When Entitlements Collide…

My Blog Gate post of the week is up… really just a postlet about the “GRRM is not your bitch” thing Neil Gaiman wrote. Which is being applauded around the internet as if it were a nifty from the works of Oscar Wilde. Which I don’t think it is, really.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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12 Responses to When Entitlements Collide…

  1. burger_eater says:

    Abusive? Really?

    • JE says:

      Yes–I wouldn’t say it’s even a borderline case. The image of a prison-house bitch is necessarily violent and coarse, and it appears out of nowhere in NG’s post. Whereas, in the “Whatever” thread back in February, someone named stevem wrote, “In short, GRRM is behaving like a whiny b!@#h” and Tully responded, “Opinions differ. But the big point is, he’s not YOUR bitch. Get it?” That’s not abusive, because it’s just matching, or even lightening, the tone already set. NG’s appropriation or recreation of the same phrase was markedly more abusive in context.

      • burger_eater says:

        I get a very different feel from it.

        Gareth’s question, while moderate in tone, had some pretty unpleasant assumptions at its foundation. Gaiman’s choice of words (digression: I wish he hadn’t used the gender-specific “bitch”) was probably meant to shock the questioner (and others who agreed with him) out of those assumptions.

        It’s a sharply-worded reply, but I don’t see the abuse in it.

        But that’s why Baskin-Robbins makes so many flavors–YMMV

  2. sartorias says:

    Right now, if Neil Gaiman sneezes, he wins an award for his brilliance and brio.

    • JE says:

      I know what you mean. Normally I don’t begrudge him his success, but this seemed unnecessarily coarse and ungenerous.

  3. newguydave says:

    It’s not really all that politically correct, but it does get the point across. If the fan who raised the concern was serious in the first place, they probably needed the brick in the head method in order for it to sink in.

    • JE says:

      I don’t like the tone that most of the whiners-at-GRRM are taking either, but this Gareth guy hadn’t said anything thick or abusive; he just (by implication) expressed a POV that NG disagreed with. Is that brick-worthy? A judgement call, I guess.

      Gareth has more of a point than NG is willing to admit, too. These guys are responding to expectations that GRRM himself has set up. That doesn’t mean they own a piece of GRRM’s soul, that they get to decide what projects he takes on and what he does in the morning, afternoon and night. All that is ridiculous. But it does mean that the heat in GRRM’s kitchen comes from his own cooking, so… maybe he ought to open the window or something. (Honestly, I’ve lost track of what the metaphor means.)

      • marycatelli says:

        If you can’t stand either the heat, or the questions about when dinner will be ready, finish what you’re cooking.

        • JE says:

          Or just advise people to order takeout, or something. That was the good part of NG’s advice; I wish he’d stuck to that.

          • newguydave says:

            It comes down to delivery, and NG took a fairly harsh stance that wasn’t necessary.

            Of course, NG has probably read tons of letters like Gareth’s, and probably much worse. He likely just lumped them all together and made an example out of Gareth to cut down on that kind of fan mail. Still, it wasn’t a shining example of authorhood.

  4. davidcapeguy says:

    I think Gaiman makes a good point, but I’d guess that the reason he’s getting such good press on it is his current flavor of the month status — not entirely undeserved, though I’m not a fan* — and the fact that he’s speaking for a lot of writers who feel trapped in their own series.

    His comments reminded me of an essay Harlan Ellison wrote back in the day (70s? 80s?) with a title something like “You Don’t Know Me; I Don’t Know You.” Long while since I read it, but my recollection is that Ellison was denying the whole concept that fans “own” writers or that writers have any obligation to their readers except a well-told story. As I recall, he raised some hackles with the essay. (Surprise, surprise!) I really should search the thing out in my library — if I have it — or online before mentioning the thing, but feeling far too lazy tonight!

    *I’ve read three or four of Gaiman’s books and found them readable but didn’t feel that they spoke to me the way some writers do. Not a criticism of him or his writing, just the reality that some writers & readers connect, and some don’t.

    • JE says:

      I thought of the Ellison essay, too. There’s another one he wrote, for Asimov’s in the 80s, I think: “Xenogenesis”. If I’m remembering right, it’s even more bitter. (Bitterer. Bitteritudinouser. Something like that.)

      I really think the cases are different, though. For one thing (and this will sound weird, giving the respective personae of NG and HJE), I don’t remember Ellison’s essay being so grossly uncivil. Second, it was more original. Finally, it seems to me that GRRM’s fans are only complaining because of expectations that he himself has set up. I don’t think that justifies all the complaints, particularly the whinier ones. Talk of a “contract” is obviously absurd. But I guess I can imagine worse fates than a bunch of people clamoring for one’s next book.

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