Friday, 22 May 2020

Friday Five With Added Grouchiness

1) Last Friday, somebody tweeted about the lack of female authors writing fantasy outside of YA. While this somewhat merited the explosion of "you don't know about these!" (only somewhat), it nevertheless does point at an uncomfortable sore point for the genre in that how we treat and talk about authors does swing a fair amount by who they were born. Point in case - the number of female authors placed or encouraged towards YA when they probably shouldn't be is a well known travesty. The result? People thinking there's no female authors outside of YA. Part of that is ignorance (call me unforgiving, but if you can comment on twitter you can search for what want in your browser), but part of it is people having engrained habits from what they see. And as I've learned recently on twitter, that's a long way from being the worst women get for being in this genre. Some people need to check their empathy chips still function to say the least. If nothing else, they'd probably get even better fiction for doing so. 

2) My favourite reaction to that post came from the blogger Asha who made this fantastic tweet thread. It's recs on a bit of everything but mainly about women writing fantasy with non-teenage protagonists. I haven't looked at it yet because I'd forgot to bookmark it, but I've put that straight now. I'm particularly intrigued by her pitch for Daughter of the Sun. However, it's really not hard to find other recommendations; put -"young adult" -ya on your search if you really don't want it. Doesn't work perfectly but it'll get you places. You can also find them on most blogs, both in dedicated articles and in random lists. You can find them at this blog. And you can find them at other blogs. Hell I'll even throw in another rec - Patricia McKillip, maybe the most celebrated author that nobody in this genre has ever really heard of. If people want to read awesome lady authors writing about non-YA stuff, it is there to find, and I think you'd need to have some pretty specific desires before it's hard to find them.

3) While I'm being grouchy though, something else I don't like is the sporadic boosting up of female authors who aren't on the big lists by tearing down those who did make those lists. There's all sorts of reasons I don't like it, starting with the fact I do like a fair number of the authors that get mentioned all the time. More than that though, I think its insulting to the genre to go around calling the big authors of yesteryear mediocre or the like. Even if you ignore vast swathes of the population as happened in the past, the competition to become a published author is pretty stiff. To do and then go on to publish multiple loved books is even stiffer. Even if some of those authors aren't as good as our favourites, or don't meet our personal taste, they're a long way away from mediocre. The only way that wouldn't be true is if the fantasy genre was just mediocre to begin with. Finally, I don't think generating us vs them is a good way to solve the unfairness in the genre. It's a good way to rally people to fight against it but sooner or later, persuasion is needed too. 

4) It's not just women that get a hard time. We just had Non-Binary as a Wyrd & Wonder prompt and while I didn't take part partially because doing about fifty blogs in a month is a wonderful idea to run out of ideas, it's also not something I have a great deal of knowledge about. That's why Jake is Reading's tweet thread featuring non-binary/non-het authors and characters was an interesting read for me. There was a good review at Parsecs & Parchments on The Empress of Salt and Fortune too. 

5) Finally, let's give a shout out to the various authors with heritage stemming from outside the Anglosphere. In particular, I'm dead chuffed to have got an ARC of Aliette de Bodard's Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders. I wish I could fill this out with profiles of the shortlistees of the Gollancz award but alas I forgot about that. Maybe next week! I also got a sample of Mariam Petrosyan's The Grey House to look at, and this tweet thread to dig through.

And that's it for this working week. I completely support everyone's right to like whatever little corner they want, but everyone looking for the best should look as wide as possible. And nobody should be a dick. 


  1. Hear hear to many of the great points in this post...thanks for the links, I will take a poke through them.

  2. Yes, I also agree with everything you say - people seem to just be lazy!