Sunday, October 10, 2010

Should Birth Control Be Covered In Science Fiction Romance?

For some reason, this topic just popped into my head the other night. I don’t recall having blogged specifically about the role of birth control in a science fiction romance with a futuristic setting, so here goes.

Peter Paul ReubensWhen reading a science fiction romance, I generally don’t care if an SFR hero and heroine have no birth control concerns. The primary reason is that I like the fantasy of it not being an issue in my reading. If it’s there, I’m not going to complain, but neither do I ding authors for not bringing it up during the course of the story. Some stories demand it or have plot/worldbuilding elements related to it, and power to them. Still, going into detail regarding birth control is not a prerequisite for me.

Another reason is that I have this thing where I automatically assume that because it’s a futuristic setting, science has streamlined birth control methods to the point where they’re automatic and almost invisible. I don’t really know what those methods are, heh, but I'm happy to assume they are there. If I were reading a contemporary romance, my expectations would be different. Yet presented with a futuristic setting, I entertain the possibility that science has taken all the work and stress out of it.

I like the fantasy of birth control being executed by advanced technology—and this goes for both the hero and the heroine. I’m also thinking in terms of a point when there’s more gender equality in the fictional universe of SFR, especially as it relates to romance tropes and hero-heroine dynamics. In other words, it's refreshing to think that heroines aren’t expected to have 100% responsibility for birth control. Neither do I expect heroines to be virgins and grappling with the issue for the first time. It’s freeing to believe that technology has leveled the playing field and removed all of the risks for both hero and heroine. In general, why shouldn’t SFR heroines have the same freedom as heroes to satisfy their sexual urges without penalties?

For instance, the idea of nanotechnology modulating ovulation or sperm output—wow! (Come to think of it, that concept could even be the focus of a science fiction romance.)

Maybe I’m just a big weirdo geek, but I have fun creating this little worldbuilding detail for the stories I read. Or maybe it’s all a justification for the fact that I want the hero and heroine to make love with the ultimate freedom. No surprise bambinos until they’re ready. Another possibility is that I’d rather read about other details, like what kind of space ship or gadgets the characters use.

And yet—I don’t want to risk dismissing what might be an important element to cover in science fiction romance. What are your thoughts on birth control in this subgenre?

Joyfully yours,