Laser gun post chock full of nerd pews

by Paul Vermeersh

It’s a glorious time to be a nerd (fewer gut punches and wedgies, in my experience) and I’ve recently re-embraced my dweebheritage by diving fully back in where I left off in my late teens: Dungeons and Dragons, scifi novels, and video games. If we could only get the more toxic end of the fanbase to STFU, things would be a lot nicer. I’m always amazed that people who were once marginalized (albeit mildly by comparison) are so interested in passing that on to others. Like those dudes who get knocked around by their moms or dads and then grow up to hand it out to their own kids. Bizarre. But perhaps, I thought, besides fighting the negative, we need nerds like me to speak up more about the positive . So I give to you some positive snapshots from my recent nerdlife:

Last night, for instance, just as I was completing the main questline Fallout 76 (my fourth run at the franchise), I wondered, what draws me to this sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia over say, something more hopeful? Well, the internet is always there with an answer (note: this is a libertarian site not known for its unbiased reporting, but I stumbled across this article that I at least enjoyed a bit of, so decide going in whether you want to hold your nose and read).

Dungeons and Dragons has gone to a good place in trying to cut the white/large boobs in chain mail bikinis/hetero bias/cultural insensitivity over the years, and seem to still be learning how to make the game even more inclusive. When my group of middle-aged, forward-thinking folk, finished our run throughThe Curse of Strahd last fall (a very well designed adventure) we kept wincing at the depictions of the Roma-like Vistani (don’t even get me started on Tomb of Annihilation). But that’s all being changed. Bravo, you glorious geeks.

Of course, in terms of misogyny and sexism, scifi still has a lot of catching up to do (cf, any Conan The Barbarian cover from the 70s/80s, any Piers Anthony novel of the same vintage, etc etc et al etc.). I’ve been rereading classics from my youth: Solaris, Dune, etc (and Foundation will be next), and let me tell you, some of it hasn’t aged well. But at least people are starting to ask what about body-positivity in the genre?

See, everyone? It’s not that hard to admit you were wrong and make changes. Evolution does it without conscious effort, this learning from mistakes, but culture needs intention. Keep growing, you crazy dorks!

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