What we geeked out about in 2011

2011 was a big year for geeking out (for one thing, this blog launched in 2011).

The staff of CNN Geek Out had quite a few geek out moments but we picked just a few of the biggest ones to share with you as we say goodbye to this year.

Doug Gross:

We’d waited six long years to hear those seven magical words.

“The dragons are coming. Prepare to dance.”

That’s what fantasy writer George R.R. Martin wrote on his website in March, signaling that “A Dance With Dragons,” the fifth book in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, had gotten a July publication date.

By this point, “SOIAF” had already leapt to the top of my list. I’d even committed the geek-sacrilege of suggesting it’s better than “Lord of the Rings.” The fact that Martin had taken so long to get this one just right only made the moment I learned that 2011 would mark a return to Westeros more of a rush.

There would be more fantasy-geeking on my part when the book was actually released and was just as masterful as any of us could have expected. And, of course, there was the rush of seeing “Game of Thrones” adapted for HBO. But those seven words … yeah. That was big.

Colette Bennett

One of my biggest geek out moments of the year was hearing that the "Persona" RPG series from Atlus was being developed into an anime series. Animation house AIC ASTA was behind the look, and it basically retold the story of the game, but brought more life to the characters that I already loved. There was also new music from composer Shoji Meguro, which had me waving my hands in front of my laptop and squeeing when I heard the news.

Persona has gotten a lot more attention as a franchise since then, and there's been a remake of the most recent game announced, a slew of new collectibles, a Japanese cell phone game, and even a live stage adaptation! It's heaven for a fan of this stellar RPG series, and all I can say is - Bring it on!

Nikki Rau-Baker

On December 20, I patiently sat at my computer hitting refresh on the website that would show me what I had been waiting for all year – The Hobbit trailer. As I clicked my mouse at the appointed time I kept getting the same message “Page Cannot Be Found”.

How could this be? I was sure that I had read the trailer would be available at 10pm ET Tuesday night.

I quickly went to Facebook and posted a plea for help. Within minutes other Tolkien fans came to my rescue with alternate links I could try. I clicked the first one and heard the familiar music that I have come to associate with hobbits, smiled and (don’t judge me too harshly for this) clapped with joy.

Further into the trailer when Thorin starts singing and is joined by the other dwarves I couldn’t help but shiver at the prospect of hearing other songs from the Lonely Mountain when the movie is released. The trailer gave us just enough to whet our appetite for more. And more is what we got. That evening the official website for the movie was announced complete with screensavers, buddy icons and yes, the trailer in all formats.

Following the release of the trailer Peter Jackson posted on his Facebook page that he would have a “…Christmas treat ahead of the release of the two Hobbit movies in December 2012 and 2013…” On December 23rd he released the latest of his video diaries, this one on location in New Zealand where we get a glimpse of the dwarves in their barrels as they make their escape.

Most of the previous videos had been from the set and have included things like the scoop on how John Howe and Alan Lee come up with the 3D look for their drawings (I won’t spoil it, but you really should watch these!) and interview footage with Andy Serkis who is Second Unit Director for the films.

Throughout 2011 there were many things that made me excited and I looked forward to, but none made me squee as much as hearing the words “Bilbo Baggins, I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure...”

Henry Hanks

Geek out moments, oh, there were many.

But like Nikki, mine has to do with "LOTR."

In the midst of the amazing, geeky madness that was this year's San Diego Comic-Con, we had scheduled interviews with "Fringe" star John Noble, and "Wilfred's" Elijah Wood, with his co-star Jason Gann, back-to-back. It just so happened that their schedules worked out, so that Noble arrived at the CNN Express bus mere minutes before Wood and Gann.

Wood and Noble, as any good geek will recall, were both part of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and so the two old friends quickly embraced when they met on the bus.

The camaraderie among those who took part in Peter Jackson's trilogy could be felt right there. It was a magical moment, and a great example of the cool stuff that seems to happen just about every minute during the convention (Noble trying his first Butterfinger candy bar was a bonus, but that's another story for another day).

(Scroll down below to see the interviews.)

Joshua Rubin

I've been riding on the CNN Express for almost five years, mostly in the role of a political producer. The bus has had candidates from John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hilary Clinton, Herman Cain and even Barack Obama come aboard...which I'll admit was cool, but what really set my heart aflutter this year were the guests we had on the bus at Comic-Con.

I'm a sci-fi geek from as far back as I can remember. I had an X-Wing toy in 1982 and lusted heavily after my friend's official Star Trek communicator with realistic sounds... so my geek out moment of the year has to be having Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart on board the bus. Not only did they come on for an interview, they completed my ultimate work/geek fanboy fantasy by sitting in the driver's seat of my mobile bureau.

I love politics...but I love Jean-Luc Picard and Luke Skywalker more.

Nicole Saidi

Caption Obvious, prepare for takeoff. Dragon*Con is an easy pick for geekiest thing of 2011 and my past few years, and probably years to come. The ghost of Dragon*Con 2011 will revisit remarkable TARDIS dresses, massive amounts of Jayne Cobb hats, Star Trek cast reunions right before my eyes and Storm Troopers parading through downtown Atlanta in many configurations. (But spare me the Slave Leias, please.) As for the ghost of Dragon*Con 2012, only time will tell what lies ahead.

Ashley Strickland
Thanks to Dragon*Con and Geek Out, I had a geektastic awakening this year.

While covering panels at Dragon*Con for Geek Out, I met someone I should have sought out a long time ago: the Doctor. I somehow managed to stumble into line for the premiere of the Doctor Who “Night Terrors” episode, along with 1,400 other lucky individuals who made it inside. The mass of people draped in funny striped scarves, sporting bow ties or a fez, and waving various generations of Sonic Screwdrivers in the air represented a kind of wonderment I wanted to understand. From the first few seconds of the episode, I was hooked and drawn down into the Whoniverse. After Dragon*Con, I explored the entirety of the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures, up to season six’s breathless conclusion, and am now spinning backwards through Whovian history. It is a glorious, “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” experience. I might be a little late to the party, but it was worth the wait.

Steampunk was also an overwhelming presence at this year’s Dragon*Con, and I had my first true taste of its allure. An idea that crafts an imaginative past out of Victorian aesthetic and invention mixed with futuristic inclinations intrigued me. Once I read Kady Cross’ “The Girl in the Steel Corset,” and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, there was no going back. It was love. Now, we’re crafting craft clockwork costumes in our studio so that my steampunk character can go to masquerades, balls and cons. But the absolute best part about steampunk is the people I have met along the way. They are such a passionate, welcoming and dazzlingly creative group that inspires me with every conversation. See you at AnachroCon, my lovingly optimistic subculture!

Other things that I geeked out over this year: Science Channel’s “Trek Nation” documentary and “Prophets of Science Fiction with Ridley Scott” series, evolving subgenres in YA fiction, “Hugo” (the most beautiful and moving film of 2011), and interviewing Nichelle Nichols and George Takei. Oh, and does wearing my Star Trek costume to work count?