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Boy Fiction?

I usually make it a policy not to comment on reviews, especially negative reviewers. When you put your art out there in the marketplace on public view, some are going to like and some are going to hate it. Comes with the territory. And like Superchicken always said, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

Normally, I would not even comment on something as spectacularly wrong-headed and condescending as the review of the HBO series GAME OF THRONES recenltly published in the NEW YORK TIMES. There have been dozens and dozens of reviews of the show coming out all over the place, in newspaper and magazines, on television and radio, and of course on the web. Most, I am pleased to say, have been very good, but of course there are some bad ones as well. C'est la vie.

((Okay, I will confess, it does cheese me when I come across a reviewer who simply hates all fantasy. I had hoped that kind of literary snobbism was extinct, or nearly so. Maybe not.))

But the startling assertion in the TIMES review that women could not possibly like fantasy unless a lot of graphic sex was added to it (??) has prompted me to break my "no comment" rule. At least to extent of this post.

I see this morning that legions of female fantasy readers and self-proclaimed "geek girls" and "scifi chicks" have risen up all over the internet to say all the things that I'm too polite and too busy to say. And a lot more besides. I'd link to their blogs and posts here, but it would take hours. Google will lead you to them, if you're interested. It would seem that so many outraged emails and posts poured into the TIMES that they had to shut down the comments section for the review.

I am not going to get into it myself, except to say
(1) if I am writing "boy fiction," who are all those boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at my signings and readings?
(2) thank you, geek girls! I love you all.


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Apr. 16th, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
That article pissed me off to no end. Of COURSE, it's all the sex that makes us love this series! Not the engaging plot, fascinating characters and sharp twists and turns that have us squirming in our seats. Gosh. Where would I be without articles like that to tell me how I feel?

Can. Not. WAIT to see the premiere.
Beatriz Ribeiro
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
i can't agree. i LOVE this series, it's not the sex that makes me like that, it's the fantasy, the history, the reality!
and if some people, can't just understand that,they are dumb like a door (sorry doors).

thanks for the politeness mr.martin, and don't be annoyed. we geek girls can treat him like... well, i said too much :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)
By your own definition - I am a "boy with boobs" :P *wiggles them with pride*

And your books are anything but "boy-fiction". If anything, for what my own personal experience counts, I know more girls who are heavily into them than boys.

Apr. 16th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
If you can't write a book or produce a movie - become a reviewer. That way you get to be part of an art world without having any talent.
Apr. 16th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
I resent that statement. I'm a book reviewer. It's not an art but it's damn hard work. Be angry at individuals sure, but lay off on the group.
(no subject) - danbuter1 - Apr. 17th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vikjha - Apr. 17th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - i_hunter - Apr. 17th, 2011 06:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - srmbc.blogspot.com - Apr. 17th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
I loved seeing the vast range of women in your books--so refreshing! Dany in particular has nestled into my heart. Thank you for giving this geek girl a change of pace in her fantasy.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Mr. Martin. I'm an amateur writer and a geek girl, and grateful that you, as one of my most favorite authors of all time, feel this way.
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
He wouldn't have been in my top 5 authors if he didn't.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks George, we love you too! :D
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
We love you too, George! If that review had been true, me and all my friends would have to change our genders to fit the criteria. We love your books with a passion, and can't wait to read more. Don't pay any attention to that nonsense! The girls are backing you up. :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
Amy Ratcliffe over at Tor.com wrote a response to the review, defending the love of geek girls for ASOIAF. The article may be read here:

As a geek boy myself, I can't speak to the female opinion, other than to note that every one of the many women I know who have read the series love it every bit as much as I do.

I haven't read the original review, but the relevant snippet. Bizarre interpretation. Most likely written by someone who pigeonholes 'genre' stories being for the stereotyped basement-dwelling Clearasil D&D crowd.
Apr. 16th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
That crack about D&D players is itself a stereotypical comment.
(no subject) - mercury_glitch - Apr. 17th, 2011 07:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kinggale - Apr. 17th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
I'm having a small get together (6 people) to watch the first episode of GOT, and half the people coming are female. I can also say with a certainty that they are just as excited as their male counterparts. Clearly this columnist has no idea how the world of fantasy fans works. Try not to let it get under your skin and keep up the great work.

For those of you looking for a last minute distraction to kill some time. Check out the GOT cast and crew section HBO's web site. They have posted quite a few 1-2 minute video character profiles. Very Cool.
Apr. 17th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Those girls are clearly only just going to be there in the hope they'll see some graphic sex scenes ;P
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
I heard the review was shit so I didn't even bother to read it. I have a few friends who started to read it and only made it a couple paragraphs in. The NYT really hurt their credibility with this one.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
I read that review and was disgusted by it. To think a genre is either boy centric or girl centric is idiotic at best, and extremely offensive at worst. It just goes to show that even at the NY Times you can find ignorance.

