Introduction to And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth by Carljoe Javier (forthcoming, Milflores Publishing)
Ah, geek love. Indulging yet again in a Mythbusters marathon, where humanity’s long-held myths become subject to investigation through elaborate, stunt-infested, blast-ridden, techno-savvy, ridiculously entertaining scientific experiments, all in the name of putting an end to the sleepless nights that come with life’s burning questions—Did the great escape from Alcatraz end in success or failure? Do cell phones trigger explosions in gas stations? Will the combined intake of a certain amount of pop rocks and soda make your tummy burst? Does toast always fall butter-side down? Is yawning really contagious?—I am gooey-eyed as I watch, smitten, not only with the orchestrated explosions (be it of bathtub, car, or cement truck) and amazing mechanical thingamajigs built from scratch (buttered toast flinger and samurai-approximating sword wielder, anyone?), but also with the show’s two brainy hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman—both bulging-bellied, bearded, and bespectacled, balding, if not bald, one blathering and blundering, the other blunt and beret-ed—a shameless fangirl hanging on to their every word, giggling at every joke of two geeks doing what they do best—geeking out.
The charms of the geek are many, and this, Carljoe Javier clearly knows. In writing And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, Carl takes the geek boy (and geeks, at whatever age, are always boys)—instantly recognizable to any guy with a smart, good-natured buddy whose weirdness lies in the tendency to fixate to the point of absurdity on certain interests, and to any girl who has known the pleasure of having that reliable physics tutor (who teaches her to derive instead of memorize), computer expert (who never fails to iron out the kinks of her quirky laptop), and info junkie (who takes it upon himself to supply her with downloadable material on quasars, if she happens to express a remote interest) in her life—making him the informing intelligence of the scruffy, poorly groomed, balls-scratching, beer-guzzling, guitar-and-video-game-playing, ultimately charming goofball persona that dominates the book. We get to know a guy who, as a kid with poor eyesight and saddled with that ubiquitous geek indicator—eyeglasses—believed he would get optic blasts or go blind, “but then all my other senses would be enhanced to super-human levels. I’d have something like sonar and I’d have super-agility and reflexes.” This is a guy whose childhood constituted of “pretending that you’re Indiana Jones, studying military books to prepare yourself as a future A-Team member, and then being able to name the Original Star Trek, meaning full names, ranks, and designations, as well as assembling plastic models of the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon and quoting Yoda and Obi-Wan to explain things.” A veritable Adam Savage/Jamie Hyneman-in-the-making.
And Carl certainly does his own mythbusting in And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, but rather than go by way of encyclopedic knowledge and that bewildering capacity for obscure detail retention for which geeks are known, he plays up the social ineptitude and predisposition to clunky situations set off by a series of unfortunate events for which geeks are also known. Looking at the world through Carl’s bespectacled eyes—and occasional beer goggles—as he finds himself peeing on an exposed wire or wincing at the regurgitated adobo in a toilet bowl or surviving a battery of Q&As with a gaggle of bridesmaids or staring at lingerie pinned to a clothesline and fluttering in the wind, myth after myth gets shattered—myths about girls, about the rock star lifestyle, about girls in all girls’ schools, about reality television, about girls featured in men’s magazines, and oh, did I already say about girls? Not that the shattering draws any blood—not when it’s done in a voice funny and likeable, at times lazy and drunken, always companionable, comfortable, and comforting—the same steady voice you can count on to fill you in on any and all things Lost and Battlestar Galactica, remind you when it’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and calm you down with a solution to your computer’s latest meltdown. Ah, geeks. What’s not to love?