Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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I Can Haz Ann Somerville’s IMPEDIMENTA?

Having greatly enjoyed Ann Somerville’s INTERSTITIAL (“Love triangles. Alien monsters. Planetary war. Just another day in space.”), I was excited to learn she recently released a sequel to it called IMPEDIMENTA.

Here’s the thing: if it weren’t for the digital publishing options currently available to authors, I probably wouldn’t be able to read IMPEDIMENTA. Even digital publishers can’t (or won’t) take all of the niche stories out there. So thank goodness authors are taking initiative, because I’d hate to think what would happen if anyone came between me and my science fiction romance.

Here’s the description of IMPEDIMENTA:

A sequel to Interstitial. North and Seb are still fumbling towards happiness, but the baggage they both carry is holding them back. Still, a six month mission on a quiet backwater of a planet could be the making of them…but then Jati has to go and say the fatal words: ‘milk run’. She should know by now that nothing is ever that easy – and space is full of surprises.

IMPEDIMENTA is m/m, but there’s a het element to it as well. As for heat level, so far I’ve found that the author’s SFR work contains explicit sex, but I don’t consider it hardcore erotic SFR by any means (your mileage may vary). Ann Somerville also delivers on things like plot, characterization, and world building.

You can download a free sample of IMPEDIMENTA at Smashwords, and that’s also the place where you can purchase it.

Ann Somerville also has a free sequel for INTERSTITIAL called SYNCHRONISED. So if you’re interested in checking out this series, read it in this order: INTERSTITIAL ($3.50 at Samhain Publishing), SYNCHRONISED (free at the author’s site), IMPEDIMENTA ($3.99 at Smashwords). Your total comes to $7.49 of quality science fiction romance fun!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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Steampunk Scholar On FULL STEAM AHEAD

So check this out: A man by the name of Mike Perschon, who runs a blog called Steampunk Scholar, and who is also a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, and who is also an English literature professor at Grant MacEwan University, is writing a dissertation on "Steampunk as aesthetic":

The purpose of this blog will be to create an online annotated bibliography of sorts for my research…My posts will consist of annotations concerning weblinks and peer-reviewed scholarship salient to my dissertation, which is Steampunk as aesthetic.

How cool is that? I know, very cool, but what’s really cool is that Mr. Perschon read Nathalie Gray’s erotic steampunk novella FULL STEAM AHEAD and posted a scholarly analysis of her story!

He had many scholarly things to say about her book and related topics. In the quote below, he questions the haughty reactions of elitist steampunk fans to the merging of steampunk with romance and erotica:

I was nonplussed to hear folks at The Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition getting down on Katie MacAlister's Steamed, not because I think it's a great work of art, but because they largely hadn't read it. They were mad because of the appropriation of various web images for the book's trailer, which ostensibly conflated their inflated view of steampunk with the book itself, seen by many steampunks as opportunistic dreck. This as the same sort of snobbery that applauds when a laptop is steampunked, but laments when the same thing is done to Mickey Mouse. Before casting stones at writers like MacAlister and Gray, steampunk fans, aficionados, adherents, and acolytes need to ponder why steampunk is popping up with regularity in romance and erotica. Why is the steampunk aesthetic seemingly suited to sexy storylines? Is it just because of the association with corsets, or is there something more to consider?

Mr. Perschon goes on to describe FULL STEAM AHEAD and Katie MacAlister’s STEAMED as “crosshatch fantasies,” meaning that “there is a transition from one narrative universe into another.” Furthermore, he explains its role in the narrative:
Taking her reader into a steampunk world via a crosshatch device enables Gray to introduce them gently to it - repetition of reading within the same genre builds up a repository of shorthand for the experienced reader. Longtime SF fans don't need explanations of the laws of robotics, or the issues surrounding time travel, or the complexities of contact with alien species, but neophytes do. In that respect, Gray's approach might be far more successful for readers unfamiliar with SF and Fantasy tropes.

Given that steampunk romance is a new subgenre for many romance readers, I thought his observation echoed our own past conversations about how best to introduce said readers to the subgenre. Authors are using devices such as “crosshatch fantasies” to ease the learning curve for new readers. Amazing!

Regarding the action scenes in FULL STEAM AHEAD, he observed that
The battle scenes are a mix of Star Trek and Master and Commander, which make them fast paced and fun, though sometimes glaringly familiar to a longtime geek like myself. Gray makes a nod to the two classes of The Time Machine in her opposition of humans and their albino-Viking enemies, the Varangians….

And he concludes with a lovely validation for FULL STEAM AHEAD:

While it won't be heralded as either literary writing or a classic of steampunk, Full Steam Ahead deserves to be included in the library of steampunk fans who enjoy a swashbuckling crosshatch adventure and a steamy romance. While I'm unlikely to be the first person to make this joke, I will nonetheless: maybe these romances are a sub-sub-genre of steampunk...called steamypunk.


Mr. Perschon also made some interesting…comparisons between FULL STEAM AHEAD and STEAMED. Whose brass goggles reign supreme in his opinion? Well, you’ll have to go read his post to find out!

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Mike Perschon for incorporating steampunk romance into his research—and also the authors who are taking the plunge into such new, fantastical territory.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Friday, June 25, 2010

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Science Fiction Romances With "Alien" In The Title

It tickles me to no end that so many science fiction romances use "alien" in the title. I'm sure it's an inevitable phenomenon given that in science fiction romance stories, aliens are more likely to wind up as the heroes or heroines. Instead of portraying aliens as villains, SFR authors tend to transform them into the good guys and gals. That's actually pretty cool given the preponderance of stories featuring invading aliens intent on stealing Earth or using humans as a food source. Or both. Living in fear of aliens can become a bit fatiguing after a while.

However, one reason I find the proliferation of "alien" in SFR titles surprising is that I--personally--don't find the word itself to be particularly sexy. Probably because I'm more steeped in the idea of aliens as invaders, usually of the lizard or tentacled variety. However, I can understand the idea behind it since the idea of finding true love with a gorgeous hunk or hunkette from the stars is a popular fantasy. It's just that sometimes I wish we had a word for aliens that sounded a lot more dashing.

Then there's what a particular author (or publisher, as the case may be) does with the word "alien." Sometimes it's clever (like a twist on a popular phrase), but other times it's just outrageously campy. Yet there are times when even the goofiest alien-in-the-title moniker promises exactly what the story delivers, and one really can't argue with that type of transparency.

Thanks to the superlatively organized Galaxy Express passenger Vicky W., I’m able to present a list of science fiction romances with the word “alien” in the title. When possible, I've provided links to either each individual author's site or to places where you can purchase the book. Books no longer available are marked with a "n/a". If you know of any others, leave a comment with the information and I'll add it to the list.

And away we go...

Katherine Allred
Close Encounters: An Alien Affairs Novel
Close Contact: An Alien Affairs Novel

Jeanine Berry
Alien Seduction

Lily Cain

Alien Revealed

Etienne D’Artagnan
In Alien Arms

Ann-Marie Desiree
Alien Suspicion (n/a)
Lisa Gabriella
Alien Islands (n/a)
Alien Suspicion (n/a)
Alien Valley (n/a)
Alien Wind (n/a)

Xandra Gregory
Alien Communion

Kate Hill
Alien Affairs series:
Doing Thyme
In Purpose And Blood
Moonlight On Water
Yule Tydisian
Menage A Tasia
Close Quarters
Pandora’s Box

Susanne Marie Knight
Alien Heat

Gini Koch
Touched By An Alien
Alien Tango (forthcoming)
Alien In The Family (forthcoming)
Alien Proliferation (forthcoming)

Eve Langlais
Alien Mate

Ellen Margret
Alluring Alien (Double Nova digest)

Michelle Marquis
Her Alien Lover (Torrid Teasers No. 21 anthology)

Shelley Munro
Romancing The Alien
Talking Dogs, Aliens, and Purple People Eaters

Kaitlyn O’Connor
Alien Penetration (n/a)

Norah-Jean Perkin
Alien’s Daughter

Nicole L. Pierce
Kidnapped and Spanked by an Alien
My Alien Is A Sex Fiend

Barbara Romo
Undercover Alien

Claudia Rose
Alien Games

Robin L. Rotham

Alien Overnight

Shaara
But He’s An Alien

Charlene Teglia
I Was An Alien’s Love Slave (Seasons of Seduction III anthology)

Judith Thain
Alien Charm

Anthologies with “alien” in the title:

Leigh Ellwood, Mae Powers, Jenna Leigh, & Megan Hussey: Alien Seduction

Ashley Ladd, Joy Nash, Dominique Tomas, & Jane Toombs: Alien Encounters (n/a)

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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Steampunk Steals & Deals

I’ve got two neat nuggets of steampunk news for you today. And let me tell you, when authors and publishers explore all sorts of ways to bring me more steampunk romance, I’m a happy camper. I love that I don’t have to be dependent solely on mainstream venues to feed my entertainment needs. It makes discovering new stories that much more special.

