Jenny's Library

Linkspam on Fantasy, Realism, and “Grit”

Posted on: March 30, 2013

After my visitor stats jumped up the other day (thank you to The Book Smugglers – and Kate Elliott and Liz Bourke – for retweeting the link to my Sisters Red post!) I realized I ought to point readers in the direction of some of the posts that got me thinking about this.  And then I fell down the rabbit hole of collecting links.

So, this is not the “you should read these posts” post! – that’s still coming.  Instead, this is a nice long list of links about “grimdark,” realism, fantasy, and other related topics.  Not all of these links are ones I find intellectually stimulating, but many of them are, and I’m hoping that this list will provide a good reference.

For me, if no one else.

Two last notes: First, a huge thanks to Liz Bourke and Cora Buhlert for their recent link posts, which is where I got most of these links.  And secondly, several of these links deal with sexual assault, so proceed with caution.

2/2/11 The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists – Leo Grin (one of the critics of grimdark that Abercrombie links to as decrying grit in a general sense)

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2011/02/12/The-Bankrupt-Nihilism-of-Our-Fallen-Fantasists

5/13/11 Lament for a Lady – George R. R. Martin “It has come to my attention that a number of television viewers…were shocked and upset by what befell Sansa’s direwolf Lady…Good. I mean, that was kind of the point.”

http://grrm.livejournal.com/216015.html

8/2/11 “People who like this sort of thing.” Being a review of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns – Liz Bourke “In my experience, you have to be either especially clueless, or trying very hard, to achieve that level of misogynist creepy.”

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/qpeople-who-like-this-sort-of-thing-q-being-a-review-of-mark-lawrences-prince-of-thorns

2/27/12 A Game of Thorns: Or This Partially Being an Epic Review of the Epic Fantasy Novel, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, And Partially Something Else - Eric M. Forester “Because while the author claims it only has rape in “0.06%” of the book, it is certainly front heavy with it. And a general dismissiveness towards women stalks its pages.”

http://alltheworldsbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/game-of-thorns-or-this-partially-being.html

5/12  Dear Speculative Fiction, I’m Glad We’ve Had This Talk – Elizabeth Bear “The thing is, that kind of cynical pose is really just a juvenile reaction to the world not being what we hoped. We can’t have everything—so we reject anything. But it’s adolescent, darling, and most of us outgrow it.”

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/another_word_05_12/

10/18/12 “But Alas, She Is A Woman”: How Dishonored Uses Gender Roles To Tell A Story – Becky Chambers “There are many other examples, but those were the two that made me realize that Dishonored is fully aware of how the women within it are treated. It knows how unfair that treatment is.”

http://www.themarysue.com/but-alas-she-is-a-woman-how-dishonored-uses-gender-roles-to-tell-a-story/

10/21/12 The Treatment of Women in Dishonored – Cuppycake “I just wish that at least once, either the women are given the chance to fight back and improve their situation, or I am given the option as a player to help them and show that I care.”

http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=9391

1/20/13 onwards Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels – SFF Chronicles forum

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/539494-gratuitous-rape-in-fantasy-novels.html

1/28/13 A Song of Gore and Slaughter – Tom Simon (one of the critics of grimdark that Abercrombie links to as being concerned with morality)

http://bondwine.com/2013/01/28/a-song-of-gore-and-slaughter/

2/8/13 Grimmy Grimmy Dark Dark - The G “Darkness has its place in fantasy fiction, and can infuse a book or series with immediacy and power, but it only works if horror is presented as horrible, and if it serves some greater purpose.”

http://www.nerds-feather.com/2013/02/grimmy-grimmy-dark-dark.html#

2/25/13 The Value of Grit – Joe Abercrombie “So, yeah, shitty gritty books are no better than shitty shiny books.  But I proudly and unapologetically assert that there’s a great deal more to grit than a capacity to shock and titillate.”

http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2013/02/25/the-value-of-grit/

2/25 onwards Joe Abercrombie Defends Gritty Fantasy – SFF Chronicle discussion thread

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/540016-joe-abercrombie-defends-gritty-fantasy.html

2/26/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Epic Fantasy is Crushingly Conservative? – Liz Bourke “We come back again to a lack of a broad consensus in definitions: I like epic, you like grimdark, they like crap.”

