Ad Lib Column: Lilith Saintcrow


When I invited authors to be guest bloggers on the Hotlist, Lilith replied that she would be interested. But she didn't really know what to write about. When I suggested that she could write a piece on urban fantasy being considered lowbrow crap by some, she immediately jumped on the opportunity!

If you are not familiar with her work, I figure that you have guesses that Lilith Saintcrow writes urban fantasy novels. To learn more about the author and her books, visit http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/. Her latest book is Hunter's Prayer (Canada, USA, Europe), sequel to Night Shift.

In any event, you know that an article titled Angry Chicks in Leather is going to be good!;-)

Enjoy!
----------------

ANGRY CHICKS IN LEATHER
by
Lilith Saintcrow

What defines urban fantasy?

That's simple, you might say. Chicks kicking ass. Well, leather-clad chicks kicking ass. Leather-clad chicks kicking ass in an urban environment where some form of "magic" is part of the world. There. That’s about it.

But that's not all there is to it.

Urban fantasy, they tell me, is "hot" right now. Paranormal romance (vampire/werewolf/something girl meets vampire/werewolf/something guy, wackiness or danger ensues, happy ending happens) is just as hot, but the "romance" tag keeps it from being literature. The "fantasy" tag keeps urban fantasy from being classified as Serious Literature as well.

It reminds me of Tom's Glossary of Book Publishing, where LITERATURE is "Designation applied to titles judged unsaleable", and MAINSTREAM FICTION is "The pretense that there is a group of readers who can be reached through writing that is sufficiently unspecific as to exclude no one". There's just one thing lacking from this set of definitions--the fact that Literature and Mainstream Fiction are seen as highbrow.

They're genres you don't have to act ashamed of writing in. But romance or urban fantasy? You might as well start embroidering your own scarlet letter, honey.

Paranormal romance is considered lowbrow and trashy because it's female. Despite the fact that it's a multibillion-dollar business (and every dollar a woman shells out for it costs more because let's face it, we earn a lot less), it's still that pink-jacketed crap for bored housewives. Tom Clancy is supposed to be Real and Hard-Hitting, even if his "novels" are thinly-veiled technical manuals. Nora Roberts is supposedly less Real because she writes about feeeeeeelings. While we could debate the relative merits of Clancy vs. La Nora all day--and not agree, mind you, because Roberts is just plain the better writer--the fact remains that Clancy has a better shot at being considered "serious" because his is MAN'S FICTION.

Smell that testosterone, baby.

Urban fantasy is mostly women's fiction too. (Yes, I know there are significant exceptions, like Jim Butcher, Simon Green, and Charles de Lint. We'll get to that.) There's a lot of crossover between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I like to say that UF is PR without the HEA (that's Happily Ever After, for those just joining us.) Which touches on the thing I think separates urban fantasy from other genres, the reason why it's hot, and the reason why I think it's a direct heir to Raymond Chandler and Daishell Hammett, those masters of the gritty noir thriller.

Sure, UF is full of chicks in leather pants with big guns or special powers. But so is sci-fi or, say, some of the men's suspense series (Two words: Mack Bolan!) Leather pants and firepower do not an urban fantasy book make, but a lot of industry people have trouble defining that something-extra that makes a true UF title. Like Judge Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it--but what is it?

It's ambiguity, pure and simple.

What truly defines UF, and why the genre has exploded recently, is the moral and ethical ambiguity of its protagonists.

Urban fantasy is pretty much the only genre today exploring not only the ethics of power and consent, but also serious questions of violence and gender relations from a primarily female point of view. There are significant exceptions, to be sure--I mentioned them above; UF series with male protagonists. But the really huge bump in titles has been series and books with female protagonists, examining these questions from a female perspective.

In urban fantasy, the protagonist is dealing as best they can with a world where "good" is relative. Moral and ethical quandaries lurk under the surface, there are very few clear examples of pure unstained good. The lead character's talents and abilities either set her apart in or initiate her into a world where there is very little in the way of certainty. Friends and foes change places, and antihero isn't so much the order of the day as that old noir trope, the "decent person in an indecent world".

Part of what makes this so fascinating to me is the fact that female UF protagonists are almost without exception extraordinarily tough, and that violence is acceptable for them to use. This is a huge revolution in the type of stories our culture tells itself. Violence in our culture is a man's game. Women are supposed to be weaker and more passive--the recipients of violence or protection, instead of active agents dishing it out. In paranormal romance, nonviolent heroines--or heroines who follow gender norms more closely--is more the rule, but the exceptions are popping up like mushrooms after a week of rain in my backyard.

The responses of female protagonists to violence lies at the heart of the moral and ethical ambiguity that makes for good urban fantasy. Our culture is horrified at the idea of the Dark Feminine--the woman who demands for herself the right of violence and doesn't feel bad about it.

Or, if she feels bad, doesn't let it stop her from blowing away her enemy, whether in self-defense or because she is handing out justice. Who, let us not forget, is a woman too.

We have whole genres overwhelmingly dedicated to the male "right" of violence--military hard sci-fi, suspense, Westerns, the Executioner knockoffs and pretty much every damn movie made about a cop or an army man (or group of men, a dirty dozen) going outside the chain of command or the norms of behavior because their violence serves a higher cause of justice or protection for those same norms. Urban fantasy is the first such genre I can think of that adds another layer of tension by switching the gender of the protagonist, making it truly socially groundbreaking.

The simple move of violating our expectations by placing a woman in the position to dish out the hurt introduces a lot more gray into areas normally considered black and white. Questions like When is violence acceptable? or What is justice, and can it be administered personally? become questions with no right answer, questions we must re-examine.

It's not just in books we have this ambiguity. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kill Bill, and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance all cover the same territory, with varying resolutions (including none) of the prime questions. These type of movies would be unthinkable a very short time ago. (Unless we're willing to press exploitative titillations that never made much money into service and call them groundbreaking as well. But I digress.)

Buffy, Beatrix Kiddo, and Lady Vengeance are all women with peculiar talents only brought out by the (culturally male) training for violence. The tension between their talents and training, their need to dish out justice (Buffy fights demons, Beatrix and Lady Vengeance are out for revenge against foes you can't help but understand the need to kill) and the sometimes-urges to be a "normal" female creates vast wellsprings of ambiguous tension.

And how could I go any further without mentioning the series that blew the UF genre wide open?

That's right. Enter Anita Blake.

