Confessions of a Lifelong Geek

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I’ve been a geek for my entire life.  I used to get Tolkien paperbacks taken away from me in elementary school because I’d stick them inside my textbooks and read when I was supposed to be paying attention in class.  I had an unhealthy obsession with the Thundercats.  I used to act out Darth Vader’s death scene in Return of the Jedi rather than playing with my friends.  In high school, when other guys were obsessing over girls, I was obsessing over Terry Brooks and Tad Williams and Magic: The Gathering.  I can still hold my own in a variety of geek trivia.  Heck, I’m now a full-time author of fantasy and science fiction.  It doesn’t get much geekier than that.

But there are some skeletons lingering in my geek closet…guilty secrets that weigh heavy on my eager, geeky heart.  And you, dear readers, will be my mother and father confessors tonight.  Forgive me, for I have sinned.

The fact that I spend my days thinking about fantasy worlds and obsessing over things like lightsabers and the finer points of magic systems doesn’t change the fact that there are some areas of geekdom in which I just don’t measure up–and here they are.

  • I don’t get Doctor Who.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  But every episode I watch just confirms my initial impression, which is that it’s an intentionally cheesy, low-budget farce that takes itself inexplicably seriously.  The hardest part to understand is the rabid fandom associated with it–I suppose I could understand watching it late at night when there’s nothing else on, but I can’t really imagine actually being excited to watch it.  Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against the Doctor, Time Lords, or Whovians in general. I want to like it.  I just. Don’t. Get it.
  • I have never played Minecraft.  You could add the names of any number of other empire-building, strategy games here and the statement would still be accurate.  I love gaming, but I’ve never been able to get into this particular genre.  I’ve never had the patience for it.  I like my games heavy on graphics and story.  And it’s not that I don’t get the appeal of, for instance, building your own dream castle with adjacent gold mine and badminton park, but no world I’d dream up would look any good all pixelated and Minecrafty.
  • The last anime I watched with any level of real interest was Akira.  Last manga? You guessed it.  Akira, volume one.  Which was awesome.  But keeping up with even one anime or manga series seems like it could be a full-time job in and of itself, never mind staying abreast of all the most popular shows and books.  I guess I just prioritize other geekery, here: if I have to choose between a fantasy or a sci-fi novel and watching an anime, I’m going to choose the book.
  • I have never played Dungeons & Dragons.  This one actually embarrasses me a little.  How can you even consider yourself a true-blue geek if you’ve never played D&D?  It wasn’t for lack of trying; I just never had any friends who were into it.  I used to go into this game store the next town over when I was a kid and look at Dungeon Master’s guides and box sets and just drool.  It seemed complicated and immersive and just fun.  But I wasn’t much of a self-starter when it came to hobbies, and since I never had any kind of D&D mentor I never got around to it–to my ever-lasting shame.
  • I prefer TNG to TOS.  It’s not that I dislike Star Trek: The Original Series.  In many ways, Kirk and Spock and crew will always be the more memorable characters to me.  But as far as quality story-telling goes, I’ve gotta go with The Next Generation.  The world is more interesting, the storytelling is superior, and the issues are far more topical to my own lifetime.  It also has a few more decades of science fiction canon to steal from, so the plots of the episodes end up being a lot more interesting.
  • I think the Star Wars prequels had some redeeming characteristics.  Whoa whoa whoa, stay with me here.  Listen closely.  I’m not saying they’re good.  They are terrible films made by a creatively stunted writer/director that pretty much ruined every Star Wars fan’s internal vision of the backstory of a number of classic characters.  So just to be clear, I’m not saying I like the prequels.  I’m saying that there were a scant few things that Lucas (or someone) did do right.  Ewan MacGregor’s performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the production design of the films’ universe, and the lightsaber dueling, for example.  Diamonds in the rough, all of them, but worthy of positive mention.  Everything else is just one big fart joke.

What are your geek confessions? What are your responses to mine?  Feel free to explain my wrongheaded thinking; I’m willing to be educated.  This inquiring mind wants to know.  I promise I won’t judge your own confessions…too harshly.

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