Tag Archives: Science fiction

Blog Tour – Scavenger’s Mission

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Alisha’s skills are so far beyond a normal cadet’s, that the Colonel is concerned many could die trying to learn them. Especially when they are required to collapse their chute. That will send them into a state of terror since they have been taught a collapsed chute is the equivalent of death.
Upon thinking back to the reasons she wasn’t afraid, even the very first time she collapsed her shoot, Alisha suggests they buy a wind tunnel. Logan, has never heard of such a thing.
She explained when she lived in Flatland, which has no wind whatsoever, she would daily go to the wind tunnel, don a baggy suit, hand over two hundred dollars and spend an hour soaring about in the tunnel. Thus, she never equated having winds rushing up from below to ‘dying any moment now’.
For your entertainment I located a youtube that shows exactly what should happen in a wind tunnel…if you aren’t afraid, click here.

It does look like fun!

Savenger's mission 400X640

Meet Alisha: A young woman who refuses to live the life her parents want.

In a single month, Alisha Kane has gone from a wealthy debutante to street girl to scavenger.  While testing her new flying skills in the Cully Canyon, Alisha incurs a near-death crash landing. She’s “rescued” by a colonel of the SkyRyders and her life changes forever.

Meet Logan: A SkyRyder colonel in charge of a sleepy fort with little to do other than arrest the occasional scavenger.

For the first time in his life, Logan’s attracted to a young woman, only she’s probably a scavenger and he’ll have to arrest her.  But first he offers her a shower and food while he checks on his crew. His Videographer has captured her extraordinary flight through the Cully and her flying is astounding!

He forgoes arresting her and puts his career at risk by asking MAC to assess her skills and integrity as a potential SkyRyder. If he can get Alisha into the SkyRyders, it will be his greatest contribution to the Corps.

Meet MAC: the Artifical Intelligence that runs the SkyRyders Corps.

Upon seeing her arrival, MAC upgrades Alisha’s test. Her flying skills are not just excellent; they exceed what was previously thought possible. MAC classifies her as its top asset and soon she proves her value.

But…the SkyRyders remain a male dominated Corps where Alisha’s sense of right and wrong often clashes with her superiors. How long can a rebellious young woman survive in a regimented Corps?

Excerpt

Alisha pouted and frowned over the list, finally drawing a line after the third item. “Is there a wind tunnel in Fort Capital?”

“A what?”

“A wind tunnel. You know, it’s an arcade ride. You put on this huge suit and pay a hundred dollars to fly about a vertical wind tunnel for a half-hour.”

“I doubt it. Not many kids have a hundred dollars to spend on something you can find by walking outside the mall.”

“It’s different from a horizontal wind. This simulates what you feel when you collapse your catcher mid-air.”

“Terrified?” Logan asked.

“See? That’s what I’m concerned about. To a normal Ryder, collapsing your catcher is the equivalent of death. Yet most of these maneuvers require the flyer to collapse their catcher. And I can tell them how to do it, and we can practice on the ground, but if they freeze in terror during the unfamiliar sensation of air rushing up from the ground, I can’t open their catcher for them.” She met his gaze. “I can’t save them from dying.”

Logan sighed. He refused to accept that, of all the incredible skills she possessed, only three were going to be transferable to other Ryders. “Any idea how much a wind tunnel costs?” He walked over to his computer and started typing a query to MAC.

“Actually, I do know. I was a frequent patron of the one in Flatland. The guy who ran it said I could have bought my own tunnel for the amount I spent at the mall. I knew my parents wouldn’t actually let me have one, but I asked him for the price so I could dream. He said a new tunnel goes for about a million, but you can buy the old ones, without the new security features, for two hundred and fifty thousand. Actually, I prefer the older ones. They have higher speeds.”

Logan almost stopped typing when she told him the cost. He knew the Corps’ budget was painfully tight this year. He’d never get approval, not even for the used version. But given its importance, he typed in the maneuvers Alisha had listed as teachable if she could remove the fear of falling from the equation. He sent it off to MAC. It was all he could do.

