Why Star Wars is Important To Me As An Abuse Survivor

By Derek Newman-Stille

I am a child abuse survivor. My biological father beat me throughout my life until my mother, sister, and I were able to escape when I was 15. This may not seem to be related to Star Wars… but it is.

As a child, I read about abuse to try to understand what was happening to me. All of the work that I read suggested that there was a cycle of abuse and that I would inevitably become abusive, just like my biological father.

Star Wars deals with cycles. It is a story about cycles and about breaking cycles and resisting inevitability. This mattered to me as a child, as a youth, and still matters to me. Star Wars offered a glimpse at the potential to break a cycle. It offered a glimpse into possibilities of redemption and resistance. It showed an evil father figure who was able to be redeemed and resist hatred. It showed a son figure who was able to resist becoming what his father was, a son who was able to push back against anger and hatred and become his own person, become something good instead of succumbing to the inevitability of hatred.

Science fiction doesn’t just exist as entertainment and escape. It exists as a way of teaching us lessons through stories. When we think that a future is inevitable, science fiction offers the reminder that the future is a story being told, that it is flexible, and that it is changeable. Science Fiction offers the idea that there are multiple futures out there and that the future can be written, unwritten, and rewritten.

It’s why Sci Fi has been so important to me. It offered a way out. A possibility for a future that wasn’t inevitable, but instead could be changed. This is an important message for someone who is being abused, and an essential reminder for those who are continuing to deal with the repercussions of being abused.


Written by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Putting Monsters on the Map

A review of Kate Story’s “Equus” in Clockwork Canada: Steampunk Fiction, edited by Dominik Parisien (Exile Editions, 2016)By Derek Newman-Stille


Fairy tale collides with steampunk in Kate Story’s “Equus”, where the past and ideas of futurity collide to create an uncertain present. Story narrates the experiences of Sir Sanford Fleming, an inventor known for proposing standard time zones and for his work on surveying and mapping. He is a historical figure who already brings to the narrative a sense of time and landscape, embodying these symbolic media through his own inventions. For Story, he became the perfect character to adapt to her tale, which is fundamentally one about the way that time plays out on a landscape and the way that maps and standardized time zones seek to standardise and explain a world that resists understanding. 

Story explores the power of the relationship between maps and margins and the idea that the more we try to chart and explore things – the more we attempt to rationalize them – the more the irrational reminds us of its existence. While Sanford Fleming is employing a new machine to survey Canada and establish barriers and territories, he is repeatedly haunted by his own past, the life he led before he came to Canada, and spirits of the world that defy the simple cartography applied to our world. History and ideas of progress come into conflict as characters begin to realise that the spreading of railways and communication technology are binding the land, forever changing it by adding elements of the human to natural landscapes. Fleming is forced to face the question of whether there is a price for progress and whether all change can be defined as progress. 

To discover more about the work of Kate Story, visit her website at http://www.katestory.com
To find out more about Clockwork Canada, visit Exile’s website at http://www.exileeditions.com/singleorders2016/clockwork.html
And Dominik Parisien’s website at https://dominikparisien.wordpress.com/clockwork-canada-anthology