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Following the recent announcement of the 2015 David Gemmell Legend Award winners I thought I'd bring up a topic that's been circulating hotly around the internet for the last few months.

 

Is the fantasy/science fiction genre really dominated by white males? Why?

 

There are of course plenty of arguments both for and against; but the majority of the internet seems to be clamouring for a fairer representation of gender and race in awards such as the DGLAs. These awards - along with many 'recommended' lists by both authors and bloggers - do seem to be dominated by this single demographic.

 

The debate was sparked earlier this year, when the Hugo Awards were surrounded by a controversy that came to be dubbed 'Puppygate'. I don't claim to know all the finer details, but it boils down to the fact that a couple of authors who had been previously nominated for the award believed that the only reason they didn't win was because the voting was stacked in favour of minority authors. They started a campaign, calling themselves the 'Sad Puppies', claiming that the 'true spirit' of the Hugos (i.e. celebrating 'fun and traditional' science fiction) was being taken over by women, LGBTQ and people of colour, and that these people were only getting the votes because of their gender, race or sexual preference. This campaign encouraged people who sympathised with this view to vote only for authors the Sad Puppies told them to, which of course excluded most of the minorities mentioned above.

 

The Gemmell Awards have also been criticised because all but one of this year's shortlisted authors falls into the 'white male' category.

 

I found it interesting that, when reviewing my own reading so far in 2015, 33 of the books I've read were indeed written by (white) men, while 5 were written by (white) women. Although I never actually consider the gender or race of an author before reading a book, I've come to realise that maybe I should; and that maybe I should make more of an effort to balance out the kinds of authors I read, particularly since I also publicise my reviews on my own personal blog (which, looking at my review archive since starting the blog in 2013, does lean heavily and embarrassingly in favour of white male authors).

 

With this in mind, I'm interested to know what people's opinions are about the following: 

 

  • The Hugo Awards/'Sad Puppies' controversy?
  • The Gemmell Award shortlisting?
  • How different genders/races/sexualities influence and/or are represented in your own reading?
  • The SFF genre and how certain authors are 'pushed' on readers (e.g. Amazon recommendations, prominent displays in Waterstones, etc.)?
  • Anything else you may have come across relating to other issues in this genre?

 

There's a really good article here on Fantasy Faction summing up the Hugo stuff, along with several others elsewhere on the site for those who are interested.

 

I look forward to hearing people's thoughts!

 

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I've heard a few things about this Sad Puppies thing (well, rather, I saw one video discussing it).

 

I'm not feeling brilliant at the moment so I'm only going to reply to some of the things you mention, of which I know what I think of them without thinking it through as much (if that makes sense), and leave the more political things that require more research for a later time.

 

I think it is true that white male authors seem to be more prevalent in the SFF genre. They are being pushed more by shops like Amazon and others, than perhaps female, non-white or LGBTQ authors. I do think this is true. It relates a bit to chesilbeach's thread on Meet the Male Writers who Hide their Gender to attract Female Readers.

 

For myself, my reading is split about evenly between male and female authors. I haven't researched it, but I believe most of them will be white. When looking solely at the SFF genre though, out of what I've read this year so far, currently 63 books have male authors, 17 have female authors and 22 have authors where there's at least one male and one female. I get an overall 50-50% balance because of for example with contemporary fiction I read more female authors (I think), and for rom-com that's definitely the case. Some genres are marketed for male or females and have more female or male authors. There's no reason why women couldn't write SFF or why men couldn't write a romantic book, or why women couldn't enjoy SFF and why men couldn't enjoy a romantic book. It's all based on stupid stereotypes :banghead:.

 

I think shops should also recommend SFF books by ie. female authors. It's the book that matters, not whether the person who wrote it is a male or a female. I think the shops might just think that a male's SFF books sell better? I bet it has to do with money.

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  • How different genders/races/sexualities influence and/or are represented in your own reading?