First, a steampunk book bargain:

Ciar Cullen’s STEAMSIDE CHRONICLES is at Smashwords and on the Kindle—both at only .99 cents! On 6/13/10, the author blogged about a Smashwords coupon code that will enable readers to snatch it up for free at (if it's still good, the code is DM45Z). It's in my virtual TBR pile, so I hope to read it soon. Here’s the set up:

Emily Fenwick, former NYPD, is now reluctant defender of 1890 New York. Unfortunately for Emily, who hates "the creepy stuff," she ignored her inner voice, went to a carnival in Central Park, and entered a Victorian tent in hopes a psychic would have some encouraging news about her woefully boring love life. The guarantee she receives of meeting a tall, dark, and handsome stranger comes with a huge catch--he lives in an alternate dimension of the past.

Jack Pettigrew leads a quirky band of lost souls in a battle to save New York circa 1890. Nightmares have come alive and threaten to terrorize a fragile era. Jack leads the "punks," who have been sucked back in time through a vortex. Each has a fleeting memory of their own death--or near death--and must determine for themselves why they have been chosen for this mission. Is Steamside their Purgatory? Could an Egyptian obelisk in Central Park be the cause of the time rift, or is Emily herself to blame for the goblins, zombies, and other nightmarish scenes plaguing them?

If the Punks want to return to 2010, they must ensure there's going to be an 1891. If they conclude they're really ghosts, then it might be time to party like it's 1999.

Regarding heat level, the author stated on Amazon that “Please note that while this book has some adult content, it is not ultra steamy romance.” Ciar Cullen also writes for Samhain Publishing, so please do check out her other books if you enjoy paranormal and fantasy romance.

Second, a steampunk publishing opportunity for authors:

L&L Dreamspell has a call for submissions for its forthcoming ebook steampunk anthology. My guess is that since they will release Pauline B. Jones’ TANGLED IN TIME (December 2010), they might be interested in receiving steampunk romance submissions for the anthology.

The publisher is seeking short stories from 3000 to 6000 words in length. To learn more, read the submission guidelines. (Thanks to Pauline B. Jones for the link!)

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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State of the Science Fiction And Romance Union: 2010

AVATAR French PosterWelcome, dear passengers, to the third annual State of the Science Fiction and Romance Union here at The Galaxy Express!

Since the 2009 State of the Science Fiction And Romance Union, I’ve had even more fun blogging about science fiction romance. In the process, I learned more about a variety of subjects ranging from the digital revolution, the history of both SFR and romance in general, the nature of covers, the importance of social networking, and of course how not to do a science fiction romance film. Overall, this past year has been a time of defining our vision for science fiction romance, and figuring out how we can take it to the next level.

Specifically, here are some highlights of what I saw develop in SFR:

With the rise of digital and other alternate publishing business models over the past year—and a newfound respect for such endeavors—science fiction romance gained a fighting chance to break out of its niche subgenre roots. New digital-first publishers like Carina Press and Decadent Publishing have made it their business to actively seek out SFR. Various companies are racing to develop high quality yet affordable reading devices so readers can connect with a whole new realm of stories.

Digital publishers have been demonstrating how well they understand that the reader is the customer. One prominent example from this past year is Samhain Publishing, which released two SFR space opera anthologies (IMPULSE POWER and MEN IN SPACE). Samhain also has steampunk romance and cyberpunk romance themed anthologies in the pipeline. SFR may still be niche, but digital publishers are working diligently to deliver what fans want.

Authors have also been exploring creative ways to deliver science fiction romance to readers. One example is Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s extensive series of posts at Alien Romances about how to rework the “fictional delivery system” in order to catapult SFR into the mainstream. A second example is Ellen Fisher who has released two SFR books on the Kindle and is blogging about her progress. Increasingly, SFR authors are casting an eye toward breaking into publishing with ebooks, or adding the digital model to their repertoire if they are already established.

Steampunk romance became the hot subgenre among romance publishers both print and digital. I found that very exciting to witness since I’ve been blogging about it since 2008. Tor.com and bloggers like The Book Smugglers and vvB32 Reads hosted steampunk specials this past year. Drollerie Press hosted a steampunk romance panel at its first annual digital conference, Coyote Con. Additionally, Kris Alice Hohls’ LoveLetter magazine featured steampunk articles spread out across two back-to-back issues. Clearly, steampunk romance is a subgenre both publishers and readers are avid about discovering no matter where they live.

Science fiction romance also made unexpected appearances in other mediums. James Cameron’s blockbuster film AVATAR proved that science fiction and romance could coexist in a mainstream Hollywood film and simultaneously bring home the bacon. With THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU right around the corner and SF/F stories a hot commodity in Tinseltown, perhaps an increase of science fiction romance movies is in the stars.

The science fiction romance online community evolved further this past year with the formation of the SFR Brigade, a consortium of SFR authors who banded together under the knowledge that there’s strength in numbers. And science fiction site SF Signal hosted an SFR themed Mind Meld. That collaboration demonstrated just how much romance and science fiction can indeed get along.

Regarding my predictions from last year, one of them came true, but it’s not public knowledge yet. Wahh.

SFR Crystal Ball

Now, on to my predictions for the coming year:

*Ebooks will increasingly become “the” place to find the largest offering of science fiction romances.

*We’ll see a surge of steampunk romance stories hit both the virtual and physical shelves.

*I predict that there will be more growth in the SFR online community over the coming year (in terms of numbers, presence, and reach) than in the past two years combined.

That's my take. I’m being conservative given the recent impact of the economy on the publishing industry. If anything, my overall prediction is that science fiction romance growth will be like the proverbial tortoise: slow and steady wins the race.

What do you see as the highlights since this time last year? What are your predictions regarding science fiction romance for the next twelve months?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Why Is It Still A Man’s World In The Future?

Yesterday, Verona St. James reviewed NO WORDS ALONE by Dorchester author Autumn Dawn. This passage in particular caught my eye [Spoiler Alert]:

I also felt like Ryven caved much too quickly on forcing her to essentially be a highly-ranked stay-at-home mom. His capitulation that she can have a career was basically that, a throwaway line on the last page, like, "Ok, honey, you can have a job if you want one that badly." And even then he's still in control because he's giving her permission.

While I haven’t read the above book, I did start Autumn Dawn’s WHEN SPARKS FLY. The chapters I read contained subtexts, as I interpreted them, regarding the evil of alcohol and the dangers of sex before marriage. Now, I expect to find subtext of one kind or another in just about every science fiction romance I read, but it’s the subtext regarding Western patriarchal society in particular that gives me significant pause.

It really takes me out of an SFR story when I’m told that it’s still a man’s world in the future—sometimes hundreds of years later. It’s especially puzzling when my own personal experience is at such odds with an author’s presentation of her futuristic world. Even more puzzling when said world isn’t even Earth. Growing up, I learned that I don’t need permission from any man to have a job, so it’s difficult if not impossible for me to engage with a story that contradicts my experience in such a fashion. An exception, of course, would be if an author provided additional commentary on why the misogynistic elements of a patriarchal society had endured.

While not one hundred percent unexpected, patriarchal societies in science fiction romance are more prevalent than I’d like. After all, this is a subgenre that is currently dominated by women authors. Why aren’t we asking them to create worlds with other types of hierarchies? (Well, except for Jess Granger—she already did that in BEYOND THE RAIN). But let’s say the alternatives are unrealistic or are more fantasy than plausible science. Okay, but even if a society is technically a patriarchy, it can still involve much more progressive laws, institutions, and practices that ensure a stronger sense of gender equality than we have now. Seriously, is either of those choices too much to ask?

