This month, we have 3 guests for the #SciFi Women Interview feature! I am delighted to welcome Alaya, Danita, and Providence. They are part of the group of Officers for the Geek Girl Brunch DFW chapter. I was introduced to this welcoming group of nerdy women when I moved to the Dallas area in summer 2016. If you are a geeky and nerdy woman in DFW, you should check them out!
Alaya has probably read more fantasy novels than any sane person should – but who ever said she was sane? She fell in love with the genre when she read The Hobbit at age 6, and she hasn’t looked back since – in fact, learning about Tolkien’s medieval scholarship in college inspired a passion for medieval literature that took her through the rest of her degrees. She’s still waiting for her letter to Hogwarts though!
Alaya is also a gamer; she plays computer, console, and tabletop games, and has just started running her first Dungeons and Dragons game after years of playing in other people’s campaigns.
Danita Rambo is a Technology Project & Product Manager in Dallas, Texas. She manages the Geek Girl Brunch DFW branch which is a community organization that creates a safe space for women to geek out around pop culture arts., network, and enjoy each other’s company A native of Ft. Worth, TX, Danita transitioned to Dallas over a decade ago volunteering with the Dallas Junior Chamber managing special events, working with companies to throw corporate parties and company-wide events.
Danita is the founding director of the smallCon Organization. Wanting to contribute what she can to the community and encourage people to believe at any point in their lives they can achieve success she brought her management talents, her passionate network, and her love of technology together to showcase the talents of women that are rarely discussed.
A student by day and gamer by night, Providence’s desire for all things challenging knows no limits: her passion to help people included! Her work includes teaching life skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, research in studying word-object relations and the effects of stimulus presentation on learning in children, fundraising for local shelters and half-way homes, and helping run the non-profit organization Geek Girl Brunch DFW by giving women a safe place to express themselves and promote gender equality.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
ALAYA: I came to science fiction through my dad’s sharing his love of fantasy and sci-fi novels, originally. My first sci fi book was probably Ender’s Game, and my copy is so worn from re-reading by now that it’s almost falling apart.
DANITA: Star Trek for sure. I mean I consider that Science Fiction and I’ll fight anyone who tells me otherwise! I’ve only read a couple of sci-fi books but I love TV shows and movies.
PROVIDENCE: I was first introduced to science fiction in elementary school when I was required to read a book. I would find the books that had the most interesting covers and from there I was hooked. It moved from books to film and since then I haven’t been able to get away from it.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
ALAYA: Much later, I discovered Ursula Le Guin and Margaret Atwood, and I realized that science fiction is an incredibly powerful tool for social critique and exploration of what it means to be human. I love reading and watching science fiction to explore the exciting limits of the possible, but also because it is often such a thoughtful examination of the ways of life and models of ethics we already have.
DANITA: It’s a bookend of my life, along with Fantasy. There are boundless ideas in a sci-fi world and that’s encouraging as a writer and a human just trying to live the best she can. You can always imagine something in Science Fiction and it feels like there is a way to accomplish any goal.
PROVIDENCE: Science fiction has a huge place in my life. I love that there are no limits to when it comes to what someone can do with science fiction.
NG: What are your top 3 Science Fiction movies, books and TV shows?
ALAYA: My top three sci-fi movies/books/shows are probably Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, Doctor Who, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
DANITA: Books: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ready Player One, A Wrinkle in Time. TV: Star Trek, Firefly, Doctor Who. Movies: Star Wars, Push, Guardians of the Galaxy.
PROVIDENCE: Books: Plague Ship by Andre Norton, The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper, Space Viking by H. Beam Piper. TV: Stranger Things, Firefly, Daredevil. Movies: Star Wars, Interstellar, Aliens.
NG: Do you believe Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
ALAYA: Science Fiction has historically been less welcoming to women in some ways, as it’s more likely to have male protagonists and other characters. However, I do think there have been a lot of amazing strides towards celebrating female characters and authors in recent years, as well as towards welcoming women as fans at conventions and other events.
DANITA: Yes but it could always be better and it really depends on who you are reading and watching. There is always a pocket that you can revel in, now, where being a woman is great and I believe to be true of Science Fiction more than a lot of other genres.
PROVIDENCE: I think the older books were not specifically meant for women, like many other genre. I do think that we are seeing a more welcoming environment in Science Fiction overall but there is still a lot of work that can be done to make it less about how sexy women are in the genre and more about how powerful they can be within the story.
NG: Can you tell us about your experience with Geek Girl Brunch?
ALAYA: I came to my first Geek Girl Brunch event the day after I moved to the DFW area, in the hopes of meeting new friends. It was Game of Thrones themed, and I was delighted by the welcoming atmosphere and the chance to find friends who had similar interests! I have been to nearly every brunch since then, and I’ve never felt out of place. I was asked to start writing brunch recaps almost a year and a half ago, and then to join the officers a few months ago – I’m so delighted to be able to help this organization!
DANITA: I’ve loved being part of Geek Girl Brunch and it has been a blast to meet so many women who love to geek out, get involved, and do things with each other. We are all just nerdy and rolling in it.
PROVIDENCE: I love my experiences with Geek Girl Brunch DFW. As one of the officers, my greatest experience has been hearing women tell me that they have created friendships that they otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to. Every brunch we see women gathered together getting phone numbers, social media contacts, and making plans for future meet ups.
NG: Thank you very much for being with us today! I look forward to attending more brunches and see the group continue to grow.