 

I look forward to hearing people's thoughts!

 

 

. Some genres are marketed for male or females and have more female or male authors. There's no reason why women couldn't write SFF or why men couldn't write a romantic book, or why women couldn't enjoy SFF and why men couldn't enjoy a romantic book. It's all based on stupid stereotypes :banghead:.

 

 

 

I hope this isn't off-topic, since you ask about gender specifically.

But, I like to think it is quality of story-telling and style of writing that attract me to books, and that these important considerations somehow get lost in these discussions.

I like Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Marguerite Duras, William Faulkner, James Salter, John Banville. and J.D. Salinger.

On the other hand, Celia Ahern and Paulo Coelho both drive me up the absolute wall and make me gag.

In science fiction, I have liked Day of the Triffids, Ender's Game and Canticle for Leibowitz.

Among authors unknown to me, I gladly pick up books by women writers, e.g. Stella Rimington and Clarice Lispector.

If men are indeed ignoring high quality books by women, then that is truly a sad day and I share your unhappiness.

Paul

Edited by Paul

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Paul, agreed.  It's the quality of writing and one's taste that are involved, not the gender.  Although I have to admit I do tend to favor male writers.  If I had to analyze my reasoning I'd have to say that, in my experience, male authors are more direct.  Of course that is a generalization, but one I've found to be somewhat accurate.  And then there is Patricia Highsmith. :)

 

There is one female sci-fi author, that wrote under a male name for, I believe, all of her career.  James Tiptree, Jr. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree,_Jr.   Not to mention Andre Norton......https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree,_Jr.

 

Why?  Because they knew that their acceptance would be nil as a female writer of, especially, science fiction. 

And that just stinks. :(

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I completely agree, Kate - I think I mentioned elsewhere how a couple of my favourite authors, both women, seem to try and hide their gender by using their initials (namely C J Cherryh and R M Meluch).  It really shouldn't be the case :irked:

 

If I want to read a book then it doesn't matter who wrote it, what gender they are, what colour their skin is, what planet they come from (although I might draw the limit at Plutonians, seeing as it's not a planet anymore  :P  :D  ).  As far as I can see, the only SFF books the shops are pushing at me every time I go in are those by George RR fudgeing Martin and Brandon fudgeing Sanderson, and fortunately I know what I'm looking for and walk straight past them.  And thank God for that word filter  :lol:

 

Besides, I can think of many women who have either been nominated for or won a Hugo: Anne McAffrey, Ursula Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, C J Cherryh, Susanna Clark, Sheri Tepper, Connie Willis, Jo Walton, Ann Leckie just last year.  Probably many others that I've forgotten.  And that's just in the Best Novel category :shrug:

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I don't really know what to think.  As a kid I enjoyed books by Andre Norton, and as I got older I read every SF book that came to hand, including Anne Macaffrey,  (not her fantasy stuff though) Joanna Russ and Ursula K Leguin, and Margaret Atwood. Only recently I discovered Sheri S. Tepper. On the male side I really liked Roger Zelaney, Jack Vance, JG Ballard, Frank Herbert, Samuel R .Delaney, and Michael Moorcock. I never differentiated between them. If I liked an author's style I would look for more.

I think its a shame whenever politics of any stripe has to poke it's head into somewhere it needn't.

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I hope this isn't off-topic, since you ask about gender specifically.

But, I like to think it is quality of story-telling and style of writing that attract me to books, and that these important considerations somehow get lost in these discussions.

...

 

If men are indeed ignoring high quality books by women, then that is truly a sad day and I share your unhappiness.

 

I like to think the same thing, which is why I'm not weighing in on this debate too heavily. But one of the main arguments that seems to be circulated by others isn't always that readers are making these sorts of decisions, but the people responsible for putting the books out there in the first place. Of course there are tonnes of excellent female writers in the genre, but it could be said that we as readers don't have the opportunity to discover them because the market focuses too much on works by males.

