Last week, Juliet McKenna wrote this (rather stunning) post that set the (most) recent genre sexism disaster in the context of the industry, and spelling out why the 'shoutback' matters. A brilliant piece, and I couldn't agree more. The impact of this post, encouraging people to highlight female fantasy authors, has spilled across the genre-related interwebs and out into the mainstream media (the Guardian, amongst others). Great stuff.*
Ms. McKenna's post also had a small - non-gender-related - addendum that I thought was worth exploring in more detail. That is:
I did see one correlation in my Clarke reading, mind you. Where authors came ‘genre-slumming’, trying their hand at SF&F, there was definitely a higher incidence of tedious books trying to tickle the fancy of the mythical mouth-breathing SF fan only interested in sex and violence.
Previously, Ms. McKenna cites her experience as a Clarke judge - "200 SF books over 2012-2013 as a Clarke Award judge" - as evidence that there was:
absolutely no correlation between the age and gender of the author and the presence of outdated or offensive ideas
The combination of these two statements is a little shocking: are literary authors turning their hands to genre more likely to write sexist, tedious, reactive - "bad" - books? The accusation that literary authors "slum" in genre isn't a new one, in fact, it is a statement I've made myself on more than one occasion in the past. So, with this as the prompt, I've decided to look into the hypothesis that "literary authors write 'bad' genre fiction".