From D&D groups to writing circles to Warcraft clans to cons, we geeks are a naturally social bunch. Put six of us in a room and, by the end of an hour, we'll have elected a President and Secretary-Treasurer, set up the WordPress site and given everyone a slightly-embarrassing nickname. And that's the way it should be. Take that, organised sports - you don't have the monopoly on camraderie!
This mentality is reflected all through genre literature and media. We've all flipped through a comic and thought, "I'd sure love to hang out with them...". We've each pondered up our five favorite gangs - why not join our club and contribute your most delectable clique in the comments? One of us... one of us...
The X-Men. Being in the X-Men means a bunch of things. A) I probably live in a sweet mansion in upstate New York, and all I have to do to earn my keep is spend a couple of hours a week teaching physics to snot-nosed mutant kids. B) I'm a mutant, and I'm an X-Man, so I've probably got an awesome power. I'd like to fly, turn invisible on command, and stop time, please. C) I live with a lot of really, really hot people. They're probably all pains in the ass, yeah. But they're hot pains in the ass. I'm going for Gambit first.
The 87th Precinct. How best to consider the philosophical implications of life in the big city? Be an officer in the titular police precinct of a decades-running series. And, honestly, I think I'd be happy just nosing around in McBain's austerely gorgeous prose for the rest of my life.
The Rescue Rangers. I don't know what purpose I'd serve - they've already got a smart member, a funny member, a strong member, and a leader. Also, they're two-inch-tall, clothes-wearing vermin. But handy, nerdy Gadget was my hero when I was about ten, and so I choose the Rescue Rangers in honor of her: not Gadget, but that decidedly unhandy, too-nerdy little girl I was.
The Swiss Family Robinson. On the one hand, I'd be stuck on a deserted island with my enormous, annoying family. For, like, years. And yeeears. On the other hand, I'd get to live in a massive fucking tree-house. It's all about your priorities, after all. And my priorities are: tree-house.
Speaking of problematic, but awesome, families: I think I'd like to be a Greek god. Con: incest. Pro: I'm a god. Clearly all the good, old-fashioned powers are already taken, so I'll probably wind up being the god in charge of, like, circuit-boards. The god of curcuit-boards. Win.
SPECTRE. Someone's gotta be the bad guy.
If I must have a day job, and apparently I must, why can’t it be with Aperture Science? Imagine all the fun toys I’d get to play with, and I’d get to meet GLaDOS – or possibly become her. You may say they’re not the most ethical corporation on the planet, but they’re less evil than Black Mesa, and that’s good enough for me.
Alternatively, in these straitened economic times, I could join Torchwood – an organisation which will never, ever fire you, no matter how incompetent you are. Honestly, what must their annual assessments be like? “Well, you did nearly get us all killed by secretly storing your cyberised girlfriend in the basement, you had an inappropriate workplace romance with a polysexual alien and you almost destroyed Cardiff. Twice. I guess I’ll just have to put that down as a very good.” Admittedly there’s a 60% chance of death with Torchwood (a billionty per cent if you count Jack’s repeated bucket kickings) but no job’s perfect, right?
There’s only one X-team I’d join, and that’s Alan Davies’s Excalibur.There’s all the stuff Anne said about mutants and hotness, plus this lot actually seemed to like each other. You could imagine sinking a few pints down your local with Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde and you wouldn’t have to listen to them angsting on about their awful lives the way you would with almost any other X-man.
I always fancied being one of the Old Ones from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. I’d be immortal, for a start, I’d be part of a really cool international secret society and I’d get to pal around with Herne the Hunter and Merlin. Also, I’d win, which doesn’t happen to me very often in real life.
But most of all, I’d really like to be part of Hawke’s gang in Dragon Age: Origins. I could go clubbing with Oghren (a man who’ll forgive you for killing his wife if you buy him a nice craft beer), have meaningless sex with Zevran, hang out with my best mate Alisdair and pretend I didn’t realise he was secretly in love with me, flirt with Leliana and then get some dating advice from Wynne when it all went horribly wrong. There is Morrigan, of course, but doesn’t every group need one member the others secretly hate and bitch about behind her back?
Maybe I'm just one of those anti-mutant types, but my ideal superhero team would be the West Coast Avengers. Or Avengers West Coast. I think they swapped titles abruptly at one point. I'm a little out of the Mighty Marvel Loop, but back in the 90s, they were like Marvel's Melrose Place - a bunch of (frankly) B-listers all sunning it up in LA, occasionally fighting crime. Tigra went bowling with Iron Man. Wonder Man flirted shamelessly with everyone. Hawkeye and Mockingbird had their marital difficulties (just like Jane and Michael Mancini!). Less outcast angst, more celebrity lifestyle.
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is about as fun a place as I've ever seen. It is packed to the gills with surreal and ungainly critters, all playing silly games all day (insert GenCon joke here). I might not be able to handle wacky hijinks every day, but I'd be happy to give it a shot. Running into things and speaking in gibberish is what I do best - in a sense, I've been preparing for this all my life.
I try to keep my shallowness in check, but if we're talking in-crowds, there's none more inner than Manhattan's elite. That is, if course, a lovely reference to the classic introductory line: "Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite". Serena, Nate, Blaire and and their cronies don't fight evil or save the world, they saunter around gorgeous locations wearing expensive clothes and leering at other beautiful people. I'd be a terrible hero, but I am an Olympic class leer-er and have been known to pull off a saunter or too. I'm sure we'd all be wonderful chums. (Please note, this entire imaginary premise only works if I'm 17. If I tried to do this now, I'd probably go to prison).
If you're going to hang in a high fantasy crew, I'd think that Belgarion's posse is the best option. Hear me out. You won't die, because it is an Eddings book. Hell, you probably won't even get a nosebleed. Your friends are all super-rich and super-connected - you won't ever pay for a drink. Even when you're on the road, you've got Polgara cooking for you, Belgarath smuggling you ale and Durnik sneaking you off to go fishing. The villains are all jokes and there's a 100% chance that you'll wind up married to your perfect soulmate by the end of the adventure. (Downsides: Ce'Nedra.)
For a slightly more contemporary fantastic approach, there's a lot to be said about joining The Kings and Queens of Fillory. Not everyone has read Lev Grossman's latest, The Magician King, so I'll keep it vague. If his portrayal of modern college was a little intimidating (I liked university, but I'm pretty sure Brakebills would've killed me - either with magic or liver failure), the regal life of Fillory is solid luxury. The monarchs of Fillory are young, attractive, a bit spoiled and near-omnipotent. Sure, I might be the butt of their jokes, but, at the core, they're just geeks like you and me. Except for living in a fantasy world that exists to service their every need. Which is pretty awesome.
So, what about you? What fictional crowd do you want to hang out with most?