 

I think, rather than suggesting people pick up a book exclusively because it's written by a woman (which is essentially just as discriminatory as the opposite, and is exactly the sort of thing the 'Sad Puppies' were supposedly arguing against), I'd just suggest that maybe people take a little more time to look at what's on offer. Like Gaia said, a lot of the 'highly recommended' texts online and in bookshops do very frequently 'happen' to be written by white males; so perhaps, in addition to looking at these, maybe if people shopped around a little bit more then 'other' writers would get the widespread publicity they deserve, and the divide wouldn't be quite so noticeable. :)

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I think its a shame whenever politics of any stripe has to poke it's head into somewhere it needn't.

 

As do I. But it was more the fact that these conservative writers appeared to be lobbying against fair representation in the genre, and claiming 'anti-majority' politicking when in fact there was none, that really made me sit back and re-assess my own reading habits, and also wonder why this particular genre is struggling so much with this sort of thing in this day and age.

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If I want to read a book then it doesn't matter who wrote it, what gender they are, what colour their skin is, what planet they come from (although I might draw the limit at Plutonians, seeing as it's not a planet anymore  :P  :D  ).  As far as I can see, the only SFF books the shops are pushing at me every time I go in are those by George RR fudgeing Martin and Brandon fudgeing Sanderson, and fortunately I know what I'm looking for and walk straight past them.  And thank God for that word filter  :lol:

 

This is exactly what people are talking about. Many people, either new to the genre or unwilling to look any further into it, will read only these books, and then recommend them to others, who will also only read these kinds of books . . . It just seems unfair that others aren't even being given a fighting chance to get their names out there.

 

 

 

 

Besides, I can think of many women who have either been nominated for or won a Hugo: Anne McAffrey, Ursula Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, C J Cherryh, Susanna Clark, Sheri Tepper, Connie Willis, Jo Walton, Ann Leckie just last year.  Probably many others that I've forgotten.  And that's just in the Best Novel category :shrug:

 

I think the Sad Puppies' main 'concern' was that the most recent Hugo shortlists were deliberately skewed in favour of women, in the interests of pushing gender equality instead of focusing on the quality of writing. :shrug: Whereas the Gemmells have been criticised for the exact opposite . . .

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I'm not feeling brilliant at the moment so I'm only going to reply to some of the things you mention, of which I know what I think of them without thinking it through as much (if that makes sense), and leave the more political things that require more research for a later time.

 

I think it is true that white male authors seem to be more prevalent in the SFF genre. They are being pushed more by shops like Amazon and others, than perhaps female, non-white or LGBTQ authors. I do think this is true. It relates a bit to chesilbeach's thread on Meet the Male Writers who Hide their Gender to attract Female Readers.

 

Sorry to hear you're not feeling great. :( I totally understand, and hope you feel better soon! Thanks for weighing in anyway. :D

 

Isn't it funny how it's the exact opposite in this genre to those authors in Claire's thread? I still find it bizarre that, in this day and age, it's necessary for people to pretend they're something they're not because consumers judge art in terms of something as arbitrary as the creator's gender.

 

 

For myself, my reading is split about evenly between male and female authors. I haven't researched it, but I believe most of them will be white. When looking solely at the SFF genre though, out of what I've read this year so far, currently 63 books have male authors, 17 have female authors and 22 have authors where there's at least one male and one female. I get an overall 50-50% balance because of for example with contemporary fiction I read more female authors (I think), and for rom-com that's definitely the case. Some genres are marketed for male or females and have more female or male authors. There's no reason why women couldn't write SFF or why men couldn't write a romantic book, or why women couldn't enjoy SFF and why men couldn't enjoy a romantic book. It's all based on stupid stereotypes :banghead:.

 

I think shops should also recommend SFF books by ie. female authors. It's the book that matters, not whether the person who wrote it is a male or a female. I think the shops might just think that a male's SFF books sell better? I bet it has to do with money.

