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You walk down the street, or into the mall, or near a library, and you see someone dressed up as a stormtrooper. Not a cheap Halloween costume—they look like the real thing. And you think to yourself, “Who ARE these people?”

It turns out these people are probably members of the 501st Legion, a worldwide organization in which groups of people gather locally to dress up in Star Wars costumes and attend special events. The 501st has shown up at four of my six book signings so far. And before you judge, you should also know that these are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. My local group—the Cloud City Garrison of the 501st Legion, in case you were curious—recently stopped by a children’s hospital to bring joy and awe to the patients.

Imagine my surprise when, last night, I dropped by Powell’s bookstore to sign some back-ordered copies of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. Waiting for me were members of the 501st, in costume on a hot summer’s evening, there to present me with honorary membership into the 501st Legion as well as the Rebel Legion (they wanted to make sure I had the good with the bad). Blushes, smiles, maybe even a little lump in my throat—I feel like I’ve just made the geek Hall of Fame, and that’s a very good thing.

Thanks to the members of my local Garrison, and thanks to members of the 501st Legion around the world who bring Star Wars to fans everywhere.

Ian Doescher's picture

Ian Doescher

IAN DOESCHER is the author of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series. He lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.