I crossed paths online with Cleveland artist/WRUW dj/first-generation Star Wars fan Bridget Daryl Ginley back when I still worked in the Warehouse District, and last week I finally got the chance to meet her in person when I visited to Studio 404 so I could pick up this piece for my desk at work that would make a Jawa utinni with envy. (You know what? That’s a long and bizarre sentence, and I’m leaving it that way.)
For awhile now, I’ve liked Bridget’s skull sketches and found art assemblies and pop culture references – and even her handwritten alternative music (kids, ask your parents) playlists from WRUW. All sorts of weird and cool stuff. When she started building these shiny-domed tributes, I knew I’d wind up with one of my own.
She’s got several other variations on the theme in the studio, and materials to build a gaggle more -
- so there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a near-sighted scrap pile to call your own, if this is your kind of thing. (She’s also doing a lot of steampunk work these days, since it blends pretty well with what she’s been doing for years, and if you’re a Doctor Who fan, she might even be persuaded to tackle a Dalek for you, if you ask nicely.)
Bridget’s trying to move a lot of art from Studio 404 (classic space – amazing views of Cleveland’s skyline) now, so the time’s right, and she’s pretty cool, and this was totally the droid I -
- nope. Not gonna say it.
Also, if you like that throwback music I mentioned earlier, check out her Erie Effusion radio show. Do not request Blue Monday.
I got a lot of encouraging feedback in July of 2011 when I expanded Collect All 21! for a digital edition. Unfortunately, while the folks at my digital publishing company were great to work with and did a bang-up job converting the book and pushing it through various channels, they had to make the difficult decision to close their virtual doors earlier this year, ending the availability of the Expanded Edition.
After thinking things over for a bit and pestering some very patient and understanding friends for advice, I decided to go ahead and tweak a couple small glitches and make the Expanded Edition available again myself through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
Opening that first Darth Vader figure and putting him in a Landspeeder. Imagining a snowy elementary school playground as the wastes of Hoth. Seeing Return of the Jedi on opening night.
Moments like these – and a galaxy more – make up more than three decades of “Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.” Author and first-generation saga fan John Booth takes the reader from a childhood packed with Star Wars guys (never “action figures”) and Christmas wishes both fulfilled and unrealized, through the years when the trilogy lay dormant to the mainstream public’s eye, and into an age of seeing George Lucas’ universe as an adult while exploring it again as a parent.
Collect All 21! revisits the late 1970s and early ’80s, in all their bad-haircuts-and-Atari glory, then moves beyond those decades and nostalgia to explore the evolution of the Star Wars saga and its fandom.
This expanded electronic edition also includes interviews with Star Wars cast and crew members reflecting on the saga’s impact from both first-generation-fan standpoints and a career spent bringing the universe to life on-screen.
Named by Topless Robot as one of The Ten Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, Collect All 21! is a love letter from a self-aware geek written under the sometimes harsh light of hindsight, softened with understanding. It captures the innocence and wonder and infinite possibilities of what it meant to an eight-year-old to Collect All 21!
“Like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek.”
- WIRED magazine’s GeekDad
“The feeling of childhood magic that pours from its pages will have you reflecting on how much of an impact the Wars have had on you.”
- Topless Robot
“I never thought I’d actually get that Time-Travel Belt, but reading this book is almost better.”
- George Krstic, writer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Motorcity, and Megas XLR
I’ve also decided to keep the Kindle edition at it’s three-dollar price – which means, yes: More book than the print edition, for less money.
Additionally, it’s available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for FREE.
And hey – Star Wars Celebration VI is coming up fast, so why not start getting psyched up now?
I’ll be going to Star Wars Celebration VI, and I have no doubt it will be a tremendously fun time.
You should go.
Specifically, you should go to GeekDad, where we’re giving away two four-day passes to this August’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Deadline to enter is next Tuesday, July 3, 2012.
The lump in my throat has snuck up on me several times since I heard about Ray Bradbury’s death this week.
Thinking about how his name first meant something to me when I was a little kid and I watched (but didn’t understand) the TV adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, but it was 1979, and I ate up anything science fiction because I was still drowning in the wake of Star Wars. Thinking about being older, then, and recognizing his name when I found Fahrenheit 451 at a library’s used book sale. It scarred me in the best ways possible, and I wanted more.
Thinking about being at Bowling Green State University in 1990 and 1991, which is when I really started scarfing down Bradbury stories by the handful, sitting in the stacks on the first floor of the library. This is where I met those bratty kids from “The Veldt” and the time-traveling hunters in “A Sound of Thunder” and the inventor of “The Toynbee Convector.” (It was also in this period when I read a review of Bradbury’s collections that featured a description of “The October Game” as the most chilling story that Ray had ever written. It would take me a long time to track down a copy, but I still remember finding it in the Upper Sandusky library on a visit to my grandmother’s, and feeling icy water down my back when I read the story alone in a quiet den.)
Thinking of “The Lake,” one of my favorite Bradbury stories ever.
Thinking over and over again of a train and a bridge and a poem and a story and, finally, the time Ray Bradbury sent me a letter.
