Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise
Review by Scott Taggart
Wil Wheaton is a geek. I don’t mean your average D&D playing geek either. He’s been many things: a child star; a Star Trek star; a Linux user; a player of Warhammer 40K and Munchkin; and an all around geek’s Geek. He’s hung out with William Shatner, had a forward in the books of John Scalzi, and had tender moments with Gene Roddenberry. This is the man that got into a joke fest with Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. His geek cred is just about legendary—and infamous.
Anyone who knows Trek also knows the other side. He’s been the most vilified character on any Trek series, and the Wesley Crusher hate club is thousands strong. He’s been the guy plagued by the voice of Prove To Me Quitting Trek Wasn’t A Mistake, and that inner voice is backed by legions of Trek fans who think he’s nothing more than a spoiled brat. He’s had to deal with a Hollywood career that spit back at him and left him on the curb. He’s had to deal with a new family and love and turning 30 when everyone around him from Trek considered him “The Kid.” But for all that people think they know Wesley, Will is another man entirely.
Just A Geek covers entries from Wil Wheaton’s long running blog Wil Wheaton Dot Net, but it also covers the back stories of those entries. It bares for the reader all the doubts and trials and hardships that he’s had to go through just being him. It’s not an epic tale of triumph, but it’s a solidly grounded and gently entertaining tale of life. You get a back stage pass to what it’s like to grow up in Trek, what it’s like to quit Trek and the consequences of doing so, and what it’s like to make peace with yourself over choices you made. It’s a learning story. It’s got the sort of ending that leaves any geek with hope and a smile.
But more so, it’s solid proof positive that Uncle Willy Gets It. He’s not your average child star that went the way of drugs and disillusion. Yes, he had struggles, but at the end of the day he enjoys being a simple geek, getting pleasure in creating things and writing and acting. Not because he’s William Fricken Shatner, but because he’s Wil. Wil the loving husband. Wil the actor. Wil the writer. Wil the cooler-than-he-has-any-right-to-be stepdad. Wil, the guy who came up with a podcast called “Radio Free Burrito.” And he’s also Wil, the guy who gets to say “Shut Up Wesley!” and mean it. His triumph is a quiet one, without the pomp and fanfare of other stars, and thus it’s endearing. He may have been an actor, and he may be a writer, and he may have been in Trek, but he’s never stopped being a geek. That simple truth about Wil Wheaton is what endears him to people. He is, and always has been, just a geek.
After reading it, I decided that if Wil ever shows up in Davis, I owe him a Guinness at the local Irish pub, an epic game of Munchkin, and a heartfelt thank you.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on February 10, 2012.