Imperial Stormtroopers are precise in exactly which galaxy far, far away?

Image credit: Knowyourmeme.com

If you have ever watched the original Star Trek TV series, you know that anyone on an away team wearing a red shirt was doomed to die. Except Scotty – Scotty is invincible.

And if you’ve seen the original three Star Wars movies (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi), you’ll know that Stormtroopers can not hit anything. Combine these two foibles and you get the SF fanboy/girl joke at right.

Which brings me to my point. Continue reading

You’re not geeky enough for our con

On Friday I was reading SF fansite IO9 when I came across a post by Emily Finke about her experience cosplaying at this year’s Balticon. Very briefly, she kept being told that her Star Trek original series-accurate science officer’s uniform was “too short” and grilled by self-appointed “true geek” gatekeepers, among other infuriating abuses. As a man and someone who is generally not interested in cosplay, I can’t relate to a great deal of what she talks about. I can empathize, but I can’t truly grok it. All I can really say is “Emily – awesome costume, and you shouldn’t have had to put up with all that bullshit.” And to everyone else, go read what she has to say – it’s worth your time.

But there were a few things she wrote that got me thinking about my own limited con experience. Finke wrote about “Mr. Fake Geek Girl Screener.” She wrote about in-group policing being performed by geeks on other geeks. She wrote about men “hitting every hot button of geek gatekeeping they can.” And she wrote that other women, feeling as she did, might “lose all desire to attend *any* cons.”

And that’s when Finke’s words hit me in a way I do grok.

I’ve attended exactly two cons, the first and second Nan Desu Kan in Denver, Colorado. And after the second, I decided that I wasn’t going to attend a third.

See, while I enjoy watching anime and reading manga, I don’t devote a large portion of my life to either. I can talk intelligently about any of the titles I’ve watched and/or read (as well as differences between the anime and manga versions, which I prefer, and why), but I’m not a hard-core fan, at least not compared to someone who truly loves a particular title. I don’t watch so much anime that it consumes all my movie and television time, nor do I read manga so prolifically that I know all the latest titles.

And that’s why I didn’t have good experiences at the first two NDKs. I apparently didn’t meet the True OtakuTM threshold that the other con attendees unconsciously defined, and so I felt that I was being dismissed as a mere hobbyist. And it felt at the time that being a hobbyist was worse than being a “mundane” who wandered into see what all the fuss was about.

I haven’t gone to any cons, gaming or SF or anime, since. I had enough of being condescended to by my peers for being too geeky in high school, thankyouverymuch. And these days I don’t need the hassle of being condescended to for not being geeky enough for the hardcore “True Geek” con gatekeepers.

David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, with the TARDIS

And that bugs me because cons are just the sort of thing I should enjoy. I positively love to geek out over Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Bab 5, the Stargate SG-1 universe (except for SG-Universe, which was very nearly as bad as Star Trek 5), Firefly, and so on. I love to debate the relative merit of space opera novels. It’s a blast to commiserate about the parts of Lord of the Rings that were cut out of the movies that I loved and missed, and the differences between the theatrical releases and the extended versions (which were WAY better). And so on.

But I don’t want to be sneered at because I don’t care to learn Klingon or Elvish, or because I’m only wearing a TARDIS polo when I could have dressed up as the Doctor, or because I’ve made a conscious choice not to get into X-Men because I don’t care to read the decades of back issues (my obsessiveness would demand it).

Perhaps I’m not being fair. Maybe the problems I had during the first two NDKs aren’t integral to anime cons, or to cons in general. Maybe the gatekeeping I experienced was related more to birthing pains than it was to geeks being cliquish and petty. And maybe what I experienced at an anime con isn’t what I would encounter at a gaming or an SF con. To date I haven’t been willing to find out. But given what Finke described (and the far worse harassment described by other women at cons over the last few years), I suspect that the gatekeeping and pettiness I experienced at NDK are relatively universal.

And that really, really sucks.

Space X's Falcon 9 launch leaves dreamers behind

by Jane Briggs-Bunting

I had a dream when I was 10 years old and was thrilled when Alan Shepard, in the first manned Mercury Mission, orbited the earth. Okay, we were a bit  behind the Soviets, but, still we had done it, and very soon, I knew we would eclipse them. And we did.

On that day, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut, too. To explore space. Never mind that women, including the legendary Mercury 13, were not part of NASA’s mission back then. It was a manly task in this pre-lib era. Never mind that my Coke bottle-thick glasses (in a fashionable blue metallic complete with fake diamonds) would have rendered me ineligible, I still dreamed the dream back then. Continue reading

Nota Bene #124: I'm a Doctor, Not an Engineer

“I don’t believe in this fairy tale of staying together for ever. Ten years with somebody is enough.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can't cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading

Hobbits, wizards, and storm troopers: the future of fan art

gollumposter2by Josh Catone

This past weekend saw the online release of the first non-spoof, fan-created film set in the Lord of the Rings universe. That by itself is fairly unremarkable, but a number of things set The Hunt for Gollum apart from your standard fan created fare. It’s long (about 40 minutes), it has better than average acting and writing (think direct-to-DVD caliber), it features incredibly high production values despite a meager £3,000 budget, and it is based on canon. That last bit especially, had some wondering if Gollum would run afoul of rights holders at Tolkien Enterprises.

Where most fan art uses original characters and story lines, The Hunt for Gollum‘s writer and director Chris Bouchard based the script on appendices to Tolkien’s original work. That the film uses Tolkien’s actual story could have spelled trouble for the entire production. There are two understood rules in the world of fan art: don’t use official material (like logos, music, and to a lesser extent known characters), and don’t try to make money off your creations. Continue reading