Hey, Staffer, Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Andrew Chan

Image description: Andrew Chan wearing a glowing Iron Man hand.

Here’s one last Hey, Staffer interview for the year. Meet Andrew Chan! Andrew is our merchandise assistant but also spends a lot of time dabbling with cool technology, fighting with lightsabers, and watching his favorite scifi shows! We ask him about what it’s like to be a Trekkie, technobabble, and the lengths he will go to for a good geek convention.


Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I’m Andrew and I help Shubz run the merchandise department. This includes climbing through stacks of boxes in storage to count our inventory, ordering new stuff, processing online orders (and getting the online store running), and helping set up and run the merch booth during the con. I’ve also taken over as an interim sysadmin running the internal infrastructure.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Geek From Birth


My daughter in Kirk’s chair at the EMP Star Trek exhibit.

“It’s Hoshi! I love Hoshi, she’s my favorite.”

I was standing at the lone display box for Star Trek: Enterprise at the EMP Museum’s new Star Trek 50th Anniversary Exhibit with my nine-year-old daughter. She was naming the characters as their pictures came up on a screen, trying to say their names before the graphics spelled it out. It was my third time viewing the exhibit, but her first.

I fought back joyful tears several times during our walkthrough. Both of my kids (Nathan is 15) have grown to love Star Trek in all of its iterations, and seeing them enjoy it makes me really happy. There was something really remarkable specifically about going through the exhibit with my daughter, though.

I was her, once: an overly-enthusiastic nine-year-old who, once she found something she loved, didn’t hesitate to share it with everyone around her. When I was nine, I remember sitting down with my parents to watch the premier episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Neither parent had really been a fan of The Original Series, but I remember my dad telling me that they were going to watch it for its “Cultural significance.” There had also been a brouhaha because the Captain in this new series would change Kirk’s iconic, “To boldly go where no man has gone before,” to the gender neutral “…where no ONE has gone before.”  As a budding feminist, this was enough of a hook for me. I remember watching the first episode transfixed. The rest of the family could take it or leave it, but I was off on my first journey to fandom.


Watching my daughter run to each display case with her eyes wide and full of wonder was a perfect reminder of why being a geeky parent is so special.

KittyBorgMy kids have grown up as geeks. They have been exposed to fandoms since they were teeny-tiny, so they enjoy so many of the things that Rick and I enjoy. It’s truly amazing though, when your child finds their first geeky passion, and even more so if it’s one you share. Here is this small person, who you already love in the most profound way, learning to love something you love, and you can learn new ways to love it together.

My daughter is less likely to be ostracized for her geekiness than I was. Megamarts carry Captain America themed dresses, her friends all like Doctor Who, and there was a room of over a hundred people sharing her love for Star Trek.  Parents who want to encourage their kids in geekdom have so many resources and opportunities.  I encourage you to find a geeky community you can participate in with your kids (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention here that GeekGirlCon is family friendly!) so that you can watch that spark in their eyes when they find their first fandom.

All photos by Sharon Feliciano.

Sharon Feliciano
“Rock On!”

June Geek About Town!

Check out these awesome events around Seattle this summer! GAT will now also feature events that are going on throughout the month, so you can plan ahead!


Throughout June:

The Art of the Brick

Pacific Science Center

Tickets $28.75 adults, $23.75 youth (6-15), $20.75 child (3-5)

Named one of CNN’s Top Ten “Global Must-See Exhibitions,” The Art of the Brick exhibit by artist Nathan Sawaya is a critically acclaimed collection of inspiring artworks made exclusively from one of the most recognizable toys in the world: the LEGO® brick. From child’s toy to sophisticated art form and beyond, the world’s largest display of LEGO art ever features original pieces as well as re-imagined versions of the world’s most famous art masterpieces like Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as a gallery showcasing an innovative, multimedia collection of LEGO brick infused photography produced in tandem with award-winning photographer Dean West.



Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds

EMP Museum

Tickets $27 adults, $27 students (with ID), $21 youth (5-17)

Fifty years after a show with modest ratings called Star Trek first aired, its stories continue to echo worldwide. Its famous opening line, “To boldly go where no one has gone before…” encapsulates the heart of this iconic series: the dare to hope for a better world.

As part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds presents the phenomenon, its enduring impact on our culture, and how Star Trek has inspired people to imagine, explore, and create.

More so than spaceships and phasers, the one quality that defines Star Trek is optimism. Creator Gene Roddenberry imagined a 23rd century in which humanity had eliminated the divisions that characterized his own time. By using alien worlds, interspecies conflicts, and sci-fi premises to make statements about war, racism, and politics, Star Trek revolutionized the impact popular culture could have on our society.

Photo courtesy of CBS Consumer Products

Photo courtesy of CBS Consumer Products

Discover the beloved series all over again in this fully immersive exhibit, featuring more than 100 artifacts and props from the five Star Trek television series, spin-offs, and films, including set pieces from the original series like Captain Kirk’s command chair and the navigation console (on display for the first time to the public); Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy original series costumes; and the 6-foot U.S.S. Enterprise filming model from Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Until June 12: Seattle International Film Festival

Various locations, see here for film guide!

Film is a powerful art form, and it is the experiences we have with film that can transform our lives. SIFF does just that: our mission is to create experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. It is through the art of cinema that we foster a community that is more informed, aware, and alive.


Saturday, June 4-Sunday, June 5: Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival

Amory, Seattle Center

Free Admission!

The Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington (FCHSW) proudly presents Pagdiriwang, commemorating the anniversary of Philippine Independence. Held on the first or second week of June at the Seattle Center since 1987, the event has grown into the biggest festival of Filipino arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest. Pagdiriwang provides a venue for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike to learn about the culture. It is an ideal setting for presenting art, craft, song, dance, music, history, literature, and culture to promote better understanding of the Filipino cultural heritage.


Friday, June 10: GeekGirlCon Board Game Night at Wayward Coffeehouse!

7:00pm-10:45pm, Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA

Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! Come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge!

Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find CodenamesLove LetterSplendorKing of TokyoVöluspáslashAlien FrontiersLocke & KeyCoup,TokaidoSuperfightThe ResistanceColt ExpressSkull and RosesSettlers of Catan7 WondersToc Toc WoodmanFLUXX, and many more!

Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee.


 Saturday, June 11 –Sunday, June 12: Festival Sundiata

From noon both days, Seattle Center

Free admission!

Festival Sundiata is a free festival celebrating all art forms from the African diaspora. You’re going to love this festival! Music, food, non profit tables, Art exhibit, cooking demonstrations , interactive activities, Vendors with one of a kind items for sale dance and dance instructions, Zumba and much much more.


Monday, June 13: Jay Newton-Small: Leveraging Female Political Power

7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm), Downstairs at Town Hall Seattle

Tickets $5


Upon her election to the US Senate in 1916, Jeanette Rankin remarked, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” Now, 100 years later, women represent a larger portion of the legislative and executive branches than ever before. According to TIME political correspondent Jay Newton-Small, their presence is affecting not only how the federal government operates (remember the blizzard in DC this January?), but also how Americans live and work. She’ll share conversations from offices around the capital city and deals made across the political divide by women (like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton) hoping to create change. She’ll also shed light on how women across America can most effectively use their (highly sought after) vote this election season.


Thursday, June 16: Homeschool Day: Game Design Workshop

12:30pm-4:00pm, EMP museum

Registration $6/person, students and adults

EMP, the National STEM Video Game Challenge, and Institute of Museum and Library Services invite homeschool families for a video game design workshop.

Workshop participants will:
• Level up from video game players to video game designers
• Complete hands-on, minds-on, physical game design exercises
• Design original video games and modify existing games
• Play-test each other’s games to provide feedback
• Tour EMP’s Indie Game Revolution exhibit
• Learn how to enter the STEM Challenge 

Registration includes participation in the day’s events and museum admission for the day.

