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A Few Last Words

I've just locked the comments section of the previous post. We've had about four hundred comments since the post went up last night, and the whole thing is about to collapse under its own weight. I suspect that someone or other has already said everything that can be said on the subject, so now we're starting to go around in circles.

Also, with this many comments, it's becoming obvious that some of the later commenters aren't actually reading what went before. I'm starting to get asked the same questions over and over again -- what about Suvudu? what about the Vance book? what about fan art? what about role-playing games? All fair enough questions, but I have answered all of them in responses to earlier comments. Some I have answered two or three times by now. I am not going to answer them four, five, six, or twelve times, sorry. So if you've posted a question that has already been asked and answered, your post will likely be ignored or deleted. (Yes, I know it's a pain to have to read four hundred comments. Tough. If I have to read them all, so do you. That's the price of taking part in the discussion).

Some comments haven't been unscreened yet. There have been so many of them coming in so fast that it has been hard to keep up. A few have been buried by now, especially comments on comments on comments. Ty or I will get to all of them eventually, I hope, and everything will either be unscreened or deleted.

I want to thank ninety-five percent of the people who took the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts, and even more, I appreciate the relative calm and thoughtful tone of this discussion, which never degenerated into the kind of ugliness I've seen (and am still seeing) in the comments over on Diana Gabaldon's blog, where the discussion has long since been derailed. I don't know how many minds were changed here, but all the major issues were thoroughly aired, it seems to me, and I hope this generated more light than heat.

There were a few issues raised during the debate that I'd like to address a bit further.

A number of commenters suggested that I was wrong in my assertion that copyrights need to be defended, and suggested that I was confusing copyrights with trademarks. Perhaps so. This was raised often enough that it is obviously something I need to look into further. There were also posters who agreed with what I wrote, however, including some who identified themselves as lawyers or law students, so I don't think the issue is as clear cut as the "trademark" folks are claiming. I'll investigate this, and if I was wrong about this, I will come back here and say so (eventually, this is not my top priority in life). If I was right, I'll come back and mention that as well.

ERB v HPL. I never said that allowing others to play with the Cthulhu mythos was the ONLY reason Lovecraft died in poverty. Actually, I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and not much of a Burroughs fan at all (though Melinda Snodgrass and I did once work on the screenplay for A PRINCESS OF MARS). I know a lot about HPL. His work has been hugely influential on modern horror. But my point stands. I could write a Cthulhu Mythos novel tomorrow, and I would not have to pay a dime to any Lovecraft estate (if such exists) or get their permission. I would never dare write a Barsoom novel, though surely PRINCESS is in the public domain by now. (The later John Carter and Tarzan novels may still be under copyright).

A few people have quoted or posted links to the other side of the Marion Zimmer Bradley incident, the account of the fan involved. Fine, two sides to every story, check it out. At this point, twenty years after the fact, it all becomes she said/ she said. But the version I posted was hardly "urban legend," as one commenter called it. It was the version given by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself in SFWA FORUM, what she told the rest of the writing community. If you want to believe she lied, well, that's your prerogative.

More thoughts as I have 'em. Just now, I have work to do.


May. 8th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Heya -- another faceless member of the rabid fanhorde here. I was a vocal participant in the debate over at DG's blog (on the pro-fanfic side, under the Blogger ID "Irukandji"), and while I really don't have the energy to climb back on my horse and take another tilt at the windmill, I thought I'd toss in my two cents.

Mr. Martin, your objection to fanfic makes me sad -- not in a "I'll need therapy to cope with trauma" way, just in an "oh, that's really pretty disappointing" way, but sad nonetheless. I could refute several of the points you made in your previous post, but since the comments there are already full of refutations upon refutations upon refutations, I'll refrain from launching into the five-hundredth verse (same as the first). However, I would like to thank you for wording your position in such a respectful and well-reasoned way. You didn't condescend to the unpublished masses, you didn't resort to the classic argumentum ad eroticam ("These people write about sex! SEX, I tell you! FILTHY, DIRTY SEX!") and at the end of the day, I'm willing to settle for that.

Unlike Outlander, A Song of Ice and Fire is a fandom I could potentially see myself writing for (Renly/Loras fic: I WANTZ IT), but now that I know your feelings about fanfiction, I won't. I will continue buying the books, though; you may disagree with my strongly-held views about fanfiction, but you didn't insult me for holding those views in the first place, so I'm willing to chalk this one up to a difference of opinion.

