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July 13 2007

Anita and Buffy: Compare and Contrast. Popular author Laurell K. Hamilton compares her Executioner to the Slayer.

She seems a little ignorant of the Buffyverse but I, for one, love her series anyway.

Fitz--good read, thanks for the post. And IMO, she seemed to know more about BtVS than I expected.

I read an interesting article in Wizard (oxymoron aside) about the Anita Blake comic series artist, Brett Booth. The poor guy lived in a van with his wife and 5 or 6 dogs for over a year while getting back on his feet financially! I'll try to find the link...
Was the van down by the river? Ugh, sorry.

My guess is she has seen the first few seasons of Buffy. I would hardly characterize the BTVS's dealings with sex as "Sex -> Punishment."
Ehh. I really liked the first books in her series, but after book 10 or so it got too hard to keep track of all the relationships and too difficult to slog through the relentless sex scenes. And I like sex scenes, usually.
She claims to pre-date Buffy in a very defensive way...

Last time I checked her first book came out in 93, when the Buffy movie was out in 92...

I used to like her books, before I realized they started to suck. Seriously, the first few books and the rest don't even appear to be written by the same person.
The current Anita Blake is a lame comparison to our beloved Buffy. I couldn't handle any of the books after Obsidian Butterfly, and pretty much had to choke that one down. Would an interesting story line be so much to ask for? Joss can always deliver one, but Hamilton has had quite a few duds in a row.
IMO, the books started to get extremely repetitive in the sex themes after maybe the 6th one and it was really hard for me to take anything seriously. I stopped reading them and have no intention on reading any of them anymore.

Also, as comparison to Buffy, character-wise, Anita is definitely not anywhere as strong as Buffy. She's got her cool little raising the dead powers but she really relies on guns after all.
What everyone else said. :-)
I agree that the later books have weaker plots than the earlier ones, but at around book 12, where I think her plots really started to suffer, I reluctantly stopped reading them for that. :) Er, now I read them for the CHARACTERS, that is. Truly, her character development is incredible - she has some of the most memorable characters I've ever read. I read them for that, and the other.

Anita and Buffy are two entirely different animals; I really don't think that you can say that one is better than the other. They are simply too different. The main thing I think they have in common truly is that old "strong female character" thing that's become cliche all on its own around here.

I think Ms. Hamilton would love Joss' Equality Now speech. I think she's right about sex being a punishable offense in the Buffyverse (an aspect that I don't completely agree with) while her own attitude of consequence-free (read: disease-free) sex is something that I can only buy while I'm also buying that vampires and shapeshifters are real.

I think both Buffy and the Anita Blake series do a lot in their own unique ways to encourage others to create "strong, female characters." I don't see any problem with loving them both (coincedentally, in true Anita fashion.)
Oh, and alexreager, you're welcome. 'Twas my first. : )
I read the first couple Anita Blake books. I got tired of how, every day, we had to be told what Anita was wearing, what gun she choose, why she picked that one, and which holster she was going for.

Also, I got annoyed when Anita was facing some terrible danger, couldn't figure out how to defeat it, and then blacked out, and when she woke up, all was well. That happened two or three times in the first few books, if I recall correctly.
I'm sorry, Fitz, but character development? Are you kidding? If by "character development" you mean "has her characters engage in graphic, blood-sport, multiple-partner, bondage-domination sex every 2.5 pages" [not that there's anything wrong with it], then yes, Laurell K. Hamilton does a fantastic job with character development. I've given this series a fair shake, truly hoping for a Buffy-successor, and while the first few books were nicely done, the last 8 or so are nothing more than sex-sex-sex with a few token stakings thrown in for variety. Trash - worse than Anne Rice. I'm interested in that Southern Vampire series (?) tho' - anyone know anything about that?
"I'm sorry, if you're going to have sex, in a work of fiction, it should be good sex and be between people who care about each other."