That said, I realize timing plays a part—an SFR written twenty or thirty years ago can have a different subtext than a new release. With an older book, I take the culture of the time in which the book was written into account. My concern is more when this issue crops up in newer releases. With those stories, I don't expect to be hit over the head with a "Me Tarzan, you Jane" mentality.

I’ve been wondering if both authors and readers are guilty of buying into the default patriarchal worldbuilding element. It’s certainly easier than having to create a believable alternative (and by that I mean more than just substituting a matriarchy in its place). I know I’m guilty of questioning the presence of a patriarchy in a science fiction romance less often than I should. But neither do I want to go overboard about the issue.

What do you think?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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Gini Koch's ALIEN TANGO Cover

Alien TangoFeast your eyes on the gorgeous cover for ALIEN TANGO, the sequel to Gini Koch's TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN. While technically this is the cover of a science fiction novel, since the author writes stories squarely in science fiction romance territory, it still raises the bar for SFR covers everywhere.

The cover work is by Dos Santos, who also did the illustration for TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN. Click here to see the original illustration of ALIEN TANGO on Mr. Dos Santos' site.

I'm pretty ga-ga over this cover given the great balance between heat and tech. The stories are humorous SFR, which explains the Douglas Adams-inspired elements. But are the romantic elements enough to draw romance readers who will venture over to the SF aisle? What are your thoughts?

Also, I'm passing along news from Gini Koch regarding a few book signings she has scheduled:

Monday, June 28
Book Signing
7:00-8:30pm
Haggard Chiropractic (yes, really, get a book AND an adjustment!)
18205 N. 51st Ave.
Suite 147
Glendale, AZ 85308
602-843-6300

Wednesday, July 14
Author Workshop "From Idea to Bookshelf"
& Book Signing
7:00-9:00pm
Borders Scottsdale Waterfront
7135 East Camelback Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
480-423-0700

Says Gini:

"Would love to see you at one or both! If you have books I haven't signed
yet, bring 'em along!

Love,
Gini"

And remember, Gini Koch's ALIEN TANGO releases December 7, 2010.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, June 20, 2010

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LOVE STORY 2050

LOVE STORY 2050LOVE STORY 2050 is one of the most melodramatic and cringe-inducing science fiction romance movies I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the most heartfelt and well intentioned. This extravagant celluloid affair is a study in contrasts: How to make an SFR film that’s right and wrong all at the same time.

What do I mean by that? Read on to discover how I came to such a conclusion about Bollywood’s first blockbuster science fiction film.

Laurie Green of Spacefreighters Lounge first blogged about LOVE STORY 2050 back in July of 2008. In the Reuters article about the film, it’s noted that

A new Bollywood romance based on the premise of time travel is being seen as the Indian film industry's first serious attempt at science fiction… "We have spent close to 12 million dollars on the film and I would say that this is India's first real sci-fi film," the film's director Harry Baweja told Reuters.”

I was super excited to learn about this film. I’m a big fan of Bollywood, and of course then there was the science fiction romance connection. Then I forgot about it, thinking I’d seek it out after it was released on DVD. Er, then I continued to keep forgetting about it.

Flash forward to the present day: After finishing some blog work one night, I went hunting on Hulu.com for something to watch. I wanted something fun and frivolous, and I wasn’t necessarily seeking out anything in a science fiction romance vein. Well, so much for that, because what I found was LOVE STORY 2050.

So, I watched it.

And now my life will never be the same.

Oh my Hare Krishna. Where do I start? With the time machine? Mumbai 2050 that looks more like Mumbai 3000? The Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter sequence between the hero and heroine? The do-nothing villain who makes an appearance at the 11th hour? The fingernails-on-chalkboard scenes featuring a pink robot teddy bear named “Boo”?

Hm, while those would be fun, let’s begin with the basic set up:

Bad boy Karan (Harmen Baweja) meets bookaholic Sana (Priyanka Chopra). They fall in love. Karan loses Sana. Enter the time machine built by Doc Brown Karan’s Uncle Ya. Karan begins a quest to be reunited with his love. Bollywood hilarity of the worst kind ensues.

In part, the hilarity stems from the fact that the film borrows substantially—and by substantially I mean way beyond any kind of loving homage—from multiple well-known science fiction films. Here are a few whose elements LOVE STORY 2050 most obviously pilfered:

THE TIME MACHINE
A.I.
I, ROBOT
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
BACK TO THE FUTURE
BICENTENNIAL MAN
THE MATRIX

Check out the trailer (it was the best I could find) and see if you can spot a few yourself:



Incidentally, compared to the film, the trailer actually makes LOVE STORY 2050 look pretty good. The movie itself? Words can’t even begin to describe it. I’m still processing the experience as I write this post. There were times I was engaged, times I scoffed, times I winced, and times I was totally weirded out. More than once, I asked myself, “Did they just go there?”

Here’s the thing, though: I love what this movie tried to be. I loved the soundtrack, the time machine plot device, and the supporting characters (Uncle Ya stole every scene he was in). There was plenty of action and humor, and of course, you can’t have a Bollywood film without the song-and-dance sequences (admittedly, some were better than others). And that poster—it’s an SFR lover’s dream. The epic-sounding title is great—even the font for it is a perfect fit.

This film had a definite, undeniable energy. Despite the flaws, I couldn’t look away. Above all, the film hinted at what might have been. LOVE STORY 2050 could have been a truly groundbreaking science fiction romance film. But alas, it was not to be. After months of anticipation in India, it tanked across the board. No wonder I forgot about it, because the buzz factor was zero.

Yet it’s the piquant Bollywood flavor that told me the film *got* the romance thing. The film is unapologetic in delivering a traditional romance front and center. Watching it, you’d almost wonder if the team behind Harlequin Presents had its fingers in the mix at one point or another. And because of its lengthy length, the film devoted an equal amount of time to the futuristic scenes. Unfortunately, they were very derivative and very campy elements, even if the special effects looked pretty nice (Weta Workshop was involved, if you can believe that!).

LOVE STORY 2050

However, I could have forgiven the sketchy skiffy elements, barely there plot, and treacly romance if only the filmmakers had added more substance to the characters. Sana and Karan fall in love mainly because they are destined to do so. I never got the sense of who they really were or why they were right for each other.

Actually, I could even have forgiven that aspect if Harmen Baweja’s performance didn’t suck so many rotten eggs. You can tell he gives it his all, but the poor guy just can’t act. It didn’t help that LOVE STORY 2050 was his debut film—and that he was director Harry Baweja’s son. Yeah, I’m sure he was The Best actor for the part. Ugh, what a recipe for disaster. As a result of Baweja’s paper-thin persona, there was no chemistry between the leads, and the film ended up telling me the love story instead of showing it.

Still, I urge you to at least give this film a try. I found it to be a very exotic SFR film experience (speaking as a Westerner), and I can’t wait for the day when someone, somewhere, gives a film like LOVE STORY 2050 the love it deserves.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, June 17, 2010

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SFR News & Links Extra

Let’s welcome newly minted author Violet Hilton to the science fiction romance gang! ROGUE WOLF is her debut m/m novella from Dreamspinner Press.

About the story:

Captain Trent Rolston knows his space pirate crew isn’t the biggest or the best, but that doesn’t keep him from diligently finding new targets to pillage. He also has a more personal mission: to discover what’s been haunting his mechanic, Vince, and convince him they could be more than friends.

But Vince is harboring deep secrets. He’s living his life on the run as a human, hiding his alien heritage, hunted by his own tribe for daring to love an enemy. Despite his fidelity to his deceased partner, Vince realizes he's still affected by the mating cycle, and the drive to claim Trent is too powerful to avoid for long… and Trent isn’t helping, despite the danger as Vince’s tribe tracks him down and marks the lovers for death.

****

Mmmm…pace pirates…droool. Click here to read an excerpt. To learn more about Violet Hilton as well as sample a few free SF/F shorts, visit her blog (the steampunk one is particularly nice, though be warned, it has a bittersweet ending).

