I know I've mentioned it often enough: as a kid, the two competing influences over my science fictional imaginations were Star Trek and Star Wars. And while I think that Star Trek is almost certainly my true love, there's no question that my love for Star Wars runs pretty deep too. I also know that many people don't consider Star Wars to be "science fiction" and I'm sympathetic to that kind of nitpicking (being an inveterate nitpicker myself), but, in this case, I can only say that, as a young man, such precision didn't mean much to me. If it took place in outer space and had starships and laser guns, it was science fiction, no matter how little science was actually involved in its plot.
Looking back on my youth now, I think the time when I enjoyed Star Wars the most was between the release of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back. This was the era before one could really talk about a Star Wars "universe" in any meaningful way, let alone a Star Wars "saga." Beyond what we saw in the film, we mostly had Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the Han Solo novels by Brian Daley, and the Marvel Comics series. These were the days when Star Wars was subtitled "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker," the implication being that the movie was just the beginning of Luke's adventures as a Jedi in training in big, space operatic universe.
Now, I won't make any claim that, for example, everything in the Marvel comics from that era was pure gold. Like most such things, a lot of it was terrible hackwork of the lowest sort. Even as a kid, I could recognize that a green anthropomorphic rabbit man was pretty stupid. But, even so, there was a sense of reckless abandon, an openness to possibility that was nevertheless quite enthralling. Star Wars, the movie, was just a launching point for all manner of wild and woolly space fantasies, rather than the start of an epic storyline that would, ironically, turn its villain into its protagonist, with Luke, the farm boy turned galactic hero, reduced almost to a footnote in an overwrought tale of a petulant brat's unearned redemption.
Maybe I'm too harsh. There is a lot to recommend about the overall "saga" of Star Wars, but, looking back on it, I won't deny feeling a lot of nostalgia about those heady days between 1977 and 1980 when, literally, anything could have happened to Luke Skywalker and his friends. I suspect it was then that I developed my lifelong love for over-the-top sci-fi, with gigantic spaceships, interplanetary wars, and larger-than-life heroes and villains. Reading those Marvel comics back then, I found myself imagining all sorts of adventures in that galaxy far, far away, adventures that subsequent development of the setting and characters has rendered impossible, in the singular drive to make it all about Anakin Skywalker and his mommy issues.
One of these days someone needs to tap into the same well of great ideas as George Lucas and give us a new space fantasy that doesn't eventually succumb to its own success. A guy can dream, can't he?