Anita Blake started out as a woman who had little trouble murdering the monsters. That was her job. The reader wasn't sure if she would become the things she hunted down and dispatched, if she would kill Jean-Claude or sleep with him, or both, and got a vicarious thrill from experiencing absolute license through her. In later books, the tension drained away as Anita became more gender-normal and sexual relationships rather than noir ambiguity became the primary focus.

But those first five to seven Anita books were pure dynamite. They blew the doors and the lid right off one of the most persistent myths of our time--that women don't get angry. Women are trained from birth by massive social and cultural weight to make nice, get along, smooth things over.

It's what makes us such good and expedient victims of so much violent and domestic crime.

But an angry woman with a gun, a reason to use it, and a narrative framework that says she's justified? That kicks the victim mentality straight in the pants. Chandler and Hammett's noir masterpieces were about men trying to be decent in an indecent urban world, where the decks are stacked against you and the fumes of cigarette smoke and liquor don't quite hide poverty and sleaze. Urban fantasy borrows that smoke, sleaze, decency-in-an-indecent world, and lights its fumes with a match borrowed from chop-saki action films.

The use of magic in UF is also particularly telling. Magic in fiction is the time-honored way of slipping a hand up the skirt of convention and giving her something to smile mysteriously about. It's a way to frame deep questions without getting boring; a way to explore what-ifs. Every urban fantasy novel worth its salt has magic that costs something, whether it's cash, blood, innocence, or just plain physical energy. Magic also allows more gray spaces to be opened up, so the ambiguity can breathe.

I think urban fantasy is a blooming of ambiguity in fiction, and I'm incredibly excited to see where it goes next. I think it's awesome that we as a culture are having these sorts of conversations about gender, power, violence, expectations, victimhood, justice, sexual roles, and a whole kit and caboodle of other issues. The interplay between paranormal romance and UF is particularly fascinating to watch and analyze because of the sheer numbers of female authors who write both.

One thing's for sure, though. This isn't just about chicks in leather.
Although, you know, I never say no to a nice pair of leather pants. Or a well-maintained gun or katana.

Just call me ambiguous.

57 commentaires:

Mithfanion said...

Aside from being bored by the topic itself and having zero interest in reading about kick-ass heroines doing in their male counterparts, she seems to me like someone with a tremendous chip on the shoulder.

[QUOTE]Paranormal romance is considered lowbrow and trashy because it's female. Despite the fact that it's a multibillion-dollar business (and every dollar a woman shells out for it costs more because let's face it, we earn a lot less), it's still that pink-jacketed crap for bored housewives. Tom Clancy is supposed to be Real and Hard-Hitting, even if his "novels" are thinly-veiled technical manuals. Nora Roberts is supposedly less Real because she writes about feeeeeeelings. While we could debate the relative merits of Clancy vs. La Nora all day--and not agree, mind you, because Roberts is just plain the better writer--the fact remains that Clancy has a better shot at being considered "serious" because his is MAN'S FICTION.

Smell that testosterone, baby.[/QUOTE]

Someone's having some issues. But basically then, her idea is that paranormal romance is considered lowbrow and thrash because it's female. I think it's considered lowbrown and thrash because it really is just that, female or no.

There are plenty of series featuring male characters for the most part that are just as much dismissed as fluff or simple boy's own adventures, or the "fast food of the world of literature". Ms Saintcrow seems to be unaware that other styles of fiction than the one she writes on are equally reviled.

I also think there's a downside to the heroes or heroines of consistent moral ambiguity. It sort of wears on you after a while. A lot of internal monologue, a lot of whining, a lot of procrastinating. It's all very modern but ultimately, there are many times when you just want the character to get the job done and feel good about it rather than weep.

[QUOTE]Our culture is horrified at the idea of the Dark Feminine--the woman who demands for herself the right of violence and doesn't feel bad about it.[/QUOTE]

Hi Shoulder, this is Chip back again. So society is ok with Dark Masculinity where the man behaves violently and loves it?

[QUOTE]We have whole genres overwhelmingly dedicated to the male "right" of violence--military hard sci-fi, suspense, Westerns, the Executioner knockoffs and pretty much every damn movie made about a cop or an army man (or group of men, a dirty dozen) going outside the chain of command or the norms of behavior because their violence serves a higher cause of justice or protection for those same norms. Urban fantasy is the first such genre I can think of that adds another layer of tension by switching the gender of the protagonist, making it truly socially groundbreaking.[/QUOTE]

I don't see that changing the gender of the protagonist adds another layer of tension, as she seems to think. There is nothing inherently more interesting about being a female protagonist. The downside however is that the paranormal romance heroines are about ten times more unrealistic in what they do, partly because at the end of the day, they are still women and not men, and do not have the physical prowess and imagining them do the things the female authors of this subgenre have them do, takes even more suspension of disbelief. It's self-indulgent tripe. Wish fulfillment. Which is fine if you want to write that sort of stuff and you can actually find a market full of female buyers for it. After all, Harlequin sells loads of erotic romance books as well. [B]But don't try to pass it off as anything more than that[/B].

The whole "essay" comes down to the fact that she feels the opposite of her percieved gripe. She believes paranormal chicklit is more interesting because it is female. Yet she claims that because it is female, people think it lowbrow and thrash.

Timon said...

One of the many problems with this article is how she says that moral ambiguity is a trait of UF. Moral ambiguity is a device that helps create tension and conflict, which should be in every book that's worth the paper its printed on. (Of course, it can lead to that annoying problem of WANGST).


But those first five to seven Anita books were pure dynamite. They blew the doors and the lid right off one of the most persistent myths of our time--that women don't get angry. Women are trained from birth by massive social and cultural weight to make nice, get along, smooth things over.

'cause women getting angry never happened in Jane Austen's books, or in the romance genre, or in C. S. Friedman's books. Or hell, Frank Herbert's books. Nope, UF had the first angry women characters.

We have whole genres overwhelmingly dedicated to the male "right" of violence--military hard sci-fi, suspense, Westerns, the Executioner knockoffs and pretty much every damn movie made about a cop or an army man (or group of men, a dirty dozen) going outside the chain of command or the norms of behavior because their violence serves a higher cause of justice or protection for those same norms. Urban fantasy is the first such genre I can think of that adds another layer of tension by switching the gender of the protagonist, making it truly socially groundbreaking.

What really adds another layer of tension is THE PROTAGONIST'S REACTION TO THE VIOLENCE! Violence is a horrific thing that never leaves anyone it touches the same. It effects men as much as women, the genders just show victimhood differently. I like how the whole anti-war sub-genre is ignored here. Also it should be noted that in westerns, a common theme is the brooding man whose lived a life of violence, only to have it come back and haunt him. Oh wait, it involves men, never mind, scratch everything.

