Sophie’s Choice

I just had an unexpectedly harrowing experience on the internet.

While I like to think that I’m immune to clickbait, occasionally I leave the high road and tumble gracelessly down into the muddy ditch where I roll around with all the giddy enthusiasm of a dog who’s just found a particularly feculent turd.

(Pat pauses for a moment, looking up at the sentence he just wrote, and thinks that sometimes, just maybe, he should dial the vividity of his phraseologer down from 11.)

Anyway, I stumbled onto the following webpage the other day. I can’t even remember how.

Vote for the best Geek Celebrity Ever.

So I think, Okay, sure. I’ll vote in your little poll. I am wise in the ways of the geek. I have opinions.

The thing is set up as a series of X vs. Y pairings, and you have to vote for one or the other.

The first couple were easy. Obviously Felicia Day beats Peter Jackson. Obviously Johnathan Coulton beats out JJ Abrams. Tina Fey trumps Shatner.

You also have the option to skip voting on a particular pairing. This was first useful when I was given two people I’d never heard of before, a cosplayer and a voice actor. Rather than vote blind, you’re able to just shrug and get a completely new random pairing.

But I didn’t realize how essential the skip button was until this happened:

Don't make me choose!

I saw this, and a gear slipped in my brain. How could I possibly pick? The author of the second comic I’d ever read as an adult (Watchmen). The guy who Promethia. Top Ten. Tom Strong. V for Vendetta. Someone whose work has honesty changed my perception of comic art if not storytelling as a whole. Plus, y’know, wizard.

On the other hand we have Wil: creator of Tabletop, which is a force for good in the world. Co-founder of Wootstock, a source of persistent joy in my life. The actor that played Westley Crusher, a character that made my life suck a little less as a kid. Someone who regularly speaks truth to power, and a damn fine author in his own right….

It was a flabbergasting choice. It’s not like comparing apples and oranges. It’s like comparing sex and videogames. I had to skip that matchup.

Then this happened:

Don't make me choose 2When I saw this, my soul made the sound of ultimate suffering. I think I actually shouted at the screen. “Don’t make me choose!”

As the poll continues, it winnows out the people you don’t know pretty quickly. Then it gets rid of the people you don’t care for. With a little more difficulty you leave behind geek celebs you are merely fond of.

Then it starts to become excruciating. You are forced to make choices no sane person would ever willingly make.

Still the grindstone turns until you are finally confronted with something like this.

Don't make me choose 4

Don’t. Just don’t.

So. If you want to plumb the depths of your  own personal geeky faith, go ahead and check it out. I think the voting ends today.


Edit: Monday July 21st. I just googled “Sophie’s Choice” because while I knew what it meant, I didn’t know the actual etymology of the phrase.

I don’t think I would have used it as the title of this post if I’d known the original referent.

This entry was posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, geeking out, things I shouldn't talk about. By Pat57 Responses


  1. Marvelld
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:38 AM | Permalink


    Just wanted to pop in and say, I love reading your blogs. Makes my day go a little quicker when I’m at work pretending to be a normal person.

    Also, thank you for writing books that I can get completely lost in, even after that gazillionth time of reading them.

    However, I don’t think I can bring myself to complete that poll. Why would anyone make us chooose between people like that?! I just can’t do it to myself.

    Have a great day.

  2. Mitchell Hundred
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

    Alan Moore, Patrick Stewart, Neil Gaiman.

    I can make these choices because I have a cold lump of stone where my heart should be.

  3. arduanne
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:16 AM | Permalink

    Some of these were difficult until I used diversity as a tie breaker. You don’t think the Doctor can be a woman, ok, click opposite. Straight white guy vs gay asian, guess who wins? :)

    • catiecan
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

      I agree – and was pretty disappointed to see that the top 20 results are all men, and almost all white men.

      • Posted July 18, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

        Yeah. That was my big gripe about their selections too….

  4. BobLee3
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

    Wow. I did not need to make those types of choices this early in the morning. I got Felica Day vs. Nathan Fillion only about a third of the way through the poll. Needless to say it didn’t get any easier.

  5. humantorch
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    It was when I was presented with Patrick Stewart vs. Ian McKellen that my brain curled up into the foetal position and gave up.

    • midobal
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

      I known that feeling. I’ve got Ian McKellen vs. Patrick Stewart as first option. It’s as if some dark force is trying to trick me into choosing between the Brotherhood and the X-Men, when we all know that we need to work together to survive. One does not simply choose between Gandalf and Captain Picard.

