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I don't know when I started to self-identify as a geek. It may have been as far back as junior high, when I was reading my way through every Star Trek tie-in novel I could get my hands on. It may not have been until later, like when I wore a Starfleet insignia pin the day Gene Roddenberry died. It was definitely by college when I joined strek-l, moved to the computer interest dorm, and was reading all these old sf books from the library. I seriously miss a good university library.

I never qualified that as 'girl geek' or 'geek girl'. I thought 'geek' was sufficient and pleasantly gender-neutral. But apparently now I'm wrong about that?

The times I have considered using it is in contemplating new blogs, as a way to show that the blog would be geeky with a, let's face it, feminist bent.

I'm not particularly comfortable with identifying as a 'geek girl' without it being heavily in a context where it makes sense to do so. Partly because women and girls can be geeks, just plain geeks. Partly because I identify as genderqueer and more than 50% female only as a convenience.

But, you know, 'geek' is qualified by lots of other words too. Star Trek geek, Star Wars geek, computer geek, gamer geek. The list is as endless as geeky interests are. But how often do you run across gay geek, black geek, disabled geek? And in those cases where you do, isn't it the person self-identifying themselves that way? It's not that they're a gay geek, but that they're gay and a geek. So a girl and a geek?

But that doesn't quite work if you're not the sort who feels a need to say 'I am a girl' as an assertion of your identity. Especially if it's not even 100% true!

And it definitely doesn't work if it's another person doing the labeling. Why did you feel a need to qualify that person as a girl geek and not as a geek, or as a comics geek, or a robotics geek? Do you say in your introduction to your blog post, "As the famous boy geek, Cory Doctorow, says.." Or even 'guy geek', because I do think guy-girl is an opposite sort of thing, in some instances. (Even though I also think 'guys' is gender-neutral.) ((I'm also prone to using 'chick' more often than 'girl' or 'woman' myself.))

Once that label morphs from just a label to a series of stereotypes, then it gets even more problematic. Of course everyone realizes that every Star Trek geek doesn't necessarily know Klingon, wears pointed ears or bumped foreheads to every con, can do the Vulcan handsign, or can spell xenopolycythemia. I mean, you do know that right? Not all Star Trek geeks are the same? So why believe the girl geek stereotypes floating out there?

I've only recently come to identify as feminist. It's even a little weird to type that now. I think instead of asserting in any location that I'm a girl geek, I'm going to go with feminist geek, if that's what I mean. Or queer geek. Or Star Trek geek. Or sf writer, MUSH admin, blogger, webmaster, grad student, or a hundred more geeky titles that I could assign myself.

But firstly, primarily, mostly, and always, just a geek.
julieandrews: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ktempest, I hear that Barbie is letting people vote for Barbie's next career. Environmentalist, Surgeon, Architect, News Anchor, or Computer Engineer?

The geekiest choice is computer engineer, which I went and picked. But vote with your conscience!

Will she dress in jeans and a Woot T-shirt? Will she be Mac or PC?

If she's sufficiently geeky, will I have to buy one?

(The answer to that last is No.)

Oh yea, the link to the voting page.
julieandrews: (Default)
Here's stuff I'm thinking about.

* I've downloaded Series 2 Episode 1 of Merlin. Haven't watched it yet.
* I had to tape Heroes because it was opposite House (and had to download HIMYM and Big Bang Theory!) The sitcoms were good, as always. House less so, but that should improve next week. Haven't watched Heroes yet.
* Had to tape Bones to watch Flash Forward. FF was okay, interesting. We'll see. Haven't watched the second Bones yet, but the first was not that terrific.
* Castle was more interesting than the episodes of it I'd caught previously.
* Speaking of.. the Emmys were made of awesome. NPH should always host. Hodgman should always announce. Except, of course, when they're busy winning awards for being awesome.

* There's stories I keep meaning to write and never actually sitting down to write.
* I now have a couple of reviews I mean to write before I completely forget the books I've read. (Hunger Games and Parrotfish. Both awesome.)
* I do mean to organize our Clarion class such that we can get a scholarship together.
* I've procrastinated even deciding to go to WFC. Lots of cool people will be there, but it's coming up on the holidays and I'll run out of time off. It's across the country, which makes it more annoying to get to. It's the height of swine flu season, which makes me wary of picking up any sort of airplane or con crud. WFC is also sold out at this point. But.. all these awesome people will be there! Auuugh!

* I meant to write a post about all the awesome stories at Strange Horizons you should read, but I haven't gotten around to it.
* I'm taking 2 classes this semester, so any extra thing to think about or do makes me stress out. See, trips above, also add, doctor's appointments.
* Need to get a flu shot. I get a free one on October 15th, but should think about getting one sooner. If it fits in with my cheap and lazy lifestyle.
* Need to do more laundry and clean my room.
* Need more money.

* Starting reading Dan Brown's piece of cr-- I mean, long-awaited tome of secrets. Contemplating writing a play-by-play review of that. And it doesn't even bother me that more awesome reviewers, writers, witty people may be doing the same thing. Because I'm still awesome and witty and Dan Brown already ticked me off with his comment about transgender stuff.

What needs plugging? Last Drink Bird Head edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer is a charity anthology for literacy charities and is full of stories by awesome people. Some of whom are Clarion classmates. Are the stories awesome? Well, they must be!

