Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: eclipse on November 30, 2020, 06:42:27 AM

Title: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: eclipse on November 30, 2020, 06:42:27 AM
Saw this over at the Facebook group

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/fantasty-books-authors-lord-of-the-rings-game-of-thrones-tasha-suri-b1762436.html
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: cupiscent on November 30, 2020, 06:53:52 AM
That's a really good piece, full of great thoughts - and great authors! I particularly enjoyed reading:
Quote
This new generation of authors isn’t trying to demolish fantasy and raise up something else in its place, it is worth pointing out. They adore fantasy. They just feel there is space for a wider range of stories and protagonists.

Yes!
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: ScarletBea on November 30, 2020, 08:58:48 AM
I think it must be the first time I read an article about fantasy in a main-stream newspaper and not cringe!

(since it's the time of the year when they're all doing the 'best books' feature, and even the SFF chapter is 99.9% SF)
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Rostum on November 30, 2020, 08:06:02 PM
HMM lets take a bunch of not overly established writers and give them great big boots to fill. I am not a great fan of the set em up to fail school of journalism.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Skip on November 30, 2020, 08:22:10 PM
The message I took away from the article is that readers are far more varied and more open to new things than are publishers. Having only a handful of gateways, all controlled by white males, gave a narrow stream of work to a wide and diverse audience. That is changing.

How that gets recognized and reported in mainstream press says more about mainstream press than it does about writers or readers.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Skip on November 30, 2020, 08:30:26 PM
This quote bothered me, though.

"Seeing Arwen confront the Nazgul was such an inspiring moment for me – the first time I had seen a woman do something so powerful in fantasy – but when I went to read that scene in the book, I found a man filling her place.

“That was the first time I realised that fantasy wasn’t always going to love me back, and it put me off reading it for years,..."

At first I thought she had got her facts wrong. Surely she meant Eowyn. But Eowyn *does* confront the Nazgul. Their chief, in fact.  So, she celebrates the one but ignores the other? To the point it put her off reading fantasy for years? Presumably she never actually read LotR, but only looked up that one scene. Or else she had read it, but somehow forgot one of the most memorable scenes in the novel?

Any way I turn that, it comes out screwy. I'm going to blame the reporter and editor, and call it quoting out of context.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Peat on November 30, 2020, 10:35:51 PM
This quote bothered me, though.

"Seeing Arwen confront the Nazgul was such an inspiring moment for me – the first time I had seen a woman do something so powerful in fantasy – but when I went to read that scene in the book, I found a man filling her place.

“That was the first time I realised that fantasy wasn’t always going to love me back, and it put me off reading it for years,..."

At first I thought she had got her facts wrong. Surely she meant Eowyn. But Eowyn *does* confront the Nazgul. Their chief, in fact.  So, she celebrates the one but ignores the other? To the point it put her off reading fantasy for years? Presumably she never actually read LotR, but only looked up that one scene. Or else she had read it, but somehow forgot one of the most memorable scenes in the novel?

Any way I turn that, it comes out screwy. I'm going to blame the reporter and editor, and call it quoting out of context.

Arwen confronts the Nazgul in the LotR movie, but not in the book, iirc.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: cupiscent on December 01, 2020, 01:43:24 AM
Arwen confronts the Nazgul in the LotR movie, but not in the book, iirc.

Yep. So there's the bit, at the end of that first flight from the Shire to Rivendell, when they reach the river at the Ford of Bruinen and the Black Riders are closing in. In the books, it's... Elrond? Elrond's son? Gandalf?? who calls the river and washes them away. (Killing their horses, only to have them return airborne. They fly now!) In the movie, Arwen makes that desperate dash to the Ford with Frodo on her horse, and calls the river to sweep away the Black Riders.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Neveesandeh on December 01, 2020, 10:06:53 AM
Arwen confronts the Nazgul in the LotR movie, but not in the book, iirc.

Yep. So there's the bit, at the end of that first flight from the Shire to Rivendell, when they reach the river at the Ford of Bruinen and the Black Riders are closing in. In the books, it's... Elrond? Elrond's son? Gandalf?? who calls the river and washes them away. (Killing their horses, only to have them return airborne. They fly now!) In the movie, Arwen makes that desperate dash to the Ford with Frodo on her horse, and calls the river to sweep away the Black Riders.

