For your reading pleasure, I’m presenting this year’s list of forthcoming science fiction romance titles. From steampunk to space opera to post-apocalyptic, from space pirates to cyborgs to genetically enhanced superhumans, there’s a wide variety of settings, characters, and romance to satisfy readers of all tastes.
I strove to provide a comprehensive list, but it’s possible I missed a few titles. Therefore, this post is also a call for titles and release dates. Authors, please leave a comment about any forthcoming titles as the information becomes available and I will update the list. You can also email me with the information: sfrgalaxy “at” gmail.com.
Please help spread the word—let no science fiction romance go unread!
I’ve included a few erotic science fiction romance stories whose information came my way. If anyone has the 411 on a complete list and is willing to host it on her site, I’ll happily link to it here.
I control the lives and the brains of all the inhabitants here! I keep them alive as I see fit, just as a shepherd controls the sheep, and then, at any moment, shears the sheep!
--2XL (Evil Robot Villain)
I’ve seen many bad science fiction films in my lifetime. They’re not easy to avoid even if one is just a casual fan of the genre. What do I mean by “bad”? My definition includes but is not limited to poor production values despite a decent premise; a lame premise altogether; mediocre screenplay; abuse of SF tropes or one riddled with clichés; and bad acting.
Some films are so bad they’re good while others are just bad, bad, BAD.
Up until presently, I thought psycho schlock like MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (financed by a Texas fertilizer salesman) represented the worst of the worst. And with fare like SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, ROBOT MONSTER (a film that was so cheap, they swapped their planned robot invasion force with some guy in a musty old gorilla suit—and thought no one would notice), and MARS NEEDS WOMEN under my SF belt, I thought I’d seen the depths of Dante’s cinematic depths. But recently, one film proved me so very wrong.
STAR WARS made its grand debut in 1977, a truly seminal year for both science fiction and for cinema. But it wasn’t alone. Lucas’ epic begat many other films vying for a taste of those Wookie dollars. BATTAGLIE NEGLI SPAZI STELLARI (a.k.a. WAR IN SPACE; BATTLE OF THE STARS; and too many other titles) was the other epic intergalactic adventure born that year.
The “story” is about a “handsome,” brash starship captain who leads his crew to a mysterious planet in order to investigate an equally enigmatic message from deep space. There’s also a bossy computer named "WHIZ," and…ah Buddha only knows what the heck this story is about. Just count me fortunate that I didn’t have to write the plot synopsis on the back of the DVD package.
Now if you’ve never heard of it, no worries—there are about a thousand reasons why. Say, let me share some of them with you! Check out a sample:
If it seems like that clip makes little, if any, sense, it’s not because you’re seeing it out of context—that’s actually the first three minutes of the film! Does it get better? Well that depends on your point of view regarding masochism. And keep in mind, this was produced in 1977—not 1960—despite that appearance.
One could say that WAR IN SPACE makes PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE look like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in comparison, and one would be absolutely right. I’ve never seen a film where everything about it was horrible all across the board. This film boasted such atrocious cinematography and was so badly lit that some scenes—if not half—were literally blanketed in darkness. Director Alfonso Brescia had apparently never acquainted himself with the term shot composition as all too frequently the camera would be pointed at an area of dead space between two characters (some of whom were facing opposite directions!).
Hmm, interesting mise-en-scène. I’m sure Michelangelo Antonioni would be quietly weeping impressed. (Interesting side note about Brescia: The guy actually did several films with SFR elements, I kid you not.)
The special effects, while almost recognizable at times, went so absurdly south as the film progressed that I kid you not, the villain is nothing more than some kid’s toy robot. (See below. Yes, that's really it.) The dialogue (going by the dubbed version) was so incoherent it seemed as though the voice actors had ad-libbed the entire thing (which they probably did...over several empty Jägermeisters).
Well, since WAR IN SPACE screwed up so royally as far as the science fictional elements and production values, what about the romance? It seemed to have multiple romances unfolding…or rather, sprouting up with virtually zero set up and going nowhere fast. One neat bit did include a computer program whereby couples could lie down side by side (twin beds, of course) and make passionate virtual love. That is, if you can get past the wonky, badly dubbed dialogue and space discothèque backdrop. But hey, the hot lovin' was there!
This wacky BARBARELLA sex device, which resembles a miniature Death Star, projects its funky 60s patterns on the walls and…evidently does something else as well (I’m not trying to be coy here; it’s just literally never revealed). What’s the name of this cosmic love device? Why it’s the (wait for it) “Cosmic Love.” Yep, that’s really it. Thought long and hard on that name, didn’t you boys?
But wait! There's more: When I envision or read about military protocol aboard a starship bridge, it never, ever includes personnel milling about like they’re at a bloody cocktail party. I suppose it doesn’t really matter with this film because none of their duties were even explained. It’s also the most crowded bridge I’ve ever seen depicted on film—chairs are practically flush against each other like a perfect set of teeth. And get this—women and men would laugh and even make eyes at each other during the most inappropriate times—like when one of their fellow crew members is about to die. I feel the romance here...!
