Happy Wil

Happy Wil

Happy Wil

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 1 2007 9:04 PM

Happy Wil

Wil asked, so I'm answerin'.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

My ManCrush, Wil Wheaton, ex-Star Trek actor, "Stand By Me" leech feeder, and excellent blogger, has put together a book of his memories (originally blog entries but updated and edited) called The Happiest Days of Our Lives. Now mind you, I really like the way Wil writes, so you know I really liked this book.

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But how will I know you will like it?

That's easy. If you like my writing, you'll like his.

First, some context, and then a brief review.

Years and years ago, way back in the early 2000s, I was talking with a friend of mine from high school about life, the web, and stuff. She suddenly blurts out, "Do you read Wil Wheaton's site?"

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"Wil Wheaton?" I reply. "Wesley Crusher? Are you kidding?"

She's earnest. "You need to read his stuff. His sense of humor is exactly like yours, and the two of you write the same way."

OK, I think. I like Kat a lot, and I trust her. After we hang up, I fire up the browser, and Google up Wil's site. And then... well, you know what happened then. I start reading his blog, and I really like it (never confuse an actor for his character, or the way the character was treated). I find out Wil reads my blog. He goes public about it. A mancrush ensues.

Then my friend Fraser goes to the Pax con, and gets a copy of Wil's Happiest Days autographed to me. What does it say?

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How hawesome is that?

So of course, after all this, I will give the book a positive review. But I am a skeptic and scientist, and I can divorce my own personal feelings from a book review, right?

So:

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This book is really good. Are you a geek? Grew up playing video games? Go to cons? Watch Trek? Have your own set of d10s, d12, and d20s (and if you even know what that means, then yes, you count)? Yeah, you know who you are. You are already one of us, whether you admit it or not. Come. Join us. Be with Wil and Phil and countless others who enjoy -- nay, revel -- in nerddom.

Wil's writing makes this way of life less of the fringe it was when I was a kid and more of a real thing, a legitimate lifestyle choice. Sure, you get razzed by others, but this is really how we are. You get a taste of it through Wil's eyes, through his reminiscing. There's a nice mix of real-guy-with-a-life-and-family mixed in with fanboy mixed in with being an actual TV and movie actor. Also, I play poker, so his story about a Hollywood poker speakeasy made me laugh.

Obviously, if you're a nerd gaming con-attending poker-playing Trekker, this book is perfect for you.

Otherwise, it's just a really, really good book for you.

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Seriously, it's an excellent read. And just to add some leverage, Wil has put this together himself. No publisher, no agent. He is literally shipping the book from his living room.

And one last thing. I mentioned to The Little Astronomer how Wil loves to play Guitar Hero with his sons. TLA is good at Guitar Hero. Really good. Like kick Wil's butt kinda good. Hear that, Wil?

Not only that, but she picked up Happiest Days today and started reading it. She asked me if Wil ever played NetTrek, the greatest game ever invented ever for the Internet ever, the crack cocaine of the 'net, the game that delayed my PhD by a solid year, the game I played briefly with TLA before realizing my life would once again spiral down into an endless series of cloaking, ogging, and dooshing and so I deleted the binary. That game. I told her I didn't know. But a few minutes later, while going through the book, right there on page 54, it says, "I'd [get] in my car and drive down to Guy's place on the weekend so we could Appletalk our machines together and play NetTrek..."

Wil played NetTrek? Is this the same as Netrek that I played incessantly in grad school? Or is this some weird Apple version, long since gone to wherever dead games go? It it possible I ogged Wil's base back in the 90s?

Probably not. But it's connections like that, memories of gaming, cons, and nerddom, that you wonder about when you read his book. You're there, experiencing what he did. So go read it, and see what it's like to be Wil.

Turns out, it's pretty nice.