Thursday, May 29, 2014

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My SFR Snapshot



I'd like to share a snapshot of a few of my recent sci-fi romance activities. And away we go…

I sampled G.S. Jennsen's STARSHINE (Aurora Rising #1). Plot tags include space opera, thriller, mystery, action-adventure, and political intrigue. Heroine is a pilot and the sample hinted at a coming-of-age thread for her. From what I've read, this series will appeal to readers who enjoy hard SF elements and romantic SF (especially since the romance doesn't kick in at the same time as the external plot).

You can read the prologue and first chapter excerpt at the author's site.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Is Sci-Fi Romance Really All That Difficult To Write?

At Love in the Margins, Ridley posted a recap of her visit to the 2014 RT Booklover's Convention. She attended a few panels, including one about science fiction:
SCI-FI: It’s Not Your Mama’s Science Fiction!
Moderator:
Linnea Sinclair
Panelist(s):
Catherine Asaro, Jenna Bennett, Ilsa J. Bick, Mary Robinette Kowal, Beth Revis, Sarah Zettel

 
The title for this panel was basically the worst (I mean, my mom’s a big Bradbury fan, are you saying there’s something wrong with Bradbury?) but I’m a romance reader who’s used to awful packaging and I didn’t let it deter me. I wish I had better hearing and a way to take notes for this one. My spot in the back was next to a door to a busy hall and a couple of the panelists were really soft-spoken so I missed a lot. What I did catch, I enjoyed, especially their answers about world-building, truly getting into the different mindset of a SFF character and why paranormal romance is just about impossible to do well and find the right balance of romance and world-building. I also liked Sarah Zettel’s comments about how she made a veiled Muslim woman a starship owner and engineer as the heroine of her book. It was a response to the xenophobia and racism she saw in the wake of the Gulf War and “I couldn’t do anything to stop racism, but I could send a Muslim woman into space.”
One line in particular caught my eye: "… why paranormal romance is just about impossible to do well and find the right balance of romance and world-building."

That statement reminded me of a similar sentiment regarding science fiction romance, one I've run across periodically over the years. Specifically, how challenging it is to combine SF and romance in just the right mix. I've blogged about the issue several times and there have been multiple conversations about it in the SFR online community. And when I encountered it yet again in Ridley's recap, a pattern jumped out at me.

Why *is* there such a strong belief that writing an SFR is a difficult achievement?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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Sci-Fi Romances With “Extranormal” Characters

At the Goodreads Sci-Fi Romance discussion group Talk Genre: Sci-Fi Romance vs. Paranormal Romance, user Jo Jones asked for book recommendations featuring “extranormal” characters.

This is a new-to-me term, and I’ve been having little success Googling an exact definition. I’m guessing it refers to characters with mild-moderate superhuman abilities (e.g., a person with telekinetic abilities). I did discover the term is associated with DC Comics and its Department of Extranormal Operations.

Jo Jones’ question made me wonder if any science fiction romances feature extranormal characters. I reflected on various titles and came up with a list of possibilities (assuming my interpretation of the term is correct).

The origins of character abilities in the books I selected range from genetic engineering to natural-born gifts. Most books feature human characters. I included a few books featuring alien, humanoid characters and alien-human hybrids since their abilities are on mild-moderate levels. I’m not sure if “extranormal” applies to alien characters, though, so anyone in the know is welcome to enlighten me!

Some of the stories have a definite comic book superhero tone, such as Tatiana Caldwell's WAY OUT OF CONTROL, Corrina Lawson's PHOENIX RISING, and Sherly Nantus' BLAZE OF GLORY. 

Also, some of the books fall more into the erotic SFR category, so the characters don’t necessarily use their powers for battling a villain or defeating an external threat. The titles also vary widely in terms of settings, length, and heat levels.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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Kickstarter Campaign: SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS: A Sci-fi Romance Comics Anthology

This looks promising: A Kickstarter campaign launched for a project called SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS: A Sci-fi Romance Comics Anthology. I had recently done a search on “scifiromance” on Twitter and the project’s handle popped up (SciFiRomanceCom).

As far as I could determine, the romance side of the stories could end on a variety of notes--upbeat, tragic, or somewhere in-between. So it might help to approach this anthology as romantic SF rather than from a romance genre convention angle.

I’m looking forward to checking out the stories and the art looks very cool. If this venture inspired a greater expansion of SFR into the comics medium, that'd be nothing short of super!

As of this post, the campaign reached over half of its funding. Here’s the press release so you can learn more about it:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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New Coffee Time Romance Steampunk Post

Meljean Brook's THE KRAKEN KING, a serialized steampunk romance, ought to have been a routine release. Yet it provoked strong responses among some romance readers.

Read all about it in my latest column at the steampunk page of Coffee Time Romance: Steampunk Romance and the Question of Serials.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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"Our Dream Anthologies" MIND MELD at SF Signal

The subject of this week's SF Signal MIND MELD is Our Dream Anthologies. I contributed an entry--can you guess what my theme is?! (Hint: it has something to do with science fiction romance.)

