June 8, 2010

Converting to Geek

Does anyone else get unreasonably happy when a non-geek friend or relative likes something geeky?

I am a Lord of the Rings thumping person willing to spout the goodness of nerdom to anyone that will listen.  I could probably go full on door to door with it.  Still, I suggest Star Wars, but I don't push it.  I was thrilled when my younger sister (who disavows any association with geek) fell for Battlestar Galactica.  BSG brought several people I know to the science fiction light, including those who "hate" sci-fi.  I know, I know - BSG is a character driven show and by no means guarantees that those people will give say, Bladerunner a chance.  A few of them did go on to watch Firefly though.

I've had better luck with using TV shows and movies to get people to open their minds a little.  When I started devouring fantasy books with voracious greediness as a teen, I assumed everyone else would want to as well.  If anyone I knew had a birthday and enjoyed to read, they got a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring or the like.  I continued that through my early twenties, and I don't think any of the ten or so people that got the books gave them a chance.  I doubt a page was read or even skimmed.  Maybe J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan weren't the best starting places.  A Vlad Taltos book by Steven Brust is still fantasy, but a lot more lighthearted and accessible.  It might have been a better primer. 

I still tend to find that most of my family and many I people I run into at the office or in everyday life have no interest in taking the leap from a real world to something more fantastical.  They have a lot of preconceptions that no amount of me yammering on about the relevance of Middle Earth in literature is going to change.  It's kinda like religion in that regard.  My cousins have always thought it unspeakably not cool that I read comic books and like spaceships.  Others, and  I don't want to name names, think it's silly to waste energy reading about things that can never be real.  I'm not kidding.  It makes me sad sometimes because it feels like so much close-mindedness.  Then again, they probably feel the same way when they talk about sports passionately and I just roll my eyes.

Damn perspective.


  1. I've more or less stopped caring about what people think about my consumption of fantasy and scifi. It's my free time and I can waste it on whatever I like :-)

    What does bother me is people who think that it's easier to write fantasy novels because you can "make everything up". I get that a lot when I mention what kind of stories I write :-(

    I do however squee a bit when I find someone who enjoys playing The Sims (1, 2 or 3 doesn't matter - I've spent many hours on all of them). I'm surrounded by geeks on a daily basis, so finding people who like fantasy novels or sci-fi TV shows isn't a problem, but Sims3 is not geeky enough for them. When I mention Sims3 most of my geek friends just say "huh?" or "what's the point of that game anyway?". A lot of my non-geek friends don't see the point of computer games to begin with and are thus no better. So where do I find the Sims3 players? I know they must be out there, since The Sims is one of the best selling game series ever made :-)

  2. I used to do the same thing, buying books for people. It is really disheartening when they don't ever pick it up or if they do they don't tell you about it. One of my English professors told us that if we became teachers, not to suggest our favorite books to the students. He said that 9 out of 10 of them will hate it and it will break your heart. He said if you teach college level classes only 50% will hate it.
    I have kids, so I lure them in with pokemon, the smurfs, and She-ra. They are coming along nicely. SciFi Media

  3. I've done a good job of surrounding myself with geeks, my whole immediate family is geeky, and so are most of my friends. I'm always super thrilled when I hear of people getting into geeky things and often have to sensor myself not to go seriously fan-girl on those people (don't want to scare them right away), although I am sufficiently geeky that my co-workers are quite aware and just ignore me (and my JoCo and Star Wars music on the speakers).

    You often have to pick and choose with people which geeky things they will like. I've gotten my lab obsessed with Munchkin and other similar games and somewhat with Rock Band. However, I start talking DnD, the crowd thins.

    Girls Are Geeks

  4. You know, it's funny, but I have reached the stage where I am completely surrounded by geeks. I like with two people that I actually met on an X-Files message board, all of my co-workers are geeks (of varying levels) and the couple of other friends I have made here are also geeky. I'm pretty proud of myself!!!

    Oh LotR... I just watched a snippet of Fellowship today with my friend... every single time I watch those movies it's like coming home all over again. *wistful sigh* I even managed to have a full-on debate about the finer points of the book to movie transition with the guy who runs Forbidden Planet once! *squishes her original fandom*

    In terms of converting people; I generally have the most success converting pre-existing geeks to newer fandoms...

  5. Great article...totally funny and true.

  6. BTW I heart Lord of the Rings too. I converted my brothers and sister...they love it too now and its a Christmas tradition to watch the trilogy, and no sissy stuff we watch director cut only!

  7. I love converting people!

    I also love when people understand my geeky references. For a job, I had to have my finger prints taken and so when I had to spread my fingers, I made a total Vulcan salute joke and the girl helping me understood!

