Nerd overload

My geekishness has a limit, I’ve discovered. We have a long afternoon and evening to kill in Las Vegas before our plane leaves, and we visited the Hilton, which has a huge Star Trek themed room and exhibit, and Mary even offered to treat me to the Star Trek Experience for Father’s Day.

I’m sorry, but it was too, too geeky for me.

Usually, I can wallow in any SFnal environment just fine; I can hang out in comic book stores with the kids, no problem; I’ll even seek out fringe SF and devour it as my guilty pleasure. But a place with nothing but ST memorabilia, bins of tribbles, a blue guy dressed as an Andorian, televisions everywhere replaying old episodes, and clerks in Star Fleet uniforms? I shudder. No, no…too much. I had to turn down my Father’s Day gift.

Please don’t take away my membership in the community of nerds.


  1. says

    Anything that involves dressing up is, generally, quite embarassing to behold. I’m a big SF fan but I find a great deal of normal science fiction horribly shameful.

    It’s like SF enthusiasts have become so desperate for material that the bar gets lower and lower, and suddenly anything with vampires or glowing orbs or time travel or artifical intelligence will be trumpeted — no matter how bad it actually is.

    What is the point of telling a story with fantastical elements, if it relies on the fantasy to prop it up? It’s just an excuse for special effects over substance (and I mean that for the written word as well as film).

  2. dolphin says

    Hmmm, PZ, why don’t you hang out next week with some people, who are really your type …. let’s say in Madison (hope that rings a bell ;-))…. ?

  3. says

    Thirty years or so ago, SF was kinda like a great little lake way off in the woods that only a few people knew about, and took the trouble to hike to. It was great partly because there were fewer of us and we all had the common experience of the perilous journey.

    And then it got turned into a park, and they built a freeway to it. The great mass of the public showed up, a lot of people who weren’t willing to take the long sweaty hike – past Susan Calvin, spindizzies, Gully Foyle, telepair twins, the Cheela, Pierson’s Puppeteers, Hospital Station, Fremen, Jommy Cross, Khedron the Jester, and even Norstrilia – and just drove directly to pretty views via an unnoticed trip.

    Star Trek was one of the chief onramps to that freeway.

    Yeah, the trail was pretty rough in those early days, and there was a lot of mud and no few rocky spots. But ooh, it was a beautiful trip, and there were interesting companions.

    Today … eh. Okay, the view is nice. But now there’s all these yahoos there with their cawing voices and vapid opinions.

    Not to mention the rubber ears.

  4. Stacy says

    I wouldn’t have minded seeing it just to say I’ve been there, but we didn’t have time this trip.

    So now I’m home, and in my own geeky way, happy that one of the highlights of the trip was getting to chat with PZ and Mary.

  5. says

    Yeah, but at the bar there they have a drink called the “Warp Core Breach” that’s nothing but a goldfish bowl filled with rum and dry ice. Yum.

    I also recommend the James Tea Kirk (long island iced tea) and the lobster/scampi fettuccini. Yum again.

    Plus, it’s easier to appreciate the blue people and the klingon outfits after you’ve had a fishbowl of rum.

  6. jbCharleston says

    About 5 years ago, my wife and I stopped in LV on a cross-country trip. We are non-rabid ST fans and thought it would be fun to drop by the (then new) show. While (like everything in LV) it’s a bit over the top, a few things still register.

    First, let’s dispence with the ride. It’s just like ones you can find in any “virtual reality” ride at many amusement parks. But the walk-through museum is well-designed, and while it’s about a nerdy fantasy, the design is on the level of modern museum designs that immerse you in context and lead you through not just the “history” but also the experience of the ST phenomenon.

    And then there’s Quark’s bar… Sure, it’s just a bar with ok-to-good-but-not-excellent food and over-priced drinks that have cute names (lot’s of non-SciFi bars are like this – some even more expensive). But if you let yourself relax into it, it’s mild fun. Then you turn around and meet your first Ferengi and strike up a conversation. That is, until it’s interrupted by a Klingon. Sure, these are actors in makeup (BTW, it’s well done. No seams…). They’re not A-list actors, but good in these roles. Ratches the fun up.

    What struck us later was how it felt ‘usual’ to talk with these 2 – sure we know they’re really humans in costume. But that’s a rational response. If you’d never seen a Klingon before and one walked out of a store just as you were entering, there’d surely be a start before your rational mind kicked in. But having seen them so many times, they were ‘normal’ to us and the rational reaction was that “oh, they were actors”.

    So what’s the big deal… Well, it actually relates to the “real world”. I teach an intro to computing course for non-majors. In the section where I discuss robotics, I bring up this incident to relate it to the Honda TV ads for Asimo. You can’t buy it, so why do they spend the money? Sure, it shows-off their technical prowess. But more I think, they are cushioning the public to the sight of a 4′ tall, silvery biped with a face of smooth, black plastic (no visible features). Be truthful to yourself, if one of these walked out of a store right into your path, how many of you would jump a bit? Now imagine the majority of the public that isn’t into science, sci-fi, or robotics. Starting to acclimate the public 20 years before Asimo is really ready to go to the store an get some milk for me could be a good idea…

  7. BlueIndependent says

    I’ve been through the ol’ Hilton Star Trek Experience before. I had outgrown my trekker geekiness, which didn’t exactly reach manic heights in my youth, but I found it mildly amusing.

    Granted it’s old now, and the franchise definitely needs to take a decade or so off, but it was pretty well done. But going through that memorabilia exhibit (which is really what it is) just kind of takes the luster off of the whole thing. Kinda like going through a Star Wars exhibit: you see how toyish all the props really are, and all of a sudden the computer-powered gloss of the latter-day material washes off easily.

  8. says

    We decided the ST Experience would be a cheese overload, and not worth the price without having any kids along. Quark’s Bar alone isn’t bad, though. I flirted with a Klingon and was intimidated by a Borg. Fun stuff.

  9. Roadtripper says

    Gah! If Sturgeon’s Law were adjusted for today’s mass-market sci-fi, it’d be 99%. Or worse….

  10. morfydd says

    Sadly, I found the Star Trek lounge had the only decent drinks in Las Vegas. (Though I was not, of course, at the chic-expensive hotels.)

    Vegas is fun for about 24 hours; then the fake and the just-not-right inside temperatures and the bleeding-money-just-to-sit-down make me crazy.

    You should have gone to Hoover Dam, though. The engineering is wonderful, and the starfield laid into the ground reflecting the stars at the time of the commemoration is a geek dream.

  11. darius says

    1) The Star Trek Experience is actually pretty fun. I’m not a big Star Trek fan, when I did watch it was mostly to laugh at the overacting, and I haven’t watched it in about five or six years. But the Experience was decent; first you go through the memorabilia while in line, which kills the annoyance of waiting in line, then you have the ride (much like Star Tours in Disneyland, with slightly more recent technology). Then you pop out into the bar which, as others have said, has decent food and drinks.
    2) I’ve lived in Vegas since ’99, and it’s definitely entertaining for more than a day. Sure, there aren’t any forests, but deserts have ecology too (who knew?), and off the strip it’s much like any other city.