Sunday, October 28, 2012

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Transcript of Coyote Con 2012 SF/SFR Chat

On October 28, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the SF/SFR chats at the 2012 Coyote Con (an event revived and organized by the awesome Joely Sue Burkhart).

My co-panelists were authors KS Augustin (who moderated), Veronica Scott, and Sharon Lynn Fisher. Now, for your reading pleasure, I’m presenting the transcript of the event. (I cut a few lines here and there to streamline it).

Begin transcript

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Hello everyone and welcome to the SF & SFR panel at CoyoteCon.

I’m KS Augustin, but please call me Kaz. My great love is writing science-fiction romance (or SFR) across a variety of heat levels, from erotic to sweet, but I also dabble in urban fantasy, contemporary romance and erotica. I’ve been published for five years now and, in 2011, set up my own micro-press called Sandal Press. Wish me luck with that one!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: With me today are Sharon Lynn Fisher, Heather Massey and Veronica Scott. I know this is an early start for all three of them, so I’m getting the replicators to produce some java, extra-caffeine! Everyone is welcome to help themselves. I’d also like to add that a transcript of this chat will be appearing on the CoyoteCon website.

Before I continue, I wonder if I could get each of the panellists to introduce themselves.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Hi, all! I write sci-fi romance for Tor Books (Macmillan). I’m also a co-blogger at Spacefreighters Lounge along with authors Laurie A. Green, Donna Frelick, and Pippa Jay. My books are generally a 50/50 blend of sci-fi and romance, with a heat level of “steamy.” My debut GHOST PLANET releases on Tuesday.

HeatherMassey: Greetings! I run a sci-fi romance blog called The Galaxy Express. I’m also an author in this subgenre. And I love cult films!

Veronica Scott: I’ve been writing since I was a kid but have a day job in aerospace to support the family and pay the bills. My first paranormal book was published this year by Carina and I self published my second book in March, WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, which was SF adventure. WRECK was "sweet" - too much to do escaping the wreck to have s*x!
Veronica Scott: But my next SF is a higher heat level

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: LOL

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: We will be devoting the first 40 minutes or so of the hour to a discussion on the nature of romance within science-fiction, followed by a 20-minute Q&A session.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: If you have a question for any of the panellists, please put a “?” in your chat window before your question. When we get to the Q&A session, I'll go through the list and call you, and your question, in order. I fully expect this panel to run right up to the edge of the hour, so let’s get started!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: QUESTION: While science fiction has been around for decades, some might even argue centuries, I don't think it's exaggerating to say that, even three years ago, genre readers had hardly heard the term “SF romance”. And now, it seems to be everywhere from, of course, books to movies. If I may ask Sharon, Heather and Veronica, what was the lure of writing and reading SF romance for you?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I have to confess I put minimal thought into genre when I started writing my book. Although, up to the point I got the idea for GP, I had been writing romantic fantasy. I love fantasy, but I found myself really struggling to come up with original ideas, as well as using a writing voice that didn’t feel completely natural to me. Around that time I also watched a couple of very psychological sci-fi films (SOLARIS, SUNSHINE), and started reading science books. I think the switch to SFR was just in the cards for me!

Veronica Scott: I love to READ it and there were never enough books LOL, so I started writing SF pretty young (unreadable to anyone but me) and then I kept writing and learning the craft. There was never enough romance in the SF I read so I'd mentally add it (writer's brain). Ripley and Hicks get pretty steamy in MY take on Aliens LOL

HeatherMassey: For me it all began when I was a kid. I saw a Japanese animated show called Space Cruiser Yamato (“Star Blazers” in the U.S.). A space opera adventure tale, Yamato was basically my first real exposure to SF.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Now that's interesting. Sharon, you a relative latecomer to SF, Veronica you with SF right from the beginning

Veronica Scott: Imprinted by the movie Forbidden Planet on late night TV

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I always loved it in film

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Yes, the Japanese influence is vastly underrated in my opinion. Gigantor, Ultraman, and so on

HeatherMassey: It also had a significant romance subplot. The show had a *huge* impact on me because it was the first time I had that “sense of wonder” moment. The entire series of the original Yamato TV shows and films ended with the marriage and consummation of the main couple. That’s a powerful message about love.

HeatherMassey: Yamato spurred me to find similar stories so I scoured my local library for SF books. As a rule, I gravitated toward the stories that were more character-driven or that mixed SF and romance.

