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  1. #31
    I don't mind one way or the other if sex and violence are in the book I'm reading. Most of the books I read have a good share of violence, but I'm ultimately driven by the tale itself.

    Remember, there's a huge difference between being explicit and being exploitative. I plan on reading at least one Gor novel just for the sake of it, but I can't see myself ever becoming a fan of the series. Sex and violence is great, but if that's all you got, then I'm not interested.

  2. #32
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Read the second Gor novel. It's got the best story. It's written in the 1970's though. Hope that doesn't make it sound too tame.

    My daughter is currently studying Shakespeare. Which is of course not violent at all, and the people who used to take their family picnics to public hangings were so not desensitized to violence. Is it something about the world being less violent (yes, hard to believe, but this is what the statistics tell us,) that causes people to automatically assume we are less sensitive to violence or simulated violence? I think we are less sensitive only in that we learn much more about violence occurring somewhere else than our parents did, we have access to far more news than they did, and the news for ratings and sales sake focuses at this point almost exclusively on violent news. So we're overwhelmed with news of violence, which makes us feel helpless about it. But that's not the same thing as being insensitive to it.

    Of course, it's always the young people who get accused of being brain-washed by media and the most insensitive to violence. But I can honestly say that the 1980's were a much more violent time in the U.S. and more dangerous to young people than what's going on today. The young people then were accused of being insensitive to violence and they now have children and are the adults running the place, so I guess that just makes it worse? And it's not surprising that they were/are so insensitive because the young people in the 1960's, some of whom are their parents, were also considered to be very insensitive to violence. And of course in the 1920's, quite insensitive. And...

    What they really need to do is come up with new complaints. They just keep recycling the old ones and I have become very insensitive to them. I would agree that some t.v. and some films are more explicitly violent than they used to be. Or at least more violent than pre-1970's films and t.v. But I can't go along with it for written fiction, especially SFF.

  3. #33
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    I understand the point you're making, Kat. It's not the intensity that has changed, but the quantity to which we can be exposed. It's almost impossible to watch CNN these days without hearing some horrific stuff.....the latest is a Sunday school teacher who kidnapped and murdered her little girl's 8-year-old friend, hid her in a suitcase, dumped the case into a water treatment pond, and then reported the suitcase missing.

    What does one make of such lunacy? In this instance, I think it's quite possible the woman is truly unhinged.

    I can remember owning a bunch of Classics Illustrated comic books - I wish I had that collection now, but some hurricane washed it away decades ago. I had Hamlet and Macbeth, and I recall thinking it so funny that almost everyone was killed by the end of the play.

    But I was - I hope - an odd child, for some reason I can't fathom. I have copies of books I drew in when I was about 7-8, and there are stick-people chained to walls being tortured. Where did that come from?
    I could easily blame it on my uncle's cache of forbidden magazines, which no one knew I had found.
    But my own two oldest children - when they were about the same age, they stripped their Barbies and tied them to the bunkbeds, pretending to torture them. There were no magazines for them to discover. Do I have some horrific sex-and-violence gene that I have passed on to my children?

    Fact is, all of us, whether or not we have the courage to admit it, have the potential for tremendous evil. Humankind is built that way; call it original sin, call it hormonal imbalance, call it environmental influences, whatever. Any of us is capable of stuff we try not to imagine.

    But we also have the potential for tremendous good. Hopefully, most of us try to fan that spark into flame as we go about our short time on this planet.

