I mention George R R Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series a lot, both online and in real life.
The reason I love his work so much is that he’s not afraid to take risks with his characters. He is not afraid to kill off a beloved (or not) character, and does so frequently. When he killed off the first character who, if you haven’t read the series, you are led to believe is a main character, I was shocked. I’ve read an enormous pile of books since I began reading, so it takes a lot to shock me. That did, and it hooked me even further. So many authors are in love with their characters and couldn’t possibly bring them to harm, yet Martin constantly puts ALL of his characters into harm’s way with surprising results. The characters you like and dislike change constantly as events mould the story and the characters grow. I couldn’t stand Tyrion Lannister to begin with, yet once I finished reading he was without a doubt my favourite.
This book series has been made into a television series by HBO and the internet is on fire with nerd rage thanks to a review in the NY Times by Ginia Bellafante which insulted, offended and enraged women (and men) across the world with a sweeping generalisation:
“The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”
I find her review to be patronizingly elitist, as though any true woman wouldn’t want anything to do with the fantasy genre. Some of the best fantasy writers out there, in my opinion, are women.
Following this article, she posted today a response to the rebuttals she received. She apparently received hundreds of emails from people, some calling for her head, some calling her an idiot. She even posted tweets that other people had written about it, including one that I myself wrote – which is, I presume, why you are here reading this.
I can’t say I was happy to have woken to a barrage of tweets with my name in them, much less so to have my name and photo reproduced in a section of the NY Times (especially since I live in rural Australia), but ok, fine. I’ll own it. In the end I may actually owe her a favour, I’ve had hundreds of hits today.