Incidentally, WAR IN SPACE never found distribution in the United States at the time it was released in Italy. Gee, I wonder why…?
But the real reason I wanted to share WAR IN SPACE with you was the realization that bad films like these actually affirm how much I enjoy science fiction romance in all of its incarnations. It’s hard enough to pull off a bad film or book. It’s something else altogether to pull off a quality piece of entertainment, one that becomes infinitely more than the sum of its parts.
Thank you for sharing science fiction romance with me in 2009. Now, The Galaxy Express rumbles onward through time and space in search of further adventures. The year 2010 has a very nice ring to it.
Science fiction romance has an awful lot of nooks and crannies. They’re yummy in an English muffin, but even better as an unexpected discovery. That point was driven home for me recently after I finished Ellie Marvel’s erotic science fiction romance novella HEAT (from the anthology SECRETS #22, Red Sage Publishing). The back cover copy explains that the story is about Tarkin, “a mild-mannered alien guy” who “goes into heat” and “the only compatible female around is a rough and tumble Terran mining specialist” by the name of Sarai.
Now, I didn’t read the back cover copy initially. The story is set in the same universe as Ms. Marvel’s MEGAN’S CHOICE so I knew I would enjoy it, plus I like to be surprised. So it didn’t strike me until well into the story that holy guacamole, this is a science fiction romance version of pon farr! Pon farr refers to that period of time every seven years in which a Vulcan character from STAR TREK goes into heat, at which time he/she must mate or die. The concept made its first appearance in the STAR TREK original series episode Amok Time, which was written by Theodore Sturgeon. In that episode, Mr. Spock enters a pon farr cycle and excitement ensues.
Other instances of pon farr in Star Trek include an episode with the character T'Pol (STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE); with Tuvok from STAR TREK: VOYAGER; and with Ensign Vorik, also from VOYAGER.
Fan fiction is another source of pon farr stories. That’s where you’ll find the science fiction romance angle, because the authors present pon farr as a natural and positive occurrence, as opposed to the Star Trek series and films, which imply that a Vulcan going into heat is a source of embarrassment or an abnormality. Most notable among the fan fiction offerings is Jean Lorrah’s THE NIGHT OF THE TWIN MOONS (1976). In this tale, “Amanda Grayson [Spock’s mom!] teaches [her husband] Sarek and then other Vulcan couples to enjoy pon farr and to accept their physical and emotional natures.”
Now, I’m guessing—and it’s just a guess, mind you, but a pretty good one, I think—Paramount, which owns the Star Trek franchise, is unlikely to release a film wholly devoted to Mr. Spock or another Vulcan navigating a pon farr cycle and falling in love (poop on them, I say!). That is why we must search among the nooks and crannies for our science fiction romance. Ellie Marvel wrote a story that, while completely unrelated to Star Trek, explores the themes of the emotionally repressed archetype.*
You know, characters like Spock, Data, and 7 of 9 of Star Trek, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten (GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair), Reef (HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS by Susan Grant), , Teal'C (STARGATE, SG-1), and many of Catherine Asaro’s Jagernaut characters (e.g., Sauscony Valdoria from PRIMARY INVERSION). When it comes to the emotionally repressed heroes, heroines—and by extension, readers—relish the challenge of winning over such an emotionally distant lover.
Like Ellie Marvel’s HEAT, this is a great opportunity for authors to explore the possibilities of mild-mannered beta heroes in SFR. These brainy beaus have locked their emotions away, but look out, since because of a science fictional element/worldbuilding concept, this type of hero can transform into a hawt sex machine! What a splendorous secret for the heroine to unlock. And only she has the ability to look past the hero’s dispassionate side and embrace his unleashed emotions—not to mention his wildfire sex drive. Lucky gal!
Know any other stories that go where pon farr has never gone before?
I’ll be on hiatus for the holidays. I’ll resume blogging on 12/27 and the 12/29, but will take another break on New Year’s Eve (however, January 1, 2010, is another story! It is, after all, the year we make contact! ;)
Therefore, I’m presenting an extra round up of science fiction romance related links to wind up the year. In November 2009, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s science fiction romance BORN OF FIRE hit the NYT bestseller list. So sorry I missed reporting this news in a timely manner, but you can read an overview of the author's success in A Champion is Born at Spacefreighters Lounge. Sherrilyn Kenyon's journey demonstrates how challenging the market has been for SFR—which makes success stories like hers all the sweeter. At any rate, congratulations to Sherrilyn Kenyon! (Thanks to Susan Grant for the link to Ms. Kenyon's post).
Speaking of Susan Grant, in May 2010, Dorchester Publishing is re-releasing three of Susan Grant’s books with all new covers:
Congratulations to Linnea Sinclair (HOPE’S FOLLY) and Robin D. Owens (ECHOES IN THE DARK), both of whom are Romantic Times 2009 nominees for Best Futuristic/Fantasy Romance. Yay!
