“The geeks shall inherit the earth.”
How often do we geeks say that to one another? When we gather in our geek enclaves (read: coffee shops, bookstores, bookstore coffee shops, and SF/F conventions) it is easy to celebrate all the things that set geeks apart from the mainstream. We’re smart, we produce most of the really cool books and all the really cool games, and we reliably breed smart children. But with the exception of those of us who have the good fortune to work in geek havens (e.g. Microsoft, Lawrence Livermore Labs, gaming companies) as soon as we return to our daily routines we find ourselves trying to get along with people who connect effortlessly with what is considered normal. Trying to fit in.
You might think it would be different in publishing. (After all, how geekish is working on books all day?) But the great exemplars of geekish bookdom, the SF/F tribe, seem to spend more time excusing our differences from the mainstream and trying to pass than any other branch of geekdom. We crave acceptance by the rest of the publishing world, and we make the mistake of downplaying our differences and trying to act like all the other book people, smiling self-deprecatingly at the pitifully small amount of shelf space allotted for SF/F in our local independent bookstore.
Oh, well, people of culture don’t read that stuff, right?
Wrong. I’m not going to bombard you with statistics, because that’s just boring. Instead I will remind you that some of the best literature being published is SF/F and proud of it, and refer you to the blog post I did on Baby Got Books yesterday, in which I discussed how poorly SF/F fared in coverage of this month’s World Book Day and reactions to it.
I think we need a geek pride ribbon. I believe it is foolish and ultimately self-defeating to try to mash geekdom into the space allotted by expectations of normality. We should be Geeks And Proud. If the gay and transgendered can have their own pride ribbon (and if anybody should, it’s they) then so can we. It should probably have geekish little glasses printed on it or something.