Sunday, March 31, 2013

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SFR News & Links For April 2013

This month for science fiction romance is like--whoa!

New releases

[Edited 4/9/13 to add: The release of STARWOMAN'S SANCTUARY is temporarily on hold. Please check back at next month's roundup.]
STARWOMAN'S SANCTUARY (Diaspora Worlds #3) - Melisse Aires
Ooh, is this a multicultural romance?!

They are worlds apart, literally.
Sister Skyleen has built a Starwoman Sanctuary for the needy on a busy space hub. Orphans, aging spacers and the school keep her days busy. But at night Skyleen knows it is time to make a change from her vocation. The stranger, Kyler, reminds her of her dreams-- a husband, life as a peaceful settler, raising a family. First, though, she needs to turn the Sanctuary over to competent hands. 

Kyler, military commander and heir to the throne of New Prague, is used to the best of everything-- technology, talent, and the luxuries of life. But something about the utilitarian Sanctuary and the beautiful Starwoman Skyleen appeals to him.  With the invaders on the Alliance border, he can’t stay and explore this attraction. His duty lies on New Prague.

They learn invaders are charging toward the hub. Skyleen won’t leave –not without all four hundred Sanctuary members. Getting the Sanctuary to safety just might cost them their lives.

To celebrate this release, Melisse Aires is having a contest--one of the prizes is a lovely chevron amethyst necklace! Visit the author’s site for complete details.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

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Mars Needs Women? Too Bad! By Diane Dooley



When Heather asked if I’d be interested in writing an article about the ‘Mars Needs Women’ trope I was more than happy to say yes. I’ve read a few books with this trope and despised every single one. What did I hate about them? Ha! You know I’m going to tell you. In detail.

1. The sheer idiocy of the female characters is a major gripe. “I’ve been kidnapped and you plan to impregnate me without my consent, but you’re so goddam hot that I’m going to go along with it.” Really? Does anyone know an actual real life woman this ridiculous?

2. What the hell did these alien men do that led to the infertility or mass deaths of the female of their species? Does anyone care? Not usually. This red flag is so big, I can’t see how anyone would fail to give it a lot of thought. But, you know, as long as the males are hawt who gives a frack about what happened to the alien women?

3. Genetic compatibility. Kind of important, don’t you think? Ha! No. The alien dudes are so hot that the power of their fertility is more than a match for actual biology.

4. The alien dudes are always humanoid. Except better looking and with a larger penis or two.
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Blogging At Heroes & Heartbreakers About SFR Noir


I'm at Heroes & Heartbreakers today blogging about science fiction romances with a noir flavor. I invite you to come on over and tell me what you think about this particular hybrid!

Love and Death: Noir Sci-Fi Romance

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Reading The Fine Print: Diane & Heather Deconstruct Pippa Jay’s TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY



Heather here! I love discovering new stories by authors of science fiction romance, so when Pippa Jay announced the release of TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY (space opera short story), I was intrigued.


TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY is a highly atypical title for romance (if not SF), but it grabbed me from the start. By way of explanation, I have an admittedly eccentric interest in mundane phrases being re-invented as story titles (For example, “Yellow #5,” a synthetic food dye, is a phrase I’d love to see used for a book or film.).

For the phrase “terms & conditions apply” to be paired with a sci-fi romance promised something unusual. That’s what really drove my interest—I wanted to know the mystery behind the phrase and how it related to the story.

Next, I learned about the blurb:

Monday, March 25, 2013

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UPSIDE DOWN: Dead On Arrival?



I’m feeling bummed about the conclusions Charlie Jane Anders reached in her io9 article about the film UPSIDE DOWN (2013). In Why is it so hard to create a good science fiction movie romance? she outlines a number of reasons the film didn’t work for her as far as the integration of SF and romance elements (she strove to avoid spoilers in the article). Given the gimmick-prone setting I had doubts about the quality of UPSIDE DOWN and Ms. Anders pretty much confirmed them.

