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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 11:14 pm (UTC)
If only Arya or Brienne could trundle up and 'stick her with the pointy end'. That would make her more inclined to keep her stereotypical, misogynistic and ignorant views on women to herself.

Love a boy with breasts.
Victor M. Yeste
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
The world is full of people that don't think before they write about something. But it's incredible that a review of a very famous newspaper falled to that kind of nonsense.

Thanks for writing books so good and, well, fantasious! You're the best, and I am sure that almost everybody thinks so, boys and girls :)
Elena Amici
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
I like "Boys with boobs". LOL
Am i the only one who reading the review thought Ms. Bellafante hasn't watch the show at all? It was funny, the global warming part made me laugh out loud :D
Apr. 17th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
My jaw certainly dropped when Tyrion's stature was cited as one of the signifiers of it being a fantasy novel set in a world with which nobody could possibly identify.

Yep. Writing about grown adults of diminutive stature - that's just CRAZY! That George RR Martin, writing ridiculous fantasy nonsense with dwarves! How could anybody (especially a woman) be remotely interested in such an impossible protagonist?

...Yeah. I bet Peter Drinklage totally agrees with you about how whacky that is, Ms Bellafante. Or, you know. Not.

(Pretty painfully clear that she'd given the show only a very cursory viewing, to come away with the understanding that this is Tolkien-style worldbuilding. And yet she gets a pay cheque for this stuff.)
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
I hardly notice sex in your books. Or any books. Is that reviewer nuts?? If I want sex I will watch porn, thank you very much. I read books to escape all that- ESPECIALLY fantasy, which happens to be the genre I see the least sex in. Count me among the outraged boys with boobs... Ridiculous.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
I find reviewers who just hate fantasy more puzzling than annoying (though of course I'm not an author/producer.) What service do they think they are providing? It's not like fantasy is difficult to recognize, so they have to warn off other fantasy-haters. And it leads readers who don't agree on that point to write off any other observations they have.

It just seems like a pointless exercise -- why would you review something you're automatically not going to like, regardless of its actual content?

(My pet peeve is actors who declare proudly "I didn't know anything about science fiction/fantasy before I took this role..." It's the genre condescension all over again. They don't have to be a fan, but it's impossible any more to grow up in this culture and know nothing about it.)
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.
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George R.R. Martin
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