LINK

The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 1

Scavenger’s Mission

AMAZON

About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

OTHER BOOKS BY LIZA O’CONNOR

SCIENCE FICTION

The Multiverse Series

Sci-Fi Soap Opera with humor, romance, and science

The Gods of Probabilities

Surviving Outbound

Surviving Terranue

Surviving Sojourn

 

Artificial Intelligence Series

Sci-Fi/Romance

Public Secrets

Birth of Adam

 

The SkyRyders Series

Sci-Fi Romance

Scavenger’s Mission

Scavenger Falters-coming 2017

Scavenger Vanishes-coming 2017

 

New Release Trapped: A SciFi Convict Romance

Today Alison Aimes is my guest, introducing her new release Trapped: A SciFi Convict Romance (Book One in the Condemned Series). I asked her why she chose to write about a prison plant.

Honestly, I know it sounds suspect, but the idea for this story came to me in a dream. I woke up with a hazy sense of a prison planet and a woman trapped there without a way out From there my imagination just took off. I had so much fun wondering ‘what if?’ with this particular scenario…. What if a woman crashed on a hostile planet? What if that planet was filled with ruthless criminals? What if her only hope for survival was one of the convicts, a hardened man with a questionable past? What would she be willing to do to save herself? What would he be prepared to take? The answers ended up being action-packed and scorching hot. Especially as all those ‘what ifs’ led to a story that begins with a transactional deal for sex in return for protection and a scenario where the hero holds more of the power and control. But exploring how that changed—how a prisoner who’s become more animalistic than man rediscovers his humanity and a woman finds her soul mate on the unlikeliest of places—was pure joy to write.

Cover Trapped

TRAPPED

Recently Awarded Top Reader Pick by Night Owl Review….

A tale of unbridled desire, stunning sacrifice, and unwavering love, Trapped is an action-packed, sexy sci-fi romance that takes you to the brink of oblivion on a prison planet where only the strong survive….

Cadet Bella West has one simple objective when she joins the scientific mission to Dragath25, the notorious penal planet housing Earth’s condemned. Earn the credits necessary to save her family from starvation. But when her shuttle crashes and the majority of her crew perish, her simple mission becomes complicated fast. Now, to stay alive she’ll have to depend on one of Dragath’s own. But such protection doesn’t come free.

Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, 673 has become more beast than man after eight grueling years on an unforgiving, hazardous planet of dirt and rock—and even more treacherous inhabitants. He doesn’t look out for anyone but himself and he certainly never grows attached. So when the bold female offers him pleasure in return for protection, he takes the deal without hesitation. He never expects how her touch will alter him. Or the growing realization that saving her may be the key to his own salvation.

But as dangers mount and their ‘simple’ deal unravels will he prove to be her surprise savior or her ultimate downfall? Because caring for someone on Dragath25 may prove the greatest hazard of all.

The first book in the Condemned Series, Trapped has a HEA and can be read as a stand-alone.

© 2015 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com

© 2015 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com

About the Author

Alison Aimes is the award-winning author of the sexy sci fi romance series the Condemned as well as the sizzling contemporary romance Billionaires’ Revenge series. A sci fi fanatic with a PhD in Modern History, she’s an all over the map kind of woman whose always had a love for dramatic stories and great books, no matter the era. Now, she’s creating her own stories full of intrigue and passion, but always with a happy-ever-after ending. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two kids, and her dog. When not in front of the computer, she can be found hanging with family and friends, hiking, trying to turn herself into a pretzel through yoga, listening to a fabulous TED talk, or, last but not least, sitting on the couch imagining her characters’ next great adventures.

Alison can be found on line at www.alisonaimes.com

 

Connect with Alison Aimes:

Website: http://www.alisonaimes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook/alisonaimes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alisonaimes

 

Diversity is much, much more than skin colour

PrintOver at Space freighters Lounge, we’ve been talking about diversity in science fiction. Again. Here’s what I had to say. Heather Massey who has been a great supporter of diversity in stories, and POC (people of colour) writers in general, weighed in with some comments. Here’s what Heather said:

Diverse characters not only makes for better science fiction, it’s just plain necessary realism! When I go from seeing my local neighborhood full of diverse groups to an all-white SFR ensemble cast, I’m like, uh-oh–someone made a conscious choice to erase people of color.”

And that got me thinking. Heather is American. I am Australian, born in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). And the difference is more than the fact that Americans talk funny. My neighbourhood isn’t diverse at all, and really never has been. For me, an SFR with an all-white cast would be a future view of home. Let’s examine that for a moment.