Dreams & Speculations is gearing up for its 2011 book club. Next year’s theme will be “Science Fiction By Female Authors.” How cool is that? (Thanks to Rebecca of Dirty Sexy Books for the link.)

A number of the titles qualify as science fiction romance, and book nominations are welcome according to the post:

To nominate a title and/or author, just leave a comment with the following information:

Author Name:
Title of Suggested Book:
A Short Summary of that Book:

While I could easily have flooded the comment section with recommendations, I managed to restrain myself. Here are the books I nominated:

Catherine Asaro: ALPHA
KS Augustin: IN ENEMY HANDS
Sarah A. Hoyt: DARKSHIP THIEVES
Kristin Landon: THE HIDDEN WORLDS
Sandra McDonald: THE OUTBACK STARS

If you have a chance, please head on over and make a few suggestions!

As part of her “Summer of SFR” series, Verona St. James has posted a review of J.D. Robb’s NAKED IN DEATH. She describes one particular element that really struck a chord with her:

One aspect of the book that really shone for me was the near future world-building. It was excellent, subtle, with some clever touches like the handgun ban and the value of real coffee. I also thought the logistics of widespread legalized prostitution were well-thought out and convincing. I also liked how the concept of space stations and space travel was so subtly alluded to, it was as commonplace as the coffee.

For all of you writers out there:

Carina Press editor Michael Banks muses about Which is More Important—the Synopsis or the Manuscript?

And at the SFR Brigade, Gini Koch (TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN) is currently Walking the Line in SFR: World Building Vs. Info Dumping:

I personally think it’s a lot easier to get the romance side to come over to SF, than the SF side to go to romance. Books shelving in the SF/F section will have a better chance of garnering both SF and romance readers -- the SF ones because the book is on “their” shelves, the romance ones most likely from buzz, be it word of mouth, reviews, or social networking.

Our science fiction romance “must-read” list is at 100 titles. This is your last chance to suggest titles before I lock the list for the time being. Overall, though, I think we have a great variety of books. I’ll work on adding up to three tags per book prior to announcing the final list (and any assistance is most welcome).

Finally, I have a post up at Tor.com that recaps the recent conversations about stories blending SF and romance: Romance And Science Fiction, Sittin’ In A Tree… What can I say? Science fiction romance is a topic that will never get old.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Firefighters In Space? Bring It On!

FIRESTORM ON E’TERRAFirefighters are amazing and incredible heroes, and in my opinion we can’t pay them enough money for the types of service and rescues they provide. The same goes for police officers, emergency medical technicians, and basically everyone else in that category.

That said, despite the thrills, chills, and dangers inherent in tales about these intrepid rescuers, I probably won’t seek out any contemporary novels featuring such characters. While I can understand the appeal of romances involving firefighter heroes/heroines, I just don’t have an interest in reading about them in a contemporary setting. Nothing against such books—this is strictly a "me" thing. Recently, I began to question why I have this perception that I wouldn't find those stories appealing.

Unless, of course, the author sets the story in the future.

That changes the whole picture right there. I had this insight about my reading preferences after finishing Ella Drake’s erotic science fiction romance FIRESTORM ON E’TERRA (from the HEARTS AFIRE anthology). The story is about an intergalactic “smokejumper” named Wilson Dex who teams up with Commander Samantha Varde “to quell the firestorm on planet E'terra.” (For a complete story description as well as an excerpt, click here.)

Now, to be frank, when I saw the cover of the anthology, it didn’t light a fire in me or under me or anywhere. “There’s a firefighter. Um, okay,” was the extent of my reaction (and I feel it’s important to emphasize again that I am in incredible awe of them in real life, and still get excited about seeing a fire engine or rescue equipment up close). But I knew Ella Drake’s story was set in the future, and based my expectations on that knowledge.

The author packs a lot of worldbuilding details into the story. I really enjoyed that aspect because I don’t know much about firefighting equipment or lingo. Plus, the descriptions sounded exotic to me. With words and phrases such as “smokejumper,” “hotshot team,” "pyroclastic," and “slapshot,” I felt like I learned something new. By putting a futuristic twist on the firefighter profession, Ms. Drake made something familiar feel fresh.

The scale of Dex and Varde’s intervention on E'Terra was another attraction for me. It wasn’t just a burning house at stake—it was a whole planet. Nigh insurmountable odds, indeed. I shiver (excitedly) to think about the numbers and sheer might that such an operation would require. It helped that there was a solid plot as well, and I could easily have sustained interest for a longer story.

Thunderbirds Gerry Anderson


Reading FIRESTORM ON E'TERRA also took me back to the time I enjoyed obsessed over Gerry Anderson’s THUNDERBIRDS—hello, International Rescue! (I really need to blog about that show’s impact on me since I’m still a huge fan, but that’s a post for another time). At any rate, the connection is that from a young age, I was exposed to fantastical, futuristic tales of heroes and heroines performing daring feats of larger-than-life rescues. I’m wondering now if THUNDERBIRDS ruined any chance of me enjoying more traditional stories about rescuers, whether they be firefighters, police officers, or search and rescue personnel.

I think it may have, but in a good way. I like the idea of science fiction romances tackling stories of rescuers in the future, because it’s yet another way to appreciate and also celebrate their accomplishments. I’m giddy over the idea of entering an author’s vision of how rescue technology would evolve in the future, or in space. How much would change, and how much would stay the same?

So whether you’re a diehard THUNDERBIRDS fan like me, or simply enjoy firefighter heroes and heroines, Ella Drake’s FIRESTORM ON E’TERRA is sure to fit the bill.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, June 13, 2010

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Publisher Spotlight: Decadent Publishing

Decadent Publishing

“Indulge your book fetish!”

That’s the tagline for Decadent Publishing, a new ebook-to-print publisher on the horizon. When Decadent Publishing opens on August 1, 2010, it will release “romantic fiction and erotica.” This is good news for science fiction romance since Decadent is actively seeking submissions in this subgenre.

Decadent Publishing is the brain child of Lisa Olmstead (also known as multi-published author Samantha Gail) and Executive Editor Heather Bennett. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Olmstead about their company:

The Galaxy Express: Could you tell us about the history behind the creation of Decadent Publishing? Who are the movers and shakers behind this endeavor? What are their editing/publishing/marketing backgrounds?

Lisa Olmstead: Decadent Publishing is the offspring of two women, Lisa Omstead (author Samantha Gail) and her buddy, Editor Heather Bennett. After several years of building an online friendship, Heather and Lisa actually met in person at the last RT Booklover’s Convention and found that they had both thought about opening a publishing company but lacked the contacts and skills to tackle the job solo. However, when the two combined their abilities, they formed an awesome team.

TGE: Digital publishing is an exciting new frontier, but it’s not without risk. Despite the best intentions, some digital publishers have come and gone. What can you tell authors about Decadent Publishing’s plan for long term stability?

LO: For starters, we are exploring a new niche – Late Escape is a line of romance for (and about) older couples….the baby-boomer generation of mature adults who don’t necessarily have the sexual stamina of younger couples, but possess a wealth of intimate knowledge that takes decades of life and experience to accumulate. It is romance on a different level – less physical and more sensual and psychologically fulfilling. It will nicely compliment our more traditional genres in mainstream and romantic fiction.

Secondly, we are committed to spending the time and energy it takes to develop unpublished authors, “diamonds-in-the-rough”, who have innate talent yet need nurturing to fully develop.

Last, but not least, Decadent has the passion, dedication and financial stability to pull this off. :)

TGE: You’ve expressed an interest in acquiring science fiction romance titles. Are there any specific stories or characters you’d like to see (e.g., space opera, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, superhuman, etc.)?

LO: We are sci-fi addicts. Anything relating to those genres, we want to see. Lisa recently discovered Steampunk and has been chewing up stories at an obscene rate. Heather is exploring End-of-the-World romance and, since her first hand-me-down Buck Rogers book, has been fascinated by stories set in the stars.

TGE: Please name a few of your favorite science fiction romance titles. What is it about these stories that appeal to you?

LO: Anything by Linnea Sinclair, Angela Knight, Elaine Lowe, Johanna Lindsey, Nathalie Gray, Jaid Black, and more. (Heather adds: My friend, Samantha Gail!) The thing I find most appealing about sci-fi is that an author is limited only by their own mental boundaries. Most other genres have set tenets one has to write by. Historicals, for example, are bound by our known timelines, cultural practices and human capabilities in order to be believable.

