Sunday, June 29, 2014

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The Lesbians Are Coming: CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME

Knowing my interest in science fiction romance, a friend tipped me off that a film called CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME (2011) had just landed on Netflix. He said little more other than that the film was shot in the style of '50s pulp SF movies. I was like, "Okay, sure! I'll check it out."

That night, though I should have been getting ready for bed, I figured I'd watch a few minutes of the film. I didn't Google the title, read the description, or research it in any way. I simply pulled it up on Netflix. The poster definitely promised a campy parody of some kind:

Other than that, I had no idea what to expect. But I started watching it anyway because, you know, lesbian sci-fi romance! I hedged my bets, though, because with an unknown film it's safer to expect nothing regarding an upbeat ending.

I only meant to view about twenty minutes, but I wound up watching the whole thing! I couldn't tear my gaze away from it. CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME, my friends, is great stuff!

I don't expect anyone else to be quite as adventurous as me, so here's the description courtesy of instantwatcher.com:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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What Can SFR Offer To Readers With Disabilities?


SF Signal has a new-ish feature called Special Needs in Strange Worlds, "…a column focusing on celebrating disabilities in SFF. This column will focus on book reviews, author interviews, and guest posts to highlight the beauty and importance of our flaws."

Sarah Chorn's feature has helped inject some much-needed diversity into SF/F. That said, the title and description raise two concerns:

* use of the word "flaw" risks portraying disabled people as inferior overall

* to the adult disability community, "special needs" is code for "extraordinary" and "other" in a way that performs a function opposite that of inclusivity. Think of it like this: how often are the needs of disabled folks considered first when it comes to Internet and tech accessibility? Something to consider.

During one of my frequent visits to SF Signal, I noticed author Sharon Lynn Fisher's name pop up in one of the SNiSW posts. I was like, "Oh, cool! A sci-fi romance--wait a minute." I scratched my head. Something didn't seem right.

Then I saw the book that was the focus of the feature--THE OPHELIA PROPHECY. I had read that book. It's not a book with disabled characters. Believe me, I'd have blogged about it by now if it were. THE OPHELIA PROPHECY has biopunk and genetic engineering in a post-apocalyptic setting, but the characters are as non-disabled as they come.

To Ms. Fisher's credit, she noted in her post that "…none of the characters in my Tor book The Ophelia Prophecy have a disability in the conventional sense." And she reframes "special needs" as "physical challenges" in order to more accurately represent the characters. But it doesn't change the fact that her post lacks expected insights about disability. With a feature like SNiSW, the author of the post can make a real difference. For example, what kinds of insights might we have gained if a disabled reader had provided commentary about how, in THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, the heroine's memory loss is a disability experience?

The post made me realize how easy it is to inadvertently marginalize and erase books with disabled characters--even in a feature designed to bring them to light.

The post is also a misfire considering there are about a half-dozen SFRs that would have made a much better fit. Therefore, I decided this is a good time to have a conversation about disabled characters in SFR and what one actually looks like (or might look like). One, because readers with disabilities deserve to see themselves reflected far more often in this genre and two, SFR's relative youth means authors have a chance to chart a course, almost from the start, to accurate, sensitive, and thoughtful portrayals of disability.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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SFR Cover Reveal: PARADOX by P.J. Dean



I inhaled the first three books of P.J. Dean's The Felig Chronicles so I'm jazzed to give you the first look at the cover and blurb for book No. 4: PARADOX (September 15, 2014, eXtasy Books)!

Cover Design by Trisha Waters
This series offers an interracial romance, an alien invasion story, action-adventure, a heroine with style and sass, and a hero with a big secret. Each story develops the romance further, plus this highly character-driven series might appeal to readers who like their hero and heroine surrounded by a close-knit group of family and friends. While the sizzling romance falls solidly within genre conventions, it's surrounded by a completely unpredictable external plot--just how I like 'em!

Courtesy of the author, here's the series recap:

Monday, June 16, 2014

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Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly Seeks Review Copies, Plus A Few Thoughts About Promotion



Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly seeks review copies

Authors and publishers, if you've got a forthcoming SFR release as of June 2014, please consider submitting a review copy for possibly review in the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. We accept the following digital formats: PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.

Send files to me, Heather, at sfrgalaxy "at" gmail DOT com and I'll forward them to the editor.

