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Author Topic: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?  (Read 22011 times)

Offline Overlord

Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« on: April 12, 2011, 10:37:38 AM »
Sex is pretty predominant in Fantasy but there is one author who I have noticed seems to shy away from it... 'Brandon Sanderson'.

I've been reading 'Mistborn' and whilst reading it I noticed there was a lack of sexual desire between Elend and Vin... which is strange enough but then I also noticed that Brandon Sanderson made a point that they slept in separate rooms? I find that a little far fetched in the kind of world Mistborn is set.

I didn't think too much of it though... because I thought that maybe it was just in this book to make Vin seem more innocent. However after reading a review of Sanderson's about 'Wise Man's Fear' he puts in a big emphasis on the fact that readers should be wary of the sexual elements of 'Wise Man's Fear'. Now... I don't know if you have read this book... but the sex in it can hardly be called sex... for one it is kind of out of body like and for two there is almost no detail of any kind of sex... it is more about the desire Kvothe has for another and that 'we then lay down' or 'we then embraced' and then cuts to after it... I find the need to 'warn' fantasy fans a bit odd.

So... this brings me to a decision I made about Sanderson a few months ago... Mistborn was written to be either A) A film or B) a YA book. HOWEVER... I've only read Mistborn, so I was wondering is this a trait in other novels of Sandersons or is it just Mistborn? Way of the Kings or Warbreaker, etc - are they the same? Look forward to hearing peoples thoughts! :)
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Offline KomalJV

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2011, 11:14:10 AM »
Cool discussion by the way! I haven't read Sanderson's work, so I cannot really say on that account but sex in fantasy is an interesting one as a broader subject. IMO, I get the impression sometimes sex is just 'thrown' in (I know that's not always the case) - there a few times I think it's weakened the story (and character) rather than actually being significant (something that occurs on TV shows a lot these days as well).

Also, there's a lot more to sex or sexual-ness than the actual act itself, so I think a clever writer is one that really uses that in the plot.
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Offline missoularedhead

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2011, 11:15:58 AM »
Brandon Sanderson is from Utah and a practicing Mormon, and makes no bones about the fact:  http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2007/06/mws-brandon-sanderson/ Thus, I find the lack of sex in his books no surprise.
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Offline Overlord

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 11:25:21 AM »
Brandon Sanderson is from Utah and a practicing Mormon, and makes no bones about the fact:  http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2007/06/mws-brandon-sanderson/ Thus, I find the lack of sex in his books no surprise.

See... that's the benefit of having a historian who knows her religions/believes/traditions on-board ;)

I don't even know what a Morman is =/ I guess they are not really predominant in the UK...
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Offline AllegedlyWriting

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2011, 11:35:27 AM »
I have read Way of Kings and no there is no sex in that particular work either I don't think theres even much of a hint of sexual desire its strange I had never really thought of it before so I guess it must work for him.
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Offline Overlord

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2011, 11:37:16 AM »
He does say this:

A wise friend (an LDS writer) once explained that in his opinion, glorifying violence or sexuality comes when consequences are removed. The scriptures themselves don't shy away from graphic content or descriptions (scalps on swords, anyone?) The important issue, however, is that the scriptures show the destructive effect that these things can have, even on the good people who are forced to engage in them.

So, I consider that my charge. I don't sugar-coat my stories. However, I show cause and effect. A person cannot kill, in my opinion, even for good reasons without it leave them scarred.


I guess what he is saying is that although he features violence in his writing he doesn't glorify it... Yet sexuality I guess would be impossible not to glorify?

I think that the LDS religion–despite what some detractors may say–is far more open and accepting of new thoughts and ideas than other religious cultures. To an LDS reader, the concept of other populated worlds isn't threatening.

Interesting...

They are, however, sometimes a little violent. I've thought a lot about this issue. What do I want to do, how much do I want to show? Can I have a brutal oppressive empire without acknowledging the kinds of things that empire would do?

