Why no love among the SFF fandom???

I've been giving this some thought, and I can't for the life of me understand why the SFF fandom seems to be fragmented beyond repair. So perhaps you guys can help me understand why there appears to be so much hate going around.

And since my readership is comprised of haters, wankers, aficionados and casual readers, I figure that the Hotlist reaches basically every kind of fans. Perhaps we can make sense of this sad state of affairs. . .

For some reason, it seems that speculative fiction readers consider themselves to be at the top of the SFF totem pole. Many look down at everything else, as if novels held the monopoly on quality as far as different media go. I've always known this to be the case, but it's gotten more and more obvious since I started to try to give various media some exposure on the Hotlist a few weeks back. There has been a lot of resistance from a panoply of fans, as if comic books, anime, animated films, and video games were beneath their notice. Why is that, I wonder? Doesn't it stand to reason that there are high quality works in every SFF medium?

Are SFF books and series the epitome of quality in the speculative fiction sphere? Why the superiority complex when readers cannot even agree as to what's good and what's not? You have the wankers peddling their titles to all and sundry like they're the gospels. And then, they're disappointed and can't seem to understand why casual SFF readers don't give a shit about the John Clute, M. John Harrison, and James Nicoll of this world?

There is certainly an "holier than thou" attitude coming from the elitist clique of the genre which drives me nuts. One only has to look at the fiasco surrounding Neil Gaiman's winning the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction for The Sandman issue #19 "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Why was it so bad for a comic book to win the award? And why are comics now only eligible in the Special Award Professional category?

What is so frightening about comic books receiving accolades such as a World Fantasy Award? Why is it so difficult to accept that quality works exist outside of the "literary" sphere and deserve the recognition? You tell me. . .

Why is it, in a genre that supposedly embraces all possibilities, that so many fans seem narrow-minded? Why is it that a vast majority of them can't stand to get away from their comfort zone? Why is it that inferior writers like R. A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks, who have been writing the same generic stories for over two decades, outsell original authors such as Hal Duncan, R. Scott Bakker, and Ian McDonald by a margin of more than 10 to 1?

Also, why are subgenres such as sword & sorcery, urban fantasy, and tie-in fiction considered dross unfit to be read by discerning fans? Why do we (myself included) generalize to such an extent and refuse to see the merits of some authors, titles, and series?

Why is it so bad that a "credible" SFF book reviewer like me (though how much credibility I do have is a bit ambiguous! Depends on who you ask!) decides to give Japanese animated features a shot? I've said it before and I'll say it again: Many of the films I've seen and reviewed thus far would appeal to most people hanging around here. And based on the number of emails I've been receiving since I gave Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke a try, it appears that quite a few of you did the same and are pleased to have done so. And yet, quite a few of my detractors opine that it's simply more clutter on this blog.

The same thing goes since I elected to give Neil Gaiman's The Sandman a second shot. I quit reading the comic book in the 90s, yet I've been a big fan of his novels. So I was aware that at some point I would have to give The Sandman another go. And you know what? I'm glad I did! I just finished The Sandman: Season of Mists and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But again, many SFF readers seem to feel that comic books, even something written by Neil Gaiman, are too low for them.

The same thing occurred when I teamed up with Sony Online Entertainment to bring more gamers into the fold, and hopefully get a few of them to discover great SFF books and more by doing so.

Yet every time I steered the ship away from books, some people have been complaining, as if the other media held nothing of interest. So why are so many SFF readers loath to give the body of work of the genius Hayao Miyazaki a shot? Why read and enjoy Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and American Gods, but scoff at the notion of doing the same with The Sandman? A lot of readers are gamers, so what is so bad about trying to attract more gamers to SFF book-reviewing blogs like the Hotlist?

To the outside world, like it or not, most of us, regardless of the medium we prefer, are considered geeks. So why war among ourselves instead of recognizing the fact that there are some great works in every SFF medium? It's all right to prefer one over another, but why do some many of us feel the need to belittle the other media? Moreover, why bitch like this when often those haters mudslinging another medium have never even given it a chance?

SFF books will probably remain my favorite medium, true. Yet by broadening my horizons I've discovered wonderful works that were as satisfying as any great science fiction and fantasy books I've ever read. So do yourself a favor and try stuff by Hayao Miyazaki, Makoto Shinkai, and chances are you'll enjoy them! With the panoply of styles out there, I'm sure there are comic books you'll like. For all I know, it might be the same with manga and anime series!

I just don't understand the hate and all that negative energy flying around. As C. S. Friedman told me when I sent her a link to that M. John Harrison rant on worldbuilding a few years ago, "Aren't we all just nerds anymore?"

Feel free to leave your two cents. . .=)

77 commentaires:

Seak said...

That's funny because sff novel readers (and I'm one of them) are always carping about genre being looked down upon by the literary world.

I guess that's just human nature. We don't like something done to us, but when we get in the same position, we make the same decisions.

Colin said...

I'm with ya brother. Give us a bit of everything. Broaden some horizons. Hit us with some Akira or Green Lantern right along with Steven Erikson. I would even like to see you do a review or discussion for the upcoming Bioware game Dragon Age: Origins.

If somebody doesnt like a post, they dont have to read it.

Stephen J. said...

I blame the IntraNets. :)

Actually, seriously: I *do* blame the Internet.

In the days when being an SFF fan at all meant you had to look long and hard to connect with others, going to conventions or fan clubs, the work you put in to celebrate what you had in common far outweighed the aggravation of what differences still existed. And if some of those differences erupted into interpersonal fights, grudges and bitter divisions, their scope of effect tended to be limited to the immediate vicinity, and you had an incentive to stick around and get over them because of the effort and inconvenience involved in finding another community.

The Internet changed all that. Now it's so easy to find and talk to people whose preferences match yours *exactly* that many people feel it's not worth enduring the annoyance of dealing with disagreement. And disagreement itself happens more easily (because misunderstanding is more common), ramps up to higher hostility at greater speed (because everybody's separated by screens, miles, and almost always anonymity), and spreads farther and faster among the community at large (thanks to links and quotes and surfing). Combine all that with the natural tendency of *everyone* to mistake personal preference for objective measures of quality, or to assume a difference in someone else's preference automatically equals a criticism of ours, and... well....