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/02/sleeps-with-monsters-epic-fantasy-is-crushingly-conservative

3/1/13 Grimdark Fantay’s Last Hurrah? The Grim Comany by Luke Scull – Niall Alexander

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/03/reveiw-the-grim-company-luke-scull

3/1/13 Stopping the Pendulum by C. P. D. Harris

http://domainsofthechosen.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/stopping-the-pendulum/

3/1/13 Truest Grit – Joel Johnson “But don’t try to turn on all the lights and wash over everything with a fire hose. We’ve grown fond of this dark, dirty place we live in.”

http://jeroljohnson.org/2013/03/01/truest-grit/

3/3/13 It’s That Time of the Year Again: Grimdark Fantasy – Cora Buhlert “First of all, I find it telling that he equates people who don’t want to read grimdark fiction with those who don’t want sex or swearing in their fiction.”

http://corabuhlert.com/2013/03/03/its-that-time-of-the-year-again-grimdark-fantasy/

3/3/13 On Grittiness & Grimdark – Foz Meadows “when you contend that realistic worldbuilding requires the inclusion of certain specific inequalities in order to count as realistic, you’re simultaneously asserting that such inequalities are inherent to reality – that a story cannot be honest, or your characters believably human, if there aren’t mechanisms in place to keep women oppressed, POC othered and LGBTQ persons invisible.”

http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/on-grittiness-grimdark/

3/3/13 Yes, This! – Cheryl Morgan “The point about happy endings is that they give hope. They let people know that they don’t have to accept that darkness and oppression are the natural state of the world.”

http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=16178

3/4/13 What is Your Consensual Sex & Love Doing in My Epic Fantasy – Kate Elliot “To my mind, we lessen the story we are telling about human experience if we do not include and see as worthy all of human experience, especially including positive depictions of sex and love. What kind of world do we vision if we only tell the ugly stories about such intimate matters?”

http://www.kateelliott.com/wordpress/index.php/2013/03/what-is-your-consensual-sex-love-doing-in-my-epic-fantasy-spiritwalker-monday-16/

3/5/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Urban Fantasy is Licentiously Liberal? – Liz Bourke “Within the greater umbrella of “urban fantasy” as I choose to conceive of it, then, it’s clear that there are a wide range of possible moods, themes, and approaches.”

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/03/sleeps-with-monsters-urban-fantasy-is-licentiously-liberal

3/5/13 More on Grimdark Fantasy – Cora Buhlert “This is remarkable, because – as I’ve noted before – women and writers of colour are usually assumed not to write gritty fantasy, even if they do.”

http://corabuhlert.com/2013/03/05/more-on-grimdark-fantasy/

3/10/13  Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs (2012) - Renay

http://ladybusiness.dreamwidth.org/46742.html

3/10/13 A question about male gaze – Michelle Sagara “Male gaze irritates the crap out of me. Most of the women I know who notice their bodies are likely to say “I need to lose weight around my thighs” or “my stomach is so flabby”, so if you really want to write from a female viewpoint, you don’t have your character notice her fabulous perky breasts or creamy skin or etc. Because. Well.”

http://msagara.livejournal.com/73478.html

3/13/13 The Rape of James Bond – Sophia MacDougall “I found I couldn’t cope with rape as wallpaper.”

http://sophiamcdougall.com/2013/03/13/the-rape-of-james-bond/

and

http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/03/rape-james-bond

3/14/13 Why Winterbirth Was Gritty, Grimdark, or Whatever You Want to Call It – Brian Ruckley Part 1 (Winterbirth being a novel by Brian Ruckley)

http://www.brianruckley.com/2013/03/14/why-winterbirth-was-gritty-grimdark-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it-part-1/

3/15/13 Realism, (Male) Rape, and Epic Fantasy – Liz Bourke “Why do men flinch from the reality of their victimisation? Does it not fit their fantasies of power? Of gritty, grim, realistic life and violence?”

http://lizbourke.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/realism-male-rape-and-epic-fantasy/

3/15/13 Grim, Dark, and Straw – Richard Morgan “So it seems I’m writing GRIMDARK!!! Who knew? Well, certainly not me.”

http://www.richardkmorgan.com/news/982/grim-dark-and-straw/

3/16/13 Welcome to the Desert of the Real – Marie Brennan “I don’t have a problem with stories where everything is grim and dark and horrible. I may not want to read them, but I’m not going to run around saying they shouldn’t exist in the first place. What I do have a problem with is the imputation of moral virtue to those stories…”

http://www.sfnovelists.com/2013/03/16/welcome-to-the-desert-of-the-real/

3/17/13 Transcript of a Twitter Conversation – fidelioscabinet (+ various)  “I’m beginning to think that writers of epic fantasy and SF should be required to learn about the anthropology of material culture… (Liz Bourke)”

http://fidelioscabinet.livejournal.com/269212.html

3/18/13 I Love A Good Tragedy As Much As the Next Guy – Elizabeth Bear “If every woman’s going to be raped, if every hero is going to turn out to be a pedophile or a coward, if every halfway honorable man is going to be impaled, if every picturesque little town is going to be burned to the ashes… Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies is just as lazy a narrative as the one where all challenges are resolved by a handy Deus ex machina. And possibly a little more juvenile.”