My books are about hope, in my opinion. Hope, struggle, and victory. I've tried very hard to keep graphic descriptions out of my books where I can, but I can't always do so without undermining the story. And, the story comes first, for me.


I guess that's the best answer we can get from it... It seems now I think about it... all the 'evil' characters in Mistborn are having sex and whoring, but all the good characters are not engaging in sex... some even cannot have sex. I guess therefore the question is kind of answered...?

Next question... does this take something away from us as readers?
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 11:56:26 AM »
Spoiler on my first remark - might annoy any practicing Mormons on the forum

Spoiler for Hiden:
There is a great South Park episode about the Mormons, and while watching it I thought they were ridiculously exaggerating certain aspects of the religion to get laughs, did some research afterwards, and they really weren't exaggerating ....

A number of writers though are Mormons - Orson Scott Card is another one who springs to mind - I don't mind as long as they don't force their religion down my throat.  I strongly disliked Children of the Mind by Scott Card, cos I felt he was preaching at me, but Ender's game on the other hand was pure Scott Card (being used as cockney rhyming slang for awesome)   But as I said elsewhere, I find Pullman's tendency to preach atheism at his readers just as distasteful.    

I also noted that comment by Sanderson on his blog when reviewing Wise Man's fears, and it did surprise me too - I mean yes there is sex, but its not like say in Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper where the sex is rape within the marriage.  Now that's something some readers would need to be warned about - simply sex... unless the book is being advertised as YA ... I don't see any reason to draw attention to the fact.  

Talking about this - what religion was Robert Jordan?  I get the impression that he was quite spiritual too - and another fantasy saga with an odd lack of sex or real sexual tension - though in writing about the Children of the Light - he is clearly being quite critical of fundamentalism - and probably in particular the unpleasant Christian fundamentalism which is often to be found in particular the Southern States of the US - think Pastor Terry Jones and the like.  
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 12:09:01 PM by the_hound »
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Offline ChristinaJL

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 12:07:36 PM »
Next question... does this take something away from us as readers?

Not in the slightest do I think it detracts from his work that he has chosen not to write about sex.  For me fantasy is all about the characters, the world, the magic, story etc.  In fact, I sometimes get annoyed if an author just sticks in a sex scene just for the sake of it or if they think it will sell a novel and I couldn't care less about the characters having sex.  For example, take the scenes in Lynch's second novel with Jean - that got on my nerves as he kept going on about Jean and his partner making the walls shake etc - I didn't think that was very well done. 

Having said that, sex in a novel doesn't bother me if it fits in with the character and the storyline, but it's not the most important thing for me in a novel.  Sanderson's Way of Kings, as Hound says, no sex in it, but for me the story didn't lack anything because of this.  I like that he goes against what everyone else is doing and goes his own way.  If I want a load of sex in a novel I'll read Jilly Cooper.   :P  
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 12:14:14 PM by ChristinaJL »

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2011, 12:13:27 PM »
^ There is no rule that you MUST include sex to write a good fantasy book - but if the book is targeted at adults - you are taking out of the novel an important experience which make your characters better drawn and easier to relate too

And a sex scene doesn't have to be Lady Chatterley's Lover or Sebastian Faulks with pumping bodies and exploding flowers - it can just be the tension leading up to - and then in James Bond style - a passionate kiss before cutting to them laying wrapped up in each other's arms in bed an hour or two later....
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Offline Overlord

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2011, 03:19:36 PM »
I think if you are going completely sex-less you need to address it.

Elend and Vin are probably early 20's? They are both in their physical prime and there are lots of remarks about 'thighs' and 'beauty' and such... They are quite clearly in love and have been going out for over a year in book 2... however they sleep in separate rooms. To me that is strange, of course fantasy is strange too... but I think it should be addressed. *shrugs*

Like you said, not overly important, I just felt it made the characters seem a little less real in some respects.
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Offline Blodeuedd

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2011, 03:59:37 PM »
I didn't think about that since there isn't much sex in fantasy anyway, but if he said that about Wise then then I get it. And since I know he is mormon.