For what it's worth, I'd argue that the fragmentation is not as bad as the Internet makes it appear; real life gatherings of fans still manage to retain their friendly and welcoming character in a lot of ways. Which is one reason I do very little Internet fannishness these days and try very hard to stick to real people.

Anonymous said...

Can't agree more. Reminds me of an English teacher I had back in highschool. She firmly believed that movies, modern novels, modern plays, comic books/graphic novels, video games, and generally anything outside of "the Canon" was inferior to the Canon. In her mind Watchmen had no place in the same conersation as Hamlet, Psycho had no place with Moby Dick, Knights of the Old Republic with any literature at all, and not even Ender's Game deserved to be mentioned as a "great" piece of art.

Of course, in my film class in college, none of that held true at all. Narrow-mindedness is a plague of the literary community, and exists in every subsect of it. Literature is the only form of artistic media that matters to these people, and no matter what they will continue to see things that way. Sad but true, it is.

Anonymous said...

Also a random aside, when'll be the drawing for the Station Pass giveaway? The suspense is killing me.

Anonymous said...

Responding to some of the complaints about other media here: the problem is probably not that you are reviewing other stuff these days (after all, Wert does it to great effect), it's that there has been a decline in the number of actual book reviews here.

This used to be a great place for getting suggestions for new books to pick up, but that's been really lacking the past year with all the contests and other bits.

There just needs to be a much better balance.

Tegan said...

There are lots of blogs out there. It actually pays to specialize. The internet is drowned in existing news sources and reviews about science fiction movies, anime, comics, and games. If I'm interested in both SF books and movies, I'll read your blog for the books and read io9 for all the movie and TV news and reviews. If I'm just interested in books, it's nice to have a focused source, someone (like Pat) who really keeps up with the field. If you're spreading your attention as a blogger between lots of media, there's going to be less depth of knowledge about any one field.

SFF is huge. SFF fandom is huge. We all find our own corner of it. Sometimes this corner is books. Nobody has time to be interested in everything -- we aren't all snobs, we just know what we're most interested in and look for that.

Casey said...

I agree with Tegan on this one. I certainly enjoy graphic novels and movies...but it's nice to have a place like this dedicated to books. It was the expansion into other media that, IMO, has hurt places like bookspotcentral and fantasybookcritic.

Anonymous said...

I started a new blog devoted to fantasy literature.
Please take a look

http://swordsandmagic.wordpress.com/

Reuben said...

I'm with you 100% Pat. I love the variety that you've introduced recently to your blog. Yours is probably the only fantasy/sf blog I check on a regular basis so updates on other sub-genres make me happy.

I'd like to add that your blog is called "Pat's Fantasy Hotlist", not "Pat's Fantasy Booklist" and let's face it, it's your blog and we don't have any right to tell you what to do with it.

I think people speak with their feet (or their index fingers in this case) so some fans will check out and others will check in, the system will reach equilibrium and we'll all be happy. Will anyone care in ten thousand years? Probaly not.

logankstewart said...

What an excellent post, both on the surface and metaphorically. Close-mindedness is a horrible trait regardless of the situation. I cannot stand it when people are unwilling to listen to someone that offers a different view/take on something.

Anyway, SFF fans don't have to like every different media format, but they should not hold it in contempt, either. I for one enjoy branching out and getting different experiences from different medias, and, *gasp, even different genres.

We've all got our preferences, but nobody likes a bigot. Once again, great post.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: A decline in the number of book reviews? I just checked the index, and Pat is once again on pace for a 40+ book reviews this year. The same as every other year since 2005.

The way I see it, we just get more bang for our buck!

Annie

King Rat said...

EH. I don't hate the other forms. I'm just not interested in them.

I like to read, and I like to read about reading. Anything not about reading is generally more noise than signal. If the noise to signal ratio gets high enough ...

Alex said...

In response to Tegan/Casey -- I understand where you're coming from, but I don't read Pat's because he predominantly reviews books. I read Pat's because I always find his reviews fair, insightful, and a pretty good barometer of what I'll enjoy.

And like Annie pointed out, there's a difference between occasionally covering tangential items -- books, movies, video games -- and covering them at the cost of not reviewing books. As far as I can tell, Pat is doing the former.

Like I said, I read Pat's because of Pat, not because he reviews books. If he can review books -- and other stuff -- why not? I know I've benefited from his movie reviews.

And I don't mean this as a flame or anything like that, honest, but if you don't like a review or something posted, why not just skip it?

Pat doesn't owe anyone anything, and if he's doing something that provides value to others, even if it doesn't strike a chord with you personally, why be so disappointed with it? (This last part isn't directed at anyone. Just a rhetorical thought.)

Anonymous said...

I understand where Tegan and Casey are coming from. I do like the focus on books here. But I don't mind that Pat occassionally reviews other media.

That's the main reason I came back here after I stopped reading for awhile. I was googling something, and up comes Pat's blog with a post on 5cm per second. So I was like, "Oh , I loved that movie. I wonder what Pat has to say about it." So I caeo, read a bunch of posts, found some good suggestion for books as well.

I've only just started following blos on a consistent basis, so I added him to me feeder, and here I am stillhanging around.

Of course, I can't read every single book I'd like to, and I have a huge TBR list. maybe someone who can afford read more books in a year than I can has a different opinion. And that's okay. You can't please everyone.

But Pat seems to have kept up his usual rate of books reviews, and he's going to run out of anime movies (much less *good* anime movies) real fast. So then it'll be back to more book reviews. Once he gets through his TBW list for them, I doubt he'll be able to find more than one or two worthy ones a year.

I do think, though, that SF/F as a genre is pretty fractured. I admit to not having a great opinion of UF--though I'll read one if enough friends recommend it. I know other people who won't read fantasy at all, bu only Hard SF.

And a lot of people look down on games, and anime, and such--sometimes they like games or anime but not books. Some just prefer their chosen areas, but many are actively against other genres or media. If you don't like something, ignore it. Pat reviews what he likes, and you don't have to read the reviews that don't interest you. Pat doesn't owe you anything.

