Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Le geek, c'est chic

A lot of discussion on my f-list of the Guardian's 'top twenty geek novels'. I'm not going to 'do' the list - I've had too many lately. Instead I ask 'what is a geek?'

Yesterday my sister was talking about Estonia, where she just visited. She was saying that Tallinn is a beautiful mediaeval city, but it is invaded every weekend by horrible British men who drink too much and lunge at the local women. How awful.

We got into a conversation about how annoying and nationally humiliating such British exports are. My brother says 'why don't cash points include a general knowledge quiz, and if you can't get a few right, you can't have your money?'. No, he didn't mean it. But I come from a geek family, and it was a geek joke. Geeks are people who know a lot of stuff, and are also clever. All geeks become aware quite rapidly that this is not enough for, or in many cases even relevant to, success in life. How you cope with this (become embittered, make jokes, attempt to beat the system) defines what kind of geek you are. Geeks who rant that 'it's not fair' and (unlike my lovely brother) mean it, give geeks a bad name. Life is life, there is no marking scheme.

So a geek novel will be like this:

- expects a reader who knows a lot of stuff, and is clever
- depicts a world or situation where people who know a lot of stuff, and are clever, are rewarded (or are tragic heroes)
- shows people who are stupid and in charge being punished (or as villains)

Geek novels sometimes suffer from the faults that geeks are prone to:

- don't understand, or realise the importance of, human emotion and caring
- think people who aren't clever aren't worthy of respect (aargh, very bad)
- think the relentless making of clever points and linguistic jokes is meaningful communication

Geeky? Moi?

Harry Potter review didn't appear on some f-lists yesterday apparently, if you are interested you can see it here. Thanks to tlingel.
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