Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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An Interview With Samhain Publishing’s CYBERSHOCK Authors


Samhain Publishing’s CYBERSHOCK, a cyberpunk romance anthology, is now out! Editor Sasha Knight is the brains behind this snazzy collection. To learn about the anthology's evolution, read this interview with her at The Book Pushers.

I decided to celebrate the release with a totally epic interview feature. Toward that end, I asked each author—Stacy Gail, Nathalie Gray, and Barbara J. Hancock—four identical questions so we could discover what their stories have in common as well as what makes each of them unique. To read each story blurb and excerpt, just click on the title.

Welcome to the world of CYBERSHOCK:

Stacy Gail – ZERO FACTOR

What does cyberpunk romance mean to you?

I firmly believe that romance is romance, no matter the setting.  In any romance, there must be that visceral attraction – the brain-scrambling, heart-thumping awareness that comes from two people whose personalities and shared chemistry fit together like long-lost puzzle pieces.  But what makes that even more romantic, in my opinion, is a cyberpunk background.  To me, the term “cyberpunk” generally represents a human-created dystopia where “connecting” with someone happens only virtually, and the basic human elements such as compassion, loyalty and even intimacy have been run over by the speed of a high-tech cyber-driven universe.  If two people can meet, fall in love, and try to change the world for each other in that sort of emotionally detached environment, it’s about as awe-inspiring as the human condition can get.

Name the standout features of the hero and heroine in your story.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

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Sci-Fi Romance: A Great Source For Cosplay Inspiration

Photo © Shannon Cottrell

At Geekfeminism.org, Courtney Stoke shared her observations about “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification (via SF Signal):

I’ve been researching and thinking about cosplay for a while now, and one of the most distressing trends I’ve been grappling with is how women will choose characters, costumes, or costume constructions based on how “sexy” the costume will appear on them. This is not just a cosplay problem, but a geek problem. And until we start having an intelligent conversation about it (preferably a conversation that starts with the assumption that it is a problem), it’s not one that geek communities will ever be rid of.

Remember those cadres of Slave Leia cosplayers that parade through Comic-Con on a yearly basis? Yeah, that’s basically the self-objectification at issue.

The article gave me a lot of food for thought. Specifically, I started to wonder why the ratio of super sexy cosplay (of which Slave Leia is one subset, albeit a large one) was so skewed. I mean, as one commenter pointed out, where are all the Bounty Hunter Leias? I’m telling you, Bounty Hunter Leia had a much bigger influence on me in terms of empowerment than Slave Leia. Why don’t more women do that kind of cosplay?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

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The 10 Most Eligible Robot Bachelors in Science Fiction

Believe it or not, there are actually robots (and androids) in science fiction films and television shows that are marriage/partner material.

Whether lead characters or sidekicks, a few of these mechanical wonders have demonstrated abilities that go beyond lightening-fast calculations and superhuman strength. Certain traits and the way they interact with humans indicate an aptitude for intimate, long-term relationships (and as we all know, the very nature of their construction ensures they’ll be around for a very long time).

Robots and androids are quite intelligent, you know. That factor alone makes some of these bachelors a real catch. But that’s not all. Energy-wise, they’re practically limitless. I mean, you might never leave the bedroom.

Others are large-and-in-charge, with the potential to take care of a partner’s every need, from changing the oil in your car, running errands when you’re sick, to protecting you against muggers (and also alien invaders!).

Therefore, I thought it important to point out a few robot and android bachelors that are waiting for the right woman/android/partner to come along. Specifically, a very special someone who can appreciate all that these mechanical beings can do and be.

There are lots of terrific robots and androids in science fiction, but a few in particular stand out head and shoulders (or rivets and antennae) above the rest. Here are 10 that deserve their own Happily Ever After:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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"What If...?": More Than Just A Kinky Idea

MORE THAN A MAN
The other day, I noticed DA_January’s review at Dear Author of a book called MORE THAN A MAN (Emily Ryan-Davis and Elise Logan).

At first, I was about to pass it over since the cover struck me as that of a paranormal romance. It was only because my eye caught the “Romantic SF” tag and “C+” rating that I lingered. Usually I skip reading reviews of science fiction romances until I’ve read them, but for some reason, that day I became curious about what was behind the C+ rating.

I basically went in with two questions: Which element(s) didn’t work for this reviewer? Additionally, was it something that warranted discussion in the SFR community?


Before I share what I found, here is the story premise:

Manporium. It's where women of The Future go to buy the men of their dreams.