  6. dcist
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    This reminds me of a game one of my favorite film critics plays called “Movie God”. In it, he is given two titles, actors, directors, etc. and has to choose which one will be removed from existence, erasing any influence it might have had those that came after.

    It is both wonderful and terrifying to behold.

  7. ggeezz
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

    C’mon Pat. Dish. Who came out on top?

  8. RMelo
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    I didn’t liked this poll, I was expexting to find some guys like Stallman, instead of cosplayers or voicers. More importantly, however, was the fact that you, Pat, wasn’t included. My top four wold be you, Stallman, Gates, and Musk. Not only for being geeks, but for using your geekery to improve the world.

  9. dorwinrin
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    It’s a shame you weren’t in that poll, Patrick!

    You would’ve been a decent runner up against Ian McKellen ;)

  10. akiaki007
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    Why did I click on this lovely poll? I don’t like this poll. I skipped all the questions.

  11. jane07
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    Participating in this poll would make me sad. Why can’t I like all of the people? Even if their work didn’t speak to me it likely influenced people who’s work I do like.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  12. JJLeggo
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    “It’s like compairing sex and videogames.”
    Pat, I am laughing so hard people walking by my office wondering who the crazy person is…

    • Posted July 19, 2014 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

      That’s what I’m here for….

  13. Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Shame there’s not “Choose all” button.

  14. johnconklin
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Unrelated to the topic of this blog post, I just wanted to disclose that I am sitting here reading The Name of the Wind and laughing out loud to myself. An hour ago, I was choked up.

    Stop doing this to me, Pat.

  15. surfingtheorist
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    At one point, I got Patrick Stewart vs. Ian McKellen. It felt like I was choosing which side of the X-men should win. Pure agony.

    I also noticed how few women I was inclined to pick, which made me sad. I suspect they do amazing work and are great geeks, but I hadn’t heard of at least half of them. I think I’ll look some up.

  16. specficwriter
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Neil Gaiman at 35, behind JK Rowling pretty much validates my (low) opinion of mankind.

  17. Joshua_Guess
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    My final ended up being Alan Moore Vs Neil Gaiman, and I wanted to punch my laptop. But then I realized Neil himself, being an acolyte and handpicked successor of Moore, would choose Alan over himself. So I did that.

    But it hurt my nerd soul a little bit. Like, I think I took a negative level.

  18. Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    My final choice came down to Elon Musk vs Neil Gaiman :(

    I feel like David Tennent leaving Doctor Who…I don’t want to choose.

  19. Corvus
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Nathan vs Joss?!


    • Prufrock
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

      Yeah, me too. But then it became clear — Joss.

  20. MommaAng
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

    Oi I feel awful and dirty. I feel as though I have betrayed so many I love. I was actually yelling ‘NO I CAN’T CHOOSE.’ Man it is not cool to turn geeks on geeks. But in the end I will always choose The Doctor ;)

  21. Crim
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    Bruce Campbell vs Ian McKellan….. nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

    I think my soul just shriveled up and died :(

  22. Claudia Silva
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    How the hell can i choose between J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin? They are both champions on the writing of fantastic literature, but with complete diferent publics…..TOO DAMN HARD!

  23. Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    Oh this is just pure evil.

    GRRM vs Steven Moffat!


    I thought a breakdown imminent also at Patrick Stewart vs. John Barrowman. I really love Capt. Jack, one of my favorite character, but….Capt. Picard is also…well…CAPTAIN FUCKING PICARD.

  24. klaxon12
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    How does one choose between Jonathan Coulton and Wil Wheaton? I love them both so much. They are both so geeky. This isn’t fair.

  25. Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    This was insanely torturous fun!

    At end of the match-ups, it struck that it would have resulted in some fantastic commentary to compare George Lucas with Gene Roddenberry. Granted, Gene has been dead a long time, but this little survey opened the path in my brain and now I can’t stop thinking about the Star Wars/Star Trek comparison from a creator standpoint.

  26. fuzzybearslippers
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Permalink


    You should take it again. I got completely different match-ups than you, so they must change it!

    • fuzzybearslippers
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

      Nevermind, I understand the process now. Yeah, that was crap.

  27. Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

    Ian McKellen vs. William Shatner?!


  28. MLBurt
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    Literally screamed “NO!” when confronted with the choice between George Takei and Levar Burton.