Classes are suitable for students 8–14 years of age. Parents are asked to be active participant in the workshop classes for the full program from 12:30pm–4:00pm.

This workshop is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). A laptop computer capable of web browsing and using Adobe Flash Player is required, as families will be learning the basics of Gamestar Mechanic. If you would like to participate but do not have a laptop computer, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.


Tuesday, June 21: All Geeks, All Games at Mox Boarding House!

6:00pm-10:00pm, Mox Boarding House, 13310 BelRed Rd, Bellevue, WA

Our All Geeks, All Games events are growing in popularity! Join GeekGirlCon and Mox Boarding House in Bellevue and help us continue to expand our community of diverse and inclusive gamers to the East Side!

Help us fill that beautiful Tournament Room with folks enjoying our favorite games in a safe and accepting atmosphere. Why mess with the headache of traffic when you can come and play games with us instead.

Staff from both organizations will be on hand to help facilitate gameplay for the shy to the extroverted, from the expert strategist to the board game neophyte. With a huge lending library of games on hand, there will be something for everyone!

As an added bonus, if you play a board game from their library and love it, you can buy a fresh copy for 20% off! How cool is that?!


Wednesday, June 22: Rock Star Women in Science: Inspiring the Next Generation

6:30pm (doors open 5:30pm), Great Hall, Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Avenue (enter on Eighth Avenue)

Free Admission!

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center director, Dr. Gary Gilliland has praised the “female leadership and success” that he has seen at his own organization and beyond. But he also makes it clear that he wants to address the “disparity of women versus men in positions of authority in science.” This event will bring together some of our area’s leading women scientists in a panel discussion about the innovative work being done in our region, the challenges they face, and why it is so important that more girls follow in their footsteps.


Saturday, June 25: Spirit of Indigenous People Festival

11:30am-5pm, Seattle Center

This festival is a collaborative effort of the many Native community groups in the greater Seattle area, bringing together a showcase of the culture and tradition of American Indians, Alaska Natives and First Nations People!

A traditional Pow Wow will take place at the Mural Amphitheatre stage and surrounding grounds in the afternoon, beginning with a grand entry at 1:00pm and including a host drum and pow wow exhibition dances.  Everyone is invited and welcome to join – intertribals, tiny tots, and social dances.  This is a rare opportunity for the general public and visitors of the Seattle Center to experience a glimpse of the Native Pow Wow outside tribal settings.

This year, we hope to add another element to the festival highlighting the beauty and cultural richness of the Native Canoe Journey through the Canoe Family Exhibit.  Families and groups who have participated in canoe journeys are invited to display their histories, documentaries, and canoes!  For many of the general public visitors to the Seattle Center grounds, this will be the only opportunity for them to witness the amazing stories of our Canoe Family journeys and history!


Saturday, June 25-Sunday, June 26: Urban Craft Uprising: Seattle’s Largest Indie Craft Show

11am-5pm, Seattle Center Exhibition Hall

Urban Craft Uprising is Seattle’s favorite craft show, established in 1995.  At UCU, fans can choose from a wide variety of hand-crafted goods, including clothing of all types, jewelry, gifts, bags, wallets, buttons, accessories, aprons, children’s goods, toys, housewares, furniture, paper goods, candles, kits, geekery, art, food, and much, much more.

This favorite Seattle craft show is carefully curated and juried to ensure the best mix of crafts and arts, along with quality and originality.  This bi-annual show features over 150 vendors excelling in the world of craft, art and design.

Urban Craft Uprising aims to build a local (and beyond) community of artists, crafters and designers by organizing and providing events where indie crafters and artists can connect with their fans. In addition, Urban Craft Uprising promotes other community building activities, including our crafting shows, showcases, classes, events, sponsorships, online presence and other local activities.


