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Friday, January 20, 2006

So girls like sci-fi - big deal...or not...

Author Libba Bray discusses her new book, Rebel Angel, in an interview with Newsweek. Rebel Angel is the follow-up to Bray's surprisingly successful A Great and Terrible Beauty, featuring Gemma Doyle, a red-haired boarding school student who with her friends battle otherworldly villains. Both books are set in 19th century England and are described as an unusual mix of "sci-fi, fantasy and unalloyed romance." To present a clearer picture: "think Buffy the Vampire Slayer but in corsets and with a heady infusion of historical detail."

One of the questions posed to Bray in the interview was whether she thinks sci-fi lit is no longer the domain of boys but has been co-opted by girls too. Bray rightly questions that perception and says that authors are challenging that myth.

The way I see it, sci-fi has never been totally the domain of males. Girls have been reading sci-fi for years. Heck, women, too have been fans. My own advent into the sci-fi realm was via Frank Herbert's Dune as a teen years ago and I've been a rabid adherent ever since. It totally subsumed my then obsession with romance bodice-rippers and I haven't really gone back. Well, not totally.

I think it's patronizing and short-sighted to try to compartmentalize markets by gender (and definitely by race). I love me some Octavia Butler, C. S. Friedmann, Mindy Kasky - all women sci-fi/fantasy writers. I also love the late Herbert, Guy Gavriel Kay and Terry Goodkind; see, I don't discriminate by gender. I simply choose what fascinates my interest. The ultimate betrayal of a scifi book (or any book, for that matter) is to whet my appetite and then leave me without any satisfying sustenance. Boring is hard to digest.

Since J. K. Rowling has already proved that fantasy is equally palatable to young girls as it is to boys, then what's the big deal? As long as authors write good sci-fi/fantasy tales, they will find loyal markets despite gender (or race or age or hair color -- OK, well maybe brunettes might not want to read about a red-haired lass, but there's always some hurdle to get over).

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 1/20/2006 12:55:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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