PeterWilliam said...

In agreement with the majority of sentiment here. I would like to see a poll stickied so that those of us who aren't continually carping could vote. Then, Pat would have a far clearer vision of the percentage of viewership that is interested in a more diverse exposure and what percentage isn't. I would speculate that the latter is very small.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, what is wrong with people? Everyone has their own tastes and criticising anyone for giving exposure to different media and formats is just wrong.

If Pat posts something I'm interested in then I'll read it, if he posts something I don't care for I won't - the same for all blogs I read. What I won't do is moan and bitch about it.

A blogger should be free to post about what they want to expose things they find interesting to the masses, not cater to the readers because they feel they should be able to dictate what is covered.

Paul D said...

I think there are two things going on. One is your general point, the other is the effect of you reviewing non-books at this site. I have no problem with Anime, but I also have no interest in it.

I read your site to find out about interesting books, and if you're reviewing Anime, my assumption is that you're not reading books. Also, in terms of reviewing video games, with all due respect, I suspect you won't be as good at reviewing them as some of the better video game reviewers. I don't go to www.1up.com for novel reviews, and I don't come here for video games.

To your larger point (isn't James Nicoll a reviewer?), I am something of a snob. In fairness though, no matter how much they try to convince us otherwise, most, but not all, tie in fiction is not to the same quality as original work. (I'd argue that by its very nature it can't be, but maybe that's for another time). In terms of the rest, I'm just not interested in Anime, and video games are telling stories in such a different manner that I have no interest in trying to compare them with novels.

Adam Whitehead said...

Ah, the hierarchy of contempt. The literati look down on SFF writers, SFF writers look down on tie-in writers and everyone looks down on TV writers, who look down on video game writers. Ignoring the fact that Chris Avellone wrote one of the finest pieces of fantasy in the last ten years (PLANESCAPE: TORMENT, a video game and a tie-in, SHOCK! HORROR!) or that J. Michael Straczynski writes notably better science fiction than say Gregory Benford, regardless of the fact it is for the screen rather than print.

Anyway, it's your blog, you write about what you want to on it. If people don't like it, they can ignore it :-)

Bethany said...

On a simplistic level, and definitely not across the board, I think there is a temptation to want to be special by being different, and to accomplish that sometimes means creating superfluous differences.

Hagelrat said...

Well I can't speak for anyone else but i'm full of love for the whole community. Sure it has it's little spats and fallings out, but over all i'm so blissed out on having access to so many people whose tastes in reading overlap my own I really don't much care.

Gabriele C. said...

Adam, and the SF writers look down at the Fantasy writers who flunk phyiscs and genetics by using magic. ;)

I admit that comics, anime and games don't interest me, and there are few movies I like, but that doesn't say anything about the quality of those things. For example, I'm an opera girl and jazz or rock gives me headache, but I'm well aware that those have as much musical value as opera. (Sure, there are some die hard classic fans who consider jazz inferior and rock downright Not Music, but those people can be found everywhere. Picasso is no Rembrandt, and Boys is no Picasso, etc.)

Pat should blog about what he wants. It never occured to me that people had a problem with his excursions into anmie and such. I just don't read those posts and that's it.

Morrigan said...

Paul D said: I read your site to find out about interesting books, and if you're reviewing Anime, my assumption is that you're not reading books.

Errr... So what? Can't Pat do however he pleases? It's his personal blog, he's not paid for writing these reviews now is he?

Seriously, what the hell. If Pat wants to talk about his wooden ducks collection or his geese juggling contest on his blog, it's his right. If he starts doing it too much, I'll stop reading it.

I can understand having some expectations, but it's not like Pat pollutes his blog with nonsense (although seriously... Rage Against the Machine sucks, big time :D). The sense of entitlement from some people is kind of off-putting.

Aidan Moher said...

You can't account for taste?

~Aidan

Joe Sherry said...

Pat,

I think there’s a few things going on here.

People like what they like and when they see things they don’t like become successful over “more deserving” work, they get perturbed. That’s your Terry Brooks / Hal Duncan issue. It’s not just a genre issue, though. Look at “popular” fiction compared to Literature: Dan Brown and Michael Crichton and John Grisham outselling (at various points in their careers) everybody else, or the fracas over Stephen King receiving a career award in a more traditional high-brow setting. It’s everywhere and it is the difference between popular culture and more “refined” culture and what each means.

What it really means is that certain authors appeal to a mass audience and their sales reflect that. They may also have been the beneficiaries of being published at just the right time to hit into the public consciousness. If Terry Brooks didn’t write The Sword of Shannara when he did, does he have the same career? Somebody writing a lawyer book after John Grisham hit will garner success, but not as much as the man who started the wave. So, it’s luck and mass appeal. It’s marketing. It’s having a national book club pick up your book. It’s luck and it’s mass appeal. More than that, it is quite honestly what people like to read and as much as I want to argue with the world at large and explain to them exactly why Elizabeth Bear and Cherie Priest should be household names, it’s not up to me and the only vote that matters is the one made with a wallet…

And we can say that people are wrong and Christopher Paolini shouldn’t have the sales he does, or Stephanie Meyer, or Laurel Hamilton, or (Insert Name Here), but the fact is they do because people keep buying their books. And face it, this isn’t just one or two books, it’s people who buy book after book by these people because they like it.

But of course this is going to irritate people who don’t like those authors and are jealous of the success their favorites aren’t receiving.

Second – for the most part I have a difficult time agreeing with the lack of inclusivity that you’re railing against right now. I don’t see it. The circles that I travel in are excited about all forms of SFF media, from books to video games to television to movies. Where do you see this? I don’t know many people who will read in genre but won’t watch movies…though I will grant that animation can be a tough sell for some. They just might not be as interested in talking about it.

I don't think it's as widespread as you think it is.