Sunday, June 26: Virginia Heffernan: How the Internet Changed Everything

7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm), Downstairs at Town Hall Seattle

Tickets $5

Since its inception, the internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged society. In a relatively short amount of time, it has developed into a massive force in our world. New York Times journalist, Virginia Heffernan counts it as one of “mankind’s great masterpieces.” Whether we like it or not, our lives have been transformed by this fascinating place, but its deep logic, cultural potential, and societal impact often elude us. Heffernan will discuss her new book, Magic and Loss, which explores the logic and aesthetics of the highly visual, social, and portable life online. The medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

May Geek About Town!

What’s happening in Seattle in May? Read below to find out!


Sunday, May 1: GeekGirlCon ’16 Early Bird Pricing closes!

Hurry! Get your GeekGirlCon tickets at their super-duper low price before early bird pricing closes! It’s a screaming deal!


Sunday, May 1: Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

11:45am-5:00pm, Seattle Center Armory

Free admission!

Explore and experience the cultural roots of the Asian-Pacific Islands through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, games, and a lively marketplace. The festival launches Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Seattle with spectacular dances, youth drill teams, drumming, martial arts, and artists from around the state.

Plus our fan-favorite Hum Bow Contest with local celebrities and API Community displays and enjoy children’s activities! This is guaranteed to rock your heritage!


Tuesday, May 3: GeekGirlCon’s giveBIG campaign!

On May 3, GeekGirlCon will team up with The Seattle Foundation for an online fundraising extravaganza! Anything donated to our organization will be matched from a pool of stretch funds. If you’re an information enthusiast, we made it easy for you, click here to read more.WebBanner-1200x420_0X-WebBanner

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Looking for a Bit of Shiny…

I was at PAX a couple of weekends back, and I briefly walked the floor. Now, I know it’s a gaming convention, so I expected to find games of all kinds, which I did. I saw some comics, some books, some artwork…and then I got the heck out of there. I’m not a gamer, and the lack of light on the main show floor (other than flashing video games and monitors) was very disconcerting to me. I figured it out pretty quickly: PAX really IS pretty much about games.

Then again, Emerald City Comicon has a lot more than comics, but I didn’t have any money earlier this year…so I sort of hoped I’d find some shiny bits to carry away with me at PAX. After I paid for them, of course. While I am attracted to shiny things, I am not the kind of crow who lines her nest with STOLEN bits of shiny!

Sarah Grant
“Rock On!”

September Geek About Town

Sad that summer is over? Get your geek on for the fall with these super September events!

Wednesday, September 9: Seattle Public Library “Directed by Women” film series: Little Women

1:00-3:15pm, Broadview Branch

From the website: Join us to enjoy “Little Women” as The Seattle Public library joins the Directed by Women global party this September! With their father fighting in the Civil War, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy grow up with their mother. In spite of tragedies, the bonds of the close family hold even when men friends appear. Directed by Gillian Armstrong.

Thursday, September 10-Saturday, September 12: Star Trek: The Sexed Generation Burlesque

8:00pm, The Annex Theatre

From the press release: More debaucherous than a weekend on Riza, Star Trek: The Sexed Generation blasts off once again September 10-12th at Seattle’s Annex Theatre.  After a sold-out run in 2014, this fully scripted burlesque extravaganza is back with an all-new storyline, more beloved Starfleet characters, and sexy, space age striptease!

In this tale of lust, intrigue, and spandex bodysuits, what should be a routine mission for the USS Enterprise takes an unexpected turn after passing too closely to a strange wormhole in space. Trapped in time and unable to return home, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and the rest of the crew must turn to some unexpected allies in order to unravel the mystery.

Written, produced, and performed by lifelong Star Trek fans, Sexed Generation is both a celebration of the show’s unique place in the sci-fi pantheon and a loving critique of its quirks. Featuring Seattle burlesque stars and seasoned thespians, Star Trek: The Sexed Generation is so over the top, it’s out of this world.

Friday, September 11: GeekGirlCon Board Games Night at Wayward Coffeehouse

From the Meetup page: “Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge!

Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers, Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses,Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!

Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee.

