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the Complete Review
the complete review - psychology / sex / literature

Warrior Lovers

Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Warrior Lovers

Title: Warrior Lovers
Authors: Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2001
Length: 95 pages
Availability: Warrior Lovers - US
Warrior Lovers - UK
Warrior Lovers - Canada
  • Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality
  • Part of the Darwinism Today series, from the Darwin@LSE Project. (See links for further information.)

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Our Assessment:

A- : fun, and quite fascinating

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
New Scientist . 7/7/2001 Elizabeth Sourbut

  From the Reviews:
  • "The argument is persuasive and clear, but slash fiction is rather more diverse and complex than these authors allow, and so, one suspects, is modern female mating psychology." - Elizabeth Sourbut, New Scientist

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       In Warrior Lovers the authors want to "present a Darwinian analysis of slash fiction". They understand that: "To many readers this probably makes about as much sense as a Newtonian analysis of hip-hop music", but it turns out to make quite a bit of sense.
       'Slash fiction' refers to romance fiction "written by and for women, in which both lovers are men", generally involving expropriated media pairings -- Captain Kirk/Spock, Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson, or figures from the Harry Potter series, for example ("the word 'slash' referring to the punctuation mark between the men's names").
       The authors build up their argument slowly: this is a book in a Darwin-series, after all, and the connexion to evolutionary theory is of central interest to them. That's where they begin, then, carefully laying a foundation of what evolutionary theory means and what implications it has on a subject such as this. So for several chapters Warrior Lovers is, in fact, a Darwinian primer -- and not half bad at that.
       The central focus is on sexual psychologies; specifically, the difference between male and female ones. The authors show -- fairly reasonably -- why men and women have differing mating strategies, finding that the evidence (and the logical explanation) supports the hypothesis that:

during the course of human evolutionary history it was always adaptive for a man to copulate with any fertile woman (other than his close kin) as long as the risks were low enough, whereas it was never adaptive for a woman to copulate with just any fertile man.
       The examples and supporting evidence are quite fascinating (and occasionally disturbing), but do make a coherent and compelling case. Their explanation also extends convincingly to why men prefer porn and women mere romance novels -- and, finally, why something like slash fiction might become popular.
       The case is laid out carefully, as the authors test their ideas from various angles. Particularly interesting is the fact that slash fiction, though ostensibly homosexual, appears to have little appeal to male homosexual readers and has instead an audience consisting almost entirely of heterosexual female readers -- the explanation the authors offer for this is ingenious and convincing.

       Evolutionary theory explaining why we read and watch what we do ? It's not such a far-fetched idea: as the authors point out, porn is a significant part of the video market, and romance novels make up a large part of the fiction market, and there's a reason for the popularity of both. It also can help explain why so-called 'chick-lit' has enjoyed considerable success, and the male-oriented version hasn't. Certainly, there's more to all of this than can be addressed in such a short book, but it's an interesting starting point.
       Warrior Lovers is a fascinating little book, the material well-presented -- and it's neat to see how such a bizarre thing (slash fiction) can be so neatly explained.

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Warrior Lovers: Reviews: Slash fiction: Darwin@LSE: Donald Symons: Other books in the Darwin Today series under review: Other books under review that might be of interest:

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About the Authors:

       Catherine Salmon teaches psychology at the University of Redlands.

       Donald Symons teaches anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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