Geekin’ Out isn’t just for the boys anymore. The fact is it never was. But like most media, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and comics (and gaming too) often still caters to male fans, leaving their female counterparts on the sidelines. Thankfully, many fangirls have taken up the cause of equality in Geekdom and are making sure their voices are heard. But what about girls and women who are new to the nerd scene? Is there an easy jumping-on point into the crazy and sometimes intimidating world of fandom? There is now with the release of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy : A Handbook for Girl Geeks, written by Sam Maggs.
As an associate editor for The Mary Sue, as well as a writer of many a essay for websites, magazines and books, Sam is a professional geek. Up here in Canada, you can even see her geek out over upcoming films every time you go to the cinema as she’s one of the hosts of the Cineplex Pre-Show. This makes her a perfect candidate to provide a “manifesto” for longtime geek girls and noobs. The book is meant to inspire women to embrace their fandom and take pride as Fangirls. While I feel it definitely achieves this goal, it also a succeeds at being an extremely entertaining and rapid read that can be devoured in one sitting if the reader is so inclined.
The title of the book is on point as it’s essentially a guidebook through many parts of fandom, breaking them down into easy-to-understand components. Sam covers all the bases and platforms, giving a quick overview covering a sampling of different types of fandoms, the online community, the experience of going to a convention and even a concise definition of feminism and the need to stand up for oneself in the land of geeks. Not being a fangirl (but still a big fan), my knowledge of some of the fandoms covered in the book are limited. Cosplay, Fan Fiction and even online gaming are not topics I know much about, so it was great to read Sam’s explinations for all as they got to the point of things rather well and didn’t bog you down with unnecessary info. It’s obvious that her time writing articles and essays have influenced her writing style on this book for the better as there’s never a drag from chapter to chapter or an overflow of info being dumped on the reader. A steady pace is kept throughout and you really feel like you’ve learned something when you get to the end.
What’s great also is that Sam’s voice shines through each page. It feels less like a book and more like Sam’s talking directly to you with her casual and lively demeanor, like she’s telling us these stories and tips over coffee. This delivery really helps to drive home one of the main message of the book: to remain positive.
Sam talks about fandom and the need for nerdy girls to let their geek flag fly throughout the book but also maintains the importance to put a positive message in the world. Being a geek should be fun and there are haters out there that will try to take the fun away from you. Internet trolls are well covered in this guide. Sam gives her opinions on how to deal with them but also states that if you feel threatened or bullied, that you don’t have to get dragged into their bullshit. She also stresses that you shouldn’t go onto the internet and try to rain someone else’s parade either. Her promotion of an encouraging environment in fandom is probably the most important takeaway from the entire book.
While the book as a whole is great read and there are a lot of interesting tips and info for geek girls, there is one segment that I feel kind of missed the mark. Between the chapters are a number of mini-interviews with prominent women in fandom, including comic creator Kate Beaton, voice actress Ashley Eckstein, producer Jane Esperson, and actor Laura Vandervoort. When I saw the book had interviews with these names, I was interested in reading their conversations with Sam. Unfortunately, these interview consist of three stock questions and their answers. The answers are short and only slightly touch on what makes them important in the world of fandom. There’s no real interaction with the author and it feels like they filled out a survey. I understand that there’s limited page space and that the guide isn’t about Sam talking with famous people, but it still would have been interesting to read her discussions with these famous geeks. Instead, there’s just a few quick blurbs that stand out in a bad way. Thankfully, they do not destroy the flow or enjoyment of the book.
If you are a female geek who’s new to the world of fandom, a longtime Fangirl who’s loud and proud or even a male geek like myself who’s interested in reading a fun and informative look at geek culture, you’ll find something to enjoy in The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. Get your copy today available through Quirk Books or wherever books are sold.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!