Girl Geek Thoughts on Still Just a Geek
(This is my rambling review of “Still Just a Geek” by Wil Wheaton, with a side of reflection.
You wanna know my girl geek cred? The first science fiction book I read was Planet of the Apes, by Pierre Boulle. I tried to read it in the original French, but gave up and read it in English. I was maybe twelve at the time. By that time, I had been reading fantasy already for several years. The first time I read The Hobbit I was eleven.
I played Dungeons and Dragons when there was only one edition. I played Pong, and Pool of Radiance, Pac-Man, Tetris, and countless other games when they were first released. When I was about eleven, I wrote my first fantasy. And my first science fiction when I was about fifteen.
I was a member in good standing of alt.callahans, the BBS dedicated to Spider Robinson’s amazing fiction, starting in about 1997. I grew up watching Star Trek (I’m a month older than it is). This geek girl watched all three Star Wars original movies in the theater during first release. I spent much of the 90s wasting far too much money on X-Man comics.
Once I had a computer powerful enough to do it, I started to game online. First was Final Fantasy 11, then World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, SWTOR, Skyrim, ESO, and now Final Fantasy XIV, among others. The list keeps growing.
Hey, Geek Girl, Isn’t this Article About “Still Just a Geek”?
It is. Give me a sec. (Drinks some water). Okay. Now. So I’ve been aware of Wil Wheaton’s existence since he starred as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I wasn’t a fan, largely because (as he concedes) the writers didn’t love his character and didn’t write it well. I watched Stand By Me later, and was impressed by him in that.
And then I found wilwheaton.net. And I became a fan of Wil Wheaton. Admittedly, I was late to the WWDN party. I hung around on other corners of geekdom more than in his corner. But as social media became a thing, I became aware of his strong voice in support of people with depression and anxiety. His courage in speaking out about his struggles impressed me. And I identified with him, as a fellow geek (well, geek girl) with depression and anxiety.
You Still Aren’t Talking About Still Just A Geek”, Girl
Okay, okay. I never read Wil’s original autobiography, “Just a Geek”. Apparently it was really cool. As someone who also spent the early 80s in California as a teen, I can relate to his overuse of the word.
The format of “Still Just A Geek” was a bit annoying for me. He annotated the original autobiography with lots of commentaries, and then another third or so of the book talks about his life since writing the first one. The extra stuff is cool. Really cool (sorry, Wil). However, my aging tablet hated the tiny little asterisks that Kindle provided as a way to go back and forth between the original page and the annotation. It would often take me 15 seconds of mashing the button, trying to reposition my finger, and trying again before I could read the annotation. So I pointed you to the hardcover edition above.
Eventually, I gave up and simply read the book sequentially. And I know I lost something in that. But as autobiographies of people who are younger than me go, it’s very, very cool. I mean good.
What are the Deets?
Welp, Wil Wheaton is a very courageous man. He allowed his publisher to talk him into publishing a version of himself from nearly 30 years ago that isn’t all that flattering. He said cool a lot. And that’s cool, but I mean a LOT. He made sexist and racist and ableist jokes a lot. And that was not cool. But Wil called himself in, and the person he is now spent the time apologizing for those jokes and even analyzing in some cases why they were harmful.
Young Wil Wheaton was well on his way to becoming bitter and jaded. I honestly think his wife Anne not only has saved his life, but his sanity and his chance at happiness as well. This book is a love story, and it’s a powerful one. Not only is it a love letter to his wife, but one to his sons as well.
Wil and I are both Gen X geeks. I’m almost exactly six years older than he is. And the geek world was different then. If you’re a young geek wanting to know how it was back in the day, it’s not a bad place to start. If you want to see the progression of a courageous man from callow youth to an outstanding human being, it’s a must-read.
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