(Yeah, I can practically hear you heaving a vast sigh of relief as I type. "Some random chick on the internet says she isn't pissed off at me! THANK BABY JESUS!" But yeah: for whatever it's worth, MAI OPINIONZ, YOU CAN HAZ THEM.)
May. 8th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
I write about sex myself. I could hardly object to it.

Slash fiction... I'm aware of its existance, of course. I can't pretend to understand the appeal, but it's been going to for three or four decades now, so plainly it has an appeal to a fairly large segment of the female readership.

I've gotten a few requests for Renly/ Loras sex scenes myself... and complaints that I did not include same. Always from women.

But then, some of my males readers like the Dany/ Irri scenes. (The women, not so much).

No one got off on the Cersei/ Taena scene, which is reassuring. Such was not its intent.
May. 8th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
I write about sex myself. I could hardly object to it.

Not to name names, but that didn't stop You-Know-Who from casting the first stone. (No, I'm not talking about Voldemort.)

But then, some of my males readers like the Dany/ Irri scenes. (The women, not so much).

I liked the Dany/Irri scenes. A lot. (Actually, a fair number of m/m slashers are also pretty into f/f femslash, and I happen to be one of them.)
May. 9th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)
I could go on and on for a while about how I have difficulty understanding why so many women don't like women/women scenes. A lot of those same women prefer there not to be any women in the sex scenes they read. I can't help reading a bit of misogyny into it. (Please, no one jump on me, it was a generalization, not an absolute.)

For what it's worth, I did like the Dany/Irri scenes.
May. 9th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
Well, I can understand why an entirely heterosexual woman might not be particularly interested in f/f scenes. If she actively disliked f/f scenes, that might point to some problematic political attitudes (but on the other hand, it might not; as I attempt to argue below, the libido is a weird, illogical thing).

Honestly -- although I live my fannish life with +7 Vorpal Slash Goggles glued firmly in place -- I have also wondered if the huge popularity of slash is in some part fueled by internalized misogyny. However, the human libido is a lot like the dreaming mind: for the most part, it doesn't operate in any rational way, or respond well to attempts at conscious control. Our libidos are not unconnected to our larger personalities, but neither are they straightforward indices of our larger personalities. The libido is in large part the product of biology rather than cultural conditioning, and the parts of it that are culturally conditioned are probably pretty firmly set by the time we reach adulthood.

In final analysis, I am troubled by attempts to diagnose socially retrograde attitudes on the basis of sexual fantasies, if nothing else because it seems vaguely Orwellian. I'm an ardent feminist, but I have to roll my eyes at that particular subset of second-wave feminism that calls upon women to actively remake their sexualities for the good of their sex. ("Look," I want to say, "that's my libido we're talking about. I kind of like it the way it is, and anyway, it lives in the cluttered, poorly-lit, and possibly haunted cellar of my hindbrain. Hell if I'm going down there to sort out that mess.")

Even if interest in slash (be it mine or anyone else's) is in some measure the result of internalized misogyny -- and I'm not certain that it is -- of all the possible battles for gender egalitarianism, I don't think this is one worth picking. As any psychotherapist will tell you, attempts to restructing the libido tend to have limited success at best, and the restructuring itself tends to be a fairly unpleasant and taxing process. Ultimately, people who are pressured to choose between a political cause and a major component of their sexuality will often throw their in lot with the latter. And honestly, I can't see how real-world gender inequality would be markedly reduced if die-hard slashers wrote more het and femslash.

(I don't mean to jump on you, by the way, and I really hope this comment doesn't come across as confrontrational. This is just an issue that happens to interest me, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on yaoi.)
May. 9th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Not at all. I really enjoyed reading this, actually.

The main reason I said what I did is entirely based on my anecdotal experience, which obviously isn't scientific. Many of the people who write or read ONLY slash are people I've seen make comments on how much they just don't like or relate to female characters, consider them disgusting, etc. Of course, I think a lot of those people are VERY young, and so I can hope they'll grow out of it, because I can't help but see misogyny from women as self-hate. And I think this in particular doesn't necessarily have so much to do with sexual orientation.

I feel bad taking up GRRM's journal here on this, though. I enjoyed reading your perspective, and we seem to have a lot of interests in common. Mind if I add you?
May. 9th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry to butt in, I just wanted to say that this makes so much sense. And the way you put it about the cellar of your brain was quite amusing as well as apt. Go you.
May. 9th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
I've gotten a few requests for Renly/ Loras sex scenes myself... and complaints that I did not include same. Always from women.

Oh, I think most of us would be quite happy with a Loras/Jaime scene as well. *grin*
May. 10th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
If it makes any difference, I'm a male reader and I'd like some Renly/Loras sex, mhm.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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