She raises a number of compelling points about how the film could have been stronger. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal, but since I’m deeply invested in SFR it’s always a shame when a film or TV show can’t move the subgenre forward in any way. When a film like UPSIDE DOWN isn’t well received, I worry about it eroding future interest in SFR.

Reading the article made me wonder if writer-director Juan Solanas was more enamored of the worldbuilding than the characters and romance. Quite a few films (at least in my viewing experience) emphasize visuals over plot. I can’t help but wonder if that’s the case with UPSIDE DOWN:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

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Fun With Sci-Fi Romance Blurbs!



In recent months I’ve borrowed a few print science fiction romances from the library. Upon cracking said books open, I was reminded of the fact that publishers often list blurbs from authors and positive review quotes at the beginning. As I perused some of them, it struck me that some of the praise being heaped on these authors would apply just as easily to SFR books from digital-first authors. Simply switch a few key words around and voilà!

In my reading experience, digital-first sci-fi romances rarely feature blurbs/review quotes--and why is that, anyway? Is it because readers browse ebooks differently from the way they search for print books, and so the blurb/review quote is more difficult to see/find? Are ebooks deemed less worthy for this type of marketing because of the medium or content (after all, some still believe they’re not “real” books or “real” SFR)?

I wonder…is there a digital-first author of science fiction romance out there who was able to obtain a blurb from a well-known, print-first author of science fiction romance? Actually, that pool is so small that a digital-first author is probably better off seeking a blurb from a bestselling author with an ebook background on the level of, say, Lauren Dane (UNDERCOVER).

Regardless of the questions surrounding them, blurbs/quotes aren’t only endorsements, they’re also tags. Sometimes they're too generic to be useful (of Theresa Meyers' THE INVENTOR, Cherry Adair wrote, "Meyers puts the steam in steampunk"), but oftentimes they feature clues about what to expect from an author’s particular story and/or his/her style of writing. In that sense, the blurbs can be a helpful resource.

So I thought I’d have some fun by creating a few unsolicited blurbs for some of the stories I’ve read. Fun as in me imagining this scenario: what if the books had the benefit of praise from a well-known author or reviewer prominently displayed on the cover or in the first few pages? How might the quotes be phrased?

And away we go…

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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Meljean Brook’s HEART OF STEEL: A Surprisingly “Niche” Steampunk Romance



I finally found a library copy of Meljean Brook’s HEART OF STEEL, book two in her Iron Seas series. (This title was published in 2011. Oh, the life of a budget-conscious genre fan!)

As I was reading, some of the story elements jumped out at me, but I wasn’t sure why. At first, I thought it was simply because I’m a fan of Alpha heroines being paired with heroes who don’t overshadow them, a dynamic which HEART OF STEEL was delivering (yay!). Then I thought it could also be the intrigue of the airship pirate heroine (double yay!). But the answer didn’t crystalize until I had finished the book.

It was a sense of validation, both as a reader and an author. As a reader, HEART OF STEEL was giving me one of the romance tropes I enjoy, as noted above. I appreciate Ms. Brook’s taking a risk because there are many readers who would find Yasmeen unlikeable/too strong/too cold. Alpha anti-heroines are by no means popular. But for me she’s just right. Score one for the hardcore niche readers!

As an unknown author (I’m just keepin’ it real!), HEART OF STEEL represented validation of a slightly different kind. You see, I discovered some general similarities between that book and ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE (2011), my space opera sci-fi romance. And by similarities I mean the idea of two authors tapping into the general Jungian well of creative ideas. We were not the first to write such characters/plots, nor will we be the last. But a few interesting coincidences made me feel extra confident about my choice of characters and tropes for ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE. In other words, if bestselling, multi-published author Meljean Brook is doing it, it must be acceptable. Right?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

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More Adventures In Sci-Fi Romance: In Which I Attempt To Hand-Sell SFR To A Fan of Stephenie Meyer’s THE HOST



This is the edition that was on the table

I recently volunteered at the book fair of my daughter’s school. One of the tables had a small selection of adult titles. Among the many recipe books (sigh) and general fiction was a stack of Stephenie Meyer’s THE HOST (TGE regular contributor Agent Z blogged about it here back in 2008). I thought nothing of it until I overheard a conversation during some downtime.

