Gail Carriger’s Origin Story – 5 Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am

Back in the day, Gentle Reader, my friends and I used to have arguments about the difference between Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks.

We settled into the working hypothesis that Geeks were technologically minded, Nerds were academically minded, and Dorks were obsessed with specific things. So the Dork is obsessed with all things Star Wars, but the Geeks builds an RPG for Star Wars, and the Nerd tries to explain the physics of the Star Wars universe.

Gail Carriger #cosplayersaskids Pink Kid Baby Spoons Steampunk Shoe

Child Gail & Grown Up Gail #cosplayersaskids

This was just our way of owning the terms being slung at us ~ yes this was back in the day when it was bad to be any of these things.

“It is true that authorlings and poetizers are apt to affect eccentricity.”


Regardless of whether you agree with our take, at various times I have been all these things: nerdy, geeky, and dorky. But there are certainly specific things that pointed me towards fandom and made me the proud nergeedork that I am today.

via Wikipedia

1. She-Ra.

My parents didn’t have TV until I went away to college, but my best friend did. Growing up I would run across the street to her house and we would curl up and watch She-Ra at 4pm after school. We collected the action figures and basically lived and breathed that show. I also spent weekends at her place watching Thunder Cats and playing at Divorce Court (for some reason it came on after Comic Strip) with barbie dolls ~ the stuffed animals were jury. Eventually, she moved out of town and I moved on to Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, but I never forgot She-Ra.

2. Fantasy books featuring girls.  

I would never have found nerd-dom without Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. I was always a voracious reader and I dabbled in Tolkien but without Alanna I don’t know that I would have gone on to find Lackey and McCaffery and then all the other fantasy authors who turned me into the writer I am today. I might even ~ gasp! ~ have become a literary nerd instead. Heaven for-fend!

3.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The first episode I ever saw of ST:TNG Worf scared me witless. But then I saw a different episode much later and was intrigued. In high school I became friends with a girl whose whole family was obsessed. I would go over to her house and watch new episodes on Wednesday nights (and eat baloney on Hawaiian roll sandwiches) and then back episodes on VHS. I went with her family to my first ever convention.

I earned summa cum laude my senior year of High School the photo for which was the same day as the final ST:TNG episode. I am immortalized in full mourning (including massive black hat with a veil). Yes I was THAT girl.

from wikipedia

3.  New Warriors comics.  

I started collecting New Warriors comics when I was 14. Possibly because I was the right age for the team and they started the series when I started High School. Also there was the Firestar connection ~ she was always my favorite Marvel character (from her Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends days). I went faithfully to my local comic book store every month to pick up my new issue and kept reading through college (the store would hold them all for me until I returned for the holidays). They cancelled it in 1996. I’ve read other comic books since, but I never again collected them.

4.  Tron.  

My grandfather in England was the only sci-fi geek in my family and when I would stay with him we would watch the Sixth Doctor together. I remember some of that time in the 80s but what I really loved was to stay up late after he had gone to bed watching his VHS recording of Tron. Over and over again.

5.  BayCon. 

Outside of the Star Trek conventions, Bay Con was my first fan run SF/F convention. My first BayCon was a present from my best friend’s mother. She got us the room and our passes. We must have been just legal – so probably senior year of High School? I had horrible stomach flu and yet still had one of the best times of my life.

I had found my people. (Well I kind of had them already ~ I had a great group of high school friends, but at BayCon I found the whole range of them.)

In those days BayCon was The Bomb, with Screamworks running goth dances, huge parties, crazy costuming, fantastic panels tailored to my burgeoning interest in writing books, and almost 5000 attendees. I learned everything I needed to become a professional author and I met some of the best people on the planet. 90’s Bay Con is the reason I attend conventions now as a professional.

Please feel free to post your own version of this, or to let me know in the comments your origin story.

{Coop de Book for October 2014 Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers}

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Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Adorable new hat, gift from a reader

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Where do dukes come from?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Without attempting to point the line that divides the lawful appropriation of another’s ideas from the appropriation of another’s phraseology, we have only to say that a literary man always knows when he is stealing. Whether found out of not, the process is belittling, and a man is though it blasted for this world and damaged for the next one.”

~ Around the Tea Table by T. De Witt Talmage (1875)

Quote of the Day:

“One exception to this new model is Comic-Con, when the town empties for two days to promote its -Man movies and meet its fan-boys. Comic-Con has evolved from what was once a nerdy comic-book gathering to a huge, multimedia, star-laden promotional juggernaut for the fans, studios and gaming industry, where the next year’s blockbusters are teased, promoted and fanned out to an ardent and important base of critical raving-mad word-of-mouth monsters who can make or break the industry’s products.”

~ Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business by Lynda Obst


Posted by Gail Carriger


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  1. CyberPixie said:

    Not to be Freudian, but I think my Mother was to blame. She would bring books back from the library and place them strategically about the house. Mysteries near my sister Kathleens bedside, Non-Fiction for my sister Mary near the side table, Adventures for my brother Michael near the boys bedroom, and Sci-Fi for my brother Gene on the coffee table. I was the youngest by quite a streach so my siblings would read to me, what a lovely gift! So I got hooked on everything, but especially Rober A. Heinline, which for me Sci-Fi and fantasy took off like wild fire. Yes! She-Ra! finally a woman superhero with thighs. Star Wars, I was about 15 when it came out and I think I saw it in the theater about 9 times with my best girlfriend. I think I still know all the lines. I absorbed Star Trek the original, through my brother Gene who knew every episode by name and number. It's a beautiful thing. A college friend took me and my husband to our first Star Trek Convention. We were dressed as Next Gen. Starfleet Klingons complete with Klingon crainial crests. Yep I'm a Geek, Nerd, Dork hibrid.

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