penguicon! Sandman! GEnie!

Several people have e-mailed me this, which was in Neil Gaiman’s journal this morning:

I’m going to be a guest at Penguincon next year, mostly because it struck me as something fun I could drag my son Mike to that he’d enjoy as much as, or more than, I would, and because Terry Pratchett had a great time last year. It won’t be a usual SF convention, and the guests include lots of people I’m looking forward to meeting in the flesh, like the Slashdot people, and Wil Wheaton, who long before he was an uberblogger I knew of as The Guy Who Started the Sandman Discussion On Genie…

It blows my mind that he’s looking forward to meeting me. Neil Gaiman’s been transformed from A Guy Whose Work I Really Love into A Guy Who Has Inspired Me And Made Me Want To Be A Better Writer, so I’ll be working extra hard to not be a complete geek when I’m there.
I love that he mentioned GEnie! That was my first ever Internet experience, in the old SF Roundtable.
The first time I logged on, I was sitting at a menu prompt, and I kept getting messages from people welcoming me to GEnie. I had no idea how the system worked, so I just typed (In all caps, of course) at the menu prompt. It looked something like this:

menu.prompt>HI THERE. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO ANYTHING HERE. WHERE CAN I GO?
menu.prompt> Error! You didn’t use a command!
menu.prompt>IT TOLD ME I DIDN’T USE A COMMAND. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
menu.prompt> Error! You didn’t use a command!

It went on and on like that until I ended up in the GEnie version of irc, where I learned that typing in all caps wasn’t cool like War Games, but was totally lame, like Short Circuit.
When I was using GEnie, I was the biggest Sandman fanboy on earth. I even created a character in GEnie’s MUD-like thing called “Morpheus,” who I described as “a tall thin man with black hair, pale skin, and piercing black eyes. You think you’ve seen him in a Dream.”
Man, just the mention of GEnie brings back a flood of memories. I spent hundreds of hours on GEnie over the years, at speeds up to 2400 baud. I bet an archive of my sf roundtable discussions would be really horrifying to me, because I was at the hight of my teenage lameness then. I don’t think I ever spoke in AOL kiddie-speak, but my idiocy and ignorance about everything in the world really shone through.

53 thoughts on “penguicon! Sandman! GEnie!”

  1. TurboTerm!!! Wow. What a blast from the past. That’s the program that when in chat mode (split screen even…) would do a /who lookup on anyone entering the channel. Remember the Trivia game? “Just /sen 38 Your Answer” Some dope would always screw it up and blurt the answer out for everyone.
    God! Remember “Job Numbers” I’ve gotta have a drink and push all this now useless information back into the recesses of my brain once again.
    [Brontosaur] Has Left
    -MB

  2. GemStone 2 on GEnie at 1200 baud … Ach, those were the days! What a nice flashback the initial piece (thanks, Wil) and all the comments were.
    ~Sysmom, aka “Luxelle” et. al. in GemStone

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