Geek subcultures and the fortunes made on them have a very recognizable lesson to share: there is always a second chance.
In the prequels and sequels and franchise revivals and rebranded rewrites of movies and comics and video games, the actors and characters may change but one shouldn’t be afraid to take a risk. The hero never retires and the villain never fully dies, says Eric Smith, the local Internet culture celebrity and Geekadelphia cofounder.
That idea of going for it can be found throughout ‘The Geek’s Guide to Dating,’ the gag gift meets self-help manual that will be Smith’s first project with Quirk Books, the Old City publishing house for which Smith is also social media director.
The clever and colorful little book due to launch Dec. 3 for holiday shopping is right in the wheelhouse for Quirk (easily digested, breezy and prone to sharing) and Smith (friendly, fun and backed by the reclaiming of ‘geek’ as a compliment).
To be clear, as shared in a 2010 interview we had with Smith around the launch of his self-published novel, there is no objectivity with this reporter on this subject matter. Smith and I are good friends, frequent collaborators and, what’s more, I read an early draft of the book in January and offered my feedback — fewer Pokemon references, I suggested.
Now, with that in mind, one might imagine my surprise when a review copy of the book arrived at the Technically Philly newsroom with nary a reference to us, Smith’s most consistent partner and faux rival. To make sure this doesn’t happen again for later releases of the book, I’ve prepared some review snippets ready for dust cover publication:
- “This book is made of many pages.”
- “In reviewing ‘The Geek’s Guide to Dating,’ I am reminded that millions of Americans have died defending our right to Freedom of Speech.”
- “Find enclosed a returned copy of your book. Please understand that Technically Philly receives too many manuscripts to review all that are sent, and we were unable to process your request at this time.”
- “He might not read it, but you have to buy your brother something for Christmas.”
- “Christopher Wink is out of the office with limited access to email. If this is an emergency, please contact my colleague Brian Kirk.”
- “There are books that define a generation. This is not one of them.”
Playful attacks of Smith’s talent aside, the guide does accomplish what Quirk was likely setting out to do: creating another in its growing catalog of niche culture books ready to serve as a funny gift or conversation piece.
Smith gives the self-help side of the effort a real go, offering specific, if expected, pieces of advice around topics like setting up your online dating profile (use a photo, not a headshot), date ideas (comic book stores and volunteering) and steps for sizing up potential partners via social media.
Writing for his reader “Player One,” Smith establishes a point system for and heavy geek chic references to explain things like fashion, music and wingman choice. Despite a disclaimer at the beginning, Smith has already taken some lumps because he does write from his perspective: a heterosexual male. If anything, those criticisms remind us of the diversity in a burgeoning geek community — when everyone wants to be a geek, the definition has to expand. Smith gives this a try, but the book is likely best suited for classic gaming boy geeks like himself.
That said, beyond pronoun somersaults and his dense geek references, Smith asks the deeper question, as he writes in his intro: how do you date in a world that doesn’t date anymore?
Like any other self-help guide — from gardening to skateboarding — having the book is as much a statement as it is a resource. Once you buy ‘Geek’s Guide, then you have to go out and take a chance, meet people, build relationships and find happiness, however that can best happen for you.