Sun
May 13 2012 11:00am

Our Geeky Moms

Our Geeky Moms

Science fiction and fantasy mothers are awesome. Not only can raise they kids in magical worlds, robot apocalypses, and seedy space stations, but women like Sarah Connor, Molly Weasley, ElastiGirl, and Keiko O’Brien all do it with some class.

But real life moms are even better, because they often put those magical worlds and seedy space stations into our brains to begin with. For Mother’s Day, we’re  reminiscing about times we were just podlings and the ways our moms shaped our geeky tendencies.

 

Ryan Britt as a kid dressed a VulcanRyan

I really wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing, or be working with the things I love if it weren’t for my mom, Rebecca Britt. For one thing, my mom would try to put books in my hands over toys, and most of those books were very geeky. I’ve already written about how she read my sister and I A Wrinkle in Time when I was very young. There are so many geeky moments my mom participated in and/or encouraged. She took me to a couple Star Trek conventions. She made me an awesome Spock costume when I was in 3rd grade. She encouraged me to sing “Ghostbusters” in the school talent show. She fed me a steady diet of dinosaur books. But, I’ll really never forget the night she let my sister and I stay up late and watch the Star Trek: The Next Generation season finale in which Captain Picard is turned into a Borg. Oh no! And because we were so upset, she then let us watch Back to the Future II, which had just come out on video and we’d never seen. Best night ever.

Thanks Mom.

(P.S. Regular readers will notice my mom popping up in the comments on Tor.com from time to time. Her handle is “Your Mom.” True story.)

 

Emily

When I was four, I was Tinkerbell for Hallowe’en. I decided that the only way to play this character properly was to speak like a fairy.... in funny tinkly bell sounds. My mother seemed to understand that this was a perfectly logical course of action.

When I was five, I watched The Wizard of Oz so many times, the tape started to get fuzzy at the edges. I needed a pair of ruby red slippers. I got them for Christmas, and a new pair each year as my feet got bigger because my mom knew that having props to play was better than an action figure any day of the week.

When I was six, I got a real kimono from my grandmother after she visited Japan. I wanted to wear it to school. My mom dressed me up and brought me to class.

And maybe my mom was never a Star Wars fan or read Lord of the Rings, but when she told me that she spent her childhood with capguns and a cowboy hat — pretending to be Calamity Jane — I knew, unequivocally, that I was her daughter. Love you, mom.

 

Bridget

I’m not sure my mom would define herself as “geeky”—I’d say instead that the most definitive aspect of her taste in books and entertainment is her open-mindedness. She’s constantly reading, and half the time the books are just random mystery novels she’s picked up at the library or used book store, anything she thinks might be interesting—sometimes she’s unimpressed, but more often than not, she finds a new author or series she likes, and adds them to her crazy list.

When my younger siblings and I were little, she’d read to us just as constantly, everything from fairy tales to Dr. Seuss to Greek myths, whatever we wanted, really…My mom’s always had an appreciation for the offbeat, and a vested interest in letting her kids develop their own tastes and personalities, even when they don’t overlap with her own. I can’t remember her ever reading much science fiction, for example, but the summer I was stuck at home with the worst case of poison ivy every unleashed on a dorky 11-year-old, she cleared out the Vonnegut shelf of our local library, thinking I might like his work (and of course, she was right).

Around the same time, she let me stay up to watch Twin Peaks (as long as I promised to skip shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, which premiered the same year—it’s important to have some standards, after all). So while all my classmates were talking about Dylan and Brenda and the prom, all I cared about was Who Killed Laura Palmer? and The Black Lodge, and I’ve never looked back. Over the years, my mom has been directly responsible for my love of Buffy, Harry Potter, and even A Song of Ice and Fire, but most importantly, she’s taught me that being open to all different genres, and different kinds of stories, is a far more rewarding path than clinging to a boring, predetermined notion of what you like, and don’t like.

She enjoys things (whether we’re talking books, movies, characters, series) simply because they’re interesting, well-written, funny, bizarre, different, goofy…I don’t know if that’s necessarily “geeky,” but it sure works for me. Love you, Mom :)

 

Irene

There has never been a time when my mother did not support my, or my  two brothers’, interest in art, books, movies, and gaming — sf/f or otherwise. Being a single parent raising three kids, you’d think she’d be anxious to steer us towards more practical interests but, instead, let us indulge in anything that championed imagination and creativity. The other gift she gave us was never assuming anything was above our heads.

She took us to museums in such a matter-of-fact fashion that the Cloisters seemed as exciting as Star Wars, not a “learning oportunity.” And her willingness to take us to Men-at-Arms Hobbies each and every weekend to buy D&D miniatures made fantasy seem as worthy a pursuit as the countless trips to the planetarium she took us on. 

As for specific geek cred, I don’t think she would self-identify as geeky and yet the evidence is damning.  She took us to see Zardoz when I was practically a baby, absolutely adores Time Bandits, exposed us to Arthur C. Clarke stories, we recently rewatched Excalibur, and she currently has a dog named after a Kinuko Craft painting. She also reads Tor.com (and is quick to point out the stories she likes and doesn’t like.)

She opened the world to us far beyond our deep suburban surroundings and allowed us to believe anything was possible. Thank you, Mom! We love you. 


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and if you’ll excuse it it has to go call its mother the shipyard right now.

