Boy books vs. girl books

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Jun 20 15:32:47 EDT 2002


Melissa asked...

(I'm skipping the questions I don't - not being/ever having been a boy -
feel qualified to answer.)

> 3. If you began reading science fiction and/or fantasy as a young
> teen, what interested you in such books?  (Boys or girls)

I blame my parents.  Bedtime stories.  My father used to read us a chapter
of a book each night before bed, and went through all seven of the Narnia
books, all five of the Chronicles of Prydain, and "The Hobbit" (that I can
recall off-hand - he also tried "Gormenghast", but we rebelled!).  We also
got doses of Irish, Norse and Greek myth and legend.  Now my father wonders
why I read mostly fantasy!  (Another result is that I can't now read the
Prydain books without "hearing" the voice my father did for Gurgi!)  Though
admittedly, it was long before my teenage years that I got the taste for
spec-fic.

> 5. Girls: I've noticed that female protagonists in fantasy are frequently
> described as being different physically or intellectually from their
> families or immediate social group.  Did you feel similarly
> unique, and was
> that an element of your interest in fantasy or science fiction?

To an extent, yes.  As a child and teenager, I was shy, un-self-confident,
self-conscious, and very much a loner.  My family was "odd" compared to my
peers' families (no TV, hand-made clothes, interest in reading and Early
Music, Protestant rather than Roman Catholic...)  I did feel very different
from the kids in my school classes, and I did like to read about kids who
were also "different" - and usually "special" in some way.  I don't know
that it made me feel any better, but at least I could imagine that I was the
Chosen One or whatever. :-)  And there was an element of reassurance to my
reading - that "I may be weird, but that doesn't mean I can't do X, and
maybe it means I can achieve Y and Z!" feeling.  I suspect most if not all
people who feel like outsiders like to have the reassurance that an outsider
can make good/save the world/get the girl/boy of their choice.  Spec-fic
seems to more often give the crown to the outsider.

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian.


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