After Hours

Why is science fiction considered a "geek" genre?

Our good friends at SFSignal must have run out of qualified candidates to to interview, because they asked Jay "The Trivia Geek" Garmon to answer the same question posed to Kevin J. Anderson, John Scalzi, and Keith DeCandido: Despite science fiction's popularity, and success, on film and TV, why does it still have the stigma of being a 'geek' genre? The money quotes follow.

1002257959_1200f4a194.jpgOur good friends at SFSignal must have run out of qualified candidates to to interview, because they asked Jay "The Trivia Geek" Garmon to answer the same question posed to Kevin J. Anderson, John Scalzi, Keith DeCandido, Carl V. from Stainless Steel Droppings, James from Big Dumb Object, and Angela the SciFi Chick:

Despite science fiction's popularity, and success, on film and TV, why does it still have the stigma of being a 'geek' genre?

The money quotes are below:

"As geeks become more and more identified as 'the average guy,' this stigma will fade a bit, but never completely. While 'the computer guy' is now seen as an average fellow by most people, simply incorporating computers no longer qualifies a work as science fiction. As sci-fi continues to push the edge of the plausible, those who enjoy these outlandish settings and ideas will always be viewed as outlandish and unusual themselves. It's the price of admission."

"I'm afraid I have to disagree with the very basis of the question. I think science fiction is considered the 'cool' genre, not just for geeks — especially in the under-30 demographic."

"I think one factor is that unless a science fiction idea is 'dumbed-down' a bit, a lot of it may be over-the-heads of some viewers/readers. And people who are of above average intelligence have always been labeled 'geeks' or some other derogatory term, because of jealousy or just because they're different. I'm not saying that I'm super smart, but when I can explain the quantum string theory from Quantum Leap or explain what carbon-based life forms are, you can bet that my sister calls me a 'geek'? That's not because she's jealous or feeling stupid, it's because she thinks I'm strange."

"I reject the premise — to wit, that being a geek genre is a stigma. Geeks are the ones who make money, geeks are the ones who fix the computers, and geeks are the ones who buy the expensive toys to watch TV and movies on."

"Speaking solely from my own life experience, the unforeseen success of Star Wars, which in turn re-energized the Star Trek franchise, ushered in the type of media exposure that turned science fiction from B movie drive-in fare to the kind of financial juggernaut that produces series like Battlestar Galactica today. It is that same media exposure which helps perpetuate the 'science fiction equals geekdom' myth. ... Despite the fact that relatively few members of the television and film watching public have attended a science fiction convention of any kind it is not uncommon to hear someone describe the stereotype of the 'typical' convention-going geek. And while Klingon-speaking fully outfitted fans are in the minority even at a Star Trek convention, the common public believes that those fans are representative of all those who proclaim a love of science fiction."

"Short answer: I blame Star Trek TNG."

"The only thing that came to mind was 'For the same reason that rap, largely consumed by white teenage boys, is largely considered an African-American art form,' but I'm not even sure that makes sense."

Read the whole deal—and match up the quotes to the author—here.

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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