Geeks and Freaks

4 September 2002

I am totally charmed by Cory Doctorow's "0wnz0red". Totally charmed. I haven't read a story that made me giggle and bounce like this in a long time. It's not the best story I've read in a long time, but it's just so damn geeky, in a way that Analog stories are never, ever geeky. The part where the guy is reciting his five-page encryption key with a bag over his head. Hee.

I really, really like that flavor of geek.

I'm also fond of other flavors of geek, including the kind in my writing group! Go read Corie's storie. It's here, and we helped crit an earlier version. Corie took the crits and made some really beautiful original stuff that were far beyond anything anyone suggested and yet fixed the problems we had. Bravo and hurrah.

Also, the Nielsen Haydens (Nielsens Hayden, argh!) recommended Spiders, and now so do I. It has a tinge of naivete, but the butt-kicking Afghani women really appeal to me.

I made three pages of story and novel notes from WorldCon yesterday. Uff da. And I finished reading Empire of Bones, and I understand why Liz Williams started it the way she did, although I still don't like the beginning. Also I read David Almond's Skellig, kind of a dreamy children's book, and an oh-so-fascinating monograph on the decreasing economic importance of ethnicity to men of Chinese and Japanese descent in the U.S. and Canada. I did mark up some stuff for inclusion in the new contract book about immigration. So it served its purpose. It was nevertheless perhaps a bit less than gripping. But I have to get used to it, and get used to alternating between fiction and nonfiction.

There are several authors, I have realized, whom I read and do not enjoy. I don't know if that'll continue as I get more established in the field, but there are people I feel I ought to read, just to know what's going on. Sometimes the line between that kind of professionalism and pleasure reading gets blurred, or I forget about it, though.

I really love geeks. All-you know that. Sometimes I think it's why I'm a science fiction writer, though: because then I can write about "my people" and the reader will be more or less interested. Because this way I can assume that figuring out how stuff works is a motivation that the reader will accept as reasonable for a character. And so on. And I have a couple of übergeeky scenes in the Not The Moose Book, where the main character is teaching the other main character some basic electronics and said other main character is teaching the first one some basic magic at the same time, and it's frustrating the crap out of him, and I just love being able to write this stuff and know that even if it's hard to get through all of the publishing stuff, there are people out there who will find the same things cool and funny as I do.

I kind of ranted at Scott accidentally on e-mail, not so much at him as near him. Because he was talking about someone he met who said she was weird. To Scott, this was an admission, and she was weird, so why try to hide it? To me, it sounded like a proclamation, and possibly an attempt to grab some identity out of strangeness that she might not proportionally have. I spent a long weekend at WorldCon. If you're looking for the quick and easy judgments of who's a freak, there they were, in silver bikinis and bumpy heads. But is that any stranger than my parents' friend who takes off his clothing and jumps up and down and yells at the television because of what some guys several-many miles away are doing with a football? (Said friend is not invited over for football game viewings. In case my folks invite you to a Husker party and you're now wary of going.) I would submit that it is not.

My dad's response was that that was true, their friend was really not stranger, but that they could predict his strangeness more easily. They know when he'll take his clothes off, jump, and shout, and they can avoid those situations. But I think that's key. In the military, they promote you to the level of your incompetence, or so they say. Whereas in life, you wander until you find your own norm, the people who like the same stuff as you do, more or less, who find the same things comfortable or exciting.

But when you do find those people, you don't count as weird any more. And that's fine. It's not an insult to be weird, but it's okay if you fit in with your friends, too.

I think this is easy for me to say because of the families I encounter most. Whose extended families do I encounter most? Well, there's Mark's, where eight people read the same copy of Analog, last I heard. So that's well within my own norm. And then there are my own and Timprov's, and we're only children with parents who read the kind of thing we write. So in no case are the families I deal with most going to have a "weird brother" or a "weird sister," although I'll bet we could come up with three to five copies of Wyrd Sisters among them/us. It seems like that's a factor, now that I think of it: that I can say, hey, you're not weird to the people you're around most! But it doesn't matter if someone is still totally incomprehensible to his or her own family.

Hmm. Well, anyway. Timprov and I are heading up to Marin. We're going to his aunt and uncle's -- Mark's work is keeping him late enough that he can't go, and we're all disappointed. But it does mean that T and I will head up before rush hour starts, probably wander in Muir Woods and find a cafe to work in before it's time to go to Stan and Judy's. I haven't whined about it in awhile, but Hayward and the surrounding areas are woefully short of good cafes. So it'd be nice to be able to sit with a cup of coffee and work for awhile.

So I'm off to do that.

Back to Morphism.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.