[Spotlight] ‘The Science of Rick and Morty: The Unofficial Guide to Earth’s Stupidest Show’
Matt Brady, a Clemmons-based author and high school chemistry teacher, published his book “The Science of Rick and Morty” in October 2019. But before he was a teacher and author, he said he co-founded and ran a website called Newsarama.com, which is a sci-fi comic book culture website.
He said he started teaching at a Title I school, which is marked by a high rate of poverty and minority population.
“When I did that, I needed some way to communicate with my students,” he said. “Some way to kind of bridge this gap of being a middle-aged white guy in a high-minority population. And pop culture was the way.”
He started incorporating pop culture references into his curriculum. Then, Brady said he and his wife (who also teaches science) started the website TheScienceOf.org.
“We use it to talk to other teachers that are interested in using this strategy to reach students,” he explained. “I write articles there that look at science in pop culture, and I wrote a few articles about Rick and Morty on the site.”
Brady didn’t think too much of it, as it was just a hobby of his. Then an editor of a book publisher in the United Kingdom emailed asking if he’d like to turn those articles about Rick and Morty into a book.
“A month later, I turned everything in, and I had a book,” he said.
Since the publisher of the book was based in the UK, “The Science of Rick and Morty” debuted in spring 2019. Brady said Simon and Shuster then bought the rights to the book and started distributing it in the United States on Oct. 1, 2019.
“I was just doing my thing on the internet, and somebody found me,” he said. “I am like the Justin Bieber of science communication.”
The book is a little over 300 pages and is comprised of two of Brady’s articles (“Dwarf Terrace-9” and “Cockroach Brains”) broken up into chapters. One of Brady’s favorite episodes of Rick and Morty was “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” which introduces Rick’s hive-mind “girlfriend” Unity into the show.
“The idea of Unity is pretty common in sci-fi,” he explained. “It is the Borg, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Children of the Damned-type thing. But I was able to pose it to an evolutionary biologist. And I was like—’This isn’t really real, is it?’ And he said, ‘There are parallels to our world to a hive mind-type thing.’ That was really, really interesting to figure out and see that there are parallels to our universe to these fiction things.”
Brady said even though he doesn’t incorporate his book into his teaching, he did incorporate his teaching-style in the book.
“If you can give students something that they are interested in and then say, ‘well, let’s talk about the science behind it.’ They are already in my camp, and they feel comfortable,” he said. “They like Rick and Morty, and they know what this property is, or they like The Flash, Black Panther, Back to the Future, and it helps them understand the science and be more open to the science. Being a science teacher, communicator, advocate, holy cow, that is what I live for.”
“The Science of Rick and Morty” is now available online or locally at Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books or at Winston-Salem’s Bookmarks.