This "boy with breasts" can't wait until tomorrow's GOT premiere and not for the graphic sex but for the amazing story that will br brought to life and unfold before my tv screen.

Thank you for writing such a wonderful and non gender specific story and thank you HBO for adapting it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
look, i love your books with all my heart, and i think the NYT article was way off base, but if you want to use this as an excuse to include more graphic sex, with any particular sorts of pairings you want to include (f/f, m/f, m/m, podrick/shagga's goats, i'm not picky), very few of us will complain.
Apr. 16th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
I disagree. One of the reasons why I love the book with all my heart is that the sex is never unnecessary. It always describes the character, the characters interactions or the characters' feelings. You don't get the same "clean" vibe from J & Y than from Tyrion & whomever... Don't get me started in what Theon's sexual romps say about him... The sex is not only included in the story, it's part of the story and relevant to either character development, plot advance or both. I wouldn't want that to change. Unless it's Sansa & Sandor, in which I might forgive some irrelevancy. But I think George will NOT include irrelevant stuff into the plot, thanks the Seven.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
we love you too -))
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
It was one of the worst reviews I've ever read. Seriously poor.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
you seem to know how to write female characters without *female* topping the list of character traits.

Huh. I never thought about it in quite those terms, but that is an excellent statement of one of the salient virtues of these books, and one of the major problems with much of genre fiction in general.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - elfbabe - Apr. 17th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
What?! - macfly0007 - Apr. 19th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
I find that review absolutely insulting. I've been a Gamer Girl for longer than I can remember! My dad raised me on the original D&D and the old Hero Quest board game. Killing monsters in those games had nothing to do with sex! Believe me, the power of your words, the integrity of your world, and the spirit of your characters is what drives me to so love your books.

(Arya's my favorite. She's the coolest female character I've met in a very, very long time.)
Megan Ervin
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
"While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin's, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to "The Hobbit" first."

Funny. My entire book club of ladies (12 total, ranging from 24 to...old) just read Game of Thrones at my request. There were varying opinions, sure, but I "demanded" they give it a shot before I would lose myself in the latest "literary" fiction. In fact, I'm skipping next month's book in favor of finishing the rest of the series again.

I know very few female readers (of my age, anyhow) who would turn away from Game of Thrones sex scenes or no.

The article certainly earned its one star rating. Ridiculous.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
I read the review this morning and nearly spit my coffee all over my desk. What an idiot!
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
That's an awful article. I'm surprised the editor let it get online. Moron obviously missed the point of the story. Siiiigh. (Also, very glad that there was such a high response, although it upsets me that the comments are no longer published at all, as I would have liked to read them!)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
We love you too :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Boy fiction? Is there such a thing? What a derogatory thing to say about women.

Thank you, Mr. Martin, for writing smart, complex fantasy that assumes your readers have brains with or without breasts.
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
not to be a literary snob but...
Any review of A Song of Ice and Fire material that doesn't start with, "the best polyphonic writer since Dostoevsky..." or something similar, isn't worth the paper (or html space) it's written on.

Yes, I'm opinionated and arrogant, but I'm also not alone on this one.

My wife doesn't read fantasy, is not your target audience at all, and even she loves your books. They are brilliant beyond simple classification (and we are very much looking forward to Dance this summer).
Apr. 16th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU, George. We love you too.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Elitist fantasy-haters strike again it sounds like to me. It's similar to the "legit" musicians I ran into in my first couple of years of music college -- people that think only what they are into qualifies as being worth doing. I'm not surprised that this sort of nonsense came out of the NYTimes.

I have myself turned at least a half-dozen women onto your books, George, and they have gone crazy for them. Good writing knows no sexual preference.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
I was wondering why my comment didn't show up in the NYT website.

Apparently, we cultured womenfolk are only supposed to like sensitive, thought-provoking novels about dead children, spouses, serial killers, and adultery that we can talk about at our "book clubs." I'm not sure why, but the whole book club paragraph really got to me. Much has been written about women's writing, and writing for women, (and much more will be), but I have to say, I never thought of your novels as slanted towards one gender or the other. They're about characters, history, and conflict.

Although, when the Times reviewer said they were about climate change, I did start laughing. That helped temper the outrage.
Apr. 16th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
I've noticed the whole comment thread is closed. I tried to comment there, as well (I settled for giving the review a rating of "1".
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George R.R. Martin
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