There are also local pastries and vegetarian/vegan treats, if you get hungry during all that gameplay. Their pastries are delivered daily from local vendors including donuts from Mighty-O Donuts, croissants from Le Fournil Patisserie, bagels from Blazing Bagels, and the rest of their tasty treats provided by Little Rae’s All Natural Bakery. There are even GF cookies from WOW Bakery!”

Saturday, September 12: Beginning Stage Puppeteering

1-3pm, $45 pre-reg/$55 day-of

In this fun, dynamic class, you’ll learn the foundations of good stage puppetry – focus, physical commitment and basic puppet operation. Seattle-based puppeteer Rachel Jackson will teach you how to make your puppet seem alive and connect with your audience. You’ll get lots of hands-on time with professional arm-and-rod puppets plus a simple practice puppet to take home so you can keep working on your skills.

Sunday, September 13: Seattle Public Library “Directed by Women” film series: Desert Flower

2:00-4:30pm, Douglass-Truth Branch

From the website: Join us to enjoy “Desert Flower” as The Seattle Public library joins the Directed by Women global party this September! “Desert Flower” tells the real-life story of Waris Dirie, a poor girl who flees an arranged marriage in Somalia, winds up in London and becomes one of the world’s most recognizable supermodels, who also speaks out against female genital mutilation. Directed by Sherry Hormann.

Monday, September 14: Seattle Public Library “Directed by Women” film series: Monsoon Wedding

6:00-8:00pm, University Branch

From the website: Join us to enjoy “Monsoon Wedding” as The Seattle Public library joins the Directed by Women global party this September! Part comedy, part drama and part romance, this charming film about a very chaotic Indian wedding won the prestigious Golden Lion Award at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. In English and Hindi with English subtitles. Directed by Mira Nair


Saturday, September 19-Sunday, September 20: Seattle Retro Gaming Expo

From the website: Seattle Retro Gaming Expo is back and ready for it’s annual expo!! This year SRGE is partnering with the Living Computer Museum to bring you both console and vintage computing fun! This September 19th and 20th, video game collectors, retailers, and enthusiasts will descend upon the Emerald City for SRGE 2015.

SRGE 2015 will also feature an exciting panel lineup with topic including collecting, industry insights and more! SRGE will release more information as the show approaches via http://www.facebook.com/SeattleRetro and http://www.twitter.com/SeattleRetro.
The Freeplay room is open to all attendees, and features over 1200 games, including NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and more, All free to play ! In addition, there will be consoles from every generation (not currently in production) with games, challenges, contests, and more included with your badge!
Seattle Retro Gaming is dedicated to strengthening the local retro gaming community. We have partnered with Ninkasi Brewing and the EMP to bring retro gaming events to Seattle. In addition, the last Tuesday of every month SRGE is sponsoring the QUESTION BLOCK Video Game Trivia Night at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland. Details for these events and more can be found at www.SeattleRetro.org.

Saturday, September 19-Sunday, September 20: Seattle Mini Maker Faire

10:00am-5:00pm, $15 for a 1 day pass online, $20 at the door

From the website: Try out the latest, greatest inventions by over 80 makers from across the region at a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness—and a celebration of the maker movement: people not just hungry to talk about the next big thing, but to make it!

Over the course of the weekend, guests are invited to get their hands dirty and try out amazing projects through exhibits, hands-on activities, demonstrations, and talks that blend art, engineering, science, and technology. It’s a vibrant gathering of innovative minds, and the perfect opportunity to learn as well as share.

Monday, September 21: Jane McGonigal: Gaming Your Way to Better Health

7:30pm, Town Hall Seattle, tickets $5

From the website: In 2009, game designer Jane McGonigal’s life suddenly changed when she suffered a debilitating concussion. SuperBetter is her story of recovery–how she used her skills to create a game to help her recover–and how this personal project turned into a national plan to assist the recovery of others. Based on scientific research into the beneficial properties of playing games, her program became a research study with the National Institutes of Health and, more than 400,000 people later, it continues to help others. She’ll describe her experiences–how she overcame ill health through gaming–and explain why, in order to live a “happier, braver, more resilient life,” we all need to adopt a “gameful” mindset. Whether it’s Pacman, soccer, or a crossword puzzle, she’ll explain how to use any games we encounter to control attention, strengthen relationships, and self-motivate.

