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Boy Fiction?

tiger
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?
and
(2) thank you, geek girls! I love you all.

Comments

( 390 comments )
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Chrissy Olinger
Apr. 18th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
What a twerp
I got so mad about this I blogged before I'd known Mr. Martin had already responded.

One of the things that really made me chuckle was her confusion about GOT being FANTASY, not HISTORY.

It's nasty, nasty sexism. And it's doubly insulting when arrogant women preach about who women must be in order to validate their ignorance.

THIS chick digs chainmail.
playwithpirates
Apr. 18th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
Geek Girls Sounding Off
As a girl who is devoted to fantasy and to ASOIAF, I was extremely annoyed by this review. It seemed clear to me that this reviewer had not read the books before watching the show. She couldn't think that the sex scenes were added in if she had. It's also so disappointing that she thinks so badly of women that she believes we won't watch a fantasy show if there's no sex in it. GRRM, keep on rocking the books and the tv. The girls will keep on watching.
herbookself.blogspot.com
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm not sure why gender and genre have ever been linked, but here's one more proud geek girl that would definitely rather be reading A Song of Ice and Fire than the NYT!
zentinal
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
Who are they? Well, some women do know their place, after all. Really George.
jessimacd
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Thank you for having created such an amazing book series, and thank you for being so involved with the HBO production! :) There's nothing so amazing as seeing the world we as readers imagined in our heads actually made into a beautiful visual experience! I very much look forward to the rest of the season :)
Emily .K. Andrews
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
What?!
What nonsense! Don't they tell people at the New York Times that if they don't have anything sensible to say they should keep quiet? I have been reading (and loving) fantasy and science-fiction since I was a child and I hate it when people say that its only for boys. Grrr.... Keep writing for *all* of us GRRM!
Elaine Clifford
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
Love you back!
I was outraged, flabbergasted and seriously pissed by Ginia Bellafante's so called female perspective on the female fantasy mindset. I mean Really?! How seriously skewed is her opinion? Hey everyone is entitled to their own but to stick a general label on the female fan base as a whole to reflect her feelings is just stretching her review beyond "her" opinion and labeling all female fans as some kind of sex-crazed nympho is stretching reality a bit too much. I mean come on, I admit I like a little sex and romance thrown into the storyline, but then I also like intriguing plots, lots of movement across the board and violence and strategy scenes too. I prefer a good fantasy story with strong characters and a well thought out world. The fantasy books and movies I enjoy have to have all those elements for it to work for ME. So all I can say is Bellafante can speak for herself and I will do the same. I hope all fantasy fans on the web make sure their voice is heard in response to help drown out and smack down her assumption that she has even a remote clue about anything in the fantasy sci-fi genre or how it pertains to us females. I for one am glad her ass just got handed to her.
crispengray
Apr. 18th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
I have not read your books at this point. I wasn't sure if I was going to check out Game of Thrones.

This woman's review, and the women who have stood up in response to it, have convinced me that I am missing something wonderful, and will be correcting this oversight quickly.
herladyship
Apr. 18th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
We love you too. :p

That article was laughable. The author clearly hadn't read the books, and if she thinks that incest, rape, etc are added to a story to attract female readers...well...uhh...what kind of women do they know!??!

You keep writing quality fantasy, and both men and women will continue to read them.
alwayscoffee.wordpress.com
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Geek girls are awesome
I was one of the geek girls who blogged about the TIMES review. I haven't had the pleasure of reading Game of Thrones yet (it's at the top of To Read stack), but that review made me angry. I was looking forward to the tv show (which I watched and loved).

I'm glad you took a moment to comment on this, even if it meant breaking your own rule.
ext_469948
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
I seriously though (and hoped) these people who defend fantasy are for boys were an endangered specie, but I now can see they are already there.
All that "boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at your signings and readings" (including me, even if I had not been able to go to one of your signings (yet)) know that fantasy is not just for boys. Thank you, for giving us (boys and girls) your awesome books
CostumeShaman
Apr. 18th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
I just read that review after hearing about it yet again. (I normally ignore reviews.) I'm shocked at how incorrect it is in so many assumptions. None of my other geek obsessions has had such an even distribution of female and male fans. It was a group of women who first told me to read ASOIAF! Last night, my friends and I had a viewing party. Two of the guys were men who knew nothing about it and were "dragged" along by THEIR WIVES!

I understand why you wouldn't normally comment on reviews. But some are so wrong it must be questioned why the author is even considered a professional reviewer.
the12judge
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
LOST
The TV show, Lost, was pretty popular. Lots of women liked it, and it was, shockingly, fantasy. I never watched Lost until streaming Netflix, where I decided I'd watch Season 1 to see if it was even close to the hype. I made the time to watch it, and it was, if anything, not hyped enough. I think if the critic were to give the show a chance or read the book, she might change her tune.

