In science fiction romance these days, I have a pretty good feeling what the next “hot” thing might be – cyborgs.
Generally the term is used to refer to a human with robotic or bionic implants. (“Six Million Dollar Man” anyone? Which was based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin by the way.) In SFR the cyborgs are often deliberate creations rather than humans who have been altered or became cyborgs as a result of an injury. Edgar Allan Poe described the first cyborg (not that he called his character by that term) in his short story “The Man That Was Used Up,” published in 1839. Cyborgs have been a staple of science fiction for a long time, going back to Edmund Hamilton’s classic tales. There are the Daleks and Cybermen of “Doctor Who”, “Robo-Cop” and the Borg of “Star Trek,” to name just a few. And any time anyone says “cybernetic organism” in my presence, I immediately think of The Terminator.
In science fiction romance the cyborgs are usually big, tough, good looking guys with tip of the spear military skills, who are extremely likely to fall in love with a human woman, often to their mutual surprise. The cyborgs may have been created by humans – the military, corrupt corporations, evil scientists – or by alien races for their own purposes. Cyborg novels come in all heat levels but most are extremely steamy. And remember our rule about SFR from my last post – there will be a Happily Ever After or Happy For Now ending. Cyborgs in SFR also tend to have a band of like-minded “brothers”, the better to write sequels with.
And these novels are extremely fun to read!
The first SF cyborg romance I ever read was Her Cyborg Awakes (Diaspora Worlds) by Melisse Aires. A reluctant member of an interstellar king’s harem escapes off the planet, aided by her cyborg guard. There’s a lot of SF worldbuilding going on as underpinning for the story and the main character really grows into her agency as an individual over the course of the novel. Her cyborg regains his memory (he was a prisoner), which changes the relationship between the characters. Intergalactic politics and war come into the mix. All in all, a good introduction to the genre.
Author Cara Bristol is two books into her new, excellent Psy-Ops series, Stranded With the Cyborg and Mated With the Cyborg. One thing I love about these guys, Brock and Kai respectively, is that they’re members of a covert paramilitary unit, were fine with becoming cyborgs and not only are they resourceful, they have great senses of humor. Not victims in any way! The stakes are high in Ms. Bristol’s novels and there’s a lot going on in the galaxy she’s created as the backdrop for her stories. Her heroines are strong women, which I also really like in a novel. Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) never appeals to me in a leading lady.
New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author Eve Langlais can write SFR cyborgs like nobody’s business and she also includes female cyborgs. There are seven books in her Cyborgs More Than Machines series and in this world, the cyborgs were created as mindless cannon fodder for the military, given numbers not names. Of course being part human they eventually rebel, name themselves and escape, going off to build their own world on another planet. B785 and F814 are two in this series which feature female cyborgs. Ms. Langlais’s books are fast, steamy reads with emphasis on the relationships, which naturally involve a lot of time spent in bed together.
The Cyborg Sizzle series by USA Today Best Selling author Cynthia Sax has three volumes so far, beginning with Releasing Rage. The cyborg hero in this first book has two priorities – kill all the humans who are controlling and abusing him (he’s a soldier) in between sending him into horrific combat, and secondly to escape to the cyborg safe zone on a planet his “brothers” control. He treats the human engineer who serves him very badly but she’s actually in more danger from her fellow officers, who resent her being a woman on ‘their’ turf. The series is billed as a “Dark SF Erotic Romance” and the author herself warns readers on Amazon that if they’re sensitive to violence of any sort, to please read one of her lighter romances instead. But in the end the story is all about the cyborg and the woman he comes to love. I just finished reading Breathing Vapor and I’m eagerly anticipating Crash and Burn in February 2016.
Peyton 313 – Book One of Cyborgs: Man Redefined is an interesting series by Donna McDonald, where one of the creators of the military cyborg program is horrified at what has been done with her original research and works hard to secretly free and restore the men to their original identities. Set on Earth in the not too far off future, the heroine is a widow in her 50’s (although she has a 150 year life expectancy). Peyton, the cyborg she’s trying to save, is a smoking hot Marine captain roughly her age, with a wicked sense of humor. Other than the heroine being very weepy (she feels a lot of guilt for helping enslave the cyborgs), she’s a highly capable scientist. Even a bit of a badass at certain points. Medium heat level. I’m definitely moving on with reading the second book in the series.
There’s also a Young Adult cyborg novel I found while researching this post, which was intriguing – Cyber Dawn (A Ben Raine Novel) by M. L. Adams. The 17 year old hero lost a leg to cancer and spent six years in a top secret cybernetics program but then he finds out he never had cancer. I haven’t read this one myself (yet), but it has excellent reviews and I like the idea that the person who helps him the most is a female hacker his own age. Sounds promising!
Do you have other SFR cyborg recommendations for me?