    I think I may have gone off-topic to some extent here......sorry for the lecture! Didn't mean to do that......****subconscious voice: oh, yes, you did****

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Starfish Prime View Post
    Yes, it is. That is the reason I buy fantasy books and I won't appologise for disliking parts of a book that are of lesser importance than wars/death/blood for the story. I'd buy romance if I wanted to read sex scenes, but as I am buying fiction centered around fantasy of war and conquest with sex as a lesser tool in the plot, I have no problem with not liking it and you should not have a problem with me either.
    I was being sarcastic in my original post, so I can see that I am now going to have to point out more explicitly what parts of your opinion I object to. (And keep in mind that I know it's merely your opinion, and you are of course welcome to your opinion as long as I am also welcome to my own opinion.) You have said it here - that subplots involving love are of "lesser importance" than subplots involving "wars/death/blood." What I am saying is that you apparently value the types of activities that tear people apart - such as war, death, violence, and murder - over those type of activities that bring people together - such as romantic and non-romantic relationships involving love and tender feelings and intimacy. Apparently the culture of the times involves worshiping violence and condemning love. Whatever happened to "make love not war"? Personally, I would prefer to live in a world where love and sex is acceptable but war and violence abhorred.

    I am fine with explicit sex and I'm also fine with explicit violence as long as it's tastefully done, and I have very little to object to in all the fantasy novels I have ever read. It seems to me, in the context of fantasy literature, that a balanced plot would involve elements of both - activities that tear people apart as well as activities that bring them back together. Then again, that's just the way I feel. I suppose if all you want is stories involving wars/death/violence, you will have to self-select out of reading the (in my opinion, perfectly balanced) stories that also have a romantic subplot. You don't have to read books that have content you object to. And maybe the authors themselves are writing the stories they want to tell, ones that might involve *gasp* sex. Maybe you should let the authors know that they're supposed to be writing novels centered only around wars/death/blood and all those other human elements should be taken out of the fantasy genre altogether.

    And uhhh, I never said anything about sex scenes being a major selling point. I do not think that at all. Don't assume too much.
    Yes I know, I was adding that part of my post to the discussion rather than commenting directly on something you said. I thought of making a separate post but it seemed like a waste. And I can't find anyone here who said those words directly, it's just a feeling I got from the beginning of the thread - that the only reason sex is included in fantasy is to sell books, and that is logically inconsistent in my mind. That's what I wanted to point out. It has nothing to do with you. Don't assume too much.

  5. #35
    I am Starfish Prime, FYI.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaunette View Post
    You have said it here - that subplots involving love are of "lesser importance" than subplots involving "wars/death/blood." What I am saying is that you apparently value the types of activities that tear people apart - such as war, death, violence, and murder - over those type of activities that bring people together - such as romantic and non-romantic relationships involving love and tender feelings and intimacy.
    No, I did not say that, so don't twist my words. I said:

    It isn't the presence of sex I have a problem with, it is the description. Most people reading adult fantasy have been there, done that, and it slows down the story by going over sex and intimacy. I just don't care for reading someone elses sexual fantasies.
    And...

    That is the reason I buy fantasy books and I won't appologise for disliking parts of a book that are of lesser importance than wars/death/blood for the story. I'd buy romance if I wanted to read sex scenes, but as I am buying fiction centered around fantasy of war and conquest with sex as a lesser tool in the plot...
    My problem is not with love, it is with overly descriptive sex scenes. Again, I nowhere said that love is of lesser importance, but I said that extensive description of the SEX is unneccesary and slows down the story. I only chose war/death/blood as examples because they were the three you suggested in your original post were as bad as sexual fantasies. If I were to continue the list I would still find many things more important to the plot including love (the feeling/emotion, not the act).

    And while you say I only focus on things that tear people apart. Graphic sexual content includes rape, which does that in more than one way.


    Quote Originally Posted by Amaunette View Post
    And maybe the authors themselves are writing the stories they want to tell, ones that might involve *gasp* sex. Maybe you should let the authors know that they're supposed to be writing novels centered only around wars/death/blood and all those other human elements should be taken out of the fantasy genre altogether....

