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Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek

“Collect All 21!”


“A great coffee table book for the Star Wars fan who has everything.”

Wired magazine’s

One of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books

– The Robot’s Voice

Expanded Digital Edition Available for Amazon Kindle devices and apps!

The expanded electronic edition of Collect All 21! 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.

Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - Expanded Edition

Collect All 21! paperback edition – “The First 30 Years”

Cover design by Kirk Demarais

Cover design by Kirk Demarais

Barnes & Noble


Here’s the story:

When the original Star Wars hit theaters in May 1977, I was six years old.

Thirty years later, I celebrated the anniversary of the  film’s release with a series of essays and a National Public Radio affiliate commentary about growing up in the age of George Lucas’ original space trilogy. Those essays grew into a year-long project culminating in the publication of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years.

The 1980s are revisited, in all their bad-haircuts-and-Atari glory, from those early years of action figures and playground battles, through the Golden Age of The Empire Strikes Back and the goosebump thrill of seeing Return of the Jedi as a 12-year-old on opening night. But I also wanted to move beyond that decade and straight-up nostalgia to look at how the Star Wars saga and my fandom evolved through the lean years when the movies were far from the mainstream consciousness, through some difficult personal times in the early 1990s, and on into the Special Editions and the Prequel Era, when I got to experience the films as a parent and share them with my daughter.

I never thought I’d actually get that Time-Travel Belt, but reading this book is almost better.”

George Krstic, Director of Story, Creative Development, Blizzard Entertainment; Writer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Megas XLR

“A deliciously warped nostalgia trip through Star Wars fandom. From collecting Kenner action figures to getting Star Wars birthday cakes from puzzled parents to scribbling fan letters to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Booth shamelessly flaunts his lifelong lust for all things Star Wars. Like a tractor beam, this endearing account draws us in and makes us reminisce about our own geeky obsessions.

Ethan Gilsdorf, author, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

“Like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek.”

Curtis Silver, GeekDad at

“John can paint a picture with his words that pulls you into the story instantly.”

– Jenny Williams,

“A quick, light, but fun read, one that made me wish I still had my Large Size Boba Fett Action Figure.”

Jim C. Hines, author of Goblin Quest and The Snow Queen’s Shadow

“It is an absolute must read if you are a collector, a retro fan or if you remember the first time you unpacked that Boba Fett. This book is full of gems that will bring back memories.”

Rob Wainfur, Retro Finds

“Highly entertaining and well-written. And here’s the truly amazing thing about it— it’s full of all of your own memories. I spent half the time reading, and the other half experiencing long-forgotten Star Wars flashbacks. As an added bonus, in many cases these thoughts are triggering non-Lucasfilm related retrospection too. A few pages can send me into a warm bath of childhood wonder.”

– Kirk Demarais, Secret Fun Spot

An excerpt from Chapter 8: “There is Another: The Empire Era”

I spent a lot of time in the fall of 1980 in the Belden Village Mall Waldenbooks coveting the shrink-wrapped stack of Ralph McQuarrie’s The Empire Strikes Backportfolios. Made no secret of the fact I wanted this thing for Christmas. Bad.

And I remember without a doubt that my mom had pretty much assured me that she and Dad wouldn’t be shelling out the bucks for it. I seem to remember price being a sticking point, like no way was Mom coughing up close to ten bucks for something I couldn’t even play with.

As it happened, my mom’s brother, Uncle Rob, spent that Christmas at our house. A little background: Uncle Rob was the youngest “grown-up” that I knew, which made him, you know, cool.

Uncle Rob, for example, had bought me a boxed set of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books when I was in first grade. (I got through “The Hobbit” pretty easily, but I’ll admit it was probably fourth or fifth or maybe even sixth grade before I got through the Ring saga itself. As a little kid, those chapters about “Many Meetings” and “The Council of Elrond” seem like they go on and onnnn.) I remember Uncle Rob being stoked about the then-new Lord of the Rings cartoon movie, and taking me to see it at the theater down by the Gold Circle store. He was going to buy me one of the Gollum posters they had for sale in the lobby, but we wound up seeing the last show of the day, and when we came out of the theater, the concession stand was closed.

When he’d visit our house, Uncle Rob would camp out on the floor of my room and we’d stay up late while he told me stories about growing up with my mom on the farm over in Upper Sandusky.

When I was a little older, he introduced me to the works of Isaac Asimov and theories about multiple universes and bending space and time.

And I remember going to Uncle Rob’s college graduation and seeing the house where he lived at the time. They had a fish tank with a piranha in it and some record album cover set up behind it as a backdrop. (They also had the black-and-white cat that we’d given Uncle Rob as a kitten. He had wanted to call it “Felix,” but his roommates had overruled him and gone with “Moon Puppy.” This was the ’70s, after all.)

So when Uncle Rob came to stay with us that Christmas, I knew things were going to be fun.

Christmas morning, I open up my present from Uncle Rob, and it’s that Empire Strikes Back portfolio! I was just crazy excited because I had completely put it out of my mind, since, after all, Mom had shot it down. There weren’t as many weird pre-production ideas in the Empire paintings as there had been in the Star Warsedition, but these prints were bigger, and the 25-picture collection came with an extra sheet of paper that had information about each one. Later, I sat on my bedroom floor looking through the whole stack again and again.

Almost thirty years later, I was watching a DVD made from our old home movies, and I rediscovered that actual moment: Me clutching my pack of Empire paintings in our green-carpeted living room, jumping up to hug Uncle Rob, who, naturally, earned himself a permanent spot on my Cool List.

Listen up:

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