Speaking of Linnea Sinclair, she guest blogged at The Book Smugglers as part of Thea & Ana’s annual Smugglivus event. While there, you can catch up with author Nalini Singh to find out what books she read in 2009 along with an update on her current projects.
Oh, and speaking of Linnea Sinclair again (!), she blogs about the intersection of military SF worldbuilding and characterization in AN OFFICER AND…
Io9 bloggedriffed about the cover of Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s futuristic vampire romance THOSE OF MY BLOOD. Regardless of the reactions to the cover, the well-informed author referred to Ms. Lichtenberg as a “science-fiction romance author.” Boo-yah! (Thanks to Lisa Paitz Spindler for the link.)
Galaxy Express passenger Athena Andreadis wrote an insightful piece on why I will never eat at McDonald's again since the last chicken nugget I consumed there was full of nasty gristle how "dominant tropes of contemporary speculative fiction reflect the malaise and distrust of science..." in Science Fiction Goes McDonald's: Less Taste, More Gristle. She reflects on the importance of both story and "convincing, consistent worldbuilding":
"There have been recent lamentations within the tribe about SF losing ground to fantasy, horror and other "lesser" cousins. Like all niche genres, speculative fiction further marginalizes itself by creating arbitrary hierarchies that purport to reflect intrinsic worth but in fact enshrine unexamined cultural values: hardcover self-labeled hard SF preens at the top, written mostly by boys for boys; print-on-demand SF romance skulks at the bottom, written almost exclusively by girls for girls (though the increasing proportion of female readership is exerting significant pressure on the pink ghetto walls).
The real problem is not that science is hard to portray well in SF. The problem is impoverished imagination, willful ignorance and endless repetition of recipes. In short: failure of nerve. Great SF stories are inseparable from the science in them. A safe, non-demanding story is unlikely to linger in the readers' memory or elicit changes in their thinking."
Athena Andreadis also has two stories in Crossed Genres: Dry Rivers & Planetfall. She wrote about the backstory of this larger universe here.
“…Thanks to Henry’s Law the drastic change in pressure would cause all the liquid in your body to evaporate at once, from your saliva to your blood to your urine. Because of this, your body expands to about twice its size, while you slip into unconsciousness (don’t worry, the whole process takes about fifteen seconds).Within a few minutes all the liquids and vapors remaining in your body will be sucked out into the void, leaving a dried husk of a corpse behind. And no, not all of this is speculation, as a couple of astronauts have actually come close to going through this whole ordeal and were quickly rescued.”
Simultaneously fascinating and sobering. (Thanks to Kathryn B. for the link.)
If you’ve been considering self-publishing your science fiction romance, check out Moriah Jovan: My Path to Self-Publishing over at Babbling About Books, and More. It’s a no-holds-barred look at the realities and rewards of an alternate publishing route.
The Dirty Sexy Book Club announced the pick for its steampunk book discussion, SOULLESS by Gail Carriger. The January discussion will kick off 1/18/10. If you haven’t read SOULLESS yet but want to discuss other steampunk books, there’ll be a general book discussion held the following week.
This blog post by Dorchester editor Leah Hultenschmidt appeared back in the spring, but I thought it would interest you in light of our recent discussions. In Future of Futuristics, Ms. Hultenschmidt contemplates:
"We’ve had some in-house chatting this week, wondering if the label “futuristic,” ironically enough, has become outdated. There’s definitely been a drop in submissions and a resulting drop in published books. Has it become passe, eclipsed by urban fantasy? Or is it just time to refresh and revamp?"
Say, I've got the memo right here—refresh and revamp is in the house!
So, my terrific passengers, do you have any SFR news? Any special plans for the holidays? What are you going to watch, read, and eat?
Entertainment Weekly interviewed James Cameron for its December 18 issue (#1081). Since I intend to see AVATAR in a theater, I've not been following much coverage of his much anticipated science fiction CGI spectacular which opens this weekend. However, EW is good about alerting readers to spoilers, so when there wasn't one given for this interview, I read on.
Then, one quote of Cameron's in particular caught my attention like flies to honey:
"EW: Despite the guns and explosions and robots, your movies usually have an element of romance and a strong female protagonist, like Ripley in Aliens or Sarah Connor in the Terminator movies. Where does that impulse come from?
Cameron: First of all, last time I checked, women were 50 percent of the population. And when you're making a movie that costs over $200 million, you don't want to have a target audience. Your target audience is people with a pulse and $15--or even just $15. [Laughs] Secondly, I like women. I like how they think. I like how they see the world. The funny thing is, with Avatar I set out to do a pretty male adventure movie: a stranger in a strange land encountering this other culture. But in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, 'Well, in my life, the way I've learned the most is through relationships.' I've always found that lovers tend to be teachers. So I took that idea and made the story. What we found as we were editing the film was that the emotion was so strong, we just said, 'F-- it, it's a love story.'"
Tears burned in my eyes after I read that quote. James Cameron may not call his film science fiction romance, but he gets it. He really gets what the sub-genre is all about. If AVATAR becomes as popular as TITANIC, science fiction romance will have a totally boss wave to catch.
