Category Archives: Geek

Geek Speaks: The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction

This piece appeared on Contents May Vary on November 8th 2013 Photo Credit: Geoffrey Long

What do you get when you bring together science fiction writer and co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow, Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, and transmedia specialist Dr. Henry Jenkins for a conversation about the purpose of science fiction? You get what Jenkins described as the Three Tenors for geeks: last night’s Geek Speaks panel on “The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction.”

In partnership with the Annenberg Innovation Lab, this is the first in an ongoing speaker series Jenkins created “to provide a homeland for those of us who are geeks here at USC to get together and hear from interesting thinkers from across popular culture and new technology.” The goal, according to Jenkins, is to help build up the community of geeks at USC, and he hopes to have one panel a semester.

The conversation ranged from the panelist’s geek ‘origin stories’ to the participatory culture of science fiction to what draws them to science fiction. Johnson stated that, “one of the things that we all talked about is that the science fiction that has inspired all three of us is usually science fiction with an opinion.”

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5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To

{Header photo taken by Richard T. Sutton.}

With thanks for the prompt from The Nerdy Girlie.

When I was younger, my mom had the book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Written as part encyclopedia, part travel guide, it took on the conceit that imaginary places were real, and described everything from Oz to what a Hobbit was. Almost all the entries contained glorious maps of these fictional places, and many of the entries included illustrations as well.

I remember devouring this book, even the entries on places I hadn’t visited yet and ones I tried and never got into. I loved the concept that I could easily find out the details of Narnia and the surrounding area, for example, and learned more about other fictional worlds.

So when I first hear the phrase ‘5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To’, I immediately think of fictional places: Narnia, Hogwarts, Prydain, the Shire, and Discworld. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to travel to any of those places in real life (although I did go to the Kilns, which may very well have been inspiration for Narnia).

The Nature Preserve outside of the Kilns. If that isn’t Narnia, I don’t know what is. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

For real life visits, I decided to discount the handful of places I’ve already been. So, most of London was out (although I would love to go back), as well as the many nerdy places here in Los Angeles. I’ve also visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s final home in Manchester, Mo., and went to Williamsburg, Va., when I was 7. And, of course, I regularly go to a Ralphs for grocery shopping – although I have yet to see any Night Vale creatures there.

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