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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 07:04 pm (UTC)
Ok. I just read the review. I am disgusted. Obviously the reviewer had a poor opinion of the show/story before she even watched it. I love your books because of the entire story not because of the sex at all. I am so excited for tomorrow. When I called my cable provider to subscribe to HBO I told the customer service rep why I was subscribing and all about your books. He told me he hadn't heard of the show but that because of what I said he was going to check it out. I have been spreading the word as much as I can. Oh and I am already hoping that HBO is smart enough to make season 2.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I LOATHED that review. She's clueless. I LOVE that you *have* mentioned it.

And, we love you, too.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
We luvs ya!
I too was so affronted by this elitist, derisive, scornful review I am still stewing over my own blog post rebuttal. I think that reviewer needs to get out of her ivory tower once in awhile and look at things from an angle other than down her nose.
Jennifer Horton Findley
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
I've never commented here before b/c I know you are a busy man (working on Dance :D) But I wanted to thank you for breaking your 'no comment' rule. I'm one of those scifi chicks who loves everything about the genre. I was appalled at the Times review and the one I read on slate.com. I am so excited about seeing the show and have been since you first announced it! Thank you for being an awesome author and keeping me coming back for more! I love you!
Jennifer F.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
"Boy Fantasy?" FEH.
Loves you right back. :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Maybe they meant boy when they wrote girl? I don't even think I know any women readers who like fantasy only with graphic sex.

Girl, woman, and crone, I've been reading fantasy since I've been reading, and watching it since I first went to Snow White in 1946, and graphic sex has never been the reason.

I also thought it was weird of Slate to publish a review that made the point only that the reviewer didn't like fantasy.

Apr. 16th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! :-)
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'm a girl and it was my best friend (yup another girl) that got me a the addicted to the series by telling me it was a medieval type fantasy with great characters and bloody wars. I couldn't help but laugh until my sides hurt over that piece of dribble in the NYT. And I'd lay odds that the most replies you get to this journal entry will be from us "geek" girls. ;p

Can't wait to watch the first Episode with my boyfriend...he doesn't like to read (due to his dyslexia) but he's heard me babble on about the books and that's excited him too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
In the minds of serious people, we are still not serious writers - SF or fantasy. It's all the province of children - and none too bright children at that.

I find that oddly liberating. It exhilarates me that we still get to be rebels at our age.

Aux barricades!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
George, you'll be interested in reading this: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/feature/2011/04/16/game_of_thrones_review_of_reviewers/index.html

Salon's take on the review in question (and also Slate's review).

I also disapproved of how two separate review from the NY Times (including the one you're referring to) refers to this stuff as D&D. Not only did epic fantasy literature precede D&D by decades and lead to the creation of this media, but D&D is a game, whereas this is a type of literature. To call any kind of literature a game is to suggest it and the people who appreciate it are childish. So I'm glad to see that Salon also included that line about Dungeons & Dragons in its "review of the reviews" as well.

I'm hoping all this backlash will serve as a cautionary tale to other elitist reviewers not to make broad and sweeping generalizations, especially on subjects they're clearly not informed on.
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this, hopefully everyone reads that.

Very disappointed in the NY Times and Slate who normally represent the quality end of the US news media.
(no subject) - thedarkproject - Apr. 17th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
a) your series is probably my favorite of all time; i am OBSESSED and i usually don't even like the fantasy genre.

b) i'm not interested in "graphic sex." at all. bwuh???
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
I can say without a doubt that your series are the best and most enthralling books I have ever read. I'm going to start my 3rd read through soon. I was only introduced to your books in 2009.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
First time
The BS from NY was stupid enough that i finally opened an account, so i can make a post here.

Generalizing with such confidence shows a lot of arrogance in writer's part. I did look around the web, and it seems that ladies on the web has taken up the issue nicely with Times. It deserve it.

I just subscribe to HBO, so i can watch the show. it looks great and i hope that HBO goes on to make multiple seasons for it.

Apr. 16th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
Damn, that´s the biggest bull**** I´ve heard for a while.
I´ve read all your work and loved it!
Well, call me (tom)boy if you like.