Check out the trailer:
Hence, this will be our AVATAR discussion post. Do you plan to see it? What are your thoughts about the trailer? When you have seen it, come on back and share your impressions.
If you’ve been hanging around this blog for any length of time, you know that yours truly has a thing for space pirates—especially space pirate heroines. I’m eagerly anticipating Susan Grant’s forthcoming science fiction romance SUREBLOOD, the next book in her Borderlands series. Why? Because it’s going to feature a space pirate heroine! (Oh, yeah, and the hero’s a pirate, too.) Naturally, such elements imply loads of gritty adventures, space battles, and a fiery romance.
So one would think the cover of such an SFR should entice the reader with all of that excitement, right? I even blogged about which elements would make a really cool cover for this book in Can This Harlequin Cover Be Saved?. Well, if you responded “yes,” then think again. The art & marketing department of romance publisher Harlequin has other plans for SUREBLOOD’s cover.
And hoo boy, you may want to cover your eyes: My very first reaction: Whoa, the guy looks like he just stepped out of the shower. This is a clean, professional looking cover…for deodorant/cologne/soap packaging.
In short, this proposed cover for SUREBLOOD is definitely a Cover Fail. It made me wonder what kind of alternate universe did the art and marketing department staffers inhabit. One without space pirate stories? The cover may be professional, but in my opinion, it’s totally bland—especially given the book’s action adventure content. Can you say massive disconnect, boys and girls? I had such high hopes for this cover. Color me disappointed—and mightily frustrated.
Where are the space pirates promised by the jacket copy? The cover conveys erotic romance to me. I recall that author Linnea Sinclair had a similar issue with the initial mock-ups for her new covers—they screamed erotic romance. Which is all well and fine if the story is an erotic romance. (Even then, plenty of digital publishers releasing erotic SFR manage to insert at least one science fictional element, so kudos to them.) All the more, I’m convinced that regarding SFR, Man Titty Does Not Compute.
Perhaps it’s a sign of these difficult economic times that romance publishers are ratcheting up the man titty/erotic romance campaigns. Seems like in order to capture as many sales as possible, they are attempting to appeal to every single romance reader regardless of individual taste (but all readers swoon for man titty cover? Really?). In the end, they will end up pleasing a number that in my totally biased opinion will fall short of potential.
Sexy and romantic covers? Great, awesome—why not a clinch cover for SUREBLOOD, with a starry background, perhaps? A fiercely accessorized, sexy space heroine with generous cleavage would be a great draw for male readers. Why do historical romances get clear historical visual cues and books like these don’t? Ghettoization of SFR? Yes, in part, along with the corporate mentality that dictates standardization of art.
Is this cover fiasco another indication that romance publishers think their female readers are idiots when it comes to science fiction romance? Maybe Harlequin thinks the stories are both too science fictional and too exotic for readers to enjoy. Gah. I want to believe it’s more of a profit issue, namely, the need for a book cover to have wide appeal.
But clearly, this cover indicates the Harlequin art/marketing department has no faith in the book itself to drive sales, or in the core fan base that would drive the buzz. They simply don’t want readers to know what lieth between the covers. They have your money, so why should they care?
Did you hear the one about DC Comics? Once upon a time, the publishing suits decided that they would commission artists to drum up fetching covers...first. Later, they would then direct the writers to craft a story based (loosely or not) on the cover, which the powers-at-be had deemed worthy enough to attract higher sales. See the cover below from 1977? This one of these, drawn by comics extraordinaire Neal Adams.
Kryptonite implanted in Superman’s body? He’s going to die but kill somebody first?? Where do I sign up?? It is an eye-catching cover, especially if you’re a 12-year-old boy (the intended audience at the time). But, the story inside doesn’t even come close to measuring up to this dramatic scene. If fact, it hardly even references it. Even those 12-year-olds recognized they had been conned, as seen in some angry letters to the editor a few issues later.
This raises an important question: what exactly are publishers trying to sell to readers? Is just all about the cover? When did the story become such an afterthought? When did it become such an invisible commodity?
Another underlying reason for such a bait-and-switch tactic may be the one that no one wants to admit: poorly-performing books. Or—*shuddering at the thought*—poor quality science fiction romance. Has Harlequin been burned so badly by one of its past SFR books that they are now 100% risk-averse when it comes to future books? Are authors like Susan Grant paying the erotic romance cover price because Harlequin miscalculated in the past?
Well, they’re miscalculating for sure when it comes to author branding. Take a look at the cover for Susan Grant’s WARLORD’S DAUGHTER, the previous book in her Borderlands series:
To me, the cover for SUREBLOOD creates a serious disconnect between it and the previous cover. I thought making series covers related was Publishing 101. Or maybe I missed the memo, the one that declared, Sell Readers On The Current Cover Trend Like It’s Going Out Of Style.
