Fantasy and science fiction writer, Fonda Lee, best known for her speculative fiction Zeroboxer, and Exo, recently sparked controversy by speaking out against the over-promotion of classic authors like J.R.R. Tolkien.
Commenting on the shelf space dedicated to ‘dead guys’ such as Tolkien and Robert Jordan, Fonda Lee explained how frustrating and difficult it is for fellow fantasy writers such as herself to sell their own work.
Using Twitter as her platform, Lee posted a photo of bookshelves in her local Barnes & Noble, showing 3 shelves dedicated to Tolkien, and almost 2 shelves just for Jordan. As a Tolkien fan herself, Lee was adamant she was not attempting to discredit the authors, however she felt frustrated that so much space was given to two “dead guys” over fresh and modern fantasy writers.
She may have a point about the saturated market of fantasy and science fiction writers, and the need to give newer writers a fighting chance, however both Tolkien and Jordan were prolific writers and surely deserve space on shelves to showcase their many tomes? Tolkien himself wrote over 35 books, and Jordan had published 14 and a prequel novel- perhaps showing the need for more space for such productive epic fantasy writers.
Let us know what you think!
This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it's face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here's who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys. pic.twitter.com/fLUagKPIUX— Fonda Lee (@FondaJLee) 9 March 2019
Before you @ me about the importance of classics, I love LOTR too, okay? But 3.5 shelves?? So much great modern SFF work out there. I found one copy of my WFA-winning book. One of most of the other Nebula and Hugo nominees. One copy of The Fifth Season. 18 copies of LOTR.— Fonda Lee (@FondaJLee) 9 March 2019
If you think a bookstore should be a place of discovery, who goes into B&N and "discovers" Tolkien? Do they figure people want another 5 copies of LOTR and aren't interested in all the other work out there? I dunno guys. Sometimes, it's hard for me to go into bookstores, tbh.— Fonda Lee (@FondaJLee) 9 March 2019