What I do agree with is that people tend to stick to what they like, so the reader of Vernor Vinge or Charles Stross is probably not reading Carrie Vaughn (more’s the pity). It’s just not what they’re into. But that’s how it works, right? People want more of what they like and sometimes perception can be a bitch

Third – regarding your blog…I think that the mass perception of the Hotlist is that it is a book blog. So, if you’re seeing complaints that you’re reviewing movies or video games or doing a metric shit-ton of giveaways, it’s probably because folks expect and want one particular thing from your blog and aren’t that interested in reading about other things here. I don’t think it means (in general) that they don’t care about other forms of SFF or entertainment, but that they don’t want it here.

Shoot, I think Princess Mononoke is spectacular, but honestly, I’m not that interested in reading the movie reviews. My solution is that I don’t read the movie reviews and look for content that I do want to read.

Todd said...

I feel the more the merrier as far as content goes. You can review pink animal slippers for all I care, I love the heck out the blog and feel you do a fine job of running the site, and being an all around unbiased, good guy.

I wouldn't change a thing, and look forward to random and quirky posts I don't expect, inbetween the usual reviews/giveaways, etc...

Charles said...

Pat, everyone has their "exclusivity" sphere wherein they disparage anything that's not similar to what they enjoy/comfortable with. This isn't unique to SFF. Heck, that's why there's discrimination in the first place.

When it comes to comics, there are two arguments here. Why other fans don't give comics a shot, sure, that may or may not be illegitimate bias. As for Neil Gaiman winning the World Fantasy Award, that's where I as an author have an invested interest. It's not that comics aren't worthy of acclaim, but writing comics is different from writing a novel. I'd be perfectly fine with comics having a category of its own but the problem here is the same as a short story (or a film script) winning in the novel category: different medium, different criteria.

Anonymous said...

I am very guilty of being a pretentious critic, but that's not because I feel superior to fans of works I don't like or disapprove of - only because I have high standards. Very high.

Storytelling in any medium, for me, must meet the following criteria:

1. Entertaining
2. Original
3. Powerful themes
4. Strong characterization

Any work, in any genre - books, anime, video games, photo essays, you name it - that meets these criteria, will generally win my approval. I understand that recognizing these aforementioned qualities is mostly subjective, as in based on personal taste, but there are certainly base prerequisites that must be met.

- Adam

Paul D said...

Errr... So what? Can't Pat do however he pleases? It's his personal blog, he's not paid for writing these reviews now is he?

Of course he can. And he should. What I want from this blog doesn't matter, what's important is what Pat wants. That said, it's clearly become an issue for some people, and I thought I'd add my two cents.

Brett said...

I think most people are looking at this from the wrong angle. This is not about Pat's blog and what people think about it. It's about a widespread problem and Pat was only using the Hotlist to demonstrate that there seems to be a vast divide between the different SFF media.

Personally, I believe the problem to be widespread. At least it was when I was in high school and college, so I see no reason why it shouldn't be the case today. I think Pat's post raises a few questions that we don't really like to answer. Because like it or not, there is a douche bag in all of us. We all look down on stuff, and pretending that we're not won't solve this issue.

I know I've always looked down on anime. Even worse, I did so without having seen anything in that medium. I just assumed that everything was shit and that's all there is to it.

I've been coming here for a few years now, and Pat made me buy and read a LOT of SFF books. I trust his judgement because we have similar tastes in books. So imagine my shock when he realized that he had reviewed a Japanese animated movie! Not only that, he loved the damn thing! Of course, I didn't know who the fuck Hayao Miyazaki was. And then he watched another and another and he loved them both.

And just like that, my curiosity was piqued. And both Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away have been eyeballing ever since every time I go to the video store. So much that I think the time has come for me to give one a try.

You see, Pat is not asking people to like what he likes. He trying to convince us to give other media a shot. And why the fuck not? People have been making fun of me for years because of my love for comic books. The same because I read fantasy books. So who the hell am I to laugh at someone who loves manga or anime???

I think it's ingrained to a certain degree and we all do it, some more than others. But this post was the kick in the ass I needed to wake me up. Pat has done good by me in the past with books, so why not trust him and give this Miyazaki fellow a try?

This weekend I will!

Tyson said...

I think that SFF is looked down upon by other literary genres in the overall sense of literature. But, when you take a closer look at SFF then you notice that it has much more freedom than the other genres of literature.
Not only that but as a comic book collector who has several thousand dollars invested in them I can say that it is a better investment over time when compared to stocks. You rarely see comic books go down in price dramatically, whereas you never know day to day what the price of Starbucks or Microsoft stocks are in the market.
But that is just one man's opinion and like ***holes we all have one.

Jebus said...

My simple response to all this blather is - who the fuck cares? Wankers will always have douchebag complaints, ignore them and get on with life.

Roland said...

I have to go with the "it's better to specialize" group. And not because I don't enjoy anime, movies or games, but because I have better places to go if I want to read about them. And I'm actually quite a bit more informed about those than Pat is (no offense intended), so I just can't find anything of interest in their reviews on the Hotlist.

With books it's different. There was a time (maybe a year ago and earlier) when I really used the Hotlist as a source for inspiration. I would never give Hal Duncan a chance if I hadn't read his interview and the reviews for The Book of All Hours here. And I'd be poorer for it.

That was before Pat trashed one of the greatest Speculative Fiction novels of the decade (Jonathan Strange & Mister Norell if anyone's wondering) and started reading books because of bets with George Martin about which we're kept a bit TOO informed. I could care less about football results or the bets that go with them. And in general I feel that Pat's capability of experimentation and appreciation of more complex work has diminished somewhat. This "why the elitist attitude" is just another signal for that. I've seen it in other people as well - the devolution of interests, the ever growing love for the easier - and it's not cool when it happens to someone you've respected.

BUT this is Pat's Fantasy Hotlist and the accent falls neither on "Fantasy", nor on "Hotlist". This is his corner and he's free to do whatever he sees fit here. If we don't want to read about it, that's our choice. The net is vast and limitless after all ;)

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your book reviews, Pat. And that's what I come here for. I am not interested in film, comic book, or game reviews. You are free to do what you like, of course, but if you lose the focus on books, I'll stop reading. Not hating, just being honest!

