After more than 40 years, The Book of Boba Fett establishes that spice in Star Wars is at least a recreational drug. Still, we don’t know what spice is precisely. Spice appears in the Sequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy, and Prequel Trilogy films and several television shows. Based on what we know, you can turn spice into medicine. However, the implication is that it is also an illegal and addictive drug. First mentioned in Star Wars: A New Hope, here is everything you need to know about spice.
What Is Star Wars Spice?
According to the StarWars.com Databank and Wookieepedia, spice is an illicit substance in Star Wars. However, spice can be refined into medicine, which suggests it does have a legitimate purpose. In its raw form, it is a mined ore. Although most infamously mined on Kessel, there are spice mines on Empress Teta, Ryloth, Seylott, and the moons of Naboo.
Despite its role in Star Wars, spice never appears in the films and is only mentioned in A New Hope and Attack of the Clones. The expanded universe of books, comics, and games explores spice more deeply.
A New Hope offers a confusing introduction to spice. C-3PO worries the Empire will send him and R2-D2 to the spice mines of Kessel. This implies that the Empire is involved in the spice trade and that spice mining is extremely dangerous.
Luke Skywalker grew up thinking his father was a navigator on a spice freighter. Uncle Owen’s lie supports the idea that there is a legitimate spice business.
Although never explicitly stated in A New Hope, both the Canon and Legends timelines confirm that the cargo that Han Solo and Chewbacca dumped to avoid an Imperial blockade was a load of spice.
Assuming that the Empire operates a legitimate spice trade, this suggests that Han and Chewie are likely transporting black market spice for Jabba the Hutt. Given that they owe Jabba a lot of money, it also means at least black market spice is valuable.
Is Spice in Star Wars a Drug?
In some circumstances, the spice in Star Wars is an illegal drug. It is at least an addictive and mind-altering drug, if not a dangerous substance. However, it is also refined into medicine.
Known spice variants include andris, carsunum, glimmerstim, polstine, ryll, and sansanna. It is unclear whether these are different forms of spice refined from the same substance or whether spice is the name of a specific category of drugs.
For example, it could be a classification of drugs like narcotics. But maybe it’s like the poppy plant that gets refined into different drugs like heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine.
Why Is Spice So Valuable in Star Wars?
Spice is valuable because it is rare, difficult to mine, and potentially illegal. Pirates like Hondo Ohnaka accepted it for payment because it was untraceable. At least the Hutt and Pyke crime syndicates trafficked it, using a variety of spice runners. It became more valuable during the Galactic Empire due to frequent blockades.
Are Spice and Death Sticks the Same?
Although both are addictive substances, Spice and death sticks are different types of drugs. While spice is a mined ore, death sticks are made from mushrooms from the planet Balosar. Highly addictive, the drug is transported inside luminescent sticks. However, it is unknown whether the name death stick refers to the container or if it is the name for the drug refined from the balo mushroom.
What Are the Most Notable Spice Runners?
There are several notable spice runners in Star Wars. Han Solo and Chewbacca ran spice for Jabba the Hutt before joining the Rebel Alliance. Rafa Martez, along with her sister Trace and Ahsoka Tano, were involved in the spice trade during the final days of the Galactic Republic. Poe Dameron and Zorri Bliss ran spice throughout Kijimi and the surrounding systems before the rise of the First Order.
The Pyke Syndicate was a major supplier of the black market spice trade. Both the Hutt Clan and Black Sun syndicate were involved in spice smuggling. Darth Maul’s Shadow Collective, and later Crimson Dawn, also dealt in spice occasionally. It’s unknown if the Ohnaka Gang trafficked the drug, but Hondo demanded payment in spice on a few occasions.
List of known spice runners:
- Han Solo
- Poe Dameron
- Zorii Bliss
- Rafa Martez
- Pyke Syndicate
- Hutt Clan
- Black Sun
- Shadow Collective
- Crimson Dawn
Is Spice in Star Wars the Same As Dune?
Spice in Star Wars is not the same as spice in Dune. Not only do Dune and Star Wars takes place in separate universes, but spice is used differently in each.
In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, the spice melange prolongs life, increases stamina, and improves awareness. It also gives some users the ability to see into the past, present, and future. Spice in Star Wars offers no known advantages.
However, there are several similarities between them too. Star Wars and Dune both portray spice as addictive. Spice withdrawal in Dune is almost always fatal, but Star Wars implies recovery is possible.
Spice mining is dangerous in both universes. Star Wars depicts spice mining spice as risky. While harvesting spice in Dune is safe, there is a threat of sandworm attacks.
Spice in both Dune and Star Wars is connected to major desert planets. In Dune, spice is only found on Arrakis. Although not mined on Tatooine, it is a major spice smuggling and distribution hub. Tatooine and Arrakis share several other similarities, including moisture farming.
Is Star Wars Spice Based on Dune?
While we don’t know for sure, George Lucas could have based spice on Dune. Frank Herbert’s first Dune novel came out in 1965 while Lucas was in film school. Herbert’s sequel Dune Messiah came out in 1969 when Lucas was working on his first feature film, THX-1138.
If the manuscripts floating around the internet are correct, spice first appears in the 1975 second draft of Star Wars. Given that timeline, it seems unlikely that Lucas would have been unaware of the Dune series.
It’s also worth considering that spices played an essential role in exploration throughout world history. Often considered rare and exotic, they were one of the first heavily traded commodities. Lucas, like Herbert, may have just seen spice as a strange and otherworldly item.
Noted science fiction author Poul Anderson, a contemporary of Herbert, also used a version of spice in his stories during the 60s and 70s. More modern authors Harry Turtledove and John Kessel also used spice in their science fiction works.
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