One of the other volunteers, another mom, started describing THE HOST to someone she knew. Given the small confines of the room I couldn’t help but overhear. In describing the story, she categorized it as science fiction, but she also made a point of saying it wasn’t too "science fictiony" (I’m paraphrasing). As in, no space ships or little green aliens.

She brought up the story’s character-driven, introspective nature. No surprise given the story’s focus. This volunteer was basically gushing about THE HOST, and during the course of the morning she started hand-selling it to yet another volunteer. At that point, I started thinking, “Surely there’s a similar SFR title I can tell this woman about.” My hope was that if she enjoyed THE HOST as much as she said she did, she might be interested in checking out another title.

Taking a deep breath, I approached her. Mind you, I never get the chance to hand-sell science fiction romances to people I encounter in my daily life. This is new territory for me. On top of that, I didn’t even know the woman’s name. Still, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

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SOS for RSS FeedBurner

Slightly off-topic extra post here:

A faithful reader just let me know she wasn't receiving TGE's posts anymore. They were kaputnik, as Natasha Fatale might say.

"Golly gee, Bullwinkle! Better check it out!"

And so our intrepid engineer, along with Chef, discovered the root cause: The long neglected FeedBurner.

FeedBurner provides a handy way to offer RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication) to subscribers. It also offers analytics, so you know how many people checking out your posts; what color of shoes they're wearing; etc. These provided feeds could be read in an RSS aggregator, such as Google Reader, or in your email.

Well, as you may have heard, Google Reader is being put out to pasture by Papa Google. Many people are upset about this.

Supposedly, Google owned FeedBurner isn't on the chopping block...yet. But service just stopped working for me. Some quick Google-Fu also revealed this is the case for many others, too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

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Action Heroes Of Steampunk Romance And 5 Free Sci-Fi Romances!



I’m guest blogging at the Coffee Time Steampunk site about The Action Heroes Of Steampunk Romance. The more I thought about the heroes I’ve encountered in this subgenre, the more I realized how many of them were men of action. Come on over and tell me what you think about my hypothesis!

Free Sci-Fi Romances!


From March 15-19, 2013, you can grab a copy of Jessica E. Subject’s 1Night Stand ebook bundle INTERGALACTIC HEAT (erotic heat level) for free on Amazon! Here are the links:




Also, click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of Berinn Rae’s alien invasion romance COLLISION! Hurry, as they say, because the giveaway ends soon.

Joyfully yours,
 
Heather

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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Interview With COLLISION Author Berinn Rae, Plus Giveaway



Author Berinn Rae and genre fiction go way back, and she's channeled her interests into a science fiction romance saga called the Colliding Worlds Trilogy. This trilogy falls under the alien invasion category (see my post about it here). In these stories, planet Earth is in the crossfire of two galactic adversaries. Click here for descriptions and free excerpts of the first two books, COLLISION and IMPLOSION.

I invited Berinn Rae aboard so we could pick her brain about comic books, her writing style, and tattooed aliens. A giveaway follows the interview, so read on!

The Galaxy Express: Finish this sentence: My name is Berinn Rae and I like to…

Berinn Rae: Write, read, fly, and get into shenanigans (in no particular order).

TGE: Your bio states that in the past you had “…the small town’s largest (and only) comic book collection…” What are your top three favorite comic books series?

BR: Tough question! I’ve always been more of a Marvel Girl (as opposed to DC or Indie, although I love ALL comics), so my collection tilts toward the Marvel Universe (and yes, Stan Lee is my superhero). Off the top of my mind, I’d go with The Uncanny X-Men, G.I. Joe, and Conan the Barbarian. All three have plenty of action, tortured heroes, and strong storylines.

TGE: What was the inspiration for the Colliding Worlds trilogy?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

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Where Are All The Alien Invasion Sci-Fi Romances?