My family emigrated to Australia ten years after WW2 ended, leaving behind battered, war-weary Europe and the spectre of Communism looming in the East. We settled in probably the most Anglo-Saxon of Australia’s capital cities – Perth, Western Australia. Bear in mind that Australia had restrictive immigration policies, designed to limit the types of people who could settle there. It was called the White Australia Policy, and it wasn’t dismantled until well into the 1960’s. “White Australia” was something of a misnomer. As the article says, white people from Eastern and Southern Europe could be treated unfairly.

In the ‘fifties, western European kids like my brother and me learnt English and were absorbed with little fanfare. My parents attended English classes and went to lengths to become part of their new world. Our neighbours were Aussies. As I grew up, the “different” people were the Greeks, Slavs and Italians; olive-skinned people with dark hair and eyes. The older women wore black dresses and spoke to each other in an unintelligible gabble. And they all seemed to live together, in the cheap parts of town near the city centre, or the market gardens, or the fishing boat harbour. Aboriginal people kept to themselves in areas as close to slums as Australia ever got. I rarely saw anyone with dark skin.

I moved to Melbourne  in my early twenties. For me, Melbourne was gobsmackingly different. Just outside the city centre shops had signs in languages other than English – Greek, or Turkish or Italian. You’d go into a shop, the people saw you coming and fetched their son or daughter from out the back to talk to you because they couldn’t speak English. And there was a China Town. But even so, the city was predominantly Anglo-Saxon.

These days, things have changed. We had a new influx of immigrants fleeing the Vietnamese war. That caused a stir. They moved into the market gardens and the inner city suburbs, replacing the original Greeks, Italians and Slavs. But after a couple of generations, their kids speak English with an Aussie twang and they’re just part of the scenery. The Greek and Turkish shop signs have been replaced with Vietnamese or Cambodian. And after them came the Sudanese, the Lebanese, the Iraqis, the Iranians. Many of those people have not, at this time, integrated. There are parts of Melbourne and Sydney that could be part of the Middle East, places where many Caucasian Australians don’t feel safe.

But I’m no longer in one of the big cities. Since we retired, my husband and I moved to a small town. I’d say 98% of the people here are Anglo-Saxon. There are a number of Dutch and German descent, a handful of indigenous or Islander folk and a smattering of Asians. So “diversity” has very little meaning here. And that is true in many, many other parts of our world – if we’re talking skin colour.

In the early nineties I visited Beijing, one of a group of about twenty Australians – all Caucasian. China was just starting to open up, although the massacre in Tienanmen square was a recent memory. The residents of Beijing were becoming used to visits from Westerners. But Beijing is also a tourist spot for Chinese. I remember standing in a group while our Chinese guide talked about the Forbidden Palace. As she talked, a second group formed around us – Chinese people wearing Mao suits, staring at us. They’d never seen people with round eyes, fair skin and fair hair before. And I’m willing to bet the same thing happens every day in Africa and India. It was quite an experience being one of the weirdos. In fact, probably the most ‘diverse’ place I’ve ever been is Singapore, where Chinese, Malays, Indians and a few white folk rub along together very well. It’s also a tiny little island.

So does that mean people with the same external characteristics are uniform, showing no layers of diversity? Not at all. You don’t have to look far to see the differences wealth and religion can make. Not to mention sex. Even in our enlightened Anglo-Saxon communities, white male privilege is a real thing. India’s caste system is a more regimented form of class distinctions that can be found in every human society. It’s how we roll, the tribal instinct. Even so there are other external cues that set people apart – weight, height, a missing limb, a walking stick, age, the length hair, clothing, tattoos, occupation…

Now, in the early years of the twenty-first century, we are grappling with the fact that ‘sex’ as in gender isn’t black and white, and doesn’t altogether depend on physical attributes – boys have these dangly bits, girls don’t. And love isn’t necessarily one girl and one boy. So diversity is much, much more than skin colour and eye shape. As writers of science fiction we should go outside our comfort zones and consider ALL the possibilities. If we don’t, we restrict ourselves. And that would be a shame.

 

Half Human, Half Machine – Cyborgs and Supertechs

cover, "releasing rage"Welcome to my worlds, folks. Today I’m hosting Cynthia Sax, who has just published her new novel, ‘Releasing Rage’. Take it away, Cynthia.

Almost every SciFi romance fan I know has a fascination with new and emerging technologies. I get a thrill when I see robots and druids (BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already stolen a piece of my heart), the latest tablets (so Star Trek!), even the innovations in coffee makers (the space-like K-cups).