Great characters and stories are what keeps people coming back for more. Cliffhangers don't hurt either. The only question here is whether the actors in Game can deliver, and how well the story can be translated onto the screen. I'm optimistic about it. I'm hoping it will be even better than Lost.

It seems to me the critic just didn't want to be bothered with having to watch something associated with the genre. She then took it a step further and displayed her ignorance to all. Dumb. Why did she even bother? Did she have an abusive brother who hit her with his fantasy books? Surely there's something personal behind that review.
skellington1
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
We love you too!

And wait a mo... I thought guys were the ones who were supposed to be into things for the sex? Can't they get their sexist stereotypes right?!

/another (obviously non-existant) geek girl
kathrynthefair
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Us girls love you too! I SERIOUSLY have to meet you soon, since I never got a chance to meet Tolkien. You never seem to be in Texas though!
dyanemcs
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
I didn't read the article, thankfully, but I, too, am a "boy with boobs," who is bigger fantasy fan than my husband is & really don't care for graphic sex in books or movies. I like sex, I just don't need it to enjoy a story, and really, most of the time, it gets in the way of the telling (unless, like the Lannisters, it's crucial to it). These critics know nothing about us, they probably believe that all women read Harlequin Romance and the like, and for that, they get a huge thimbs down.
Stacey Pope
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
I've never in my life been made angry enough by any television/book/film review to feel the need to reply until the Times article. I wish literary snobbery was dead but unfortunately its alive and well, I wonder how many books the Times writer reads a year, I'd be willing to bet its not that many. Shakespeare included fantasy in his plays is she going to tell me he was a fanboy more interested in swords and boobs than his characters (mind you I doubt she's ever read him - too much olde worlde language). The biggest selling book in history (excepting the bible) was a fantasy novel, whose author had to deal with similar closed-minded snobbery his response "Some who have read the book, or at ant rate reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing they evidently prefer", you can't beat an Oxford don for put-downs.
xallanthia
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
This review made me laugh out loud... honestly I read in spite of the sex. I mean, I understand its being there and it's frequently necessary, so sex doesn't turn me off a book, but I don't read fantasy that has just sex and no plot.
haunted09
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Girls not supposed to like fantasy?
I grew up with a grandfather who made sure i read anything and everything we came across, be it scifi, history, or horror, so i grew up with an appreciation for all forms of literature. But the one genre that i and my grandfather had a soft spot for was fantasy, and so when i was reading this post i was pretty annoyed. I especially love your books for the sole reason that they are perfect for all audiences. I love how your writing is challenging, intense, and thoughtful, there is no black and white, but many, MANY, shades of grey. I actually do NOT like books that are soley based on sex or play a major role, in fact i find them boring and mundane.
arvernian
Apr. 19th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Tolkien got lots of bad reviews calling the Lord of the Rings everything from juvenile to racist so consider that this just puts you in good company.
caersidi
Apr. 19th, 2011 10:02 am (UTC)
I am a late comer to your work. My younger brother has been urging me for a while to read them by sending me over a couple of hardbacks (Books 3 & 4). I was a bit perplexed that he hadn't bought me the first and they have rather languished on my 'to be read' mountain.

Anyway, encouraged by a book club here on LJ to read the first book in handy sections (and then discuss weekly comments) I just fell in love with 'A Game of Thrones' (and right away invested in getting hardbacks of Books 1 & 2 sent over from USA).

They certainly are not just for boys (or men) - as a woman who has been enthusiastic about fantasy from an early age I've never been put off by battles though I have to admit that I am drawn more to the court intrigues.

So huge thank you for such excellent world-building as well as characters I can love and hate and all the rest.

Vivienne
henk76
Apr. 19th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
yup, that review was probably the laziest, narrow-mindedest, most vitriolic piece of ill-informed crap I've ever read. No wonder they took the comments section off air. Have tried to send the author an email detailing my issues. Hope it reaches her. Probably won't. Anyway, haven't been able to catch the first episode myself (I live in Holland), but am really looking forward to it.
sinceregenesis
Apr. 19th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
Too Right
My wife introduced me to Game of Thrones.

IMO you cannot write a work that "works" unless it says something about the human condition. This is the tie that binds. Write it well and both women and men will be interested.

dragmio
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
I can't believe that such a biased person is even allowed to write for NYT. Her sole intent seems to be making sure everyone is like everybody else and everyone fits into his or hers role. Especially his or hers. It's sad that such people have the chance to shape the public opinion in whatever small ways.
alunatic
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Just adding my cry of "Love you, too!" Thank you so much for female characters who are more than just pretty, mindless racks for boobs who only exist to make the male characters look macho (not to mention thanks for the male characters with actual depth and personality).

But apparently I'm too female to really understand this series, anyway. Doesn't it come in pink?
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