You might have seen it, you might have not, but folk in the genre are having a good old squabble about who deserves to be a writer and who shouldn’t be part of their club. (actually, a lot of them on Westeros don’t want me as part of their club anyway, but that’s for a whole different reason).
For those of you who don’t know what’s going on, basically people are saying that if you write fantasy you should read it. Joe Abercrombie summed it up here with some of the various links when he put his own POV across, since he’s one of the folk being accused in parts of being a hypocrite, or at least something that looks like one and smells like one.
So what’s my opinion on it all? Actually, I’m not going to tell you that, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are authors on each side whose books I like and who sell more than I do, so either way I’m criticising a more successful competitor. Secondly, I don’t actually like the internet that much.
Aha, not what you were expecting to read on a blog I suspect, well let me qualify it. The internet’s great, and incredibly useful, but a very loud minority of folk who use it are ignorant and a big bundle of their own prejudices. They use the net to show they’re a big man (and probably occasional woman I expect) and hammer their arguments into people – apparently feeling better after they’ve vented their spleen all over the world. These people are pricks and cover the whole range of interests and subjects the net caters for, which is everything. The fact of the matter is that I don’t like arguing with someone on a page/screen, it’s cowardly and never seems to go anywhere because there’s always some git with all the self-belief and self-righteousness of an old testament prophet who doesn’t like to discuss and argue, they only like to win.
As it happened last week, before I saw all the arguments had blown up, I had needled Joe Abercrombie about the subject in the pub. I’m not saying my opinion is displayed in that act because actually it’s only my love of winding people up that can be derived from it. Having said that, however much I occasionally rant on all sorts of subjects, when I’ve got an opinion I’d much prefer to say it to someone’s face so if nothing else they have the chance to tell me to fuck off.
Of course, Joe didn’t (except perhaps under his breath) but I don’t think his natural humility would have made him hold back had he wanted to. So, people of the internet, step away from the computer and if you’re going to argue with someone, do it over a pint and actually listen to their response. You’ll learn something. If you refuse to believe you’ll ever learn anything from a proper discussion, please do the rest of us a favour and kill yourself now.