Marie Brennan on G.R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons:
Let me say this up front: I do not think this is as bad as Crossroads of Twilight, the absolute nadir of the Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, I do think it’s worse than, say, The Path of Daggers — which I consider to be the second-worst book of that series.
Just to give you a sense of scale.
Also up front: Martin faced a very large problem here. As I understand it, he had originally planned to jump ahead five years, to give Dany’s dragons and some of the human characters time to grow up. The more he thought about it, though, the less feasible that seemed, so he decided to write a bridging book, which then turned into two, Feast and Dance. Makes sense, in a way . . . but it creates its own problem.
Strange Horizons rounds up discussion on the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Particularly interesting: Pornokitsch with The 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist: An Imaginary Judgement.
Juliet E. McKenna at The Fantasy Book Café, “Inequality of Visibility for Women Writers”:
Lack of visibility by way of reviews matters because that’s the information which so often guides the non-fan book-seller making disproportionately influential choices. Just last month I went into a local branch of Waterstones to be confronted by a display promoting epic fantasy tied into the new series of A Game of Thrones on TV. Below the George RR Martin titles were a selection of very good books, many of which I have read – and every single one was by a male writer.
When a bookseller saw me standing looking thoughtfully at this fixture, she asked if there was anything she could help me with. I said she could promote some of the many books by women who write epic fantasy on those shelves. ‘Do they?’ she asked, sceptical. ‘Like who?’ When I gave her a list of names (yes, including my own), her answer was to shrug and say dismissively. ‘Well, I don’t read science fiction’. No, so where did she find those authors to showcase? From the review pages or perhaps in one of the recent articles recommending other writers to A Song of Ice and Fire fans, so often and so infuriatingly only listing men.
That bookseller may not read the genre but her choices can skew SF&F purchases in favour of male writers, so when someone higher up the chain is looking at sales figures to pick those safe bets for front-of-store promotion, they will apparently see proof of the insidious myth that SF&F by women doesn’t sell. If it won’t sell, there’s no profit in promoting it. So those books aren’t among those offered for people to buy at those insidiously attractive discounts and thus the self-fulfilling prophecy is reinforced.