Seeing the proposed cover of SUREBLOOD made me recall author Jess Granger’s observation that she shared in the discussion following Can This Harlequin Cover Be Saved?: “SFR does need its own "cover code."” To me, this translates to covers that balance the science fiction and romance elements—or at least placing one SF element in the dang image!
Publishers have to keep taking risks. It’s part of the business. Not a fun one, I’m sure, but this is art we’re talking about, and you can only commercialize it so far before readers start standing in revolt.
What do you think about the proposed cover for SUREBLOOD? Is it the type of cover you’ve come to expect for an SFR story? Would this cover compel you to part with your hard earned cash (or dig into your savings) without knowing anything else about the story?
Share your observations here, or contact Harlequin with your feedback by sending an email to customer_ecare “at” harlequin.ca
Science fiction romance is so niche that the sub-genre has its own tight-knit online community. We pretty much own SFR here, don't we? But if you're anything like me, you want other readers—thousands of readers—to to know how fun, fantastic, and fabulous it is. In fact, the authors and readers who swear by science fiction romance are ready to trade up to the next trend size.
But spreading the word about such a niche sub-genre can be a daunting task unless you have the right tools. While we've discussed various ideas at TGE regarding how to raise SFR's profile, as it stands, the information is scattered across various blog posts and comments. Oy, what's an SFR fan to do? Where is the structured, manageable toolkit for promoting science fiction romance?
Well never fear! Rowena Cherry is here!
Author Rowena Cherry (KNIGHT'S FORK) and I had recently exchanged a few words regarding the promotion of SFR. Coincidentally, Ms. Cherry had just finished updating a previous post of hers at Alien Romances, Twenty Five Free Ways To Buzz A Book. This time, she compiled it specifically with science fiction romance in mind, and offered it for the fine passengers of this universe-spanning locomotive.
Without further ado, here are 25 Ways to Boost SFR by Rowena Cherry: Recently, Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express, Doug Knipe (SciFiGuy.ca), Ella Drake, and Lisa Paitz Spindler got together on my internet radio show to discuss science fiction romance.
Doug (a guy who loves Romance "for the characters!" almost as much as he loves Science Fiction "for the world building") bemoaned in the manliest of voices how hard it is to find enough Science Fiction Romance.
He's not alone!
Last January, Heather did a week-long series on 1001 Ways To Promote Science Fiction Romance. Here's my much shorter and less erudite 25 Ways to promote the SFR genre in general and your favorite sfr author in particular.
Disclaimer: All authors for the purpose of this article will be considered female. (No sexism, genderism or speciesism is intended).
#1. Help the search engines find her, and link her name with "SFR".
Why? Even if you know where to find your friend, her blog, and her books, “hits” help. The more visitors the search engine spiders find, the more priority the author's website gets. So: Google her. Also, Google her in connection with the term "SFR". Bing her. Ask Jeeves about her. Dogpile her. A9 search her. Use Alexa. Try a Yahoo search. Blog search. Don't forget Baidu, the Chinese Google. Or Rediff, the Indian Google. Search on Technorati. Even better, set up a Google Alert for her name, also common misspellings of her name, and for her book titles.
#2. Having “Searched” or been "Alerted", Visit… her website; blogs; author pages. If you may comment, do so…. And when you do, be sure to include "SFR" in your remarks. Everyone who takes the time to blog or post content is grateful when visitors comment. Human nature leads more people to read a post that has received a lot of comments, and that means, more people are seeing "sfr".
#3 Follow. Favorite. Share. Google's Blogger, Twitter, Facebook "Pages", Squidoo lenses, You Tube videos and more allow you to become a follower or a fan. Do so. Connect wherever you can. It's good for both of you, because follower/fan photos show up. When you "Share", if you have to add your own headline or tag, add "SFR".
#4 Click to read (and rate) any reviews she has written, or Lists she has set up. These days, anyone can make an EssentiaList on Barnes and Noble.com, a Listmania on Amazon.com, a Top Ten list on Chapters.Indigo.ca, also Listopia on GoodReads.com. If you like her reviews or lists, click Helpful. Moreover, if you have the opportunity to add or endorse a tag, such as "SFR" please do so!
#5. If you see a good review of a book you've enjoyed—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it truly is a helpful review. Votes help both the reviewer and the author. Consider adding your own review, and mention "SFR".
#6. Tag her books wherever you can. Amazon isn't the only place (Amazon isn't even one site… there's Amazon.ca, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de etc etc) Many book selling sites encourage readers to tag. (See #4)
What is a tag? It's a search term that a reader might be using to find a type of book she likes, when she is looking for a new author. Some tags might be "Romance", "Fantasy", "Mystery", "Shapeshifter", "Georgian Romance", "Humor" or "Space Opera". Write in "SFR" and "science fiction romance" (where appropriate) if it is not there. Check the box to add your supporting vote, if SFR has been added by someone else.
Use "SFR" as your own tag if you Digg or Smak or otherwise "Share" your favorite sfr author's video, website, bookpage, blog etc.
