[LMB] Re: OT: Romance Writing

Tracy MacShane t.macshane at bbk.ac.uk
Mon, 23 Dec 2002 14:50:10 -0000

Yes, indeed, I tend to go with what Sasha's saying here. What is the average
intelligence level of a spotty 16-year-old boy? (the "average" SF reader?).
And - this pushes my buttons - what on earth does education have to do with
it? The vast mass of fiction (genre or otherwise) could be termed trash - I
certainly don't think either romance or SF (in the sense of "speculative
fiction") could hold any kind of moral high ground. Possibly, in the "upper
reaches" of either genre, you might have more people interested in reading
about either science in general or perhaps history or psychology in general.
Perhaps that is where the type of education that you've had has a bearing.
The "hard" SF I read - on the few occasions I read stuff without a character
I like - generally features computers in some way, due to the nature of my
work. When it's all about physics or is a rewritten Western, I find a lot of
SF stultifyingly boring.

Certainly for me, character-driven stories are what I relate to best. LMB
does a fantastic job of character development throughout the series. Despite
the acres of bad fantasy (someone mentioned Terry Brooks...), even LoTR
developed characters in a fuller way than just teaching them a fancy
sword-stroke or having them stumble across a mysterious object with
mysterious powers. I'd rather pick up an honestly trashy Jackie Collins
novel that has some entertainment value than wade through 2000 pages (in 5
volumes) of portentous nonsense.

I read somewhere once (I'm sorry, can't recall the reference), that the lack
of respect given to romance genre writing compared to others such as SF or
detective stories seems to have a lot to do with sexism. We can all
immediately point to which one is dominated by women, both authors and
readers. Good romance writing, as we all know, is an exacting genre - god
help you if you get some kind of historical or geographical reference wrong.
The authors certainly take as much care over their constructions as those
blokie thrillers that seem to garner a lot more respect, for some unknown

Personally, I don't read much romance, as it normally features that
role-bound conventionality that makes my teeth grit. The same is true of
thrillers and lots of other genres I can't make myself even look at.
However, the books that get past those conventions are absolute gems - and
the same is true of SF books.

Tracy (the autodidact computer geek - they do exist!)