The simple move of violating our expectations by placing a woman in the position to dish out the hurt introduces a lot more gray into areas normally considered black and white. Questions like When is violence acceptable? or What is justice, and can it be administered personally? become questions with no right answer, questions we must re-examine.

Violates expectations? The most readers expect from a protagonist is that they move the story forward. It doesn't matter a good fucking damn what the character's gender is if the protagonist is boring. End of story.

I think urban fantasy is a blooming of ambiguity in fiction, and I'm incredibly excited to see where it goes next. I think it's awesome that we as a culture are having these sorts of conversations about gender, power, violence, expectations, victimhood, justice, sexual roles, and a whole kit and caboodle of other issues. The interplay between paranormal romance and UF is particularly fascinating to watch and analyze because of the sheer numbers of female authors who write both.

Maybe this is just me, but where the hell did all the writers who just wanted to tell a good story and have a fun time telling it go? Why do so many writers need to have agenda on their sleeve. Don't get me wrong if the writer doesn't let it overwhelm the story, its great. But if wanted to read a damned tract on social ills, I'd read a damned tract on social ills.

My main gripe with this article is that UF, as in any other genre, should be about telling the best damned story possible. Whether a protagonist is male, female, morally gray or morally black and white should be subject to the story.

(PS) Another problem, most writers think 'complete, uninteresting bitch = strong female character'. A problem that eventually bit Buffy toward the end of its run and got Anita around book 7/8.

Colinhead said...

I don't know that I would give it that harsh of an assessment. Perhaps she does have a chip on her shoulder but think that it sounds more like it is because of people dismissing her novels before they read them (although comparing UF to PR certainly didn't help).

The main problem I have with this essay is that I do not really agree that the idea is groundbreaking. Buffy finished its (7 season?) run years ago, as did Charmed (which does indeed portray girls kicking ass and chewing on grey morality), and a quick scan of Anita Blake on Wikipedia tells me she has been around since 1993: plenty of time for culture to move on and desire new ideas. To me, the concept is only interesting if further innovation is taken on top of that.

To me, they seem trashy because the covers look similar to PR covers (I work in a bookstore), or because the covers depict a slightly updated version of the "goth tough girl". Chide me if you want for judging a book by its cover, but why would I pick up a book like that when a nearby book does not send off those alarms? This is actually excluding some of the Lilith Saintcrow novels, which I think have interesting covers, much better suited to attracting readers from outside the niche.

Anyway, I guess that's my two cents. Full disclaimer: I probably won't ever read an urban fantasy unless it is specifically recommended to me.

Jesse Bullington said...

So first we have Mithfanion alleging that The downside however is that the paranormal romance heroines are about ten times more unrealistic in what they do, partly because at the end of the day, they are still women and not men, and do not have the physical prowess and imagining them do the things the female authors of this subgenre have them do, takes even more suspension of disbelief. It's self-indulgent tripe.

Wow. I'd continue or perhaps bold the really troubling aspects if it weren't all rather troubling. Someone is indeed having some issues here, but I don't think it's Ms Saintcrow.

Then Timon concludes with the corker PS) Another problem, most writers think 'complete, uninteresting bitch = strong female character'.

Wow again. Just...wow. Did I say someone? As I left my sword back at the inn, er, my psi-blessed magnum back at the hotel, I'll just say that this essay got me ruminating before my train of thought was so rudely derailed.

Tristan said...

Someone writes a good, thought provoking argument on an aspect of urban fantasy, and the suburban do-nothings come out with the cries of reverse sexism and "its just plain true they are inferior its science so shut up" arguments, Not surprising at all. Thoughtful article begats long-winded ideological diatribes. So very surprising and on the internet of all places!

Anonymous said...

Mithfanion's comment about female physical prowess actually confirmed what Lilith was trying to say.

The accepted idea is that women are not as strong as men and therefore unbelievable as ass-kicking heroines. Urban fantasy breaks through that belief with heroines who aren't normal and who do have physical prowess. Just because society deems that women aren't capable of being physically strong doesn't mean it's unbelievable.

MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham) said...

Mmmm.

My take on urban fantasy sees a lot of the same symptoms that Ms. Saintcrow outlines, but draws a different diagnosis.

I agree that the UF genre is about women and power, but where Ms. Saintcrow invokes ambiguity, I think it's ambivalence.

As other posters have pointed out, there is a deep and broad literature of moral ambiguity. And, if especially if you want to go to film, of women embracing violence. The tension underlying UF seems to me more rooted in working through the tricky relationship between women and power, and especially where the venn diagram of sex, violence, and power intersects.

When I came to write an urban fantasy of my own, what occurred to me as the central psychological difference between a UF heroine and any real flesh-and-blood folks is that the heroine of an Urban Fantasy rarely if ever fears being sexually assaulted.

There are other differences, and Ms. Saitcrow has touched on some. The embracing of violence without remorse, especially. I wonder, though, whether the shedding of a peculiarly feminine fear (that of sexual assault) and the taking on trapping of iconic masculine power (overt physical violence), don't present the issue to be discussed more than a proposed solution to anything.

As I've said elsewhere, I think UF is about the uneasy relationship between empowering women and weaponizing them.

Stephen Deas said...

Pretty much all genre fiction is seen as lowbrow. I think and the more you take existing genres and mash them together to make new ones, the more lowbrow the result is seen. I think that, primarily, is the problem that urban fantasy currently has (not saying that's right or fair, just that's the way it's perceived) (and if it's selling and makeing good money, which it seems that it is, then is there really a problem in the first place)?

But if you want to stimulate your brain...

There's a little experiment that I've tried out from time to time with macho-woman-with-guns protagonists. Mentally switch the genders of every character in the story. If that feels OK and doesn't seem to change anything, then something ain't right. I think that test works rather well to distinguish the pack-leaders from the clones.

Obviously you can do this with any story you like. Last time I tried this was with Jane Austen, just for kicks you understand, and my head still isn't right.

rhianon76 said...

"At the end of the day they are still female and do not have the physical prowess..."

Someone needs to trudge themselves over to Iraq and explain to all the females on the front lines serving in our Armed Forces that they are so much less than their male counterparts. Then again, someone functioning from the stereotypical perspective of this commenter would argue that such females are "not representative of their gender, and are therefore not considered female". But I would love to be a fly on the wall when he tells them that to their faces.

