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17 Hilarious Honest Definitions Of Sci-Fi And Fantasy Terms

Fan fiction: something critics point and laugh at all the time but secretly read. Excerpted from Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths.

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1. Marvel

The Nike of geek interests. We don't know what part of our souls we're losing by consuming their products and we don't want to know.


2. Fan Fiction

Something critics point and laugh at all the time but secretly read.

3. J. R. R. Tolkien

A literary hoax designed by C. S. Lewis to take the heat off of the fact that so many people were looking for the real entry points into Narnia.

4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

An old relationship we'll never get over. It was perfect and we compare all of our lovers (Star Trek movies) to this person. There's good reason for this, but we should really try to move on.

5. Star Wars

A crafty media hoax (created by our dad) that has convinced a lot of people that the Force, the Skywalker family, and a certain galaxy far, far away are all "fiction."


6. Doctor Who

A pleasurable experience that has to be meticulously explained first in order to be enjoyed. It's worth it, in the end, all the explaining. But the process feels like taking inoculation vaccines before you go on vacation.

7. Dinosaurs

A shorthand for anything that is permanently cool. Because we can't go back in time and see dinosaurs for real, their inherent awesomeness can never be taken away from us. This is what it will be like to love the Beatles in the year 2070.

8. Narnia

An overcrowded, deranged alternate world of magic that was accidentally discovered by Lev Grossman in real life. His autobiographical work, The Magicians, vaguely describes how awful Narnia actually was. Biggest letdown of all: Aslan was not really a lion.

9. George Lucas

The inverse-deadbeat dad to millions of us. He gave us Star Wars and then left us—he left us! When he returned, we became demanding, ungrateful, and bitter children. Nothing he can ever do is going to be good enough. When he left us a second time in 2012 (by selling off Star Wars), we were the happiest we've been in years.


10. Steven Spielberg

Our dad's (George Lucas) cooler brother who got us high that one time on that camping trip when we were fourteen. We never talk to our cool uncle now, but we always speak in reverent tones about how awesome he was on that one camping trip.

11. Sherlock Holmes

A proto-superhero whose superpowers were as follows: being really smart, pretending like he didn't care about sex, and possessing the ability to have a drug problem that actually assisted him in doing his job. If Sherlock Holmes habitually drank Miller High Life instead of shooting cocaine through a needle, no one would believe he was a mad "genius." They'd just think he was a drunk weirdo. The lesson? Choose to be addicted to interesting drugs.

12. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

A time-traveling ghost of Mark Twain who has turned out to be a slightly better writer while inhabiting his "new body." Smoked cigarettes as opposed to cigars to confuse people as to his true identity.

13. J. J. Abrams

A cool guy whom everyone pretends they know personally, but whom nobody really knows. The new Jay Gatsby of pop-geekdom.


14. Isaac Asimov

A living robot who was smarter than most humans. Former president of the Humanist Society.

15. Christopher Nolan

Someone who is exactly like the Batman of his films: he is a hero, but we can't wait to turn on him.

16. Back to the Future

An amazing generator of fake nostalgia. Retroactively removing this film from history would cause a paradoxical cascade effect resulting in everyone simultaneously disappearing from any Polaroid pictures that they're in. You'd still remain alive, but those old Polaroids would have weird empty spots.

17. Ursula K. Le Guin

A being of pure energy cooler than most humans, living robots, and time-traveling ghosts. The science fiction version of a saint.


Ryan Britt has written for The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Awl, VICE Motherboard, Clarkesworld Magazine, and is a consulting editor for Story Magazine. He was the staff writer for the Hugo-Award winning web magazine, where he remains a contributor. He lives in New York City.

Excerpted from Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths. To learn more, click here.