Friday, September 25: GeekGirlCon Board Games Night at Wayward Coffeehouse

From the Meetup page: “Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge!

Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers, Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses,Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!

Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee.

There are also local pastries and vegetarian/vegan treats, if you get hungry during all that gameplay. Their pastries are delivered daily from local vendors including donuts from Mighty-O Donuts, croissants from Le Fournil Patisserie, bagels from Blazing Bagels, and the rest of their tasty treats provided by Little Rae’s All Natural Bakery. There are even GF cookies from WOW Bakery!”

Saturday, September 26: Star Wars: The Party Strikes Back

EMP Museum, 7:00pm-11:00pm

Tickets $30 general public, $25 EMP members, $20 youth, free for children 4 and under

From the website: EMP invites you to join us for the closing party of Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume. Explore the exhibition before it leaves EMP, and enjoy galactic games and light saber duels, drink specials, Padawans costume march, and a dance party of Yub Nub proportions. Attendees are encouraged to arrive in costume and pay tribute to their favorite characters across the Galactic Empire. Do. Or do not. There is no try. You’re our only hope.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

“What Kind of Geek are You?”

Written by GeekGirlCon copywriter JC Lau

I didn’t self-identify as a geek for a very long time. As a child, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 80s, but that wasn’t particularly geeky, because all kids my age liked the Turtles. In a third grade spelling test we were told to spell the longest word we knew, and I managed to get out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, not because I was an academic overachiever, but because I thought that Mary Poppins was an awesome movie. I liked reading, but I was much more drawn to writers like Roald Dahl and, later, Jeffrey Archer and Michael Crichton, than Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. I didn’t even touch a Marvel or DC comic until I was about 20.

But the reason I’m writing about my unassumed geekiness is because I was once presented with the question, “but what kind of geek are you?” and I was speechless. That question left me stumped for days. How on earth do you answer something like that? I’ve had geeky interests my whole life, but they just haven’t presented themselves to me as geeky per se. I just thought that they were interests that everyone had. Everyone likes Ninja Turtles, right? Everyone wants to be a superhero, right? Wouldn’t that make everyone a geek?

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Imagined Universes and Their Inhabitants

Written by GeekGirlCon copywriter JC Lau

When Marvel announced last year that Thor was going to be female, there was some backlash from pockets of comic book fandom saying that the change went against the mythology of the comic, and that Marvel was just pandering to feminists. Of course, given our cultural climate, it’s hardly surprising that an objection would be made on the basis of Thor’s gender. But what’s weirder is that the basis of this objection is that it wouldn’t fit into a universe which, by its definition, was a fictional one, and as such could encompass whatever sort of characters we can imagine.

The vast majority of domains in geekery depend on imagination. Super Mario World, for example, is about an Italian-American plumber, who rides talking dinosaurs, can gain powers to kill everything in sight and fights a giant anthropomorphic turtle. The Avengers are a team of humanoids who fight mostly-humanoid enemies. The crew of the Starship Enterprise, while diverse in race and gender, are humans or humanoid, and they go to planets where the inhabitants are usually also humanoid. But even if we disregard the fact that most of these inhabitants are human (for example, in the case of Star Trek, there are obvious budgetary and practical reasons for casting humans), notice that in most of the characters we encounter in our hypothetical geek worlds are white, cisgender males. Even in our most diverse worlds, our heroes are, more often than not, white dudes.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Remembering the Giants of Star Trek

Written by GeekGirlCon Copywriter Sarah “SG-1” Grant

I freely admit, I spent a lot of time in my life thinking I couldn’t math. I had to repeat pre-algebra in junior high, which took me out of the advanced placement math program (don’t worry, I’m over it). I struggled through trigonometry in my junior year of high school; add trig to chemistry that year, and I was forced to drop my dream of becoming an astronaut. As it turned out, the astronaut program would never have taken me with my poor eyesight, so I guess it was okay to get that one out of the way early.

