Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture

Edited by Stephen H. Segal with commentary by Zaki Hasan, N.K. Jemisin, Eric San Juan, and Genevieve Valentine

I thought a book collecting 200-some famous nerd sayings — from “Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!” through “What is your damage, Heather?” and “Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad” — might be a light-hearted browse, but the editor’s introduction sets up a whole ‘nother level of significance. He compares geekdom to a religion, “a framework of ideas… helping us ask and answer the big, cosmic questions about existence.” That’s a bit much, too much for me to swallow, and it gives a pretentious air to the whole thing that is accurate to the material that follows but loses the sense of fun I was hoping for.

I don’t want a geek gospel. I just want to share some “oh, yeah, I remember that” moments in a brief flip-through read. But the contributors insist on being all philosophical and arguing for deep meaning, even though the lack of space given to them makes for shallow commentary. Each quote gets a page for a mini-essay that might be psychologically insightful or might read like a late-night stream-of-consciousness ramble pounded out to make a deadline.

I like the wide-ranging sources, including TV, comics, science fiction novels, the occasional video game, and mostly movies, but there’s an inconsistency in how these quotes are sourced. Stan Lee, not Peter Parker, is given credit for “With great power comes great responsibility,” but most quotes are cited from the characters who spoke them, not the writers who created them. (How can you discuss The Breakfast Club without ever mentioning the name of John Hughes?) Sometimes creators are mentioned in a passing footnote; other times, they’re omitted completely. (That would have required research.) Instead of this over-written volume of self-indulgence, I’d have rather read about the sources of the quotes or how they became so popular. In short, this isn’t the book I hoped it would be.

The introduction and sample pages can be previewed at the publisher’s website. They provided a review copy.

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One Response to “Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture”

  1. Bo McCoy Says:

    This looks like an awesome read I’m adding it to my library.

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