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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 11:33 pm (UTC)
Well, I certainly wasn't planning to watch Game Of Thrones. (Oh, that line of hardbacks on the bookshelf? I bought them by mistake, obviously. Silly me, my head's full of sparkles and ponies and chicklit!) Then I heard they were putting lots of sex scenes in, and I signed right up! And it all made sense that that's how they're trying to appeal to girls! Because we all know boys don't like watching sex! Oh, wait...

Apr. 16th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
Okay George, I have to say, things like this make me truly love you. Its this sort of knowledge of one's audience and distaste for the reviewers that makes the best of authors keep their fan base.

Well played, sir.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
Not just for geeks
My wife isn't a geek girl. I finally got her to read your books (she'd never read a fantasy book before and was put off by the cover art) and she loved them. The fantasy element is irrevelent when the story is so well written. In many ways the books are more realistic than the usual run of the mill earth based books - the world is unreal but the description of human nature and behaviour is much more real.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
The directors of Syfy feel the same way. Apparently it's why they changed their stationery.

I think this is an inter-generational misunderstanding and read it as evidence of slow turnover and hidebound thinking in the traditional media.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
I am nearly apoplectic with rage. Even disregarding the fact that her review is ridiculously off-base, she reveals herself to be misogynistic! What moron ever let her near a word processor?
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
I love how your books introduce us to female characters with widely varying personalities, but they are all compelling and believable. Your portrayal of women was one of the things that hooked me on the series. I'd read it with or without the sex scenes.

- A 56 year old female fan
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you
We at GeekMom.com love you right back. We were one of the legions of people responding to that review, which seemed to manage the triple play of insulting women, Tolkien, and male fantasy fans all at once.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
Fantasy reading Geek Girl and proud. In the words of a certain wildling woman I'd say "You know nothing Ginia Bellafante"

We love you to Martin <3
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
Boy fiction? Not at all. Your female characters are powerful and inspiring! I adore Dany.

Psh, boy fiction my socks.

Geek girls for the win!
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
Well, aside from being completely ignorant of the actual series and showing she really doesn't grok Arya's storyline at all, that reviewer just shows she herself doesn't think much of women.

Perhaps all SHE is interested in is graphic sex, but hey, some of us like things like, oh, political intrigue and well-written drama. Some of us actually like using our brains while enjoying our entertainment.

Thanks for speaking up for us, George.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
WOW Dude... Really? I'm pretty sure I'm female... hell, I'm even feminine, and this is the best series there is.

The Times is just... wrong.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
We quite like you, too, sir.

And I'd hardly deign to call that screed in the Times a "review".
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
We love you too!!
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
This post has put a huge smile on my face and we geek girls do love you, even the non-geek girls too. I know quite a few women and men who aren't into fantasy or sci-fi; but love your books because they are so well-written. I feel bad that this Ginia felt so intimidated by your story that she attacked both genders and made a fool of herself all in one blow.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
We here in 'flyover country' don't call it the New York 'Slimes' for nothing!

Now go a little farther: if they get this so spectacularly wrong, just think about all the OTHER stuff they get wrong....this is merely symptomatic of a greater disease.

In other words, stop worrying about Fox News, and see the Gray Lady for what she really is: a bitchy, catty, disingenuous whore.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
Some of my favorite fantasy authors are women. Who can forget Robin Hobb or Naomi Novik?? Boy fiction ruules :D
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
And the New York Times continues its decline into irrelevancy. I'm glad this crap is getting such attention, though: maybe sometime I'll stop hearing otherwise intelligent people referring to the NYT as some sort of "liberal" paper.

Anyway, thanks for sticking up for us, George! I also want to echo the thanks that so many other sci-fi/fantasy geek ladies have posted here already, for writing a rich, engaging, epic series with such a variety of strong, well-written, complex female characters.
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
<--- Geek girl right here! We love you too!!!
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
here I am commenting again, but...my heart breaks for this reviewer. By assuming that ASoIaF is "boy fiction", she is denying herself the experience of discovering such characters like Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, and Brienne.

In all the fiction I've read over the years, I'd be hard-pressed to find female characters as strong, as compelling, and as complex and flawed as the Dragon Queen and The Maid of Tarth.

People who dismiss the whole genre out of hand are only cheating themselves.

GoT aside, I can also think of a dozen well-written fantasy series written by women, which are centered on female characters and are also terribly sexually explicit. That reviewer is missing out on some of some hot readin'.

Oh, well, it is her loss.
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
What would Arya Stark say?
I'm imagining she wouldn't say anything, she'd just roll her eyes and keep practicing with Needle.

Perhaps Daenerys would quip that she was "only a young girl, and don't understand all this swords and magic stuff. Lineages and heraldry go right over my poor little head!"

But Cersei Lannister would be the worst. (Isn't she always?) I'm sure she'd glower at the suggestion that her ambition to rule was "boy stuff," and might arrange an unfortunate accident for a certain New York Times reviewer.

All I can say is, I'm glad that the Internet is somewhat more civil than Westeros.
Elena Amici
Apr. 17th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
Re: What would Arya Stark say?
well, arya stark would say something like "Arya Stark:
Ginia Bellafante, Nancy Derewolf Smith, Kate O’Hare and Caryn James. Weese, Dunsen, Chiswyck, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling. The Tickler and the Hound. Ser Gregor, Ser Amory, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei. Valar Morghulis" ;)
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
If I wanted to read fantasy with lots of sex in it, I'd read Harlequin Romances .... that's Fantasy .... When I want to read good, well-written fantasy I'll read the likes of yourself, Tolkien, Charles deLint, Mercedes Lackey, et al who don't need gratutious sex to keep the interest of their reeaders
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I am a girl (posting from my partners LJ)
I LOVE your book series. I first read GOT when I was 13 (I am now 24) and I fell in love with it from the prologue! Most of my female friends have read and love the book. When I was 16/17 we made cloaks of the various houses and wore them to school for library/book day.

If this woman found too complicated what I read at 13, then she REALLY should just stick with watching sex in the city. And if she really thinks that there are no woman out there who enjoy "geeky" stuff, then she has a really narrow/ignorant world view!
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
"Boy fiction"? Gee, I guess I must be a boy then .. *checks* Nope, no external sexual equipment down there ... and those are DEFINATELY breasts ...*snorts*
Seriously, though, I've mostly STOPPED reading one of my former favorite fantasy authors because there was getting to be TOO MUCH sex!
Pay no attention to this ... person, Mr. Martin; she plainly has NO IDEA what she's talking about!!!
Kate Kotler
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
We love you, too and it's our honor to defend the concept that fantasy writing is for everyone. :)

Geek Girl on the Street.com/Bleeding Cool
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
O.o A Song of Ice and Fire is hands down my favorite series ever!! I love that your characters are real and face real challenges like real people (in addition to a few fantastic challenges). If all I wanted to read was smut, I'd buy romance novels (blarg!). TIMES has no clue what they're talking about.

Geek Girls for GRRM!!
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George R.R. Martin
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