Monday, August 10, 2009

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - review

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Ok I'm not even fifty pages into this and I need to email everyone I know RIGHT NOW. (That's me paraphrasing Cordelia in the first ever episode of Buffy - AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT).
The first story is about what would happen if you were at ComicCon? and you were a Klingon? and you got real hammered and you woke up with your pants off in a room with a Jedi? You MAY have had to have seen the Seth-Rogen-on-Seth-Rogen fight scene in Fanboys to truly grok the matter-antimatter reaction that such a coupling implies.

And I CAN'T believe that just last week I wrote a completely, slobberingly geeked-out review of Highway to Hell, and I'm using all the same references again. Lame, lame, lame, lame, LAME!

Deep breath. No, okay, sorry I'm JUST too excited. All the little icons on the cover? First of all they're by eBoy, who does cool vinyl toys you can get at Atomic Pop and kidrobot, and that's cool - not geek cool, COOL. Second of all... they're the contributors! (Not the unkillable cheerleader or the knight or the old-school vampire, the more normal-looking people) Cecil Castellucci is wearing a Squidfire t-shirt, or at least that ought to be a Squidfire t-shirt. Scott Westerfeld is sporting green goggles like he's just been out machining the brass engine couplings on his armor-plated zeppelin.

HIS story is a situational analysis: two people, a briefcase full of cash, a bottle of vodka, two guns and a pair of handcuffs in a private compartment on a speeding train. What happens? Well that all depends on the alignment of the two people, now, doesn't it? He even includes a grid. Awww. Like anyone reading this book needs an explanation of Lawful vs. Chaotic.

It really should be called "Geekgasmic". There are all these Easter eggs scattered throughout: comics, jokes about furries, numerous bowls of M&Ms, and gratuitous Dr. Who references.

Oh my god you guys - and in the author bios, each person runs down his or her geek cred.

These people are FRRREAKS.

A LOT of them have been DMs. Greg and Cynthia Leitich Smith had the Starship Enterprise on their wedding cake. Libba Bray, who wrote the mystical Regency boarding school trilogy that started with A Great and Terrible Beauty, and whom I always pictured as, like, a collector of cameo brooches and lace jabots, apparently went as Columbia to Rocky Horror for TWO YEARS.

The stories are about geeks and geekiness, and they pull no punches. Very few of the geeks in this book are Secretly Hott Geeks, which is refreshing. Gamer geeks, sci-fi geeks, and Trekkers are represented, but so are literature geeks, a pep geek, and even a Golden Age geek. A surprising number of these stories are quite sensitive, but not in a LOTR climax kind of way, more in a Han-Solo-about-to-get-turned-into-a-penny kind of way.

Short story anthologies are always fantastic to hand to people who are not sure what or who to read next. Teens fall into this category at least as often as adults do, but there are precious few YA anthologies. This is the first I've seen in a while that features realistic fiction. With Geektastic, Black and Castellucci are doing teens a big service, introducing them to the likes of Barry Lyga, John Green, David Levithan, and other members of their herd.

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