Jim Shannon said...

For me it mostly comes down to disposable income and time. There's just so much out there too sample and so little money to cover it all.In this economy its hard to justify spending the money on all the different media types made available.

For gaming, its a struggle just to keep up with the hardware little alone the games. I'm using a computer that's 5 years old. I got a gaming platform as a Christmas present but I've got only one game. I just don't have the time.

As for comic books, I used to be a huge Marvel fan in the 60's 70's and early 1980's until Marvel began grinding out dozens of books graphic novels and series each month I'd need a second job to keep a file open.

So I'm asking if this hate of the different genre's/media isn't so much about hate but the ability to keep up with everything and some of us like me are getting stressed out here. Is that where this hate might be coming from?

I don't have anything against any SSF media.

While most of you guys here at the Hotlist are bantering back and fourth over the recent SFF novel I have to wait until the novel comes out in MMP format. As for movies, I have to wait for when they come to the Dollar theater.

Basically for me it all comes down to disposable income. Not hating on the different media or types of SFF out there isn't the problem. It's all good, I just wish I had the money for it.

I hop I'm on topic with this

Anonymous said...

Long time reader but first post. It's not lust SFF it's the same in lots of areas. Probably rock music forums are the absolute worst (if you mention to most people online that you like Guns N Roses for example you're torn to pieces :-))
I want to read/watch/listen to what I enjoy and if others can recommend new interests then thank you. It takes seconds to skip...

Anonymous said...

People want to feel good about themselves. Most people here have at some point in their lives been ridiculed as a loser or geek. So to make themselves feel better they find something that they hate (usually because they just cant understand the attraction of the thing) and try grinding it to dust. They just dont realize they are the Math Club kid picking on the Chess Club kid.

As for myself I have no problem with anime or comics. I cant stand computer games but my best friend plays them for hours every day.

Are people actually complaining, send e-mails!, about the contents of a blog? Do they not know what a blog is?

Yes, I come to the Hotlist for the book stuff, as well as Pat's (often funny) take on the industry. The rest I skip. If I want to find out about comics I'd check out Newsarama or something.
But ultimately this is Pat's blog and he can fill it however the fuck he wants. (Like those stupid football results or Circ Du Soleil reviews).
If people dont like it they can stop reading. And if it ever becomes apparent no one likes it? Meh. The Hotlist will just join the ranks of the billion other blogs that nobody visits.

People gotta take some pills, chill the fuck out and remember this is the internets. It isn't real.

Marc said...

I'm with Werthead on this, I think a lot of SFF fans want the books they love to be taken seriously as literature, and feel that comics and animated stories will hurt the chances for that, if they are considered to be closely associated.

Be that as it may, I'm a longtime proponent of the idea of reading/watching/playing whatever you like. Experience media (and other things in life) that make you feel good and feel well. And if you write a blog, as I do on occasion, write about what you feel inspired to write about.

Patrick said...

This is not about the Hotlist, folks.

I'm just using the blog as an example for what I feel is a widespread problem. One I can't really understand. . .

Roland: If you know an author who's the Hal Duncan of 2009, please forward me his or her name immediately. The book will trump whatever I'm currently reading!

Roland said...

Dude, if I knew a guy like that, I'd have lauded him loud enough for you to HEAR me from Canada! You have a much broader view of the genre than I do. I just came to live in America two months ago. And you're wasting it on YA ffs! (or not. Just a general feeling)

Look, I know I sound like a douche most of the time in the comment section. But I'm not here to troll and I'm not here to hate. I still come and read your posts. It's just that I had more fun doing it before. Dunno. Some you win, some you lose, I guess it's the way of life :)

Patrick said...

Roland: I believe that someone like Duncan only comes along once in a while. That's what makes them so special, and that's why I'm incredibly pleased to have Hal in the forthcoming anthology I'm editing for Subpress.

Believe me, I'd read something like Vellum every week if it were possible! Alas, that's not the case...

Roland said...

Offtopic: What is he doing nowadays? I was hoping for something new to come out, but he's been quiet for a while now.

kevin said...

I can't be the only one here that sees something ironic in Pat complaining about looking down on other genres and forms of literature when he's the one who is happy to write off the entire Young Adult genre?

The Mad Hatter said...

@Roland Duncan did a novella length book called Escape from Hell late last year. He also does a lot on his blog, which is worth checking out.

I too don't understand the animosity in fandom. Whenever I meet a fellow SFF I'm overjoyed by the chance of talking books. But most of the commenters are right in that the anonymity the internet provides people with an outlet to spew venom that for the most part is not needed.

Cheers,
The Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter's Bookshelf

Dream Girlzzz said...

@Kevin: Yeah, but he's read quite a few YA books and they never do anything for him. It's not like he's writing off a subgenre without having read anything related to it.

The way I see his post, he's perplexed by the fact that SFF fans won't give some other media a shot. It's easy to claim that anime blows. But when you haven't seen a single anime series of movie, what the fuck do you know?

Roland said...

I devoured "Escape From Hell" the moment it came out, and I read Duncan's blog at least once a week. What I meant was that I'm DYING for a new novel or a story collection. Right now his short stuff is impossible to hunt down.

Pete said...

Pat, i think the issue you're addressing is the exact same thing which happens with any hobby or interest that has an internet following. The internet gives some people the chance to put on their "internet douche" uniforms. It's easy to be a internet tough guy when they're sitting in their momma's basement at 2am. However, those same people would probably be a helluva lot more civil if you met them in person. It's a reflection on our society and, unfortunately, I don't see it getting any better.

Adam Whitehead said...

"When you haven't seen a single anime series of movie, what the fuck do you know?"

I often enjoy anime when I sit down to watch it, but I've seen some real clunkers as well. What is odd to me is the whole phenomenon of 'anime fans'. That makes about as much sense to me as proudly declaring yourself a 'live-action TV fan'. It's a medium, not a genre (although perhaps the phenomenon is explicable as an awful lot of the stuff that reaches the West is SF or fantasy-influenced, whilst back in Japan there's a lot of non-genre anime as well). There's brilliant anime and also anime that stinks, as with everything else.

