Saturday, April 16, 2011

GRRM, Salon respond to negative GOT reviews

Go George!

It seems George R.R. Martin himself has responded to the critical New York Times review referenced in my last post. Cool to see. From his livejournal post:

I am not going to get into it myself, except to say(1) if I am writing "boy fiction," who are all those boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at my signings and readings?

and(2) thank you, geek girls! I love you all.

And Salon's firing back too. From that piece:

Patterson's Slate review, titled "Quasi-Medieval, Dragon-Ridden Fantasy Crap: Art Thou Prepared to Watch 'Game of Thrones'?" is less a review than a creative writing exercise, penned in the style of....well, it's hard to say what, exactly. It's not a parody of George R.R. Martin's prose, which tends to avoid the turgid, translated-from-the-ancient-Hobbitesese diction that marks inferior sword-and-sorcery novels. It seems more like a goof on what Patterson imagines fantasy fiction to be.

Fantasy fans of the world, unite! Fight the power! Etc. etc. Now if we could only get Tolkien to respond to the likes of David Brin and Michael Moorcock from the great beyond...


Falze said...

I just got caught up on newspapers, including today's that featured a quite lengthy review from Hearst Newspapers. You could practically read it in the dark, it was that glowing. Additionally, the writer, David Wiegand, dwells almost not at all on the fact that it's a fantasy series, even when speculating at length on 'when the dragons will show up'. He mentions that while some might be turned off at the mere thought of "fantasy fiction", the writers avoided the typical "pitfalls" of the genre. Anyway, trying to find a link online I found a few other newspaper reviews that seem quite positive. Weird, one would have thought that the 'new media' outlets would be more accepting, but it's just the opposite.

David J. West said...

"the turgid, translated-from-the-ancient-Hobbitesese diction that marks inferior sword-and-sorcery novels."

Dollars to Dragons-he couldn't actually name anything-I sincerely doubt someone who tosses a remark like that out there, even reads in the genre and thus has no real critique that matters.

Atom Kid said... writes for people who neither read nor understand Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Come to think of it, I don't know any literati who take Salon seriously. I would consider it an honor to be criticized by a bunch of effete' twerps.

Brian Murphy said...

Yes, I debated even including the Salon defense, as they've engaged in quite a bit of vicious (and vacuous) mud-slinging at fantasy in the past. They probably saw blood in the water at the NYT and Slate and pounced.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Salon, oddly, also occasionally runs columns by Ethan Gilsdorf, author of the awkwardly named "Fantasy Freaks & Gameing Geeks".. It's actually a really good look at a lot of subcultures in the "Fantasy" Genre... and is not snarky or mean spirited about it at all... But it's pretty obvious to me that Gilsdorf isn't in on the joke because they are just running his bit for the people in the talk backs to make fun of.

They are a miserable e-rag, effectively.

Anonymous said...

This is a symptom of a common editorial sin: Assign a review/story on a genre to a writer who is contemptuous of the genre. The result is predictable.

Where this is intentional, it is simple sensationalism — pot-stirring and a deliberate attempt to either get a rise out of readers or to reassure the core readership of their superiority to the geeks/escapists/perjorative-of-your-choosing.

Where it is unintentional it is sloppy, bad journalism.

Honest reviews from writers who understand what they are writing about (and Ginia Bellafante clearly does not and does not wish to educate herself) should not be too difficult a standard to reach. And, to be fair, most of the media coverage on A Game of Thrones has been legit.

Of course it might be fun to get into the psychology behind the vitriol. Methinks something about the mythic is THREATENING to these folks...

Wonder what Carl Jung might have to say about that?

Jim Cornelius

Anonymous said...

Oh, and another thing...

I'd love to see a response to Bellafante's piece along the lines of Kurt Sutter's usual reaction to "journalists" he feels have unfairly gone after his love child, the most excellent "Sons of Anarchy."

I mean an off-the-chain, obscenity-laced, violent rant is juvenile, inappropriate — and sometimes just what is required.

Dave Cesarano said...

Considering Atom Kid's comment:

The sad thing is, the Salon article is (in my opinion) a very cogent point-by-point explanation as to why Bellafonte's and Patterson's reviews were basically garbage and a thorough rebuttal of all of their claims.

Nonetheless, I think what Anonymous said is totally relevant to why these papers ran those reviews, so I'll repost it in Anon's name:

Where this is intentional, it is simple sensationalism — pot-stirring and a deliberate attempt to either get a rise out of readers or to reassure the core readership of their superiority to the geeks/escapists/perjorative-of-your-choosing.

Right on, Anonymous. Never lose your Guy Fawkes mask.

Anarchivist said...

Hey there ... just wanted to say, a friend and I were discussing the appalling coverage of "Game of Thrones," and that led to my finding your blog. Coincidentally, I'm currently in a Robert E. Howard immersion, and looking to find solid analysis of his works. So I was thrilled to find your REH essays! Your links to other REH resources have also been very helpful. So many, many thanks!

For the record, I'm a woman. :)

Anonymous said...

Had an interesting conversation with a dear friend yesterday. She's an avid reader who can't stand fantasy.

Why? "Because there's nothing REAL about it."

She's so put off by the notion of creatures, magic, etc., that she HAS NEVER READ ANY. So, she really can't know whether she'd like it or not, right? I could reel off a few books, including Martin's, that I'm pretty damn sure she'd like a lot, but she'd never touch them.

That kind of ingrained prejudice (she doesn't know its origin) is what HBO has been combating with its "fantasy for people who don't like fantasy" pitch.

Reviews by and for people who nurture this ingrained prejudice simply reinforce it.

Fundamentally, though, it's their loss. I mean, really... let the bastards stand up against the wall at the dance.

In the words of Kris Kristofferson: "You're the only one that you are screwin'/When you put down what you don't understand..." (from If You Don't Like Hank Williams, You can Kiss My Ass).

Jim Cornelius

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have HBO, so I won't get to see this series. Jumping over from Ted Cross's blog!

Eric D. Lehman said...

I have never read the novels, and so I am excited to watch this unfold spoiler-free from the ground up.

The first episode was difficult in that there were so many characters, but the ending was just fantastic, and my wife and I are eagerly looking forward to the next installment.

I refuse to even read the New York Times review. I stopped reading wine reviews years ago, and it looks like I'll have to stop reading television reviews. Except on The Silver Key.

Anonymous said...


Overall, well done. I'll keep watching it. Peter Dinklage is the best thing in it, though I would watch Lena Headey recite the phone book, even in a funny hairdo. Actually, I'm a little put off by her "modernity" but that may just be me, with a too strong imprint from Sarah Connor.

Jason Mamoa is just awful — he's going to be abysmal as Conan. Looks good, but has zero charisma on the screen.

Sean Bean is great as usual. So is the king.

The world looks lived-in, which is a big deal to me for period pieces and fantasy. It tracks well with my vision of Martin's world.

Still... Not feeling captured like I was with Rome and Sons of Anarchy. That's a problem with the books, too. I never connected with any character to the point of really caring about what happens to them. Funny that a bunch of bikers can elicit that kind of attachment, but that's where it is.

It's an hour of good entertainment, but I don't see it being more than that for me. Kinda like Boardwalk Empire, interestingly enough...

Jim Cornelius