  8. What a GREAT post. I quoted your whole post, and added a few thought of my own over at my blog "Hi My Name is Jason and I am a Geek" and hope I shoot some of my readers your way.


  9. Yes, I love introducing friends to geeky things. You're right, I'd never try handing someone Eye of the World unless I knew they already like reading fantasy. Harry Potter is the accessible fantasy series that comes to mind--so many people have read it already, I feel like more people would be willing to give it a chance.

    I start with Firefly, then try introducing BSG. Firefly has the "It's really funny" and "Come on, there are only 14 episodes" arguments to help convince people to give it a try that BSG doesn't. And who could not love Firefly? Seriously.

    So far so good with the conversion of my boyfriend. He said he'd only seen bits and pieces of the LotR movies, so we recently watched Fellowship, and the rest will soon follow. He got a little annoyed at me, though, because we were eating dinner while watching and I'd poke him any time I noticed him looking at his food instead of the screen at some key moment (you know, like the look in Gandalf's eyes as he says "I'm trying to help you", or the first flash of the Eye as he reaches for the Ring on the ground which made me jump the first three times I saw it in the theater...). Maybe I know the movie a little too well.

  10. I always try to convince people to watch Firefly. I'm with Eleni. It's a short run, so it's a small enough first bite of sci-fi. Then you go on to more Whedon, or BSG, or even BBT. A friend of mine said he didn't "get" Dr. Horrible, and I said he was no longer my friend... (I was just kidding, kinda.)

    Since I'm a 6th grade teacher, I'm usually "up" on the YA lit scene, as well, so I'm always telling people to read the newest good YA fantasy or sci-fi series. (Twilight is NOT a part of that, Hunger Games IS!)

    I can never talk books, tv, or movies with the other teachers I work with, because they're really not geeks. So let me tell you how excited I was when one of the science teachers started watching The Big Bang Theory. It was finally something that wasn't AI or Two and a Half Men that I could talk about at the lunch table! It made my little geeky day!

  11. I've given copies of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson to several of my friends in hopes they would get it. I've pretty much given up on that practice.

    I think it's easier to just find friends who are already like us than to convert others.

  12. I've infrequently tried to convert people, either through recommending books, movies or websites - unfortunately most of the time they just don't get whatever it is.

    I think the last thing I successfully sold someone on was the "True Blood" series. I've also sold someone on FX's "Sons of Anarchy" but they were already into motorcycles - I'm trying to get them to watch "Hamlet" now to see if they get the inspiration.

  13. Wow guys, I am pleasantly surprised by the responses I got to this post. I had a hunch many folks could relate though!

    Noora - Oof, I hate that one too. I mean - obviously it's so easy to just make up entire worlds and such willy nilly. I've tried to explain what it's actually like, but it seems to fall upon permanently deaf ears.

    Hehe! I can relate a tiny bit because I played Sims 1 for many hours. I made myself stop though after I stayed up until 6am one morning. I realized that video games have a hold over me. There must be more out there!

    Budd - I always expect people to at least give one chapter a try? But no. Your English professor gives wise advice.

    Rosalind - I really had to dial back my enthusiasm when a co-worker recently watched Star Wars for the first time. I started spouted behind the scenes stuff and rambling about George Lucas, and I could see the eyes to start to glaze. I can't help it!!

    I'm glad you have geeky folks around you. It's very fun when you can mention nerdtastic things and people actually get you rather than just roll their eyes at you. :)

    Mary - Bah, I want co-worker geeks. A co-worker of mine recently said she "can't stand" LotR. It made me cry on the inside. I love those movies. And all the million featurettes that come with them.

    You are super lucky to have so many of our kind around you. ;)

    Mayra - thank you!

    Angela - Ha, that is amazing! I'm so remembering that next time I have to give prints!

    Jason - Oh awesome, thank you so much for helping to get people over here. :D

    Eleni - Yeah, I think Eye of the World was a tad bit ambitious on my part.

    Maybe if you watch The TWo Towers soon you can just have movie theater type food so there is no excuse for him looking away. So many things get communicated by facial expressions in those films!! :D

    Kara - Firefly is a good primer. Short + wonderful writing/acting + the bit of Old West.

    After my sister didn't like Dr. Horrible - well didn't last much into the first song really - I threatened to disown her.

    Jim - Snow Crash is on my list too. And I agree. Thanks to the internet it's even easier to find fellow geeks.

    jdhovland - Ooh, True Blood is a place to start for sure. You've got pretty basic TV show storylines, like love and sex, but then you catch them with the vampire part. I'll keep that in mind.

    I need to watch Sons of Anarchy.


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