What do romance readers think of science fiction romance?
A few posts have appeared lately about science fiction romance as a genre. Stuart Sharp took a swipe at the scientific credentials of SFR in this article. His post attracted some spirited response and this post at Tracing the Stars. Reading the comments is always such fun, isn’t it?
Mind you, I’ve taken a swipe at the scientific credentials of some SFR writers, too. Heavy on the romance, light on the science. Rest assured I’m not the only one to roll my eyes at yet another story about the tall, handsome, well-endowed alien men who need to kidnap Human women to replace the females they have inadvertently misplaced. But then again (and I’ve said this so often) if Star Wars gets a guernsey as science fiction, it seems all you need is a few planets and a space ship.
However, the purpose of this post is not to gripe about the science, but to look at the issue from the opposite point of view. What do romance readers think of science fiction romance?
I confess I don’t read romance much. I’m too interested in action and adventure to find a love story absorbing. Which probably tells you a fair bit about my writing. Some little while ago I wrote a blog post for a mainly romance audience at Keith Publications. I think it’s worth repeating.
Does the very idea of science in a romance scare your little cotton socks off? I guess for some people it would. It’s that word ‘science’, isn’t it, conjuring up visions of test tubes and physics and math.
But there’s much more to science fiction than that. Think about this. The difference between fantasy and science fiction is that in fantasy, magic is allowed. In a fantasy, the author doesn’t have to explain how the great warrior suddenly disappeared – she’s got a magic ring. But in science fiction, the author would explain that the ring is a crystal which excites the warrior’s aura, increasing the wavelength of light given off to a wavelength undetectable to the human eye. The warrior is therefore rendered invisible to those looking at her. (Or some such plausible rigmarole). There now. That’s wasn’t so bad, was it?
Let’s consider a piece of science fiction everyone has heard of – Star Wars. Some die-hard science fiction fans (like me) will say it includes a lot of fantasy and even more dodgy science. Which, as it happens, is true, but who cares? It has spaceships, princesses, ray guns, aliens and a whole heap of fun. And a little bit of romance.
Not much romance, I grant you. On the flame scale, it might score half a flame. Maybe a glowing coal? But a romance for all that. Remember the rather chaste kiss between Han Solo and Princess Leia in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’? I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one hoping they’d get it on a bit better than that. Soooo disappointing. But… Star Wars is a family show, not suitable for any hot stuff.
Enter science fiction romance. It’s a growing sub-genre catering for folk who like their spaceships, aliens and rayguns mixed with a little bit of hanky-panky. Or maybe rather a lot of hanky-panky. It’s what I write and this next bit is going to look a lot like self promotion. Okay, yes, it is. But it also proves the point.
Here are a few reviews for my ‘Iron Admiral’ SF romance books, all Amazon reviews. (You won’t find them on Amazon because the book was re-published and the reviews didn’t transfer) Click on the covers to link to Amazon.
‘I had heard of this book quite a while ago and read some glowing reviews, but had delayed purchasing it because it isn’t my usual style. I like pure romance and when I deviate from that, I typically read fantasy or some variant of that. However, I bought this one, thinking that I would have it on my kindle for a back-up read, when I wasn’t reading something else. Once I started, though, I was hooked and didn’t really put the kindle down for more than a few minutes until I had finished both books the next afternoon. … I highly recommend this for people who love science fiction and romance together or separately.’
‘There is sufficient SF detail to satisfy the Geek in me with an emotionally adept character led story line that has enough erotic flavour to get me hot under the collar… TOH never knew what hit him after I read [this book]… Romance readers will love this. SF readers will love it as well, though. The worlds and the technology are well thought out, enhancing the space opera feel. The whole package is beautifully presented and I can highly recommend this book.’
‘I loved this book. I loved Allysha, I loved Saahren, I loved the main plot and all of the little subplots, I loved the science, I loved the politics, and I absolutely loved the ptorix. If you’re a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek or Battlestar Gallactica, you will probably really enjoy this book. It is so, so good.’
I could add a few reviews of a similar nature for my other books – Morgan’s Choice, Morgan’s Return and Starheart. Sure, I have abs on my covers. They sell books to red-blooded women (and a few blokes). But I also try to make my science plausible.
So you see, the bias goes both ways. And that, folks, is a shame.
If you’re a lover of romance, I would love you to leave a comment and tell me what you think.