Oh, oh, and did you see the lineup for Clarion 2010?! It's right here! It's Delia Sherman, who is awesome. Jeff and Ann Vandermeer are team-teaching the last two weeks (at least, I believe so). And, they, are also, awesome. I must confess to not knowing who Dale Bailey is. Probably my loss. And then they got two people called George R. R. Martin and Samuel R. Delany. Whoever they are. I expect there will be some sort of beard competition. Polish up some stories so you're all ready to apply in January!
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I was surprised to hear people talking about the aging fandom and the death of Worldcon, etc. Aren't we past that? Haven't the arguments been made and heard? Isn't it jolly well obvious that people my age and people half my age are engaging with science fiction and fantasy? They're watching it, they're playing it, they're writing it, they're remixing it. But yes, they're reading it too. Really they are! Or did you think Rowling and Meyer got where they are solely based on 50+ white male readership?

Maybe they're not at your cons. Maybe because they're your cons. And maybe you're completely failing to see the ones that are at your cons, because they're not part of your clique, or they're not attending the panels you're attending, or they're not established enough to be invited onto panels, or they're not, like, old enough to hang out in the bar!

Do you want another generation to take up the mantle of the institutions you've built up? Well, then, you'd better be ready, willing, and able to accept change. You can't dismiss Buffy. Or paranormal romance. Or anime. Or video games. You have to be able to say 'that's not for me' without saying 'that's for kids' or 'that's for girls' or 'that's for _____'.

'That's not for me, but I will give it a place at my con, because I see lots of people are interested in talking about it.' And then be prepared to give it a respected space. I've seen some of those WorldCon descriptions. There's not full respect there.

So, yea, guys, fandom isn't aging. It's just a slightly different fandom than you grew up with.
julieandrews: (Default)
Here's some brief thoughts on books I've read recently:

(Historical YA) The Green Glass Sea/White Sands, Red Menace - Ellen Klages

I read these because Ellen Klages is one of the Guests of Honor at this year's Wiscon. I hope she's still doing the Tiptree Auction MCing though, because that was great fun last year. (As I gather is the case every year.) The second book just won the California Book Award in the YA category, so it was timely.

The first book is about two girls whose parents are working on the first atomic bomb and what it's like growing up around all thsoe scientists. It's rather like a true-life version of Eureka. Both girls aren't what you'd imagine a typical 1940's girl to be. This is historical fiction for geeks. Sometimes I do think there should be a category for science+fiction. Like House. Where it's all about the science, but it's just.. there's no extrapolating, so it's not really science fiction.

The second book continues their story post-war, as you might guess from the 'red menace' part.

These books are amazingly awesome and I don't know why I didn't discover them before.

(Science Fiction YA) The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

One of the winners of this year's Tiptree, which is why I read it. I didn't realize going into it that it ends on a HORRIBLE CLIFFHANGER and that the next book won't be published until September. Argh. It tells the story of a boy who grew up in an all-male world, after a disease made all the men's thoughts audible (and sometimes it really does seem to mean audible in a literal sense) and killed off all the women. And I was all set to read a book about an all-male society, but wouldn't you know it? Sure enough a girl shows up. I won't say more about the plot, but the voice of the character is really good and the world-building is also quite interesting. I do have some nagging questions, but perhaps they'll be answered in the next book. It may just be a general sense of 'unfinished' left in my head by the ruddy cliffhanger.

(Fantasy.. also possibly YA) Northlander - Meg Burden

Another book that's number one of a series. I read this one because it promised a deaf character. He's a minor character, but not an unimportant one. The main character is a girl whose father is a healer and who aspires to be one herself. Her father is treating the sick king of the Northlanders, but without being able to use his healing power because there's laws forbidding it. The Northlanders look down on her kind, and she's certainly not of prince standing, but she rather readily becomes friends with the princes. First one, then another, and another.. That combined with the story being told in the present tense gave it a rather fanficky feel to me. Though the plot does take some twists and turns I wasn't expecting, so it was still quite enjoyable.

The deaf character turns out to be one of the princes. A twin. Telepathic. (Did I mention the fanficky feel?) Other than the main character not being able to sign to him, he's treated like anyone else by the other characters in the book. The sign language is always described as involving 'fingers', and never arms, body, expression. So I wonder if it's supposed to be complicated fingersigning, the main character not being able to describe it better than that, or the author not quite having a grasp on the concept.

I do want to read the next book.

For full-fledged reviews of some other books I've read lately, I'm J over on Triple Take.
julieandrews: (Default)
I was going to save this for a Wednesday, for my open question. But I feel like writing a post now. So here you go.

I was trying to think of examples of geeks or nerds who're black. Either celebrities or characters in tv shows or movies. I only managed to come up with two.

Neil deGrasse Tyson - Astronomer, Pluto-Demoter
Steve Urkel - A nerd of the nerdiest kind

There may be other very smart black celebrities, or very smart black characters, but I mean truly nerdy or truly geeky. I don't mean they're smart, but also buff. I don't mean they're doctors, but also cool. I don't mean they're computer whizzes, but also kick butt.

I don't want to lay it all on the feet of 'cool' or 'not cool', because I think geeks are pretty darned cool. But that does get close to what I mean. Any not-cool black characters on the screen with a nice geeky vibe?


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