Saturday, August 5, 2017

Geeks & Greeks

Geeks & Greeks by Steve Altes & Andy Fish  182 pp.

This graphic novel is a fictionalized account of the pranks, known as "hacks", the students of MIT engage in. There are even rules for what a hack should and should not be and do. Jim Walden gets accepted to the college under false pretenses and becomes a member of the (fictional) fraternity Alpha Zeta Omicron. Fraternities and other housing groups compete for the fictional Golden Dome trophy awarded for the best hack. AZO is trying to become the first house to win the trophy four years straight. Jim is in danger of expulsion for his participation in a hack gone wrong and is being blackmailed by someone who knows the secret of his phony admission to the school. Some of the hacks featured in the book are actual ones that took place on the MIT campus. Others are pure fiction but still based in the realm of scientific possibility. Many of the real MIT hacks have made national news and trended on the internet. The book includes extensive notes about real MIT hacks, the dangerous nature of some of the hacks, and other pertinent information. This type of hacking, not to be confused with computer hacking, is prevalent at many institutions that focus on mathematical, scientific, and engineering. MIT and Stanford have gained fame for it and books have been written about their hacks. Hacks are a way for the students to let out stress while proving what they have actually learned. Missouri's own University of Science & Technology has experienced some creative hacks over the years -- the very sturdy brick wall build across a main street in Rolla during the night was a classic. My husband participated in tennis ball cannon wars with the frat across the street from his dorm -- a pastime rendered obsolete by the advent of tennis balls being sold in plastic containers.

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