The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
This new(ish) guide for geekettes from Sam Maggs, currently the assistant editor at The Mary Sue among other awesome accomplishments, acts as an excellent entry point to the world of fandom.
The book begins by discussing what it means to be a fangirl. Used as a touchstone throughout the book, Maggs not only gives us her own broad and inclusive take on the term, she backstops this with mini-interviews from other well-known women in fandom, all giving their own take on the term, even if it is to eschew it as meaningless or negative. Super brave, and talk about putting your money where your mouth is: letting someone disagree with you, in a book with your name on the cover. It’s a pretty awesome example of how fandom should work.
The second, third and fourth chapter of the book really are guides – guides to specific kinds of fandoms and guides to where to find entry points into those fandoms. My original impression was that this gave the guide a YA aspect that indicated I was perhaps not the desired demographic. Guiding a grown-up to specific internet sites like, Twitter or Reddit, seemed…odd.
However, upon further reflection, the second chapter that guided readers to specific fandoms actually plays a dual role. For a young reader, it might be a way to find their latest greatest thing – maybe they’ll try a new video game or start a new book series. For a more established geekette, it probably isn’t going to convince them to suddenly immerse themselves in manga if that wasn’t originally their thing, but it does give you a window into a number of popular fandoms, a kind of shorthand that may let you understand someone else’s favoritest ever thing in a way that bridges a gap.
Additionally, the advice Maggs gave for Con attending was awesome. Seriously, had I had all this advice at the first Con I attended, I would have been a far better participant. Maggs covers everything from practical advice about shoe choices to the emotional disappointment of realizing the Con is over. Of particular note, she resolves our “how the hell do you talk to a famous person” concerns from Wizard Con. And no, I’m not going to tell you, because you should go buy this awesome book!
The guide finishes with a final chapter about feminism. It is one of the most readable discussions of feminism, privilege and intersectionality that I’ve come across in a long time. There is something there for everyone and all of it bears re-reading.
What’s not to love about this book? It’s unrelentingly upbeat, which my cynical grown-up self was a bit grumpy about, but, frankly by the time I’d finished I’d lost my cynicism back around the halfway mark and was just enjoying an un-ironic discussion of the awesomeness that is geek culture.
It also might go a little hard on the internet slang, which okay, fine – POT and KETTLE.
The book may feel a bit dated, reasonably quickly, both because of the internet slang and because of the number of resources pointing to internet sites that could realistically disappear tomorrow, but I think avoiding that outcome is probably impossible just because of the nature of fandom, geekettes are a fickle crowd.