December 29th, 2006

Vanitas desk

Romance Science Fiction, part 4

I started reading books in the overlap between romance and science fiction after reading a number of Linnea Sinclair's novels. I hadn't knowingly read romance before, and I deliberately avoided fantasy romance for the purposes of this project. Here are some of the things I've learned and conclusions I've come to at this point.

  • The overlap between romance and science fiction comes in three subgenres: romantic science fiction (RSF), science fiction romance (SFR), and Futuristics (Futs). Much of the SF I've read in the past has been RSF, even if I never read it that way. Human relationships in all their permutations are at the heart of most books, even when the bones of those books are in science and technology. The tension between engineering and human relations is what makes me think that writing SFRs are the most challenging of the three, and the most interesting to me because of it.

  • SFR strikes me as a small young genre, but this may also be a product of my fairly random selection of sampling. (I'm still very curious as to what wakarusa was referring when she mentioned "your mother's romance science fiction". RSF has obviously been around for decades. Futs? No idea.)

  • Even if the characters came from far-removed planets, they were all essentially human. My only off-hand memory of ongoing interspecies romantic engagements in books is from the Starbridge series. Does t.v. do a better job of exploring interspecies romance than novels do, or is this just a product of what I've happened to read? It may be easier to write convincingly about a species familiar to the author and readers, I'd think. I hypothesize that, like alien food, it's hard to describe unknown emotions. It's easier to conceive of the visual unknown than the tactile or olfactory - or does that just show I'm sight-dominant and prejudiced about imagination accordingly?

  • I have a suspicion - not founded on much - that Futs are most likely to be written by experienced romance novelists trying out the genre of SF.

  • On getting sidetracked: Although I set out to avoid fantasy romance, a chance friendsfriends page browsing led me to Socery and Cecelia (a frothy Regency fantasy novel). Also, as long as I was out and buying books, I finally bought and read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. (Given I'm a fan of DWJ and guide books, this was overdue - and hilarious - reading.) Also, of course, I was well-and-truly sidetracked by Georgette Heyer novels.

  • I'm very curious as to the classifications of fantasy romance now.

  • Discovering Georgette Heyer has completely sidetracked me from this project in the short run, but I suspect I'll be back to it within a few weeks - especially now that I have such a good list of titles to explore!

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Related links: Pearl Awards; Speculative Romance Online; Romantic SF&F Weblog

All of the posts in this series can be seen via the common tag of romance science fiction.