    Yes I know, I was adding that part of my post to the discussion rather than commenting directly on something you said. I thought of making a separate post but it seemed like a waste. And I can't find anyone here who said those words directly, it's just a feeling I got from the beginning of the thread - that the only reason sex is included in fantasy is to sell books, and that is logically inconsistent in my mind. That's what I wanted to point out. It has nothing to do with you. Don't assume too much.
    You see, here I can grasp the sarcasm up there because you have realised that I can't hear your voice over the internet. I didn't get it before because you used "you" to signal me, and then again in the next paragraph you used "you" to signal the entire thread, in a post quoting myself and directly adressing me, I'm sorry I assumed too much....

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaunette View Post
    But you'll read their hero fantasies just fine, the ones that involves wars and death and blood. Because that's so much better than sex.

    My major problem is this - do you really think it's the explicit sex scenes in GRRM's ASOIAF that have caused the literary success of those books?
    See? Right there ^

  6. #36
    The Writer of Fantasy Fred Gallney's Avatar
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    This is not a new phenomenon. Tolkien had incest in his books (okay, not in any detail, but it happened).
    I don't recall any sexual intercourse scenes in The Lord of the Rings.


    I don't particularly see the point or reasoning behind explicit sexual scenes in a fantasy or science fiction novel. If one wants to demonstrate love in a symbolic way, they should use a more gentle method which actualizes the meaning in a more alluring and moving fashion (for the reader). Sexual scenes are either rough love or simply lust and deter from the deeper meaning of the story. Admissible for real world fiction or romance, but it seems rather out of place in a secondary fantasy world. Especially in a traditional fantasy novel/series where the central theme is the battle between good and evil.

  7. #37
    For fantasy, violence usually tends to drive plots. So violent scenes are usually more important than sexual ones. In fact, sex almost never drives plot. Love? Most certainly. Many crazy risks are done involving love. Love drives a plot but sex rarely does unless a certain character is always spurned and obsesses over it.

    Think to yourself, would you kill another human being because they somehow got in the way of you having sex? Let's change the situation. What if this person you are about kill was, instead, threatening your family? Different situation isn't it?

    I enjoy explicit sex scenes occasionally cause they raise my blood pressure in a good way, but I don't like them to the point of excess. Sex in my fantasy novels is good in low doses, but they certainly don't drive the plot forward the way love does.

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Calvin View Post
    My problem is not with love, it is with overly descriptive sex scenes. Again, I nowhere said that love is of lesser importance, but I said that extensive description of the SEX is unneccesary and slows down the story. I only chose war/death/blood as examples because they were the three you suggested in your original post were as bad as sexual fantasies. If I were to continue the list I would still find many things more important to the plot including love (the feeling/emotion, not the act).

    And while you say I only focus on things that tear people apart. Graphic sexual content includes rape, which does that in more than one way.
    Rape is violence, not sex, so you're not helping your argument in that second paragraph at all.

    However, you have made some good points above in your first paragraph. I am honestly not confused about the difference between love and sex but I made the mistake of pretending like I was addressing your comments. In fact, I made the comments I wanted to make about what bothers me about this topic (why graphic violence is okay but graphic sex is "unnecessary" and "of lesser importance"). It sets off all my feminism warning bells as well as my suspicion that this dislike of graphic sex has something to do with patriarchy and religion - not in your case personally (only you can know why you don't like graphic sex), but in western society as a whole - and I've never been a big fan of patriarchy or religion, least of all when they're combined. You are correct that sex isn't strictly necessary to a love story line, but I think they're related, and I also think we don't get a say. It's necessary if the author thinks so. No one says you have to read it.

    You see, here I can grasp the sarcasm up there because you have realised that I can't hear your voice over the internet. I didn't get it before because you used "you" to signal me, and then again in the next paragraph you used "you" to signal the entire thread, in a post quoting myself and directly adressing me, I'm sorry I assumed too much....
    There is no plural you in the English language. Not much I can do about that than use the (formally) ungrammatically correct "youse guys" or "y'all." I know you couldn't tell the difference and was in fact aware of it when I wrote the original post, so I understood what you intended to say, but I simply didn't appreciate your tone.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Gallney View Post
    Sexual scenes are either rough love or simply lust and deter from the deeper meaning of the story.
    See here it is again. This deeply bothers me. Why does graphic sex deter from the deeper meaning of the story, but graphic violence, which is abundant in second world fantasy, not deter from the deeper meaning of the story? This has not been clearly explained anywhere in this thread, to my knowledge.

