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Messages - M P Ericson

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1
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: April 01, 2010, 02:15:23 pm »
When you're reading a book do you constantly think about the gender of the author?

Consciously? No. It's an unconscious process. Unconsciously? Sure. And so do you.

Is there some evidence that men 'refuse' to read books by women?

Yes. It has been observed and reported by numerous teachers, librarians, booksellers, and others. Also, some academic studies have been carried out.

Example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/may/29/gender.books

Example: Tess Gerritsen once mentioned on her blog that a man refused her books at a convention because he "never read women". He was carrying two books by women writing under male pseudonyms.

And so on.

2
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: April 01, 2010, 11:43:48 am »
Fantasy author Jim C Hines has a post up about acknowledging one's own bigotry:-

http://jimhines.livejournal.com/

3
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: April 01, 2010, 10:53:02 am »
It's a tough one to discuss.

General "you":-

I think it's difficult if you're holding on to the delusion that you're unbiased, unbigoted, unblinkered. Once you understand and acknowledge that you're none of those things, it becomes a lot easier to see the evidence of your own bigotry and say: "Huh. Looks like I'm carrying around some unconscious bigotry. I want to change that." And then go ahead and change it.

For instance, once you know you automatically dismiss books written by women, you can start asking yourself every time you pick up a book: "Why am I choosing this book simply because it's written by a man?" That moves the decision from unconscious to conscious, which makes it easier to evaluate and eventually reject. ("Actually, I don't want to choose books on the basis of author gender. I'm going to find women authors who write books that I enjoy.")

Generalisations about content are worthless because perceptions about content are conditioned by bigotry. Thus you will read a book differently simply because you know it's written by a man.

(Examples: People who use category romance as typical of women's writing, but ignore the fact that most women don't write category romance and many men do -- often under female pseudonyms. People who use action-packed thrillers as typical of men's writing, but ignore the fact that most men don't write action-packed thrillers and many women do -- often under male pseudonyms.)

4
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: March 30, 2010, 08:07:00 pm »
Quote

Choosing around 50% female authors got commented on as choosing "markedly [...] more female authors", but choosing only male authors didn't get commented on at all. Statistically, the first would be expected from random distribution whereas the second can only be achieved by systematic bias.


Yes, this is probably what I was getting at (I had a 50% option of saying "men read markedly less female authors".. would you have preferred that?

Not so much what I would have "preferred", more that I find it significant that in this context the statistical anomaly is treated as the norm.

The further we can get away from the idea that white-male-ablebodied-Westernhemisphere-middleclass-straight is the norm for humanity in general, the better pleased I'll be. But that's beyond the scope of this particular discussion.

5
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: March 30, 2010, 12:56:59 pm »
For many years I've had the feeling that female readers read primarily female authors and that male readers read primarily male authors.

In general, women read books regardless of the author's gender, whereas men refuse to read books written by women. I think what you've observed is the difference between random distribution (about half-and-half) and systematic exclusion.

Quick stats from this discussion:-

Johan Fundin 0F 10M 0%F
M P Ericson 6F 4M 60%F
che2000 0F 10M 0%F
Paul Meloy 0F 10M 0%F
Craig Herbertson 0F 11M 0%F
Wroclaw 2F 8M 20%F
Stephen Theaker 1F 4M 20%F
Selina 6F 4M 60%F
Karen Stevens 4F 6M 40%F
Jen 5F 5M 50%F
Jay Eales 2F 12M 17%F
Steppedonwolf 0F 10M 0%F

Choosing around 50% female authors got commented on as choosing "markedly [...] more female authors", but choosing only male authors didn't get commented on at all. Statistically, the first would be expected from random distribution whereas the second can only be achieved by systematic bias.

(I used the first list posted by each individual. Please feel free to correct any errors!)

6
Books / Re: Your top-ten favourite novelists?
« on: March 20, 2010, 08:37:57 pm »
In no particular order:-

Astrid Lindgren
Maria Gripe
Joanne Harris
Shauna Singh Baldwin
JRR Tolkien
Guy Gavriel Kay
Terry Pratchett
PG Wodehouse
Jane Austen
Philippa Gregory

7
Books / Re: Opinions wanted - Reviewing bad books
« on: May 16, 2009, 05:20:57 pm »
a. Yes, absolutely.

Some places only publish positive reviews. That's worthless to me as a reader. If I don't know what someone considers bad, I can attach no value to what they consider good.



A good reviewer should be able to damn by indifference.

Personally, I disagree. It's a reviewer's job to say clearly why a book fails (or succeeds). A reader shouldn't have to guess whether the reviewer really meant (e.g.) "this book doesn't achieve all it sets out to do" or whether that's supposed to be code for (e.g.) "this book is an incoherent mess -- badly written, badly structured, and populated entirely by walking cliches". (Or indeed, "this book falls slightly short of perfection".)

