This week was Speak Out with Your Geek Out, a blogging event centered around geek culture organized by the clever and talented Monica Valentinelli. My intention was to write a post for Tuesday or Wednesday, to help continue the trend after the initial explosion of blog posts on Monday, but then I got a cold. Technically, I still have a cold, but I’m finally feeling well enough to write something. So, hooray! Better late than never, eh?
The tough thing about blogging on the topic of geekery is that I have so many geeky hobbies that it’s hard to choose just one! (I sound like the princess with too many suitors, don’t I?) Anyway, ultimately I decided that I should go back in time and think about that one geeky hobby that first got me started, before the Asian ball-joint dolls or the steampunk costuming, before Elegant Gothic Lolita entered my vocabulary or I spent my spare time crocheting Cthulhu amigurumi.
At my core, I will always be a science fiction and fantasy media geek. I say “media” because I can’t limit myself to just books or movies or television shows–I love it all.
I think my earliest memories of this obsession are watching films like Krull, Beastmaster, Red Sonja, Willow, and LadyHawk. Looking back, some of these movies are just terrible–but at the time, they seemed incredibly unique and clever to my young mind.The more strange and absurd the plot, and the more sweeping the epic, the more I loved it. If one of these films came on television, I insisted on watching it.
I also remember watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my parents over dinner on Sunday nights. That show was incredibly formative for me, as it was for so many others of my generation. The idea that humanity could someday rise above our differences and coexist peacefully enough to explore space as one race instead of many different nations–that idea still resonates with me to this day.
And then there was the X-Files, a show that mainstreamed the paranormal for everyone my age. I was also obsessed, however, with shows from the past, like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. I blame these shows for my incredibly picky taste in horror.
I didn’t really start reading genre fiction until Middle School, when at some point I discovered dragons and couldn’t stop reading anything with dragons on the cover. This led me to discover Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, with which I was so obsessed that for a decade my parents bought me copies of the signed first-edition hardbacks for Xmas each year (I still have them). Gradually from there I read more and more fantasy and science fiction, including the Redwall series, the DragonLance Chronicles, and countless others.
So, what’s my point in recounting all this? At that time, I was the only girl I knew who was “into” genre fiction and science fiction movies. I often kept it quiet, because I was already an outsider, and many times it felt like no other girls could relate. I found boys with whom I could discuss my obsessions, but they were rare, because friendships between boys and girls are awkward when you’re a teenager. When I wrote fiction and shared it with my parents or my classmates or my teachers, I was usually treated to a reaction that was less than encouraging, because hardly anyone knew what to make of a girl who wrote about aliens and monsters.
But then I grew up. Then the internet exploded onto the scene. Now, geeks are everywhere. I know because I’m friends with a lot of them, in real life and online. Now I write genre fiction, and I’m encouraged and supported by a community of geeks, people who can appreciate stories about aliens and monsters (or demons and Elder Gods). I don’t have to hide my geeky hobbies, and I don’t feel like a freak anymore.
My hope is that there are girls out there who will read this, girls who think they are weirdos for reading Arthur C. Clarke instead of Sweet Valley High, who would rather watch Star Wars than Jersey Shore, who would rather buy (or make) a Codex costume than a prom dress, who feel isolated and discouraged. “What’s wrong with me?” these hypothetical girls might wonder. “Why am I crushing on Sheldon Cooper when everyone else is crushing on Justin Bieber?”
There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re awesome. Thanks to the internet, you probably already know that, but I’d like to reinforce it. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Right now you might be living in a little podunk town in the middle of nowhere, or you might be the only geek at your school, and it seems like nobody appreciates your dry sense of humor or your chemistry-themed jokes. But don’t worry, there are others like you out there. Lots of us, in fact.