So here’s a question I’ve been pondering for a while now: If you were to find someone in the early stages of geekery…a “proto-geek”, if you will, with an interest in cult fiction but no knowledge of it to speak of, what would you feel like they’d need to know to develop a useful cultural vocabulary for hanging around with other geeks? That is to say, if you had to write a capsule summary of every “essential” piece of geek fiction, something that would at least let them follow a conversation until they can see it themselves, what would you sum up? Obviously they’d need to know Star Wars and Star Trek…but what are the key points they’d need to be aware of? (For Star Wars, I’d say the six movies and at the least the Zahn trilogy. For Star Trek, I’d say you could suffice with an explanation of Starfleet and the various main characters of each series, and a summation of the types of adventures they get into. Since Trek has looser continuity, I don’t think you need a timeline.)
Beyond that…what else would you at least try to instill a knowledge of into this proto-fan? Doctor Who? Babylon 5? BSG? Buffy/Angel/Firefly? X-Files? Farscape? Hercules and Xena? Those seem to have pretty well-established fandoms, and giving someone a capsule summary seems fair. Then there are the Alien, Predator, and Terminator movies, Blade Runner, Highlander, the Evil Dead series, the Marvel movies, the Indiana Jones series…older films, like the Universal horror films would be good to know, and there’s always Godzilla and its sequels…and of course you’ve got the basic timelines of the Marvel and DC universes. And what would you call the essential books? Dune, perhaps? Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov? Maybe even the Dragonlance series, as a way into Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop and computer games?
The more I think of it, the more exhausting it seems. But I do think you could reduce it down to just one book, at most, a sort of Compleat Geek Primer. What do you think should be on the list? Do you think it’s doable? Do you think it’s desirable? Share your thoughts in the comments?