As far as writing SFR, part of me wants to recapture that sense of wonder over and over again. I dabbled in some Yamato fan fiction but didn’t consider writing for publication until a few years ago. I had the opportunity to have some fun writing stories of my own so I went for it.

HeatherMassey: Ultraman rulz!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: QUESTION: Do you feel that there's a distinct gender divide implicit in the term? I often say that, “men write space opera, women write SF romance”. How do you feel about that? Can the two happily co-exist? Have any of you been approached by male readers, or does this sub-genre appear to be a women's only room?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Okay, got long-winded here. Yes, we SFR folks focus a lot on this question! I do think there’s truth to it, but am starting to feel it might be a bit of a red herring. In my so-far limited experience, what I am finding is that there are folks who enjoy or at least feel comfortable with romance, and there are those who don’t, and it sours their reading experience. That will be true for women or men. (In fact the reviewers who have taken issue with the romance in my book have all been women.) This is what I think: Men/women who don’t like romance? We can’t win there, and I don’t think it serves us to try. Men/women who both like sci-fi and are comfortable with romance? Forget them too; they’re already IN. I think our focus should be *women who are comfortable with romance.* The majority of readers are women, and many of them don’t see themselves as sci-fi readers. I think we have the most to gain by targeting them and convincing them they are. I don’t believe this is a hard line with women, like the hard line of people who don’t like romance.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Ha, that's really interesting about your reviews

HeatherMassey: I don’t feel there’s an implicit gender divide in the term “science fiction romance.” The problem isn’t the label but rather misogyny and the ghettoization of romance, a genre that many women like to read. Everyone will have their personal preferences, but that doesn’t mean other subgenres are invalid. Stories that mix SF and romance are just as valid as other SF subgenres.

Veronica Scott: I have male readers but not that many I KNOW of. One did say to me he could “tell it was written by a woman” although he gave it five stars. Which I found mildly amusing. He took issue with some of my military jargon, that I got from friends who ARE operators so... I agree with Sharon though - let's focus on the audience we're missing.

HeatherMassey: I have more thoughts...

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Absolutely....

HeatherMassey: “SF” and “romance” are tags, ones that help readers identify content. This is similar to cyberpunk, super human, near future, etc. “SFR” also helps readers identify character-driven stories.

While authors may set out to write one thing, readers may interpret and tag the stories differently.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: very true

Veronica Scott: So true Heather!

HeatherMassey: Are many SFR stories told from the female gaze (i.e., cultural lens, not point-of-view) and/or offer female-centric fantasies? Yes. But that doesn’t mean SFR is limited to women, just as male-gaze centric SF isn’t limited to men.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Good point. Are you saying we might "ghetto" ourselves with our tags?

HeatherMassey: Think about it this way: Many female SF fans have enjoyed SF stories told via the lens of the male gaze for decades (often because those were the only ones available). So if we can do that, what’s to stop men from enjoying SF/SFR stories that employ the female gaze? Regardless, SFR authors have the power to create more gaze-neutral stories that would appeal to both genders.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: As writers, I mean.

HeatherMassey: No--folks who feel romance isn't a valid genre do the ghettoizing.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, agree

Veronica Scott: I tend to write my SF from the man's viewpoint, probably because I've read so much SF written by guys

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Okay, so leaving romance to one side for just a moment.....

HeatherMassey: @Veronica That's very common.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: QUESTION: What drives you to write SCIENCE FICTION romance? Is the science-fiction aspect important to you? I mean, can't you just substitute six-shooters for laser guns and make a Western out of it?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I think I mostly addressed this in the first question, but just to expand, I don’t like to limit myself by saying “what is the sci-fi aspect of this story?” Maybe I’ll come up with an idea that doesn’t have one, and I’m okay with that. However with that said, sort of a sweet spot for me is coming up with an idea for a romance, and thinking “how could a sci-fi aspect make this more colorful and interesting”? Actually I don’t really *consciously* think that – it happens in my brainstorming process.

HeatherMassey: I find science fascinating and a source of endless discoveries. My early exposure to Yamato instilled that in me. I became excited about astronomy, for example. Plus, all the different branches of science lead to a variety of plot and worldbuilding possibilities. Science is cool. I love seeing that celebrated in books.

Veronica Scott: I like the possibilities inherent in SF – anything can happen, not just the type of events that occur on Earth. I like the expanded window that gives the stories and what I can have happen to the hero & heroine. Dragons, ancient civilizations, strange planets, space battles....