#7. When you are on an admired author's Amazon book page, click on links to: Put it on your wish list, it’s extra, free advertising for the book. Tell a friend. Scroll down the book page to Tag this product. Or make a search suggestion for SFR. Visit the SFR community.
#8. Join in the Customer/Reader discussions on her book page, or on the forums. Ask a question. Start a discussion about SFR and mention your favorite authors or the sfr genre. Hundreds of eyeballs scan the discussions on Barnes and Noble bookclubs. The search engines pick up on the discussions. The longer a discussion keeps going, the better the PR buzz for your friend and for SFR. This does not just apply to Amazon and B&N. Discussion anywhere is "buzz".
#9. Review her book… Most people know that a customer can write a review on Amazon.com. There's a purchase requirement with Amazon (and I think with Barnes and Noble, too). However, many sites don't require a reader to have bought a book from them in order to post a review: GoodReads.com, Shelfari.com, LibraryThing.com, E-Bay, Powells, FlipKart, We-Read (on Facebook), NexTag etc etc. Include keywords (SFR…) in your review TITLE and in the body of the review, and in your tags/labels/keywords for your review.
By the way… a tip from Doug, the SciFiGuy, quirky and clever titles for reviews are great fun, but if you want to do your favorite sfr author real favor, your review title should include her Title, and her name… and maybe "SFR"!
#10. Smak her. Have you ever noticed the "Add This" or "Share" or "Recommend" widgets on online pages and on You Tube? If you think your author friend's blog, or news about her is interesting, syndicate the news to Digg It, Reddit, Technorati, Stumble Upon, Furl and as many of the other 40 or so sites as you have time and energy for. It's self promo when she does it. It's news when someone else does it.
Smak is SmakNews.com. News for women, posted by women.
Once you are a member of Smak (free) you can rate a story, and write a one-liner comment, which could include… you guessed it…"SFR".
#11. If the author has a reminder on a public calendar (Amazon has one, other sites have the function, too) for a booksigning near you, click on Remind Me Too. Booksignings are nerve-racking. Support is always appreciated, even if you don’t buy a book.
#12. If she lists an "Event", which one can on Facebook, GoodReads, and too many other places to mention, be sure to RSVP with a kind comment about the book…. Include a reference to "SFR", even if you cannot attend.
#13. Make her a top friend on MySpace, Bebo etc, Give her book cover image as a "gift" on Facebook, with her permission, make her cover into a widget or tile it as a background, or keep it on the top page of your Shelfari/GoodReads/MyB&N display of what you are reading. You could start a photo collection or album and name it "SFR" or "My SFR favorites".
#14. If you have a MySpace page or Bebo.com, or Twitters, or Clasmates.com, or facebook.com, or theyack.com (and if you don’t, but really want to help, get one… it’s free) invite your author friends to be your friends there. Write a bulletin about your sfr friend or her sfr book. Add a comment on their profile page’s comments section. Your comment is their opportunity to say something about their book without the appearance of soliciting. Review their book on your MySpace blog. Or on You Tube!
#15. If her publisher has a forum, join it and ask her questions… especially about SFR aspects of her work.
Again, your comment will be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and it will give your friend a reason to post something interesting and quotable about her book without seeming to be self-promoting.
#16. If you have a blog or website, (and you should always secure your own domain name before you become famous yourself) publicize your friend’s upcoming signings/author talks/workshops on your blog. Mention her website URL. Link to your author friend’s website or blog on yours. Put her book as a 'must read' on your own site, or in your own newsletter. Have a list of links to authors you like, and blogs you enjoy. Yes, have a SFR Blogroll!
#17. If you belong to readers’ group sites, or book chat sites, or special interest sites, post what you are reading. Plugs never hurt. These are also picked up on RSS feeds and the search engines. Don't forget to add the genre (SFR) as part of the line about the book or the author.
#18. Join your favorite author’s yahoo group, let her know where you’ve seen her "latest sfr" book in stores, or where you’ve seen discussions of her book, or reviews of her book.
#19. Drop in on her online chats to say how you enjoyed her "SFR" book. Supportive friends at chats are cool because chats can be chaotic, and typing answers takes time.
#20. Tweet on Twitter about how much you are enjoying the book. Retweet or reply to any comments you see that promote the book, or the author, or the genre. Don't forget to use hashtags such as #sciencefictionromance or #sfr so that other sfr lovers will see your remarks, even if they are not –yet—your followers.
#21. Offer to take a bunch of her bookmarks to conventions, or conferences, and make sure they are put in goodie bags, or on promo tables. Or simply visit her table at a convention, and sign up for her newsletter, or pick up her bookmark and tell someone else how good the book is. Offer to slip her bookmarks into your own correspondence when you pay bills, taxes, etc.
#22. Instead of quoting Goethe in your sig file, try quoting a line from your sfr-author friend’s blurb in the week of her launch.
#23. Ask for her book in your local library. If they don't have it, maybe they will order a copy. If the library won't do that, ask if they would enter the book in their system if the author were to donate a copy to them. Once a book is in one library's system, it gets into the database for other libraries. Maybe you could also suggest that the library ought to start a "SFR" section. It never hurts to ask.
