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Fiction vs. Non-Fiction
The Blurred Line Between Fantasy and Reality in Star Wars

By Kat
Staff Writer

July 4, 2009

If I told you that right now I was going to sit down a write a biography of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, would you say that my biography is fiction or non-fiction?

My research about him would be meticulous. I would chronicle his life by pouring through as many primary sources as possible (i.e. the Star Wars movies, comics, books, etc). I would use proper citations and provide a bibliography at the end. For example, Anakin (or Darth Vader) dueled Ob-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. Within the Star Wars galaxy, this is a fact. If I could interview Obi-Wan Kenobi, he would verify it. So, within the Star Wars galaxy my Darth Vader biography would be seen as fact and therefore non-fiction. But what about back on Earth in the 21st century? Star Wars provides fictional worlds, characters, and events so anything written about these fictional, worlds, characters, and events is arguably inherently fictional.

It gets easier to distinguish the difference between fiction and non-fiction when any analysis is involved in the paper. Let's say instead of writing a biography, I chose to write an essay about Anakin Skywalker instead of a biography (I actually have written a couple essays about Anakin). In one essay I argue that by turning to the dark side, Anakin Skywalker fulfilled his prophesy of bringing balance to The Force. In this case, I have withdrawn myself from the fictional Star Wars galaxy. I make my argument about the character as an outsider looking into the galaxy. I use my own insight and observations in order to draw some kind of conclusion, which makes the essay non-fiction.

What about those cool Star Wars Visual Dictionaries, Incredible Cross-Sections and Essential Guides? How are those categorized? I often see those books listed on websites where they are classified as "nonfiction." Some sites dodge the fiction and non-fiction labels altogether and simply file the books in noncommittal "Reference" section. I decided to click on three different Essential Guides listings on to find out what Amazon listed them as. I ended up getting three different categorizations. The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology was selling well in the "Genre Films" and "Directories" categories. The New Essential Chronology to Star Wars was popular in "Guides & Reviews." The New Essential Guide to Alien Species gave me my favorite result of "History and Criticism."

So are the Star Wars Visual Dictionaries, Incredible Cross-Sections and Essential Guides fiction or non-fiction? What do you think and why? Go to Contact Us page and let us know.

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