Genetically engineered to the bride's specifications, a Manporium husband is a perfect husband. At least, that's the theory. But twice-widowed Noelle Lytton shook Manporium's flawless track record when both her first and second husbands died tragically while pursuing interests she engineered into their makeup. Desperate for the perfect marriage she's always dreamed of, she knows her third Manporium husband will be her last. It's this man or nothing.

Vegetarian. Generously equipped. Dominant in bed. When Aya Lytton emerges from Manporium's creation chamber, he knows exactly what he is: custom-made for his bride. Noelle's wish list made her desires perfectly clear. But her desires have nothing to do with his overwhelming need to be more than just the man she created. He'll use every advantage he has to convince Noelle he's not just her match: he's irreplaceable.

Warning: Sometimes things don't go quite as expected at Manporium. A bride's wish list is, er...subject to interpretation and a man might come out with extra appendages and a mind of his own.

Despite the review’s “Romantic SF” tag, based on the content of the review itself as well as others I subsequently read, it seems that the story is more accurately described as erotic SFR.

In short, MORE THAN A MAN is about a woman who uses the Manporium and purchases a man (and gets it on with said man) who has unexpected accessories. DA_January discussed one aspect in particular that didn’t work for her:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

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QUEENIE'S BRIGADE: Sci-Fi Romance with a Punch

QUEENIE'S BRIGADE Heather Massey
Cover design by Lyn Taylor
What’s QUEENIE’S BRIGADE? It’s my new science fiction romance novella, and it’s set to launch this October, 2011, from Red Sage Publishing.

A space opera military SF tale, QUEENIE’S BRIGADE features:

* A smart, charismatic, and honorable Alpha hero with a touch of angst
* A kick-butt Latina anti-heroine in search of redemption
* A biracial romance with sparks a flying
*An Earth-in-peril story with underdog heroes
* Very high stakes & high-octane action

The story:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

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THIS Is Why I Love Japan

You may recall that my lifelong love of science fiction romance began with SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO.

Naturally, this meant I had to share the following clip with you. It's a kind of WTF Yamato homage that makes my inner fangirl warm, fuzzy, and freaked out all at the same time. It's best viewed if you're at least casually familiar with the series since the sequence covers the entire original TV show in a mind bending nutshell, but required viewing for SFR fans nonetheless:


Did that just make your day or what?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, August 18, 2011

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Two Spiffy Sci-Fi Romance Covers

 I recently learned about two forthcoming science fiction romance ebooks with eye-catching covers that I'd like to share with you.

The first is from Lucy Woodhull's forthcoming comedic RAGNAR AND JULIET (September 2011, Liquid Silver Books):

Ragnar and JulietWhat I like about this cover (kudos to designer Lyn Taylor):

* It looks professional.
* The cover features a high concept idea executed in a streamlined fashion (in other words, the cover doesn't try to do too much). It also feels unique (i.e., lacks the parade of sameness that can happen with ebook covers using stock images).
* The title and author's name are clearly visible, even in a smaller size (an important factor when viewing covers online)
* The color scheme, lighting, and all that jazz looks just about perfect.
*It clearly conveys both the genre and tone (comedic). The face-off also promises conflict and action-adventure.

Overall, this cover has really good chemistry.

Here's the blurb for RAGNAR AND JULIET:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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Psychic Love Links: More Than Just A Sex Toy?

Shield's Lady
I recently finished SHIELD’S LADY by Jayne Ann Krentz (thanks to a little birdie who sent me the book). While it’s a whopper of an old skool sci-fi romance and probably deserves a post of its own, I’m actually going to touch upon one of the elements that made me go “Hmm...I need to blog about this.”

Without going into spoilers, I’ll simply say that SHIELD’S LADY featured the development of a psychic link between the hero and heroine. More specifically, it kicked off as some kind of sexual mind meld. When Gryph and Sariana made love, the mind link amplified and reflected their feelings and physical sensations to one another. In essence, their psychic connection made the sex extra hot and pleasurable.

You know how it is in these types of stories.

For what it’s worth, Gryph’s psychic ability came from science (plausible? Not really, but believable for the story).

Yet, at the same time, the psychic link made the love scenes feel awfully porn-ish, mainly because it seemed like the device was present only to titillate.
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Winners of the Sci-Fi Romance Caption Contest

Thanks to everyone who entered the Intergalactic Sci-Fi Romance Caption Contest and Giveaway.

Author Diane Dooley and I engaged in a protracted debate during our selection of the winners (involving tequila and copious amounts of mud wrestling--hey, it was all in the name of science fiction romance!), and below are their names along with the winning captions:

1) Melisse Aires

"No!" Growled Spaceman Spiff. "I want to be in a mainstream SF adventure story. NOT in a F/M/F menage. I'M NOT NICHE!"

