Making Wookiee

"It'd be easier to make the jump to light speed with a damaged hyperdrive than to remain calm around…him." Such are the metaphorical stylings of Rory Egglehoff, the Star Wars-obsessed heroine of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Men I've Dated. Unlike her Manolo-wearing, cosmo-sipping chick-lit peers, Rory is so nerdy that she often exclaims "Ewok shit!" when angered, spends her lunch breaks looking for limited-edition Burger King Star Wars glasses, and musters courage with a WWLD (What Would Leia Do)-style mantra.

Her creator, Houstonian teacher-turned-author Shane Bolks, fesses up to a Star Wars fetish of her own. "I have to admit that I would often look things up to double-check a reference that she would make," she says. "But generally I would already know." Still, a geeky loser Bolks ain't: After spending the last eight years teaching English to local middle- and high-schoolers, she landed a four-book contract and now writes full-time.

The plot of Men I've Dated is pretty standard, as chick-lit goes: Accountant Rory runs into her high-school crush, studly "Jedi knight" Hunter Chase, and hopes that he'll escort her to their 15-year reunion so she can finally feel cool after years of nerddom. She and a friend devise an "ultimate Jedi plan" to win his affections. First, however, Rory has to learn how to wear miniskirts, get into shape and lose her "Wookiee" boyfriend, Tom, a computer-game-loving accountant with a penchant for Marvin the Martian ties.

Rory's struggles are familiar and her nerdiness endearing. The Star Wars jokes will amuse, not confuse, sci-fi neophytes. And Rory's classification of men as "Jedis" and "Wookiees" is surprisingly apt: For every dashing, heroic knight out there, there are certainly several hairy, incomprehensible beasts.

Bolks admits that she's dated her share of Wookiees and calls her own boyfriend a "Jedi in training." But she swears that the similarities between her and Rory end there. Of course, a recent movie release prompted an inevitable question, which Bolks was quick to answer: "I don't like the new ones. I pretty much agree with Rory about that."

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Julia Ramey