The socio-cultural stigma that labels women as "less than" men in physical, psychological, or mental measurements is one of the reasons that I enjoy writers like Saintcrow, and characters like Kim Harrison's Rachel in the Hollows series, as well as Patricia Briggs' UF books (Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, etc.) because it serves as a reminder that just because society puts you in a box and says "you're only beautiful if you're 5'8" and wear a size 2" doesn't mean they're right.

Skitty said...

I entered the comment section for this post because I wanted to state how much I enjoyed Ms. Saintcrow's thought provoking essay. Apparently the essay provoked more than just thoughts. That there is a market at this time for UF fiction is evident. Therefore, instead of throwing around labels of lowbrow and trashy, perhaps actually thinking about what underlying cultural issues are addressed in UF is more appropriate (which is what I perceive that the essay does). And it becomes obvious based on some of the comments here that at least part of our culture is not yet comfortable with the idea that women are in the process of working out their relationship to anger and sex in ways that have nothing to do with June Cleaver and HEA endings. To which I say, Brava!

SciFiGuy said...

OK I am going to go out on a limb here and clearly state I read fiction for ENTERTAINMENT. Urban fantasy and paranormal fiction fills that bill admirably and for many of the reasons that Ms. Saintcrow states. Having read the preceding comments a lot of it sounds like the usual intellectual wanking, elitism and overanaylsis. Genre fiction is looked down upon etc. yadda yadda yadda. Isn't it time to put this hoary old chestnut to bed? I noticed no one touched upon her opening quote defining literature as the "Designation applied to titles judged unsaleable". Seems to me the naysayers are mostly guys. Gee fancy that. Sorry fellas I'm with the ladies on this one and Lilith in particular. Each to his own sandbox.

Jackie M (Literary Escapism) said...

I'm agreeing with the majority here. I loved this article.

Personally, every time I come across articles being negative on UF/Para-Romance (and I couldn't sworn I've seen Mithfanion around before), it always seems like they've NEVER ACTUALLY READ a novel that's considered UF. They look at the covers and automatically assume it's going to be "low brow" or "crap". I also never hear them say anything about Butcher or DeLint or any of the other male authors, it's always series written by females.

Anonymous said...

A think the physical prowess comment as seriously annoyed some readers, lol.

I think what the poster was trying to say is that some writers of urban fantasy are a little unrealistic about just who a 5'8 120 pound woman is going to easily beat up. The same occurs in novels with male heros of course, but its a little less blatant generally. A book loses some sense of realism when someone 1/3 the size of their opponent knocks them out easily, without any supernatural or magical reason for it (Buffy). My favorite authoer, Jim Butcher, seems to have a better idea about physical combat. His hero gets his ass kicked by tougher guys occasionally, lol. He wins through brains and magic, but he isn't a one man combat machine.

As to the comment about not picking up a book because of a woman on the cover, I have to admit lately I am a little guilty of that. I am a big reader of Urban fantasy, and for the last few years, anything UF related that has a female hero and female author is about 10x more likely to be a disguised romance novel than from a male author.

Notable exceptions of course, Patricia Briggs is excellent, and I did like the Kim Harrison books. I suspect its just a bleed over of authors from PF causing it, but nonetheless it is there.

Even the blog posters books are something of an example. Her main series, the heroine spends most of each book worrying if her love has betrayed her and being rescued.

Even her newer series (can't remember the name of it off hand) the latest book her hero spends half the book tied up, once again being rescued.

But in the end I think it does come down to flavor. Do you want books that have more of an intrinsic romance element to them, or not? Either way is fine, it doesn't make one better than the other, just different.

JenWriter said...

The thing is, Buffy does has supernatural strength. It's part of the Slayer mythos. There is even an episode when she loses her Slayer powers, therefore making it harder for her to fight.

I also think it is perfectly believable for a 120 pound woman to fight effectively if she has been given the chance to learn how to do so. If she has magical abilities that enhance her strength, as many of these series have, I see no problem.

Anonymous said...

MAN BAD. WOMAN GOOD.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I didn't phrase the thing about Buffy well. I meant that when a protagonist has supernatural strength or whatever its fine, it makes sense within the story. And as your example, when buffy lost her powers she did NOT go toe to toe with the vampire, she knew it would be crazy. She used her head and tricked him. I remember that episode:)

I had a Sensei years ago who taught women's self defense. Very very pragmatic guy about anything defense related. He said one problem he sometimes had was women who thought they could go toe to toe trading blows with a large guy. I know, I spared with several in the karate class I taught. You pretty much can NOT go toe to toe with someone twice your weight, you get flattened. Same applies to me when fighting a big guy. You can still win sometimes, but trading blows doesn't work.

Yet in many of the novels I have read, the tiny female just kicks or punches the guy a couple times and they go down, etc, because they are so badass. It isn't even internally consistent.

I think that is what one of the earlier posters meant about wish fulfillment. The fact is if you face an opponent much larger than you who knows what they are doing, you are at a massive disadvantage, and if multiple, you are toast.

Jaye Wells said...

Oh, hell yes. Well done, Lilith.

Felicia Day said...

Wow, some of these comments make me want to punch people, and I'm a girl, and I punch pretty hard! (And I'm also an official Slayer, but that's besides the point. :) )
I have no idea why said comments are so focused on the "realism" of a woman beating up men. Most of these characters are specifically endowed with supernatural powers anyway to justify it. Also, what is WRONG with wish fulfillment?! Guess what, there are NO fantasy worlds! We do not live/travel much in space, nor do we interact with aliens. There are no Elves/Vampires/magical races either!
To criticize the whole genre because the lead characters are "unrealistic" is absurd on a fantasy blog, LOL.

There are a lot of "trashy", mostly more romance-oriented books on the pile in stores lately that are giving this genre a "bad name" (and heck, if you want to read books primarily for the romance/sex, more power to me, er you, why be snarky about it if the book is well written?) However, there is also great, entertaining stuff being done in the Urban Paranormal area, and I think Ms. Saintcrow's post is extremely interesting and takes a step towards discussing the genre in a way it deserves. Why The Dresden Files should be somehow considered more "legitimate" than the ones with women protagonists is beyond me, but for some reason the perception is there. Maybe it's because a lot of the women's covers have a leg and a high-heel stuck in them, but that seems like it's the publishers who are doing that for quick and easy sales.

I am all for reading a legitimate debate of some of the essay's points (like, about how the male romantic interest in UF frequently seems to be a rich/uber-powerful mentor figure with a control complex which isn't necessarily "liberating" to women) but the more provocative criticisms seem to be dismissive out of hand without even being educated in the genre, and are snarky and demeaning.
BTW really enjoyed the Dante books! :)

ST said...

