I used to think that only Jedi were Force sensitive. I guess I thought of the Force as something with an ON/OFF switch. You were either a one or a zero—sensitive or not. Jedi/Sith or mundane. End of story.
When I began to immerse myself in the culture of Star Wars, I realized that there was a lot more to it than that. Since the Force is something elemental that flows through everything, it also flows through all sentients and a person’s potential for it, was measurable in midichlorians. This took the Force from the realm of magic into the realm of science.
We found out, for example, that one needed to have a certain level of midichlorians in the blood to be able to be considered for training as a Jedi—or to be chosen for it. This led to the exploration of some particularly emotional consequences, which we see first in The Phantom Menace when Qui Gon Jin removes Anakin Skywalker from his mother’s care with unforeseen results.
Michael Reaves found the consequences of midichlorians fascinating enough to base six novels on them. In Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, we watch the protagonist, Lorn Pavan, struggle with the results of his son Jax having an abundance of those precious little lifeforms. When he loses the two-year-old Jax to the Jedi Academy, his entire family unravels. He loses his wife as well and develops a deep distrust of the Jedi while his son becomes a Jedi Knight.
Later, in the Coruscant Nights series, we see the effects on Haninum Tyk Rhinann, Darth Vader’s Elomin underling, of not having a enough of the right stuff to give him Force abilities. This lack, and his inability to feel like anything more in Vader’s presence than a muggle (if I may borrow from another fictional universe), rises to the level of an obsession and drives the poor dear to distraction.
But while any sentient might have a bit of talent—enabling them to sense moods or predict reactions in battle—there are certain species of aliens (I prefer to think of them as “other races of men”— orms, for short) that are more sensitive to the Force. Take Nautolans, for example. An amphibious race, the Nautolans are Force-endowed enough to sense the emotions of other beings. This works best for them underwater, but it does work on dry land (or in space). Which poses some interesting scenarios for a writer in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. There was at least one great Jedi Master from the Nautolan race, according to the lore. That was Kit Fisto, who was a rebel general during the Clone Wars and a member of the Jedi High Council.
Togrutans are also said to possess a natural Force connection, and feel it most profoundly when they are in contact with the surface of a planet. For this reason they prefer to go barefoot when dirtside. There’s potential for some psychological exploration there—what happens to Togrutans who live for extended periods in space? Do they carry containers of dirt from the homeworld around with them? Then there are the Witches of Dathomir, who are on the books as natural Force sensitives, though no Jedi has ever come from their ranks … that I know of…hmmm.
Every once in a while, too, individuals of mysterious origin arise in possession of some Force ability. The assassin Aurra Sing comes to mind. Sing was half human, but what the other half was has never, to my knowledge, been revealed. (Note to self: Look into that, would’ya?)
Terra incognita is a favorite playground for writers. Writing Kajin Savaros for Patterns of Force was a challenge, because in him we (and our characters) were dealing with a completely unknown quantity: a child with extreme Force ability that had lain dormant until puberty—then exploded. In a way, he was the flip side of Rhinann. The Elomin was consumed by desire for the Force, the young human consumed by the Force itself, with no idea of how to channel it. Kajin rather exemplified Master Yoda’s ironic question: “Judge me by my size, do you?”
While it’s fun to write about characters who can leap tall buildings in a single bound and dance on the head of a pin, doing so raises some unique challenges for a writer. Which I plan to chat about in my next blog.
Next time: Challenges in writing when the Force is with you.
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