So it makes sense that half human, half machine beings like cyborgs and Greta’s awesome Supertechs would capture our imaginations. These beings often have a human form but they’re tweaked, bioengineered to be faster, stronger, smarter.

In Releasing Rage, Rage, the hero, is a cyborg. He was manufactured to be a warrior. His frame is metal. Processors supplement his human brain. He can become an instant expert in mere seconds by downloading information.

Technology is a huge part of a cyborg’s identity and technology advances, as we all know, very quickly. This means cyborgs also change over time.

The early C Model cyborgs, like Rage, are large and primitive. They were manufactured and trained exclusively for battle. Time and effort wasn’t spent on language or other softer skills. Rage tends to react first and think later.

Crash, Rage’s friend, is a more advanced E Model. He’s more compact and more sophisticated, with the ability to act like his human masters. Crash is skilled at negotiating and battle strategy. His designers weren’t yet able to duplicate human eyes however (they ARE the windows to our souls). Crash’s eyes are a spooky matte black.

Gap, another friend, is a G Model, even more modern than the E Models. His eyes resemble a human’s. He acts the most human out of the three and learns the quickest. Give him a couple of solar cycles and he’ll rival the older warriors.

No matter how human cyborgs become, they will always be different from us. They’ll never lose that constant and oh-so-delicious conflict between their machine side and their human side, between logic and emotion, between following commands and following free will.

What do you love about cyborgs and Supertechs?

***

Blurb

cover, "releasing rage"Releasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

Until he meets Joan.

Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Buy Now:

On Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Releasing-Rage-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZOL1DRO

On Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ZOL1DRO/

On B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/releasing-rage-cynthia-sax/1122455646

 

Bio

About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

Website: CynthiaSax.com

Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Facebook: facebook.com/cynthia.sax

Twitter: @CynthiaSax

Blog: TasteOfCyn.com

 

I’m busy #amwriting but I also talk about genre

Starfield shipThe title says it all, folks. I’m writing up a storm – or trying to. Writing is just like any other pastime – cooking, hockey, netball, swimming, tatting. If you stop doing it, the skills atrophy. But I’m around 6k into what will be a longish short story, and it’s all coming back to me. Like riding a bike.

Meanwhile, pop on over to this week’s post on Spacefreighters, where I talk about genre and what it means in science fiction romance.

Teaser Tuesday – a piece from Morgan’s Choice #sfrgtt

MC Poster2Hi. It’s Teaser Tuesday again. Here’s a snippet from one of my earliest books, Morgan’s Choice. This is the first 230 words, where you’ll meet the main character, be introduced to the problem, and see the setting.

******************************

Steam rose from Jones’ food pack, filling Curlew’s tiny common room with the aroma of beef stew. “That’s one month down.” He took the container out of the warmer and brought it the two steps to the table.

Morgan glanced up at him, still chewing, as he sank down on the bench opposite. She swallowed her own food. “Yeah.”

One month’s worth of the existing food supply gone. Another month, maybe a little longer if they rationed even further and then perhaps they’d be fishing Tariq’s body out of the cargo hold, wondering if a bit of cannibalism might be in order. The thought made her gag but at least it was an option. Running out of air—that was something else altogether.

She speared some more synthetic plast-food from her own food pack and lifted it to her mouth.

A staccato bleeping shattered the silence.

She flung her fork on the table, leapt through the forward hatch into the bridge and dropped into the captain’s chair, her heart pounding with a mixture of excitement and tension, hope and apprehension. She flicked off the wide-range scanner’s alarm and reached into the computer system with her mind to adjust the sensors to maximum magnification. Something had just come out of shift-space close enough to trigger the warning. Maybe she’d got it all wrong and Curlew was still in Coalition space. Because otherwise…

********************************

Want to know more? Pick your favourite book seller here

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Science fiction romance – caught between a rock and a hard place

Talking about what constitutes ‘romance’ seems to be a bit like climbing over the fence into the lions’ compound knowing they haven’t been fed for a while. But I have to say I find the debate a little bit perplexing when it comes to the genre I mostly write – science fiction romance.

couple on the beach silhouetteOn the one hand, the born-again romance readers insist that without a HEA (happily ever after ending, for those not in the know) or at the very least a HFN (Happy For Now) then the story doesn’t qualify as ‘romance’. On the other hand there’s more than a suggestion from the science fiction fraternity (I use the word deliberately) that all that soppy love stuff doesn’t belong in science fiction.canstockphoto19778842

I’m not really a romance reader and I’d be the first to say that my stories are SF action/adventure with a strong romance arc. Mostly. I think. And we get back to the old question of genre.

