There are three simple truths to effective storytelling. You create a hero. Your hero is then assigned a near-impossible mission and then, most importantly of all, you infuse your hero with some seriously repressed, messed up and potentially life-threatening mommy and daddy issues.
In the real world it’s a tough pill to swallow for us fantasy-worshippers that we’re not likely (although we’re not saying it’s impossible) to become parents to the next generation of Peter Parkers and Jessica Jones’. Luckily for us, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from the relationships that our heroes had with their parents and apply them to every day life, which is just what this helpful compilation of mini-essays sets out to demonstrate.
Divided into five sections, and drawing from examples encompassing the worlds of cinema, literature and television, Geek Parenting is a delight from the start. It’s filled with honest advice, with a voice that encourages but never preaches. Highlights include the importance of a good old-fashioned father and son game of baseball (DS9’s Benjamin and Jake Sisko), setting boundaries with your kids (Cersei and Joffrey), handling sibling rivalry (Thor and Loki – who else?), as well accepting them no matter what (Aunt May and Peter Parker).
Segal and Lupescu are charming narrators who present their ideas with warmth, humour and inclusivity. The essays are short, well researched and make their points effectively, by drawing from significant moments between their chosen characters from work, that many science fiction fans are likely to be already familiar with, although be prepared for some surprises.
If there’s one criticism to be levelled it’s that the book’s length is a little on the short side. Whilst the range of the studies is plentiful, the beauty of this particular genre is that there’s such a rich history to choose from that you hope there’s a sequel in the pipeline.
If you haven’t yet had children (or if you begin panic-cellophaneing your mint condition Issue #1’s at the very thought), don’t be put off by the title; at the very least this collection serves as a poignant index of the very human side of science fiction.
On the other hand if you are a parent, at least you’ll know how best to dialogue, when your kid returns home from his science trip with a spider bite and newfound sense of acrobatic ability. Or maybe just when he doesn’t get asked to prom. Either way, this is a thoroughly enjoyable compilation.
GEEK PARENTING / AUTHORS: STEPHEN H. SEGAL, DUDYCZ LUPESCU / PUBLISHER: QUIRK BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: 5TH APRIL