Ms. Saintcrow (or Pat) (or other commenters) -

Can you recommend 3 good urban fantasy books (or 2 + the first Anita Blake) that would be good to start with (especially ones that are good examples of showing the moral and ethical ambiguity you wrote about)?

I've always avoided UF because I assumed (mostly from the book covers) that most of the current urban fantasy is just trashy romance+vampires (or +werewolves or ... etc.). What would you recommend that someone starts with?

Thanks.

arilou-skiff said...

Wow, some of the comments are... Out there.

Now, I'm not certain I agree with the OP in the first place, mainly due to a quibble over semantics: I don't think the female protagonists really define (or even in a useful way describe) Urban Fantasy. (Err... Nor do I think Tom Clancy novels are particularly highly regarded) when I think "Urban Fantasy", then yes, BUffy comes to mind, as does the World of Darkness pnp RPG. BUt also Sergei Lukyanenko and, even though he's writing a classic secondary world, China Mieville. (Can you get more "urban" than New Crobuzon?)

RedEyedGhost said...

@ ST

Already Dead by Charlie Huston - it's book 1/5 in his Joe Pitt series. Vampires, zombies, and very little romance.

Sharpe Teeth by Toby Barlow - probably this year's best debut. It's a about a convergence of 3 werewolf packs in LA. It's written in verse, but please don't let that scare you off because the book is simply phenomenal.

Unclean Spirits by MLN Hanover - this one's the closest to what people think of when they think of Paranormal Fantasy. But it has a different take on the origins of vampires, werewolves, and demons.

Markus said...

I must admit I'm a bit confused by this essay. Until now I was under the impression Urban Fantasy is stuff like China Miéville, some books by Neil Gaiman like American Gods or Anansi Boys or Jonathan Carroll.
I didn't know the definition has changed to being about female characters being violent and/or Romance novels in a Fantasy setting.

By the way, Clancy's books aren't really respected or seen as anything above trash, so being "respected" like him - that's not really something to aspire to.

Anonymous said...

[QUOTE]What defines urban fantasy?

That's simple, you might say. Chicks kicking ass.[/QUOTE]

Say what? It is always depressing to see such ignorance from an author about their supposed sub-genre of preference. Despite the latest spate of paranormal romances maskarading as UF, urban fantasy sub-genre always was a definition of the setting, not of protagonists or plots.

There are lots of male authors who wrote and write UF (probably still the majority, in fact) - Biggle, Carroll, Stewart, Gaiman, Priest, Huston, Powers, Mieville, etc., etc. What is more, it isn't even primarily about kicking ass, regardless of the gender of the protagonists.

Not that I don't want to see more strong female protagonists in all media as much as the next woman, but let's be honest here - trying to hijack urban fantasy as a platform for mediocre romances doesn't help.

Also, military SF had a number of kick-ass female protagonists long before this recent trend in UF, testosterone laden genre that Ms. Saintcrow imagines it as. Ditto fantasy in general.

Finally, I have looked at Ms. Saintcrow's books and what struck me is that she creates interesting settings, but is unable to write good overarching plots in them, because she is so focussed on rather uninspiring romances of her protagonists.

The protagonists in question seem to be really damaged, too, and there are always vastly more powerful male entities lurking in the background, protecting them, manipulating them and being amused by their antics. Hardly particularly liberating, is it?

RobB said...

RE: Chicks Kicking Ass

What about Harry Dresden, Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt, Mike Resnick's John Justin Mallory, Liz Williams' Detective Inspector Chen, Simon Green's many novels. All of these feature male protagonists and are Urban Fantasy.

Ericka said...

I liked the post, it was enjoyable reading. Of course I read fiction for enjoyment so my comments are biased. She appears to have generated controversy and arguments just like the Urban Fantasy genre does. I enjoy reading just about every genre mentioned in the post and I will agree that we all have stereotypes or preconceived notions of what describes any given genre. I am glad to see that authors can continue to write beyond what is "established" and that readers will buy and enjoy them. And if it makes me think and maybe relook some of my stereotypes then that is an added bonus.

Lupigis said...

I agree with the commenters who have expressed their surprise at the idea that urban fantasy = chicks kicking ass. Elizabeth Bear has blogged about this subject here:
http://matociquala.livejournal.com/1244039.html

From her post and the discussion here I have learned that this is a new usage of the term urban fantasy that I was previously unaware of. It's interesting to note that when asked to recommend three urban fantasy novels, RedEyedGhost recommends two that don't fit the chicks kicking ass definition.

Can anyone recommend three urban fantasy novels that fit the definition Lilith Saintcrow uses?

Jess said...

Markus and RobB: Ms. Saintcrow points out there are male writers in the genre and they do well, but she acknowledges she isn't talking about them here.


I agree that chicks in leather =/= UF but I appreciate the rest of the argument about women in UF.

That said - I simply love everyone in the comments bashing romance as trashy (ahem, not 'thrashy'). Anything genre has this stigma; we're discussing some of what gives UF the stigma in the comments trail to begin with, so wait, let's just bash some other genre? Blows my mind.

RobB said...

Hi Jess,

Point taken, but she only mentions it in passing early and never gets back to it.

But I guess that kind of speaks to the ambiguity of the subgenre label. A handful of years ago it meant writers like Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Mieville's King Rat and even Neil Gaiman (at least Neverwhere). Now the label is more shorthand for the Vampire-Hunter/Wizard-for-Hire/PI set of books. Really. Again, Lilith touches on that, but this subgenre is growing so fast that in another couple of years, we'll probably see a subset within this subgenre.

E. L. Fay said...

Women didn't kick ass or get angry until very recently in Western pop culture? Apparently Saintcrow has never read Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen, which has a strong female knight or any works of Classical literature that feature women like Camilla, Antigone, the Amazons, and various strong goddesses. A lot of cultures also have myths and folktales that feature female warriors, in addition to real ones from history (i.e. Mulan, Calamity Jane, Lady Hangaku Gozen, the Trung Sisters, Joan of Arch, Boudica, Scandanavian Shieldmaidens). The ignorance of Saintcrow's assertion is staggering.

Obviously, not everything published can be deep literature, and that's fine. But let's not pretend that urban fantasy is anything more than it is.

Gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
meeper said...

I'd like to know specifically which paranormal romances Mithfanion has read in order to say that they're lowbrown and thrash (assuming he actually means trash) so that I can judge for myself. Like any kind of book, there are bad ones and good ones. I suspect Mithfanion's only been looking at covers and nothing else.

