Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Dork Review: Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf (yes, the guy's name sounds like he belongs in a fantasy book, and yes he does make mention of this in the book) bills itself as "An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms".

So, does it hit he mark on this?

I don't know about epic, but it definitely is a personal journey for the author where he attempts to reconnect with an earlier self, the part of him that needed to escape from a life torn asunder by a parent's illness. He found solace in a group of friends playing Dungeons and Dragons, back in the early eighties when it was as far as cool as possible to play. Not that most DnD players are really that cool now, but hey, we can count Lexa Doig and Vin Diesel amongst us now so at least the average level of attractiveness has risen. (Referring mostly to Lexa Doig on that one, as I'm not into guys, but for those of you who are please enjoy the mental image of Vin)

Anyhoo, let me break down the book for you. Guy has midlife crisis and problems with girlfriend, guy attempts to figure his shit out by going back to the fantasy escapism that dominated his teen years and that he gave up in college, guy tries to see if it's possible to be into fantasy and still be a normal regular person. Finally, guy finds out a lot about himself and sees many different facets of geek behavior and writes it down for many to read.

Did I like this book? Yes. It reminded me a lot of my teen years. Let's face it, I was a loner through high school. Heck, I'm still pretty much of a loner now, but with much better social skills then back then. I get where this guy is coming from. I remember being the outcast, the weirdo, the new kid in school that had no friends and didn't know how to make them. Like Gilsdorf I was never the jock or the stoner or the art dude or what have you. I was the guy in the library devouring books, the guy who rarely spoke up in class, the guy who wondered if he'd ever fit in. This book reminded me a lot about that time in my life, so it struck a very personal nerve. Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs were one of the few ways I had to connect with others and start to come out of my shell. I don't know if I would be even contemplating being a published author if my imagination hadn't been filled and developed by stories I crafted with friends over paper and dice.

If what I've described above touches a nerve with you, then I recommend reading this book. It may well be worth it just to remember what it was like to escape for a little bit, before you go back out to fight the dragons that exist in real life.

Find Ethan's site here.

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