However, the above comment does remind me of Charles Stross' hilariously inept recent blog post about how he hates ALL modern science fiction on television. Even though he hasn't watched it. But he knows about it because he's read about it in Wikipedia. Erm, okay.

"I can't be the only one here that sees something ironic in Pat complaining about looking down on other genres and forms of literature when he's the one who is happy to write off the entire Young Adult genre?"

Then lauds Dan Brown, whose writing style and technique is vastly inferior to 90% of YA writers currently writing? Yes, but I just put that down to Pat's general insanity ;-)

Anonymous said...

i agree...i pretty much play video games, watch anime, read comics, read fantasy and sci fi and also watch the gamut of sci/fantasy esque shows on tv. I think there are good stories to be told on any medium. For anime in general i think its a cultural thing...seems older people who haven't been exposed to it aren't into it.
i like pat's blog but i think that the anime posts seem to be piled on thick lately.

Allan said...

People look down on genre so genre fans need something to look down on.

It's always better to mock rather than reason with these people . If the choose to miss out on BSG / AKIRA / Planescape etc due to some ill conceived perception of its quality (based on its medium) then that is their loss.

I think as someone else mentioned earlier some circles are so desperate for SFF to be taken seriously that they attempt to distance themselves from tv , games , comics and anime as much as possible. Why these people cannot enjoy the genre in its entirety for what it is is beyond my limited comprehension.

Luis said...

I was one of the ones puzzled by the sudden inclusion of Anime on the blog, I say puzzled, not bothered by it. And even more puzzled by the "Every Rose Has it's Thorn" video by Poison, which I loathe, but I digress. I believe that by including other media we will be able to see the ties that all fantasy fiction has across all media. Books influence comics which influence games which influence anime or vice versa.
Having said that, if Pat starts reviewing paranormal romance novels, I'll promtly stop reading the blog because that's not my thing, but it's HIS blog and he's done a great job of it and he can do what he wants.

Lowkey said...

I agree with everything you wrote, also I am glad you are delving into other subject matter as it makes the blog more interesting. I do have one issue however Vellum by Hal Duncan is the worst fucking book I have ever read. It is your blog so you can say whatever you want but, I find your opinion of that book off putting especially when you look down your nose and single out other authors that are "worse". By doing this you are falling into the same pattern as the fantasy snobs. Let's be honest Vellum is not a book that most people will enjoy it is a hard read, actually it is more than a hard read, it's an impossible read. God I hated that book.

Greg said...

Pat i think how you are ranting and then trying to disaccosite your intetnions from your recent forays in broadening your blog is a bit disgenious.

On your blog in particular i personally am not much interested in anime, i will watch stuff by whats his name (Spirited Away guy), but it seems odd you are bringing up these old films by a widely praised director. I dont think most people are that against anime per se, but you have blogged about it a lot recently. So of course it will create comment.

I also have to create issue with people critising anyone who has a negative stance on Pats recents changes by saying it is Pats blog so you can shut up. I guess that is maybe an okay comment in general (but he still has a comment section), but if starts having an editorial rant/essay on the issue then I assume he is wanting opinion on his changes.

On the wider issue, personally i havent really noticed a massive rift between the different forms of media in Spec Fic. There is also a rift between the diffferent sug-gens to some degree and also between the different levels of interaction the novel requires. For example, Van der Meer requires more of a commitment, than say Jim Butcher. (Not really making a preference, think both are Okay). There is even going to be divisiviness due to style, such as between fans of GRRM and Erikson (Although I assume quite few rank these two as there favourites).

Anyway the comments seem to be related just to the backlash caused by your recent anime obesession. Personally, I would rather you not continue commenting on this, at least not so often. But clearly that is up to you, but just putting my vote in. Even if it was in a long winded clearly drunken comment.

Robie said...

I don't think this has anything to do with Pat and the Hotlist, other than he's using it as an example to try to show that there is a problem and it is probably more widespread than people think.

As a manga and anime fan, I often get the impression that I'm at the very bottom of the speculative fiction totem pole. Christ, even comic book fans look down on manga.

So yes there is a divide. And I think that Pat is just using the Hotlist as an example of what's going on out there. It won't go away, of course. But it would be nice to see people a bit more openminded about other media. Give them a shot and if you don't like them, so be it. But don't piss on something if you haven't even tried it. Are the shitty mangas out there? Hell yeah! Are there great ones too? Damn right!

So I like the fact that Pat is trying new things. Quite a few of his detractors always claim that he doesn't challenge himself, etc. Well the guy is giving different things a shot. And by reviewing them he introduces us to new stuff and give them exposure so that we might be enticed to try them ourselves. In my opinion, that's a good thing.

Let's face it: Most of us don't have the time or the money or the inclination to try different media. So these reviews sort of steer us in the right direction. And if you trust Pat with books, then chances are that you might enjoy a Japanese animated movie or a comic book he enjoys.

That's my two cents...:D

Elfy said...

That 'snobbery' could be why no one reads my blog: travelsthroughiest@blogspot.com. It's about the graphic novel Cerebus the Aaardvark, all 300 issues of it. Then again it could be because I've chosen an obscure subject or I'm not a very good writer.

Roland said...

Blatant self-promoting is blatant.

Btw, I thoroughly enjoyed the logic behind "the book is a hard read so I hate it". It's inspiring.

Lowkey said...

Roland: not sure if that comment was directed at me. Lets set the record straight I enjoy lots of "hard reads." But, Vellum lacked any sort of story, it was just pure shit. From your previous posts you seem like a Hal Duncan fanboy and that's fine, but you cannot say in good conscience that most people are going to enjoy this novel. I read Vellum because I was working my way thru Pat's year end list in 2007, I enjoyed everything else on the list so most of the time I respect Pat's opinion. But I am sick of visiting this blog and seeing that book written about as if it is the best fantasy novel ever written, when it may be the worst.

Roland said...

I've never been an anything fanboy in my life. Don't intend to become one just for your mental comfort either. The Book of All Hours HAS a story, and a very interesting one. If you couldn't follow it (because it's not linear but three-dimentional), the fault lies with you, not with the author or the book.

