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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 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm French, did not read the review, but I'm puzzled : in France, the current fandom cliché is that SF is for (smart) boys and fantasy for (not so smart) girls.

Outside the fandom, SF&F are for brain damage people who can't read normal litterature, boys and girls alike.

The last snobbism is against paranormal romance (the code-name here is "bit-lit", from "to bite" and "literature", inspired by "chick-lit" as those novels seem meant for girls).

Sexism... *sighs*

Apr. 16th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was so bad!
Wow, even those vile, horrible meanies over in the Shadow Realm have been mercilessly blasting the author of that article. They can't be all bad then, I suppose. (Nah, they're crappy people with no lives who live in their mom's basements, I'm sure of it.)

Seriously, that is one of the worst pieces of critical writing I've had the misfortune of reading, and written for the New York Times no less. I'm outraged good Ser! I tried commenting on it, and can verify that comments have indeed been shut down.

Peace and Love and Wildcards 4Evah!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Didn't see the review and haven't read the books, but I can't wait for the show. I am a half-hearted fantasy fan, who spent too many years in grad school reading American literature to have had time to get as deeply into the genre as I might have enjoyed.
Now I'm writing historical fiction myself, which I think is a cousin of epic fantasy and I have even more respect for the genre's biggest and best writers. I do wish more women were writing this stuff from their point of view, but from what I've seen, Game of Thrones is going to have some fabulous female characters, as HBO tends to.
Beside the point, but also: I have really enjoyed seeing you in the interviews in the preview material. You remind me of a dear family friend. That image in the back of mind is bound to make the show even that much more appealing as I watch it.
Can't wait--and congratulations. Getting an HBO series is the best revenge against the anti-fantasy snobs.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
I was so pissed off by that review, aside from the fact that it read like one of those amazon reviews that go like "I hate to read and this book had so many words", it was so amazingly sexist!

Who the hell is she to tell me what I am allowed to like as a woman? And who the hell is Lorrie Moore?
It's like she's saying I'm somehow not properly female because I spent my teens reading Roger Zelazny instead of romance novels.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
We love you, too! Thank you for writing fiction that doesn't make me feel marginalized or objectified, and for writing complex and fascinating stories that I can't get enough of!

Ms. Bellafante needs to educate herself.

Counting the hours to tomorrow night...
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
That review was atrocious on so many levels it wasn't even coherent. Even before we hit the part where she clearly hates all fantasy and didn't actually try to pay attention to the episode, I was astounded at her offense that HBO gave the show an unfairly large budget. Because the place to pick up the lament of unequal distribution of wealth is in the review of a television premier.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
Daniel Abraham's response, for all that he is not, in fact, a girl, is my favorite.


Everyone should read it and then go buy his books.
Matt Dobson
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
To be fair, a female friend who I recommended the books to also described it as 'boy fiction' or something along those lines. It didn't stop her loving the books and reading them right through so I'm not entirely sure what she meant by that.

The NYT article is extremely lazy, and obviously so at that. I doubt many people will be influenced by it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
One upside this!
On the upside to this, the with people responding to this ridiculous claim with understandable fury in blog posts and the like are actually helping to give Game of Thrones more publicity. :)

Oh, and Mr. Martin I'm a woman who absolutely LOVES your series. I subscribed to HBO just for the show and I'm SO excited that winter is almost here. :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Love you too ^^.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
It's okay to comment on it because it really wasn't a review. She just wrote an article about her disdain for fantasy and used Game of Thrones as her platform. I'm just surprised that article was actually published as it was completely useless to anyone who wanted to know what the TV series is about. Not to mention insulting and sexist.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
You are welcome. We love your work.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Sending some geek girl love back your way! Thank you for SOFAI! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Unbelievable! If you want to be like that I can say the same of geek boys going back to the pulp Sci-Fi of the 20's thru the 40's.Talk about sexist and against your own sex nevertheless. *snorts*

I've been reading fantasy, horror, historical since I was a kid--shit fantasy was my escape from a less than stellar childhood and a woman wrote this crap. She should be forced out of the female gender for being such a twat (pardon my French!).Women like her give intelligent women a bad name.

