Book review: Geek Wisdom, edited by Stephen H. Segal

Three of five stars

The best thing about this little slice of nerddom is its inclusion of sooooo many geeky quotes and references. And so is the worst thing. Editor Stephen H. Segal packed a grand total of 185 separate and related quotes ranging from the usual nerd suspects like Star Trek and Conan the Barbarian to unexpected and diverse sources such as A League of Their Own, Clue, and Goldfinger, and paired them with brief essays outlining the core geek concept contained within each. It’s quick entertaining bathroom reading — meaning each essay is short enough to be read during one, ah, sitting. And therein lies the problem.

When I chose this book (through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program), I expected something a little meaty: thoughtful analyses of “Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion” or “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Instead, it seems Segal was anxious to include every geek touchstone he could imagine into one book, and so sacrificed quality of analysis for quantity of nerdiness.

Each unattributed essay barely grazes the surface of its accompanying quote, scarcely getting its metaphysical toe wet in the deep waters of “There is no spoon” or “The truth is out there.” Granted, this superficial surface-grazing helps raise questions and may point the reader in a direction he may otherwise not have ventured, “to boldly go where no one has gone before,” so to speak (a quote, by the way, that is not included in this slim volume), but this reader would have preferred fewer quotes, more substance, and a sequel.

The postscripts to each essay are a lot of fun and occasionally pose their own separate questions; for example, one proposes the following thought exercise: Who would win a scavenger hunt: Indiana Jones or River Song?

Who indeed?

Many thanks to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for the opportunity to read this book.

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