A 1st Review! Liked the Book. Doesn’t Like Lesbians. So, Now I’m Pissed.

I received a first review of Hard as Roxx, and I can’t stop laughing. No, it wasn’t a great review. In fact, the reviewer “deducted a star” because I didn’t give away in the 1st two chapters or the blurb that one of the two main characters was lesbian and the other bisexual. Still, he gave me 3 stars, so I guess that makes this a 4-star, non-queer equivalent.

Whatever, dude. Sorry, I’m honestly laughing again.

So, one of the many inspirations behind the book (along with “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” “Mad Max,” and “Way of the Dragon”) was the Gaea Trilogy by John Varley. It too starred a tall female lead (Cirocco Jones) and female partner (Gaby Plauget), who turned out to be an on-again, off-again lover. Heavens to Betsy.

What the review made me think of, however (other than his particular hatred of books with homosexuality and/or “erotica” which showed up in most of his reviews) is the difference between expectation and reality. In this person’s mind, who was likely looking for hard sci fi crossed with dystopian sci fi, I clearly missed the mark. However, I didn’t market it as either hard or soft sci fi, because it’s neither. It does involve genetic engineering to a large extent, and a great deal of (some say too much) discussion about technology ( which I know A LOT about), but it’s still more romantic epic than not.

But in a reader’s mind, the book is “mostly” about lesbian sensuality. Okay, an important viewpoint, that. However, the main character, Roxx, meets her partner, Trint, whilst in the midst of killing 7 men who were trying to kidnap her daughter into child slavery. I didn’t do a final body count, but I’d guess it was over 3 dozen, not including robots.

Now I can see griping that the book is too violent, or that it averages around 1.1 curse words per page (if you include “bloody”), or even that it’s not nearly dreary enough to qualify as dystopian, but is a book really about romance if the 1st sex happens in chapter 13? Should we writers worry about reviews when it is obvious that the readers are reviewing how well we meet their expectations or prejudices?

I would say, “No.” I am lucky in that I have people whom I trust who tell me when a work is good or mediocre. (They won’t say “bad.”) So, I really couldn’t give two shits about the opinions of strangers. Shocking, right? But I do hope that others who read reviews, good or bad, understand they are reviewing how well a book meets their wants, and not the book itself.

Roxx isn’t perfect. It probably starts too slowly. Like all my stories, at its core, it’s a love story. It’s violent. She says “bloody” too much and she has a penchant for decapitating enemies when killing them is enough. And, she has an irrational (though well-deserved) fear of being raped to death.

She also likes sex with men and women, though she’s only willingly had sex with 2 each of either gender.

Hate Roxx because she bores you. But don’t take a story, read all 360 pages, like it, but then slap lesbians in the face for existing, by virtue of my book. I didn’t market my book as “lesbian lit” because it isn’t. And, ranting dumbasses aside, there are approximately 452 science fiction works that include LGBT characters. There are over 100 that include them as lead characters. I am proud to say, my book adds to that list (and kicks serious ass in the process.)

I’m really shocked he never mentioned the gay robot. He’s the best character in the book. And Jasper would love that he was being hated.

So, I guess the bottom line is I expected this, just not right away. But that means they’re reading it, which is cool. I’ve written about black characters, white, biracial, Hispanic, Native American, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Africans. I’ve written straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered. I’ve written 1st-person as a woman and 3rd-person as myself. And they all have one thing in common. That some people will never figure out what that is, is not my concern. My concern, as a writer, is to stretch the genres to include the things they always should have included.

If, in the process, I step on your toes, move your fucking feet out my goddamn way.

Peace, babies.

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11 thoughts on “A 1st Review! Liked the Book. Doesn’t Like Lesbians. So, Now I’m Pissed.

  1. When it comes to reading fiction, a reader should remember that it’s fiction! Also, when I was going over Roxx I didn’t see that much swearing (that I remember) and the lesbian tension offered as many laughs at times as titillation. Some people are just too uptight (which is probably what you thought when I was sending you notes while reading the book…)

    1. Jason, thanks. No, I just thought you were trying to be ( and succeeding) being helpful. Your comments were pointing me in good directions. I was just balancing those with people pointing in different directions. 🙂

      I was bummed by the review, until I read his other reviews. He did the same thing, over and over, usually giving 1-3 stars. I figured my book must be pretty good.

      I didn’t even set out to make it girl on girl. I originally had a male love interest, but Trint and Roxx’s battles were fun enough that I didn’t put it in.

  2. Jana

    Some reviewers never fail to amaze me. I see similar reviews on my own stuff and I mostly write nothing but homosexual lit and I wonder why did they ever pick it up (since mine is clearly marked because that IS their genre)

    1. Mine has LGBT as one of the tags. I’m POSITIVE this person reads those on purpose, then downgrades the review because he doesn’t want to admit he likes it. I found at least half a dozen sci fi books he did that to.

      I can’t even find sci fi with gay themes. He had to be looking for it. People are odd.

      I’m guessing people attack you because they want to be hurtful. It’s just another stupid form of bullying. Sorry you have to endure it.

    1. It seems to be a personal issue. I found a number of reviews where he complained about the same thing. I think people don’t understand that you don’t reveal major plot points in a book’s blurb so that people will want to read the story.

      I’m past worrying about every bit of feedback. Doing so leads to insanity. I hope you’re right; it would be funny if people suddenly rushed to my book in droves.

  3. “If, in the process, I step on your toes, move your fucking feet out my goddamn way.” Beautiful line, much how I feel too when it comes to reviews about my own work, and my beliefs in general.
    We all have our critics who speak from their noble asses, but they are necessary I think, one because they validate the strength of our own convictions in our own work, and two because they express probably what some others think but don’t have the guts to say. In my view all views are valid, even if they are a little asinine. As an artist of any kind I think it’s a mark of quality if you can push as many buttons as possible, it’s what art is designed to do. So keep on doing what you’re doing, it’s obviously working well.

    1. Thank you very much for that. I appreciate it. I knew when I created a lesbian romance as a subplot that some people would be bothered. I guess I hadn’t anticipated someone who looks for sexuality to complain about.

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