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Offline ChristinaJL

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2011, 05:26:12 PM »
There are plenty of religions out there that don't believe in sex before marriage, so if this is also a Mormon belief, I can see why Sanderson has Vin and Elend in different rooms.

ETA - or where they married, I can remember when that happens? 

Offline Blodeuedd

Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2011, 07:03:02 PM »
Hm, he wanted to marry she kept saying no...I think they still went on and on about it in book 3
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AmyRoseDavis

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Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2011, 09:09:00 PM »
Well, several thoughts leap to mind here....

I knew Sanderson was a Mormon, and that was my first thought when I read the Overlord's initial post. "He's Mormon--they keep it clean."

But then, I feel like I have to say... I'm a follower of Christ (I hate the word Christian because of all it's attendant baggage), but I don't really shy away from sex, violence, swearing, drinking, or any number of other vices by both the "good guys" and the "bad guys." I figure it's part of life, and as an author, part of the job description is representing the truth of the world as accurately as possible. So I have a "good guy" who sleeps around and a "bad guy" who never swears, but that has more to do with their characters than with any particular perspective on my part. Does that make sense?

I also think it's weird when a married couple or even an unmarried couple with clear sexual attraction are portrayed as completely asexual creatures. I don't mind skipping over the actual "act"--and I honestly think many of the randy scenes in GRRM's work felt just thrown in for the sake of adding some sex--but if it feels like it evolves naturally from the characters and situations, I also don't mind reading a reasonably descriptive passage, either--especially if it's between two characters I care about who care about each other. I remember thinking that during the one real sex scene between Ned and Catelyn there was no real sex involved--just Ned getting up to open a window because he was hot! Seriously? Since it's so early in GOT, I didn't really think much about it till after AFFC, but then I thought, "You spend pages and pages on Tyrion's exploits, but Ned and Catelyn only get, like, three paragraphs together?" But maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic...

Anyway, I love reading about a married couple who can't keep their hands off each other, or even a seriously committed couple in a good relationship who act that way.

But as a writer, here are a few things *I* think about, and keep in mind, these are from my particular worldview. If other writers choose to write more graphically, I don't mind, and I'll even read some of it, but here are my thoughts as I write my own stories...

1) I don't write graphic, detailed sex scenes because I don't want to end up on a list of "worst sex scenes."
2) I also don't write graphic, detailed sex scenes because I want to be careful not to act shamefully in regard to my faith.
3) No matter what the scene--violent, drinking, humor, sex, whatever--it should never be gratuitous. Every scene in everything I write should do one of three things--drive the plot, develop a character, or describe a setting. If I can't justify it, I cut it.
4) Sex has consequences, and I think it's okay for writers to be honest about those, too. Birth control fails, diseases get spread, and spouses get jealous. I will give GRRM this much--he's open about the jealousy and birth control issues, although no one seems to get syphillis in fantasy... But maybe that's just because... I dunno. We'd rather write plagues or something... :)

So I don't know if that matters at all in regard to Sanderson, but I wanted to share my perspective.

AmyRoseDavis

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Re: Brandon Sanderson and Sex...?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2011, 09:16:40 PM »
Oh, and one additional thought... I agree with The Hound that it can be "James Bond style" and still be damn sexy... It's the foreplay and afterglow that are usually the most interesting, anyway. We all know what happens in between, but the before and after are when the characters are at their most vulnerable. Why pass up a prime opportunity for character development in those situations??

I also think it should be said that some of the best scenes of sexual tension in literature have no sex or even touching involved--just some intense dialogue that made it clear what the characters were thinking. I see no reason why a Mormon or Christian or any other person of faith couldn't write that type of thing. Jane Austen did. :)