Via author Jody Wallace, I discovered an interesting tweet by has_bookpushers. She was seeking “…a gritty, dark alien invasion romance.” From her various tweets, I gathered she didn’t want “barbarian” style heroes involved in MARS NEEDS WOMEN stories or romances involving copious alien tentacles. I couldn’t quite determine if one of her stipulations included an alien hero, but I’m bringing it up anyway because it ties into the topic.

To summarize, a reader wants a gritty, dark, and epic alien invasion science fiction romance. Presumably, the invaded planet is Earth. Possibly featuring an alien hero. And I’m guessing a story with at least a 50-50 SF to romance ratio—more romance than a romantic SF story would supply. No chest-thumping barbarians or hentai tentacle action, check.

So when Ms. Wallace tweeted at me, I began thinking about title possibilities. Unfortunately, the more I thought, the more I began to suspect that the type of story has_bookpushers wanted was few and far between. Extremely few and far between. Kind of surprising given the popularity of space opera and military SF in various mediums.

As I reflected further, many issues came to mind regarding this type of story (which I also want to read, by the way!). First, if one is going to tell an alien invasion story with a prominent romance, the process involves several key ingredients. I’m going to present them in random order.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

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Androids & The Brainy Heroines Who Love Them - A Guest Post by Aubrey Watt


[When Aubrey Watt alerted me to PARAGON, her new sci-fi romance about a neuroscientist who falls in love with the android she helped create, I was like "Where do I sign?!!" I love brainy heroines and android characters, so the combination is like catnip to me. I invited the author aboard to blog about science fiction romances she's enjoyed, particularly as they relate to PARAGON. Extra bonus: following the post is a giveaway!]

Hi everyone! I’m Aubrey Watt, and I want to thank The Galaxy Express for having me here! I just released my first full-length science fiction romance novel Paragon. I’m giving away one free copy to a lucky commenter on this site!

I was inspired to write Paragon after reading the book Wired by Douglas E. Richards and falling in love with the character of Kira. Although I mostly write erotic romance, I wanted to tell an action story about a smart, sexy protagonist. At the same time, I was waist-deep in philosophy, reading about the hard problem of consciousness in cognitive science while taking Stanford’s online class in artificial intelligence. From this unlikely combination the character of Chal Davidson was born. She is a neuroscientist who helps to create an android prototype at a secret military base. Alan (the prototype) must learn everything from the beginning – how to talk, how to feel, and especially how to love. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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Interview With S.E. Gilchrist, Author of LEGEND BEYOND THE STARS



As you may have heard, Harlequin Australia launched Escape Publishing, a digital-first imprint. Great news for readers and authors, but I admit to having doubts they’d really publish sci-fi romance despite their submission guidelines listing “science fiction romance” as a category they’d consider.

Well, I was happy to be proven wrong. Author S.E. Gilchrist has two SFRs with Escape and I invited her aboard so we could learn more about her work. Being published is a longtime dream of hers and the bonus for us is that her chosen subgenre is SFR.

LEGEND BEYOND THE STARS was released by Escape in January 2013. I just love those larger-than-life titles! Enjoy the cover and blurb:



Seeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders.

But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

And now for my interview with S.E. Gilchrist!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

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SFR News & Links For March 2013


Yay, another busy month for science fiction romance! Here’s a roundup of this month’s releases and new. 

New releases
TIN CAT – Misa Buckley

A year after the accident that put her in a wheelchair, Amber Gerald has more or less gotten used to living with her impairment. It doesn’t make a difference to running a comic book store anyway, and the customers have been the best support group she could have wished for.

When she rescues an abandoned cat, Amber has no idea that she’s interfering in the mad scheme of a time travelling bank robber. Or that the man that walks into her store dressed like Blade is about to become her bodyguard.

Between being an unwitting owner of an android cat and falling for a cybernetic bounty hunter, Amber finds her life a whole new level of weird as science fiction becomes a very real factual threat.

TANGLED INDULGENCE (Celestial Surrender #3; erotic; space opera) - Tina Christopher