The best way to describe this book is a collection of geeky love letters.
Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths is a collection of essays by Ryan Britt. Each essay waxes eloquent on different classic geeky topics. Personal reflections on subjects such as monster movies, movie soundtracks, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, and more. Some of the essays are silly, some are more serious. Some have obviously come from hours of reflection on the shiny nostalgia of childhood pop culture, and some are more critical looks at how these experiences changed Britt’s whole life. Britt’s essays will quickly change from witty and fun to poignant and insightful at the turn of a hat, but they are all brilliant. Britt takes “Geekdom”, a dominion of cult classics, movies, video games, board games, and anything else technological or fantastic, and analyzes it as part of who he is, was, and will be. After all, how often do you get to read essays about Captain Picard which compare him across media universes, instead of within his own?
You without a job is who you really are and if you don’t like that person you’ve got to figure out how to change that.
When it comes to Geekdom, we live in a world where there is a very clearly drawn line over what is cool and what isn’t. When you become a Hater and when you are a fan. Britt’s introduction explores these ideas, around what should be cool and what is actually cool, and dissects how hard it was for him to comes to grips with this. You see, the outside world would view Britt as a Hater. He isn’t a purist when it comes to most things (monster movies aside), and he finds pleasure in mocking his favorite things. He’s that guy who shows up to the midnight showing of Star Wars in a Star Trek uniform. However, Britt does not view himself the same way– Britt does not self-define as a Hater, he is just trying to show how much he loves these geeky things in his own way.
Most people don’t think Batman = Bob Kane or Batman = Christopher Nolan. Most people think Batman = Me. The public thinks it owns Batman, which is how mythology works. Who is the author of the Greek myths? It’s not exactly Homer. Because we are the ones who have kept the myths alive over centuries by retelling the stories in a myriad of different forms.
These essays are a perfect introduction to understanding Britt. Essay collections, particularly those which reflect on personal experiences, I find are often given a much more critical eye than I believe they deserve. Britt does not speak favorably to all of Geekdom. He has some very soundly formed criticisms. Yet, without Britt’s introductory essay about being labeled a Fan or a Hater, I imagine this book wouldn’t be treated the same way. Britt’s Hater tag would follow him and taint all his essays. Yes, I disagreed with him sometimes, but that doesn’t make his text any less insightful, particularly from the personal lens. Geeks are a critical clan of people. Just ask the people who spell out AT-AT vs. those who pronounce it @-@. Super passionate about it.
I loved a lot of Britt’s insights. In particular, when he waxes eloquent on the difference between things that are science fiction and things that are science written fictionally:
Moby-Dick takes place in an alternate universe in which whale attacks were a common enough thing to get upset about. In this way, every kind of fiction is science fiction, which means that everybody who likes reading anything that’s not nonfiction is a massive geek. Obviously, like a lot of geeks, my hyperbole is worse that my bite.
If you can separate your love and passion for the “geeky” topics Britt explores, you will find a lot of fascinating insight to ideas– including the idea of letting go of the hating ways we have developed. Personally, my favorite essay was on the impact of music in science fiction. But, I bet you might find a different once which speaks to you.
All in all, a lovely collection of essays that made me think more critically about my own perspectives in the Geekdom. May the Force be with you.