Back in the very recent past we didn’t have a science fiction romance genre. You had a choice: science fiction or romance. So you took your chances. Have your book panned by the hard-line SFers who didn’t want any of the smulchy squishy stuff, or have your book panned by the romance die-hards who protested your story wasn’t a romance because it wasn’t the raison d’etre of the plot.

Let’s consider my latest effort, Crisis at Validor, because… just because.

Is it a romance?Picture of cover for Crisis at Validor

I’ve included the Romance Writers of America definition of romance.

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

  • A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
  • An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Click here to better understand the subgenres within romance.

So that’s what the RWA had to say. Let’s get back to Crisis at Validor.

Is it a love story? Yes. Two people who had been in ‘love’ in their teens meet up and find the ember still glows

Is it the main plot arc? I believe you can tell this by asking the question – if you take out the romance would you still have a story? And the answer to that (IMO) is also yes. (But the romance raises the stakes for both parties)

So it’s not a romance, it just has a romantic arc with a couple of non-specific squishy scenes. I think.

Is it science fiction?

Is it SF? When we’re discussing speculative fiction (which we are) Orson Scott Card gives a very interesting definition of the difference between science fiction and fantasy. “If the story is set in a universe that follows the same rules as ours, it’s science fiction. If it’s set in a universe that doesn’t follow our rules, it’s fantasy.” “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” p22. On that definition Crisis at Validor certainly is SF.

Is it hard SF? No, it’s not. It’s space opera which the purists consider to be ‘soft’ SF. But it is SF, with non-humanoid aliens with their own politics and their own problems, space ships, inter-planetary travel and the like. There’s no magic, even if inter-planetary travel is pretty slick. If you want an explanation, see my post on planet hopping.

But I’m sure as hell certain that with that cover and that romance arc, it won’t be popular with the ‘straight’ SF community. I recently saw a request by a prominent SF writer (female) who is collecting data for a degree. She wanted the names of women who have published in science fiction since 2000. That’s fine – but she very specifically states that she doesn’t want straight science fiction romance.

And that, folks, sums it up for me. Pick your cliché

  • rock and a hard place
  • devil and the deep blue sea
  • out of the frying pan into the fire

The fact is, we have to pick a genre when we publish. I’ve opted for the soft and squishy SFR option – and I firmly believe that if you can classify Romeo and Juliet, Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago as ‘romances’ then there’s room for romance arcs that don’t necessarily end up as HEA or HFN. I’ve said before I see the SFR genre as a continuum, and I hold to that view. There’s room for all kinds of nuances on that line.

I’d love to hear your take on this debate.

That’s it? That’s the plan? #SFRBpresents

Cover for Kuralon RescueA little more from Kuralon Rescue. Jirra and Siena have enlisted two more people for their quest; two metre tall ex-trooper Toreni, and disgraced detective Chet. In this snippet, Siena explains the grand plan to Chet.

**************
“I go down there as a prospective investor, and find out what I can, wanting to see the land, the town, what the prisoners can offer, that sort of thing. The prisoners must be taken out to work outside the jail. We find Anton and rescue him from his work duty. We hide, tell Jirra we’ve got him and she comes down in the ship to pick us up.”
“How are you going to spring him?” Chet asked.
Siena looked at Jirra.
“We haven’t had a chance to work that out.” Jirra felt the heat rise from her neck. She’d never had to plan, not with Prasad, Admiral Ravindra and Morgan along. Now she said the words, it sounded pathetic.
One eyebrow arched above those green eyes. “What intelligence do you have?”
“Not much. Only what we could get on the public systems.” Jirra kicked herself. If she’d applied herself at Crossmar, using some of Morgan’s little toys, she could have found out more.
Chet put her elbows on the table and covered her face with both hands. Her fingers slid down until she could see over the top. “That’s it? That’s the plan?” Her words sounded muffled through her hands.

**************

Oh dear. They’re not very well organised, are they?