 

It's good to know that your reading in this genre has been slightly uneven too, and that regardless of this you don't judge a book by the gender of the person who writes it. I think this is one of the overriding concerns of those taking part in this debate: that reading so many books by white male authors is something that we do without even realising it. It's not suggesting that us readers are sexist (at least, most of us aren't!), it's more that the established hegemony (is that the right word?) of what is 'popular' is dangerously ingrained and needs to change.

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Paul, agreed.  It's the quality of writing and one's taste that are involved, not the gender.  Although I have to admit I do tend to favor male writers.  If I had to analyze my reasoning I'd have to say that, in my experience, male authors are more direct.  Of course that is a generalization, but one I've found to be somewhat accurate.  And then there is Patricia Highsmith. :)

 

There is one female sci-fi author, that wrote under a male name for, I believe, all of her career.  James Tiptree, Jr. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree,_Jr.   Not to mention Andre Norton......https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree,_Jr.

 

Why?  Because they knew that their acceptance would be nil as a female writer of, especially, science fiction. 

And that just stinks. :(

 

It does stink! I really like the idea of everyone publishing under a gender neutral pseudonym (like the people in Claire's article), yet at the same time rail against the necessity of having to think like this at all.

 

I too seem to (overwhelmingly) favour male writers, but the only reason I can think of is that their books and series have been brought to my attention the most frequently. I'll keep my eye out for how direct they are in future though!

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This is exactly what people are talking about. Many people, either new to the genre or unwilling to look any further into it, will read only these books, and then recommend them to others, who will also only read these kinds of books . . . It just seems unfair that others aren't even being given a fighting chance to get their names out there.

 

It's not 'exactly what people are talking about' at all, because they're not complaining about GRRM and BS being pushed ahead of others, if what you say is true - they're complaining about the awards being skewed towards women - again, not true. 

 

 

I think the Sad Puppies' main 'concern' was that the most recent Hugo shortlists were deliberately skewed in favour of women, in the interests of pushing gender equality instead of focusing on the quality of writing. :shrug: Whereas the Gemmells have been criticised for the exact opposite . . .

 

Now I think you're just playing devil's advocate.  One only has to look at the nominations for the past few years to know that isn't true.    It's a load of old tosh conjured up by people who think they should've won but didn't.  Storm in a tea cup.  Maybe they should try writing better books.

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It's not 'exactly what people are talking about' at all, because they're not complaining about GRRM and BS being pushed ahead of others, if what you say is true - they're complaining about the awards being skewed towards women - again, not true. 

 

I didn't mean *those* people - I meant the bloggers currently discussing the topic on the internet.

 

Now I think you're just playing devil's advocate.  One only has to look at the nominations for the past few years to know that isn't true.    It's a load of old tosh conjured up by people who think they should've won but didn't.  Storm in a tea cup.  Maybe they should try writing better books.

 

I'm not advocating *anything* the so-called Sad Puppies are saying. I was simply summarising their main argument, and bringing up the point of the Gemmell vs. Hugo shortlisting to highlight the point that no matter what happens, there's always someone who's not happy.

 

ETA: And yes, I agree that they're just bitter that they didn't win, and the fact that they're attempting to skew the awards in the other direction just goes to show what massive hypocrites they are.

Edited by Signor Finzione

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I didn't mean *those* people - I meant the bloggers currently discussing the topic on the internet.

 

Hmm, I'm not sure I'd agree with them.  My hope with GRRM's success has always been that casual readers who have come to the books via the tv series or the general hype around it will read those books and then try other authors/series within the genre.  So, if that does happen - and I think it has -, I don't think there's a problem at all - I think it's a good thing.