Anonymous said...

But then you post a fanboy response

"my opinion is right, the book is X and if you dont like it then the problem lies with YOU"

fanboy lol

axe said...

>> There is certainly an "holier than thou" attitude coming from the elitist clique of the genre which drives me nuts.

>> Why is it that a vast majority of them can't stand to get away from their comfort zone? Why is it that inferior writers like R. A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks, who have been writing the same generic stories for over two decades


He he he.

Moron.

The Fantasizer said...

Yeah I am with you on this bullshit about comics or anime are just below me kind of airs.
Every medium has its attractions and I for one am in love with it all! be em comics, anime, books, movies whatever.
Like Colin says Give us a bit of everything. "

Roland said...

Hmm, if you just didn't like the book, then that's ok. But you give a specific reason - the book having no plot - which is objectively untrue. Ergo, the problem DOES lie with you for not having understood the book. If you HAD understood it and THEN didn't like it, I'd never have said anything.

Btw, do call me elitist if you like, but to me comics ARE inferior to books. I mean, I love comics and I have quite a lot, but if we speak of percentage, the number of truly genius works of art in that medium is undoubtedly smaller than the one in literature.

Jacob @ Drying Ink said...

Well, there are always going to be forms of SFF that are castigated - tie-in novels, for instance. However, we should appreciate the growing diversity and audiences for these things - just leave it at a "I can't really review this because I don't appreciate its value to fans in this area", rather than a full length rant against it. :) Posted a response over at my blog (http://drying-ink.blogspot.com)

Anonymous said...

Pat, I've been following you for almost a year now, and I thought I might finally comment :)

Bravo! I love the inclusion of the new stuff personally. I've been wondering these same things myself, over the past year it seems that most of the lists/blogs I frequent have gotten so hateful from within. For two genres (it's happening in Fantasy as well as SF) that are supposed to be about possibilities and open-mindedness there are a lot of closed minds. So I learn which commenters are trolls and haters, and pass over their comments LOL.

Seriously though, I'm loving the posts on other media. I've been a Miyazaki fan for several years thanks to a best friend who finally got me off my high horse to give anime another try, and now I go searching for it on my own. So seeing it reviewed here was nice, and I hope it has gotten others to try it out (even if they decide they don't like it, hey you gave it a shot). I pass over them since I've already seen them, but if you review something I haven't I will def be giving it a chance.

I also really love the inclusion of comics/graphic novels. I've dabbled in the area ever since I was but a young lass of 8 and started in on Xmen, but there has always been so much that I get intimidated and just wait for someone with a more informed opinion to direct me. I don't let them tell me what to read and what to ignore, but I do depend on them for story summaries and if the subject is interesting to me I will check it out regardless of that critic's opinion on how good it was. I'm getting better at going at it on my own, but I do love having a crutch :) So I ask please, keep the comic/graphic novel reviews. But hows about spreading out from just Sandman (I'm a huge Neil Gaimen fan so I've got that one covered).

Now with all that being said, I do think that maybe the spacing out of things might help a few of our readers. You do go through spots where it seems like there is a TON of just one type of post. Either it's all music video posts (which boggles my mind, I skip over them but to me it makes your blog more YOU), or suddenly we have a bunch of football updates. Perhaps to make things more digestible you could try to evenly space stuff out. Have an author interview followed by your music video, and then a book review or release announcement or 2, and then do a film or video game review. Maybe then it won't feel like you've left books behind for some people.

PeterWilliam said...

Well, there's no such thing as bad traffic. I seriously sucks that this is has become discordant.

Pat, how in the hell did you become a magnet for controversy? You didn't even bag on Goodkind in this one.

Darkstar said...

As a reviewer from outside the USA let me say some thing:

First and foremost:
I really appreciate your blog - and I personally really like that you also review things like comic books and animes and such things.

As a foreign reader I sometimes get the feeling that there's a lot of envy between english speaking bloggers. I might be wrong on this, but some things I read ...
Here in germany blogging is quite new. My own blog is only one and a half year old and I have the feeling it is one of the older ones here in Germany. A lot of german bloggers are in constant contact with each other and its a really friendly and warm atmosphere.

What I don't get:
Why BITCH around just because one doesn't like what he/she reads on another persons blog?

A blog is MEANT to be individual, in my opinion. And its great that different bloggers embrase different topics. The more, the merrier, I thougth.

I would lie if I wouldn't say that its nice to get great feedback both from blog-readers and from publishing companies and authors. And obviously this is something that creates envy.

But if one reads something which he doesn't like, he isn't forced to read it.

It's totally up to Pat what he talks about on his very own blog. And I cannot see how an other blogger / SFFfan is in the position to judge about it.
This is not what a blog is for, after all. You can decide to like it, you can decide you hate it and not reading it. But you cannot tell a person what belong to his/her own blog or not.

Darkstar from www.fantasy-news.com

Patrick said...

Guys, again this is not about the Hotlist. I just used the blog because I thought it was a good example to show that there is resistance to other media where SFF readers are concerned. And I'm just trying to figure out why we are like that. I say "we" because I include myself as well. Personally, I felt that I had outgrown comic books. I used to have a collection of over 1000 comics, so it's not like I refused to give that medium a shot. It's just that I believed I was over that. It's nice to see I was wrong. The same thing goes for anime. I grew up watching dozens of anime series, culminating with Robotech in my early teens. And well, I thought that was it, that I wasn't 14 anymore, and that most of the stuff seemed to be a bit retarded. So when Émilie turned me on to Hayao Miyazaki, I realized how much of an idiot I had been. Which makes me realize that there is likely a lot of great stuff out there, just waiting for me to sample it.

Yes, a blog is personal and I'll continue to do what I want. But that is not the issue here. We are trying to figure out why there is no love among the various media of SFF fandom. Sure, some people like different media. But the sad truth is, that many SFF readers out there won't consider watching anime, or read a manga or comic book because these are inferior products.

And Peter, I guess it's easier to stir up some shit when you have a vast readership. Imagine if I'd thrown the Yeard into the mix!