#24. If you see your favorite author’s books in a supermarket or bookstore: face her books (if there is room), turn one so the cover shows. Tell store personnel how much you like that book, or that the author is local. If you don’t see her books, especially when they ought to be there, ask about them. Also, ask where SFR is. Maybe, if the CRMs are asked often enough, they will notice that there really is a demand.
#25. If you are connected on LinkedIn.com and your author friend is listed as "Author" or "Freelance Writer" or similar, consider "recommending her" on the strength of her SFR writing. Recommendations on LinkedIn are intended to be for professional purposes.
If you are an author buy colleagues' autographed books from them at booksignings to use in your own giveaways instead of always giving away your own books.
My goal as an author is to give good value…to entertain. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happy Ever After, something to think about when the book is finished.
My books are:
Forced Mate (2004) Humorous, futuristic take on "abduction" Romances Mating Net (e-book, short, politically incorrect) The prequel to Forced Mate. Insufficient Mating Material (2007) A "SURVIVORMAN" endorsed, castaway romance Knight's Fork (2008) Political satire. Helen of Troy in outer space seeks reluctant sperm donor.
About the author:
Rowena Cherry is unreliably psychic. She has exceptionally good hearing, an eye for detail, and a near-photographic memory. And, she’s lurked and observed from some of the world’s most glamorous and privileged vantage points. Of course, she’s also incredibly discreet!
* Old Folkie wins a digital copy of Ann Aguirre’s GRIMSPACE (courtesy of author Jennifer Leeland).
* S7anna wins a digital copy of Pauline Baird Jones’ THE KEY (courtesy of the author)
Winners, please email your contact information (email or name & address) to sfrgalaxy “at” gmail.com
Congratulations! I’d like to express my appreciation of everyone who entered. Thanks so much for visiting The Galaxy Express!
I am so grateful for Enduring Romance’s Kimber An, who was the brainwoman behind this event. Also, much thanks to Spacefreighters Lounge proprietor Laurie Green who came up with the event name and assisted with various logistics.
Also, a special tip of the Horsehead Nebula goes to Kanaxa for creating the splendiferous SFR Blitz icon.
Finally, thanks to my wonderful blogger colleagues who participated in the giveaway. Once again, they are:
Please bookmark these terrific blogs for your future fun.
Finally, thanks to all of the participating authors. I am in awe of the level of generosity and enthusiasm you had for the SFR Holiday Blitz. Special thanks to author Rowena Cherry, who helped spread the word to thousands of readers, coordinated a Listmania for the event, and who organized a science fiction romance podcast special as part of her Crazy Tuesday show.
Here are the Web sites of the authors who donated prizes. Please visit them to learn more about their art:
In romance, there seems to be a preponderance of ebony-haired heroes. My guess is that their prevalence cuts across all of the sub-genres about equally. Vampire heroes especially are mostly dark-haired (at least on the covers), which I’m assuming is a symbolization of their supernatural and dangerous qualities.
All of the above got me to wondering about blond heroes in science fiction romance. I don’t recall very many of them. The only blond science fiction romance hero I can currently recall with extreme clarity is Turner Pascal from SUNRISE ALLEY by Catherine Asaro. Thanks to a tip by Enduring Romance’s Kimber An during our recent discussions on branding SFR, we know that Susan Grant’s STAR PRINCESS has a blond hero (Prince Ché Vedla). And when I ran the feature on Samhain Publishing’s forthcoming space opera anthology, we learned that Robert Appleton’s story will feature a blond hero.
Okay…that’s three. Which makes the ratio of dark-haired heroes to blonds in SFR about 20 to 1. So, are blond heroes not alluring enough?
Does the trend toward dark-haired heroes represent a more progressive attitude toward depicting heroes in general—i.e., hair color isn’t a significant indicator of inherent goodness/ethical behavior as it often was in old skool pulp SF? What about a blond-haired hero as a worldbuilding detail? Should it be used judiciously to avoid falling back on descriptive shorthand? Or is the prevalence of dark-haired heroes its own shorthand, that of the mysterious hero with a dark past who exists to enthrall the heroine with his sexual prowess?
What about in other mediums? Here are some of the male film and television science fiction romance blond/dirty blond heroes (or more specifically, romantic SF heroes) that stood out to me:
Flash Gordon (all-American Football hero) Captain America/Steve Rogers (definitely all-American hero) George Taylor (Charlton “Take your stinking paws off my dirty blond hair” Heston) Mike Donovan from the original V (played by Marc Singer) Steve Zodiac (FIREBALL XL5) Luke Skywalker STAR TREK’s Captain Kirk (In the 1973 animated series, he’s depicted as an outright blond).
What are your thoughts about blond heroes in science fiction romance? Want more of them, or is hair color inconsequential to you? Authors, do you tend to avoid using them because they’re not considered “dark” enough for the current market, or does it truly not matter?
