Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs

Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam MaggsThe Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Miggs
Published by Quirk Books on May 12, 2015
Pages: 208
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Thanks to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

This really turned out to not be a book for me.

I found some things that irked me, very little amused me and nothing really informed me.

I’m still a little unsure who the correct demographic for it is as it is quite basic in all the details (be sure to take water to that con!), so current “geek girls” will not find much in here they don’t already know either through experience or common sense. I suppose it could be used by young girls who aspire to become “geek girls”? Young boys in hopes of finding a description of their dream fangirl? Or maybe just geek girls that have been too introverted to find their place, people that are super fans but somehow are completely unaware of events and online spaces where they can meet like minded people?

It even has a sections that range form how to write fanfic to how to use twitter. Twitter? And Facebook? This is a guide for geeks that also includes instructions for how to use these forms of social media? Maybe it’s for Grandma Geek Girls? I am really not sure who is unaware of Twitter at this point. But never the less, I won’t go so far as to say there is no market or demographic for it. I am just firmly aware that I am not included in whatever that market may turn out to be.

Now, I can’t help but comment on the section about Feminism. There are 5 myths that Maggs speaks to argue against. They are really examples of sexism and/or harassment in various geek communities. 

I will confess I have never been to a con and I am not a gamer. I may be online a fair amount and admin a genre forum, but I also avoid all the “scandal-drama”. So I may be the least qualified person to react to this section of the book.

I have had the experience of running across the occasionally  challenged male that seems to have some misconceived idea that gender differences also correlate to intellect differences or “right to be there” differences (more in my major that was 90% male than in any fandom related things). But there are immature jerks in both genders and there are so many different types of jerks, I just ignore it and don’t let it hold me back. It is unfortunate that it is ever an issue, but I feel it is more their problem than mine. 

I will also acknowledge that perhaps my areas of geekdom don’t have the same levels of problems as women face at cons or in the gaming world and I don’t want to trivialize any single instance of sexism or harassment. It should NEVER happen. 

But, I guess my point is I prefer to focus on the positive and I don’t let the actions of  jerks (that I know exist) define the rest of geek-dom. So for some reason I couldn’t help but cringe when reading this list because I felt like it came across as harsh rather than supportive. Now I will say the author disputed every single one of these myths with examples or explanations. But I still couldn’t get over actually giving some of these “myths” page space in the manner it was approached. I will also confess that I have never heard that “Feminist geeks hate men”. What? Evidently

The idea that we hate men and want to take over the world is a bummer stereotype perpetuated by the media, and it harms our awesome fight for the future of humanity.

Thankfully I read the wrong media. I have never seen a reputable media source claim that feminist geeks hate men.

Ultimately, I think my biggest concern with this section is that it seemed to be more of an outcry about the injustices or misconceptions related to gender within fandoms rather than useful information on how a geek girl should handle a situation if they do happen to run into a case of sexism or harassment. If this is a guide for geek girls, why not help them by giving some good advice and support?

It probably didn’t help that I couldn’t help but read this book and hear upspeak at times. I may just have a lower tolerance for the style it is told than other people, so to be completely fair, I decided to include a quote. People can choose for themselves if this speaks to them in a way that makes them want to read the book:

Being a geek girl is the best thing ever and here are all the ways you can do more nerdy things that are awesome and don’t ever apologize for it because you are the best person out there and I’m so proud of you and you’re beautiful.

There were sections for all sorts of different types of Fangirls from LoTR, to Dr. Who, to Marvel to even my favorite: Game of Thrones. These sections contained several sections:

  • Defining Characteristics – which contained a list of supposed traits.
  • Key Accessories – A list of ways you could show your love for the book/movie/comic. It would include hair style and accessory suggestions.
  • How To Become One – a list of the obvious. Read/Watch said area the fandom is for. Seriously, what this section necessary??
  • Unending Debates – Common conversations or controversies within the fandom

All this section did was help me realize I am just not “girly” enough to embrace a book that tells me what earrings or leggings to wear to help identify which form of fangirl I am. 

Actually, I’ve decided I am not a fangirl, I am just fan.

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8 thoughts on “Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs”

  1. “If this is a guide for geek girls, why not help them by giving some good advice and support?” Such a good point. Also, the fact that there is a section on ‘how to become one’, as if there is a set or correct path to becoming a fan, rubs me the wrong way (even if it is tongue in cheek, which I imagine it might be).

    Still might check it this book, but I’m glad I ran into this review first to get some information on the content and adjust my expectations… thanks for the honest opinion!

  2. Well, now that I have more details about it, I have to say I think a book like this would aggravate me to no end. I’m tempted to say this is a satire book and readers shouldn’t take any of the stuff in here seriously, but certain things you point out make me hesitate. First of all, I don’t know the nature of these myths the author is trying to debunk, but they’re probably not any better fighting generalizations by making a bunch of generalizations themselves. Oh, the irony of the “Defining Characteristics” section. If this is a joke book, fine. If not, it smacks of elitism. There needn’t be a “guide” to navigate fandom — if you love something, doesn’t matter if it’s Firefly or X-Men or “insert any geeky passion here”, that’s the end of it. No one should need their interests defined to them.

  3. I was going to say “Too bad this book wasn’t written by a WOMAN.” But then I checked and yep, Sam is a woman! So that argument flew out the window, LOL! I don’t know, I’m going to have to trust you on this one. I’ve seen this book floating around, but it never really caught my interest. Now I’m convinced I have better things to read.

  4. In my experience it’s not the reputable media sources that claim feminists (geek or otherwise) hate men, it’s the comments sections on those articles. There is some serious vitriol flying around in there, to the point where I no longer read comments on news articles. That excerpt that you included was seriously cringe-worthy…it’s not just upspeak, it’s also poorly written. I’m thinking that the target audience must be “tweens” for lack of a better term, because who else would read something so condescending and take it seriously? Honestly, it’s kind of an insult to tweens – they know their interests and express them how they please. I don’t like the idea of there being a right or wrong way to enjoy something.

    1. That was my main thought about where that idea comes from too, so I was surprised when the book cites it as “the media”. Ummm….. Commentors don’t count! They are generally crazy people or just people looking for a reaction. And I agree, I think this book is insulting to whoever it is for, and probably a number it’s not.

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