Monday, August 09, 2010

Top 10 Nerds of SF

As geeks, we love to compile lists of what we consider to be the best in any number of catagories of science fiction, fantasy and all points in between. But how often do we highlight the cream of the crop from our own ranks in the worlds of SF? They're smart, talented, a bit weird, sometimes exploited, often overlooked and occasionally picked on, they are:

The Top 10 Nerds of SF

10) Felix Gaeta - Battlestar Galactica
During the Colonial fleet's life on the run in the more than four years since human civilization was destroyed by the Cylons, Felix Gaeta was a fixture in the CIC of Galactica. Always dependable and dedicated to doing the right thing (well, at least until his mutiny with Zarek), Gaeta was the quietly brainy officer who kept Adama's ship running, found the evidence that damning footage of Baltar had been forged, kept Baltar's floundering administration limping along on New Caprica, and even supplied vital intelligence to the resistance. In short, the fleet couldn't have lasted as long as it did without him. And yet, because of his catastrophically stupid, tragically human decision to align himself with Zarek and lead a mutiny when he became disillusioned, he's locked back here in last place on the list.

9) Night Owl 2 - Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
He may be a gadget-wielding, ass-kicking costumed vigilante, but when he's not making the streets of New York safer, Dan Dreiberg is just a smart, sensitive, slightly chubby, middle-aged guy who leads a quiet life, hanging out with an aged friend sharing stories about the good old days and quietly pining away for the girl of his dreams that he thinks he'll never get. But he does get the girl, and renews his purpose, returning to crimefighting. The problem is that while Night Owl is very effective at keeping the streets safe, he's completely unable to save his city from Ozymandias' insanity, and unwilling to speak out about Veidt's plan after it has been carried out.

8) Tyrion Lannister - A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin
Because of his dwarfism, Tyrion is mocked by many in the great houses of Westeros, including his own. An embarassment to his power-hungry and appearance-obsessed father, Tyrion is constantly bullied by his family and denied any opportunities to have a relationship. But he isn't just a whipping boy; Tyrion is extremely intelligent and cunning. He proves to be a brilliant general in the battle to defend the capital, and almost wins and still manages to escape when things turn sour. He also studies everyone around him, knowing their weaknesses, which he uses to take revenge on his father before he eventually leaves. Tyrion would rate higher on the list, except that all of his talents have, for the most part, been wasted on serving the underseving interests of his family.

7) Hiro Protagonist - Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Virtual world builder and swordsman, Hiro's got the makings of a real, well, hero. Except that in the real world, he's not much of anything - a failed pizza delivery guy who lives in a storage locker. None-the-less, Hiro finds himself embroiled in an adventure where he's got to use all of his skills to stop an ancient meme from taking over the minds of everyone in the world.

6) Commander Data - Star Trek The Next Generation
Even if he isn't a carbon-based lifeform, Data is still a nerd by anyone's standards: smart and friendly but socially awkward. But he's well-liked and great at his job, and because of his efforts, the Enterprise is able to save the Earth and the entire Federation time and again. I'd rate Data higher, but he's trained for this sort of thing, and being an android, he's got physical abilities and a psychological equilibrium that allows him to deal with weirdness better than most people on the list - one hell of an unfair advantage. More credit to those who have to do without.

5) Hamza Senesert - The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
A master of comic lore and Battle of the Planets videotapes, and a poet suffering from writers' block, Hamza's also a dishwasher drifting along through life, until he meets a mysterious woman and is pulled into a quest to save an ancient, mystical jar from a group of badguys (including a trio of evil nerds), thereby saving the world. Granted, he had help from his roommate, a fellow geek who invented his own power armor, but still, saving the world's pretty good for a dishwasher who was kicked out of university.

4) Chuck Bartowski - Chuck
Computer repairman by day, data and combat-enhanced super spy by night, Chuck was yet another run-of-the-mill geek thrown into a deadly world beyond his understanding who was able to not only survive but thrive in it. Over three seasons, Chuck's battled evil spy rings, mercenaries and assorted other baddies, saving his country and perhaps the world on multiple occasions. Mega bonus points for having a Tron poster on his wall. However, he can't rate any higher on this list because in season two he bought into the idea that Rush is the music of the universe. Rush sucks. Anyone who gives Rush that much credibility, even if only to get the proper rhythm to beat a videogame and disarm a nuclear bomb, deserves pity rather than applause.

3) Neo - The Matrix
A hacker lacking direction in life, feeling like he doesn't belong and that there's something wrong he just can't put his finger on, Neo works an unsatisfying desk job by day and raids data by night. Until he meets Trinity and Morpheus and finds out it's all a lie. In short order, Neo goes from being a downtrodden nerd to the saviour of humanity, not a bad promotion. Problem is, he's played by Keanu, so as much as we're shown a kung-fu-fightin' techno superhero, it's still, after all these years, hard not to see Ted trying to make it big on the metal scene.

2) Kevin Flynn - Tron
Another hacker makes it high on the list. Flynn is also a small businessman and former videogame designer who's looking for some payback for having his software stolen and being kicked out of EnCom. Getting sucked into the computer world and forced to fight for his life only gives him more incentive. Why does Flynn rate so high on the list? Like everyone else on this list, he's got resolve: kick him and he uses his nerdy brain to fight back and hit the badguys where they least expect it. He's also a god in the computer world, which is something no-one else here has going for them. And most importantly, he saves not just one, but two worlds: the computer world and the real world (cause the MCP's pretty open with Dillenger about his plans to run the show for humanity as well as the programs). But in the end, it's a numbers game: saving two worlds is pretty awesome, but...

1) The Doctor - Doctor Who
Is The Doctor a nerd? You betcha. He's brainy. He's got a sense of fashion that would frequently make a university professor cringe, his mannerisms, while friendly, range from strangely detached to eccentric to downright twitchy. He gets excited over gadgets, and yet his TARDIS ain't exactly the nicest ride on the intergalactic highways. And in the old days, he wasn't the most popular Timelord at all the best Gallifreyan parties. And his claim to the first place rests on the fact that he's saved not just the Earth, but pretty much the whole galaxy, if not the universe, from everything from Daleks to the devil. The Doctor is not merely a Timelord, he is the nerd lord.

What other nerds of note have I missed?


Steve said...

Damn you sir for not including Wesley Crusher. Damn you to hell.

bloginhood said...

My most humble apologies. It's been a long time since I've given young Wes any thought, and I dare say many fans out there have also(rightly) worked hard to purge him from their memories.
Okay, if I had to do it again, I'd certainly add Wesley Crusher to the roster.

Minister Faust said...

Awesome to see Hamza there, and in such great company. Being the world's biggest fan of Felix Gaeta, I am humbled that Hamza beat his ass by four notches on the list.