In sci-fi, an author can create their own planets inhabited by strange creatures both foul and friendly, people with tails or scales, and foreign-to-us cultures. Or maybe a ship full of virile space pirates intent on James T. Kirk-ing their way across the galaxies. It’s really a genre of endless possibilities. When done well, a reader is engaged on an almost sensory level and feels like a welcomed voyeur into the author’s prolific imagination.

TGE: How would you describe the Decadent Publishing brand?

LO: Quality in our staff, our books and authors, our graphics, our commitment to our readers. We want readers to see our name and know they will receive something special; maybe different, maybe familiar, but a literary experience they will be happy to have indulged in.

We are also committed to making a positive impact in our community. One of the fantastic features on our site will be ‘Read For a Cure’. We’ll spotlight one book per month and all publisher profits for that book in that month will go to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life to fight cancer. Like most people, cancer has touched our lives and this is our way of making a difference.

TGE: What is your specific plan regarding harnessing online social media resources to raise the visibility of your brand? What kind of outreach/social networking will Decadent Publishing perform on behalf of its authors? Please provide specific examples of the tools that you plan to use.

LO: LOL! What won’t we do? We are Facebook addicts, Tweet-a-holics, go on blog benders….get the idea?

We’ll not only hit the traditional PR outlets, we plan to work cooperatively with review blogs and sites, host chats, have fantastic destination contests (we’re giving away a Kindle for our opening!), and have a Yahoo group where readers can talk to each other and our authors and create personal connections.

TGE: In general, how much marketing and promotion will you expect authors to execute?

LO: Marketing should not fall solely on the shoulders of the authors themselves. Creative and interactive networking is a vital part of our business plan. We plan to assist authors in building their own brands as we build ours.

TGE: What percentage and kind of royalties will you offer? Will any terms of the contract be negotiable?

LO: The basic contract is 40% of gross on ebooks, 35% on third-party payers and print books. However, everything is negotiable based on how bad we want it. :)

TGE: Is there anything else about Decadent Publishing that you would like to share?

LO: Besides attracting our wonderful American authors, we would like to see more submissions from authors residing in other countries. The worldwide web is just that. Life, relationships, romance, stories and perspectives from people living around this fragile little sphere we dwell on, is always welcome.

We are hosting a fantastic Submissions Contest from now until June 30. We’ll have winners in 3 different categories and the prizes are fabulous, decadent even. We are looking for new, and previously published authors, who want to increase their visibility and write for a company who doesn’t see their other publishing contracts as competition necessarily, but rather an enhancement opportunity.

Like anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi, we are looking forward to our adventure!

****

Well there you have it, folks: another shiny new opportunity for science fiction romance! Authors, here are the Submission Guidelines.

Right now, you can follow DecadentPub on Twitter. Decadent Publishing will also feature a blog once the permanent Web site is up.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about Decadent, ask away as Lisa Omstead and Heather Bennett will standby to answer.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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Winners: HUNTERS & ALIEN REVEALED

The winner of HUNTERS by Michelle Marquis and Lindsay Bayer is...Bratty!

The winner of ALIEN REVEALED by Lilly Cain is...Renee Field!

Congratulations, winners! Please email me at sfrgalaxy "at" gmail.com (subject line: Carina book winner) to collect your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contests.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Saturday, June 12, 2010

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Sharon Lee Comments on The Blending of SF & Romance

There are several posts I'd like to share with you in light of the many conversations we've been having about science fiction romance this past week, both here and at SF Signal.

Sharon Lee (Of Liaden Universe fame) responded to Bruce Sterling's post about science fiction romance and the SFR "must-read" list that we've been compiling here at TGE:

If there is only a single male author of SFRomance on the list compiled by Galaxy Express, does that mean there are no men writing SFRomance? I confess that I can’t think of a name — ref. lack of caffeine — but perhaps someone else can?

And! If there are “no” men writing SFRomance, does that automatically make SFRomance an Inferior Form, as Mr. Sterling’s commentary seems to suggest?

Sharon Lee also wrote a recent article about the HEA factor in On Living Happily Ever After:

At that time, Romance was pretty much all relationship, all the time; and SF was pretty much action-adventure with some cool shiny things tossed in for squee, and relationships both few and shallow. Obviously, this over-simplifies, but grant that the past is a distant country and we did things differently there.

What I found as a reader, ‘way back then, was that each genre was wanting in something that I did want — more action in the love story, and more love in the action story. It could, as I said, have gone either way when I finally uttered that Fateful and Explosive Sentence “I can do better than that!” which graduates Readers to Writers. But, when I landed, I came down on the side of SF, and have ever since plotted to include relationships (not just romantic relationships) in my work.

Although Ms. Lee stated she'd read stories where "...the mandated HEA warped the entire shape of the story and negated everything that the characters had achieved," she concludes the piece by stating that "I'm interested in the shift toward a middle ground, as Romance woos SF and SF tries to commit to relationships."

In related news, Twelfth Planet Press editor Alisa Krasnostein blogged about The Invisibility of Women in Science Fiction (thanks to Lisa Paitz Spindler for the link).

In her post, Ms. Krasnostein states

Over the last couple of years, there has been increasing discussion online about the ongoing gender disparity in science fiction (SF). We still see low representations of women in science fiction magazines and anthologies, many awards shortlists, and in criticism of the genre. One of the issues that has become apparent is that those who commentate and review the genre wield much power in directing what works get read and recognised. To me, this seems like a significant wall that needs to be broken down in the quest to see women equally respected and represented in this genre.

She also mentioned Sandra McDonald's recent project, 75 Years of Fabulous Writers:

Last week, links to the Periodic Table of Women in Science Fiction: 75 Years of Fabulous Writers was floated around and has become a meme. It says most succinctly just how many “Giant” women have been influential in this genre. And just how many are so quickly and easily ignored.


Joyfully yours,

Heather

Friday, June 11, 2010

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"The Summer of SFR" Book Reviews by Verona St. James

There's a cool new science fiction romance event in town, and it's called "The Summer of SFR." At What Here Shall Miss, blogger Verona St. James will review one science fiction romance book a week. The SFR reviews will appear on Mondays, for a total of fourteen books.


Shards of Honor


To kick off her new feature, Ms. St. James reviewed SHARDS OF HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold.

My plan is to link to her reviews each week. For those of us that have read the books, this could be our SFR summer reading club!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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Lilly Cain Extras

In case you missed it, Lilly Cain (ALIEN REVEALED) recently blogged at Carina Press:

What If...?

About Lilly Cain and Alien Revealed

She also wrote an article for Pop Culture Divas on her experience as an author with the digital book medium in Arguing with the Trending Subconscious.

My interview with Lilly Cain is here, and there's still time to enter the contest for a chance to win a copy of her erotic science fiction romance ALIEN REVEALED.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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Bruce Sterling Contemplates Why Science Fiction Romance Lacks "Commercial Punch"

In a recent post at Beyond The Beyond, science fiction author Bruce Sterling (one of the founders of cyberpunk) had this to say about science fiction romance:

One would think that demographic and economic changes in the consumer base would make this subgenre thrive nowadays. One wonders why SF romances lack the colossal commercial punch of paranormal romance novels. Maybe because “Happy Ever After” is inherently unscientific?

Yes, I've wondered about the lack of "colossal commercial punch" for SFR, too. Quite often, in fact ;). (And I'm assuming we're talking books here, not AVATAR!) But hmm, I'm trying to understand those last two sentences.

Mr. Sterling, do you mean that the legion of paranormal romance readers wouldn't enjoy science fiction romance because "Happily Ever After" is "inherently unscientific"? Paranormal romances are chock full of HEAs, but that aspect seems to have helped sales, rather than hindered them. Or do you think the "inherently unscientific" nature of an HEA makes it incompatible with science fiction? I want to know more.

My understanding is that the audience for paranormal romances are primarily romance readers, not science fiction readers. And if that's the case, the point of the HEA is not to be inherently scientific, but to deliver a satisfying closure to the romance. As for the science fictional elements in a science fiction romance, that's a different case entirely. I don't see why we can't have plausible science fused with a romance and an HEA.

