Thursday, May 5, 2016

Meanwhile the Locus Awards Are Being Sexist

 The Hugos are being NC-17 this year and they don’t even have a YA award.  The Locus awards have a YA award, but the nomlist for this award is currently being accused of sexism.

Now I’ve just discovered Joe Abercrombie, and I’m enthralled. I love good characters, which will probably surprise my readers since I write such bland ones. Joe Abercrombie does it right. I don’t begrudge him two nominations on any list.

The only other name I recognize is Terry Pratchett, who is very cozy and British. I enjoyed Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, and I’ve read a few of the Witchworld series.

I’ve read a few reactions to this. Some people are outraged by the lack of women, considering that women write most YA. I’ve seen parallel discussions regarding what exactly YA is, and who reads it, and whether only YAs should vote for YA awards.

There seems to be an unspoken convention that all books with YA protagonists are YA but I don’t believe that is true. To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies and A Clockwork Orange are grown-up novels about YAs which are often taught to YAs in school, but they’re not YA in the same way as The Outsiders or Hunger Games, and now I’m struggling to draw the distinction. One or both of the Abercrombie books has an adult cast, raising questions of whether a YA story can be about adults.

The Abercrombie book I’m reading right now, The Blade Itself, has an adult cast. There have been some deaths, and descriptions of horrible torture (medically accurate ones with realistic sequelae – I salute this), and there has been a tease/flirt scene, but so far nothing has been unduly gruesome or bleak. In fact, you could almost say it’s a swashbuckling tale in the vein of Count of Monte Cristo.

I don’t feel like I’ve read enough YA to be able to tell whether deserving women writers were shut out by these nominees. I know I need to read more Abercrombie books, plus I always need to read more books in general, and maybe this Locus list will stir up a discussion of exactly which women-authored works should have been nominated. 

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