So no, it's not about me and the Hotlist. It's about all of us, as members of the SFF fandom...

Joe Sherry said...

Do you really see people calling other media an "inferior product"? That's just weird. Very seldom have I seen something like that and given that it is a rare case, I can't say that I don't see inclusivity among fandom.

There are pockets, sure, because folks like different things, but I don't see a whole lot of dismissiveness.

Anonymous said...

Don't know where you guys live, but it's been like this for me throughout high school, college, and university. And I agree that the internet made everything worse. It's all so territorial now.

I guess that many of us suffer from voluntary blindness, as it's easier to pretend that people don't act a certain way than to admit that there is a douche in all of us.

I'm guilty as charged of looking down on comics and manga, and I've done it for years. But I may give Sandman a try, especially since I just discovered I can get the trade paperbacks at my library free of charge.:)

But it's the same thing is any sphere of activity. Just look at how people liking one type of music will disparage another. It's present in metal, rap, you name it. I guess that to expect SFF dorks to act any better is a bit of a stretch...:p

Clayton

Roland said...

That's why I try not to care what the medium is. I just like good stuff. If it's anime, it's anime. If it's a game, it's a game. One of the most profound and philosophical experiences I've ever had was with the quest "Syberia". As someone already mentioned, few fantasy novels could match the worldbuilding and atmosphere of "Planescape: Torment". That doesn't preclude me from loving "Cowboy Bebop" or "Ghost in the Shell" and be utterly in love with Gene Wolfe or Hal Duncan. If it's good, it's good and it doesn't matter in which medium it was created. True - some mediums produce more good works than others, and for some a work of true genius is if not impossible, than nearly so. But things change and mediums evolve. We shouldn't forget this.

Terry said...

Just read Larry's response on the OF blog... Those people who claim not to see a divide between the science fiction and fantasy media either live in the desert or they choose not to see it, I guess.

Off topic, but one thing I find a bit weird is how Aidan from A Dribble of Ink has been one of the most vocal detractors of the Hotlist in the Blogosphere. Though he says in the comment section of Larry's post that Pat's content is better these days, he's always been a bit of bitch about the content found here. Just football updates when there's only one per week. Just videos when there's 3 or 4 musical interludes a month, with a few jokes thrown in from time to time. Like there is nothing else.

This coming from a guy who has reviewed a grand total of 4 books since August 1st. That's close to a book a month, for fuck's sake. During that time, 9 books were reviewed on the Hotlist, as well as 3 Sandman omnibuses, and 9 Japanese animated movies. The rest of Aidan's blog is filled with cover art (many taken from here) and other tidbits of news. And for some reason, such things posted here are considered eccentricities on Pat's part.

If you like in a glass house, don't be throwing rocks at others, or whatever that saying is. Aidan always claims that he's got pertinent content, but what the fuck???

Sorry about the rant. . .:S

Anonymous said...

I've got a question. I've written a fantasy that is a real homage to anime. Agents just don't know what to make of it because it doesn't fall into any neat category. It's not urban fantasy, or paranormal, or swords and sorcery. It's more like final fantasy set in modern Japan than anything else. I'm looking for some anecdotal evidence that a market for something like this exists.

dd-b said...

I almost had a second major in film in college -- but the SF, especially, films and TV offered us rises, on its best days, to somewhere around the middle of the 1950s level. It just doesn't bear thinking about -- and for me, SF is the genre that works by asking the next question. So SF that doesn't bear thinking about is horrible sf. There are very occasional exceptions, sure. But the SF films I've seen are the poor cousin of the SF I've read.

I don't think that's unreasoning prejudice; I approve of film as an artistic medium, and have seen the films I don't like, and have liked some SF (including the first 2/3 of 2001, for example :-)).

It certainly IS personal opinion, though. Many people, I know, disagree with me, which is fine. I disagree with some of my best friends about books and things too.

Comics, the other obvious big area, I simply have an inability to read. Nothing so simple as not being able to see what order to read the word balloons in, that's generally obvious. But they just don't work to tell a story, for me. They do for lots of other people, including lots of good friends, though. So I don't think comics are "bad"; I just can't read them enough to have actual opinions.

Fantasy films do rather better, it seems to me. I've quite liked several Miyazaki films, and for that matter some Neil Gaiman films, and others. I'm not as big a fantasy fan in general, though.

Here's what I think about film and TV SF: those media cost immensely more to produce than simple prose fiction does, and the process of producing them is inherently collaborative. Film writers get paid a LOT more than people who write books -- and that cost is a minor expense on the scale of film-making. To recoup the costs, they must be exhibited where lots of people will see them, and must attract lots of people. Really good SF is not mainstream, certainly not lowest common denominator. It's challenging, thought-provoking, and requires considerable familiarity with previous works to really follow it. Few things with those characteristics are financially viable as movies or even TV.

The collaborative process is also a problem -- when you're inventing the world, there's a much greater difficulty in keeping everybody thinking in sync.

So yeah, I think there's very little good moving-picture SF, and I think there are systemic (not so much artistic) reasons why that's the case.

JoeNotCharles said...

I can't find a direct link to email you, so I'll have to post this here: google claims this blog is inadvertantly hosting malware:

Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer!
The website at fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com contains elements from the site www.webpagedesign.ws, which appears to host malware – software that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent. Just visiting a site that contains malware can infect your computer.
For detailed information about the problems with these elements, visit the Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page for www.webpagedesign.ws.

Patrick said...

Joe: Chrome users have been receiving this warning for about two weeks now. I've been told that it's due to a glitch from the last Chrome update. Accessing sites like CNN.com from Chrome got users the same warning, or so I've been told.

IE, Firefox, Safari, etc, get no warning whatsoever...

James Davis Nicoll said...

What on Earth was I doing in 2009 that got me lumped in with Clute and Harrison?

Matthew Graybosch said...

I dunno, Pat. I read and write science fiction and fantasy, but I also like a good SF movie, SF video games (like Destiny and Dark Souls), good SF anime, and even a good SF rock opera. Granted, I'm not terribly active in any particular fandom, but that's just because I'm not very sociable.