On the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series

Giving the Devil Her Due

Why Guilty Pleasures Isn’t One

By Nick Mamatas

I have a deep respect for Laurell K. Hamilton, which never fails to surprise people. My own fiction is on the “slipstream” edge of the genre, as likely to be published in an underground zine or mainstream literary journal as it is in a genre magazine. My few books have been published by independent presses, some run out of the publishers’ apartments, others well-known for their lists of titles about overthrowing the government. Hamilton, of course, is one of the most popular and mainstream of fantasy and horror writers. Surely I should be in the back of a caf© somewhere, in a black turtleneck and a beret, cursing my own fate and shaking my fist at Hamilton. It’s what more than a few of my friends preoccupy themselves with. But I’m not–I think Hamilton, especially in her early books, did some significant work. The Anita Blake series earned its popularity by doing something very little fantasy and horror did in the 1990s: it took women seriously.

This revelation came to me years ago. In May 2000, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) held their annual Nebula award show and conference in New York City. As part of the weekend, SFWA put on a reading and signing event at the large Barnes & Noble in Union Square. Nebula nominees were invited to read for all of ninety seconds apiece, Grandmaster Brian Aldiss gave a talk, and SFWA members attending the awards showed up. The ads for the event were  …

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