I think his name was Glorfindel. I'm not sure if he shows up much again.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Skip on December 01, 2020, 05:01:56 PM
I do know about Glorfindel. While he doesn't have many scenes in the novel, he's rather an important and powerful elf. My point was that the person interviewed completely overlooks Eowyn. I'd argue her courage was far greater and more admirable. Arwen was an elf, with all sorts of magical powers. Arwen didn't even actually do anything, except to conjure up Rivendell's natural defenses.

Eowyn, otoh, was a mortal who went toe-to-toe with the Lord of the Nine. She did so not really knowing she had any chance of surviving. All she had was her courage and her determination to protect one small hobbit. Not because he was particularly important, certainly not the bearer of the One Ring, but simply because she had brought him and she had promised to take care of him.

How could anyone looking for female role models in fantasy fail to consider Eowyn? And fail to the extent that she is mortally offended by the gender switch in the movie (how dare the novel not follow the movie!) and was put off reading all fantasy for several years?

Yeesh.

I well realize Eowyn is a trope. Tolkien knew it too; much of his novel is about resurrecting long-lost tropes. But her protrayal is nevertheless deeply moving and not at all superfluous. She deserves better. I can't take seriously an author who, taking a stance as critic of the genre, neglects her.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Peat on December 01, 2020, 05:41:34 PM
Well I think there's two things here.

One is that Arwen's scene and non-scene take place in Fellowship. If the person in question put down LotR as a result of this disappointment, they won't have got to Eowyn's in-book heroism, so it would kinda have been irrelevant. Which seems to be what happened.

Two is that this isn't an author giving their considered scholarly criticism about the genre and the books. This is an author recounting their (presumably youthful) kneejerk disappointment as a fan and what that encounter says about how people have interacted with the genre. Embellishing on that moment, or including qualifiers, would be dishonest.

And while I'll admit I'm a bit "Well couldn't you have just gone online/to a library and discover Alanna and Jill and Susan Sto Helit and Talia" and so on, it would be very hypocritical of me to say someone's emotional sense of being discouraged and wanting nothing more to do with something is a controllable mistake. So I won't. I wish people weren't like this, but we are.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Rostum on December 01, 2020, 07:20:15 PM
Colour me cynical but this smacks of the buoyed up enthusiasm of someone with no real interest and a deadline to meet.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Neveesandeh on December 02, 2020, 05:23:42 PM
I do know about Glorfindel. While he doesn't have many scenes in the novel, he's rather an important and powerful elf. My point was that the person interviewed completely overlooks Eowyn. I'd argue her courage was far greater and more admirable. Arwen was an elf, with all sorts of magical powers. Arwen didn't even actually do anything, except to conjure up Rivendell's natural defenses.

Eowyn, otoh, was a mortal who went toe-to-toe with the Lord of the Nine. She did so not really knowing she had any chance of surviving. All she had was her courage and her determination to protect one small hobbit. Not because he was particularly important, certainly not the bearer of the One Ring, but simply because she had brought him and she had promised to take care of him.

How could anyone looking for female role models in fantasy fail to consider Eowyn? And fail to the extent that she is mortally offended by the gender switch in the movie (how dare the novel not follow the movie!) and was put off reading all fantasy for several years?

Yeesh.

I well realize Eowyn is a trope. Tolkien knew it too; much of his novel is about resurrecting long-lost tropes. But her protrayal is nevertheless deeply moving and not at all superfluous. She deserves better. I can't take seriously an author who, taking a stance as critic of the genre, neglects her.

Actually, that is a fair point.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: cupiscent on December 02, 2020, 10:10:21 PM
I agree with @Peat here. A reader is allowed to be disappointed because something that resonated wildly with her in the movie isn't there at all in the books. Yes, Eowyn is a fantastic character. Yes, I always loved her, from the first time I read the books at thirteen right up through my absolute fave Miranda Otto doing so wonderfully in the role. But for Samantha Shannon, Arwen resonated - a different sort of female character, doing a different sort of thing. Maybe, for her, what was amazing wasn't the "woman standing up and doing the male job" but the idea of a woman being in command of amazing forces of magic. That's FINE. That's her own thing.

She wasn't "looking for female role models in Lord of the Rings". She was having an emotional reaction to experiencing the story. She's allowed to do that. It's the entire point of stories.

Also, none of that changes the mildly outrageous fact that there are a couple dozen named male characters doing different things in different ways in the Lord of the Rings, but we're saying, "Why is she complaining about that woman not doing stuff? There's A WHOLE OTHER WOMAN DOING STUFF." Seriously? Don't complain, there's another one? Gosh.

