11 February, 2011

It's News To Me #4

There's some heated debate going on at Fantasy Literature and I thought I'd bring it over here too if you haven't seen it already.

Justin made an offhand comment in a post regarding an article by N.K. Jemison about Feminism in Epic Fantasy saying he might have agreed with her 15 years ago but that it's not really the case now.

Then Ruth rebuts with a list of male-centric works (which I pointed out most of which at least started over 15 years ago).

This is a tough question to get to the bottom of. Have we changed in the last 15 years with works like Sanderson's Mistborn, Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, Shadowmarch, Shadows of the Apt, I would even put in Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen?

I think, and this is the lawyer part of me, that the most that can be said is we've gotten a bit better, but I still don't even know if I can say that because there are plenty of non-male-centric books out there that were written earlier than 15 years ago. Dragonriders of Pern, Dragon Prince (male leads but very strong female characters), and some more listed in the comments to Ruth's post.

Either side you're on there will be plenty of evidence to show the contrary, so maybe we should just attack the premise in general. Does that mean we shouldn't argue it? Of course not. :)

I think Mark Charan Newton has also brought this issue up a few times (although that link isn't exactly what I was looking for).

Any thoughts?

And that's the news...at least to me.


Claudine said...

Who cares? Really? I'm a 41yo female who has been reading epic sci-fi/fantasy since I first picked up Tolkien at the age of 8. I don't look at whether the characters are male or female. I look at how the story is written. If it bores me to tears I toss it in the junk pile. If it's good, I keep reading it.

I realise this might be a minority opinion (I have many of those) or it may just be that I have a male-centric brain in a female body. However, I find that women fantasy and sci-fi writers tend to shy away from the action, from describing in a neutral voice acts of despicable violence. Males do it better.

There's a time and place for the feminist bra burning brigade to make a noise. Changing the face of sci-fi or fantasy just because they want to see more female main characters is not one.

Alec said...

@ Claudine

Agree in part, disagree in part.

Bias is a pretty insidious thing. The subtlety of it means that it is accepted pretty readily and without question.

As citizens of the 21st century I think we owe it to ourselves and to our kids to read critically, even when we are reading for fun.