1) I guess that's true, if you really don't want your fictional world to resemble the real one; that would describe a fair percentage of real-world sexual encounters only if "cares about each other" = "wants to get laid." Not that there's anything wrong with that, but why pretend it's something it's not? "Fiction" doesn't have to mean "fairy tale."

2) How does she arrive at that idea after this?
"I found that at that time the men got to cuss, kill without remorse, have casual sex, and not really care or worry about it. Female detectives on the other hand, if they shot somebody they had to feel bad. They almost never cussed. If they had sex it was either sanitized, off-stage or not at all. I decided that I wanted to level the playing field - have someone as tough as they guys. I may have over-compensated juuuuust a little bit."

Maybe it's just me, but "casual sex, and not really care or worry about it" also doesn't exactly translate to sex "between people who care about each other."

Okay, I'll admit that her writing isn't really to my taste, but now I have to wonder: does she read her own books?
I'll admit, there are some major flaws to LKH's work, especially the later books. However, I was a solid fan for the first ten or so.

Despite those flaws, I won't completely slam her, and I won't say Joss's work is perfect, either. There have been more than a few areas of Joss's show that I didn't like all that much, but I still continued to respect his work. My point here (and I do have one), is that it's not really fair to judge the Anitaverse on the basis of Buffy. I agree with Fitz in saying the two series are like apples and oranges. Both characters live in such different worlds that it makes no sense to compare them really.
Friend Mouse, I think you're thinking of Charlaine Harris' books. Her main character is Sookie Stackhouse, IIRC, who's a psychic waitress down south. There are werewolves and vampires (one of whom Sookie dates)... I've only read the first two, and enjoyed them very much. Hope the series continues to do well. Actually, now that I think about it, didn't I hear there's going to be a TV series? Maybe with Anna Paquin or somebody? Oh, and to stay on topic, I also stopped reading LKH after the first few books. I personally like Harris a lot more. (Anybody like Susan Sizemore? I prefer her vampire-romance-novel hybrids to LKH by a long shot...)

[ edited by miri47 on 2007-07-14 04:56 ]
Friend think Anne Rice is trash? :-(

I do enjoy Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series, though.
I don't know about Friend Mouse, but I could only read so far into Anne Rice's stuff. The further I got past Queen of the Damned, the more of a struggle it became to me. Interview was okay, I really enjoyed Lestat, Queen of the Damned was interesting, if a bit lengthy, Tale of the Body Thief dragged at times for me, and I don't recall if I ever finished Memnoch.

Given how much I read, writing a book I won't finish takes a feat. And not a good one.
Friend Mouse, yes, I did say character development. I for one, wouldn't give up the characters of Nathaniel, Asher and Jason let alone Anita and Jean-Claude for - Bob forbid - less sex.

Anita and Jean-Claude are who made me fascinated for a while; the others, among other things, have been what has kept me there.

Though I have to agree, I'd give up some of the repetitive rambling for more/better plot development. For example in her latest book - The Harlequin - much of the repetitiveness seems to be editor-mandated reintroductions and explanations, while the plot overall was a great idea, simply, IMO, not as well executed as I'd hoped it would be. Though the sex was great.

I also have the Charlaine Harris books on my list - I've heard good things.
The similarities between the two characters/series are pretty non-existent, IMHO. I mean, Anita is an adult woman, settled into her life with a job and a few friends. She starts to change as a result of the cases she works and the people she meets, but she starts out pretty comfortable in her own skin, with her own little life. Buffy's story is very much a coming-of-age, coming to terms with her power sort of thing. And one BIG thing is that she not only is dealing with Her Powers, but the general hell that is being a teenager. Many of the problems that she faces, even throughout the last season, are either influenced or paralleled by those more common troubles.

That, and from the very beginning she gathers people around her, unlike Anita who prefers to keep folks at arms length. If I had to pick a current phenom parallel for Buffy, it would probably be Harry Potter.