To Mr. Sterling's credit, he suggested a way to infuse SFR with more plausible science (at least that's my understanding):

Maybe a science-fiction romance novel could based entirely on sociobiological mating theories and the genetic imperative. There must be a couple of those around.

What do you think? Should authors be jumping on the "genetic imperative" train? Will plausible science help SFR thrive?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, June 10, 2010

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An Interview With Lilly Cain & A Giveaway

Lilly Cain’s ALIEN REVEALED is the second erotic science fiction romance launch title from Harlequin’s new digital-first publisher Carina Press. According to the author, ALIEN REVEALED is “the first of a series of novellas about the Confederacy Treaty, the first agreement between humans and an alien race.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lilly Cain about her writing life, her new release with Carina Press, and black sand beaches. And one lucky passenger will win a copy of ALIEN REVEALED (details follow the interview).

3…2…1…blast off!


The Galaxy Express: When did you decide to become a writer, and why?

Lilly Cain: I’ve been writing forever. Or at least it seems that way. I recently found an old scribbler from elementary school in which I was writing a cool fantasy story. If it was a little scarier or a little sexier, I might still have a market for it! Unfortunately I see my spelling hasn’t improved all that much, LOL. In high school my sister, who was a genius in math, was terrible in English class, so I wrote her creative writing assignments for her. It was fun! I “helped” my older sister in the same way in University. :) Then I got busy with life, marriage, kids. Until I decided to take some time off with my second child I never gave the pleasure writing brought another thought. But being home gave me plenty of time to read, and to think. One day I just took up my pen. The ex thought I was crazy. But Heck, he’s the ex now, isn’t he? ;)

TGE: Without going into spoilers, what kind of setting and characters can readers expect from ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: In Alien Revealed, not too long from now in the future, the Inarrii have come to our solar system to negotiate a treaty – their protection for our resources. But humans have never met another sentient race and might not really be prepared to do so. So Inarrii agent Alinna Gaerrii approaches with a certain degree of stealth – until she crash lands smack dab in the backyard of a local human Starforce base. Luckily for her, Major David Brown is there to pull her from the wreckage.

In other words, most of the story takes place in the future, on earth in a military base. :)

TGE: What drew you to a futuristic setting for ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: Actually, I’ll tell you a secret. Alien Revealed wasn’t the first book I wrote about the Inarrii people. First I wrote a book about a Starforce military agent being defended by an alien. Then I realized that there was so much more about the people to be said and I developed a series, including a prequel and a few sequels. The prequel became Alien Revealed. As to why a futuristic setting? All I can really say is that I was playing a game of “What If?” while watching TV. As in I said to myself – well that’s a cool story, but what if she didn’t die? What if he loved her? What if they were in outer space? What if he wasn’t human…and so forth. I think all writers play that game – with TV shows, with other books, with overheard conversations. :) I looked at a story and turned it into something else entirely, something far from the here and now. That’s when I realized how much I wanted to write science fiction romance.

TGE: What was the path to publication like for this book?

LC: Initially I had offered this book to my original publisher, Red Sage Publishing. But they had already picked up the beginning of two different series and their schedule wouldn’t allow a third set from me. So I offered the book to Angela James at Quartet. It was just her thing – a novella, and sci-fi romance! Sadly Quartet was not to be. But when I heard she had joined forces with Carina Press as a part of Harlequin, I sent it to her again – I really wanted to work with her! She was very excited but a little too busy to take it on. It was reviewed by Rhonda Stapleton, an editor with Carina Press, and voila! She loved it. I got a personal call from Angela James after it went through their selection system. That was a delight – I really admire Angela! From there I learned that I would be lucky enough to participate in Carina’s launch and it’s been gold ever since!

TGE: If Alinna and David were going on vacation, where would they go and what would they do?

LC: I think Alinna would take David to visit her home world. She loves it there and would like to show David the black sand beaches and the red mists that surround the many tiny islands on her mostly water planet. It’s a sensual world and I expect they would spend a good deal of it alone with each other. :)

TGE: What’s your approach to balancing the romance/SF/heat elements in your stories?

LC: For me there are three arcs to a story – the romantic and erotic arcs, which are deeply entwined, and the external plot arc. The romantic and erotic arcs are driven very much by the characters. The external plot arc is where the sci-fi or fantasy aspects of my stories are most evident. For instance in Alien Revealed, the back story of the hero is that he is about to take a team of pilots out to defend a colony of settlers headed for the largest moon off of Jupiter. Except he and his team have to pass one more psych test. These are external plot elements.

The basic exception to this method is that, since I write erotic romance, some sci-fi elements can help develop an exotic twist for my erotic arcs. In Alien Revealed, since one member of the couple isn’t human, I can use that to enhance the growth of the erotic relationship. This is a round about way of reminding you just how hot these aliens are, btw. :) Being different can be a very good thing.


V


TGE: Do you have any favorite science fiction romance books, films, and/or television shows?

LC: Oh yes! I am a big fan of all the Star Trek series, plus I loved Battlestar Galactica, V and so many others. I loved Alien, and so many sci-fi movies. I have enjoyed a number of books in the genre – Moonstruck by Susan Grant, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair and on the erotic side, Alien Overnight by Robin L. Rotham was a lot of fun! ;)

TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to share about ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: How about a little excerpt?

“I repeat this is Agent Alinna Gaerrii, Unit Nine. Tel sho ahoi. I am in a crash situation.” Alinna called out the codes in Inarrii and in Standard English in case she was picked up by the human military base she was about to crash land on. They shouldn’t be aware of her presence, but under the circumstances, if they did hear her, at least they would likely assume they were getting a garbled report of the now burning airjet on the ground. Thankfully the local dialect had been ingrained in her consciousness after six months of intense monitoring and translation of their communications.

She was going down. Her small observation pod hurtled toward the ground at an ever-increasing rate. Caught in the downdraft of an out-of-control human airjet, her tiny spy craft seemed as doomed as the vehicle that had crashed to the ground in front of her moments ago. Shuddering sensations raced up Alinna’s arms and along her scalp. Her L’inar nerve lines forced her skin up into narrow bands and ridges along her neck and hairline in an instinctual reaction as her concern turned quickly into fear.

Her pod was not meant for this kind of action. A tiny craft rigged to avoid human detection, it was only meant for short-term surveillance. There was barely enough room on board for her long body to lie flat against the monitoring equipment. Her mission was simple—park her ship on the moon and use her pod to observe human behavior—to watch, but not interact. But I am going to interact; they’re going to have to peel my Inarrii skin right off their shiny new Starforce facilities. Sweat beaded on her forehead as Alinna fought again to regain control, wrenching the hand controls up and back until they pressed against her chest.

Warning lights flashed. Her altitude was dropping erratically. “No shit,” she said aloud. Six months of listening to the Humans’ fondness for verbal vulgarity was rubbing off. She’d been observing a heated argument on the ground when the human airjet took her by surprise, veering suddenly off its scheduled course and into the airspace above the woods surrounding the new military base. Swerving right into her path, its engine had disrupted the ultrasonic pulse waves that kept her pod safely aloft. In seconds, the airjet had crashed to the ground and erupted in flames while she watched, unable to do anything other than struggle for control over her own vehicle. The airjet had broken into three jagged pieces; there was little likelihood anyone survived.

The automated emergency beacon started to flash as Alinna gave up trying to recover and instead braced for impact. The tips of treetops snapped hard against the outer shell of her pod, twisting the small craft into a spin. Alinna held on, her heart pounding. Her curving L’inar nerve lines were tight and burning in alarm. The fall took forever, the last of the ultrasonic waves battering the tiny ship against the tall spikes of Earth vegetation. Then, with one sudden stomach-wrenching drop, the craft hit the ground.

Alinna lay stunned inside her pod. For a moment, she ignored the screaming monitors around her. I’m alive. Then the sharp scent of ozone caught her attention. The warnings flashing and beeping around her suddenly had meaning again. She scrambled to unfasten her harness and wiggle her way to the escape hatch at the front of the craft. She snarled in frustration when the latch release refused to operate. Time to get out—now. Urgency flooded endorphins through her body, lending her a full measure of Inarrii strength.

