Samuel Delany's 1977 Star Wars review: why is the future so damned white and male?

Samuel Delany (previously) is one of science fiction's titans, a pioneer who was the first openly gay writer in the field, as well as one of the first Black science fiction writers to attain prominence.

In 1977, Delany saw a press preview of Star Wars on assignment for Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy; Delany's assessment of what made the film so tremendous contains shrewd observations about the many ways in which Lucas stitched together different filmmaking techniques and homages to film classics to create a sense of unreal reality that was both gritty and grand — "worlds that look big enough to be worlds."

Delany notes that not all of the pulp homage in Star Wars holds up: "turbo-blasters" and "Kessel run in under three parsecs" and so on. But he reserves his sharpest criticism for the movie's treatment of people of color and women: "In Lucas's future, the black race and yellow race have apparently died out and a sort of mid-Western American (with a few South Westerners who seem to specialize in being war ship pilots) has taken over the universe. By and large, women have also been bred out of the human race, and, save for the odd gutsy princess or the isolated and cowed aunt, humanity seems to be breeding quite nicely without them."

Delany wants to know how Lucas finds it easier to imagine a future filled with cool alien muppets, but not people of color?

In a bit of foreshadowing for future Disney Star Wars installments, Delany muses: "wouldn't that future have been more interesting if, say, three-quarters of the rebel pilots just happened to be Oriental women — rather than the guys who didn't make it onto the Minnesota Ag football team. It would even be more interesting to the guys at Minnesota Ag. This is science fiction, after all."

Star Wars: A Consideration of the Great New SF Film [Samuel Delany/Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy]