Dept. of Geek Girls, real or fake:
Johanna Draper Carlson finds a SF book from 24 years ago that predicted the kind of soul-stealing succubus that many fear with a narrative involving a SF convention:

The other, Brenda Lindenfeld, is a fat girl with some costuming skill — she first appears as a pathetic contestant in the costume contest, “a fierce-looking redhead who might have outweighed the average calf” and whose dress would have been pretty if it was “ten sizes smaller”. Her ability is not mentioned as the book goes on, once Brenda latches onto a skinny, obnoxious, virgin nerd. She needs a room to stay in and someone to pay for her meals, and he’s her ticket, even though she finds him boring and unattractive. But once she finds out he’s studying computer science, she’s determined to get pregnant to keep him around so he’ll get her a big-screen TV.

Look at that! It’s a woman hanging around a con just to entrap and exploit guy geeks. Isn’t that what everyone was afraid of? And 24 years ago, to boot! And written by a female author! Only problem is, even this exploitative “femmefan” (as the girls are referred to) gets something out of SF and reads the works on her own, enjoying the escapism that lets her forget how unhappy she is with herself. So she doesn’t even qualify as “fake” all that much.

Meanwhile, Colleen Doran has an even more shocking expose that proves that fake MALE geeks can exist, in a piece called Jonathan Frakes: Booth Babe or Menace? which delves into history to find out that Commander Riker Jonathan Frakes once went around dressed as Captain America

…and wasn’t even a real nerd. Yes, fake geeks could be anywhere around us, and we must be eternally vigilant.


  1. I would postulate that there are as many fake geek girls as there are men who are truly deeply offended by fake geek girls.

    I myself am mildly concerned with people who honestly think they are “geeks” or “nerds” but in fact are not, but I don’t think that’s the same thing.

  2. Very minor factual correction: Bimbos of the Death Sun is not SF; it’s a mystery (if memory serves, an enjoyable one) with a convention setting. There is a sequel, Zombies of the Gene Pool.

  3. @Nat – no, if the book wants to call itself science fiction, then it gets to be science fiction. Don’t be so exclusionary. :)

  4. @Glenn: Why?! How does someone pretending to be a “geek” affect you personally?

    I still can’t understand why this even matters. “Geek” isn’t a real thing, guys. It’s just a type of consumer.

  5. I’ve read both books (Bimbos and Zombies) and they are both mysteries and send-ups of fandom. Bimbos covers Conventions and Zombies handles Fanzines.

  6. @RegularSyzedMike – for the same reason that I might be mildly irked if I was a carpenter and had spent years honing my craft, and then someone came along and hammered two boards together and declared themselves a “carpenter” and everybody agreed that they were a carpenter. It makes it less special and my time and achievements (if you will) less valuable. That is particularly an issue for me because I suffered over my life for being a “nerd”, so someone who gets to be a “nerd” without the suffering, again, takes away from what I had to deal with. It doesn’t keep me up at night or anything, but it’s something I take note of when it happens.

  7. What Glenn is talking about is isn’t “pretending” but self-delusion and dilution. If someone calls himself a “computer geek” but doesn’t know the difference between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Windows, or a “jock” but can’t run a 100m dash, or a “fashionista” but wears stripes with plaid… it diminishes the usefulness of those terms, and whatever positive associations they have.

  8. Hmm… Glenn raises an interesting point…. anyone can “write” a book. Are they an author? What gives them cred? Self-publishing fan-fiction? Publishing fan-fiction at an established publisher? Publishing fan-fiction at a Big Six publisher and selling millions of copies?

    Or consider the book the fan-fiction was based on, containing glittery vampires. Is that valid vampire fiction? Are these fans welcome in vampire and horror communities?

    “Watchmen” is a murder mystery, but do any mystery writers consider it as such? Julie Kenner has written romances featuring superheroes, but has anyone at a comic-con dressed up as Zoe Smith?

  9. Re: “Nerd suffering”

    Most kids… yeah, they might not fit in at school, but they can find their tribes online and at cons. Also, the schools are much better at spotting bullying and other not-nice behaviors, as well as promoting diversity and understanding.

    Or to use a different analogy: Is someone who was drafted in the 1950s but wasn’t posted to Korea less of a veteran compared to someone who did serve in Korea? What about a veteran who volunteered in the 1980s, but was stationed in Germany? Are they less of a veteran than someone who came out unscathed from Desert Storm? Is a Desert Storm veteran not as heroic as an Iraqi War veteran with PTSD? Or the soldier who lost a leg to an IED?

    My suggestion to all nerds, geeks, fanboys, fans:
    Leave it in the past. You’re among people who understand you, who like what you’re doing, who share your joy and excitement over cool stuff. Yeah, go ahead and argue over minutiae, discuss no-prizes and who’s the better whatever. But judging people on their nerd cred with just a glance? Well, that’s a bit discriminatory, but we all tend to do it, especially in a con filled with so much information overload. Glance, judge, and then ignore and forget the dreck, and celebrate the great stuff.

    Unless, of course, someone is doing something which should involve security guards.

  10. @Torsten – just a couple of minor points.

    I was a nerd starting in the late 70s. There was no online, and in small town Mississippi there were no conventions. It was just me, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand why I would want to read a book when I could be playing football, and telling me I was obviously gay for doing so. So sure, things might be getting better, but that doesn’t apply to me. Although you might be saying that new “nerds” aren’t likely to have that suffering because it’s a different world. Which is fine.

    To use the Korea analogy, I think its fair to say that the veteran who served and suffered would still consider the guy who just served to be a “veteran.” It’s the person who just visited Korea on vacation in 2003 whom neither would call a veteran.

    And I certainly agree with your next-to-last paragraph. I might prejudge people’s nerd cred but I don’t actually let it stop them or me from enjoying ourselves. There just might be a little eye-rolling from me when the person who doesn’t strike me as ever having had trouble getting a date starts saying “Oh, I am SUCH a nerd…!”

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