I´m shocked how judging and unfair TIMES is. This a bad case of stereotypic thinking.

Fantasy rules!
I´ve been a fem-roleplayer for almost 20 years and I´ve always been reading fantasy (fairy tales beeing the first)...*growls*

Thank God you did not let it hurt you.
(Please don´t stop, waht you´re doing.)

Okay, admitted - I´m very pleased with the choice of (male)actors in this one. Some fit my image of the characters almost 100%!

And I am a Jason momoa fan as well, so...YES, I´m looking forwards to see him almost naked it this one *smirks* )
But still...

Greetings from Germany
Virginia Carrasco
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
That article also pissed me off so much. She got so much wrong.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
"Boy Fiction" >>> "Girl Fiction" anyway ^__~
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
That was an awful article, and the idea that graphic sex would be the way to make it not "boy fiction"...just so stupid all around.

Also disappointed by the outright disdain for the fantasy genre. I guess some people are just determined to miss out!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, what girl would ever want to read an incredibly well-written story with so many strong, engaging female characters?

Apr. 16th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
Boy fiction. I haven't been so offended since someone decided that chick lit was a genre.

She could have just stopped with "I didn't care for it," but I can't believe she wrote what amounts to "no woman on earth would stoop to ever watch this." I'm glad she doesn't make decisions for the women of the world, though she seems to think she does.

We geek girls love you too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
Geeks and nerds of the world...UNITE!
I had wondered what your reaction might have been to that particular review. I completely understand the idea of avoiding reviewing the reviews, that's sort of an unspoken and sacred rule among writers and critics. That said, Ginia Bellafante HAD to know her piece was going to induce reaction, if not backlash. The NYT did themselves a serious disservice to their readers, I can only hope they learn from this.

I also hope Ms. Bellafante enjoys her rather large slice of humble pie with her foot baked into it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Having just read the article, I'm not sure it even qualifies as a review. She offers no analysis about the quality of the production, the plot or the actors. In fact, Ms. Bellafante is so vague I would guess that she did not even watch the episode but perhaps saw the trailer and skim read a synopsis.

It's plain that she's been aching to have a pop at the fantasy genre and HBO for daring to commission a series that isn't trying to be one of those oh-so-"realistic" (whatever that means) dramas. A critic that is willing to discard an entire genre based on their own narrow perceptions is not worth reading.

And for the record, I don't think there are many writers out there that present their female characters with the skill Mr. Martin possesses.

A simple case of one lazy reviewer not doing her due diligence, it would seem.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
I've seen reviews like hers before. They're more about letting the reviewer show how "smart" and cultured/educated/sophisticated they are, and less about the actual thing that they're reviewing.

Fantasy is a common target for this, simply because so much Fantasy is bad. The only things that tend to get exception are either weird, "out-there" stuff, or books that have been basically "grandfathered" in (like Tolkien).
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
The Slate article is also ridiculous. I mean if you don't like fantasy, don't review a fantasy show. Why go into a show telling people that the best possible outcome is that you'll be bored? Who are you helping? Wow, I learned from your review that there are swords and horses. Congratulations, that was informative.

I posted this there as well:

The thing is, we already knew it was fantasy. If you're going into a review knowing you'll dislike all fantasy, then really, it's not a review as much as you telling us why you don't like fantasy in general. It's like Ebert hating all comedies, and therefore giving all comedies thumbs down. Shouldn't the point of the review be to let us know how this works as a show within the genre? If it doesn't work, that's fine but I don't see why you'd review a show like this in the first place. If I hate Korean food, I wouldn't go and review a Korean restaurant and make my review about how that restaurant sucks because I hate all Korean food in the first place and how I've always hated it. What does it add, and who does it help?
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
I can't tell you how shocked i was that I didn't read the books because i'm female...how strange because i could swear i did! Thank god "HBO added all that sex to appease the women"

I was frustrated that i couldn't respond to that article. I love your writing...in fact I just started the series again :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Us loves you too, George.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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