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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. 18th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
The TV show, Lost, was pretty popular. Lots of women liked it, and it was, shockingly, fantasy. I never watched Lost until streaming Netflix, where I decided I'd watch Season 1 to see if it was even close to the hype. I made the time to watch it, and it was, if anything, not hyped enough. I think if the critic were to give the show a chance or read the book, she might change her tune.

Great characters and stories are what keeps people coming back for more. Cliffhangers don't hurt either. The only question here is whether the actors in Game can deliver, and how well the story can be translated onto the screen. I'm optimistic about it. I'm hoping it will be even better than Lost.

It seems to me the critic just didn't want to be bothered with having to watch something associated with the genre. She then took it a step further and displayed her ignorance to all. Dumb. Why did she even bother? Did she have an abusive brother who hit her with his fantasy books? Surely there's something personal behind that review.
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
We love you too!

And wait a mo... I thought guys were the ones who were supposed to be into things for the sex? Can't they get their sexist stereotypes right?!

/another (obviously non-existant) geek girl
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Us girls love you too! I SERIOUSLY have to meet you soon, since I never got a chance to meet Tolkien. You never seem to be in Texas though!
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
I didn't read the article, thankfully, but I, too, am a "boy with boobs," who is bigger fantasy fan than my husband is & really don't care for graphic sex in books or movies. I like sex, I just don't need it to enjoy a story, and really, most of the time, it gets in the way of the telling (unless, like the Lannisters, it's crucial to it). These critics know nothing about us, they probably believe that all women read Harlequin Romance and the like, and for that, they get a huge thimbs down.
Stacey Pope
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
I've never in my life been made angry enough by any television/book/film review to feel the need to reply until the Times article. I wish literary snobbery was dead but unfortunately its alive and well, I wonder how many books the Times writer reads a year, I'd be willing to bet its not that many. Shakespeare included fantasy in his plays is she going to tell me he was a fanboy more interested in swords and boobs than his characters (mind you I doubt she's ever read him - too much olde worlde language). The biggest selling book in history (excepting the bible) was a fantasy novel, whose author had to deal with similar closed-minded snobbery his response "Some who have read the book, or at ant rate reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing they evidently prefer", you can't beat an Oxford don for put-downs.
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
This review made me laugh out loud... honestly I read in spite of the sex. I mean, I understand its being there and it's frequently necessary, so sex doesn't turn me off a book, but I don't read fantasy that has just sex and no plot.
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Girls not supposed to like fantasy?
I grew up with a grandfather who made sure i read anything and everything we came across, be it scifi, history, or horror, so i grew up with an appreciation for all forms of literature. But the one genre that i and my grandfather had a soft spot for was fantasy, and so when i was reading this post i was pretty annoyed. I especially love your books for the sole reason that they are perfect for all audiences. I love how your writing is challenging, intense, and thoughtful, there is no black and white, but many, MANY, shades of grey. I actually do NOT like books that are soley based on sex or play a major role, in fact i find them boring and mundane.
Apr. 19th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Tolkien got lots of bad reviews calling the Lord of the Rings everything from juvenile to racist so consider that this just puts you in good company.
Apr. 19th, 2011 10:02 am (UTC)
I am a late comer to your work. My younger brother has been urging me for a while to read them by sending me over a couple of hardbacks (Books 3 & 4). I was a bit perplexed that he hadn't bought me the first and they have rather languished on my 'to be read' mountain.

Anyway, encouraged by a book club here on LJ to read the first book in handy sections (and then discuss weekly comments) I just fell in love with 'A Game of Thrones' (and right away invested in getting hardbacks of Books 1 & 2 sent over from USA).

They certainly are not just for boys (or men) - as a woman who has been enthusiastic about fantasy from an early age I've never been put off by battles though I have to admit that I am drawn more to the court intrigues.

So huge thank you for such excellent world-building as well as characters I can love and hate and all the rest.

Apr. 19th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
yup, that review was probably the laziest, narrow-mindedest, most vitriolic piece of ill-informed crap I've ever read. No wonder they took the comments section off air. Have tried to send the author an email detailing my issues. Hope it reaches her. Probably won't. Anyway, haven't been able to catch the first episode myself (I live in Holland), but am really looking forward to it.
Apr. 19th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
Too Right
My wife introduced me to Game of Thrones.

IMO you cannot write a work that "works" unless it says something about the human condition. This is the tie that binds. Write it well and both women and men will be interested.

Apr. 19th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
I can't believe that such a biased person is even allowed to write for NYT. Her sole intent seems to be making sure everyone is like everybody else and everyone fits into his or hers role. Especially his or hers. It's sad that such people have the chance to shape the public opinion in whatever small ways.
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Just adding my cry of "Love you, too!" Thank you so much for female characters who are more than just pretty, mindless racks for boobs who only exist to make the male characters look macho (not to mention thanks for the male characters with actual depth and personality).

But apparently I'm too female to really understand this series, anyway. Doesn't it come in pink?
Apr. 19th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
No way, Times!
So many of my friends who are girls love the series! My geeky boyfriend hadn't even heard of your books until I introduced them to him <3

Now if only I could get him to enjoy reading the Outlander series by D. Gabaldon, but alas, he says it's too 'girly'.
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
I read this series not for the sex, but for the overall love of how deep the characters and plot is. I don't want to speak for everyone, but what keeps me as a woman in love with this series is the character relationships and how deep and real they are, flaws and all. Thank you for everything that you do!
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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