And speaking of covers and Colinhead's comment about how this type of UF has similar covers to the paranormal romances - he's absolutely right. It was even discussed at Calgary's World Fantasy Convention this past Halloween, where we were told that publishers know those booty shot/tattoo/woman holding weapons covers sell, and that they're trying to market UF to the same people who buy paranormal romances. Just look at how Kelley Armstrong's covers changed, from art and abstract covers to the more recent shots of naked female legs, backs and shoulders. That doesn't mean the content changed, just the marketing of them.

Gary said...

OK, I deleted my previous comment because I was being a long winded jerk. More succinctly and respectfuly:
I am sure that Ms Saintcrow has encountered problems and prejudices in publishing that her male counterparts have not had to contend with. I must also conceded that I have not read any of Ms Saintcrow's work.
That said, I think it's unreasonable that Ms Saincrow assert that UF regarded poorly as a genre because of it's percieved "femininity." Her assertion fails on two points:
1) Other genre's, and very masculine ones at that, are also categoricly disparaged. Notable examples would be Oat Operas and the Executioner knock-offs she herself mentions.
2) There are simply too many prominent male writers working in the UF genre for her lable of "feminine" to stick. It would be different if the works of Pratt, Butcher, Huston, and other men were held in singularly high regard relative to women writing in that genre, but it's simply not the case.
I'd like to close this comment by making an assertion of my own. The UF genre gets dissed for the same reason westerns and Mack Bolan novels get dissed. Much of what's published under those genres simply isn't very good. I haven't read anything from Ms Saintcrow, but I've ready plenty of UF, and also more than my fair share of oaters and Remo Williams novels. They are fun to read, but I wouldn't call them high-quality fiction. Ms Saintcrow may very well be the exception, and could be the Larry McMurtry of her genre, but she's surrounded by Luke Shorts and Ray Hogans.

Jackie M (Literary Escapism) said...

Three UF novels that involve ass-kicking woman:

1. Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
2. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
3. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
4. Touch the Dark by Karen Chance
5. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
6. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

Okay, that's a few more than the 3 I said, but they are all excellent in my mind.

SciFiGuy said...

To Jackie's list I would add -

1. Greywalker by Kat Richardson
2. Urban Shaman or Hands of Flame by C.E. Murphy
3. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
4. Hollows series by Kim Harrison

Chris said...

Curse the Dark by Laura Anne Gilman
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy

Anonymous said...

Wanting to be at least as respectable as Tom Clancy is putting the bar altogether too low in my opinion. It's almost as bad as trying to be regarded higher than the writers of movie novelizations. Tom Clancy may sell but so does Twilight.

I think defining urban fantasy as leather-clad chicks kicking butt is in my opinion misguided. That may be the recent trend, but the subgenre is broader than that. And in any case chicks kicking butt isn't special to urban fantasy. Chicks kicking butt is allowable and increasingly common in other types of fantasy too, only they do it mostly in floor-length velvet gowns, iron chainmail, and similar period things, only some of which are made of leather.

There is even romance disguised as fantasy in other fantasy genres. Melanie Rawn is just one example in high fantasy. I don't like that at all. I may be female but that doesn't mean I have to like the sappy stuff.

Nemhain said...

For those asking a recommendation from the Anita Blake series: the second book (The Laughing Corpse), then Burnt Offerings and Blue Moon. Obsidian Butterfly is also a pretty good option.

Anonymous said...

Could Saintcrow have insulted any more people in this article? Wow.
Literature? Pfft, no one actually buys that. Mainstream literature? Bland and boring. The people that started the urban fantasy genre? They weren’t writing about chicks in leather so they don’t count. Males like Jim Butcher and Simon Green? I’ll talk about them in a minute (except I won’t).
Ok let’s get to the meat and see the sizzle [quote] But romance or urban fantasy? You might as well start embroidering your own scarlet letter, honey. [/quote] Or if you write fantasy, Sci-fi, horror, or Westerns. It’s probably because horror and westerns are so feminine that they looked down on. I can only think of two genres in fiction that don’t get looked down; mystery and historical fiction. Everyone else is in the ghetto; it’s certainly not just the ladies.
[quote] Tom Clancy is supposed to be Real and Hard-Hitting, even if his "novels" are thinly-veiled technical manuals. Nora Roberts is supposedly less Real because she writes about feeeeeeelings. [/quote]
Wait, Tom Clancy writes heavily researched books that are at least somewhat topical (drug cartels, terrorism, nuclear attacks, the cold war going hot) and are grounded in reality. Nora Roberts has recently wrote books about magic spells, curses, evil dark lords, destiny, and happily ever afters. And those deluded literary “critics” have the nerve to claim his work is more real and hard-hitting then her’s? What an outrage!
[quote] I like to say that UF is PR without the HEA (that's Happily Ever After, for those just joining us.) Which touches on the thing I think separates urban fantasy from other genres, the reason why it's hot, and the reason why I think it's a direct heir to Raymond Chandler and Daishell Hammett, those masters of the gritty noir thriller. [/quote]
Umm, as you already established PR is hot and has the HEA, so maybe we should be looking for the shared appeal of UF and PR instead of talking about what they don’t have in common? And I somehow I think people like Ken Bruen and Vicki Hendricks, who actually write modern noir stories, would take umbrage at being told that urban fantasy is somehow the true heir of noir.
[quote] What truly defines UF, and why the genre has exploded recently, is the moral and ethical ambiguity of its protagonists. [/quote]
And yet so many other genres have this. Epic fantasy has been rolling in ethically ambiguous protagonists for the last ten years. The previously mentioned noir genre has been doing it since Chandler and Hammett. Mainstream and lit fiction has been doing it for even longer.
[quote] We have whole genres overwhelmingly dedicated to the male "right" of violence--military hard sci-fi, suspense, Westerns, the Executioner knockoffs and pretty much every damn movie made about a cop or an army man (or group of men, a dirty dozen) going outside the chain of command or the norms of behavior because their violence serves a higher cause of justice or protection for those same norms. [/quote]
Should I bother pointing out that most of these examples are considered lowbrow crap?
[quote] Urban fantasy is the first such genre I can think of that adds another layer of tension by switching the gender of the protagonist, making it truly socially groundbreaking.
The simple move of violating our expectations by placing a woman in the position to dish out the hurt introduces a lot more gray into areas normally considered black and white. Questions like When is violence acceptable? or What is justice, and can it be administered personally? become questions with no right answer, questions we must re-examine. [/quote]
I think often having a female dishing out violence reduces the tension actually. See the tv show Bones where in the title character has physically attacked people on many occasions with almost no provocation and yet it was no big deal. Her male partner, Booth, would have never been allowed such absurd displays of violence.
I’m really not sure what expectations are being violated with women dishing out damage. Maybe it’s an age thing. I mean I grew up with Sarah Connor getting her rage on and Ellen Ripley battling Aliens, I grew up watching Tailspin which had Rebecca Cunningham who was the boss of the company and the angriest character on the show. The first live action show I watched regular was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which featured Kira Nerys, a very very angry freedom fighter, and Jadzia Dax who hung out with Klingon warriors as an equal. There’s a whole slew of sci-fi shows that feature women as the most angry and violence prone of the main cast. So maybe switching up gender roles was new and exciting…15 years ago. Today its old hat. I don’t see how the questions of when violence is acceptable or the administration of person justice as changing because it’s a woman doing it instead of a man.
And why in the world are we holding up Buffy and Kill Bill as models of ambiguity? The writers of Buffy tried very hard to stay away from ambiguity as much as possible. Buffy sees monster, Buffy kills monster. 88 ninjas get in the way of Beatrix’s revenge? Beatrix kills! Both of these productions have only very brief moments when they deal in ambiguity. Most of the time they remain strictly black and white.
There’s nothing wrong with being lowbrow. There is something wrong with being crap. If the best argument for CNLKA books being serious literature is that they are violent feminist power fantasies than no they aren’t serious literature. Because if I’m reading these books as lowbrow entertainment then they work but if I’m reading them as a critique of violence in our culture they completely fail.

