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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.


Apr. 16th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
I am female, a bonafide "literary" book aficionado, and a shrieky Martin fangirl. YES, IT'S TRUE -- ALL THREE AT ONCE. The NYT review, as well as the one run by Slate, disgusts me. Just adding my voice to the deafening chorus of female indignation.

(I've actually been thinking quite a bit about the representation of female characters in ASoIaF lately. Most of the female fans I know don't take issue with the presentation of female characters in the series, but one reader I know does make the point that some of the earlier characters seem very type-cast: you have the mama grizzly; the evil, beautiful queen, literally named after a sorceress in a Homer epic who seduces men and turns them to swine; the runtish tomboy; the spoiled, bratty princess; and so on. The question is, are these harmful, stereotypical portrayals, adhering as they do to certain feminine archetypes? Harmful, in the sense that it flattens out the possibility of a range of women personalities, reducing womankind to a handful of rote roles? And my answer, after thinking about it for all of 1.2 nanoseconds, has got to be a resounding no. Unlike books by certain other scifi/fantasy authors who I will, cough, politely refrain from naming, George's portrayal of these women characters invites us to sympathize with them on an unusually deep level. They are too readily humanized by the narrative to be "only" the protective mother, the rebellious tomboy, the conniving b*tch. Even Cersei, who is arguably one of the most straightforwardedly evil characters in the series, becomes more dimensional when her motivations re: her children are taken into account. Put simply, we are too deep into these characters; how can they then be objectified, or made to prance around in metal bikinis to satisfy the fanboys, in a light-hearted, haha-dancing-girls-bursting-from-a-cake, manner? It ain't gonna happen, if George has the respect for these characters that he seems to have.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the NYT reviewer is dead wrong. Dead, dead wrong.)

You are my hero, George. You keep on writing your awesome girl characters, I'll keep on reading.


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

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