 

The issue that has really been bothering me is that that science fiction in general is being marginalised in favour of fantasy.  Fantasy has become far and away the bigger genre over the past few years, probably since the success of the LotR films, and now GoT.  Fantasy, when it's done right, is fantastic, but science fiction is by far the more inventive, exciting genre, IMO, and it's steadily becoming the smaller of the two.  I'm not happy about that, at all.

Edited by Karsa Orlong

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I've been following some of the Hugo controversy via different authors (mainly Paul Cornell's Twitter posts, but also George RR Martin's blog) and I think it is sadly just a sign of the times that the result of even a major award can be manipulated by a well organised minority.  It's one thing when an online SFX magazine poll to find the best sci-fi film of all time is topped by Serenity, because of an organised fan campaign by the Browncoats*, but a major award really should look at their nomination and voting processes to try and eliminate this sort of manipulation, otherwise they risk losing all credibility (as has happened with the Hugo awards this year).

When it comes to female authors, I personally think some commentators are showing remarkably short term memories.  Yes, authors like George RR Martin are being pushed at the moment because their product is popular and bookshops need to sell books to stay in business, but it's not so long ago that it was Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling who were hogging store displays and even today two of the most prominent SFF franchise - that are based on books - have been written by women (Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth), so it's not all bad.

I think part of the driving force behind the debate about the lack of visibility/opportunities/availability of women authors in general is that there are suddenly a lot more women who are interested in purchasing SFF than there was, say, 20 years ago.  The mainstream popularity of TV programs such as Buffy and Doctor Who; books series such as Harry Potter and Twilight and even superhero films such as Iron Man and The Dark Knight have brought a new female audience into a genre that was previously seen as a largely male only demographic and I think that some sections of the industry have been slow to grasp that (look at the on-going fuss about Black Widow in the latest Avengers film, that has now spilled over onto the DVD cover which only features Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk.  If Disney (who aren't exactly amateurs when it comes to marketing products for females) can screw things up, I guess some work is still required somewhere.

I also think some of the points made above are very valid.  I spend quite a bit of time in my local Waterstone's and my general perception is that people don't seem to spend a lot of time browsing books these days.  A lot of people seem to go into book shops knowing what they want before they get there (because of a recommendation or they have researched it on the net) and they don't stop to look at other options outside of what they are after.  Looking at the shelves in my local, there are a lot of SFF books by female authors, you just have to take the time to find them.  I guess, in part, that if you want more books by women authors you need to find the good ones and then get out there and bang a drum for them.

Personally, I think I can say hand-on-heart that with one exception** the sex, colour or orientation of the author has never been a factor in my book buying or reading; I've always chosen the story I like the sound of next.  Having said that, looking at my book blog on here, since I joined in 2008 of the 152 books I've read in that time only 16 have been by female authors (and 7 of them were the Harry Potter books!).  That may be changing, though, as I am now following some authors on Twitter which has led me to recently try novels by Jen Williams (SFF) and Robin Stevens (non-SFF).

*They also manipulated and won the Film of the Year in the BBC's Film 2005 vote, but as the runner up was Revenge of the Sith I'm not complaining!
**There was a period when I shied away from female fantasy authors after reading two rather twee/dull novels on the bounce.  I've since found one that isn't either of those things, however.

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The issue that has really been bothering me is that that science fiction in general is being marginalised in favour of fantasy.  Fantasy has become far and away the bigger genre over the past few years, probably since the success of the LotR films, and now GoT.  Fantasy, when it's done right, is fantastic, but science fiction is by far the more inventive, exciting genre, IMO, and it's steadily becoming the smaller of the two.  I'm not happy about that, at all.

 

There are probably more than a few fantasy fans out there who are thinking "it's about time that worm turned!"

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There are probably more than a few fantasy fans out there who are thinking "it's about time that worm turned!"

 

They won't be so pleased with themselves when the aliens arrive . . . 

