Saw this on the Twitterers – 7 unanswered questions about lightsabers – and thought I’d take a stab (HA!) at answering all of it with just a few thoughts. Also, this contains *some* spoilers so if you’ve not seen TFA, don’t read.
NOTE – While I love Star Wars, I am far from deeply knowledgeable regarding the universe. Some of these questions may have already been answered in books that I’ve not read.
The main question revolves around the lightsaber itself.
- When did lightsabers become telepathic?
- Would you really want a vintage lightsaber?
- What’s up with Rey being so good with the lightsaber?
- Uh, what is a lightsaber exactly?
- If lightsabers are so cool, why aren’t hundreds of factories in the Star Wars Empire’s version of China mass-producing them?
Here’s where I bend over & pull things straight out of my ass.
A lightsaber, from everything I’ve ever read or seen, is basically what was written in the linked article
“an energy source centuries ahead of our own [to create] a plasma that flows in a tightly coiled ring harnessed by magnetic fields and maybe the Force.”
I think that last part is key to all the questions. A Jedi makes a lightsaber. It’s not something you can pick up at Yurdnol’s Lightsaber Emporium on Dantooine, because if you were to build a saber without being force-aware, you’d end up with a stick shaped blaster. The trick is getting the plasma to tightly coil and… well, stop.
Blasters, in the Star Wars world, seem to encase plasma in a magnetic field and send it out into the world. The real reason for the blasts moving at dodge-able speeds of course is that in the movies they wanted to be able to see them fly across the screen, so they had to be slower than light, so add in a magnetic vortex & plasma and let the hand waving commence.
Now, the Force is the Deux Ex Machina of the Star Wars universe. It’s magic, so there’s very little need to explain it. We are repeatedly told that it is a force that binds all living beings, however in various games & movies, we find that physical objects and places can be imbued with the Force. For example, Kyle Katarn regaining his force powers from the Valley of the Jedi in Jedi Knight II : Outcast or Luke visiting the cave that is strong with the dark side on Dagobah.
I would think that to create a system that a) could maintain plasma in a way useful as a saber and b) could be powered well enough would pull on the Force to make it so. It takes a Jedi, using the force to align very, very specific crystals to create the lightsaber. Once created, anyone can use it, but few would – this is a sword that is unforgiving of mistakes. Dismemberment would be the norm for someone not familiar with the Force, not to mention it’s relative uselessness as a weapon against a blaster when you’re not able to feel where a blast is going to come from (see Luke’s training in Ep. IV).
Because it requires the Force to construct as well as continual use of the Force to use, it makes sense that the object eventually becomes imbued and that other Force aware people could ostensibly have connections to it.
The age of the lightsaber is irrelevant here, insofar as the technology goes. Much like modern firearms are exactly the same concept as older firearms, just with newer materials (it’s a tube, sealed at one end, that holds enough pressure to fire a bullet). Being plasma, it can be reflected with non-lightsabers (see SW:KOTOR with saber resistant armor and TFA where Finn battles the Stormtrooper armed with the zap-stick thing), so I’d assume the hilts are made with a similar material.
As for Kylo Ren’s super-hilt, he uses it more as an offensive weapon than a defensive part, plus it looks cool in the movie.
And Rey’s innate understanding of how to use a lightsaber? Chalk it up to being very Force aware + the locked in memories of the device itself (and personally, I think Finn is a bit Force aware as he handles it pretty well too, although that could be his. Stormtrooper training too).