Veronica Scott: No limits

HeatherMassey: Yes! the "no limits" aspect is so very appealing.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, love how it affects the relationship dynamic

Veronica Scott: But I'm like Sharon - the story comes to me. I don't set out to write SF today, so to speak.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: So, it's very organic for you both, Sharon and Veronica?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, definitely

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I find that interesting, because -- personally -- I'm more in Heather's camp, and find your perspectives very interesting.

Veronica Scott: Absolutely!

HeatherMassey: I gravitate toward the SF because it fires me up so much.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I like that there are different origins leading into the same sub-genre.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Science is definitely cool. Agree with you both.

HeatherMassey: I started blogging about SFR when I realized it was something I just couldn't quit.

Veronica Scott: Obviously I like space science in real life, esp Mars rovers LOL but the real world science is too limiting as it currently stand. NASA is too earth bound.

Veronica Scott: Give me the wide open universe, a hot ship and a hotter pilot! And no ten inch thick binders of regs!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Also I think new developments in science really fire the imagination

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: This mix of SF and R makes for uneasy bed-partners sometimes.....

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: QUESTION: We all know that SF romance is not a “blockbuster” genre. By that, I mean that anyone who's been writing any kind of romance knows that contemporary, paranormal and even historical romances outsell SFR. Do you have any idea as to why this should be? Are we demanding too much of our readers by throwing them into alternate universes, full of spaceships, physics, aliens and sometimes pretty “out there” romantic permutations? Lol We know about the romance aspect, but can women love science-fiction?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I attended a panel on open science and was probably the only one in the room excited about how it could all go horribly wrong

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Ooops, on to next question ... hang on ...

HeatherMassey: @Sharon LOL!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I think we face a couple of big hurdles. (1) Women seem to shy away from the label sci-fi. It conjures up notions that aren’t necessarily valid these days. Maybe they’ve read sci-fi in the past that they found too slow, too technical, or with poor character development. (2) Aliens and spaceships don’t have the same natural romantic appeal of vampires, angels, and shapeshifters. Why? I don’t really know. A couple of years ago I read a tweet from an editor at a major house (which does publish SFR), where she talked about why she doesn’t personally like SFR. Too “cold.” We know our stories are anything BUT cold. Our challenge is to change this perception. I think it’s critical that relationship dynamics, mystery, adventure. etc. don’t take a backseat to the book’s sci-fi aspects in our marketing efforts. Does anyone think of Outlander as a book about time travel?

HeatherMassey: I have a lot to say about this so bear with me--some of it echoes what Sharon said.

HeatherMassey: SFR is definitely a niche subgenre. The limitations of the print distribution system is a big reason. With limited shelf space over the years, publishers had to pick and choose which books to publish.

Science fiction’s questionable reputation over the decades has had a negative impact as well because for a long time the genre seemed strange to many people.

HeatherMassey: Historically, various genres have been segregated by gender (credit for this insight goes to author Jacqueline Lichtenberg). Men were steered toward action-adventure/SF stories and women were steered elsewhere, like romance.

And while romance publishers have routinely offered SFR stories, I’ve heard that in the early days they had a tendency encourage and release “dumbed down” stories. They perpetuated the myth that women couldn’t get into SF. Readers noticed that, and so SFR had a rocky reputation for a while.

HeatherMassey: Another reason for SFR’s low visibility is that it offers different types of core fantasies from other subgenres. It’s a huge challenge, for example, to compete with the fantasy of a vampire lover or a rake Alpha hero in a historical.

More people are familiar with vampires than with hunky space aliens. And even more people than that are familiar with contemporary love stories than interspecies romance. So in that sense, there’s been a definite learning curve for readers.

HeatherMassey: Lots of obstacles there.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: yes, agree

HeatherMassey: But times change. Even though the concept of vampires has existed for centuries, paranormal romance was once considered a “dead” subgenre. And now it has its own section in brick and mortar stores! That is a remarkable cultural shift in just a matter of decades. With science fiction increasingly gaining mainstream acceptance, the same could happen for sci-fi romance. The key is making the learning curve fun and appealing for readers.

HeatherMassey: We have an opportunity with SFR to invite female readers back into the fold and remind them about how amazing science can be.