I won't lie pretty and naked is cool, but it's icing on the cake. I love a good fantasy story with strong plot and characters, it's preferable over the lame-ass romance novels that women like her apparently prefer. An example here:I adored Nicolas Cage's movie "Season of the Witch" and it was fantasy/historical and there was not a naked tit, dick, or ass to be found in it.

Enough said.

Edited at 2011-04-16 08:28 pm (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
I would sniff condescendingly in the review's general direction if I wasn't too busy rereading "A feast for crows".

You may be able to pry fantasy books from this geek girl's cold dead hands... but I wouldn't bet on it. And everyone better stay away from my signed copy of "Dying of the light"!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
We love you back!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Genre snobbery, now with added sexism! Charming, isn't it?

thank you, geek girls! I love you all.

We love you too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Whatever any paper may have to say about your series, bad OR good, seems to matter little in the face of what you undeniably already have: the support and love of a veritable SHIT TON of geek girls. (AND boys!) You keep on writing them, George, and we'll keep on reading them!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
*applauds* That wasn't really a review, just a rant against fantasy with some seriously flawed logic. "If I'm a woman and I don't like fantasy, therefore women don't like fantasy!"

I suppose I only liked LotR for the hot sex. Oh wait...
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
"(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?"

Ummm...as someone who has spent a lot of time at cons, I would reconsider the phrasing here. We have a tendency to be a pretty corpulent, bosomy bunch of lads. Said with love and self-deprecation, naturally. :P
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
d'awwww, Mr. Martin, we love you, too!

'sigh' Currently entangled as I am in academia at the moment, I am no longer surprised when I hear the "no work of fantasy has any inherent value" argument, but I was surprised to hear it in the New York Times.

Thank you for continuing to encourage female readers of fantasy, and for giving us so many lovely stories to appreciate.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
I read that review and was left with a sick feeling in my gut. It was incredibly offensive to both women, and fans of the fantasy genre. I was hopeful that, surely, we as a a society had moved past such petty and condescending stereotyping. I guess not.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks George for sharing your opinion. I'm a guy (a gay guy, for that matter, and I'm sure Mrs. Bellafante thinks gays don't like fantasy unless there is a lot of gay sex added to it) and I was nonetheless outraged by the review. It was abysmal.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how the author here managed to say that Game of Thrones was both too immature AND too complicated to follow within the same article. Not to mention that she skipped over how women, even those who are not geeks, can watch or read a series for things other than the sex appeal, such as an interesting plot or likable characters. As someone who is in fact a female geek, I can't understand why, if you're going to read or watch things with dark themes (the Wikipedia article for the author that this article mentioned says that she writes about "failing relationships and terminal illness"), you wouldn't want some sword fighting, dragons and political intrigue thrown in there as well.

Going off what another poster here said, I very much like seeing such interesting and developed female characters in not only fantasy, but in fiction at all, as the ones in ASOIAF. In particular, you can't imagine how glad it makes me to read about and have a character to relate to in Brienne. It means a lot to me to see my experience with dealing and living with being ugly and falling outside gender norms reflected, even partially, in a likable and heroic female fictional character, where so many other stories show such characters hiding or changing these qualities as proof of or reward for their being good. She's one of the many reasons I love this series.
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Heh. Did you have to Google Lorrie Moore to find out who the hell she was (even though it's apparently inconceivable that any woman would prefer to read 'The Hobbit' to one of Ms Moore's ouevre)? 'Cause that makes a metric buttload of us whose reaction at that point went "...Lorrie who?"
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, that woman has made me so angry. What a narrow minded b*tch. That is the type of woman who is responsible for so much that is wrong with the media's acceptable image of females!! *aaarrgh*

We love you George but we love your girls even more!
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George R.R. Martin
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