Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks (Lyons Press) is a quest, just like a game of Dungeons & Dragons or a lifetime of World of Warcraft or the plot of Lord of the Rings or any of the other fantasy narratives discussed in the book. The author, Ethan Gilsdorf, woke up in his forties and had to accept that he still loved the geeky stuff of his teen years that he’d left behind to become a serious journalist and a normal, grown-up member of society. So he decided to combine the two and write about why role-playing and video games and reading about elves are so important to so many people.
He explores the early days of D&D (he just missed a chance to meet Gary Gygax, the founder, before his death), takes in several conventions, visits all the New Zealand locations from the Lord of the Rings movies, and wonders if he can ever really make things work with his non-geeky girlfriend. It’s a wild and entertaining ride.
But Gilsdorf tries too hard to justify the fantasy and gaming—they help disabled people interact like everyone else, they give courage to shy people, they help people through tough times—rather than simply accepting geeks for who they are. He makes great arguments, so he doesn’t need to struggle so hard to convince us.