Sorry, I'm really not wanting to jump down anyone's throat here, but this entire thing is exactly why Shannon went, "I want to write fantasy fiction with lots of women." And more power to her. I love Eowyn, but I still want to write (and read!) fantasy fiction with lots of women.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Bender on December 03, 2020, 04:22:56 AM
Leaving obvious sexism in industry aside, is racism really an equally big of an issue? There was an article about Sanderson in papers recently where he mentions how he got depressed with failures to get published and pushed through it before landing a deal.

Even in SPFBO I recall Mark making posts on how women authors are getting featured more prominently in later rounds, but I don't recall anything on authors of color.

Note: I'm not denying racism, but just saying I don't recall much on that aspect.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Peat on December 03, 2020, 12:54:24 PM
Leaving obvious sexism in industry aside, is racism really an equally big of an issue? There was an article about Sanderson in papers recently where he mentions how he got depressed with failures to get published and pushed through it before landing a deal.

Even in SPFBO I recall Mark making posts on how women authors are getting featured more prominently in later rounds, but I don't recall anything on authors of color.

Note: I'm not denying racism, but just saying I don't recall much on that aspect.

This post might be talking out of its arse as I'm not deep in the industry, and I am white and male, but -

I think being a non-white person from the Anglosphere carries more difficulties than being a woman in publishing.

Being a woman gets some knocks for sure - see the stuff about getting funneled towards YA, or authors being creepy pervs at cons, or the various outbursts of maladjusted nerds on the intarwebz, or I guess the Arwen thing here - but women have been a part of the fantasy industry for a long time, a lot of the publishing industry are women, a decent amount of the big name authors are women, there's a lot of iconic female characters and even just straight up female orientated books (although there's been change there recently). If you're a white woman in fantasy then you know your path to success (even if you might not like your most obvious path to success), you will meet a lot of people just like you, you will have a lot of people rooting for you.

If you're not white... well, I am at a complete loss as to how you're treated at cons. I do know there is a funneling towards "Own Voices" (although I'd note a decent amount of East Asian authors have made their bones away from that), I do know you can get it in the neck from your own community for "not being authentic enough" as well as whatever racism you receive... but a lot of the experience, I just don't know about. What I do know though is that PoC are a trailblazing generation in terms of fantasy authorship (which is not to say those ahead of them weren't trailblazers too, but a few individuals here and there still leave plenty of trail to blaze), there's not many non-white people in the publishing industry, and everyone's worried about your economic viability. Still.

Part of me suspects that in some ways women wade through more shit because nobody wants to be labelled racist but you can still get away with a bunch of shit against women, plus the whole sexual factor. But I think the ways that shit mounts up has nothing on the history of systematic racial bias that's left the Fantasy industry rather unprepared for the fact that non-white people are interested.

I'd also add that the Arwen thing, while understanding the emotions involved, is something a determined and selective female reader need never experience again. Go read Le Guin, go read Hobb (particularly as Lindholm), reader Pratchett's Witches trilogy, read Pierce, read Lackey, read Cherryh, read Mists of Avalon if you can get past who Bradley was, and so on. But if you're not white, and you read fantasy wondering where the people like you are, until about 2010 there was pretty much nothing but tumbleweed. And I think that's the bigger deal.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Rostum on December 03, 2020, 02:49:53 PM
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Leaving obvious sexism in industry aside, is racism really an equally big of an issue? There was an article about Sanderson in papers recently where he mentions how he got depressed with failures to get published and pushed through it before landing a deal.

We come to this place every once in a while. The publishing industry if not female dominated is close to. Certainly the people you want on your team as a fantasy writer are largely female from editors to agents. The big resellers are also largely staffed with Women. If racism is an issue I would suggest it is less of an issue than it has ever been in the UK, I can't really speak for anywhere else. There are competitions and prizes exclusively for women and for BAME and a surprising number for immigrants to the UK.

The truth is it is damn hard to get published. From memory, it is less than 1 in 200 manuscripts get picked up in the Fantasy and Science Fiction categories.

Quote
Even in SPFBO I recall Mark making posts on how women authors are getting featured more prominently in later rounds, but I don't recall anything on authors of color.

