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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 07:27 pm (UTC)
Having just read the article, I'm not sure it even qualifies as a review. She offers no analysis about the quality of the production, the plot or the actors. In fact, Ms. Bellafante is so vague I would guess that she did not even watch the episode but perhaps saw the trailer and skim read a synopsis.

It's plain that she's been aching to have a pop at the fantasy genre and HBO for daring to commission a series that isn't trying to be one of those oh-so-"realistic" (whatever that means) dramas. A critic that is willing to discard an entire genre based on their own narrow perceptions is not worth reading.

And for the record, I don't think there are many writers out there that present their female characters with the skill Mr. Martin possesses.

A simple case of one lazy reviewer not doing her due diligence, it would seem.
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
I've seen reviews like hers before. They're more about letting the reviewer show how "smart" and cultured/educated/sophisticated they are, and less about the actual thing that they're reviewing.

Fantasy is a common target for this, simply because so much Fantasy is bad. The only things that tend to get exception are either weird, "out-there" stuff, or books that have been basically "grandfathered" in (like Tolkien).
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
The Slate article is also ridiculous. I mean if you don't like fantasy, don't review a fantasy show. Why go into a show telling people that the best possible outcome is that you'll be bored? Who are you helping? Wow, I learned from your review that there are swords and horses. Congratulations, that was informative.

I posted this there as well:

The thing is, we already knew it was fantasy. If you're going into a review knowing you'll dislike all fantasy, then really, it's not a review as much as you telling us why you don't like fantasy in general. It's like Ebert hating all comedies, and therefore giving all comedies thumbs down. Shouldn't the point of the review be to let us know how this works as a show within the genre? If it doesn't work, that's fine but I don't see why you'd review a show like this in the first place. If I hate Korean food, I wouldn't go and review a Korean restaurant and make my review about how that restaurant sucks because I hate all Korean food in the first place and how I've always hated it. What does it add, and who does it help?
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
I can't tell you how shocked i was that I didn't read the books because i'm female...how strange because i could swear i did! Thank god "HBO added all that sex to appease the women"

I was frustrated that i couldn't respond to that article. I love your writing...in fact I just started the series again :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Us loves you too, George.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
We love you too George!
I am one of those geek girls who voiced my opinion here: http://princessandwarlock.blogspot.com/2011/04/princesss-garden-open-letter-to-ginia.html
And sent a message to said NY Times writer.
That article was so offensive and had zero journalistic merit.
I have no idea how that "writer" managed to get paid to work.
She done woke the dragon! :D
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
I will need to add you to my "to read" pile, as sex-for-the-hell-of-it is something that makes me put a book down never to lift again, since the author has clearly run out of anything interesting to say.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Mr. Martin. I was really annoyed about that article as well, as a geek girl I've been reading your work for years! It's a ridiculous assertion that women can't enjoy fantasy (with or without the sex!), and I'm hoping the TIMES will get the message.

Can't wait for tomorrow night, love your work! :-D
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
I thought the writer too precious for words. She can't get out of the small circle she runs with. I bet she can't imagine women enjoying kung fu movies, either (ftr: I =love= kung fu movies.)

But I've found this to be a problem with NYT reviewers of all things -- they think themselves so experienced, broad-minded, cosmopolitan... and don't realize that they've got a very restrictive social experience and have no clue what large numbers of people think.

It's fine if they had a bit of humility about how their own thoughts can generalize. I have no problem if they left it at: "Well, this is my opinion, and this is why" rather than trying to rope in countless others.

Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you responded - this was one review that needed it. The demonstrably false assertion that women and girls don't or shouldn't enjoy "boy fiction" is no less infuriating for being old and tired - and the failure of imagination necessary to believe that a show like Game of Thrones can't address "real-world sociology" is pretty staggering. The Wire was about more than Baltimore; Big Love was about more than religion. We can (and did!) extrapolate at great length from the concrete events and characters of those shows to general themes worthy of deep discussion. Why anyone should think that this becomes impossible as soon as you throw a dragon into the mix is quite beyond me.

And then, not everything needs to be about grand themes. Excellent characters and a thrilling story are enough, and I wish more people would recognize that television (or literature, or other media) doesn't need to speak to some lofty subject matter to be worth watching. If it brings you joy and speaks to you, it's worth watching.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
So, so offended by that 'review' (The term is used loosely since she didn't really bother to talk about such things as plot, writing, character or actors).

I think the offensive icing on the offensive cake is that it wasn't even 'male fiction' but 'boy fiction'. So not only do you have to be male to enjoy GoT, but immature as well.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I definitely think that your books are anything but 'boy fiction.' Many of the girls have probably already said it, but your characters have complex personalities for both genders. It's nice to see such an egalitarian set of character groups and yet still be realistic to the time period and setting. It's disappointing and disrespectful of that article to claim that women are only interested in sex in a series and that we're not more complex than that.

Thank you for being a great author, from yet another 'boy with boobs.'
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
We love you, too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
old skool geek gurrl
Love the books Mr. Martin and have no doubt I'll love the miniseries. I've been a geek girl since I found Heinlein and Asimov on my MOM's bookshelves at the tender age of 6 or 7. That reviewer doesn't know what she's talking about.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
I've been a huge fan of your work since I first started reading the series over 8 years ago and sadly this is my first post. lol. It saddens and infuriates me that there are people out there that are so closed minded. I have been a Fantasy reader ever since I first stepped foot into a library and have watched Fantasy movies ever since Willow lol. Enough rambling I just wanted to say keep up the good work....and Cheers to all of us "boys with boobs" who appreciate good works of art.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
Crappy reviews
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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