Some would call it the greatest rivalry in pop culture: Star Wars, that quasi-fantasy ‘Knights In Space’ versus evil ebony samurai tale; or Star Trek, cowboy diplomacy with pew-pew phaser guns and great sideburns.  Rodrigo says it’s a question of knights versus cowboys, Stephen a question of science fiction versus fantasy, but I have a different theory: It’s all about cool laser swords versus cool rayguns.  Indeed, I’ve always loved the design of the Type II phaser, even when I was a young lad, and have one carefully hidden (read: “misplaced”) in my Major Spoilers office right now, leading us to today’s photonic query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) likes both franchises most equally, but finds that the one-two punch of Avery Brooks and “Pew-pew-pew!” give phasers a slight edge, asking: Which would you rather carry: Phaser or Lightsaber?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Dan Langsdale on

    The lightsaber has more utility than a phaser — like making make-shift shelters out of tauntauns — while phasers are all about the “pew pew” and little else. So, just as I carry a pocket knife but not a handgun or taser, I’ll stick with the laser sword.


    • Phasers have been used to heat rocks for warmth in survival settings, to cut through sealed metal doors, AND (on overload) as a makeshift grenade. They’re more useful than one might suppose…

  2. Lightsaber for multiple reasons.

    First and foremost I’m always more interested in swords of any type than I am of handheld guns. That is not to say that I dislike guns or blasters, I just like swords better.

    Second, it is easier to conceal if needed. If nobody knows what it is (particularly if it is a custom hilt), they might simply assume it is a spare part of something or that it is merely a power source rather than a weapon.

    Third, more versatility both in and out of combat.

    And finally, assuming I’m building the lightsaber myself rather than just taking any old lightsaber, I have had a design in mind for the past 20+ years that is loosely inspired by a katana hilt. Over the years I have even figured what Star Wars universe materials I would use to construct the saber hilt, such as the guard being Beskar (Mandalorian Iron) which can be resistant to lightsaber damage when processed properly, and which crystal I would use.

  3. You may like either, both, or neither. You have free will, and the freedom to choose. Oh, wait…Only in Star Trek actually, where the Federation is good and you actually have rights. Let’s begin, shall we?

    Cellular phones…Obviously a communicator. Designed by a Star Trek fan who worked for Motorola. Ever notice that the Motorola symbol sort of looks like the Trek insignia? Transporter. We can actually transport a grain of sand across a lab. Costs I think it was like 410K or something ridiculous like that. But we CAN do it. PHASED energy…We’ve had lasers since before either franchise. As I have heard, science fiction becomes science FACT when it is in Star Trek, because the logic and reasoning behind the technologies is sound. Remember the cloning and stem cell stuff in the papers? Trek dealt with issues like this on Enterprise.

    Let’s move along…Star Wars has I would guess fifty to a hundred novels. That’s probably generous. Trek has almost 1000 I believe. Wars had a cartoon I believe. Trek did as well. Movies…Wars had what, seven or eight now? The first three from way back, the prequel three, and I thin the three after them all. So nine? Cool. Trek has twelve, with thirteen due out next year on the 50th anniversary. I will not argue about the more compelling stories or anything…Not yet…Here comes the big one. TELEVISION shows. Well, Pike had an episode. Then Kirk had three seasons. 79 episodes of like 50 minutes apiece. So 80 with Pike’s thrown in. Next Generation…Picard…Seven years. DS9…7 years. Voyager…7 years…Enterprise…4 years. Had enough? Let me know when Wars catches up to that. Oh, wait, that’s 28 freaking years! And yes, the series did overlap. Want to know something? That means more than one show AIRING new episodes on network television. I GUESS we have an audience and customer base. Ratings MUS have ben good. Money MUST have been made.

    I will be generous and say there are as many comic books for each side. I KNOW Trek has more, but I have no problem being lenient. In fact, I like Star Wars. Problem is, there is not ENOUGH of it. If I wanted to, how long would it take watching and reading all there is of Star Wars canon? Days? Weeks? Honestly don’t know, but let’s say a book and six comics a day. I KNOW I could bang out all the films in a day or so as well. Well, Trek would take YEARS. Lt’s just look at Next Generation, shall we? 176 episodes, about 44 minutes or so apiece. Can you watch ten hours of t straight a day? If so, That’s about 18 days. Not intimidated yet? Triple that. DS9 and Voyager had about same amount of shows. So like 50-something days. Oh wait, Enterprise was four years…Figure half of that, I am not looking the shows up…So like 65 or something days. Damn, forgot Kirk’s show…That was 79 episodes, so add that in too. Another sixty hours, another week. So like 70 or something days, ballpark. Doable.

    Wait, we need to read the novels. Can you read 400 pages a day? That’s about a book. What are there, 900 novels? Remember, they date back to the 1960s. CANNOT go by the shelves at Barnes and Noble…They have perhaps forty titles, and there’s a LOT out of print. Check out garage sales…Used bookstores…Craigslist…EBAY…But let’s say you have them all. You don’t, but pretend. A book a day. F it, two. I’m very generous. Gonna take you over two years at two books a day. Let’s assume you actually retain all the info as well, and don’t need to rewatch or reread anything. You have an eidetic memory, and are insanely intelligent. Basically already a Trek fan, to be honest. Well, as such you must understand the seer AMOUNT of information of Trek as opposed to Wars. But more is not always better, right? YES. I agree with you. But too much knowledge that you can choose to or not to use and read and watch gives you the CHOICE. Take as much or as little as you want or need from Trek. Most likely, there will always be more for you to get if you want more. What about Wars?

