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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.


Apr. 17th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
Not commenting on reviews is good policy, but that thing wasn't a review, it was a few hundred words of unfiltered brain-to-page nonsense published under a reputable banner. A "review" would require engaging with the weaknesses of the show, rather than the critic's dislike of an entire genre.

But I'm willing to let the "Fantasy? Quality? Surely not!" attitude pass with an eye roll because it's boorish, but kind of expected. I am PISSED OFF about the gendering of an entire sub-genre because you'd think an NYT critic would know better, and because darnit, I have had this argument one too many times this week, and my thesis remains the same: this kind of brainless stereotyping screws over everyone.

I also can't help but wonder what the review would be like were the books written by a woman. Same plot, /maybe/ a slightly different tone, maybe not. Would the emphasis on families and relationships, the amount of talking that goes on, and the prevalence of women in positions of power have then made it a show "for girls" with some nudity thrown in to avoid scaring off the straight guys? There are a lot of things that need to be said about gender and speculative fiction. This? Not helping the conversation.

Okay, enough ranting from me. I need to go flip through some books looking for sexytimes, since my ladybrain just can't seem to handle plot.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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