Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maximum geekdom achieved!

Unless there's a Society for Creative Anachronism blog out there, can you really top an online video in which Glenn Reynolds interviews a sci-fi author and discusses, inter alia, "the suckiness of the Starship Troopers movie"?

This is just sad, people. It's what happens when boys whose mothers won't let them play football grow into teenagers who can't dance, then become college students who spend their weekends rolling those weird D&D dice and . . .

Well, you see how this disturbing pattern of pathology ineluctably progresses to the point where grown men actually care about the film adaptations of space fantasy novels.

Am I the only one who sees this whole cluster of behaviors, centered around the telltale abnormal interest in fictionalized distant worlds and/or ancient times, as constituting something that might be called Total Geek Syndrome?

I'm almost exactly the same age as Insty, and I well remember those who succumbed to the geek syndrome. Some of my college buddies got into that SCA thing, where they spent their weekends playfighting with wooden swords in preparation for the much-anticipated "Renaissance Faire."

OK, there were probably more antisocial things that students could do with their leisure hours, but watching my loser buddies waste their weekends on that lame SCA crap sure made me feel a lot better about my own decadent habits of getting drunk and scoring with disco skanks.

Today, of course, geekishness more commonly manifests itself as online role-playing videogames and attending Comic-Con, puerile Battlestar Gallactica fixations, etc., but it's still all part of the same syndrome.

These observations will spark a nature/nuture debate -- are geeks "born that way"? -- and I will predictably stand accused of intolerance for alternative lifestyles. But really, I'm just trying to help.

Somewhere in America at this very moment there is a 13-year-old boy refusing the offer of a Marlboro Red from the neighborhood juvenile delinquent.

"Uh, no thanks . . . I might get in trouble," says the geek-to-be, and seals his fate forever. No ditching school. No disciplinary infractions. No motorcycle accidents. No strange rashes after sneaking out of the house one summer night at age 14 to rendezvous by the laundromat with a girl named Tonya.

That 13-year-old kid confronted with his first chance to smoke a Marlboro is at a fork in the road, you see. One way leads to a leather jacket and an electric guitar, the other leads to a 3.9 GPA and a lifelong Robert Heinlein obsession.

I'm not saying that the geek path is necessarily unworthy, but I do feel it is important that these kids know they have a choice.

Won't you please give generously to help fight Total Geek Syndrome? The kid you save will thank you . . . once that strange rash clears up.


  1. I am geek and proud! Do not be ashamed. We contribute to GDP!

  2. That geek SF author is an 82nd Airborne vet and the author of the only American Christian fantasy novel I've ever read.

    For that matter, Tom Disch was a 300-pd gay New Wave SF author with the Silver Star from Korea (BAR gunner)...

    I'll take them over the postmodernist litteratoors any day...

  3. Geeks also have discretionary income that spends just like real money when tip jars are hit.

  4. I have been a Heinlein reader since my early teens and his writings pretty much established my Libertarian world veiw. I also have been riding Harleys for almost 40 years...... does this mean I am a Geek/Greaser or a Greaser/Geek? A Nerd/Ne'r-do-well or a N'er-Do-Well/Nerd? I am confused (and possibly schizophrenic....)......


  5. Concur, who in hell wants to get involved in fiction? Any kind, but particularly scifi? People in hell. Reality is insane enough, why make it up and call it something important? That is upside-down. Delusional. Priests of Baal only do that. They make money at it. But it is insanity from start to finish.

  6. Your sarcasm fails of amusement. Not the usual case.
    The film(s) made from the novel "Starship Troopers" were far worse than horrible. They were a literary gang rape of a genuinely significant novel.
    R.A. Heinlein was a formative influence for many, many people. As well, he was one of the fifty or so truly influential minds of the 20th. Among other things, Waterbeds and Waldoes were his (unpatented) inventions. He has 3-5 entries on anyone's 20 best sci-fi novels of all time, and there isn't a one of them that's 'light reading'.

    My mother floored me last year when she blamed my politics on 'all that science fiction we let you read when you were a teenager'. Formative influence? Yup.

    Read Starship Troopers. Go ahead. While you're reading it, remember that powered combat armor was another Heinlein idea. Remember also that the man who wrote it was a medically retired Annapolis graduate.
    Then read 'Double Star'. Written by the same man.

    Or Niven and Pournelle, Or Stirling.

  7. Oh, Lord help me.

    "I can't make the Continental event, alas; I have tickets to see the Rifftrax show at Tysons Corner..."

    If anyone doesn't know, The Continental is a bar. The Rifftrax show is a live commentary on "Plan 9 from Outer Space" by the Mystery Science Theater guys. Where did I go wrong...

  8. "Concur, who in hell wants to get involved in fiction? Any kind, but particularly scifi? People in hell. Reality is insane enough, why make it up and call it something important?"

    Sci-fi actually allows for a more honest exploration of political and social issues than a "reality-based" genre does. Sci-fi sets the issues in an unfamiliar world and as such, readers feel no particular connection to "how things should be" in this world, and thus are more open to receiving new ideas and arguments about situations, where in a more traditional setting they would have a defensive reflex to protect their own worldview.

    For true geekdom, you need something more like this ;-)

  9. That's right Stacy, keep telling us you're not a closet case.

  10. BTW, if you can't get laid at a Renaissance Faire... you can't get laid.

  11. Not that "Starship Troopers" the movie sucked. But Neil Patrick Harris in SS-esque uniform and Dina Meyer at least partially out of uniform entirely aside, the book was better.

  12. I'm with Eamon. SF probably has done more than anything except Ronald Reagan to bring people into the conservative/libertarian fold, and you disrespect it at your peril, sirrah. Was going to hit the tip jar, but I'll take my shekels to the blog of a fellow geek (Moe Lane) instead.

  13. Umm I enjoyed both in my formative years, at least in part, because of Heinlein. I admit to the prosecution that I have read nearly everything that RAH wrote but certainly that didn't exclude juvenile behavior that I called the pursuit of happiness.

  14. @Magson, ganga is the easier and more direct channel to the outcome you laud.

    The best and really only way to grow up is to face facts.

    Love, not speculation or escape, is the royal road to development and peace, both.

  15. Rookie error, schooled by commenters. Don't worry, Stacy, you'll catch on to this blogging thing eventually.

  16. Did a blogger just accuse someone of being a geek?

    Is that the smell of Irony?