*drops that bomb and runs*

Re. the Anita Blake series: I had similar troubles passing Obsidian Butterfly, but with the latest release she seems to be turning it back around (Harlequin). When I'm not re-reading my Buffy comics, I've been keeping up with Ms. Harris's series (I recommend it) and Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series (which I CANNOT recommend highly enough!). Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are also a great read (although, you'll have to choose -- books or SciFi series).
I love the Dresden Files, and the obvious correct choice is books- because then you can listen to them read by James Marsters. How can you lose?
I tried reading one Anita Blake book, but when, at the end, everything was fixed by people praying really hard...I knew she wasn't the writer for me.

And everything else I've read about her leads me to think she's just kind of an arrogant person. She once said in an interview that she alone kept the vampire genre going. And the bit about Buffy in this article was all very defensive. I guess I'm just used to people like Joss who are a bit self-deprecating and eager to give props to their influences.

And regardless of who came 'first', from everything I've seen, it seems like Joss' works have had an influence on some of her world. I mean, if it were me, and I truly didn't follow Buffy and didn't know much about it(though she knows enough to compare and contrast), I would just say, "Well, Buffy obviously had a major impact on the genre, but it wasn't really an influence for me. I had all these characters and worlds worked out in my head before I ever heard of Buffy."

At the very least, she could admit that a major part of her readership was probably drawn to her because of the success of Joss' world. I have a feeling if Buffy hadn't been such a big hit in the genre, LKH may not have the career she has now. Just my opinion, of course...

Even with my distaste for her, I can't deny that she's probably the #1 vampire/romance writer out there today. Just a shame all successful people can't act like a Joss or a Nathan.
If Buffy's universe, if you have sex, really horrible things happen to you.

Aww come on, Author Lady, that ain't true. There was that one thing with Buffy and Angel. And, ok, with Parker. But that's all I can think of.

For the most part, the characters have relationships that can span across seasons (where they presumably are having sex... unless Xander and Anya were just holding hands all those years while they were sleeping in the same bed), and nothing bad happens as a result of sexy sexy. Plenty of bad things do happen; but, not as a result of the sex.

My favorites, off the top of my head:

  1. Hugh Hefner Giles!

  2. Xander has Faith! Now that one's the epitome of casual sex.

  3. Giles and Buffy's Mom! To this day, one of my favorite lines in all of Buffydom is: "You had sex with Giles? On the hood of a police car? TWICE?"

  4. Willow and Oz. After they did the virginity losing thing, they were presumably making the sex at least occaisionally afterwards.

  5. Spike and Dru. They were some of the only vampires to survive the entire Buffyverse run; they seem to actually have been rewarded for being different than most vamps and having a relationship.

  6. Buffy and Spike. Oodles of copulation. And the end result of that "relationship" was that Spike got his soul back and became a good guy! This one's kind of a funny parallel to Buffy and Angel: while Angel lost his soul by making it with the Buffster, Spike actually got one.

  7. Willow and Tara. Though Tara did die after they'd just gotten back together and (presumably) got it on, I don't think her dying was related. And after all, they'd had a really long relationship before that.

  8. Xander and Anya: This relationship actually started with casual sex; ironically, it was the committment part which eventually broke it up.

  9. Willow and Kennedy. Ok, not really a favorite. And their first kiss did go rather badly. But in all fairness, that was about Willow's guilt.

  10. Buffy and Riley. Ok, one time they had sex and bad things happened to everyone else. And another time they had sex and it turned out to be Faith-possessed-Buffy. Maybe this one is a bad example.

For the most part though, I think sex is just usually shown before badness to emphasize how close the characters were before breaking them up. That's a storytelling convention as old as time (ok, at least as old as me anyways).

  1. Willow and Oz were implied to have been doing the bumpy grind the morning before they broke up; but, that was to show how much they were in love.

  2. Willow and Tara in Once More with Feeling, same thing: make with the sex, even sing about it, to make it that much more heartbreaking when they break up.

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