ewoks armed with those traps and weapons like the catapult?

I would have thought the answer was obvious: Ewoks use their war machines on other Ewoks. You don't just develop a tradition of religious cannibalism overnight. The political landscape of Endor was no doubt an endless series of brutal tribal wars over status and resources.

The fact that the Empire stumbled on the Ewoks at the dawn of their civilization is an accident of history. Ewoks were obviously vastly more competent and intelligent than any other species in the Star Wars universe. They had no ability to smelt metals, yet they still developed complex war machinery and glider flight.

Supposedly the Empire had subjugated and enslaved the arboreal Wookie race. Yet they were not able to do the same to the Ewoks. Why? Because Ewoks were simply smarter. When the Empire were finally forced to go up against them, it was a massacre. Lasers and armored vehicles were unable to cope with the Ewoks' deadly tactical genius.

On their own planet, Ewoks were kept in check by their constant intertribal struggles. Yet these same battles honed them to a vicious edge unparalleled in Galactic history. If even one Ewok were ever to escape from Endor, it would be all over for the rest of civilization. Ewoks with spaceflight capacity would lead inevitably to a tyranny that would make the Empire pale by comparison.

Best nuke them from orbit. You know why.

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Here's a thought: "I was wondering if the Ewoks ate the stormtroopers in Return of the Jedi."

Plenty for everybody!

By contrast: The Endor Holocaust.

What happens when you detonate a spherical metal honeycomb over five hundred miles wide just above the atmosphere of a habitable world? Regardless of specifics, the world won't remain habitable for long.

Technical report at the link.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 10, 2011 07:28 AM