HeatherMassey: done!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: great insights, Heather

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Great insights

Veronica Scott: The SF universe is less familiar than Regency for example, but hey, that's actually a pretty different world and Readers "function" well there. I agree with Sharon, we have to make it known that SFR isn't the "cool, hard edged technology" of the older SF worlds. Star Wars set me free - you don't explain how the darn tech works, you just use it and move ON LOL.I guess you guys can tell, I'm a lot less about the science here.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Exactly (Star Wars)

HeatherMassey: What's interesting to me is that many historical romances require a big learning curve. I don't see SFR as any different in terms of worldbuilding.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: So, space opera as a definite area that can be exploited for our own nefarious purposes? Bwahahaha

Veronica Scott: Agreed re world building

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I wonder whether people get a mental block when they realise the learning is Out There rather than Right Here

HeatherMassey: @Kaz Definitely.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, that is very true! But girls/women have tended to be steered away from science all our lives. Not true of history

HeatherMassey: I'm sure they do. SF has its own conventions that aren't always easy to grasp with just one book.

Veronica Scott: My Dad worked for NASA so was steered to science but math is NOT my thing LOL

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: So, there's really no reason for it NOT to be popular. It's just a process of more exposure = more readers

HeatherMassey: What Sharon said--it doesn't help that women are steered away from science and math.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Okay, so we've answered one half of the question...

Sharon Lynn Fisher: LOL my mom was a calculus teacher

Sharon Lynn Fisher: But I meant in general

Veronica Scott: I try to make my SF world pretty recognizable...humans will still be humans

Veronica Scott: And then I throw in the "other stuff"

HeatherMassey: The cultural obstacles have been pretty daunting, but the Internet has started to change that.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, me too Veronica

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Yes, thank you internet!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Absolutely

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: So, considering the giant pull of the internet and all it entails.....

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: and us being writers in that wonderful sub-genre.......

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: How can we entice SF readers to take a chance on this new sub-genre?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: We know they're out there, right?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Do we depend on movies?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I think more mainstream-ish stories might be key – stories where we don’t bombard them with too many of those elements that make them twitch. That’s not to say we shouldn’t write stories that are richly, thoroughly sci-fi, but that we also need more gateway type stories to draw in more wary readers. On top of that, we just need to keep churning out really solid, well-plotted, well-characterized, hooky SFR! I do think we’re already opening this door – already seeing more crossovers from our sister subgenres who are looking for new types of stories.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Okay, so quantity and availability

Veronica Scott: I think the movies help. People enjoy an Aliens or a Terminator and then go looking for more, which will be in the books

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Or, should I say, accessibility

Sharon Lynn Fisher: yes, accessibility

HeatherMassey: I would say tv shows more than movies. Avatar didn't seem to deliver more readers.

Veronica Scott: Oh good point re TV shows. Firefly!

HeatherMassey: As far as attracting more SF readers, the strategy would involve delivering compelling tales that would make them question their previous avoidance of character-driven, romance-focused SF stories. Perhaps ones that somehow combine the male and female gazes? Easier said than done, but basically what I mean is more variety of stories are needed.

Hardcore SF purists may not ever be won over, but I’m not sure that’s the audience for SFR anyway. There are plenty of other readers who’d be willing to take a chance. But first they have to know about it!

Guest 34499 has joined the chatroom

Sharon Lynn Fisher: How do we reach those readers?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Or is it, publish them and they will come/read?

HeatherMassey: Fun stories. A united, dedicated fandom. Word-of-mouth buzz. A cultural milestone like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Luck.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: By that I mean get the stories in front of them

HeatherMassey: Good marketing campaigns are so important. But most of those cost $$$

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Do you guys think it's possible for twilight phenomena? One book that really takes off and changes everything?

Veronica Scott: Six Sentence Sunday has helped me a bit. Have gotten readers (ok who are also authors) to try the SF

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: You mentioned that paranormals were once considered dead, Heather (no genre pun intended). Actually, that gives me a lot of hope about SFR.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Although I guess vampires were already in at that point

HeatherMassey: Partly it depends on who is reading SFR at the time and how much they want to help spread the word.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: phenomenon I meant, ha

Veronica Scott: And if there were to be a big breakout book, that would help everyone but you can't engineer that

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: There's that luck again

Sharon Lynn Fisher: yep, luck is important

Veronica Scott: It's like a video going viral - you put it out there and hope but you can't force it

HeatherMassey: Re: Twilight: I'm not sure SFR has the equivalent of that, but it does have other strengths.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: can we engineer that somehow

Sharon Lynn Fisher: (the luck, I mean)

HeatherMassey: Re: engineering: I wouldn't be surprised if a self-pubbed erotic SFR broke out.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Oooh, interesting!!!

