S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Romance Science Fiction, part 1

I've never been a romance reader. It wasn't a conscious decision not to read them - I just never had reason to believe the genre might appeal to me, and no one ever particularly recommended a book or an author for me to read from it. Of course I've read plenty of books with romantic elements - they're pervasive, they're human - but not books self-consciously packaged as romance.

And then sometime in the late spring I had run low on books to read while travelling and was looking around a Toronto airport bookstore for something fluffy to distract me from the dull stresses of flying. I default to science fiction and fantasy, and so that's where I looked, and that's how I happened to buy and read Linnea Sinclair's The Accidental Goddess. It was borderline space opera, it was romance, it was science fiction, and it was just distracting enough and just fluffy enough to be exactly what I needed on that flight. It wasn't the best of books - the combat sequences near the end are based on a system implied but not previously demonstrated by the book, and disconcertingly, given the genre, like magic. The Important People were the ones who fell for each other. It had its slightly clunky moments. But it wasn't all that bad either.

Several months later, perhaps in the later part of summer, I thought back to that book and wondered what else the author had written. That's how I came to first read Finders Keepers, a much stronger book than the one with which I'd started; and then Gabriel's Ghost, which was better still, the author finding her stride and constructing a plot in which space opera, rescue mission, and romance all worked more tightly together in an integral story.

Now I was curious - the existence of romance science fiction as a subgenre all of its own was a concept which had never previously crossed my mind. It was news to me that such a subgenre existed. Romance fantasy made sense to me, for romance is integral to the genre of fairy tales upon which so many are based; science fiction, however, didn't strike me as a natural fit - it's a genre whose bones lie in engineered space-building, in problems of toolkits and labratories, into which sentient relationships are woven.

So I set out to explore just what was in this subgenre, to see what it encompassed, how mature and broad or narrow it was. I started with Linnea Sinclair's website for recommendations and began to read.
Tags: books, romance science fiction
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