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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 08:30 pm (UTC)
Genre snobbery, now with added sexism! Charming, isn't it?

thank you, geek girls! I love you all.

We love you too!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Whatever any paper may have to say about your series, bad OR good, seems to matter little in the face of what you undeniably already have: the support and love of a veritable SHIT TON of geek girls. (AND boys!) You keep on writing them, George, and we'll keep on reading them!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
*applauds* That wasn't really a review, just a rant against fantasy with some seriously flawed logic. "If I'm a woman and I don't like fantasy, therefore women don't like fantasy!"

I suppose I only liked LotR for the hot sex. Oh wait...
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
"(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?"

Ummm...as someone who has spent a lot of time at cons, I would reconsider the phrasing here. We have a tendency to be a pretty corpulent, bosomy bunch of lads. Said with love and self-deprecation, naturally. :P
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
d'awwww, Mr. Martin, we love you, too!

'sigh' Currently entangled as I am in academia at the moment, I am no longer surprised when I hear the "no work of fantasy has any inherent value" argument, but I was surprised to hear it in the New York Times.

Thank you for continuing to encourage female readers of fantasy, and for giving us so many lovely stories to appreciate.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks George for sharing your opinion. I'm a guy (a gay guy, for that matter, and I'm sure Mrs. Bellafante thinks gays don't like fantasy unless there is a lot of gay sex added to it) and I was nonetheless outraged by the review. It was abysmal.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how the author here managed to say that Game of Thrones was both too immature AND too complicated to follow within the same article. Not to mention that she skipped over how women, even those who are not geeks, can watch or read a series for things other than the sex appeal, such as an interesting plot or likable characters. As someone who is in fact a female geek, I can't understand why, if you're going to read or watch things with dark themes (the Wikipedia article for the author that this article mentioned says that she writes about "failing relationships and terminal illness"), you wouldn't want some sword fighting, dragons and political intrigue thrown in there as well.

Going off what another poster here said, I very much like seeing such interesting and developed female characters in not only fantasy, but in fiction at all, as the ones in ASOIAF. In particular, you can't imagine how glad it makes me to read about and have a character to relate to in Brienne. It means a lot to me to see my experience with dealing and living with being ugly and falling outside gender norms reflected, even partially, in a likable and heroic female fictional character, where so many other stories show such characters hiding or changing these qualities as proof of or reward for their being good. She's one of the many reasons I love this series.
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Heh. Did you have to Google Lorrie Moore to find out who the hell she was (even though it's apparently inconceivable that any woman would prefer to read 'The Hobbit' to one of Ms Moore's ouevre)? 'Cause that makes a metric buttload of us whose reaction at that point went "...Lorrie who?"
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, that woman has made me so angry. What a narrow minded b*tch. That is the type of woman who is responsible for so much that is wrong with the media's acceptable image of females!! *aaarrgh*

We love you George but we love your girls even more!
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. I wondered if you'd seen that article. It made me so angry! I could go on a rant about it, but I'd rather just say Thank you because you're amazing and I'll continue to be a devoted fan- with or without sex. ;)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. You are my professional hero and your work has taught me a lot about writing (both the act of creating a story and the business itself) I wrote a response - three actually - to this because in addition to insulting you I felt like she insulted many great women of literature. I am glad you took the time to tell us what you thought of it.
Apr. 16th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
My big response: http://fem-rage.livejournal.com/870.html

I sent a letter almost identical directly to her (I removed a couple things) and I wrote a 150 word version that I sent as a letter to the editor of the NYTimes.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
As a woman and as a SF/F reviewer, I found that article so incredibly condescending.

Here's to showing them up with the series' incredible success.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Where did she get the bit about it being a "global warming horror story?" WTH?
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
As a geek girl, I approve of this message! :)
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
That review made me much less sad about the new paywall.
Apr. 16th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
Well said!
The right words with just the right tone. Nice.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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