Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sci-Fi Romance: Still So Invisible?

I noticed a tweet by The Book Smugglers about one of their podcasts, which will feature “... @tansyrr's [Tansy Rayner Roberts] article on SF Romance…”

Of course, the mention of “SF Romance” piqued my interest so I went hunting. I’m guessing the article in question is this one: Does Sex Make Science Fiction “Soft”? via Uncanny. Here’s a snippet:
I couldn’t help thinking: Why isn’t more science fiction like this? Why don’t we have more fiction about the actual day–to–day process of science and the fallout that it might have on the relationships of those involved?

It later occurred to me that this science fiction may well exist, and I simply haven’t come across it.
Ms. Roberts’ article comes at the issue from the SF side, so I’m guessing that’s why, other than books by Lois McMaster Bujold, none of the titles she mentioned include the sci-fi romances I and others in the SFR community blog about on a weekly basis (and for over a decade if you count the collective effort). And yet...I still wind up scratching my head over articles like this one.

Unless I’m mistaken, one way to define SFR is  “...the actual day–to–day process of science and the fallout that it might have on the relationships of those involved…” So why am I feeling a disconnect between Ms. Roberts' article and my reading experience?

I blogged about the invisibility of SFR in 2013. Two years isn’t enough time for significant change, so consider this post a revisiting of the genre's ongoing visibility challenges.

Articles like Ms. Roberts’ make me wonder why SFR, despite being a hybrid of the science fiction and romance genres, seems to be so invisible at times. As her article demonstrates, even open-minded women who go looking for SFR can easily overlook it.

I’d wager it comes down to a few key reasons:

* marketing challenges

* a low number of books relative to other, more established genres

* the ongoing bias against the romance genre in general. Additionally, romantic SF with a tragic ending for the romance is probably seen as more valid than stories wherein the romance has an upbeat ending.

And the greatest of these is the marketing challenges. On top of that, some people are of the mind that if they haven’t heard about something, it can’t be any good. So why even mention it?

To qualify, I share these thoughts not out of a need to have SFR validated. No one needs to tell me how awesomesauce this genre is because I *know* it’s wonderful! But I do worry about SFR being so invisible, especially when it’s accomplishing so much in the fictional intersection of love and technology. It has much to offer readers.

Perhaps some of it comes down to the possibility that we of the SFR online community aren’t viewed as an authority on SFR. Of course, we know differently. We’re definitely an authority on the genre--a significant one. Problem is, can anyone hear us?

Joyfully yours,