 

spacecraft_zpsfef47e3c.gif

 

 

:giggle2:

 

 

Thanks to Janet for that one  :D

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I also think some of the points made above are very valid.  I spend quite a bit of time in my local Waterstone's and my general perception is that people don't seem to spend a lot of time browsing books these days.  A lot of people seem to go into book shops knowing what they want before they get there (because of a recommendation or they have researched it on the net) and they don't stop to look at other options outside of what they are after.  Looking at the shelves in my local, there are a lot of SFF books by female authors, you just have to take the time to find them.  I guess, in part, that if you want more books by women authors you need to find the good ones and then get out there and bang a drum for them.

 

Exactly, and I kind of feel like it's my duty to have a go at doing this a bit more in the future.

 

Really appreciate your points, Raven. :)

 

There are probably more than a few fantasy fans out there who are thinking "it's about time that worm turned!"

 

As a shamelessly die-hard fantasy fan I'm not complaining. :D But, I can totally understand where Steve's coming from. If it were the other way around I'd be majorly unhappy about it too.

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Exactly, and I kind of feel like it's my duty to have a go at doing this a bit more in the future.

 

I've done this to a certain extent with Bujold, Cherryh and Meluch, I think.  I'll bang the drum for them all day long.  And you've got some Bujold on the shelf there . . .   :D

 

Plus both you and I have read Elizabeth Bear recently.  I wasn't overly keen on the one I read, but she's got a SF trilogy which sounds quite intriguing, so I might give it a go at some point.  Another one I'm interested in is Elizabeth Moon - I really want to read The Speed of Dark.

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Exactly, and I kind of feel like it's my duty to have a go at doing this a bit more in the future.

 

The best way to help a writer is to write a positive review and get it out there, even if it's just on Amazon.

 

As a shamelessly die-hard fantasy fan I'm not complaining. :D But, I can totally understand where Steve's coming from. If it were the other way around I'd be majorly unhappy about it too.

 

It will swing the other way at some point, I suspect Star Wars may give space based science fiction a bit of a kick later in the year.

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I've done this to a certain extent with Bujold, Cherryh and Meluch, I think.  I'll bang the drum for them all day long.  And you've got some Bujold on the shelf there . . .   :D

 

I do! I have Curse of Chalion. :D I also have Cherryh's Fortress in the Eye of Time.

 

Plus both you and I have read Elizabeth Bear recently.  I wasn't overly keen on the one I read, but she's got a SF trilogy which sounds quite intriguing, so I might give it a go at some point.  Another one I'm interested in is Elizabeth Moon - I really want to read The Speed of Dark.

 

I haven't actually read my Elizabeth Bear yet (I have Range of Ghosts) but her work definitely sounds intriguing (even though I know you weren't massively blown away by the one you read). And I've had Moon's Paksenarrion omnibus on my TBR for ages. I might actually make a list of all these books I've bought but somehow never got around to reading . . .

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I might actually make a list of all these books I've bought but somehow never got around to reading . . .

 

A TBR list?  That way lies madness  :D

 

Funny, I could've sworn you'd read the Bear book  :doh:   What's interesting about a lot of the women mentioned is that they seem to cross genres between fantasy and SF a lot.  The male authors don't seem to do that anywhere near as much  :smile:

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Some great posts here :).

 

There are probably more than a few fantasy fans out there who are thinking "it's about time that worm turned!"

 

It's interesting, when I was in a Waterstone's in the UK quite a few years ago, there was a lot of science-fiction, possibly even more than fantasy (it was called 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' above the shelves), whereas in the Netherlands science-fiction isn't a popular genre at all. There aren't many SF books being written in Dutch, and only a few get translated. What we do see a lot is Young-Adult dystopians, like The Hunger Games, but in terms of other adult SF, there isn't much of it at all. Most of the books in a book shop in the 'Fantasy & SF' section are fantasy books, with very few SF books. This is why it took me so long to discover this genre, there just isn't much of it here! I discovered the genre because my boyfriend's brother introduced me to Peter F. Hamilton and Joe Haldeman. I read The Night's Dawn trilogy and I knew I wanted to read more science-fiction. Aside from the YA stuff, out of my adult science-fiction almost all of the books I own in the genre are English, I only own a couple of books translated into Dutch.