Veronica Scott: Well at least we're talking about it, here and in other venues. Building momentum

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Yes, please take note, readers! Don't read your SFRs in closets! LOL

HeatherMassey: The more word-of-mouth that happens for various books, the more that could lead to better luck.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: If I may just crack my patented CoyoteCon chat whip here...........

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I wanted to isolate each of you for a brief one-on one

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes ma'am

Veronica Scott: uh oh

HeatherMassey: Oh, yes, yes!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: ROFL

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: QUESTION: Sharon, your book, GHOST PLANET, is coming out from Tor at the end of this month. Congratulations on the release, what fabulous news! If I could just pull you down from Cloud Nine at the moment :), was it a tough sell to get to an SF powerhouse like Tor Books? Did you get any impression from your editor about how his/her opinion on SFR? Anything else that struck you that you want to share?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Thanks so much! ☺ Yes, it’s very exciting. A little overwhelming. I have been channeling Captain Jack a lot: “Nobody move, I’ve dropped me brain!” Tor is actually very supportive of SFR. They always have a strong presence at RWA. The only conversation my editor and I had about genre came when we were working on the cover. As for the other houses . . . The first editor we approached – very well respected editor at a huge house – basically said to us, “I love this story. I wish I could take it. There’s just not enough of an audience.” But even with Tor we did end up having to make a tough decision. My editor and I collaborated with design on the cover, and we LOVED it. When the sales team saw it, they basically said we had to make a choice – create a more romance-y cover, or shelve it in sci-fi. Risk getting a cover that might feel inappropriate for the book, or accept that we might sell a lot fewer books. Miraculously, both my editor and my agent left it to me to make this choice. Then my editor went back to Sales. I got my cover, and you’ll find it in sci-fi.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Wow, that must have been a roller-coaster of a few days, thinking around that!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Sympathies

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I knew immediately what I wanted. So wasn't too hard!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Good on you!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I feel blessed my editor and agent backed me (and won)!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: If I may ask, was your editor male or female?

HeatherMassey: Having read the book, a man titty cover would have been so misleading.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Exactly what my editor said!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Wrong for the book

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Female

HeatherMassey: The story has strong mystery elements, which appeals to all kinds of readers. The cover reflects that.

Veronica Scott: Good stuff!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Thanks for those insights and best of luck with the upcoming release!

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, design was brilliant. I've heard horror stories about cover processes and this was not. THank you!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Onto my next panellist.....

QUESTION: Heather, if there was one person that I would say has done more for highlighting SFR than anybody else, it would have to be you and your fantastic blog, The Galaxy Express. One thing I particularly admire is that you roam the world for SFR titbits, not just North America and bits of English-speaking Europe. Well done and it makes for fascinating reading! You've immersed yourself in SFR for a few years now, reading and watching it voraciously, as well as releasing a number of SFR books, from space opera (QUEENIE'S BRIGADE) to steampunk (THE WATCHMAKER'S LADY). Any ideas on where the genre's headed?

HeatherMassey: Feeling warm and fuzzy! Thanks for your kind words.

HeatherMassey: I have a few ideas, yes.

HeatherMassey: First, there are more SFRs than ever before. Ebooks have expanded the SFR market and will continue to do so. If an SFR breaks out in any significant way, I predict it will come from the digital realm.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Why am I not surprised?

HeatherMassey: *snort*

HeatherMassey: Authors will continue to write stories and experiment with various settings, plots, and characters. They’re seeking the “sweet spot” combination of romance, SF, and characters that will have wider appeal.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: WOOL has paved the way. (even has some romance)

HeatherMassey: Space opera settings seem to be the most popular, but steampunk romance is also quite visible and has more growth potential *if* authors can meet the demand with quality stories.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I keep hearing that steampunk has jumped the shark. Is this not true?

HeatherMassey: Cool beans! [edited to add clarification—this was in response to Sharon’s comment about WOOL!]

HeatherMassey: I also predict an increase in near-future or SFR with contemporary settings (like super human romance; contemporary invasion stories) because those settings can be more accessible for readers new to the subgenre.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Yes, agree

HeatherMassey: Not in SF, but it has yet to truly catch on in romance. Readers are willing, but there haven't been enough books yet.

