SALT LAKE CITY — What is a geek? Once the term meant the awkward, glasses-wearing, pencil-protector-toting guy in high school who all the jocks picked on. But geek has evolved into something much cooler.
Originating in the 1950s and 1960s with fans of "B" science-fiction movies and classic comic-book superheroes like Superman and Captain America, geek culture is a relatively new phenomenon. The movement experienced a huge boom during the 1970s-1990s with the popularity of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” the growth of the comic book industry and Anime coming over from Asia to America.
The internet took geek culture to a whole new level, inviting a much wider audience and providing a forum for fans to express their love of favorite shows, movies and books with fan fiction, costume play, art, blogging and social-media sharing.
Today, a geek is anyone who has a love of or “eccentric devotion to” science fiction, fantasy, comic books and graphic novels, movies, books, games and such. There are “Harry Potter” geeks, “Doctor Who” geeks, "Marvel" geeks, etc. Are you among the geek elite?
Geeks in Utah
Utah has a thriving, unique geek culture. Sarah Hall, a local geek, admires the welcoming, nonjudgmental atmosphere of this culture. “We do not exclude anyone willing to share in our culture. Bronies — sure! Whovians — come on over! Trekkies — feel free! Anime fans — make yourself welcome! Tolkein followers — speak friend and enter!”
Another local geek, Xander Wright, said, “The amount of diversity in Utah is fantastic.”
The geek culture in Utah has become so strong that Salt Lake City will be hosting its first Comic Con in September. The convention of all things geek, held at the South Towne Expo Center, will have such guests as William Shatner, Kevin Sorbo, Adam West, Lou Ferrigno and Richard Hatch. Utah authors James Dashner, Brandon Mull and Jessica Day George also will be among the distinguished guests.
How to get involved
One of the great things about being geek is the wealth of entertainment possible and chance to form new friendships. From new books to read to new TV shows to watch to blogs to follow, there is something for everyone. For example, if you love the new reincarnations of superheroes in the movies, there is a nearly endless supply of comic books and graphic novels to read to learn more about the characters.
Here are some popular books to explore that have big geek followings, plus a list of local conventions.
Books for kids
“Beyonders” and “Fablehaven” series by Brandon Mull
“The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis
“Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling
Books for teens
“The Maze Runner” series by James Dashner
“Legend” by Marie Lu
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
Books for adults
“Mistborn” series by Brandon Sanderson
“The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick
Conventions in Utah
ToshoCON — Salt Lake County Library’s first anime convention for teens: Aug. 17, 2-10 p.m.
Salt Lake City Comic Con — Sept 5-7
Anime Banzai — Oct 18-20
SLC Nerd — Pop culture expo, April 25-26, 2014
CONduit/WesterCON — July 3-6, 2014
SaltCON — To be announced
Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a biweekly column for ksl.com and contributes book-related segments to "Studio 5." Her debut novel, "Blood Moon," is now available in stores and online. Join in the magic and chaos at teriharman.com.