Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Geek's Guide to Vancouver During the Olympics

Contrary to popular belief, some geeks enjoy sports. Pull us away from our musings on the impact of the New Wave authors or our Star Trek vs Star Wars feuds, and chances are you'll find more than a few members of the SF community watching football (and if they have taste, it'll be CFL rather than NFL), baseball or hockey, and quite possibly playing a sport or two as well.

To that end, it's quite likely that a few geeks have come to Vancouver for the Olympics. If you're one of those people, by now you've had a week to find the venues, LiveSites and O-Zone and start to get comfortable with the layout of the city(ies). But having gotten your routine down, you're probably also now looking to branch out and see and do other things. And if you're a fanboy or girl, that means gettin' your SF fix on.

To help out-of-towners, I've assembled this list of recommendations:

Books (new)
White Dwarf Books
3715 West 10th Ave, Vancouver
-at 10th & Alma
Be sure you pay a visit to White Dwarf when you're in town. Walter & Jill have been an important fixture on the local SF scene for years with their great little store crammed with books to satisfy every kind of science fiction and fantasy (and to a lesser extent horror) fan. And there's Judd the basset hound to greet you as you come in the door. This place is like a second home to me. (when you're there, you may also want to wander up the street to the Cocoa Nymph for some chocolate)

Books (used)
Characters Fine Books & Coffee Bar
8419 Granville St, Vancouver
I don't buy used books often, but this is one of the stores in Vancouver I have been known to visit occasionally. Some good SF on the back shelves, and it's well organized, so you can actually find stuff. (If you take some time to poke around the neighbourhood [Marpole] and you're hungry, Mr Pickwick's Fish & Chips is a good stop, as is Chica's Latin American restaurant just down a block or two. Avoid Vera's burger shack though - the chain's other outlets are great, but for some reason, the Marpole location can't seem to do anything right.)

Lawrence Books
3591 West 41st Ave, Vancouver
High shelves crammed every which way with books crowding narrow aisles. Again, I don't frequent used stores much, but I do visit the local group from time to time, and Lawrence is one of the ones worth going back to.

Golden Age Collectables
852 Granville St, Vancouver
I practically lived at this place when I was a teen. Fantastic selection of new comics, big stock of back issues, and lots of other stuff to catch the eye. Interesting sports aside: a few years ago when I was still working in radio, I remember one of the sportscasters of the news/talk station I was working at made a bold move one weekend evening when he had to fill in as host of Sportstalk - there was nothing going on in the world of sports, so he brought in a couple of the ladies who worked at Golden Age to do a segment on sports memorabilia, trading cards, and other collectables. The phone lines virtually exploded with sports fans desperate to talk about their treasures. One of the best shows the program ever did. Back to the subject at hand though... if you're an Olympic fan in town looking to pick up the latest issue of your favourite comic, Golden Age is located on the Granville Mall, so it's very easy to get to from yoru Downtown hotel or one of the Downtown activity areas or venues.

The Comicshop
2089 West 4th Ave, Vancouver
While I haven't purchased anything here (haven't purchsed many comics at all in years - the odd graphic novel, but not a lot of individual comics, although I do like to look in the stores from time to time), I have been in this store a few times and have always been impressed with their stock. It's a regular haunt of my comic-lovin' buddy Steve, who does buy frequently there, and that's a very good recommendation in my books. It's in the trendy section of 4th Ave, so lots of eateries and stores of all types in the neighbourhood. Granville Island's close by as well.

There are, of course, plenty of other used book stores and comic dealers across the region, and I'd encourage you to explore them wherever you find them.

As for seeing the sites of your favourite shows and movies around town, there are just too many to list! For years now, shows like X-Files, the Outer Limits, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica and many others, as well as countless movies, have been shot around the Lower Mainland. Stand at the south end of the Granville St Bridge looking north across False Creek, and the city skyline is that of Caprica City from the opening sequence of BSG. The Burrard St Bridge was the site of a battle in the pilot of Highlander. Simon Fraser University's main campus in Burnaby has hosted episodes of BSG (not to mention the beginning of the execrable remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still). And on, and on, and on, and on. Like I said, too many locations used in too many shows and movies. However, if you want to check out some of the locations where Battlestar and Caprica have been shot, I'd encourage you to jump over to a local fan site called The 13th Colony.

In terms of great places to eat, waaaaaaay too many restaurants to mention. If you're looking for restaurant recommendations, reply to this thread and let me know what cuisine you're in the mood for, and I'll make a suggestion or two.

Welcome to Vancouver, fellow SF fans!

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