    I agreed about too much not always being a good thing. My irritation with Wars is beyond Roddenberry asking Lucas to not use STAR in his movie title, Lucas agreeing, and then doing it anyway. Been a LONG time. Problem is Toys R Us. Barbie has her own aisle. Transformers a chunk. My Little Pony a good chunk. Wars has what, half an aisle? A big chunk? Well, hunting for Trek stuff might yield five items. MIGHT. And now that Disney is with you, add 25% at LEAST to your merchandise. Hell, Disney has a STORE in the mall by me. You the F BET I am jealous! Sure I wanna play with lightsabers…And I can pick different COLORS? COOL! And I could and would, if I didn’t feel married to Trek. We suffer like the Red Sox fans did for years, the Cubbies fans now, watching the Yankees and Cardinals win every year.

    I can CHOOSE not to buy merchandise from either…But when there’s such a scarcity of Trek stuff, it’s a different feeling when you actually see it. One gallon of milk left on the shelf…Did she say to get milk on way home? You put it in cart, and walk around with it as you call her. If she say no, put it back. But if she says ye and you leave it on shelf, well, the lady behind you might take it and then you are out of luck. Okay, maybe not a lady with milk…She might need to get it for her small kids at home. As a Trekkie, we care about the mommy in that situation. But daddy? Kill the twins.

    Seriously, I am jealous of Wars. A LOT of stuff, but little in way of stuff to watch, read, and build storylines. Smaller universe to be honest. Trek? Reverse that. Insane amount of material, and toys are scarce, expensive, there’s a LOT of stuff you can only get on EBay, ad it is honestly a slap in the face in the store looking for Trek. But I really would rather have it this way than reversed. I happen to like to read, can actually watch a bunch of tv straight through, and it makes me treasure my toys more. Plus, I would rather look up to TJ Hooker than a freaking figure skater. Luke and Leia…Thought they were on General Hospital…And did ANYONE know when Wars first came out that Luke and Leia were twins, or did you think they’d wind up together? See, I am rusty…It’s possible a hundred of you will point to when and where we found it out in a movie. You win if I am wrong there, put the saber down…

    Trek has comedy too. We can laugh at the Shatner pauses…The Picard Maneuver…Troi saying she senses hostility seconds after bad guys start shooting at the ship…Ezri, the neurotic counselor…That’s irony folks, like having the blind guy drive the ship. Guys, it’s everywhere. You want serious? Dominion War. Borg. Action you speed? Probably…The space battles are fewer and farther between, probably because of the sheer number of HOURS to watch, so it seems like it’s less action-packed…But it’s there. With cool science stuff that Stephen Hawking would need to prove to you, but based in enough reality to sort of follow (although sometimes the technobabble can bury you,) and it’s different stuff. Wormholes…Dark matter…Subspace…Oh, and Dr. Hawking himself actually makes a cameo in an episode too.

    You guys had Natalie Portman…Props. We had a young Ashley Judd cameo…Scarlett Pomers…Faith Salie…Olivia D’Abo…Dude, a lot of cute women made guest appearances. See, that can happen with popular television shows that are on for 28 seasons!

    You can make a great case for Wars being better, because it suits you better. That counteracts mine because I prefer Trek. Or you can like neither or both. And I actually have no beef with Wars fans at all if they don’t start off with some snide comment. So if some of mine set you off, I apologize, not trying to fight or flame or battle or start a war or anything. It is OVER, I vented a little. I did admit to liking Wars, even if I am not up on all of it. Hey, I admit it. YES, I should watch it ALL before saying a word, I agree. I can go and do that right now, and come bck in what, a couple of days? Cool. Are you going to go and watch all the Trek? Go ahead, I will wait. See you in a few months.

    Let’s not hate on each other. Both brands are cool, and that’s it. Let’s combine forces and get rid of the damned rings. Oh, you like that too? Shoot, I haven’t seen them yet actually. I read the Hobbit in school I think…How long will reading and the movies take, a few days? A week? Same deal. Go take the time to catch up to me. I’ve actually seen all the Trek, read most everything, and am only fuzzy on the Kirk stuff a bit, since I wasn’t born yet when it first came out on tv. Did you like Spaceballs making fun of Wars? I liked Galaxy Quest making fun of Trek.

    We can find common ground…I’m willing to sit and read and watch. haven’t found many Wars guys that have gone through all the Trek yet. One told me it was his attention span. Reminded him of a soap opera show. Eh, there is backstory and stuff and two stories going on at same time and sometimes they tie together and one problem solves the other or they have same solution. There’s more thinking involved, more follow the plot and such…Boring stuff sometimes…But figure so many MORE hours to watch, that it can’t be a fast flow of a two hour movie. Stretch it out over seasons for a good arc.

    I haven’t a clue how to end, so just enjoy. Thanks for listening.

    • “Star Wars has I would guess fifty to a hundred novels. That’s probably generous. Trek has almost 1000 I believe.”

      I’m a big fan of Star Trek, but I was always a little disappointed with their novels until just a few years ago. The Star Wars expanded universe tried to exist within one single setting (wasn’t 100% perfect, but they didn’t do too badly), but the Star Trek books were all over the place. What happened in one Star Trek novel had almost no bearing on future novels, and many of them contradicted each other and the TV series and movies. Characters who died were alive again in a novel taking place at a later date. There were multiple incarnations of “The Mirror Universe” (not to be confused with other alternate universes) that were inconsistent with each other, including those written after further canon stories of the Mirror Universe (such as the DS9 episodes).

      Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite Trek stories have been from the novels. I just wish they had not waited so long to try making a more cohesive timeline for the novels to take place in. There are so many great Trek stories that “didn’t happen” except for the books they appeared in. With a few exceptions, it wasn’t until sometime in the past 10 years that they started building a more cohesive timeline where the events of one book mattered in another.

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