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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. 17th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
thank you.

Apr. 17th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
Bwahahaha! That flowchart kicks ass!
(no subject) - delux_vivens - Apr. 17th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
Dammit... so the Times says I'm a guy? I knew there was something wrong with me. But hey - then I don't have to shave my legs anymore. Great ^^

Well as one of many geek girls here: I love you too :)
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:59 am (UTC)
I can't believe this. Oh of course, I only like the series because of the sex, not because of the characters, or the storyline, or anything else. Yes, I like television and book series based solely on the quality of the sex scenes.

I'm proud that we managed to at least get some sort of response from the new york times. Honestly, you'd think that they would have stopped this rubbish from being published in the first place.
Apr. 17th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Outraged!
what response did we get?
Apr. 17th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
Has the reviewer mixed up fantasy with fan slash fic? Never mind,you will be remembered for your glorious work long after he isn't here.
Apr. 17th, 2011 08:09 am (UTC)
The Hobbit was the first novel I read, waaaaay back when I was eight years old. Nearly 40 years later, I still read as much good quality fantasy as I can get my hands on. A huge and heartfelt thank you from this geek girl, George, for writing some of the best!
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
And we love you, George! If I have a choice between reading your "boy fiction" (with intricate, well written characters and plot) and the typical fluff novels out there...
...Well, there's really no contest, is there?
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
I would just like to say to the author of that article: I first started reading these books because my sister and a female friend spent two hours thoroughly ignoring me so they could gush about the series. I am having a viewing party tonight and 80% of the attendees are women.
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
I've loved science fiction and fantasy since I was a child. Back before computers, my geekiness wasn't acknowledged, because I didn't know anyone else--male or female--who liked the same things I did. The Internet allowed geeks to discover we weren't alone, and I've found all kinds of women who love sci-fi and fantasy. Our numbers are growing, too, so silly writers at the New York Times need to look past their preconceived notions.

Genre shouldn't matter as much as a story well told, especially an epic tale with engaging characters and compelling plot lines.

The geek girls love you, too, Mr. Martin. :)
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
We love you too! :)
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:53 am (UTC)
I am, and have always been, a HUGE bookworm. I'll happily curl up with just about anything (I tend to shun non-fiction usually, but a few have made it onto my shelf), but Fantasy and Sci-fi have always been my drug of choice.

And I'm sorry, but yes your story has sex in it, but if I wanted smut I'd read a romance novel. You give enough details to get the point across, but it's done in a tasteful way (in fact, even my boyfriend's 72 year old Grandmother agreed with me on that point, after I got her hooked on ASOIAF).

if your books are boy fiction, then I guess I'm proud to be one of your 'boys with boobs' readers too!
Apr. 17th, 2011 09:54 am (UTC)
I know, that TIMES review was terrible, and I can't believe how it was approved for posting!
If ''geek'' is what I should be called, because I love fantasy and epics and I laugh at ''Sex and the City'' for showing women as consumerism freaks with no personality whatsoever, then geek I am, and a very proud one! I think fantasy is the best type of art, because it is about imagination and greatness and artistic liberty, and I, too, can't believe there are still people out there who hate fantasy just because ''the author can decide winter lasts ten years'' and ''I'm too much of a reality freak to accept that without a scientific explanation''. And it's not that I don't love/adore other types of shows and books. I watch dramas, silly girly dramas, comedies, historical shows, epics, and I watch fantasy. And I appreciate quality where I see it. When I was 9 I read Harry Potter. It did not get me into reading because I was already a bookworm, but it did get me into fantasy and magic and dragons. Then along came Lord of the Rings, which was incomparable to HP, and I spent my whole teenage years reading and re-reading Tolkien. Now I'm 18, and I for about 2 years I had been searching for a new epic, great series to immerse myself into, and ASOIAF came along. I live in Greece where nobody knows about it, so I was lucky to learn about it through livejournal. And I think it's the best series I've ever read. I can only laugh at those people who hate fantasy just because they can't get their imaginations to work. Bad for them, good for us!
Apr. 17th, 2011 10:44 am (UTC)
I am a boy. I was not interested in fantasy
My mate suggested your books. I was never a fantasy fan and I guess I am still not. Some things are just well done.

Critics are paid. Critics have individual tastes. Critics have to be outspoken to avoid the "articulate fan" title. They are just educated forum posters. The article was insulting towards TV viewers in one breath and an attempt to conceptualise HBO's efforts in another. You happened to get caught in the middle. Like your smallfolk.

A good critic can help you, a bad critic, you just happen to be the focus of the moment... and they have to say something... a lot like Shae.
Apr. 17th, 2011 10:47 am (UTC)
Terry Pratchett frequently refers to the "fact" that all of his fans are "14 year old boys named Kevin, who wear anoraks and are good at maths... even the 78 year old grandmothers" (we won't go into the legions of young women wearing corsetry that turn up at the Discworld Conventions that happen worldwide) because of the attitude many interviewers and reviewers have to fantasy literature and films. It's getting better, but still not considered mainstream by literary snobs.
Apr. 17th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
I've been kinda used to it, being part of the very few girls who indeed play roleplaying games (you know, the pen and paper kind) since the 90's, when it was merely for geeks and very few girls played it (wait.. it's still that I think). And I've been playing MMORPGs on the net since 2000, when the only women you'd find were guys in disguise XD

I've read The Hobbit and LOTR when I was 11 and 12 respectively... oddly, no graphic sex, and I loved it.

Geek girls who love fantasy and don't need sex in it to love it do exist. But it's a bit disturbing for those guys to find girls who can talk on an even ground with them, I suppose.

Aside that.

Good writing IS good writing, whatever the genre is; it's the writer himself who can transcend the genre and make (nearly) everyone like his works. To say "such genre is for such people" is so narrow-minded.

Thanks for your words. They are appreciated by this geek woman.
Apr. 17th, 2011 11:23 am (UTC)
I can kind of see how they came to that conclusion. I tend to shy away from female fantasy authors because many tend to for whatever reason include a lot of graphic sexuality, sometimes to the point of nearly being porn. That is not to say that all female fantasy authors do that, I love Margaret Weis for example, but so from in my experience female authors are more likely to feel the need to lift the veil and describe scenes that male authors would leave off page and to the imagination.

Given that trend it might be possible to conclude that those female authors are doing so because they think, or are told that is what female readers want. Of course the fallacy there is to assume that female authors would be gearing their work towards women rather than a general audience.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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