  10. #40
    Expliciit sex can be well done, or it can be poorly done. If it adds to the story, then I feel that it's OK. Anyone read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"? It's full of sex, and it's generally considered one of the classics.

  11. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Amaunette View Post
    What bothers me about this topic (why graphic violence is okay but graphic sex is "unnecessary" and "of lesser importance"). It sets off all my feminism warning bells as well as my suspicion that this dislike of graphic sex has something to do with patriarchy and religion.
    This reminds me of an observation I read elsewhere, and which I believe is accurate: fiction geared toward male audiences tends to have explicit violence and not sex; fiction geared toward female audiences tends to have more explicit sex and not violence. It's the difference between Lee Child and Kresley Cole. Nobody doubts that their lead characters are getting laid, but they're polar opposites when it comes to how much of that is shown. And both are bestsellers.

    I don't presume to know why there's that split but it certainly appears to be true in my reading experience. Thriller authors and male fantasy authors usually give their protagonists plenty of action in the bedroom, but close the doors rather than giving readers a play-by-play. Romance authors and female fantasy authors tend to be a little more explicit (although this is certainly not always the case; there are plenty of chaste romance authors and even more fantasy ones). The reverse is true when it comes to violence. Then you have writers like GRRM who show both sex and violence in explicit detail and, perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, tend to have a fairly even gender split in their readership.

    My personal feeling is that as long as something is meaningful to the story I'm willing to read about it; if I get the impression that the author has inserted a gratuitous scene (whether of sex or violence) it's bad writing, and is as likely to make me reject the book as any other instance of bad writing. Gratuitous insertion of politics is more annoying than either, IMO.

  12. #42
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    For me, female fiction is not geared toward explicit sex, which tends to be regulated to certain sub-categories of fiction. The majority of fiction written specifically for women contains little sex in the narrative and not particularly explicit. I am much more likely to encounter explicit sex in thrillers and contemporary fiction dealing with relationships, adultery, etc. However, I would not say that thrillers overall are very explicit sexually, and the level of graphicness to the violence tends to vary.

    Military fiction and horror are the only types of fiction where I regularly run into graphic violence. Military would include war novels and military SF. But that's only logical, really. Erotica is the only type of fiction where I'd expect to regularly run into explicit sex.

    The big issue that always seems to come up in these discussions is rape. Rape frequently appears in fiction because it is dramatic and because it is unfortunately common in history and in the present. Sometimes whole stories are built around it. But its presence has never been epidemic, and again, I haven't seen any signs of it being more prevalent now, beyond the fact that the number of books published in total has grown. It's been awhile since I've read a novel with a rape in it, in fact.

  13. #43
    Maine Pro Disc Golf
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    Welcome to the new America of sex and violence. . . oh yeah we've been here for years.. .

    Sex and violence only adds to my reading experience, in appropriate doses of course. GRRM seems to find the perfect balance for me between gritty and gratuitous.

    I enjoy Hobb a lot, but I think she would benefit by adding a little bit more spice to her books. There seems to be a distinct effort to avoid that kind of thing though. How badly did you all want Hobb to just throw Fitz and Molly under the sheets and see what kind of literary love making would ensue?

  14. #44
    The Enigmatic Paradox ColdSun's Avatar
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    Cool

    It doesn't really bother me. Although I don't feel this is new to the genre. Look into the War of Powers series by Vardeman. I read those in the 80s and it was almost soft porn. Believe it or not I bought it at my school library at a book sale! It wasn't a bad story either. The sex was much more intense than many books I've read these days that others find distasteful. I think it was about 1984 when I purchased those...

