Letters: ZZ Packer Travels in Time

Author ZZ Packer reveals which century she would visit if she could travel in time, and listeners weigh in on the coverage of the passing of Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax, who died March 4.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LYNN NEARY, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails and blog comments.

It was quite a week on TALK OF THE NATION. We covered the Spitzer scandal, the presidential campaign, the military, and we also took some time to look at magicians, the role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons" and time travel.

Due to some unforeseen technical difficulties, one of our guest's time machines didn't quite work. Author ZZ Packer wasn't able to join as we've planned, so we've taken a little time today to hear her time travel wishes.

She's the author of "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," and last year, she was named one of America's best young novelists by Granta magazine. She joins us now from her office in San Jose, California.

Welcome to the program, ZZ.

Ms. ZZ PACKER (Author, "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere"): Hi, Lynn. It's great to be here.

NEARY: So what time and place would you like to travel to?

Ms. PACKER: Well, I would like to travel to the future. I know a lot of the guests said in the past that they wanted to travel to the past, to a particular battlefield and to solve certain rabbinical problems and those sorts of things. But I would like to travel to future, probably a hundred, or maybe a hundred and fifty years into the future but not anymore than that. And the place I would like to go to is not a definite place but wherever there would be a family reunion of my descendents. And I just think that we don't get a chance to see who what are, you know, we may get a chance to see what our kids turn out to be and even our grandkids but, you know, beyond that, we just don't see, we don't see if there's a president or a physicist or whoever that's in our sort of - that eventually comes, you know, and comes from us. And it would be just be great to witness, you know, the fifty or a hundred or more descendents and what they're up to.

NEARY: Now, what would you like to see them doing or do you have any ideas of where you'd like them to be in life?

Ms. PACKER: Yeah. Well, obviously, everyone wants your - in the sense, to be successful and to have done more in life than you yourself did and so that's always the goal. But also just in terms to see them, I mean, you know, physically what they look like, the - you know, in terms of, you know, did you end up, you know, that someone end up marrying, you know, pictures of, you know, if you're black. Did your family end up white or Chinese? And so you know in a hundred and fifty years, almost anything can kind of happen. And you can see there's sort of whole panoply of people, you know? And I kind of just think about Barack Obama having all of these, you know, his family scattered all over the earth. And that would just be some - a really glorious thing to see, to see them all in one place, talking to one another, exchanging what they're doing, and just seeing technologically what's happened by way of that because so many of the advances that have occurred in the last hundred years of our lifetime, you know, planes and trains and, you know, the space shuttle and, you know, the Internet.

And so another hundred years, I imagine that they would just be conducting their regular lives and we would - we meaning me and, you know, people who are on earth now - would just be amazed by what they could do. Maybe they could time travel. Maybe they could live on the Moon. You can have a, you know, a family reunion on the Moon and Mars or something like that. But that would just be an incredible thing to see.

NEARY: Well, maybe it will happen some day.

Ms. PACKER: I hope.

NEARY: ZZ Packer is the author of "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," a collection of eight stories. Last year she was named one of America's best young novelist by Granta magazine. She joined us from her office in San Jose, California.

Thanks so much, ZZ. It was fun talking with you.

Ms. PACKER: It was great talking with you, Lynn.

NEARY: And moving onto fantasies of another stripe entirely, we received this letter from a listener who didn't like the affectionate use of the word geeks to describe "Dungeons & Dragons" players.

Listening to our appreciation of late Gary Gygax, Ted(ph) in Fort Lauderdale wrote, I question the use of the term geek. First, not all "D&D" players were geeks in the currently accepted sense of asocial computer experts, sci-fi fans, et cetera. Second is the term itself. Well, some of the various geek communities used the term ourselves, its use seems condescending. In the mundane world, the term geeks still has many connotations of loser. After all, the original geeks were carnival performers who bit the heads off live chickens. Perhaps gaming fans would have been a less judgmental if less catchy term.

However we did receive some mail from proud geeks as well. Deja(ph) in Jamestown wrote, thank you for the look into "D&D" and Gary Gygax's influence. I was glad to hear another female player. There are more than when I started playing but still not a lot. I started playing in the early '80s when my mother taught me. My husband and I bonded over our weekly games in high school and we still play every week on Mondays, and our daughter has started to play as well. Yep, three generations of geeks and proud of it.

We welcome letters from everyone, geeks, nerds and all. And if you want to go back and listen to the show, you can find our podcast by going to npr.org/talk. And if you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. Our address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of end credits)

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.