Why did I want to be an astronaut, though? That’s a super easy answer: Star Trek. I had watched reruns of Star Trek (the original series) as I grew up. I knew the production values were bad, and I knew that perhaps the acting was a bit dated…but what I loved was the universe in which the Enterprise and her crew lived and thrived. They had enemies in the Klingons and the Romulans, and there were always monsters to be defeated or figure out. But what really struck me was that very little of the story took place on or near Earth. The crew was mainly human, of course, and nearly all of the non-terrestrial beings they met looked suspiciously human, but there was no emphasis on Earth having any of the problems it faced when it originally aired (1966-1969). It seemed as though the Enterprise could be out among the stars because they had fixed everything back on Earth: poverty, starvation, disease, racial discrimination, and everything else. I think I equated the Star Trek universe with where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do with my life: explore, see new life and new civilizations, and to go where no one had gone before.

Sarah Grant
“Rock On!”

Geek Elders Speak – The Recap

By GeekGirlCon Copy Writer Sarah “SG-1” Grant

I wanted to go to this panel because Jamala Henderson was the moderator, and I love her voice and her presence. She and I met for the first time at the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year, and now I’m part of a group of Marvel enthusiasts that shares awesome upcoming Marvel things with each other.

I also wanted to go to this panel because I am a little bit of a history geek. Not about every aspect of history, but the history of fandom is definitely something that sparked an interest. I know MY history with fandom, and I love hearing other people’s histories as well–and this panel was the ultimate history of women in fandom.

Geek Elders

Linda Deneroff, Tish Wells, Susan Matthews, Jamala Henderson, Maggie Nowakowska

The speakers in the panel were four women with various connections to the beginnings of fandom: Linda Deneroff, Susan Matthews, Maggie Nowakowska, and Tish Wells. Each of these women was involved in the beginnings of media and print fandom in the 60s and 70s, primarily around Star Trek and Star Wars. They each spoke about the first books they read that got them into science fiction–everything from Freddie and the Space Ship to Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot to the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Jamala asked the panelists what they loved about those early science fiction books they read. Susan said, “It was a new world where anything could happen, but there wasn’t any magic!” Linda was struck by the commonalities between what she was learning to read and the advent of the United States space program. Maggie read all the kids’ science fiction books available in her local library, and then moved onto the adult books (which is just what I did!). Tish spoke briefly about an author named Hugh Walters and how she read every book he wrote.

The conversation moved from books to fandom, and how the women got started in media fandom, specifically. All four of them had the same response: Star Trek. They saw the show, then worked on Star Trek fanzines, attended Star Trek conventions, joined Star Trek discussion groups, and cosplayed the characters they liked, whether they were men or women. There wasn’t anything special about a woman dressed as Han Solo or Luke Skywalker; they wore what they wanted to wear.

Having fandom in their lives inspired all four of the panelists in different ways. Susan began writing her own fiction in about 1978, but often kept it to herself. She published her first novel in 1997. Linda was inspired to take up photography, as well as publishing and traveling. Maggie started helping to publish fanzines–most of which were written, typed, mimeographed, and compiled (all by hand) to be sent around the country. Tish said fandom became part of her life as a journalist as she wrote her first published piece on a WorldCon; that piece got her a job, which sent her to Los Angeles for a Star Wars costume exhibit, at which she met and interviewed George Lucas!

All of them said they “found their ‘selves’” in fandom; there was a huge community linked to fandoms and conventions. They encouraged each other to do what they loved, it was powerful enough to keep them doing it. They told stories of women whose husbands wouldn’t allow them to attend science fiction conventions because their husbands “needed them home to cook their meals”. One woman apparently put together fanzines in her car, because her husband wouldn’t allow them in the house. There was even a woman they knew who was institutionalized! Her husband thought that the things she was doing and wanted to do around fandom were literally insane. This sounds like something out of the nineteenth century, or maybe even the early twentieth century; but these happened in the 1970s and 1980s, here in the United States.