  29. s.r.r.s
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    I made it to “8 of 58.” I used my last good skip for Wil vs. Felicia, but now the skips do me no good. I’m stuck in a loop of various pairs of Felicia, Joss Whedon, and Bill Nye. I keep hitting skip and getting nowhere. I will be here for eternity — or until this horrendous poll closes. Please send reinforcements.

  30. Casey
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Joss Whedon vs Nathan Fillion…. D: how am I supposed to choose!?!?

  31. Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson Vs. Bill Nye.

    I don’t even…

  32. duke7883
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

    I ended up with Bruce Campbell, this thing checks out.

  33. WendyElle
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    I ended up with J.K. Rowling vs. Bill Gates.

  34. rmock
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    I ended up being asked to choose between Neil Gaiman and J. K. Rowling. I may have made several loud but inarticulate noises of frustration.

  35. Dragonmag170
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Oh no.

    No no no.

    I got Maisie Williams vs Neil Gaiman. How do I chose? I cant even… I dont know.

  36. Avruch
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    I ended up with Stephen Hawking as my winner, followed by Stan Lee, Patrick Stewart, JK Rowling and Elon Musk.

  37. VanderLegion
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    So wrong:

    Whil Wheaton vs Joss Whedon
    Felicia Day vs David Tennant

  38. holyground
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    It’s not just a poll, it’s a bracket. There are so many choices that end up being random, but as you go through all the choices, the ones you picked move on. So yes, you’ll have difficult decisions at the end, but it’s a ranking system, so think of who is the most geeky.

  39. Mike Provencher II
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Amusingly, I had Chris Hardwick vs. Chloe Dykstra as one of mine. That made me laugh.

  40. Bilbo
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 3:40 AM | Permalink

    pfu… that was hard…
    steven moffat

  41. RegistrationIsStupid
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

    Someone puts up a new way of self torture and you all fell for it.

    My eyes bulged out when I saw Neil Gaiman vs. Joss Whedon and it was all I needed to see, to NOT go there, so thanks for the warning, I think I might have gone insane had I taken the poll myself.

  42. rhidana
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    Final match: Nathan Fillion vs. Felicia Day

    This is impossible!!!

  43. ninjadude853
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    My very first choice was between Mark Hamil and Laruen Faust. Now, for most, that’s probably a no brainer. For me, my immediate response was WHY!?!?!?!?!

  44. northwoodsgirl
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    Pat, you are always doing things for other people and today in a moment of temporary insanity, I thought of you and your love of Firefly …. when logged in to get tickets to Nerd HQ Conversation with Nathan on July 26th I entered your name for my second ticket. Would you like to join me?
    Tracy, aka a Worldbuilder volunteer

    • Posted July 19, 2014 at 11:12 PM | Permalink

      I’m afraid I don’t know that that is….

      • AnotherCoatOfBrown
        Posted July 25, 2014 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

        Hi Pat,

        Nerd HQ is kind of the unofficial annual Browncoat gathering…..without originally meaning to be. Nathan, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, and Joss do panels there every year and it’s for a charity: Operation Smile.
        This whole thing is run by Zachary Levi, star of the tv show Chuck. He is by all accounts and in my own opinion, one of the best humans on the planet. I hope you get to meet him some day and i’m sure if you agreed to do a panel for him it would sell out immediately.
        The Nerd HQ started three years ago in a little bar in the gaslamp during SDCC that held 100 people. Next year they moved to a place that held 200. Last year and this year they are at Petco park stadium where the Padres play. It’s kind of a big deal :) It is also my Con as they stream live most of the weekend.

        Here’s one with Alan and Nathan (starts at 6:20)

  45. eliot-davies
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    I just got Patrick Stewart vs Ian McKellan.
    It even says “Ian McKellan’s best friend” for Patrick Stewart and “Patrick Stewart’s best friend” for Ian McKellan.
    This just got awkward.

  46. jomateixa
    Posted July 21, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    today I speak about your new book in my blog
    It’s a snack while we wait for Kvothe. Thanks

  47. Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

    Ooo, totally see what you mean about not using Sophie’s Choice for a title. I won’t trow that term around so carelessly any more.

  48. coria
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:24 AM | Permalink

    You wrote Kvothe’s book without having read the Sophie’s book? Wow…

  49. lucasvieira
    Posted August 1, 2014 at 7:26 AM | Permalink

    Who calls in the 4 corners the world Temarant? I mean, is the name of the Planet? or only that region shown in the map? oh im confused

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