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Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms [Paperback] Unknown Binding – 2010

33 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004PYUXH2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

More About the Author

ETHAN GILSDORF [http://www.ethangilsdorf.com/] IS A JOURNALIST, MEMOIRIST, CRITIC, POET, TEACHER AND 17TH LEVEL GEEK, and author of the travel memoir / pop culture investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, named a Must-Read Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards.

Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Gilsdorf's work regularly appears in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, BoingBoing.net, PsychologyToday.com, Washington Post and wired.com. He has published hundreds of articles, essays, op-eds and reviews on the arts, pop culture, gaming, geek culture and travel in dozens of other magazines, newspapers, websites and guidebooks worldwide.

A core contributor to the blog "GeekDad" at wired.com, his blog "Geek Pride" is seen on PsychologyToday.com, and he is a regular contributor to Boston NPR affiliate WBUR's Cognoscenti blog. He is also a book and film critic for the Boston Globe, and is the film columnist for Art New England.

He and author Noble Smith geek out and wax nostalgic about D&D and other pop culture relics at Dungeons & Dorkwards [www.dungeonsanddorkwads.com]. He is a lover of ELO and a hater of littering. Sometimes he wears a tunic and chainmail, or grampy pants.

As an expert on geek culture, Gilsdorf frequently appears on TV, radio and Internet media, including PBS Off Book, The Discovery Channel, the French TV network Arte, and several nationally-syndicated National Public Radio programs and in documentary films. He lectures at universities, schools, libraries, film festivals, gaming conventions and book festivals worldwide. Also an award-winning poet, Gilsdorf is co-founder of Grub Street's Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP) and teaches creative writing and journalism workshops for adults at Grub Street, where he alse serves on the Board of Directors.

To research various writing projects, Gilsdorf has interviewed Sir Ben Kingsley, Steve Carell, Viggo Mortensen, Andy Serkis, Seth Rogen, and Sister Helen Prejean, among other cultural figures. He has acted as an Hollywood extra, walked across Scotland, mountain biked the French Pyrenees, worn a tunic for two weeks while camping with 12,000 medieval reenactors, and (in his most challenging quest) successfuly drank champagne with Kate Hudson.

Follow Ethan's adventures at http://www.ethangilsdorf.com & http://www.fantasyfreaksbook.com; Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fantasyfreaksbook; Twitter @ethanfreak.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrew H. French on December 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm 40 years old, having been a gamer since I was 10. I'm also a husband, a home-owner, have held a professional job for over years, and I don't personally have any difficulty reconciling my love of fantasy and role-playing games with my normal, day-to-day life. It seems that the author has had difficulty in this, and this book seems to be essentially his rambling and occassionally awkward attempt to find out if it's possible to be both mature and have a love of geeky, escapist hobbies.

If you're someone who put the dice away a long time ago and are wondering whether it's okay to feel like dusting them off again...or if you never were involved in such hobbies and are wondering if it's okay for your significant other to be...then this book may be written just for you.

If you're still avidly into these pursuits, then you may come away from this book feeling a bit unsatisfied. I felt like I'd read a book that said "It's okay for you to be into this stuff", and I was saying, "Well...yeah. I knew that. Thanks." It's still worth reading the book, as he has a lot of enjoyable stories along the way...just don't hold your breath for any deep revelation at the end.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Wolvercote on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Being a "closet gamer/fantasy geek" myself I completely related to Ethan's book. His story is my own and I'm sure a large number of other guys out there. Trying to balance the desire to immerse yourself in fantasy, (be it Tolkien, D&D, or online gaming) and living in "reality" with its expectations of what is considered "normal" is a recurring theme in the book and in my own life.
I felt the angst that Ethan dealt with as he slipped back into gaming and fantasy after years of self-denial. Anyone who has felt that twinge of embarassment over being a gamer or fantasy fan will enjoy Ethan's journey and obeservations.
I certainly did.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By P. Brusa on January 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I do not want to delve into too much info on the book and spoil it for others, but being a gamer since the age of 13 and now almost 40, I thought this book with make a sincere connection with me - and it did. Like Ethan, I too went though similar issues being a geek and since then, have boxed by geekdom in a shoebox (figuratively speaking as it is more like a chest)in my closet only to crack it open later in life to look for some kind of mid-life re-connection. And I applaud him for telling us his story - but I think there are a ton of us out there that also have very similar stories like his.

The book confused me a little and like a previous reviewer mentioned, you read and are left with "....well, and now what - what did I learn?" He identified an issue with his mother early on and I think he should have embraced that a bit more in his findings and carried through MORE - maybe the fact that there are many people he met who also were geeks and they all lived through this fantasy life at one point, but each of us have moments of harsh reality that will either not allow us to continue on on this path (for him, his mother's failing health) or you embrace it and become a geek regardless in the open. There were moments of this, but lots of empty pockets.

Hard to say, but the book was just flat from mid way (the online gaming part) through the end. Maybe for me there is no issue here for me - I am a geek in my heart and I also made that trek 3 years ago to my local gaming shop to see what has changed after 15+ years and I was ok with that. Did Ethan finally find the right balance here? Hard to say - maybe a second book will improve on a few of the issues I picked out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Epileptic Tarrasque on February 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In what could have been, with a little more work, a tremendous insight and very poignant look back at a life affected and in some ways effected by a strong, early exposure to fantasy fandom, Gilsdorf produces in a manner of speaking two books in this volume.

In the first and admittedly more readable piece, he outlines in tones of sad nostalgia the affliction of his mother, his escape from that and his marginalization at school, and the repercussions he feels now in his forties at choosing the easier road of escapism over trying harder to be there for a mother who was at the same time both suffering and very difficult to love. He provides through carefully chosen and striking imagery a potent glimpse into awkward adolescence in the 1970's even for a reader who wasn't alive then or did not experience the same difficulties, and is at once both emotional and objective. In this former part, he shows the roots of his entrance into fantasy fandom and much of his sentiment about how it affected him. It is, in and of itself, a touching memoir.

The second part, hinted at when he first speaks of going off to college and growing up past the phase of Dungeons & Dragons and J.R.R. Tolkien and begun at full speed after the near-cathartic moment involving the blue cooler, is rather like listening to a tape on a machine that's running out of batteries. The narrative begins strongly, connected through Tolkien to the world of fantasy fandom at large, but steadily slowing down and dwindling in energy and enthusiasm to the end, by which time we're left with the unfortunate impression of a grown man playing with toys in the woods and growing continuously more pissed off that he can't get a decent girlfriend who shares his interests.
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