Psylent

Anonymous said...

I got a huge kick out of the self-righteous indignation the "physical prowess" observation generated; it really highlighted the naievety, self-indulgence, wishful thinking, and--yes, I'll say it--penis envy.

It is an undeniable, proven fact that--generally--men are stronger, faster, and more agile than women.

This general fact remains true, even at the highest levels of performance and competition. See, e.g. The Olympics.

Moreover this fact is not the result of oppression, discrimination, or neglect--it's a simple matter of genetics.

As to women in the armed forces, *they have guns* and that makes it a completely different story than some 120 lb. bad-ass going around beating up multiple, larger opponents.

Chris said...

Psylent-

Much as I disagree with almost everything Ms. Saintcrow says here, I simply must call you out on trying to assert that Tom Clancy writes anything more than childish wish fulfillment about American imperial triumphalism and its super rad killamajigs. Clancy is a hack among hacks. She's right to call him a bad writer (although curiously mistaken when she asserts that he gets any kind of respect from people who know what makes a good book).

JenWriter said...

@Lupigis

Here are some recommendations:

1. Rogue - Rachel Vincent

2. The Dante series - Lilith Saintcrow

3. The Touch of Twilight - Vicki Pettersson

Rose said...

I loved the article. LOVED it! Pure and simple... take it or go away.

I am a Librarian and you would not believe how much both MEN and women lap up these paranormal fantasy books. Call them whatever you want - urban fantasy, paranormal romance, those damn books - it all boils down to entertaining literature. Yes, I said Lit Er Ra Ture! Regardless of what gender the books are targeted at, they still have one very important aspect: they are getting you to read.
Oh no, I said it... that evil word "READ". My library is right next to the largest army base in America and you would not believe how many GI Joe's (male and female) check out these books. Lilith Saintcrow, Patricia Briggs, Laurell K Hamilton, MaryJanice Davidson, Mark del Franco... I could go on forever.
Saintcrow brings up many good points and although you may not agree with them, they do raise thought-provoking questions about the acceptance of violence and gender biases.
I thought her article was very well-written (as if I would expect anything less from her) and I found myself laughing out loud at some of her "humor". :D

empressmish said...

I always love to recommend the Diana Tregarde novels by Mercedes Lackey. They are olders titles -- at least ten years before the big UF boom.

The main character, a guardian witch, doesn't sleep her way through the books, isn't the object of desire for every male within 50 feet, or have the wardrobe of a stripper/hooker/groupie. She relies on her brain and her own skills -- which she does doubt on many an ocassion -- to make it through. Yes, she does get some help every now and then through various friends, but she's a lot more of a believable herione IMO. Not everything goes her way, and sometimes the ends don't justify the means, but you definitely get a feel for what is going through her mind as she struggles to put things right. A female character can be tough without having to be in a horitzontal position for half the book.

The books are Children Of The Night, Burning Water, and Jinx High.

I can't even read UF with female leads anymore. To me they're just gimmicky romance novels all cut from the same cloth -- much like romance novels. The same plot, the same sexual tension between characters (either they love/hate one another or can't keep their hands off each other). The super badass chick thing has gotten stale and predictable. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't need a bunch of gratuitous sex in a novel. I'd rather have an engaging plot and characters. Some good action, drama, maybe a little dash of humor. Something to keep me reading until the very last page, not skipping over whole paragraphs of the main character sleeping with this guy, then this vampire, then this werewolf, while this other guy is trying to seduce her . . . ad naseum

I work part-time in a bookstore and we've pretty much put all the female-authored UF with the Romance books in a separate section labeled "Paranormal Romance". The only exceptions being Kim Harrison, Ms. Saintcrow and Kelly Armstrong. Even Laurell Hamilton has ended up there, though personally I think that should go into the "adult" fiction as its pretty much degenerated into soft-core porn at this point. Sad to see such a promising character as Anita wind up as the town 'ho.

Hagelrat said...

yeah ok, so loved the article, I am a conirmed fan of this womans books and regularly harrass waterstones before the release date to make sure they will put a copy aside for me. I thought Sci fi Guy's comment was right on the nose and got bored with all the long negative reactions to a woman discussing the field she is published many times over in, so probably knows a little bit about.

mycenae said...

"As to women in the armed forces, *they have guns* and that makes it a completely different story than some 120 lb. bad-ass going around beating up multiple, larger opponents."


So your point is, it's ok for female protagonists to kick ass, as long as they're ranged fighters?

Jumpinjo said...

Lilith Saintcrow makes some very important points in this article.
I agree that this genre, as well as many others, is often looked down upon as "low" literature.

I also agree with some of the other posters here in that feminist fiction, strong female characters, and the urban fantasy genre and its predecessors have been around for quite some time. They do not necessarily present new concepts, but they do present them in new, imaginative, and thought-provoking ways.

However, all that aside, I think a point that Lilith is trying to make without strictly coming out and saying it, is this:

Urban fantasy, in all its many mediums, has gone mainstream, and taken these and many other concepts with it. Example?

