Thursday, June 30, 2011

Written on

Parallel Universe: Tropes In Science Fiction Romance by Diane Dooley


To save you the bother of having to go look up what a “trope” is (as I had to) the dictionary definition is: a common or overused theme or device. Duh. I guess I knew that somewhere in the back of my head, because they are the things I so delight in playing with as I write science fiction romance. And when I say “playing,” what I really mean is turning them upside down and giving them a vicious twist.

Both the romance and the science fiction genres have absolutely masses of tropes between them, so I find I have an awful lot to play with. And from my ongoing reading of science fiction romance I can tell that I am not alone. If there’s something I love about this genre, it’s that no trope is safe and you just never know what SFR writers are gonna do to those poor defenceless tropes on their next outing.

That said, are there any tropes unique to science fiction romance? 

I find myself scratching my head over this one. The “kick-butt heroine” is certainly very common, but even among the mercurial hustlers, vengeful pirates and ice road truckers, there are also devoted mothers, single-minded scientists and everyday gals with a taste and a talent for adventure. Hmm. Not yet a trope, I say.

Or how about that oft-read scene where our hero and heroine are too interested in the contents of each others hi-tech underwear to notice that the evil enemy is approaching at light speed with the sole of intention of blowing them out of the universe? Um. No, I can’t even say that is a trope. And lest you think I object to these scenes, let me tell you that I like my reading to be interactive and nothing pleases me more than the opportunity to holler “Darwin Award!” in the midst of an exciting story.

The fact is, I think that SFR is very young as a genre and still has so many possibilities. The opportunities to mix and match the sci-fi and romance tropes, to twist them and upend them into unique stories seem, at this moment, to be as endless as the universe.

Take, for instance, the common romance trope of “the virginal heroine,” then add a laserblast of “damaged hero.” Throw in a planetload of “completely unscientific interstellar travel.” Mix with a galaxy-sized dose of “overthrow the evil empire.” Stir with a broken knife and then garnish with several large twists of pure bloody pulp. Voila. You end up with my science fiction/romance novella, Blue Galaxy.

Speaking of endless opportunities…who’s ready for “Secret Babies” fathered by “Reformed Rakes” with “Bizarre Alien Biology” on a “Quest to Rule the Galaxy?” Anyone? Anyone? Okay, then. *sulkily goes back to drawing board*

About the Author

Diane Dooley writes science fiction, romance and horror - sometimes all in the same story. She blogs. She reads. She geeks.