    To be honest, some people have used The Steel Remains as an example of a recent distasteful book. To me, it wasn't that the sex and bad language was distasteful, it was the fact that the story and writing really weren't good at all. As others have said, the gritty content seemed to be added as an afterthought to make it edgy and get it notice. Looks like his little trick worked! That doesn't make it a good book though. It doesn't even come close to many of the other authors that also included gritty content in recent books. If you are going to write it, gritty or not, make it relevant and interesting. If you can't do that, stick to what you are good at.
    To me, the recent spew of torture porn movies disturb me far far more than some explicit sex and violence in my fantasy stories. These movies have no value or story in my opinion. If you have seen a person tortured and raped once, that was more than enough, and yet we have Saw 15 on the way! Why are people so fascinated with torture and gore? I'm not even close to squeamish. I like gore in my horror movies as much as the next guy. Torture though? Do we have to see humans gone whacko over and over again? Give me a supernatural horror movie or thriller any day!!!

    Also, in my humble opinion, many of us are far more uptight than we were just 20-30 years ago. Especially in the United States. Other countries don't seem to suffer from this closet sexuality we have. As if we are to be ashamed of it. Seriously, some folks just need to lighten up!

    (Paid for by the ColdSun for President fund. This post in no way condones rape or violence against another person in any way shape or form).
    Last edited by ColdSun; April 14th, 2009 at 11:07 PM.

  15. #45
    I remember debating this exact issue in a GRRM thread a couple of months ago, it all comes down to what the individual reader considers "explicit". I'm a 22 year old male, I've been reading fantasy for over 10 years now and I happen to like a fair amount of violence and sex in my books, to be honest I defiantly prefer there to be more violence but that solely comes down to my own personal choice of reading, I tend to like books involving war, most of the biggest fantasy series tend to revolve around war in one way or another so I think this is justified. However I have no problem with there being a fair bit of sex, graphically depicted or otherwise in my fantasy books.

    The reason why, as far as I can figure out from my own thoughts is that I like to read books about about people, while the books I read may be set in a completely different world, for the most part they all contain human beings as the primary characters more often than not, or at least a race with very human characteristics. Thus I feel the characters in the books are read can be in some way compared to the people I meet in real life, there's a huge amount going on in that comparison which would take pages to try and explain, but to summarise I think there are as many heroes in real life as there are in fantasy, it's just their deeds that differ.

    To get onto the point at hand, real people have sex, a lot of it, and real people are violent. In our modern world violence may be a bit more hidden away, we may not witness it first hand day to day but of course it's there. However since many of the fantasy books I read tend to be set in a medieval-esque setting it tends to be a lot more out in the open. I think a lack of violence and sex can be as damaging to a book as an excess of it. I personally get a little peeved when books written with an adult audience (and by adult I mean anyone over the age of 16 or so who knows how the world works) in mind completely avoids sex, or puts it in the background so much it mayaswell not exist. The level of description (and thus how graphic the sex is deemed to be) is down to the authors personal choice, but i think its inclusion in one way or another is essential.

    I always wondered would writing ever go the way of cinema and music, and release two versions of a novel, a "clean" version and a "dirty" version if you will. The same story just with one version having the sex and violence described in great detail, the other making it a little more audience friendly. I know plenty of albums have had two version realised, and I've lost count of how many films, when released on dvd have uncensored versions with either more nudity, gore or both. Would certain people enjoy GRRM a lot more if the overly descriptive sexual scenes were simply censured a little i wonder?

    And to try and stay on topic some bit, I don't honestly know if things have gotten more explicit recently, certainly of all the fantasy I've read in the last 10 years the date it was initially written defiantly didn't seem to affect the levels of violence and sex in the books, not one bit. Maybe it's more the case that the more explicit stuff is becoming more mainstream and thus people who would never have been exposed to it before are picking up these books due to their popularity.

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