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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 07:35 pm (UTC)
We love you too George!
I am one of those geek girls who voiced my opinion here: http://princessandwarlock.blogspot.com/2011/04/princesss-garden-open-letter-to-ginia.html
And sent a message to said NY Times writer.
That article was so offensive and had zero journalistic merit.
I have no idea how that "writer" managed to get paid to work.
She done woke the dragon! :D
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
I will need to add you to my "to read" pile, as sex-for-the-hell-of-it is something that makes me put a book down never to lift again, since the author has clearly run out of anything interesting to say.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Mr. Martin. I was really annoyed about that article as well, as a geek girl I've been reading your work for years! It's a ridiculous assertion that women can't enjoy fantasy (with or without the sex!), and I'm hoping the TIMES will get the message.

Can't wait for tomorrow night, love your work! :-D
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
I thought the writer too precious for words. She can't get out of the small circle she runs with. I bet she can't imagine women enjoying kung fu movies, either (ftr: I =love= kung fu movies.)

But I've found this to be a problem with NYT reviewers of all things -- they think themselves so experienced, broad-minded, cosmopolitan... and don't realize that they've got a very restrictive social experience and have no clue what large numbers of people think.

It's fine if they had a bit of humility about how their own thoughts can generalize. I have no problem if they left it at: "Well, this is my opinion, and this is why" rather than trying to rope in countless others.

Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you responded - this was one review that needed it. The demonstrably false assertion that women and girls don't or shouldn't enjoy "boy fiction" is no less infuriating for being old and tired - and the failure of imagination necessary to believe that a show like Game of Thrones can't address "real-world sociology" is pretty staggering. The Wire was about more than Baltimore; Big Love was about more than religion. We can (and did!) extrapolate at great length from the concrete events and characters of those shows to general themes worthy of deep discussion. Why anyone should think that this becomes impossible as soon as you throw a dragon into the mix is quite beyond me.

And then, not everything needs to be about grand themes. Excellent characters and a thrilling story are enough, and I wish more people would recognize that television (or literature, or other media) doesn't need to speak to some lofty subject matter to be worth watching. If it brings you joy and speaks to you, it's worth watching.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
So, so offended by that 'review' (The term is used loosely since she didn't really bother to talk about such things as plot, writing, character or actors).

I think the offensive icing on the offensive cake is that it wasn't even 'male fiction' but 'boy fiction'. So not only do you have to be male to enjoy GoT, but immature as well.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I definitely think that your books are anything but 'boy fiction.' Many of the girls have probably already said it, but your characters have complex personalities for both genders. It's nice to see such an egalitarian set of character groups and yet still be realistic to the time period and setting. It's disappointing and disrespectful of that article to claim that women are only interested in sex in a series and that we're not more complex than that.

Thank you for being a great author, from yet another 'boy with boobs.'
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
We love you, too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
old skool geek gurrl
Love the books Mr. Martin and have no doubt I'll love the miniseries. I've been a geek girl since I found Heinlein and Asimov on my MOM's bookshelves at the tender age of 6 or 7. That reviewer doesn't know what she's talking about.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
I've been a huge fan of your work since I first started reading the series over 8 years ago and sadly this is my first post. lol. It saddens and infuriates me that there are people out there that are so closed minded. I have been a Fantasy reader ever since I first stepped foot into a library and have watched Fantasy movies ever since Willow lol. Enough rambling I just wanted to say keep up the good work....and Cheers to all of us "boys with boobs" who appreciate good works of art.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
Crappy reviews
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
We love you too!

Also, that review is silly. I might say something is "boy fiction" if all the women are weak and purposeless, existing only to be rescued or lamented over by men, but that's not the case in ASOIAF!

Not only are there strong women, but there are also GOOD women who are not so sexy (Brienne, my favorite!!) and sexy women who are not so good (Cersei) .. and everything in between!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the reviewer would benefit from the opportunity to explain her review to Syrian officials. I'll pay for the plane ticket.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
I would also like to note that a quick glance at metacritic.com shows that GOT got reviews in excess of 90% from the following reviewers. TV Guide, LA Times, Boston Globe, People Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly, and Time. Just another good reason not to read the New York Times says I.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oh man, the Slate reviewer was a huge ass about fantasy too. Luckily, over at Salon they were like what the hell guys?
Matthew Smith
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
thought this was a good review response
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
Suck it NYT
I've never commented here before but just wanted to say I'm another female fan and find this attitude towards fantasy fiction so patronizing, and especially the insinuation that women don't enjoy it. The reviewer needs to get out of her upper Manhattan sewing circle now and again.

Love you too, GRRM! We bought a new flat-panel TV and I sold my soul to the cable company to get HBO, but I know it will be worth it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
I'm A Scifi Geek Girl and Proud Of It
I hate when people "think" they know how all women are. I, for one, am a scifi geek girl, and I'm proud of it. I love fantasy novels, movies and television shows, and they don't need to have graphic sex for me to enjoy them.

To me, what matters is the storyline and if the characters are believable and ones I can relate to.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I think Slate also has mud on their face after the reviewer wrote less of a 'review' and more of a personal blog post about how much he disliked fantasy in general. But the NYT review was... downright confusing. Graphic sex = more female viewers? I guess Ginia liked the sex scenes. Salon summed up these reviews pretty well, I think.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU, George, for writing strong female characters. We Love You Too.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Don't worry too much. As articles go, its pretty poorly written if you actually dissect it. The author establishes little about the actual series except that:
1)There are many characters.
2)Seasons are long.
3)There's sex in it.

She has a problem with all these things without really establishing why. The author seems to forget that Rome and the Sopranos both had pretty graphic sex scenes themselves and a pretty large cast of characters (not as large as GoT, but you see my point). The review is poorly written, don't take it personally.

The author is simply condescending, which is the greatest mistake a writer of this type can make. She is clearly writing an article she has no interest in. Don't worry, the article's 1.5 star rating from paying subscribers will earn her an angry word or two from her editor.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
It grated on me mostly because it was such a shoddy piece of journalism. I'm not sure I'd still have a job if I'd commentated on a work related topic in such an ill-informed manner.

As for her daft assertion that this type of fantasy is only aimed at boys that like D&D, I'll buy a hat and eat it if we don't get a massive turnout for your talks at Olympus 2012 from both men and women from all walks of life :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
New Troll Times...
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
I know more girls that enjoy your books than guys, so that's strange.

Also, there was an awesome write up about the series in the Times Picayune (New Orleans) today. :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)

Here was my response at the Huffington Post:


Can't wait for Sunday night!
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George R.R. Martin
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