Read by Clive Greenwood
I am your father.
That is, assuming your mother didn’t lie. And I can’t see any reason why she should; it wasn’t like she was asking anything of me. Quite the reverse. Oh, and assuming your mother bothered to pay any heed at all to this one little request of mine. Well, two, if you count the letter.
Before you go jumping off any buildings, or screwing up your eyes in a vain attempt to X-ray your way through the nearest girl's clothing, I have, alas, no superpowers to impart, only wisdom: “All that I have, all that I've learned, everything I feel ... all this, and more, I ... I bequeath to you, my son.”
That’s the Brando Jor-El version, of course, and like most of my advice, it’s borrowed. This isn’t a sign of weakness: it’s the sign of a true fan, a devotee.
But even if my advice isn’t strictly mine to give, it is all that I have to offer you, other than your name. Again, assuming your mother hasn’t ruined my Intro and called you something else. I’m optimistic though: I half convinced her that ‘Luke’ was a good, honest name, a biblical name, and I think I managed to do it without mentioning Skywalker or Darth Vader once. But, if she suspects, then I’m guessing you’re probably a Clark, a John, or –heaven forbid –a Robin. She probably thinks these are “nice” names, but they are merely sidekicks and alter-egos, the Dr Watson to the great detective. These are lowly aspirations for any child to be saddled with from birth. Alternative names, I hasten to add, for which I take no responsibility: so do feel free to blame your mother.
Of course, she could have done far worse than given you an inauspicious moniker, she could have destroyed this one message of mine, or failed to deliver it to you, or even delivered it too early, despite the very strict instructions I wrote on the envelope’s front: “To be opened on my Son’s 18th birthday, or during the Singularity, or in the event of an Alien / Robot / Zombie / Stormtrooper invasion. Whichever comes first.”
After all, 18 years is a long time, things change. Superheroes are reborn with fresh faces, their stories rebooted. God knows what generation Doctor we’re up to by now. When I was growing up, there was only one Superman, Hulk was an actor in green body-paint, Batman was played for laughs, Spider-Man was a cartoon and Iron Man a comic. Perhaps this suggests that any advice I might give will be past its best before date? Perhaps in the intervening years they’ll find out, as in Woody Allen’s Sleeper, that cigarettes are good for you, or that the Titanium dioxide commonly used in sunscreen is a deadly carcinogen. But I have, I hope, chosen wisely: my advice is timeless, because it is the advice of heroes. Perhaps, for that very reason, it will already be familiar to you. I do hope so, whoever’s lips it might have emerged from. But allow me, please, to put my own spin on it, to try and distil what I feel has been most useful to me over the years, and why.
Never try and rewrite your history. It won’t wash. You’ll just end up with a Phantom Menace. In an ideal world, you won’t even know what I’m talking about, as I sincerely hope history has been as unkind to that pile of dross as we fans were when first we saw it. So yeah: like even the great George Lucas, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to have regrets. I did, I have. These – as much as your successes – are what make you, you. That doesn’t mean you have to announce them to the world, but please, don’t ignore them, don’t try to brush them under the carpet. Most likely they won’t fit.
Talking about mistakes, never drink more than two Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters in one session. Seriously, you have – if fate has been as kind to you as it has been to me – a brain the size of a planet. And while on occasion you’ll wish it weren’t so, drink is not the answer. There are few things less attractive than a vomit-splattered geek, and alas, this too I know from bitter (sic) experience.
Never wear a cape. Seriously. This shouldn’t be advice I have to give. If this is in any way news to you, go back and watch every Pixar movie ever. They’ll teach you far more than I ever could.
Make sure you have a speaking part. We all know what happens to the crewmate with no lines who accompanies the main Star Trek characters to the planet surface. Don’t be that silent crewmate – if you see a girl that you like, go over and heck, talk to her. The worst she can do is ignore you. Or, perhaps, use you for sex, and – other than the need to hastily pen a detailed letter for a potentiality 18 years down the line before being shown the door – that really isn’t so bad.
Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Okay, I don’t mean that quite literally. I guess I mean never get involved in any wars at all, unless it’s on a computer screen or it involves cards or odd shaped dice. Geeks are not made for fights. We lack the coordination, the aggression, the willingness to hurt and to be hurt. Being clever, you’ll ruffle the feathers of the jocks, the gym goers. You might,for a brief and regrettable moment, assume that sheer brain power is enough to beat them, like Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock. It isn’t. Slow-mo is strictly for the movies.
Finally, Luke, dear, dear Son, I have to face the very real possibility that things have not panned out quite the way I’m imagining. And I’m not just talking about asteroids, global warming, or World War three (or even Z) here. When your mother and I parted ways you were merely the faintest of lines on a pregnancy test kit. She wanted a kid, she said. Wanted it to be smart, she said. But she didn’t want a husband, a father, a geek. Be careful what you ask for, I say. There’s a good chance that you are now the geek she didn’t want. Did that come out right? Never mind. No time to edit.
There is also the possibility that: Luke, I am not your father; that it is not my DNA that flows through your veins. Heck, that makes up your veins. Or half-makes up. This is not a consideration I take lightly, and it isn’t, in this case, even one that reflects badly on your mother. After all, her clock was ticking, she wanted a kid, and I’m assuming I wasn’t the only non-pathological nerd she found sitting at the bar avoiding eye contact at one of the many drinking establishments near Silicon roundabout.
But I hope and trust you are a geek. I hope you are intelligent, passionate, slightly obsessed, and more than a little introverted. That would be enough, I think; it would be evidence that you are the fruit of my Tasmanian-Devil-underpanted loins. If not – if it turns out that you are sporty, relaxed around women, the sort who thinks collectibles are for kids, then the chances are, you are not my son after all. So be it. Maybe you’ll still get something out of my advice, though I’m not sure what. The bit about the cape, perhaps.
There is though, another possibility. You could have half of my DNA. But not the half that includes the Y chromosome. In which case, I’m afraid I have no real advice to offer. I can only apologise. I’m sorry that you’ll be cursed to wear glasses for most of your life. I’m sorry that you’ll have to hide your intelligence in an attempt to be popular. I’m sorry that you’ll be considered socially awkward, quirky, or worse, kooky. But most of all, I’m really, really, really sorry Luke – it’s not the best name for a girl, is it?
May the Force be with you,
(c) Liam Hogan, 2014
Liam Hogan is aiming for an anthology of anthologies, having recently had stories accepted for The Martian Wave, Zombified II, Steampunk Trails, and previously for O Little Town of Deathlehem,Across The Ages and Arachne-published London Lies. This is of course a shameless attempt to fill his bookshelves without actually writing the bestselling novel he's supposed to be writing.
Clive Greenwood is currentlly touring in Up Pompeii, playing Frankie Howerd's role of Lurcio, and appears in two upcoming features, Mob Handed and Alice on Mars. He co-wrote Goodbye: The (after)life of Cook and Moore, which ran at the Gilded Balloon & Leicester Square Theatres and will be seen at the new Museum of Comedy in Jan firstname.lastname@example.org / www.spotlight.com/9094-6721-0711