Promotion of SFR & reader-centric spaces

I read something today which made me wonder if some authors of SFR have concerns about reader-centric SFR sites not having a promotion-friendly policy. Maybe this person was unaware of the reader-driven aspect? After all, that's been the philosophy behind a number of sites in the online SFR community. In fact, I've told many an author that I don't go for the hard sell here at TGE since this blog's main goal is being a resource site. And if anyone's going to aggressively hand-sell the genre on TGE it's going to be Super Fan me, gosh darn it! ;)

I can understand an author's frustration about the limited promotion venues available for SFR. Or should I say, affordable promotion venues. Given SFR's niche genre status, even readers know there's value in marketing because it translates to more choices. Alas, the opportunities have been perilously few.

But no one site can be all things to all readers/authors. I wonder also if maybe things get a little fuzzy--and hence frustrating or puzzling--when some authors are blogging, with their reader hats on, for an audience of readers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

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For Your Reading Pleasure: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #3



Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #3 is now out and available for download! Get your free copy of this action-packed science fiction romance magazine here (full disclosure: I'm one of the team behind the 'zine).
Here are some notable news items about issue 3:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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Tags For A Post-Apocalyptic SFR: NIGHT WHISPERS By Alisha Rai



Alisha Rai's NIGHT WHISPERS (Shadowlands #1; Samhain Publishing) is one of those books that straddles the fence between PNR and SFR. One reason is its near-future, post-apocalyptic setting. Another is the premise: a plague called the "Illness" has swept across the globe and renders victims--"Shadows"--into mindless zombies who feed on human blood in a vampire-like fashion. When humans weren't attacked by Shadows, they fell victim to nuclear attacks and a general infrastructure collapse.

I wasn't quite clear regarding how the plague started or why and I would have been interested in learning more. Who created the Illness and for what reason? How would the good gals and guys defeat it (presumably in future books)? The vagueness might even have been intentional, either to purposefully straddle the genre fence and/or to save the explanation for a future book.

Despite some ambiguities, I feel NIGHT WHISPERS nudges closer to SFR given the presence of secondary scientist characters, references to experiments, and various gadgets. Until I learn the Illness has supernatural origins, that's my speculation and I'm sticking to it!

I'm going to provide a few more non-spoiler tags so you can decide if NIGHT WHISPERS is up your alley, but first, here's the blurb:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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Turning Alien



The concept of human characters merging with aliens fascinates me. Versions of it include alien bonding (humans becoming hosts to alien entities) and human-to-alien or partial alien transformations. The latter often results from an alien infection, a physical appropriation of some kind, or genetic engineering. The process is intriguing and disturbing at the same time, especially when it gets kind of messy or involves bizarre alien appendages.

I don't recall my first exposure to this trope in books since my SF reading goes way back, but in film it probably began with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978). I'm also a fan of films like THE THING, ALIEN, DISTRICT 9, and THEY LIVE.

When the element is employed in SF, the results are frequently tragic and/or horrific. Humans the world over are pumped full of alien DNA and enslaved, the end. When extraordinary abilities develop as a result of the merge, the trope can fall under the category of superhuman SF. Many stories use alien bonding to explore various social and psychological themes.

When authors incorporate the alien bonding element into science fiction romance, sometimes there's a tragic element involved, but more often than not the idea of alien bonding is transformed into something with more hopeful and varied outcomes.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

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Interview With TO BE SINCLAIR Author Eva Caye



Author Eva Caye's To Be Sinclair saga has reached its finale with the release of MORALITY, the eighth book in her futuristic royalty-in-space series of sci-fi romances. Given the occasional lament that SFR lacks enough novel-length stories, I saw this as an opportunity to connect readers with the work of an author who's been contributing exactly that kind of content to the genre. Therefore, Eva Caye is aboard to tell us more about her epic series!

The Galaxy Express: What was the initial inspiration for your To Be Sinclair series?

Eva Caye: I wrote Dignity to deal with my depression.  I took the person I was (overstrung alpha, forced to make judgments every day) and began having conversations with the person I wanted to be (student of science, focused on learning how to get things done).  The pressure of those internal dialogues was so great, I began writing them down, and they developed into characters. By the time I had completed the rough draft of book one, I knew essentially what the entire series would be like.

