“Being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about the way that you love it.” – Wil Wheaton
Geek Pride Day (Día del orgullo friki) was first proposed and organized on May 25, 2006 by Spanish blogger Germán Martínez as a celebration of all things geeky. What started as a small, local meetup soon spread to Madrid and cities across Europe. The day was first officially celebrated in the United States in 2008 and has since spread to across the country, commemorated with parades, parties, virtual events and marathons of Firefly.
So what makes May 25 special to geeks, freaks and nerds? In 1977, a science fiction film was released that went on to become a cultural phenomenon. Star Wars has been a geek staple for nearly 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down, with new films, television shows, comics and toys being released every year. It’s safe to say that most people have seen Star Wars. So let’s take a look at Star Wars before it became Star Wars.
The Star Wars is a graphic novel written by J. W. Rinzler with art by Mike Mayhew published by Dark Horse Comics. Based on the original rough-draft screenplay written by George Lucas in 1973, the characters, settings and story in this early version are very different from the final film—and a fascinating view into how the story evolved into what would eventually become the Star Wars we all know today.
May 25 has also become memorial days for two giants of science fiction and fantasy writing. In 2001, the world lost Douglas Adams to cancer. Following his death, May 25 was declared Towel Day in reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which posited that a towel “is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was conceived of and written by Adams in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy and later adapted as a novel in 1979. The hugely popular series has spawned television programs, computer games, provided an answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything as well as a feature film. While The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is probably his most famous work, Adam’s was a prolific writer of science fiction, notably acting as story editor for the 16th season of Doctor Who and authoring the Dirk Gently series. It can safely be said that Douglas Adams was a frood who really knew where his towel was.
Sir Terry Pratchett is the second author to be memorialized on May 25 – or the Glorious 25 of May as Discworld fans know it, named so for the Glorious Revolution detailed in Night Watch, marking the day by wearing a sprig of lilac and donating to Alzheimer’s research. Sir Terry is best known for the Discworld series which spans 41 novels with several adaptations to video games, television, animation, comic books and more. Pratchett also co-authored Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods, Sandman and many others.
“There is no justice. There is just me.” – Death, Mort
Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 but continued writing even after losing the ability to use a pen or keyboard with the help of his assistant, Rob Wilkins – publishing his final novel posthumously in 2015. While Douglas Adams gave us the meaning of life, Pratchett gave us Death, a recurring character in both the Discworld series and Good Omens, and several explorations on the subject, both in fiction and in his support for dignity in death through assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Human dignity and respect is a theme that rages through Pratchett’s work from beginning to end. The blending of the macabre, the silly and the bizarre is what makes his writing so wonderful and enduring.
"Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-Boiled Egg!" – Night Watch
So, on this May 25, go out into the world, bring your towel, your lilacs and your lightsaber and celebrate your geekiness with all the others in the world that love fan culture deeply and without shame. Be excellent to each other, and live long and prosper.