Thursday, September 03, 2015

Review: The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy

I was going to start this review off with a satirical rant about this book being a perfect example of the way the SJWs "get you"--they start out with shipping and OTP and fanfiction, and then when you're hooked, they start in on the feminism! But then I remembered Poe's Law and decided to truncate that part significantly.

It is true, though, that Sam Maggs uses this book to walk women from the very basic points of fandom, such as identifying the things you love and finding other women who love it just as much as you do, up through to the point of having a social conscience about the things that you enjoy and critiquing them as items of cultural significance with potentially problematic subtexts. Most impressively, she does it without ever losing the casual tone, the warm-hearted atmosphere of acceptance and welcoming, and the inspirational message that embracing the things you love is unconditionally good and you should never feel ashamed of being excited and enthusiastic about them.

Along the way, the book takes in topics like, "What is a convention and how do I have a good time at one?", "How do I deal with online trolls?", and "How do I, too, write smutty fanfiction featuring my favorite characters?" It also has a few short interviews with various female creators, which was one thing I thought could have been expanded greatly, but the book does have a lot to take in, after all. (I haven't even mentioned its tips on how to set up your own Quidditch match.) Through it all, Maggs keeps the authorial voice conversational and breezy--after all, this is a book about how to have more fun doing all the things you enjoy. It makes sense to speak in fan slang and Internet-speak. (The book also includes a helpful glossary, for all the people who do not yet understand that they can have all the feels about things.)

She also makes it clear that if you don't like people who use fan slang, who speak in Internet-speak and who squee, then this is your problem and not the problem of the rest of the world. The strong subtext, and frequently the strong text of the book is, "It is okay to disagree; it is never okay to disrespect." The message that fandom should have no gatekeepers resonated strongly with me and made reading the book a very happy experience even if I don't necessarily know who the Nerdfighters, Marshmallows, Irrelevants, Interns, Castillions, Madokies, Walker Stalkers, Assassins, Smashers, Squints, Queen's Readers, Homestucks, Moonies, Initiates, Gearheads, Truebies, Human Beings, Cortexifans, Psych-Os, Hetalians, Sleepyheads, Rum Runners, Shadowhunters, Pinenuts, and Lawsbians actually are. Because that doesn't mean they're not "real" fans. It just makes it clear that no matter how big I think fandom is, it's always bigger than I realize.

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