Marks data has a lot of tolerance in it because about 15% of entries supply (usually) 2 initials and a surname, but the split is more men from memory. From the data he collects I am not sure anyone's ethnicity could be determined. I think that the book must be in English is a barrier to some authors outside the English-speaking world. Oh, and I don't know currently but a couple of years back a majority of the judges/readers were women.

Quote
Note: I'm not denying racism, but just saying I don't recall much on that aspect.


I think if you make everything about race you will find racism. This is why I have great dislike for Woke and its anti-racist stance. Where leading a good life and doing no harm makes you a racist because you don't virtue signal your allegiance and through some twisted logic makes it OK for pasty white kids dressed in black to scream racist abuse at black police officers. I would much rather it was about the writing than the person doing it.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Neveesandeh on December 03, 2020, 09:11:49 PM
I have to say that pretty much every novel I have ever read was edited by a woman. I don't know if this is a common thing, but it's definitely something I have noticed.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: cupiscent on December 03, 2020, 10:27:42 PM
I've heard NK Jemisin talk about her early career and race obstructions. Specifically, she wrote the Dreamblood duo first, but was straight up told "we don't know who the audience is for this" because there was a (US) publishing-industry assumption that black folk didn't read fantasy, and white folk didn't want Egyptian-esque fantasy. Obviously both of those things are utterly wrong, but that's why that duology didn't get published until after she broke out with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I don't think it can be stressed enough how far SFF fandom has come in the last twenty/thirty years in terms of being welcoming of more diverse readers, authors and stories.

There's still, I think, a bit of bias in terms of "readership" - i.e. who the book is pitched at. I've heard various authors writing in non-white-western mileaus getting editor feedback that the setting "isn't enough" of the exotic thing, because it doesn't have the markers that a white-Western audience expects. (e.g. Never mind the heavy themes of "ancestor honouring" and duty, and the inclusion of Chinese-folklore ghosts, you don't specifically mention chopsticks and therefore it's not vividly Chinese.)  And Peat's raised the matter of "authenticity" that can really be a pain for minority authors writing their own experience. It's all still a minefield. But I think we're doing a bit better.

I have to say that pretty much every novel I have ever read was edited by a woman. I don't know if this is a common thing, but it's definitely something I have noticed.

Yes, this is definitely a thing. A lot of the working editors in speculative fiction are female. But I get the idea that most of the publishing executives / buying editors are still male. Yes, every long-form editor on the Hugo ballot this year was female. But at least two of them were laid off this year, and another had resigned/switched houses. Women are definitely doing the work. I don't know if they are controlling the money/power and making the decisions.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Peat on December 04, 2020, 01:07:55 AM
I've heard NK Jemisin talk about her early career and race obstructions. Specifically, she wrote the Dreamblood duo first, but was straight up told "we don't know who the audience is for this" because there was a (US) publishing-industry assumption that black folk didn't read fantasy, and white folk didn't want Egyptian-esque fantasy. Obviously both of those things are utterly wrong, but that's why that duology didn't get published until after she broke out with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Oh! Now that explains a lot about how unpolished that book felt compared to her rep.

I'd also suggest that maybe the publishing industry assumptions weren't *that* wrong about where the market was for Dreamblood, given that The Killing Moon has far less ratings than any of Jemisin's other series starters (The Broken Kingdom has nearly twice as many ratings and twice as many editions). Given how much less read than her other books it is, maybe it wouldn't have succeeded as her first book, and maybe she wouldn't have got a second series.

Quote
There's still, I think, a bit of bias in terms of "readership" - i.e. who the book is pitched at. I've heard various authors writing in non-white-western mileaus getting editor feedback that the setting "isn't enough" of the exotic thing, because it doesn't have the markers that a white-Western audience expects. (e.g. Never mind the heavy themes of "ancestor honouring" and duty, and the inclusion of Chinese-folklore ghosts, you don't specifically mention chopsticks and therefore it's not vividly Chinese.)

Well that's just bewildering and enraging... but then I hear about people going "So what historical event does X book" correspond to, and again, I'm not a 100% sure the editors are in the wrong about what the wider public want. Or at least, not consistently. I'm sure some of what they're saying are big mistakes... and in some cases, if they weren't saying it, books would flop as of today.
Title: Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
Post by: Rostum on December 05, 2020, 07:33:54 AM
At the end of the day a professional makes a decision about whether they can make any money from a manuscript. This is rarely based on quality of writing or content, theme or prose but on what an editor let loose can do. Lets face it mediocre vampire and werewolf soft porn outsells most SFF ten to one.