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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 07:42 pm (UTC)
We love you too!

Also, that review is silly. I might say something is "boy fiction" if all the women are weak and purposeless, existing only to be rescued or lamented over by men, but that's not the case in ASOIAF!

Not only are there strong women, but there are also GOOD women who are not so sexy (Brienne, my favorite!!) and sexy women who are not so good (Cersei) .. and everything in between!
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the reviewer would benefit from the opportunity to explain her review to Syrian officials. I'll pay for the plane ticket.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
I would also like to note that a quick glance at metacritic.com shows that GOT got reviews in excess of 90% from the following reviewers. TV Guide, LA Times, Boston Globe, People Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly, and Time. Just another good reason not to read the New York Times says I.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oh man, the Slate reviewer was a huge ass about fantasy too. Luckily, over at Salon they were like what the hell guys?
Matthew Smith
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
thought this was a good review response
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
Suck it NYT
I've never commented here before but just wanted to say I'm another female fan and find this attitude towards fantasy fiction so patronizing, and especially the insinuation that women don't enjoy it. The reviewer needs to get out of her upper Manhattan sewing circle now and again.

Love you too, GRRM! We bought a new flat-panel TV and I sold my soul to the cable company to get HBO, but I know it will be worth it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
I'm A Scifi Geek Girl and Proud Of It
I hate when people "think" they know how all women are. I, for one, am a scifi geek girl, and I'm proud of it. I love fantasy novels, movies and television shows, and they don't need to have graphic sex for me to enjoy them.

To me, what matters is the storyline and if the characters are believable and ones I can relate to.
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I think Slate also has mud on their face after the reviewer wrote less of a 'review' and more of a personal blog post about how much he disliked fantasy in general. But the NYT review was... downright confusing. Graphic sex = more female viewers? I guess Ginia liked the sex scenes. Salon summed up these reviews pretty well, I think.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU, George, for writing strong female characters. We Love You Too.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Don't worry too much. As articles go, its pretty poorly written if you actually dissect it. The author establishes little about the actual series except that:
1)There are many characters.
2)Seasons are long.
3)There's sex in it.

She has a problem with all these things without really establishing why. The author seems to forget that Rome and the Sopranos both had pretty graphic sex scenes themselves and a pretty large cast of characters (not as large as GoT, but you see my point). The review is poorly written, don't take it personally.

The author is simply condescending, which is the greatest mistake a writer of this type can make. She is clearly writing an article she has no interest in. Don't worry, the article's 1.5 star rating from paying subscribers will earn her an angry word or two from her editor.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
It grated on me mostly because it was such a shoddy piece of journalism. I'm not sure I'd still have a job if I'd commentated on a work related topic in such an ill-informed manner.

As for her daft assertion that this type of fantasy is only aimed at boys that like D&D, I'll buy a hat and eat it if we don't get a massive turnout for your talks at Olympus 2012 from both men and women from all walks of life :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
New Troll Times...
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
I know more girls that enjoy your books than guys, so that's strange.

Also, there was an awesome write up about the series in the Times Picayune (New Orleans) today. :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)

Here was my response at the Huffington Post:


Can't wait for Sunday night!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm French, did not read the review, but I'm puzzled : in France, the current fandom cliché is that SF is for (smart) boys and fantasy for (not so smart) girls.

Outside the fandom, SF&F are for brain damage people who can't read normal litterature, boys and girls alike.

The last snobbism is against paranormal romance (the code-name here is "bit-lit", from "to bite" and "literature", inspired by "chick-lit" as those novels seem meant for girls).

Sexism... *sighs*

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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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