 

Plus both you and I have read Elizabeth Bear recently.  I wasn't overly keen on the one I read, but she's got a SF trilogy which sounds quite intriguing, so I might give it a go at some point.  Another one I'm interested in is Elizabeth Moon - I really want to read The Speed of Dark.

 

I loved The Speed of Dark. I know you and I don't always agree on books, so you can take my opinion however you like, but I really liked the book, personally. Don't blame me though if you don't enjoy it :hide:.

 

I haven't actually read my Elizabeth Bear yet (I have Range of Ghosts) but her work definitely sounds intriguing (even though I know you weren't massively blown away by the one you read). And I've had Moon's Paksenarrion omnibus on my TBR for ages. I might actually make a list of all these books I've bought but somehow never got around to reading . . .

I've got that same omnibus on my TBR! I bought it after loving The Speed of Dark (though I realise they are two different genre books).

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Here's what I've come to see as the reason behind stuff like this. Not the whole picture, but I think there's a lot of truth to it. 

 

Scifi/fantasy, unlike romance, isn't marketed almost entirely towards women. Any genre of any form of entertainment that isn't specifically marketed towards women will under-represent them to some degree. Why? Because, from an early age, women are expected to read and enjoy stories about boys and men. Women will read books with both male and female protagonists, written by writers of either gender. They don't care, they're used to it, even if it frustrates them that there aren't enough "girl" books around it doesn't diminish their love for the "boy" books, and they'll still have no problem empathizing with and rooting for male characters doing male things. 

 

Boys and, by extension, grown men are never expected to do this. There's this mentality that's so prevalent in our society that boys need to be allowed an immediate "out" from anything that's too girly to interest them, to the point that it's assumed they're not interested before they're even asked. I experienced it myself growing up, and I continue to experience it. I can't tell you the amount of times the movie Mean Girls comes up and people are surprised I love it, because I'm a guy, and it's not even that "girly." Does anybody act shocked when a girl likes action adventure type movies with male leads, like Deadpool or Inception? No, they don't. 

 

Thus, books with female protagonists, that have heavy romance elements, that focus on family relationships, that explore social issues, that are low on action and violence, aren't given the recognition that maybe they deserve even if they sell alright and are critically well received by women readers. And these are the types of books female authors in the genre tend to write a lot of, because it interests them, and because they're trying to change the status quo and get the kinds of stories out there that they aren't seeing. Scifi/fantasy can do anything any other genre can do, you can write a fantasy romance family drama, but by doing so you are immediately marginalizing your book and limiting its audience, because the average man won't read it and that's half the population out the window. It's hard to win awards and recognition if only half the population will even give your book a chance. If you write a more "traditional," male-centered story both genders will read it, as long as it doesn't skew so heavily towards machismo that it becomes a ridiculous Duke Nukem-esque parody of masculinity.

 

Alphabet of Thorn is one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time, it has a super high average rating on goodreads. It's fantasy, but there's no action, no violence, and the entire story is about a really unusual daughter/mother relationship across time that resolves itself with feelings of familial love rather than at sword point. Ask a fantasy fan if they've read it, or even heard about it, and their answer will almost entirely depend on their gender, at least in my experience.

 

And for anyone bringing up exceptions to the rule, like Le Guin, or Rowling, they are, well, exceptions. Rowling had to hide the fact that she was a woman, and Le Guin has come to realize in recent years that when she wrote Earthsea, she was writing a story for boys and she didn't even know she was doing it, such is the prevalence of this bias. Those were the kinds of books that she had read, and she thought that's just what a story was. The idea of writing a story centered around the female experience didn't even occur to her, and she's a woman. 

Edited by davidh219

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