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, May 11, 2014

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Worldbuilding: Cultural Diversity in SFR by Christie Meierz


[Christie Meierz is the author of THE MARANN, which I blogged about here. DAUGHTERS OF SURALIA, the second book in her Tales of Tolari Space series, is now out from Sky Warrior Books. In light of the release, I invited Ms. Meierz aboard to blog about an SFR-related topic. She’s here to share her approach to worldbuilding.]

Worldbuilding: Cultural Diversity in SFR by Christie Meierz
 
I read the post here on diversity in SFR, and it started me thinking about the universe I created in my Tales of Tolari Space series, The Marann (winner of a 2013 PRISM award) and Daughters of Suralia. For those who haven’t read them, these two novels take place 24 light-years away on the lightly-populated Beta Hydri IV, known as Tolar to its humanoid inhabitants, who look like the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains of North America. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

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Catherine Asaro's AURORA IN FOUR VOICES Audiobook Kickstarter Campaign

Author Catherine Asaro (ALPHA) launched a Kickstarter campaign to create an audiobook of her anthology AURORA IN FOUR VOICES, a collection of various novellas and short stories. Here's the lowdown:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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Link: C.E. Kilgore On Dubious Consent in Science Fiction Romance

Author C.E. Kilgore wrote an intense post called Dubious Consent: Sci-Fi Romance’s Dirty Little Secret (beware triggers). Here’s an excerpt:
What I will do, is turn the spot light on my own main genre, Science Fiction Romance, and bring to discussion a subject matter that I find even worse than poorly-handled rape in fiction. It’s called Dubious Consent, and for some reason I haven’t been able to figure out, it has become a commonly used trope in our genre. This makes me sad and a bit angry. I think we sci-fi romance writers are smarter than this. I think we can do better…

...Dubious consent is a trope that needs to die.
I left a post comment already. What do you think? Head on over and share your thoughts.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Friday, May 2, 2014

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We Need Diverse Books In Science Fiction Romance

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is in full swing, fueled in large part because of the recent BookCon fiasco.

Diversity in science fiction romance has been on my mind a lot, so I figured now was a great time to share a few thoughts on the subject (and work in a reference to a great cause, heh).

As one can discern from my Revisiting People of Color in Sci-Fi Romance post, this genre could benefit from more diversity. That includes PoC, LGBQT, and disabled characters. Sci-fi romance is a relatively young genre, but eventually diversity should be so common that a list of available titles becomes unnecessary (and impractical!).

Many SFR books feature aliens, but aliens do not equal People of Color. Alien characters can be used to explore oppression, racism, and marginalization, but they don't count as routine diversity. Neither should white characters be the only ones privileged enough to join with an alien lover.

The lack of diverse SFR characters is also glaring in light of the fact that many stories occur in a far future and often progressive setting. Unless an author presents a specific, compelling reason for having an all-white cast of able-bodied, cisgendered characters, there's no excuse to exclude PoC, queer, and disabled characters on a regular basis across the entire genre.

Does SFR really want to send the message that the only people deserving of love and romance are white, cisgendered people?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

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SFR News & Links For May 2014


Feast your eyes and mind on the delightful selection of science fiction romance releases this month!

New releases

Voodoo 'n' Vice: Galactic Alliance #3 - K.C. Burn

After nearly causing a galactic incident, fleet captain Gideon Arcturus is disgraced, demoted and exiled with nothing to do but pass the time at a seedy club on seedier planet Elora Ki. It's no place for a straight-laced soldier, but following the rules is what got him there in the first place. When he meets a mesmerizing fire dancer, he'd do anything to get close to the flame.

Tai doesn't date customers--it's far too dangerous for a man who was once for sale. But the shy, awkward Gideon entices him, and the two spend Gideon's leave tangled together, neither knowing the passion that stirs within them won't soon subside.

When a violent drug lord forces Tai back into slavery, Tai has no choice but to give up his new love. But when Gideon learns that Tai's fate lies with those who brought about his own ruin, he'll need to revisit his own difficult past in order to save them both.

A Heart For Copper – Sharon Lynn Fisher
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SFR Brigade Bounty at the 2014 Brenda Novak Online Auction For Diabetes Research

Courtesy of the SFR Brigade, you can bid on a fabulous selection of sci-fi romance goodies (including a few books by yours truly) as part of the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research:
This year, the SFR Brigade is throwing their creative forces behind the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research by sponsoring a category of science fiction and space exploration related bounty.

The bidding fun begins this Thursday, May 1st, and runs through the entire month of May for most items, with special one-day offerings and big-ticket item drawings happening as part of the main auction.
Full details at Spacefreighters Lounge.

Happy bidding!

Joyfully yours,

Heather