Each of these four women have learned very powerful things in their lives through fandom.

  1. Community is powerful.
  2. Sisterhood is powerful.
  3. Whatever it is, you can do it.

I left this “Geek Elders Speak” panel with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and the determination to learn more about the history of women in fandom. I know my history, and I knew about some of the early fanzines; I was even part of a correspondence fiction club called The Third Fleet out of California where we made our own characters, took Starfleet ranks, and were placed on “ships” (groups of other writers) to write stories with our characters and fellow “shipmates”. But nothing I did when I got into fandom prepared me to hear Maggie, Susan, Linda, and Tish speak about their experiences. I’m proud to be part of their ranks, years later, and thinking of ways to do some of the kinds of things they did: building and fostering community, mentoring each other (both in life and fandom), and making sure that what they did–how they built and fostered the communities we have today–continues to grow.

The info sheet for The Third Fleet Academy

The info sheet for The Third Fleet Academy

If you were at the “Geek Elders Speak” panel at GeekGirlCon ‘14, what impressed you the most about the panelists? How did YOU come to fandom? And if there was one thing you could do to help others in our community and build their fandom experiences, what would that be?

And guess what: you can already get your tickets for GeekGirlCon ‘15! We’ve sold out entirely two years in a row, and next year is our fifth anniversary. Don’t miss it!

Below is a bibliography of some of the books and publications mentioned and discussed by the panelists; Maggie Nowakowska forwarded it to GeekGirlCon so we could share it with anyone who wants the information, and to learn more about early media fandom.

Space Cat, Ruthven Todd (orig. 1952)  For the young girls in your life. This was the very first book I took out of the library when I was in 1st grade.

Star Trek Lives!, Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1975)  A classic, written by a media fan, that allowed many women to discover Star Trek fandom. If you’ve ever wondered how Trek fandom came to be an grew so powerful, this is a good book to read.

Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture, Henry Jenkins (1992)  An excellent resource for tracking the early media fanzine phenomena, including the early copyright conflicts; mentions some fan writers by name.

Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth, Camille Bacon-Smith (1992)  A frank discussion of how fandom developed socially in the 1980s. The author participated in fandom herself and describes the ways a fandom supported and challenged women in the 1980s. IMO, Bacon-Smith nails the problems that often arise between those who made up the “first fandom” of a favorite series and the “second fandom,” made up of those who join later, bringing different, often conflicting interpretations to the mix.

Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek, John Tulliock and Henry Jenkins (1995)  Follow up the Textual Poachers, with a tighter focus on Whovians and Trekkers.

Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967-1987. Joan Marie Verba (1996)  A year-by-year review of Star Trek fandom by someone who was there. If  you want to travel the years of fandom vicariously, this is the book for you. All the people who paved the way for media fandom, all the social and fanzine developments, are here.

Fan Phenomena series: Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman,  Twin Peaks, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austin, The Hunger Games, Various editors (2013) England brings us a series of books about many of the world-wide media fandoms that have developed over the years.

“Fangirls Flying High,” Tricia Barr, article on women in SW fandom, Star Wars Insider Issue 151 (Aug/Sept 2014)

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, Chris Taylor (2014)  An excellent history about how Star Wars, and Star Wars fandom took media fandom mainstream and made Star Wars the phenomenon that it is. Deeply researched, this book will take you into the heart of the Star Wars experience.

**Also, you can help make the paperback version better. The Star Wars fandom that Taylor describes is made up of boys and men. Taylor wants to know more about the women of Star Wars fandom. Read the book and when you review it, ask for more coverage of all the girls and women who love Star Wars! Tell Taylor about all of us who love Star Wars now and have for years.**

Sarah Grant
“Rock On!”

Join The Discussion #GeekGirlCon