We kinda fangirl over Sam Maggs over here at On Wednesdays. We fangirled shamlessly when we met her at NYCC a couple of years ago, when she was promoting Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy (and signed posters for us! Squeee!). We feel like she gets us, and we get her, and that makes us all feel like the #GeekSisterhood is coming together; the day when we raise our lightsabers/sonic screwdrivers/phasers/insert fandom here in the air as one and sing Carry On My Wayward Son together (because seriously, you don’t even need to love Supernatural to love that song, amirite?).
So Sam has a new book coming out, which alone is squee-worthy news, but guess what: it’s about badass women in history that most people have never even heard of. Can you believe? I know, right? Men taking credit for women’s accomplishments? History forgetting about women breaking the rules and sciencing, spying, adventuring, and using their passion for pushing the envelope? The hell, you say!
All the women, all the time.
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History introduces us to women who we won’t let history forget. Sam did some amazing research to discover these women; some of them, we don’t know much about, like Mary Bowser, an African-American woman who served as a Union spy during the Civil War. She was so good at what she did that we still don’t know if Mary Bowser was even her real name, and the one picture we have of her? It’s not even her. Mata Hari was good, but Mary was a BOSS. Then there’s Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman who was an Allied spy that the Nazis executed because she was “highly dangerous” and refused to sign a statement promising she wouldn’t try to escape (she almost escaped twice). Huang Daopo was married off as a child, left her abusive marriage to revolutionize textile production in China, and Lise Meitner was a physicist whose so-called “partner” stole credit for her work while she was in exile during the Nazi occupation in Vienna. Nice guy.
We’ve also got some familiar names in here, although probably not familiar enough. We meet up with African-American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and Ada Lovelace, who was coding long before we could make a cat dance in Scratch. Adventurers, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, inventors, entrepreneurs – all women, all determined to make their mark. Sam writes like we talk to one another – you know, those nights where you and your girls are hanging out, have some Indian takeout and wine on the table, and start talking about amazing women in history, entertainment, the fierce woman you saw on the train that morning – when Sam talks to you, you feel like she’s right there with you at the table, on the couch, telling it like she sees it. She also embraces diversity (like we’d expect less), profiling women from all walks of life and sexuality. I love, love, LOVE her wink, wink, nudge, nudge commentary on the many women who were “just gals being pals!” in the days when showing an ankle was reason to clutch the pearls and gasp, “Scandale!”
An incredible bibliography (thanks for adding to my TBR, Sam) and guide to present-day, female-centric STEM organizations rounds out the book and makes this one of the best books to add to your wish list. And did I mention that Google Doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino’s illustrations run throughout the book? ‘Cause they do.
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History is in stores TODAY, so go grab yourself a copy, and grab some copies for your friends. Check out Quirk Books’ site for an excerpt.
Go see Sam on tour!