colonialism

The Geek Problem or You Are Not Luke Skywalker

Some years ago, I read an article in a mainstream magazine that basically said, "There's no doubt about, being a geek is cool. Everyone is dressing like geeks, watching superhero movies, using computers, truly geekdom is in." And I remember thinking, "What planet is this guy living on?" Yes, people may be using the Internet on their iPhones, dressing in Buddy Holly glasses and wearing plaid sweater vests on their way to see The Dark Knight, but they're also laughing at Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons or at Triumph the Insult Comic Dog making fun of people at San Diego Comic Con. Certain elements of geek culture have been appropriated by the mainstream, to be sure, but geekiness itself is not "cool"; in fact, if I understand the words correctly, the two are by definition in opposition. (Like the old oxymoron "it's hip to be square".)

There has over the years, of course, been a movement to reappropriate the word "geek" as positive, as something to be celebrated, usually on the model of the homosexuals' reappropriation of the word "queer." This movement seeks geeks to be proud of their culture and their differences from the mainstream, to celebrate it, to shout "we're here, we're geeky, get used to it." Of course, geekdom is not exactly analogous to homosexuality for a huge number of reasons, but one can sympathize with the people who were bullied in school and now want to declare absolutely to the world that there's nothing wrong with themselves.

Racefail and the SciFi Ghetto: Why It's Really All About High School

As you may or may not be aware, there is a maelstrom brewing under the surface of the internet regarding racism and sexism in the world of Science Fiction. Generally referred to as "RaceFail," the simplest way I can think of to describe it is as sort of a metaflamewar that's been bouncing around the blogosphere for a few years now. It's been going on so long and has involved so many different players that I don't think anyone involved in it really understands the whole thing. To this gigantic clusterfuck of fevered egos, I have decided to add my own small contribution, in part to try to at least sort of map the whole thing, and also to try to talk about what I see as the real underpinnings of the whole controversy and where it comes from. No, it's not Nick Mamatas's fault.

Review: King Solomon's Mines

What's interesting about the book, and what in the end makes it worth reading, is how Haggard can so easily be read as the voice of colonialism. Certainly his smug and cloying tone is like the false superiority that marked colonialism in general. He protrays the African natives as vicious and blood-thirsty caricatures, alternately praising them in the most patronizing way only to turn around and insult them in sweeping generalizations. After the white explorers cross the comically named mountains, "Sheba's Breasts" (complete with snow-capped nipples), they march into the "undiscovered" Kukuannaland, home of the eponymous mines. Once there they proceed to instigate a revolution, in which numberless natives die, and install their own puppet ruler, from whom they procure a promise that they may keep any diamonds and gold they may find in the mine.