Of course, it depends on how one defines "extreme".



8
Introductions / Re: Hello from Liz
« on: October 14, 2008, 08:23:41 am »
Welcome aboard!

9
BFS Events / Re: Winter Open Night in York
« on: October 10, 2008, 10:44:19 am »
January works for me, but I'm happy with any date that suits Caroline. :)
... and as long as I'm going, of course, I'll give you a lift, Petra.
 :)

Bless you, and thank you very much!

10
BFS Events / Re: Winter Open Night in York
« on: October 08, 2008, 09:51:13 pm »
January works for me, but I'm happy with any date that suits Caroline. :)

11
TV and Film / Re: Merlin
« on: October 03, 2008, 10:52:10 am »
Merlin isn't alone in being terrible. Robin Hood and The Tudors spring instantly to mind as absolutely awful. I think TV costume-drama series writing is in a crisis right now.

Don't get me started on The Tudors! Anachronistic costumes (more in the Elizabethan and Jacobean style), flintlock pistols decades before they were invented (and why - when such weapons were incredibly loud and unreliable - would someone decide they were a good thing to use for attempted assassinations? Whatever happened to daggers; or poison; or poisoned daggers? If you really need to be at a distance when you do the ghastly deed, try a crossbow - at least they were quieter and more accurate), actors whose vanity is so great they refuse to look anything like the character they're playing (everyone knows Henry Tudor was tall, fat - eventually - and redheaded; not dark and skinny!). And as for the acting...!

I'm a big fan - I'm sure you can tell  :D

Heh.

I really wanted to like all three series - they're all in my areas of interest - and I did try to watch, but they were so bad I couldn't stand to.

I'm glad I didn't see the bit with the flintlock pistols. I think my brain would have melted. It's only a small point, but it does sum up what I see as the main problem with this kind of bad script: an absolute contempt for the material. Instead of working with the story to spin it or twist it or reinvent it, these writers just rip it up and trample on it. Which makes me think: "If you hate it that much, why write it at all?"

But I do wish they'd hire good actors. The ones I mentioned rise above the awfulness in a way that's splendid to behold.

12
TV and Film / Re: Merlin
« on: October 02, 2008, 10:45:53 am »
Ah, but we old fuddy duddies aren't the target audience. We can't expect it to please us when it's aimed squarely at the little'uns who tune in to Doctor Who throughout Spring.

I'm not going to stand here and say that Merlin is the best thing on TV, or that it's written by a genius. But what I am going to say is that if it gets kids interested in Fantasy, it can't possibly be bad.

When I were a little'un, Star Trek (TOS) was my gateway drug into SF&F. What right have I to turn round to today's kids and tell them that what they're watching is crap? They'll make their own minds up as they mature, just as we did. Some will grow out of fantasy, and some will grow into it.

I heartily endorse Merlin. If my Nephew wants to watch it while he's over, I certainly won't discourage him.

I disagree completely. There's no reason in the world why children's TV can't have good writing and good acting. And my inner six-year-old is incensed at being told she's not the target audience. ;-)

Merlin isn't alone in being terrible. Robin Hood and The Tudors spring instantly to mind as absolutely awful. I think TV costume-drama series writing is in a crisis right now.

Of course, it may be a matter of money. All three series have one good actor (that I've seen) - Eve Myles, Richard Armitage, Sam Neill. Maybe the costumes and effects took all the spare cash, and they couldn't afford to hire anyone else who could act.




13
TV and Film / Re: Merlin
« on: October 01, 2008, 09:16:43 pm »
It's designed, fundamentally, to be fun and it's exactly that.

I'm glad you thought so. Personally I found it atrocious.

14
General Discussion / Re: Name a book you'd like to be buried with!
« on: August 09, 2008, 06:22:30 pm »
My own forthcoming work, "How to escape from a grave when your dead"

 ;D

15
Eh? How does what you "previously wrote" change the history of misogyny?

In any case, gender essentialism and gender stereotyping are also tropes of misogynistic abuse.

I'm not sure if you're trolling or if you're genuinely unaware.




such positive-discrimination in favour of female writers would be damaging to short fiction on the whole: if editors accepted purely on the sex of the author, with disregard to the quality of the story itself.


That's a tired old trope of misogynistic abuse.


Hardly, especially when I previously wrote:
Quote
Horror and sf is male-orientated, yet I find female authors to be quite prominent within the crime genre.

Perhaps crime fiction is more intelligent and literate, therefore suited to the female brain?

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