2) Jennifer

"On my planet saying that someone looks 'good enough to eat' is a figure of speech!"

3) Robert Appleton

"My name *is* Gordon, damnit. I'm *supposed* to flash!"

Winners, please email me at sfrgalaxy "at" gmail.com. Subject line: caption. Once Melisse has claimed her book prizes, I'll be in touch with Jennifer and Robert, respectively.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, August 14, 2011

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Do Sci-Fi Romance Couples Have It Too Easy?


Two things I’ve come across lately made me wonder if science fiction romance couples have it too easy. Sometimes it seems as though they fall in love and have a Happily Ever After without even breaking a sweat. And if love comes too easily for them, are readers avoiding this subgenre as a result?

In many cases, SFR couples really don’t have to work too hard to fall in love and find their HEA. To be fair, this is a common issue for romance books. The HEA is a genre convention—a given—so a big challenge for authors is delivering a romance with unpredictable elements that casts the HEA in doubt—but not too much doubt. Romances vary widely in their ability to accomplish that task; however, a good percentage of them seem to play it safe.

Why the tendency to phone it in? From a marketing prospective, the unpredictable factor might be the kiss of death. Readers want something fresh, but familiar. I think that’s true to an extent, and there’s nothing wrong with a story that does the work for you on occasion, but I wonder if SFR sometimes falls on the side of being too familiar, particularly when it comes to the romance side of the equation.

Sexual tension, for example, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it demonstrates the push-pull nature of the attraction. But applied too liberally and without enough believable conflict to give it company, there’s nothing left to challenge the couple’s eventual hook-up.

In this sense, an HEA becomes less plausible because we’re shown/told on a repeated basis that it’s inevitable. No wonder potential SFR readers might be skeptical. Where’s the mystery, the suspense?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

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The Intergalactic Sci-Fi Romance Caption Contest and Giveaway

Agent Z. here, just returned from an extremely dangerous mission, and already Heather is roping me in for extra duties. She’s a slave driver, I tell ya.

Yeesh. The things I’ll do for a free gargleblaster.

Welcome to the Intergalactic Sci-Fi Romance Caption Contest and Giveaway. Here’s the deal. Back in the day before we had access to a plethora of delicious science fiction romance stories, us poor addicts had to make do with the likes of Amazing Stories.  Just look at these covers.


Do you notice anything about this selection of covers? (Hint: voluptuous boobies) Yep, that’s right. Women. Sometimes as the villain; sometimes as the damsel in distress, but always, always wearing very skimpy outfits. Oh, how I love those outfits, I mean covers. (And whoever is screaming “geek” at me please stop it. I have a hangover.)

Nowadays, you’re just as likely to see voluptuous man boobies on the cover of a science fiction romance novel, but the idea is the same. People like boobies. And in the fifties, they apparently really liked pointy boobies. But I digress.

Below there are links to eleven science fiction romance novels and novellas. There’s a lovely selection. From space opera to time travel to cyberpunk to hunky aliens, there’s something for everyone. I have it on excellent authority that there are also boobies of all shapes and sizes. How can you resist?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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SFR Smackdown: Nico Rosso’s TAKEN TO THE LIMIT Vs Zoe Archer’s COLLISION COURSE

It’s one thing to have married authors who jointly write science fiction romance stories (e.g., Sharon Lee & Steve Miller). It’s altogether something else to have married authors who each write sci-fi romance tales that take place in separate universes and whose releases are mere months apart. What are the chances of that happening?

Upon learning about the releases of Nico Rosso’s TAKEN TO THE LIMIT (2010) and Zoe Archer’s COLLISION COURSE (2011), I added them to my TBR list. At one point, I discovered that Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso are married.

That’s when I knew that I had to go there: I developed a strong curiosity about how COLLISION COURSE and TAKEN TO THE LIMIT would stack up against one another. Yes, it’s true! Simply because these two authors are married, I felt compelled to compare and contrast a few elements from their respective sci-fi romance releases. Wouldn’t you?

Right! Knowing others might have the same curiosity (:P), once I finished both space opera novellas, I decided to arrange the sci-fi romance bout of the decade (without spoilers, of course). All in good fun, eh?

So without further ado…

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

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An Interview With Cathy Pegau, Author of RULEBREAKER

Cathy Pegau’s RULEBREAKER is a novel-length science fiction romance ebook that releases August 8 from Carina Press. I was lucky enough to read an eARC of this story and would like to highlight a few non-spoiler delights I discovered so potential readers can know what to expect. Here’s the blurb to catch you up:

Liv Braxton's Felon Rule #1: Don't get emotionally involved.

