Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks
Ethan Gilsdorf
Lyons Press, 2009

In my occasional series of brief reviews of mainstream books which mention or discuss the SCA, I've got two more at the moment. Gilsdorf's examination of the modern world of fantasy escapism discusses his own experiences playing Dungeons and Dragons as a young man, and interviews many gamers and enthusiasts of Tolkien and the like. Chapter 10, "In the Beer Line with the King" discusses the author's encounter with the SCA.

Gilsdorf approaches a visit to Pennsic with appropriate enthusiasm... he sews his own tunic, is unhappy with the result and tries again, with still inadequate results. One likes his approach; he doesn't just borrow some nice garb, he gives the thing a serious try. Once at Pennsic, camping with "engineers and programmers", he describes the experience: "Conversation at the camp was sedate. These were no raucous brutes or lofty knights. Order was paramount. A strict spreadsheet and chore book dictated who did what, when. The night I assisted with the cooking, a flowchart determined how and when to allocate resources like fire and prep time."

That caused me some amusement... I always wanted to organize Pennsic camp like that, but the locals tend to resist order. I'd have run it like a military operation if anyone had let me. Oh well.

The author makes the same point as Benjamin Nugent (below): discussing the matter-of-fact and unapologetic knight he quotes at some length, he adds "He was a geek in jock's clothing."

Gilsdorf's take on the SCA is sympathetic and accurate. It makes for an enjoyable read... enough so that I'm going to buy my own copy of this one.

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