In December of 1990, my friend Tobi took me to Five Mile Bridge, west of Bryan, Ohio, to watch a train thunder past. Years later, I wrote the following in Crossing Decembers – and though my novel is fiction, this part is pretty close to reality as I remember it:
I wrote about the [train] in that green spiral notebook, but that was a two a.m., hurry-God-please-don’t-let-me-forget-a-nanosecond rush of howl and sigh and adrenaline.
The next night, I fell asleep trying to recreate the train, the bridge, and her eyes in my mind.
After I soaked it into my blood for a week or so, one night while my roommate was out, I shut off the lights and sat down at my desk by the window, where a bright pink-orange glow came in from the floodlight on the outside of the building.
Tree branches clicked in the wind, and over an hour or two, I wrote a poem I called “For Kallie: A Night at Five Mile Bridge.”
The next morning, on my way to the cafeteria, I stopped by her room. I was pretty sure she’d be at class already, so I slid the poem in an envelope with her name on it under the door.
Late that afternoon, I was alone in my room again and there was a quick, soft knock at the door.
When I opened it, Kallie was standing there, shaking, and her eyes were wet.
Before I could even say hello, her arms were around my neck, her sweet hair like spring, her body quaking, and in one of her hands was single sheet of paper, folded in thirds, with my poem typed on it.
Jump forward a few years to late summer, 1995. I have just sold my first piece of fiction, “Heading Home,” to Florida magazine for $100. Having practically memorized large chunks of Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, I found myself thinking about the part where Ray wrote that the greatest reward a writer gets is when someone “rushes up to you, his face bursting with honesty, his eyes afire” at how your work connected with him. And I thought about Tobi, and then, since it was well past midnight, I wrote Ray what I’m certain was a rambling, barely coherent letter about these thoughts bouncing around in my head.
I mailed it the next day and forgot all about it.
Two weeks later, his response landed in my mailbox, and I remember that my hands just started shaking when I saw the return address. Inside was a one-page typewritten letter, with a few errors and one ballpoint spelling correction.
At the top of the page were these images:
And below, a short note, reading in part:
These celebratory cats are Bradbury cats and they are celebrating John Booth and his first story sale and the night his girl friend flung her arms around him and wept because of the beauty of his poem!
Much luck in the coming years from Win-Win, Ditzi, Dingo and Jack, the Bradbury cats, and from
(Oh, how I love this part – )
Over the years, I’ve opened that envelope time and again, always carefully unfolding the letter and imagining that maybe the tiniest remnants of typewriter dust from Bradbury’s fingernails are still settled in the weave of the paper, quietly crackling with static electricity and magic.
John Scalzi’s new novel, Redshirts, comes out next week. You can read my review of the book over at GeekDad, along with an interview in which Scalzi talks about science fiction tropes and humor in the genre. Both posts were a lot of fun to write.
Star Wars came out thirty-five years ago today. I drew this not long after seeing it for the first time:
Yesterday, I was on a brief but enjoyable segment recorded for NPR’s Morning Edition which was very cool and made me hyper most of the day.
That they mentioned my book about growing up as a Star Wars fan was not only neat, it was also incredibly fitting. It was just over five years ago that I wrote an essay for Star Wars’ 30th birthday and pitched it to Renita Jablonski at WKSU. That radio piece – about not actually remembering the first time I saw Star Wars – aired five years ago today (and is still archived at WKSU), and that essay was the starting point which led to the writing of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.
Star Wars still comes up from time to time here on Cornfield Meet, of course, and seeing it as a six-year-old in 1977 absolutely set me on the path to loving science fiction and spaceships and shuttle launches and storytelling and so many other things that give me joy.
By some measures, 1977 was a long time ago. But not by all of them.
ZOMG, as the kids say these days: I was on Morning Edition today and they mentioned Collect All 21!
I also love that it sparked a hashtag game: #NPRStarWars.
And coming on the heels of a cool Joey Ramone segment? That’s all bonus points.
Just testing out Instagram for Android.
I suspect Booth and I are roughly the same age, and his stories stirred some nostalgic memories as I read. I found myself thinking back to the original Star Wars Luke Skywalker figure I owned, with the yellow lightsaber that promptly lost its skinny tip. Then when Empire came out, Luke came with a detachable lightsaber and a gun instead of the lightsaber that slid up into his arm, and that was THE MOST AWESOME THING IN THE WORLD!
As I’ve said before, knowing that I’ve helped someone dredge up a few memories of the glory days of Kenner That Was is a very cool feeling, as is, you know, getting a kind word from an author whose work you really enjoy. It’s right up there with Bespin Luke’s yellow lightsaber, and less likely to get lost under the basement stairs.
I also just found this YouTube book review video from user micahc6v8 – he starts talking about Collect All 21! around the 5:02 mark -
I’m guessing that he read the expanded electronic edition, since he doesn’t show a physical copy of the book, and he notes the $2.99 price. At any rate, he also says some positive things about my little Star Wars nostalgia trip, noting in particular that he identified with the book despite being of a different generation, which, again, is nice to hear.
In early 2011, not long after I got hooked on Eureka, I wrote a post about the show for GeekDad, which elicited a brief note from Andrew Cosby, one of the show’s co-creators. We exchanged a few emails over the course of the year, and this week, I published a full-on GeekDad interview with him. I really enjoyed working with him on this – please go enjoy it!