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Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths


I am a geek. My friend, J.R. Nip, is also a geek. When we're together, we quite often find ourselves in conversations that are, well, annoying to anyone else. When we find ourselves on a long drive together, we manage to get into conversations so geeky that we can actually annoy ourselves. Typically, this is the point that we realize how absurd our conversation has gotten and we attempt to change the topic. Ryan Britt, author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, seems like the type who would often end up in these situations, but rather than giving up on the conversations when they get too outlandish or elaborate, would doggedly pursue them to their bitter end and, when no one else would continue the conversation, might be apt to jot down his thoughts to share these theories with other, unsuspecting people. Well, except for Luke Skywalker, of course... he can't read.

Britt's essays are interesting forays into certain corners of science fiction fandom that I've, surprisingly, not already ventured, but while I would not pretend to challenge his geek cred or doubt that he likes science fiction, it seems, at times, to me that he likes it the wrong way. I've never been a fan of the over-analysis of literature, where people strive to classify every element of every story as some well-defined trope. I prefer to enjoy the story for its own merit, rather than tear it down into recycled iconoclastic building blocks. If someone wants to make an entertaining story that recycles various tropes into a new invention, I'm all for it, if you can make it entertaining and not tell me where you found the pieces.

The Aside:
Set off in its own section, an aside is typically a secondary thought or anecdote that, while related to the topic at hand, doesn't easily flow or really "fit" in the normal paragraph. Often, these fit into the "today I learned" or "so now you know" category of interesting things the author wants to mention. Luke Skywalker Can't Read would have benefited much from using these, but didn't.
Although it's literally in the name of the book, the essay on why Luke Skywalker can't read is the fourth chapter, so you'll need to get through the chapters that introduce geekiness, science fiction and Ryan Britt's science fiction coming of age story before this titular topic is addressed. Ryan points out that some of the best Star Trek stories have literary references in them, while none are to be found in Star Wars. The scarcity of references to books or any literary references contribute to his argument for rampant illiteracy in the Star Wars universe. What he doesn't touch on is the fact that Star Trek is posited as our future and, as such, would very reasonably have occasional literary references from our world, while Star Wars, which is set "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" couldn't have these, or they would have to have been in the Star Wars galaxy first, then been transported a great distance and survived a long period of time before being discovered on Earth and plagiarized. He presents other support for his theory, some of which is sound, but anytime you start delving deep in Star Wars, you know that you're putting more thought into it than George Lucas likely did and, once you're past that point, it's difficult to keep the wind in your sails. Well, for me, anyway.

The various essays in Ryan Britt's Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths are entertaining and interesting, but I found his use of footnotes to be a bit tiring. Instead of using them for citations or very brief clarifications, he often simply takes the conversation in a different direction, in a fairly lengthy aside that would have been better if treated as an *aside, in its own box, allowing the reader to select when they want to read that bit, rather than following an asterisk in the middle of a sentence, then following a completely different train of thought in a footnote that continues to the next page, leaving the reader to turn back a page and try to find where, exactly, they had diverted from the original train of thought.

Within the pages of Luke Skywalker Can't Read, Ryan Britt waxes poetic about everything from Barbarella to the latest Star Wars movies, Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes, and from Hill Valley to Bag End. He'll have interesting things to say about regenerators, such as Dr. Who, and revisionists from George Lucas to J.R.R. Tolkien. If you haven't pondered over science fiction topics, Britt could open up a new world to you. If you have, you're still likely to find something within that you hadn't considered before that you can discuss on that next long distance trip you take with your geeky friend.


*Set off in its own section, an aside is typically a secondary thought or anecdote that, while related to the topic at hand, doesn't easily flow or really "fit" in the normal paragraph. Often, these fit into the "today I learned" or "so now you know" category of interesting things the author wants to mention. As an example, this really shouldn't be down here in a footnote, but makes more sense in a box of its own. Note how you now have to search back in the review to find where you left to read this and you'll probably need to re-read the sentence or so to remember the original idea in progress. Sorry about that, but this is what happens too much in Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths. (See the aside.)


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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