TGE: What kind of setting can readers expect from the books?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

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Cover First Look: ECHO 8 By Sharon Lynn Fisher

Author Sharon Lynn Fisher's next sci-fi romance release is ECHO 8 (February 3, 2015; Tor) and she kindly sent me the cover image hot off the press!
Here's the (unofficial) blurb:

The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance as three lives entangle: Jake, a man shifted to an alternate Earth, where he must drain energy from others to survive. Tess, the parapsychologist trying to save him. Ross, the FBI agent torn between duty and his love for Tess.

ECHO 8 was also a 2011 RWA Golden Heart finalist.

And there's more! You can read the first chapter and find pre-order links on the author's site.

Enjoy!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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Interview With Scott Kroll of SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS



SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS: A Sci-Fi Romance Comics Anthology has reached funding success! (See my previous post about it here.) As of this post, the campaign raised funds beyond its original $9,000 goal. Pretty cool!
I invited project leader Scott Kroll aboard to share more information about what readers can look forward to in this unique, visually-rich anthology of romantic SF stories. Plus, feast your eyes on some of the art samples he provided!

The Galaxy Express: Describe the very first moment that inspiration hit for SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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Michelle Browne's Must-Read SFR Post At SFR Brigade

I had a post planned for tonight, but folks, you really ought to head over and read the one at SFR Brigade by Michelle Browne instead: Technowank vs. Character Drama: Which One is King?

Here's a taste:
Well, sci-fi romance is ultimately only as strong as its characters. It's why diversity is so important in media, and it's why those of us defending that get pretty up in arms about it. Some sci fi romance is probably not that well-written, but the same is true of the 'old-fashioned', 'traditional' technowank stuff that relies on shiny bits rather than character development. Ultimately, one or two or even ten bad books do not merit discarding an entire genre. Sci-fi romance needs a little more time to grow up and branch out, sure, but it's a very new subgenre. Ultimately, the potential of more explicitly character-driven sci-fi is really exciting.
Well said.

Thanks to L. for the heads up!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, June 1, 2014

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SFR News & Links For June 2014



New releases

MORALITY (To Be Sinclair #8) - Eva Caye


What can jolt an 18-year-old Princess from her worries about her sex life? Her training in Grandmother's secret stelluric science, of course!

Daughter of the most brilliant scientist on the planet, Princess Grace Encino-Sinclair fights to have a private life, quite difficult to achieve since she has been trained to so many Imperial secrets and is constantly followed by Sentinels. By using her scientific and political knowledge, as well as her consummate social skills, to balance Imperial needs and demands, her relentless duties see her dealing with one mind-boggling near-disaster after another, with objectivity but also with heart. When the most unthinkable assassination of all occurs and everything goes downhill from there, Grace suddenly finds herself the most highly trusted person in the Empire, the power behind the Imperial throne....

Discover the power of ladies as the backbone of Demesne society in this novel of social intrigues, ethics, and justice, as Princess Grace defines the true meaning of morality!

This science fiction romance is the final book of the eight-part To Be Sinclair series. The saga continues with NOBILITY and ends with MORALITY, which detail the romances and political struggles of the future Emperor and the power behind the throne. Several scenes describe sexually explicit behavior.

LANA'S COMET (Outer Settlement Agency) - Lyn Brittan

Drill Instructor Cyprus Dhoma lives and dies by the Outer Settlement Agency badge on his shoulder. Every soldier in the solar system wants to be him and just as well, he's trained half of 'em. But when a loud, obnoxious and completely insane recruit signs up for the next round of basic training, it'll test the famous control and reputation he's spent years building up.

Lana hates the military. Everything about OSA completely, totally and unredeemingly sucks - except for the hottie instructor with the bad attitude. He may be annoyed with her now, but she's on a secret mission and needs his help. It'll take a lot of work to bring him in line, but she'll be doggoned if she doesn't get him in tow. Besides, a man that cute shouldn't be that pissed off.

Interracial Sci-Fi Romance Futuristic Novella.

[Edited 6/5/14 to add the following title]

CORE PUNCH (mystery/crime) - Pauline Baird Jones


A kiss may be all they have life expectancy for.

When an inter-galactic cop exchange program serves up an alien partner for NONPD Detective Violet Baker, she can’t help wishing the handsome alien would be a little less Joe Friday about keeping the pleasure out of their business. Yeah, he’s kind of purple and she can’t pronounce his name to save her life, but he’s almost the only guy in the New Orleans New police department that she’s not related to. 