True Blood has become wildly popular, and has prompted a large group of people (male and female, I might add) to check into the books. Granted, this has also been done before by other television shows and movies. But, it still stands that a whole new group of people otherwise uninitiated into the urban fantasy genre and likely not even knowing there is a name for this subset, has been compelled to visit the sci-fi/fantasy section of the local bookstore to obtain these books.

Still not convinced?

Look at the recent popularity of the Twilight series.

Anyway, I could continue giving examples, but it would be overkill.

On a side note, I love reading posts from people who like to talk about literature but seem to have a hard time with spelling and grammar. Please first review your elementary school workbooks. Then, review your middle school English lessons. Then, please critically read some of the books which have been discussed here, from both male and female authors. If you have trouble with a word, sound it out.

;)

Anonymous said...

I utterly fail to see what "Twilight" has to do with "chicks kicking ass". Admittedly, I have only read summaries of the books, but it seemed to me that the heroine was a rather passive "damsel in distress" and it were her male suitors, who kicked ass?

In the end, I strongly feel that romance far too often gets in the way of a good story in the subset of urban fantasy that Saintcrow represents.

Maybe that's because I personally find few romances in books well-done and almost never when they are the major part of/ the point of the story.

And I am a woman and would love to see more quality entertainment starring women - including older ones, BTW.
Isn't it funny, how "chicks in leather" tend to be gorgeous? Or to become so through supernatural means during the narrative? Some rebellion there...

Jumpinjo, just for curiosity's sake, in how many languages do you write perfectly? IMHO, your snide remark is uncalled for.

psychox said...

"The downside however is that the paranormal romance heroines are about ten times more unrealistic in what they do, partly because at the end of the day, they are still women and not men, and do not have the physical prowess and imagining them do the things the female authors of this subgenre have them do, takes even more suspension of disbelief."

Because, you know, all men are James Bond. And Batman. As opposed to out-of-shape bookish geeks who only wished they were?

Anonymous said...

@mycenae

Yes, if the female protagonist is a buck twenty, she is going to need special powers, a gun, or some type of weapon, like a knife, in order to avoid being a silly charicature when she wades through groups of bad guys, completely unscathed.

120 is at the extreme low end of the spectrum for fighters of any kind. There's just not enough muscle-mass to do serious damage or obtain leverage . . . f=ma.

Amy said...

I find it disturbing that people don't think a 120 lb girl can kick ass. With training and determination, I know she can. I've seen it happen. As for women not being as physically strong as men, it depends on the woman. I'm 5'10 and work out. I pick up 200lb pieces of equipment for work. Many of my male co-workers can't do that so it's all about what you get in the genetic lottery. Hard work and determination gets you pretty far too, since when I was in the military, I saw plenty of 5 foot nothing women keep up with their male counterparts in the Marine Corp PT exercises.

You want to see some real life chicks kicking ass? Go look up some of the female Knights from the SCA fighting on youtube. There's chicks in chainmail and leather kicking ass.

Anonymous said...

Hi, just going to point out that most of the UF novels written by men have protagonist that do not rely on their physical prowess to solve a crime or defeat the enemy, instead they used their brains to think of clever, realistic solutions that advanced the plot of the story nicely, unlike the many "UF" books written by women, their female protagonist almost always uses brute strength and the story always revolved around their love life. I'm a woman but I've begun avoiding UF that is written by females because of their lack of originality, I mean, in other genre, authors strive to write the best book they can because they know that they will be judged by very harsh critics , but on the other hand, female writer of UF are too lazy to write original, thought provoking, quality books, always using the same formula.
For those who want to write paranormal romance then fine and good for you but please don't ruin the term Urban Fantasy by labeling it that...

Jared Thaler said...

I'm afraid you lost me at the assertion that UF was the "Bloom of moral ambiguity"

Just to take a few of hundreds of examples, Heinlien's Friday was entirely an exploration of a female warrior and her quest for moral certainty in a morally ambiguous world. Zelazny doesn't do much *other* than discuss moral ambiguity outside his Amber novels. Herbert tends to be a bit short on female protagonists, though the female protagonist from Dosadi Experiment certainly could give any of the UF females a run for their money, both in combat effectiveness and moral ambiguity. (And just to show I'm not sexist, I've forgotten the male protagonists name too.)

Re the combat effectiveness comments:

1. I have met plenty of combat effective women, both armed and unarmed, in martial arts training. They tend to either bulk up in the course of training, or favor styles where a quick disabling weapon strike can ruin an opponents day. That said, more muscle will always be an advantage, given equivalent levels of training. A 120 lb female taking on a 240 lb male with equal training and proportional amounts of muscle mass, is at a disadvantage. But then, a 120 lb male, taking on a 240 lb female, is in about as bad a spot.

2. Referencing SCA combat for purposes of demonstrating anything about real world combat is effectively an auto loss. SCA combat is a sport, much like olympic fencing, and most Judo styles. It has utterly unrealistic constraints that are there for the (very good and necessary) purpose of not having people crippled or killed in the fight.

Anonymous said...

Tom Clancy being considered a serious writer? That's the first time this concept crossed my mind. But I'm not one to oppose the general direction of this article.

Pierce said...

buy viagra
viagra online
generic viagra

qishaya said...

Original christian shoes are first category in alter. They are so much appealing louboutin shoes so, ample of women can not pause to get their hands on them. cheap christian louboutin However, these shoes are not economical. christian louboutin So adequate of women cannot present these shoes. christian louboutin heels Christian Louboutin Replica is presenting the textbook thing for these people. christian louboutin sandals It is present masses of fashionable shoes in an economical rate. christian pumps You know that unique shoes are posh to buy. christian sandals Nevertheless do not think that exchange a shoe with christian louboutin pumps magnificent create of top trait is hard. Now a time model are presented. louboutin pumps But if you hardship attribute cargo look discount christian louboutin for these replicas in a trustworthy position & set an order for your beloved shoes christian louboutin sale

Ocean_Heart said...

A great informative blog.Keep posting articles like.You have a great knowledge of the subject.Thanks for sharing such an article where education of people matters the most.Your way of expressing articles through words is excellent.he way of expressing things is best and informative.Keep sharing articles like this.A great article with best possible effects.I am great fan of your blog.Every time i come here i see something very new.Thanks for sharing the information.


Generic Viagra | Kamagra | Edegra

Anonymous said...

Hard to take a genre seriously when the authors have silly pen names like 'Lilith Saintcrow'. Is that the name of your vampire LARP character or something?

Urban fantasy is still an immature genre full of immature, derivative bilge. Even epic fantasy is starting to grow up, with authors like Martin, Erikson, etc, but Urban fantasy has a way to go yet.