Veronica Scott: Good point!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I'm watching the time here, so I have to hurry along.....

HeatherMassey: Given that SF in general is penetrating mainstream markets these days, SFR has a stronger chance at becoming more visible in film and television. It’s always been there, but under different names.

Currently I’m encountering more films labeled as “science fiction romance.” I predict slightly more SFR films in the future and also an effort by studios/filmmakers to connect with female audiences. They are now starting to realize we can make them money because of our interest in SFR stories.

HeatherMassey: done!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Yes, I saw those movies you highlighted with the SFR label. Very exciting!

QUESTION: Veronica, I think you must have the coolest job of us all. While we write about SFR, you live it in the aerospace industry! With one book, an Ancient Egyptian fantasy called PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, published through Carina Press, you self-pubbed WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, in May. Why did you choose SFR when it's clear you're comfortable working in other sub-genres as well?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I haven't seen that label in film - cool!

Veronica Scott: The first time I stood in a room surrounded by 3000 year old Egyptian household items, I felt like I was in an alien world – they thought about things SO differently than we do! Although of course there are many common points of reference…I just tell the stories that come to my mind, wherever they may be set.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: that is SO cool

Veronica Scott: I love Regency, would love to write one...but the stories JUST don't come to me!

Veronica Scott: And I have TRIED believe me LOL. Where's that Duke when you need him???

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: They definitely don't come to me, they would have killed me back then!

HeatherMassey: @Veronica Put 'em in space!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Absolutely!

Veronica Scott: Oh I've thought about it LOL

Sharon Lynn Fisher: have you drawn inspiration from projects at work?

HeatherMassey: JL Langley does Sci-Regency so a door is already open.

Veronica Scott: We'll see. Never say never.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: That's right, that's the name I was trying to think of. Thanks Heathere

Sharon Lynn Fisher: @heather Serious?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Pretty popular, Sharon

Veronica Scott: Other than the idea of using the Lab as a setting, no. NASA science is very incremental and not Han Solo-ish.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: Ha!

HeatherMassey: @Sharon About Regency in space? Oh yeah.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Questions from the audience?

HeatherMassey: I like to see a good reason for it but I can totally suspend disbelief.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: wow, had no idea!

Veronica Scott: I go more Special Forces in space. I go more Regency in Ancient Egypt. They had such proscribed rank and ritual.

Veronica Scott: No Almack's though.

HeatherMassey: Joely Sue Burkhart's LADY DOCTOR WYRE is sci-regency, IIRC

Ayla: ?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Anyone have any questions for our panellists?

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Yes, Ayla?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: @Veronica So true that ancient cultures have an alien quality

Ayla: You keep saying SFR is a new genre, but i've been reading it for many years. Doy ou consider older books, like say Anne Mcaffrey's The Ship Who Searched, to be more classically SF than SFR?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: great question

HeatherMassey: I would venture to say it's the tags that are new more so than the romance-SF hybrids.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Despite Kingsley Amis, I think it was, describing Mcaffrey's books as "Barbara Cartland in space", I think it always stood to reason it was SF

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: That was because there was, as yet, no coherent vision for something that would be known as SFR

Veronica Scott: To me the romance in the older SF was SO understated (which is why I would mentally fill in the blanks for the poor hero & heroine)

Sharon Lynn Fisher: yeah, more romantic elements

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Like EE 'doc' Smith wrote adventure and, only later, was it described as space opera

HeatherMassey: Yes, the understated nature made them more romantic SF.

Ayla: The romance in The Ship who Searched was the main plot line, which is why i highlighted that as an example
HeatherMassey: EE 'doc' Smith, exactly.

Heather Massey: There's also a difference between marketing labels and tags.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I have to admit I haven't read that one so can't speak to it . . .

Veronica Scott: Even McCaffrey's Restoree, which I LOVE, is more about the politics and the aliens

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: Wasn't it a sequel to The Ship Who Sang?

Veronica Scott: The love story is kinda worked in

HeatherMassey: The Ship Who Searched would be marketed as "SF" but when you break down the genre elements you can tag it as SFR.

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: I wonder what McCaffrey would say about that?

Sharon Lynn Fisher: That she just a wrote a dang book and we're overthinking it!

KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin: LOL

Guest 88656: lol Well said, Sharon

Veronica Scott: Good one!

End transcript

Coming soon—the transcript of the Coyote Con Steampunk chat!

Joyfully yours,


Joyfully yours,