Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

geektasticCindy: Ok, so I don’t have a whole room in my house dedicated to my Star Wars collection like a certain friend’s husband does, but I have a lot of geek traits that prompted me to seek out Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (Little, Brown, 2009). YA authors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci spawned the idea for this anthology of nerdiness while attending Comic-Con (Nerd-prom) and waiting in a long line for a burrito. Their co-authored story about a Jedi waking up in bed with a Klingon after a night of too much partying. This geeky take on Romeo and Juliet sets the standard for this collection for high school students–stories filled with humor, geek slang, and celebrations of each of our inner geeks whether comic-loving, theater-participating, academic-???, etc.

David Levithan’s “Quiz-Bowl Anti-Christ” and John Green’s “Freak the Geek” celebrate teens who aren’t afraid to show their intellect, but who also understand more about what is really important in life than many of us ever achieve. That they do that and make you laugh out loud every page is a tribute to their geeky brilliance.

Because comics are a staple in geek life, the stories are each separated by a one page panel highlighting all things geek, including lessons like “The best ways to stay awake for gaming.” These funny comics are drawn by Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Libba Bray’s fabulous and touching closing story, “It’s Just a Jump to the Left” goes after my own Rocky-Horror loving self. My sophomore year of college I attended the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at the Bijou Theater in Kalamazoo almost every weekend. I spent hours braiding my hair and finally getting a perm so I could look more like Magenta, and carried my newspaper, rice, squirt gun and blowdryer to the show, eventually performing in front of the screen during the movie with my crew. The theater once asked us to come on a Thursday night to perform and participate during a private showing for a visiting convention of psychologists who wanted to see the show but needed to watch non-virgins in action. I still wonder what they wrote up about our mental health. I still have a complete collection of Rocky Horror collector cards, the soundtrack LP, and an enduring crush on Tim Curry.

Lynn: Some of these stories do require a high degree of geekiness but the collection is so varied that there truly is something for everyone. My favorite is Tracy Lynn’s “One of Us” in which a cheerleader pays three nerds for instruction so she can impress her Trekker boyfriend. Or maybe my favorite is M.T. Anderson’s story of the fan’s quest to visit his favorite author – who just may be having an affair with his mother. No, no! My favorite has to be Garth Nix’s “Quiet Knight” or is it “The Truth About Dino Girl” by Barry Lyga, a story of the most amazing revenge ever. Well, as a true geek, I have to admit I loved them all. As someone afflicted by terminal shyness when meeting authors, I’ve decided to frame a copy of the comic “How to Look Cool and Not Drool in Front of Your Favorite Author.”

My inner geek secret? It’s hard to choose as there are so many but I’ll admit to having a major collection of early science fiction/fantasy – arranged in alphabetical order by author, of course. George O. Smith, Jack Vance, Murray Leinster, James H. Schmitz, Eric Frank Russell, Fritz Leiber – just to name a few. Anyone who wants to read one, even relatives, has to pass a 10 question quiz first.

Cindy and Lynn: Now it’s YOUR turn.  We know our blog readers have inner geeks, too. Come out of lurkdom and share your secret in a comment. We need to know we’re not alone. Cindy can still sing the Greek alphabet to the standard alphabet song that she learned 30 years ago in Trig class. Certainly you can top that.

UPDATE: Sorry, the comments were turned off. That is fixed. Can’t wait to read about YOUR inner geek!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

10 Comments on "Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd"

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  1. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    The inner geek episode that springs to mind first would have to be waiting in line for 14+ hours to see the midnight showing of Star Wars, Episode I when I was in high school. Lawn chairs, blankets, the whole nine (well, except for the costumes). There was one kid in front us in line and we were bummed we didn’t beat him. The crowd got unruly around 11:30pm (let’s just say not everyone in our group got to see the movie), but we didn’t let that spoil things for the rest of us. I think that going on to see the film 3 more times increases the geekiness.

  2. angela.craft@gmail.com' Angela says:

    Oh man. I loved this collection SO MUCH. I don’t think there was a story I didn’t like, though “One of Us” stands out enough that I remember details about it and I read this months ago.

    My geek really isn’t an “inner geek,” I’m loud and proud about the ridiculous things I’ve done and loved. I’ve dressed up as a Klingon more than once (and used to have the Klingon dictionary AND a “learn conversational Klingon” book on tape). Thursday nights throughout college were spent playing D&D or one of its many variants (including helping design and playtest a new game). I’ve kind of hung up the acting career but am still a huge musical theatre geek. I remember in high school once a bunch of us took over a seating area in the Grandville mall and serenading each other with the Elephant Love Song Medley from “Moulin Rouge!”

    Have either of you read “Into the Wild Nerd Yonder” yet? It focuses mostly on gamer geeks, but Jessie spends time contemplating other geek-types (including the infamous and much maligned band-geek).

  3. betsyf@shaw.ca' Betsy says:

    I have fond memories of going to choir practice and rehashing the plots of the previous night’s ST:TNG (in the days of alt.Wesley.die.die.die) and have every season of Buffy, Angel and Stargate on my shelf next to my Buffy graphic novels. As a shameless geek I can’t pick my favorite but had to read the “geek cred” chat out loud to several groups. What a great collection.

  4. edspicer@mac.com' Ed Spicer says:

    I have a complete collection of every single Newbery winner from 1922 up to 2009 and all but 4 honor books (from the 30’s). They are arranged by year. I used to put gold sticky dots on the winners until Larry Massie told me I was defacing valuable books (many of my books are first edition, first printings). I also have purchased every single award winning book announced at the press conference at ALA’s MIdwinter Conferences-even Batchelders and Schneiders and Geisels.

  5. cecilia.dalzell@quinnipiac.edu' Cecilia Dalzell says:

    Dating myself, but the first girl in my high school with a calculator. Also read every book on space exploration, adult and children’s in the school and public library.

  6. Keir says:

    When “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out, I loved it so much that, when my parents came to pick me up, I asked if I could stay and watch it again. They said I could, and a childhood obsession was born. Shortly thereafter, I directed a five-reel Super-8 film, starring myself, about an Indiana Jones-style badass named “Rick Hawk.” I even wore a leather bandolier that I bought at the Army-Navy Surplus Store.

    These days, I confine my geekery to my record collection. Each album is lovingly protected in a plastic sleeve, and they’re all alphabetized, obviously.

  7. Keir says:

    Now that I think of it, in college, I did attend a marathon of the “Roots” miniseries–perhaps we share similar genetic material!

  8. teenlibn@hotmail.com' Kat Kan says:

    I wrote fan-fiction before I ever heard of the term, back when I was about 12 years old (a long, long time ago). I’ve always been openly a science fiction fan. In high school, my best friend and I wrote a fan-fic Star Trek story for our senior English project, complete with maps, glossary, the works. In library school, every project I had to do for bibliographies, computer programming, etc. centered on science fiction.

  9. jenna.obee@jeffcolibrary.org' Jenna says:

    I know what all the Chinese in Firefly means. I mean, all of it. There are dictionaries online (which means that someone was even more geeky about it than I am) but I have memorized those dictionaries. And practiced the words out loud. So much so that my dog knows to stop barking when I shout “bi-zhu!” And I didn’t mean to teach her that, not at all.

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