Greetings, all. I've just started tearing through Choices of One by Mr. Zahn himself, so anticipate a review soon, and anticipate a good one.
I've been working every day since my last post (which I finished at work), so this week is a little lighter. Also, my pool of questions is rather low, but that's alright, because this is where you come in.
Send me your questions, comments, concerns about SW at email@example.com, and there's a really good chance you'll see it here soon. This column is a two way street--if you want me to answer, you need to question!
Now, to your pressing questions:
Nate S. asks:
"How many species are there? How is it possible to have so many forms of sentient life so close together? Was there one original sentient species that set into motion all the others?"
Off the top of my head, I can tell you that there are millions of known sentient species in SW, and for every two known there's probably a third unknown[1. This is a very rough estimation, of course.]. According to Wookieepedia, there are 20 million known sentient species.
This article actually starts with a quote which I think helps the credibility of so many sentient species existing:
"In our efforts, we have learned that life is not rare. Rather, given a chance, life will occur. It is tenacious, aggressive—it seems to crave existence."
-Tem Eliss, sentiologist
Star Wars is probably most accurate defined as a science fantasy: that is, it has fantasy elements--the Force itself--and science fiction elements--space ships, light sabers, etc. But even though the Force is a particularly fantastic element, especially in the original trilogy, it was explained and explained again as other science fiction writers picked up the torch and kept running, always looking to explain how everything worked.
Lucas himself fed that when he introduced the idea of midichlorians, still a hotly debated topic[2. In some circles, anyway. I suppose you don't see many fights breaking out in the street about it.], which put the most measurable and scientific angle on it to date. And if we accept that this universe has an energy field which has a "will[3. I believe it was Qui-Gon Jin who once said, (and I'm paraphrasing) 'We say that we follow the will of the Force, but saying the Force wills us to do something is like a person ignorant of gravity saying the river flows to the ocean because it is the will of the river.']" This energy field is produced by life, and some argue creates it. So if we operate in a universe that has the Force, we operate in a universe particularly receptive to life and its development.
This, I think, answers the second part of the question. The last question I think may be the most interesting part.
I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe one sentient species created all the rest. There is far too much galaxy, far too many species. However, there certainly was one species, extinct before the formation of the Republic, more advanced in technology that the best tech of the Legacy era, which definitely had a hand in shaping the galaxy in a way they saw fit.
This race is known as the Celestials in Star Wars lore, and they did a whole bunch of really cool things then disappeared before anyone could ask them about it[4. On their Wookieepedia page you can actually read about a whole crapload of stuff they did, though they still are kind of mysterious in their dissapearance overall, as well as thier motives.]. Among these awesome exploits, they artificially created the Corellian system, which has five plants that all sustain life and three sentient species, Drall, Selonian, and Human living among them.
Two of the planets, Talus and Tralus, are locked in mutual orbit of each other, around a giant space station called Centerpoint Station, which sits in a Lagrangian point of the two planets, directly between them. Centerpoint dwarfed the first Death Star, and was actually a tool which was probably used to transport most if not all of the planets around Corell into their positions by sucking the planets from the stars they had been orbiting through hyperspace and depositing them around the star.
The Celestials are really mysterious, and they may or may not have had hand in creating species, though they likely could if they had wanted to.
There you have my short post for this week. I'll see you next time, and until then,
May the Force be with you, -Michael DiTommaso, the Star Wars Geek