Dzholh “Joe” Ban!drn has come a long way hunting the evil that has infiltrated Vi’s floating city. When he meets his charming partner, he discovers another reason to stamp out evil. If only he wasn’t keeping so many secrets from her…

When an epic hurricane heads their way, they are sent dirt side to New Orleans Old (NOO) on a rescue mission. But murder and sabotage strands them in the heart of the raging storm. 

As they fight for their lives, Joe realizes that the evil he’s hunting is actually hunting them….
THE CONSORT (Tellaran Series) - Ariel MacArran

After spending a year enslaved by the Az-kye, Commander Kyndan Maere has good reason to hate them. On the eve of peace between the Tellaran Realm and the Az-kye Empire, Kyndan finds himself drawn into a duel for the hand of Alari, the First Imperial Daughter. When their passion ignites, Kyndan learns the only thing harder than winning this princess would be losing her . . .

QUEEN OF SWORDS (Sanctify #1) - Katee Robert

When the cards tell Ophelia Leoni she's supposed to marry the Prince of Hansarda, the gunrunner grits her teeth and boards the starship that comes for her. It doesn't matter if the ship's commander is the gorgeous stranger she just spent a wild, drunken night with. As a Diviner, she’s painfully aware the cards don't lie. Ever.

Boone O’Keirna knows Ophelia is trouble the second he sees the way she moves. Not about to let the little hellcat marry his sadistic half-brother, Boone pretends to be the Prince’s emissary and kidnaps Ophelia. Too bad they can’t be in the same room without him wanting to throw her out an airlock–or into bed.

Even as they fight each other–and their explosive attraction–Ophelia and Boone sense something is wrong. Too much is going their way. Soon, they realize while the cards may never lie, the truth is sometimes hidden between them...and the future king of Hansarda is not one to take defeat lying down.

ON HER WATCH (Don't Tell #2) - Rie Warren


The year is 2071 and all hell has broken loose. As the government tries to control the territories that were once the United States, an armed rebellion erupts . . .

AWOL from her military post, Lieutenant Liz Grant will do anything for the rebels she now calls friends. Her latest mission: return to the Beta Corps army and obtain classified information that could turn the battle in the revolutionaries’ favor. There’s only one problem: Commander Linc Cutler.

Strong, coldly handsome, and always in control, Linc is perplexed by the beautiful soldier brought in for questioning. He doesn’t know if he believes her explanation for why she went missing. He only knows his intense sexual desire for her cannot be denied.

Awards

Courtesy of Love in the Margins, I learned about the Swirl Awards. Mission statement: "…the Swirl Awards was created to promote romance without color barriers!"

SENSORY OVERLOAD, an erotic SFR by Areana Senoj, is among the finalists! Check out the complete list here.

Resource on diversity

For authors interested in diversifying their sci-fi romances, here's an in-depth article about Alternate Visions: Some Musings on Diversity in SF. The article contains many great insights as well as possible inspirations for characters and settings.

Never give up, never surrender!

In Selling the Moon Buggy (On Rejections, Part III), Laurie A. Green (Spacefreighters Lounge) provides personal examples to illustrate why mainstream print publishers are wary of releasing more science fiction romance:

So the problem, as I understand it, is that these publishers do not see science fiction and romance working together. They must have forgotten that classic commercial about mixing chocolate and peanut butter, huh? Or is it possible that they experimented with the merger and it didn't work out for them? Peanut allergies, mayhap?

In short, they don't yet know how to sell SFR. It'll probably take a runaway bestseller from the digital-first indie realm to show them the money.

New "SF Obscure" feature at Smart Girls Love SciFi & Paranormal Romance

RK launched a new "SF Obscure" feature in which she will "…try to track down some of the SF/Fantasy shows and actors of yesteryear. (some series maybe best forgotten, but always good for a laugh)." First stop, THE SECRETS OF ISIS!

I have fond memories of that show and RK's post reminds me that I need to revisit it on DVD since I have ISIS in my collection!

Mark your calendars

Issue #3 of the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly releases on June 15!

Now I turn the mike over to you. Got any SFR news/links to share?

Joyfully yours,
Heather