Star Geek Meets Nerdspeare by Ian Doescher
When I was in eighth grade, I bought a copy of Hamlet at a used bookstore because my brother Erik—then a high school senior and the coolest person I knew—was reading it in school. I turned through the pages and read what I could, which was not much, then set it aside. I wouldn’t properly study Shakespeare for another year (Othello as a freshman in high school), but the seed was planted. From the moment I bought that tattered copy of Hamlet I was hooked on Shakespeare.
This makes me one of the lucky ones. Many kids aren’t excited about Shakespeare; they are afraid of him. There is such cultural baggage around Shakespeare, especially in the United States. He is seen as elite, difficult to approach. Reading and watching and (most importantly) understanding his plays is seen as something that only the very educated can do. This despite the fact that Shakespeare was written to be performed and enjoyed, written for the swarming masses of people cramming into the Globe for a raucous good time.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars was incredibly fun to write, as you might guess. I have been a Star Wars fan even longer than I’ve been a Shakespeare fan, and imagining what thoughts might be swirling around in Luke’s, Leia’s, Han’s, Darth’s, Obi-Wan’s and, yes, R2-D2’s minds was a joy. I’ve been told this book bridges the geek/nerd divide, so you can imagine what that must make me.
It’s fun to have put something into the world that is purely meant for the enjoyment of other people. But I would be lying if I said that’s all it is. I do have a serious hope for the book, which is that it might be a bridge to help kids find their way into Shakespeare. Let them experience iambic pentameter, references (both direct and indirect) to his most famous lines, and literary devices Shakespeare used in the safe environment of a story they already know and love. Let them build up some confidence, and then introduce them to the real thing: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars as training wheels.
Of course, kids and adults can just read the book for fun, too, and that’s great. But wow, if my nerdy geekalicious mashup can turn even one student on to Shakespeare, I’ll have one happy inner eighth grader.
IAN DOESCHER has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars Episode IV was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS®: Verily, a New Hope is his first book. You can find him online at http://www.iandoescher.com/ and on Twitter as @iandoescher.