Alinna slammed the hatch completely open as a shudder rippled through the ship. She could smell smoke. Security measures dictated she would need to hide the craft while on alien soil, but she wondered if there would be anything left to hide. She dragged her body through the narrow hatch, grabbing her emergency pouch on the way out. This was so much easier in the escape simulations. Disembarking was simple when she was in the weightless docking bay of her larger vessel—secreted now in a crater on the darker side of the Earth’s moon.

Alinna scrambled to her knees on the thick carpet of vegetation outside her ship. She staggered as she rose to her feet and moved away from the small craft. Taking refuge under the sagging bows of a huge tree, she stared at her ruined vessel. The human airjet had destroyed the ultrasonic wave pattern keeping her aloft, but she could have recovered if she’d been a little higher. But in the business of surveillance, being close was a necessary risk. It was the landing that had wrecked it, the landing and being bounced and smashed against the trees. The branches of the massive vegiforms around her had slowed her enough to save her life, but the pod was done.

A soft breeze brought the acrid stench of smoke. The human airjet was burning nearby and would surely have military attention at any moment. She needed to get rid of the pod and hide. She tapped the skin at the base of her left ear, initiating her internal command unit. Without much hope, she requested total silent mode for the pod. Before her, a shimmer of light flickered over the craft as it attempted to initiate the power field to make it once again invisible to the naked eye or casual scan. She grimaced. Nothing happened. Not surprising, after the beating the vessel took on the way down, she thought.

Kahemnit dal,” she whispered. “Shit.” The human curse sounded more satisfying, and certainly more graphic. An errant breeze flipped a lock of her shoulder-length brown hair into her eyes. She blew it away from her face with a huff of annoyance. I have no choice. I have to destroy the ship. “Tel sho ahoi, sho amnetii.” Alinna used her internal command unit to access her damaged craft’s communication system to signal her people, hidden far away on the secret Jupiter Moon Base. With luck, they would hear her, although she might never know what they thought of her decision. They could not respond to her; any incoming communication held a much higher risk of detection.

“I am initiating sho amnetii gohan yi.” She began the short self-destruct sequence, pursing her lips and hoping it would work. If the ship was too damaged for its last service, she would have to find some way to destroy or hide it herself. That might not be possible, having crash landed on the outskirts of the heavily guarded human Starforce base. She scanned the woods. She was going to need a more secure hiding spot, and soon. If she was discovered by the humans, the mission would be a total loss, spelling disaster for her career and serious trouble for the eventual first contact between the Inarrii and Humans.

Alinna stepped away from the shelter of the tree and shivered as the cool breeze brushed against her legs. She felt wet. Confused, she looked down at her legs and was shocked at the sight of a long rip in the heavy material of her blue flight suit. Blood ran freely from a deep gash in her calf. As if the sight of the injury suddenly made it a reality, pain swept through her body. She staggered. A soft moan slipped from her lips as she realized how badly she was injured. Pain blossomed in her head as well, making her wonder if she’d also suffered a concussion during her abrupt drop to Earth. Before her, waves of heat rose from her tiny spy pod. At least the self-destruct appeared to be working.

She staggered away from the craft, trying to get out of range as it used its own components to create a chemical reaction to reduce it to a tiny puddle of melted plastics. After perhaps a few dozen steps, she fell to her knees. She flicked on her internal comp’s smart mode, since the realization she was about to be unconscious was inescapable. Maybe it could think of a way out of this. At the very least it would continue to gather information. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the lumbering flight of another human aircraft headed straight toward the crash site, and her.

****

TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you?

LC: I have an erotic romance novella coming out with Red Sage Presents in October – Building Magic. It is a shapechanger novella about a race of dragons on another world, one in which a civil war is raging and threatening the desert dragons with extinction. It’s a fast paced and exciting story! And as I previously hinted, there is another sci-fi novella on it’s way – Naked Truth, the next in the Confederacy Treaty series following Alien Revealed. No date on that one though at the moment. It is still in revisions. Finally my current work in progress is a sequel to my fist book, Dark Harmony. Entitled Dark Rhythm it is quickly turning into my favorite story to date. :)

For more information on my books, where to buy them or about myself, drop by my website, www.lillycain.com or follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/lillycain or Facebook www.facebook.ca/LillyCain.

Thanks for your time, Ms. Cain, and for your art.

Now for the giveaway! To enter for a chance to win Lilly Cain’s ALIEN REVEALED, simply leave a comment for this post. A winner will be picked at random. The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2010.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

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More Fun Stuff About Michelle Marquis

Michelle Marquis (HUNTERS) blogged at Midnight Seduction about the ebook explosion:

But a funny thing happened as the computer revolution expanded—more and more people started looking up from their flimsy paperback novels and wondering if maybe they were missing out on something.

Boy, were they right and erotic romance was the first to take over the scene.
The author was also featured in this interview at Coffee Times Romance. In the interview, she discusses her science fiction romance HUNGRY PLANET.

If you missed my recent interview with Michelle Marquis, click here.

Joyfully yours,

Heather
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All Aboard For SteamPink Week!

SteamPink Week is in full steam ahead mode aboard the Devonian Express, which recently departed from the blog vvb32 Reads! The event began June 4 and lasts until June 12, 2010. According to the Welcome post, “There will be 3-8 posts per day posted between 5am - 5pm PDT.”

Proprietor Velvet was kind enough to invite me to guest blog, and my post is Who Is The Steampunk Romance Heroine? I’ve not yet blogged about steampunk heroines specifically, so I had a lot of fun diving into the topic.

But that’s not all…SteamPink Week features mucho mucho steampunk related posts and giveaways. To get you started, here is the SteamPink Schedule.

To be eligible to win a book in one of the giveaways, click here to access any of the 5 giveaway posts, as well as to learn about how to participate in the various activities. SteamPink Week is a very interactive event, so have fun!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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A Science Fiction Romance Mind Meld at SF Signal

Very exciting news today: SF Signal’s dashing John DeNardo and I have joined forces to bring you a Mind Meld about…*drum roll*…science fiction and romance!

Here is the topic:

Is there a taboo against romance in science fiction? What does romance bring to the SF genre? What are some good examples of romance in SF that illustrate this?

Participants include Linnea Sinclair, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Angela James, Susan Grant, Michael Banks, B.B. Medos, Elizabeth Hand, Laurie Green, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Sasha Knight, Sandra McDonald–and, of course, me.

A hearty thanks to Sir John for hosting the science fiction romance party of the year!

Please stop by SF Signal and share your thoughts during this very momentous occasion.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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Interview with Michelle Marquis & A Giveaway

HUNTERS, an erotic science fiction romance by Michelle Marquis and Lindsey Bayer, will be released by Carina Press on June 21. Carina Press is now officially open for business, and I’m excited to present an interview with Michelle Marquis about HUNTERS, her writing, and how she has a thing for Lee Majors…!

Following the interview are the details for the giveaway of HUNTERS, so let's blast off!

The Galaxy Express: When did you decide to become a writer, and why?

Michelle Marquis: I started wanting to become a writer in my early teens but I didn’t have a clue how to go about it. Oh sure, I had plenty of stories in my head and great characters but I just couldn’t get them down on paper. Books seemed so long and complicated that I’d start one, only to feel overwhelmed and give up. Over the years I tried a number of times to write a full novel but wasn’t very successful. Then I found a book called the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing and that changed everything. The book told me how to plot my entire story from beginning to end. So I did exactly what it said and wrote my first Sci Fi adventure novel, Naked Venom. After that, I plotted every tale and was amazed at how much I learned. I started reading more and learned a lot that way too.

TGE: In your bio, you state that you’re “a lifetime fan of science fiction.” Tell us more about your love affair with SF.

MM: What can I say? I’m a nerd at heart. I first fell in love with science fiction while reading comic books as a teen. I was in my favorite comic book store one day at the tender age of sixteen and one of the owners offered me a job. The guys I worked with there were great. They introduced me to awesome comics like Judge Dred, X-Men, and several bestsellers of the time. After that I moved on to movies like The Thing, Logan’s Run, and Star Wars. I also used to watch the Six Million Dollar Man…what a hottie Lee Majors was.