 

Into which pigeonhole does this book fit?

picture of bookshelf filled with booksThe recent brouhaha over science fiction and science fiction romance has got me thinking about genre. It’s a necessary concept. When I walk into a bookstore (or look up an online bookstore) I don’t what to have to trawl through the eleventy-billion books I really won’t be interested in reading, so I’m glad the shelves are marked. Personally, I’ll head for the SFF section first (Science Fiction and Fantasy – they always seem to be lumped together). There, you’ll find books by Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Elspeth Cooper, George R. R. Martin, Jack Mc Devitt, C.J. Cherryh, Star Wars, Star Trek and also vampires, werewolves and the like. But not science fiction romance – not on physical shelves, anyway. I found Linnea Sinclair’s books in the romance section. The only reason I found them was because I was looking – I do not normally read romance.

Genre, you see. It’s all about marketing. Into which pigeonhole does this book fit? I had some fun drawing a diagram to illustrate some of the complexities of genre.

diagram of ranges in genreSome genres are pretty easy. In romance, the romance must be the focus of the plot, and it must have a happy ever after (HEA) ending or a happy for now (HFN) ending. I talked about the rules of romance here. But every genre has ‘shades of grey’ (yeah, yeah). Science fiction ranges between hard SF and soft SF. I discussed that here. On the hard SF – soft SF line, I’d put most space opera sort of in the middle. Star Wars and Star Trek would definitely be down the soft SF end, McDevitt’s books would be down the hard SF end. Romance has its continuum, too, often expressed in degrees of ‘heat’ (ie explicit sex scenes). In ‘sweet’ romance, the scene stops at the bedroom door. In erotic romance, the sex is explicit.

Now we get to science fiction romance, which is a combination of two genres. The SCIENCE romance – ROMANCE science line indicates what is the most important focus of the work. Would we have a story without the romance? Would we have a story without the science? I would suggest that real SFR should be down the science ROMANCE end – I think Avatar is a good example. Without the romance, there is no story. The science is of less importance. And in Avatar the explicitness of the sex component is most definitely ‘sweet’. Interestingly enough, one of McCaffrey’s early works, Restoree, is listed in science fiction. Yet Restoree is without a doubt science fiction romance, with a ‘sweet’ tag on the sex register.

It’s a pretty complex combination of components.

So what is this analysis all about? I’m reviewing where I want my own work to fit.

When I started writing, I knew I’d write SF because that’s what I like. But I wanted to add a bit of emotion to my writing. Most SF either seemed to leave out love and sex (Asimov), or it was so understated that it almost disappeared. An example of the latter is Moon’s Serrano series. SF was pulp fiction, with an expectation that it was fast-paced action-adventure. A response to a query I sent to a publisher around 2008 reinforced that belief. “Well written, but needs more action.” So I added more action. Still no cigar.

Okay, what about science fiction romance? Ah, but the SFR books are in the romance section. This has an advantage in one way, because romance sales are way, way more than SF. But it seems only a small subset of romance readers will read SF. Moreover, the expectation for the romance genre is that the romance is the core of the book. No romance, no story. I can honestly say that not one of my books fits that definition. Of them all, the Iron Admiral duo come closest and even with those two I had to do some serious tweaking for my editor to agree it had earned a romance tag.

We are told that sticking to one genre when writing is a good idea. And it makes sense. Let’s go back to that bookshop and see where we go shopping, how we go shopping. I can give an example from my own experience. I read Elizabeth Moon’s SF books. So I bought Speed of Dark. But that book, award winner though it is, is about her son’s autism. I wasn’t in the least bit interested. I had a similar experience with a Ruth Rendell novel that wasn’t what I had expected,

With that in mind, I resolved to write SFR, albeit with less emphasis on the romance. However, it meant I had to come up with convincing HEA or HFN outcomes for my protagonists. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it hasn’t always been a satisfying outcome for me – or my readers. I’m now going back and making some changes to Starheart, removing the HEA ending and downplaying the romance element. I’ll do some tweaking to Morgan’s Choice, too. Some of the rules of romance just don’t sit comfortably with me.

What’s the outcome? Well, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed read with a complex plot – come on in, sit right down. Would you like to call that pulp fiction? Sure. Will there be some emotional elements, some sex? Sure. Love is a powerful emotion, sex is a fundamental driving force. You’ll find those things in everything I write. Do I do my research? You bet I do. I try to make my science sound, my history correct, my settings convincing. I suppose, when it comes right down to it, I’d prefer to see my books in the science fiction section. Both they, and I, feel more comfortable there.