Star Wars Architects

(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters, planets and objects of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

Last week’s column dived deep into the mysterious moon of Jedha and all the secrets it could be hiding. But there was also a quick aside about “all-knowing ancient aliens” just begging for their own moment in the twin suns. And since I have precisely no-chill when it comes to the most ancient xenoarchaeology and mythological aspects of the Star Wars lore, that moment is now. It’s time for Lucasfilm to really commit to bringing back The Architects.  

WHO ARE THEY?

Nobody knows. Like all good precursor races of incalculable power, The Architects left little trace of themselves. What hints do remain paint a picture of a species so far beyond the comprehension of the sentient mind that they become indistinguishable from gods. Over the decades’ in-universe scientists given The Architects credit for everything from the creation of solar systems and the seeding of planets with life to any and all unexplainable phenomena in the galaxy. 

However, their appearance and culture are lost to the ages. Speculation runs rampant as to the purpose of The Architects meddling with the fabric of space itself and why they mysteriously vanished from the galaxy without a trace. Yet the history is so ancient, the likelihood of unraveling The Architect mysteries is slim.

WHEN WERE THEY INTRODUCED?

First mentioned way back as unnamed precursors in Ambush a Correllia by Roger MacBride Allen in 1995, The Architects, also known as the Celestials, enjoyed a robust series of cameos in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Traces of their technology popped up pretty regularly. Then in 2009, Aaron Allston’s Fate of the Jedi trilogy tied the threads together. Versions of The Architects even appeared as the Father, Daughter, and Son in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Mortis arc. Then Disney wiped away the convoluted EU to start fresh and it became unclear if The Architects — like midichlorians — would be swept under the rug.

Fortunately, in 2018 Lucasfilm cracked the lore door open just a smidge with the release of two titles. In the comic Lando – Double or Nothing, Part II, Calrissian mentioned “Celestials” in passing. In another Lando story, a junior novel called Lando’s Luck The Architects are brought up. Tenuous threads to the new canon, but that’s enough.

WHAT MAKES THEM SO FASCINATING?

Have you ever heard of Gobekli Tepe? It’s an archaeological site in Turkey that upended the entire historical record of the rise of human civilization, pushing it back by 6,000 years. The Architects do that kind of historical upending for the Star Wars universe. Their mere existence throws into question everything, including the galaxy’s relationship to the Force.

The most important thing to know about The Architects is the scale of their designs. They weren’t terraforming planets; they were terraforming the galaxy. In-universe scientists from all fields have found at least seventeen star systems that defy the laws of nature. One of those systems was Corellia, home of Han Solo. It was also the location of Centerpoint Station, an Architect structure designed to move planets, and even black holes, through hyperspace. There have even been hints they had the technology to manipulate dark matter to instantly transport using sub-hyperspace. Remember that, we’ll be coming back to it in the next section. 

As if that weren’t enough, back in 2013 Jason Fry released the Lucasfilm-approved story of the “Celestials” on StarWars.com. Originally meant as the intro for Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare, it showed the Empire’s growing interest in the power to move — or destroy — planets. Cut from the final release for pacing, the lore was still considered canon at the time and included some interesting story hooks. 

Which brings us to the concept of “Wild Space.” If you look at any official map of the Star Wars galaxy, you’ll notice it is very lopsided. For the most part, civilization is on the eastern side of the map. West of the Core is sparsely populated. It’s also full of Force-sensitive planets, but that’s a story for another column. The Architects are most likely responsible for the uneven distribution of the population. Before the EU was wiped, hyperspace anomalies made it dangerous and difficult to navigate west of the Deep Core. As explained by Jason Fry, it appeared the “Celestials” had the technological capabilities to put a bubble of energy around the galaxy as a defensive measure. It was theorized the anomalies were all that remained of this massive undertaking. 

The Architects were not benevolent builders. They enslaved sentient races such as the Gree, Kwa, and Killiks. Other species were so terrified after First Contact with these “Celestials” that they took extreme measures to avoid them. One culture deliberately regressed themselves intellectually to be less appealing while others simply decided space travel wasn’t worth the effort. They weren’t wrong to be terrified. Discovered structures built by The Architects include two planet-sized diamonds that were once cores of gas giants mined to extinction, the shards of a shell that once completely encased a star, and a sun surrounded by a massive clockwork ring. 

WHAT STORIES COULD LUCASFILM TELL?

Remember how I told you to remember about sub-hyperspace. Here’s why. Star Wars has already used a reverse-engineered version of this technology in The Force Awakens. Starkiller Base is able to take out an entire system from halfway across the galaxy using sub-hyperspace. Instead of traveling over space like a highway, they simply punched a hole through the fabric of space/time. It’s entirely possible Starkiller Base wasn’t built by the First Order, but simply found a “Celestial” artifact out in Wild Space. 

Harkening back to the hyperspace anomalies, potential canon versions of these have popped up twice: once in Star Wars Rebels and one in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The former occurs when the crew travel through an imploded star cluster to reach the lost Lasat homeworld of Lira San. In Solo, it would be easy enough to say the gravity well at the center of The Maw is a malfunctioning piece of The Architects’ technology, causing the unending storm around Kessel (which also housed “Celestial” structures in the EU). Any story set in Wild Space would be ripe for stumbling upon dangerously ancient technology.

Lucasfilm could also just go full Mass Effect / The Mummy / Call of Cthulhu and base an entire series around archaeologists discovering things they would have been better off leaving alone. Just get super weird with it. Could be fun.

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