http://aidanmoher.com/blog/2013/03/articles/i-love-a-good-tragedy-as-much-as-the-next-guy-by-elizabeth-bear/

3/19/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Thinking About Dishonored – Liz Bourke “I don’t need the social disabilities of my gender slapped in my face in a gaslamp fantasy stealth-assassination game.”

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/03/sleeps-with-monsters-thinking-about-dishonored

3/19/13 Gritty People, Gritty Problems – Sam Sykes “It’s very easy to sign off accusations of grimdarkness as overreaction, because sometimes it is. …But there is a real danger in dismissing the word because there are some questions that should be asked.”

http://samsykes.com/2013/03/gritty-people-gritty-problems/

3/19/13  Gritty Washback – Joe Abercrombie “My main problem remains with the definitions, and their apparently endless mutability to suit whatever argument is being made.”

http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2013/03/19/gritty-washback/

3/19/13 onwards What’s all the hubbub about grimdark? – reddit

3/20/13 Why Winterbirth Was Gritty, Grimdark, or Whatever You Want to Call It Part 2 – Brian Ruckley (Winterbirth being a novel by Brian Ruckley)

http://www.brianruckley.com/2013/03/20/why-winterbirth-was-gritty-grimdark-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it-part-2/

3/20/13 My considered contribution to the “grit” debate – Mark Lawrence

http://mark—lawrence.blogspot.de/2013/03/my-considered-contribution-to-grit.html

3/20/13 I pity the fool – Elizabeth Bear “Because the viewpoint character being an able Western white cis het male totally doesn’t inform the narrative, and has no influence in the way the world is presented, because that’s the only viewpoint that really exists, and the rest of us are all flavor text. We’re spices. We’re here to be observed and consumed”

http://matociquala.livejournal.com/2179536.html

3/21/13 Batman had it easy – Marie Brennan “Can you imagine how audiences would have reacted if Bruce had to fight off a rapist? Even if the rape weren’t completed. A lot of people were put off just by Silva unbuttoning Bond’s shirt and putting a hand on his thigh, by a few lines of suggestive dialogue. They would have blown a gasket permanently to see Batman treated like, oh, name just about any superheroine you care to.”

http://swan-tower.livejournal.com/582318.html

3/22/13 Gritty, Grimdark, and Gratuitous – C. P. D Harris (talks a bit about the origins of the term)

http://domainsofthechosen.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/gritty-grimdark-and-gratuitous/

3/25/13 It’s Still Very Grimdark Out There – Cora Buhlert “IMO that’s also why many in the SFF community feel so threatened by the popularity of urban fantasy. Because though urban fantasy is far from free of problematic gender dynamics, it is far more likely to feature consensual and mutually respectful sex.”

http://corabuhlert.com/2013/03/25/its-still-very-grimdark-out-there/

3/25/13 gritty vs. grimdark – Marie Brennan “You can have grit without being grimdark, and you can be grimdark without grit, but doing either while being female is rare? Not very tidy, but something to keep in mind.”

http://swan-tower.livejournal.com/582781.html

3/25/13 Game of Thrones – Oyceter (nudity in book vs. show, and by gender)

http://oyceter.dreamwidth.org/1008553.html

3/26/13 three conversations at once – Marie Brennan (pretty much just as it says: about grimdark and realism the current conversation about them and how they are really a whole bunch of overlapping conversations)

http://swan-tower.livejournal.com/583152.html

3/27/13 Where Goeth Epic Fantasy – Kate Elliot (normally, people say don’t read the comments – in this case: definitely read the comments)

http://kateelliott.livejournal.com/221164.html

4 Responses to "Linkspam on Fantasy, Realism, and “Grit”"

[...] (Via: Linkspam on Fantasy, Realism, and “Grit” | Jenny’s Library) [...]

[...] it seems to be, now.  Discussion has rumbled on, and there’s a handy collection of relevant links at Jenny’s Library, including some I hadn’t come across before.  But there’s also been a response from [...]

[...] Jennygadget at Jenny’s Library: Linkspam on Fantasy, Realism, and “Grit” [...]

Thanks many of these links are really helpful. It’s a great resource and I’m sharing it in a number of places.

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