Introducing Den Patrick and Andrew James
Review Round-up: London's Secrets

re: Fifty Shades of Grey

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Fifty Shades of Grey, and the genre community is no exception. The relentless displays of contempt range from the frothing to the hilarious. Rarely has a single book so united us. 

This makes perfect sense. In fact, let's catalogue some of the common complaints:

50 Shades of GreyIt is porn.

Disgusting. The idea of reading for escapism is anathema to fans of science fiction and fantasy. Furthermore, there's never, ever explicit sex in our books. And, speaking for myself, whenever I do stumble upon a bit of prurient material, I immediately call my local MP. 

It is boring.

I couldn't agree more. The dullness of Fifty Shade of Grey stands in stark contrast to the cinematic mathematics of Cryptonomicon, the breath-taking action of library research in The Name of the Wind or - dare I say it - the pants-wetting thrills of barge travel in A Dance with Dragons.

It started as fan-fiction.

That's just appalling. The best books begin as role playing games, like the Malazan series. And, more importantly, every idea should be completely and utterly unique, unless it stems from Tolkien, Lovecraft or Joss Whedon. 

...Twilight fan-fiction.

Shameful, shameful behaviour. Absolutely nothing should be taken from Twilight. Except for the cover art, which should be imitated endlessly. And the self-loathing female protagonist in love with a supernatural being, which is basically public domain. 

It is demeaning to women. 

As fantasy and science fiction have long been the champions of feminist fiction, I couldn't be more delighted that we've raised this particular flag. For one thing, Fifty Shades of Grey is about sex between consenting adults. Were it set in a secondary world with an under-aged protagonist being repeatedly raped... well, that's a different story - and one that's on HBO. As Patrick Rothfuss proved so eloquently in The Wise Man's Fear, feminism isn't about equality: it is about treating women like the precious jewels they are, and trying to fuck as many of them as possible. 

It is badly written.

Well, obviously that's not anything we do.

It is read by people who don't appreciate good books. All these stupid people are walking into bookshops for the first time and asking for this shit book.

BLASPHEMY. We should have a test. Only readers accredited by special examination should be allowed to purchase books. Bookshops are for the few and the proud - the elite readers with certified taste! Bookshops and publishers will rejoice. The industry is saved!

Everything WE say about Fifty Shades of Grey is something THEY say about genre fiction.

That's just ridiculous.