Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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The Secret Combination For Success

I’m the first to admit, I’m a sucker for starships and space pirates. Heh. Is that so wrong?

But science fiction romance doesn’t have to be all about starships and wormholes. Quite the opposite: more than a few stories explore other settings, couplings, times, and technologies. However, it’s often the flashy galactic adventures that garner most of the attention. Stories set in space or on alien worlds tend to define/represent science fiction romance as a whole, but that's not all there is to it.

SFR has the potential to encompass a pretty broad swath of stories when one considers all the various subgenres of science fiction. Romance has also splintered into various subgenres, many of which would dovetail quite well with their SF “counterparts.” With this subgenre on the cusp of a much wider audience, there is so much unexplored territory that it boggles my mind.

Check out just a few of the numerous possibilities:

Steampunk

What it is: Steampunk “…is set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.”

I think you all know how I feel about steampunk. Well, I’d adore a steampunk romance even better! (While we’re waiting with tapping toes for the wave to hit, CLOCKWORK HEART by Dru Pagliassotti is available from Juno Books, and Nathalie Gray has penned MECHANICAL ROSE, a steampunk erotic romance. Hello, hawt eccentric inventor!)

This category is a goggle-licious example of where authors can take science fiction romance stories. For the very ambitious, you could even explore a steampunk romance in space!

Will also appeal to: Historical romance lovers

Mundane SF

What it is: Mundane SF “…focuses on stories set on or near the Earth, with a believable use of technology and science as it exists at the time the story is written.

With these stories, there’d be no starships, no wormholes, and no interstellar travel in sight. There’s enough existing technology and human couplings to explore without launching into space. Mundane SF also represents a potentially great opportunity to explore tales in a near future setting.

Will also appeal to: Contemporary romance lovers

Time Travel

What it is: Stories involving “…devices and technologies that take people backwards and forwards in time and space….

Angela Knight’s JANE’S WARLORD (and the Time Hunters series that followed) and Isabo Kelly’s MARSHALL’S GUARD are wonderful starts, but let’s bring ‘em back in force. Instead of magical portals/amulets or what have you, make each catalyst for the time-tripping a scientific invention. It's sexy tech, for sure. Oooh, wouldn’t a steampunk time travel romance be absolutely fantabulous?!!

Will also appeal to: Time travel romance lovers

Military SF

What it is: “Military science fiction is set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces; the primary viewpoint characters are usually soldiers. Stories include detail about military technology, procedure, ritual, and history; military stories may use parallels with historical conflicts.”

Authors Sandra McDonald (THE OUTBACK STARS) Susan Grant (LEGEND OF BANZAI MAGUIRE), and Linnea Sinclair (GAMES OF COMMAND) have aspects of military SF in a few of their books. Another resource for these types of stories is the ROMVETS, a community of authors with a military background.

But you can’t deny there’s room for so many more!

For more inspiration, please do check out Women Who Write Military Science Fiction Books by Deborah Teramis Christian (thanks to Lisa Paitz Spindler for the link).

Will also appeal to: Action adventure romance lovers (fans of Suzanne Brockmann, I’m looking at you).

Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, & Superhuman

What they are: “Apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of civilization through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster or with a world or civilization after such a disaster.... Apocalyptic fiction generally concerns the disaster itself and the direct aftermath, while post-apocalyptic can deal with anything from the near aftermath to hundreds or thousands of years in the future…”

Superhuman stories deal with the emergence of humans who have abilities beyond the norm.... These stories usually focus on the alienation that these beings feel as well as society's reaction to them.”

Eve Kenin’s DRIVEN, Claire Delacroix’s FALLEN, and Jordan Summer’s RED all transport the reader to post-apocalyptic settings with nary a starship in sight. In these stories, gritty, dark, and intense rule the day—oh, and that’s just describing the romances!

Catherine Asaro’s SUNRISE ALLEY is an example of a suspenseful tale involving a hero with superhuman abilities (and for the guys, there’s ALPHA). Superhuman stories have so much untapped potential in science fiction romances. Why not mix and match with other subgenres? GAMES OF COMMAND features a bio cybe admiral hero.

Will also appeal to: Paranormal romance lovers

Cyberpunk

What it is: In cyberpunk stories, the “…time frame is usually near-future and the settings are often dystopian. Common themes in cyberpunk include advances in information technology and especially the Internet (visually abstracted as cyberspace), artificial intelligence and prosthetics and post-democratic societal control where corporations have more influence than governments. Nihilism, post-modernism, and film noir techniques are common elements, and the protagonists may be disaffected or reluctant anti-heroes.”

Rise of the SFR anti-heroes and anti-heroines in this category, perhaps? Yum! Seriously, though, we’re talking about some pretty deep books here. It might even call for a new subgenre of science fiction: Romancepunk!

Will also appeal to: Romantic suspense lovers

Ahh…science fiction romance—the best of both worlds! But let’s not stop here—what are some combinations you’d like to read?

Joyfully yours,

Heather