Sometimes I don’t like books because I don’t like their authors.
I never finished the Liveship Traders books.
I got through the first two – which was quite an accomplishment because they’re some bigass books – and I liked them. They weren’t my favorite fantasy reads ever – the story jumped here to there, here to there, here to there and it was a bit hard to get into or follow any one particular story line, plus, they were depressing as fuck. BUT the depth and breadth of the world building was truly exceptional. And Wintrow and Althea were the kind of young and defiant characters that I as a young and defiant wannabe teen totally admired.
Every time I’m in a bookstore, buried in my usual sword-and-sorcery section, I see the books. I usually take them down and run my fingers over the spines and cheesy covers. Sometimes, I flip through them, trying to remember my favorite parts. Sometimes I pick up where I left off. Sometimes I start from the beginning. Sometimes, I even start heading to the cash register to finish what I started.
But then I don’t.
And it’s not Wintrow’s or Althea’s or the Liveship Trader’s fault. It’s Robin Hobb’s. Robin Hobb wrote the Liveship books as well as a bunch of other series that look like exactly the kind of books I’d love… but will never read. In 2005, Robin Hobb also wrote a diatribe against her fans – a diatribe so vitriolic and so contrary to what I (and many of my generation) have come to value about the literary world that I just cannot bring myself to read her words.
So what was this fatally-offensive tirade about?
For those who missed it in 2005, Hobb wrote a scathing post detailing the myriad reasons – from copyright infringement to identity theft (yes, identity theft) – on why fanfiction was such a vile practice and those who wrote it were pathetic, unoriginal thieves. Apparently unaware of how the internet works, she retracted the post soon after, but copies of it multiplied, preserving it forever in the vast Internet troves of stupid. Readers and writers everywhere immortalized Hobb’s words in their own point-by-point responses, and I don’t need to repeat their arguments here. You know I love unconventional writing, and that includes fanfiction. That’s not the point.
The point is, it’s 2013 and I still haven’t finished the series.
Though Hobb deleted the tirade, she did not retracts her opinions. She didn’t have a change of heart. She just had an aversion to the anger that railing against one’s fans tends to cause. To this day, the FAQ’s on her website indicate in no uncertain terms that her position on fanfiction (as well as other derivative projects) has not changed:
I liked the Liveship books.
But I can’t read them.
I don’t want to buy her books. I don’t want to check them of the library. I don’t even want to pirate them because that too would very likely be supporting their author. Yes, I hold grudges. Yes, I’m a bad reader. But goddamnit, I just can’t!
Nope. Not gonna happen.
~~~~Oh, and last minute edit: I’m not the only one. While this is not the reason I couldn’t get through Ender’s Game despite my sister’s persistent recommendations, it does appears other readers share my grudge-holding ability.~~~~