Ye olde contest is now closed! To see a list of the winners at the Galaxy Express, sally forth by clicking here.
Here at The Galaxy Express, we’re ablaze over science fiction romance, and we want to share the incendiary joy. What better way to escape this holiday than on a journey to a far-flung galaxy where romance knows no bounds?
In short, science fiction romance offers adventurous stories for adventurous readers. Occasionally, to discover that adventure, we need look no further than our own backyard.
To make it easy for readers to claim a science fiction romance of their very own—or three, or four, 12 bloggers have teamed up with 17 authors for your chance to win over 30 science fiction romance books. Whether you’re new to the genre, or a fan looking to add to her collection, this event is for you. We’ve assembled stories involving a variety of settings loaded with action, adventure, and of course, romance. So many intriguing characters are waiting to make your acquaintance, from space pirates to starship captains, and from aliens to angels.
Best of all, it’s dead simple to enter: There are no quizzes to answer, no hoops to jump.
Here are the book prizes available right where you are now, onboard the Galaxy Express:
One winner will receive GRIMSPACE, WANDERLUST, & DOUBLEBLIND by Ann Aguirre.
One winner will receive an autographed copy of Jess Granger’s BEYOND THE RAIN; a copy of Michelle Maddox’s COUNTDOWN; and one copy of Patti O’Shea’s ETERNAL NIGHTS.
To enter this free contest, all you have to do is leave a comment for this post. Print book prizes are limited to U.S. residents. The deadline to enter is midnight on Friday, December 11, 2009. I will announce the winners’ names on Saturday, December 12, 2009.
But don’t stop now! Increase your chances of winning even more books by visiting all of the participating blogs.
It’s easy: Just click on one of the links to the participating bloggers below. Make sure to leave a comment on the post with the phrase “SFR Holiday Blitz” in the title. From there, you can then jump to the next blog. There’s a wide variety of books to win so why miss out?
Because of the tremendous response to the SFR Holiday Blitz, we have several more book prizes available!
Pauline Baird Jones is offering a chance at two copies of her book THE KEY: one digital copy (for our international audience, please specify if this includes you) & one print copy (for those in the U.S. only).
In addition, author Jennifer Leeland (MARKED FOR PLEASURE) will purchase a digital copy of Ann Aguirre’s GRIMSPACE as a chance for you international entrants to win (again, please note this in your comment).
Finally, I’m also providing one print copy of Catherine Asaro’s ALPHA in the pot (limited to U.S. residents).
Here there be a space pirate heroine! Karin Shah’s STARJACKED is available in print for the first time. To celebrate, she’s offering two free print copies (one each) to two people. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. This free contest ends December 6, 2009.
Woot! Ann Aguirre has sold the last two books in the Sirantha Jax series, AFTERMATH and ENDGAME. The series will wrap in 2012.
WIRED included Linnea Sinclair’s Dock Five series in their 2009 GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide #4. Check out this quote: “Author Linnea Sinclair is, so far, the best I’ve read at combining action, science fiction world-building, and believable romance.” Go, Linnea!
Examiner.com interviews Desert Breeze Publishing Editor-in-Chief Gale Delaney. (Desert Breeze is actively seeking science fiction romance.)
Over at the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management blog, agent Jessica Papin writes about Driving Sales in the Long Term. I thought this quote had especial relevance for our science fiction romance community:
“Bloggers, much like the New York Review of Books, don’t care so much about publication dates. Which is important. Because, as Miriam pointed out--books are supposed to be around for the long-haul, not have the literary equivalent of a blockbuster opening weekend then end up in the remainder bin. The idea that on-line promotion can help drive long term sales, or breathe new life into projects whose sales were disappointing is not necessarily a new one nor is it a silver bullet. Connecting an author with communities of like-minded readers on-line requires about as much virtual legwork as finding these folks in the real world, but especially as traditional media contracts, it’s well worth exploring.”
At Fierce Romance Authors, Carly Carson noted in Science Fiction—For Women? that “A well known science fiction blog has been talking recently about why the phrase ‘science fiction’ seems to be such a turnoff for women readers.”
*scratches head* Gosh, any idea who that blogger might be? All jesting aside, Ms. Carson wrote a very insightful piece so I recommend you check it out.
The Skiffy Rommer beat
Over at Spacefreighters Lounge, Laurie Green takes us through the research process of writing a near future science fiction romance in Uranus Strikes Out. And Donna S. Frelick makes the case as to why Nalini Singh Is Ours!
We discussed a variety of topics ranging from the ingredients that make for a good science fiction romance, heroines, cyborgs, marketing, authors, books, space pirates, and more.
Click over to Passionate Internet Voices Radio to hear the show. Look for the heading "December 1 Science Fiction Romance Authors with Ella Drake, Heather Massey, Doug "Sci-Fi Guy" Knipe, and Lisa Paitz-Spindler."
I had a wonderful time interacting with everyone. Thanks to Rowena, Lisa, Ella, and Doug for their time and thoughtful insights.