Smash-and-grab thieving doesn't lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn't met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it's easy to follow her Rules.
Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.

Until Zia Talbot, the woman she's supposed to deceive, turns Liv's expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.

Until corporate secrets turn deadly.

But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart...

RULEBREAKER is a book that made a couple of wishes come true for me, and also a few others I didn’t realize I had. First, it’s an f/f romance, a type of SFR I’ve been keen to read for some time. I wasn’t looking for an erotic experience, though. I was hoping for a story that devoted a satisfying amount of word count to the emotional development of the couple. This story fit the bill.

RULEBREAKER is definitely non-erotic, and I’m emphasizing that aspect in particular since f/f is often code for an erotic relationship/romance. Yes, there’s sexual tension and such in this story, but it’s a slow build and doesn’t involve unrelenting mental lusting. I would say that RULEBREAKER falls into the moderate sensuality heat level.

Second, I’ve been interested in reading an SFR involving a futuristic corporate executive heroine who wields a lot of power. Thanks to RULEBREAKER’S Zia Talbot, VP of the Exeter Mining Company, I got that wish, too. Zia is everything a cool corporate cat should be: Self-assured, intelligent, brimming with authority, deliciously intimidating, and sexy.

Initially, I thought the romance between Liv and Zia would be the main draw for me. However, the setting was intriguing and a refreshing change from the space opera romances that usually fill my TBR pile. RULEBREAKER is basically a corporate heist story. It takes place in the mining colony of planet Navarro. Liv is essentially a low-level thief trying to catch her biggest score—and break—in a drab, dreary world. And I mean "drab and dreary" as a compliment. If characters have it too easy, where's the story?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

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Why Underestimating Sci-Fi Romance Heroines Is A Dangerous Thing

Nearly a year ago, I posed the question, Are Romance Heroines Forbidden to Kill the Villain? I didn’t expect to revisit the issue so “soon,” but I recently read two science fiction romances in which both heroines failed to live up to my expectations regarding a couple of combat scenes.

I’m not going to call the books out because my concern isn’t with the stories themselves (and certainly not with the authors), but rather with the culture of romance heroines in general and the culture of science fiction romance heroines in particular. Also, the scenes in question contain major spoilers and I prefer to avoid those as much as possible.

I somehow ended up reading these two books back-to-back. Both were published within the last three years (one quite recently). In terms of settings, plot, and characters, the stories were wildly different from each other—except for two particular scenes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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SFR News & Links For August 2011

AFTERMATH (Sirantha Jax series) - Ann Aguirre
 
DEAD HEROES GET MONUMENTS. LIVE ONES GET TRIALS.

Sirantha Jax has the right genes—ones that enable her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. But it’s also in her genetic makeup to go it alone. It’s a character trait that has gotten her into—and out of—hot water time and time again, but now she’s caused one of the most horrific events in military history…
During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, Sirantha went AWOL and shifted grimspace beacons to keep the enemy from invading humanity’s homeworld. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel—and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers.

Accused of dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, and high treason, Sirantha is on trial for her life. And only time will tell if she’s one of the Conglomerate’s greatest heroes—or most infamous criminals…


 WAR GAMES - KS Augustin

What can you do when you start falling in love with the woman you’re meant to kill?

Laisen Carros is an agent of the Fusion sent undercover to infiltrate the Perlim Empire. However the years she’s spent impersonating military commander Cheloi Sie are starting to wear her down. She’s sick of the manipulation and duplicity and, after twenty years of being an agent, she wants to live her own life.

To Lith Yinalña, a former Perlim subject now returned to a place she dreads, Cheloi Sie is nothing but a war criminal and Lith considers it her personal mission to kill the Colonel.

Unfortunately for Laisen/Cheloi, the Empire and an idealistic assassin aren’t her only enemies. When Laisen and Lith start falling in love, it’s only a matter of time before someone else in the Empire notices. And acts.

Read the excerpt.

Monday, August 1, 2011

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On Hand-Selling Science Fiction Romance Titles


A couple of weeks ago, Smart Bitches featured a review of Susan Grant's MOONSTRUCK by Carrie S. A review of a science fiction romance is always welcome, but the icing on the cake was the discussion around science fiction romance books that developed in the comment section. Yay, SFR, right?

Kind of.

One person, Cbackson, in response to a recommendation of Lois McMaster Bujold’s SHARDS OF HONOR, said

I feel like the standard recommendation is always Cordelia’s Honor or another Bujold....

I have a few thoughts about that comment.