Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Can Sci-Fi Romance Imagine Its Way Out of the Patriarchy?

Lady Business featured a post by author Kameron Hurley (THE MIRROR EMPIRE) called Gender, Family, Nookie: The Speculative Frontier. The title hinted at possible relevancy for sci-fi romance, so I read it. The gist of her piece is below:

I write about consent cultures. Matriarchies. Third genders. I write about futures at war, and at peace. Futures powered by bugs, or star magic, or Thundercats. If I'm writing about the limits of things, then I must step out of the narrow narrative boxes of broader media and many of my colleagues and seek out stuff that pushes at that, poking at it with a stick until it all comes undone. I read widely, and build on the work from the fringes that came before me — Geoff Ryman, Candas Jane Dorsey, Samuel Delany, Joanna Russ, and new work by folks like Jacqueline Koyanagi and Benjanun Sriduangkaew that challenges what we consider "normal" human relationships and gendered ways of being.

I found much of the article to be insightful since it's relevant to the overall potential of SFR (certainly one of fiction's "fringe" territories). Goodness knows I and others have discussed similar issues time and again over the years. Have you read "Beyond the Patriarchy: Breaking Free of Entrenched Gender Constraints in the SFR Genre" by Jody Wallace (Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #3, June 13, 2014)? It's one of the best non-fiction pieces on SFR I've read so far this year. Here's a snippet:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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In Case You Missed Them: 15 Posts About Sci-Fi Romance Films

I've blogged about a fair number of SFR and romantic SF films that I'd seen, so I decided to compile them into a handy reference list. I'm presenting them in order of "best to worst" in terms of my personal taste, which is another way of saying your mileage may vary. Extremely, in some cases. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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2 Discounted Ebook Downloads: QUINTEN'S REVENGE and QUINTEN'S CHOICE by KS Augustin (Limited-time offer)

From August 21-31, 2014, you can buy two ebooks by KS Augustin at 50% off!

Her space operas QUINTEN'S REVENGE (2013) and QUINTEN'S CHOICE (2014 - new release!) will be half-price for those using Limited Run or Gumroad using the discount code “4ksaugustinreaders.”

Here are the covers and blurbs so you can learn more:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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Two SFR #Protips

While taste is subjective, sci-fi romance, like any genre, has areas of ongoing growth and development. Many authors, at least according to various posts I've read, are committed to offering readers a great entertainment value. The way I see it, a commitment to craft isn't about achieving perfection--because art doesn't roll like that--but rather, about using techniques to the best of one's ability that can help make one's SFR more accessible and engaging--and not just in terms of the science.

The most plausible technological elements in the world aren't going to hold my attention if the story's subtext strikes me as problematic in some way. And that right there is a reason SFR can be viewed as one response to the historic dearth of character-driven/relationship-themed science fiction stories. SFR is an area of growth for SF and is helping to increase its appeal.

During my recent reading experience, I encountered two areas of potential growth for SFR:

1) One book used "race" and "species" interchangeably when referring to the alien characters. They mean different things:

race - "a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation."

Despite the pervasiveness of "race=alien" (particularly in North American culture), race is largely a social construct. By using "race" instead of "species" to describe aliens, sci-fi romance risks presenting alien characters as symbolic of a) anyone who isn't American/white, and b) People of Color--as in PoC are alien (i.e., strange/different) to white people.

Precise language is important because it helps avoid offending readers--and these days, one's readers could hail from anywhere in the world.

2) I've blogged about the use of contemporary slang in SFR before, but it's been cropping up again in my reading. Aside from intentional usage, such as stylized space westerns or characters who are designed in an obvious way as "friends of Old Earth," contemporary slang (especially in futuristic settings) can pull readers out of a story. The same goes for description using cultural shorthand.

When authors were only selling in the North American market, the slang/shorthand might have gone unnoticed by many readers. But now, with a global market within everyone's reach, this is an area where SFR authors can consider stepping up their game. Can they assume all of their readers will understand a story's cultural references? If not, it might be a sign to examine one's reliance on them (at least the more distinctive ones).

Curbing the use of cultural shorthand and creating story-specific slang puts more readers on a level playing field and helps make stories more accessible. I like to think of it as meeting readers in the middle, wherever we happen to live. :)

What would you consider to be other areas of potential growth for SFR, especially considering the increasingly global market?

Joyfully yours,


Sunday, August 17, 2014

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Interview With D.J. Davis, Author of WHILE YOU WERE AWAY

It's always a thrill to help introduce a debut science fiction romance author, and this time it's D.J. Davis, author of WHILE YOU WERE AWAY (Red Sage Publishing)! I'd known about this book's existence for over a year now, so it's wonderful to finally witness its publication.

I invited D.J. Davis aboard so we could learn more about him and his book, which promises space opera, action-adventure, and of course, romance! But first, here's the cover and blurb for WHILE YOU WERE AWAY:

Kev Thorsin has returned from a twenty-year war campaign across the stars to find that his own world has been overthrown by a corrupt regime ruling with an iron fist.  His fiancĂ©, Rianna Elain, is in the thick of it with a group of freedom fighters known as Libertas headed by the charismatic Terrill Briggs.  They are on the run from a noose that closes tighter each day and may soon find themselves behind bars, or worse.  Yet Kev knows of a place where they can live in safety, if he can just evade Tetraparagon forces long enough to find his love, acquire a ship, and grab stars—a task easier said than done.

 And now for my interview with D.J. Davis!

The Galaxy Express: What sparked your interest in science fiction/fantasy/romance?