TGE: What attracts you to science fiction romance?

MM: Science fiction romance blends the best of both worlds. I devour books with out of this world hero’s and gutsy space heroines. I’m currently reading Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Born of Night. What an awesome writer she is. Love that whole League series.

TGE: Without going into spoilers, what kind of setting and characters can readers expect from HUNTERS?

MM: Hunters is a steamy sci fi adventure with lots of fun and intergalactic thrills. Lindsey and I loved writing this book because not only does it have some really hot love scenes but it also has at its core a great adventure that the readers gets to join in on. Harmony Knox is a smart, funny heroine I think all the readers will love her. And her lover Bart “Barracuda” Tanner is one sexy hunk of a man. If you’re a fan of sci fi adventure and erotic romance, this is definitely the ebook for you!

TGE: What were the joys—and challenges—of writing HUNTERS? What was the path to publication like for this book?

MM: Hunters was lots of fun to write because Harmony and Barracuda have some really funny dialogue. The challenge was getting the chemistry between the two characters exactly right but I think, with the help of our awesome editor Deborah Nemeth, we really achieved that. The right editor can really take a book from good to great and that definitely happened in this case. I’m really proud of Hunters and think it’s definitely going to be a favorite of sci fi romance readers.

TGE: If I want to become an intergalactic bounty hunter, what kind of advice would Harmony and Barracuda give me?

MM: Harmony would give you a detailed list of rules to follow. Then she’d tell you in all earnestness to always strive to do your best.

Barracuda would tell you not to sweat the small stuff. He’d advise you to take as much time as possible between hunts and only go back when you’d blown all your money.

TGE: Do you have any advice for authors considering a career writing science fiction romance/erotic science fiction romance and/or ebooks?

MM: Sure. If you’re having trouble getting a whole novel down, try writing a short story. Sometimes just getting a story finished is an ego boost. Read as much as fiction as you can and read widely, not just romance. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn reading a book from a writer’s point of view.

Also, be willing to experiment. Maybe the current story you wrote won’t be as popular as some of the others. Don’t worry, learn from it and move on. That’s the only way you’re going to grow.

TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to share about HUNTERS?

MM: Just the blurb:

Kirillian Harmony Knox was one of the most successful bounty hunters in the galaxy—until a brain-eater named Prime became her only failure and escaped, landing her in jail. Now free, she’ll stop at nothing to catch him and stop his murderous rampage.

Unfortunately for Harmony, fellow hunter Bart Tanner has the only available transport. Arrogant and ruthless, Tanner is known for killing most of his bounties. Harmony can’t stand him—yet she can’t deny the deep sexual desire sparking between them.

Once enslaved as a cage fighter by a cruel Kirillian, Tanner harbors a deep hatred for the alien race—though he’s drawn to Harmony’s luscious sensuality, and they soon indulge in erotic encounters.

When Prime puts out a hit on Harmony, things intensify, and Tanner realizes their lust has turned into something deeper—but if he and Harmony aren’t careful, more than just their lives will be at stake…

TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you?

MM: I’ve got several notebooks full of story ideas I’m working on. Vampires, werewolves, and androids are my usual hero’s but I’m starting to think a great wizard might be a lot of fun as well. I have tons of great stories planned so stay tuned!

Ms. Marquis, thanks for your time, and for your art.

Click here to check out the authors' complete list of erotic SFR titles.

Now for the giveaway: Courtesy of the authors, I have a digital copy of HUNTERS to give away to one lucky passenger. To enter, simply leave a comment for this post. The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2010.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Written on

Katherine Allred's CLOSE CONTACT Launch Party & Giveaways At SFR Brigade!

Another science fiction romance is in the house! Katherine Allred's CLOSE CONTACT is now out. The author has a number of giveaways and blog visits scheduled. Here's where you can find her this week as stated on her site:

June 8th: Launch party for Close Contact at the SFR Brigade (that's today!). Read an interview with the author, and one commentor will win copies of Close Encounters and Close Contact.

June 10th: FF&P Blog

June 11th: Cynthia Eden's Blog. One commentor will win copies of Close Encounters and Close Contact.

Week of June 14th: Romantic Times Author Spotlight. This will include a new excerpt from Close Contact.

CLOSE CONTACT is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. Amazon will also have a Kindle edition.

Congratulations, Ms. Allred!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, June 6, 2010

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The Politics of a Galactic Dictatorship by KS Augustin

The Galaxy Express presents guest blogger, KS Augustin, author of IN ENEMY HANDS (Carina Press). Click here to read my interview with the author.

As a writer of SFR, I have a couple of universes I play in. The one I first created was the Fusion, but the one used for IN ENEMY HANDS is the Republic.

I love politics. I love reading about and thinking about it and someone wise (I forget who) once said that science-fiction is the projection of politics. So, when building a world, I tend to look at the political first.

The stories I've set in the Republic (ON BLISS, PRIME SUSPECT, A PIRATE'S PASSION and now IN ENEMY HANDS) occur a few centuries from now, where about a third of our galaxy has been dominated by humans. I don't have a lot of faith in humanity because I posit that, in the drive for rule, humans have continued to discriminate. In our time, people of different colour or sexual persuasion are singled out; in the future, my theory is that non-humans will be. They are called “Subs”, short for sub-human. Not worth bothering about. A necessary evil. Expendable. And they know it.

Among the most hated of all the Subs is a species of shapeshifter. Although you won't read about them in my latest novel (ON BLISS has one), IN ENEMY HANDS does reference them. Shapeshifters are hated because they can appear to be someone else. Their potential for toppling the Republic is high, and so the Republic is hell-bent on a campaign of extermination of that species.

But it's not only the Subs who suffer under Republic control. Humans too are locked into a caste system that determines what opportunities they can access, what assets they're allowed to acquire, and so on. There are only two groups of people who are outside this caste system. The first group is the Gentry, a group of humans who supposedly can trace their association back to a fabled Earth president. Through networks of similarly-placed people, they have built up enormous power and assets. A lot use this influence in the political sphere, although some want to lead nothing but an hedonistic life, frittering away their money in one extravagant gesture after another. The second group outside the caste system are the pirate cartels who roam space, killing and stealing as they see fit. (A PIRATE'S PASSION describes a situation where both groups meet and pirates also make a brief appearance in IN ENEMY HANDS.)

If you want a mental image, don't think of the Republic as resembling one giant amoeba of area in the galaxy. In order to make things work, I've ignored relativity through the use of “creases”. Think of a blanket with creases in them. If you roll a marble near one of these creases, the marble will drop into it and, presuming it's independently propelled, will come out at the end of the crease. Republic space is like that. The “crease” is a runnel through hyperspace. You can enter one anywhere along its length, but you only come out at the destination. The destination may be the star system next door, or it could be at the other end of the galaxy. So, the Republic resembles more a spider's web than a blob. The problem with creases is hyperspace. It is so chaotic that a human looking at it will go insane. Because of this, all hyperspace navigation is dependent on software and all transparent ports are locked down tight during crease travel. Definitely not recommended for claustrophobics.

The second problem with creases is that some of them appear to be unstable. Ships are getting lost. The surety of interspatial travel is being thrown into doubt. Ah, but that's for another novel!

I really like the Republic because there's so much potential for nefarious goings on. And there is a larger arc I have in mind with more stories involving Shapeshifters, pirates, dissidents, not to mention the loathsome Security Force.

What I've tried to do with IN ENEMY HANDS is provide a bit more information on the Republic through the lens of a love story. It's all relevant and it will all tie together as the series progresses, although the stories really are – to all intents and purposes – standalone.

Thanks again, Heather, for inviting me here today and if anyone has any questions on the Republic, I'd be happy to answer them!

Kaz Augustin is a Malaysian-born writer of science-fiction, romance, and permutations of the two. Her website is at http://www.ksaugustin.com and she blogs at http://blog.ksaugustin.com You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter; just look for “ksaugustin”.

COMPETITION: Kaz is giving away two copies of IN ENEMY HANDS at her blog, Fusion Despatches [http://blog.ksaugustin.com]. To be in the draw, stop by and comment at the Competition post, telling her at which blog (::koff:: Galaxy Express ::koff::) you read about her book. You have till 30 June!