6 comments
Margot Virzana
1. LuvURphleb
My mother gave me a wide array of genres to choose from. Instead of giving opinions she would just always give me money for the scholastic book fair or ask if i wanted a book from barnes and noble or let me go through our extensive family library. From english history of the monarchs to the civil war. From mary stewart to john grisham. From timothy zahn to michael crichton.
She bought every STTNG episode and watch them with my sister every weekend we had new ones. She would help me dress up as a vulcan or didnt scold me for giving myself sharpie trill spots. She let me go thru my jedi years and helped me discover my own beloved genre of scifi/fantasy. Getting me books from terry goodkind to all star wars and star trek to robert jordan to ann mcCaffrey to david eddings to tolkien. She got me the soundtracks to those movies when i fell in love with orchestras and listened to my stories when i started creating my own universe.


She helped mold my geekiness and never let me doubt that being a geek was cool.
AlBrown
2. AlBrown
My mom was not geeky at all, that came from my dad's side of the family. But she went to the library pretty much every week or two, and always brought us back a stack of books she thought would interest us, which was usually heavily weighted toward sci fi. Herself, she likes mysteries, and a few days ago, having found out she hadn't read any Hamish MacBeth mysteries lately, I brought her a stack of the most recent nine of them. Right back at ya, mom!
AlBrown
3. GholamSlidingUnderTheDoor
It really all started with making me love to read, even before I started going to school. This of course led to being able to learn more, a virtuous cycle that definitely led to "geekdom" whether I wished it or not. By third grade, my classmates were reading things designed for eight-year-olds, and thanks to her I was reading Twain and Poe. Still, it was the willingness to shrug off my choosing books with rather scantily-dressed people or girls riding a lion while satyrs watched on the cover simply because I WAS reading that led me here; those books were A Princess of Mars and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the start of what has led to over thirty years now of devoted Sci-fi and Fantasy readership. And of course, getting some Dungeons & Dragons books for Christmas after simply mentioning that some friends were playing the game didn't hurt either, especially considering this was during the height of the crazy people saying it turned kids into satanists and murderers in the early '80s. (it helps that my actual list that year also included science stuff and a chess set, going for the geek trifecta yeah!)

All along, the support in allowing me to choose what I would be interested in rather than what I was "supposed" to be made me the person I am today, geeky parts and non-geeky parts.
AlBrown
4. Fenric25
I, too, had (and still have) a geeky mom. Thanks to her, I got into Babylon 5, Farscape, Stargate, Star Trek, and she let me spend hours of free time reading as many sf/f books as I could find, many of which she's never read but has shown an interest in (of course, much of that free time came from the fact that my parents often forgot I was there, being the quiet third child out of five, but hey, it still counts). She always encouraged the intellectual and creative books and works in our household, especially once it became apparent how much of a nerd I was, even more so than her. She even didn't mind when anime and video games started creeping into the house, unlike most other mothers I knew back in the 90's (and probably a few even now).

My love of Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings stems from my father, and, indeed, those are two of my greatest geek passions. However, all the rest of the nerd stuff I enjoy is thanks to my mother, still a geek, even now as an exhausted 54-year old transcriptionist wth no time on her hands. Glad she was able to impart such a love of speculative fiction upon me, one of the few fond things I remember of my family and childhood :)
James Whitehead
5. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
My mum was the one to introduce me to The Hobbit & LOTR so a big 'thank you' for that obviously. She has to be one of the most well read people that I have ever met.

We watched the Dr. Who as a family from when I was very little, the third doctor we started with. Saw the Star Trek shows in syndication & then in the theatre.

She also made sure I learned about the ballet, opera (especially light opera0, musicals, jazz, movies, theatre, museum, and a host of other things just to ensure I sampled a wide variety of experiences; as you 'never knew what you were going to like and not like young man.'

One of the best memories is playing Trivial Pursuit with my family & my mother constantly saying the answers were wrong. We'd stopped the game to check the encyclopedia (no Wiki, shocking I know) and invariably she'd be right.

Kato
Ashley Fox
6. A Fox
Hmmm. My mother was certainly not a geeky mother. However she did give me the Hobbit to read when I was 8. I saw fairies in the garden and questioned God in sunday school and I dont really think she knew what to do with me. My younger sister was very ill with severe asthma at the time, on steroids and she was young. This unintenional gift was the best thing she ever did for me.

I devoured it. Her bookshelf then became this mysterious place I would reverently slip up to though sunbeams aswirl with dust motes. She loved Koontz, King and others, a few Herbert and Clive Barker. Old paperbacks, pages discoulered and full of odd scents, fascinating pictures on the cover. I would choose one, she would have a quick check for explicitly sexual scenes...then off I would go. (It may seem odd but at this time I was a fan of Hellraiser, so my bar for violence had been set high!)

Needless to say when I moved to a decent school a year or so later it was a bit of a shock, or perhaps I was the shock. The teachers called me a liar. I challenged them. And so I read every reading level within a week, they let me bring my own books after that, although I was forbidden to read them aloud to other children.

I am now a mother, and a geeky one. Ive learned a lot of lessons from my mother, most of them unintenional. My son is four. The other day, after bedtime, I heard a racous from his room. He had made a tent out of his long, deep blue curtains, a shaft of setting sunlight splicing through. An 'invention' made out of a handful of megablocks.

"Mummy! Look what I made."
"Oh I like that. It looks like a spaceship."
"Well done, mummy, it IS a spaceship. Ahhh but its a SUN spaceship. It collects all the sun along here, then it goes round here, like
this-swish swish- then it turns to hot air and makes fresh water!"

Becuase there really is no point contemplating deep space exploration unless your willing to think these things through.

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