Friday, February 4, 2011

To fantasy readers of the world, I implore you:


About a couple years ago, I began reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, mostly because I'd heard so damn much about it and honestly, it sounded really cool. What I didn't expect was that it would become one of my favorite series of all time, and whenever I'm asked to think of my favorite book, A Storm of Swords very nearly always comes out on top. I was a little disheartened when I learned of all the delays associated with A Dance of Dragons (or is it for Dragons? I can never keep that straight), but I trusted that Martin, literary genius that he is, knew what he was doing and would deliver a dependably fantastic book. This belief was emboldened by the fact that Dragons would contain all my favorite characters (particularly Daenerys).

Then, around last year, I read the newer Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which was honestly one of the best fantasy books I've read in years, and I like to think of myself as fairly well-read when it comes to fantasy. After I'd read Name of the Wind, I got it in my head that I'd start reading Mr. Rothfuss' blog--and also Martin's--so I could maybe hear about the progress of the books, and get a bit of insight into the minds of the guys creating books that make me all but salivate with geeky delight.

Their blogs, naturally, were well-written, insightful, often endlessly amusing, and in the strange case of Martin, gave me a rough understanding of football. Honestly, I didn't mind that I wasn't likely to get a new book in either of their series for a while: the blogs were fun to read, and certainly helped me keep in touch with the stories I'd so enjoyed.

Around this time, all but basking in sheer rays of nerdjoy, I started reading the comments section of their blogs, which directed me to think what the bleeding hell?

I guess I had expected fantasy fans to rise above the bullcrap drivel you find on the internet, but half of the people who comment on blogs like Martin's or Rothfuss' act as though they own the author. I was particularly struck by this comment, from Rothfuss' blog:

You totally deserve that blurb.
Ready for vacation? Well after you did all the signing :D and visited all your fans and published book 3 :D hah

Um, no, go screw yourself. The dude has a girlfriend and a baby kid. He might want to address those minor distractions for a few moments before cloistering himself away to finish the Kingkiller Chronicle.

Seriously, what the hell is so hard to get about the sentence that fantasy authors owe their readers nothing. They wrote the book, got it published. You bought it, endorsed their product by way of paying, and then enjoyed a story. That is the relationship between the author and the reader. Anything else is window-dressing done purely out of the kindness of the author's heart, or his/her desire to get some more publicity for it. Either way, it doesn't elevate you to some sick status of ownership over an author.

I had really salient, reasoned-out points to make, but they kind of evaporated in a fit of righteous anger, so for now, this is what I'm posting.

Have a good one. Unless you think authors forfeit their souls to their readers. In which case go join an asshole commune or something.

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