July 06, 2020, 11:30:41 AM

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy Ah, damn, here we go...

I really don't think it's sexist to dislike a book on those grounds because the author is female. If you dislike rape and eternal gloom, you um, sound like quite a nice chap really.  But, as many others have pointed out, part of what the book is doing is making a political statement that these things are uncomfortable, that the world, especial the female part of it, can be a thoroughly painful and uncomfortable place and we should realise that and try to confront it. Reading a nice safe book where those kind of questions aren't raised is arguably more sexist, to be extreme about it - it's a failure to confront the world as it is, a reluctance to engage with the reality of a lot of people's lives.

Most of my favourite female fantasy authors do engage with issues around male violence towards women to an extent - Le Guin in The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu, Elizabeth Moon in Sheepherder's Daughter - and the overly violent, stylised world of fantasy allows for this in a way genres like chick lit just don't. Female crime fiction, too, is heavily preoccupied with these issues. And there are fairly obvious reasons for that in both cases. The fact that it's fiction allows us to ask these questions in a safer way, and play with possibilities and outcomes. 

Personally, I found The Kingkiller Chronicle, and especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, far more problematic and uncomfortable to read as a feminist than a lot of 'rape and ultraviolence' grimdark novels. The character of Auri, in particular, I find profoundly voyeuristic - here's this damaged, clearly mentally ill young woman, and we're supposed to find her, what, kookie and appealing and romantic. The descriptions of her in Silent Things are clearly highly sexualised and objectified, yet somehow we're asked to assume it's fine to read lengthy descriptions of her naked because she's a child of nature. Not because she a vulnerable hotty in a very short dress, oh no. 

All writing cannot help but be political - writing interpolates the world, so it cannot not be ideologically charged. And all writing will on some level be about gender politics, because we're all trying to navigate gender identity and interpolate that too. And then the reader interpolates that interpolation, with their own ideological framework and gender identity.....

But no, disliking a book and its author being female doesn't make you sexist.

March 25, 2015, 08:55:40 PM
Re: Your favorite book titles This is all I can sodding think about now...

Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising is on of those titles that had haunted me for years.

The Saga of Noggin the Nog is just awesome. And, again not fantasy, but great fun, you probably can't beat the author/title combination Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock.

Going slightly off-topic, as a result of plugging my novel The Court of Broken Knives, I'm being followed on twitter on a cutlery shop.

March 28, 2015, 06:41:29 PM
Re: Favorite books that tackle social issues? Daniel Polansky's latest, Those Above, is profoundly Gramscian in its analysis of class hegemony and why people don't actually tend to resist authority, even authority hostile to them. There's social and class commentary in all his work, but Those Above really stands out for me. It's also damn good, of course, beautifully written and a good story.

Le Guin's Tehanu, the last Earthsea novel, is really profoundly good on gender politics and notions of gender identity and power. The character of Tenar and the way she is a part of, but also distanced from, the society she lives in is beautifully drawn and very moving. Again, it's also just an absolutely superb book.

And some historians have seriously argued that ASoIaF better captures the experience of the peasantry in pre-modern conflict societies than any actual social history.

April 01, 2015, 04:23:45 PM
Re: Avoiding writing, or: How many words didn't you write today? I'm completely paralysed waiting to hear back from publishers. Broken Knives is currently Schrödinger's cat: I haven't opened the box yet, so it's not actually dead. It's so hard writing number two whilst waiting for number one to be officially put down. And my husband insisted on watching the original Star Wars trilogy, so that was distracting.

But what I have written seems pretty good, if several hundred obscenities strung together with the odd innuendo thrown in technically counts as writing...

April 06, 2015, 09:39:51 AM