Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Much Do I Love Space Pirates? Let Me Count The Ways...

Space pirate heroines are few and far between, so when I’d first gotten wind of Susan Grant’s swashbuckling adventure tale, SUREBLOOD, my interest was immediately piqued. After all, I’m pretty madly in love with space pirate Qeen Emeraldas from Leiji Matsumoto’s SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK. Ever since my youth in Arcadia, I’ve been seeking to recreate my experience with Emeraldas, the most beautiful and deadly heroine pirate ever to sail the celluloid cosmos.

Even after reading SUREBLOOD, I’m still (pleasantly) surprised that the book even exists. Given the number of safe/predictable romances in the mainstream print market, a space pirate heroine is kind of risky—especially for Harlequin. We’re asking romance readers to embrace an extraordinary heroine among the sea of vampires, werewolves, and other assorted Alpha heroes. And, as you might have noticed from the book’s back cover copy, Valeeya Blue is a mom!

Interestingly enough, Queen Emeraldas also gave birth to a child during the course of her adventures. Hers is also a very subversive romance in that she falls in love with a man half her height. I find it fascinating that two people from different continents and cultures, not to mention decades apart, explored the topic of space pirates in love who are also moms. And I, lucky gal that I am, get to blog about it! This is a very surreal moment for me.

Excuse me while I take a moment to reminisce about the timeless romance between Emeraldas and Tochiro:

Like Harlock and Emeraldas, SUREBLOOD is all about space pirates, characters with a reputation for being inherently badass. While the story explores a few dark concepts, the execution was tempered by language and stylistic choices. Characters flirt with graphic violence rather than enact it. For example, at one point, the hero observes Valeeya disciplining a few male members of her clan:

Val pulled the weapon away from a startled Ragmarrk, and for a moment Dake thought she might strike him with it.

While I wouldn’t have minded if the story had been grittier (meaning I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash if Valeeya had struck him), I have to remember that there’s another audience for this book. SUREBLOOD is meant for a specific type of reader in mind, namely, for romance readers who prefer light action adventure tales as opposed to a heavy dose of realism. Yet Ms. Grant packed quite a bit of external plot into the mix, so I think there’s appeal for SFR fans who gravitate toward that type of blend.

I also liked the fact that Valeeya Blue had a clear character arc and demonstrated real growth by the end of the story. Ultimately, SUREBLOOD felt like her story, despite the fact that the title is all about the hero. Characters like Queen Emeraldas and Valeeya Blue resonate strongly with me because of their empowering, larger than life natures. I can never be one, but I sure can read about them.

I’ll never tire of space pirate heroines, so keep ‘em coming!

Joyfully yours,