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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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Maja Wnstrm
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Arya, Sansa, Cersei, Daenays, Brianne, Arienne...
... and so many more. The female characters in A Song of Ice and Fire struggle in their own unique ways to navigate their worlds and negotiate their positions - just like all men and women of passion do. Who are we - the attributes we are given, the ones we cultivate or the ones that we have been told to manifest? Who do I need to pretend to be and if so, when can I let my masks down to show my true complexity? How do I forge a sincere interface between my principles, my actions and their consequences? Thank you Mr. Martin for making the effort to write down this wonderful story where people are no less than human.
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
We love you George!
I've been a HUGE fan of yours for ages, from Nightflyers (I CRIED at the end!!) and Lair of the Worm (I squirmed, it was so REAL), and Tuf Voyaging (LOVE that one) and all the amazing, interconnected short stories... I've raved to others, tried to get them to read you, too. When I read the Times review, I was SO offended, SO disappointed. I think the problem was some MORON choosing that IDIOT to do the review. Obviously, she didn't WANT to do it, and was in ALL ways a stupid choice. Thank you, George, for all the stories, and all those to come, THIS Nerdgirl love you for it. THIS Nerdgirl happens to enjoy herself some serious, heavy Fantasy AND Science Fiction, sex or no sex, and I always will.
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
We love you Mr Martin!
i've seen the review... and the reviewer is a woman (at least the name is for a girl).
That is incredible!
But don't worry George, we geek girls love your books and the HBO series!
Can't wait for tonight and for the 12 of July! (Amazon is my best friend! I live in Italy :p)
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I just had to go read the review to see what all the fuss was about, and it's laughable. I've been a die-hard Ice & Fire fan since '97 and it's obvious the hack that wrote the review has never given anything but a cursory glance at the story. I have plenty of female friends that love this "boy fiction" just as much as us dudes. Keep up the awesome work, Mr. Martin, aSoIaF is a masterpiece that changed the face of fantasy fiction, and we eagerly await its television version. Kudos!
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
We love you, too!
That line about "boys with breasts" gave me a hearty laugh. That article was insulting in so many ways. I don't think anyone will be taking the author of it seriously for a while.

I was able to send an e-mail directly to the author, and I was very polite (after venting angrily on blogs), but firmly told her that she was incorrect and should have done more research.

Your response is excellent, Sir. I applaud you and am sure that if you have daughters, they do as well.
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you. What matters is the story--sex is fine, lack of sex fine, but the story and characters and sometimes the kick-ass action is what keeps SOME of us buying the books. The reviewer was condescending and while yes, bad reviews happen, sometimes one comes along that makes you just want to scream.
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Geek girl....
...and so proud of it! I was actually the one in my family who got all my siblings into your books! While I don't mind graphic sex in my fantasy, a well written or well portrayed piece of fantasy is FAR more important!
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
And we love you!

I was horrified when I read the assumptions the review made. I'm glad to see everyone standing up all over and setting to right the facts. Thank you all!
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
Defending the fans!
I'm really glad you responded to this review. Negative reviews can often be insulting to the creator or to the work itself, and that's a real shame, but this review was insulting to the fans. You came to our defense here, and that's why we love you so much!

<3 <3 <3
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Good heavens, why did they have a fantasy series reviewed by somebody who is so oblivious to the genre? At least that article convinced me to finally go ahead with my vague plan to buy the books for my kindle in addition to the paper ones I already own. (And yes, "boy with breasts" here too :)
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
I sent a nastygram to the writer of the article. The NYT should be ashamed of itself.
Jack Gignac
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Women love your series, too. I got my girlfriend to read ASOIAF when we first started going out, and to summarize, we have a 4 month old baby boy named Drake (as in old English for dragon, not for coincidental Canadian rappers) and we've been dying for tonight & July 12th. Fantasy by definition will always have its haters, and the critics of all people chose snobbery as a profession, rather than doing real work. I respect the Eberts of this world as much they should be considering the only thing they've directed is themselves to the snack bar, and their creativity is dependent on articles about creators. If someone disrespects an entire genre, they shouldn't be reviewing something within it. ASOIAF is character-driven drama for the most part, with splashes of fantasy.
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
i just read this review and i am positive, super positive that she did not watch the premiere (i'm assuming it was sent to her) nor did she do any research on the books. no, no, i'm assuming she instead spent her day reading RedBook then finished it up with graphic sexual scenes from the internet. I'm sorry, was that prejudice and sexist? so was her review :(
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
Hey, wait, NYT. I'm a girl!
So, um.. I'm a girl. And seriously, if you started putting a lot of sex in your show, I am remarkably sure I wouldn't watch it. I don't want some weird fantasy sex scene in any fantasy I watch/read/whatever - I want amazing characters, a great story line, and something that grabs me and never lets go. Sweaty half mortal men don't fit that grab thing - especially if it's some anorexic bimbo with unbelievably fake parts. You know, the type they use in every other mainstream show in the world.

Thanks for not giving in, and thanks for standing up to the NYT.
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
I guess that reviewer never read Ursula K. Le Guin, this is not only the journalist fault but also the editor that probably didn´t know or didn´t have time to check if the story was correct. I am an editor, it happens all the time, some reporters assume things but the editor task is put him in place. this was not the case. bad nyt.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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