I'm re-reading Starship Troopers. I just love this book. This book talked about an army of Iron Men years before Stan and Jack introduced us to Tony Stark. It covers everything from racism to gender equality to how society establishes the voting franchise for its citizens. Oh, and then there are the armored suits with shoulder-launched atomic weapons, drop capsules and bug hunts. Those are all analogies too but they're also wicked cool. Anyway, this got me thinking that re-reading something like Starship Troopers (having never watched more than 10 minutes of that disgraceful movie) might be some sort of cultural marker of being a geek. That got me wondering, what other markers might I have lurking in my background that might indicate a certain geekiness. Let's see what I found.
I am a second generation member of the Science Fiction Book Club. I cut my teeth on Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, Anderson, Sturgeon - HARD science fiction as it was called, FTL drives and event horizons (then those new guys Vinge, Gibson and Stephenson got into the act). None of this vampire love story crap. Hari Seldon is a hero. I know Asimov's pen name that he used to write the Lucky Starr series.
I started out usually as an Elf (got a thing for bows), Lawful Neutral. When PC games hit, the ones I bought came in ziplock bags with mimeographed instructions and 5.25 disks. My first programming experience was BASIC on an Apple IIe. Wrote a whole branching text game using that. That was after my dad had showed me how to use his FORTRAN flow chart template.
I've built crystal radio sets on Christmas morning, put together desktop computers from the chassis out, while debating which power source was better than another. I remember when modem speeds jumped from 14.4 and dreamed heady dreams of 28.8 days to come. Remember when the first 1GB hard drive came out and we all thought - what the hell would you ever need that kind of storage for?
I date most things in my childhood development as either happening before or after 1977 because that's when Star Wars came out. I subscribed to Star Wars monthly and use the posters as wallpaper. I watched every episode of Space 1999 and to me, Battlestar Galactica stars Lorne Green. I know what all the buttons on the steering wheel of the Mach 5 do and my favorite was always the robot bird. I knew what every round in Logan's gun did (there were 6 different ones). I dreamed of becoming a Ninja Hacker Overlord or maybe the Kwisatz Haderach or maybe just a Stranger in a Strange Land. I devoured every issue of OMNI magazine and wish I still had them - it'd be cool if WIRED featured sci-fi writing like OMNI did.
There is a first edition of Seduction of the Innocent sitting on my bookshelf and I can say things like Excelsior! and Wonder Twin Powers Activate! with complete confidence. There is a table in my office that is actually just boxes of comic books with a table cloth on top of them. I used to mark major changes in the economy by increases in the cover price of my comics. When I went on a tour of the FBI building (when they still used to do that), I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the group that recognized Jack Kirby's artwork on the wall. I have a Flaming Carrot action figure, love the Tick, Arthur and the Man-Eating Cow. I think Demon in a Bottle is possibly one of the best story arcs ever and yes, I still have my pull list at local comic book store.
Wizardry was a constant companion from Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord to the Crusaders of the Dark Savant. I remember being in a open field to the west of a white house. I finally found the Coconut of Quendor while upstairs in my fraternity house's computer room while there was party going on downstairs. I'll never forget that when I typed "get Coconut" - my inventory was too full.
I've had pets named Jason (of the Argonauts not Friday the 13th), Romulus, Remus and Loki. I have a dog named Gambit and used to have a dog named Remy LeBeau. Saw Videodrome, in the theater. Could watch Scanners right now. I love Peter Jackson because he made the movies we all saw in our heads when we read Lord of the Rings. I got my hands on a bootleg VHS copy of Highlander from Japan because it had like an extra 3 minutes on it (the part about where he got his secretary).
Winsock, Telnet and Pine - that's how you got to email. Mosaic? That was one sexy beast. I remeber when most of the places I went online started with alt.binaries. I've owned a C-64 and a TRS-80. Atari console? Sure. Activision? No doubt. Dreamcast? Yeppers (worst controller ever). PS1, 2 and 3? Done, done and done.
There for a while, I never used to have to spend quarters in the arcade because I had the high monthly scores on Tempest and Red Baron. I also rocked Robotron 2084 and Galaga, was pretty good at Joust but some kid was better. I was also in the KISS Army and yes, had all their solo albums.
My first credit as a published author is a chapter in The Cyborg Handbook entitled "From Captain America to Wolverine: Images of Cyborgs in Comic Books." I had another piece published in grad school that talked about the cultural meaning inscribed on PEZ and have about 300 of those sitting around (the ones without the feet are the older ones).
While I was in the Pentagon, I delivered briefings with images of Johnny Mnemonic and DOOM. I have this tendency to decorate my office with blown up maps from XKCD, like the one of IPv4 and one of my favorite things that sits on my desk is a little solid metal statue of Gort. Whenever I shop, I shop smart at S Mart and I will leave Jack Burton out of this. I have a son who is using Netflix to work his way through all the Dr Who that's available and earlier this year I got him the complete set of Ultraman episodes.
Now things change to be sure. They always do. But as I sit here typing this post in a hoodie from 2012's DragonCon, I reckon that I can still hang with some geeks...On the Bounce and By The Numbers!