I’m really excited to be a contributor to Amazing Stories – I was raised on science fiction by my Dad, and I used to dream of getting a story published in Analog or If. I actually had a couple of (form letter) rejection slips from John Campbell. I’m sure what I submitted to him in no way fit the hard SF requirements of the day because, you see, I like my SF with R – romance. (Also I was a kid and my writing skills were imaginative but not polished, shall we say?!)
(A piece of trivia: Campbell’s first published story, “When the Atoms Failed,” was in the January 1930 issue of….Amazing Stories! And had the cover… His short story “Who Goes There?” became the movie “The Thing From Another World (1951),” which is one of the most rewatched, beloved films in my blu ray collection.)
So having the Amazing Stories logo to show on my Author page is a very happy moment for me.
My favorite movie of ALL time is “Aliens”, and that’s a good template for my own approach to science fiction romance as an author. Futuristic but recognizable world, military heroes, tense situations, life or death stakes, a strong guy and an equally strong heroine (I’m assuming no one here will argue that Ripley was a weakling, And neither was Nikki in the 1951 “Thing” movie.)…only in my books, there’s time for them to get to know each other and fall in love too. In some of my novels the romance includes much more than a kiss (for sure more than exchanging a locator bracelet as Hicks does with Ripley), but in other books the situation doesn’t allow for more than a promise of a future together. If you’re trying to get off a wrecked ship, battling an alien enemy, as the plot goes in my Wreck of the Nebula Dream, you don’t have time to go off and enjoy a physical encounter!
Growing up I loved the Andre Norton books and the Anne McCaffrey Dragonrider novels, but I always felt there needed to be MORE romance in everything.
So that’s where I come from, and I’ll be talking about the science fiction romance genre in my posts for the most part. I may stray a bit into other areas of SF but my “beat” is SFR. It’s a big Universe, plenty of room for all kinds of stories and encounters!
Two things to know in general about romance. (1) The romance reader expects either a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending or a Happy For Now (HFN) ending. In this space I may talk about books from time to time that don’t strictly meet that requirement, whereas in my USA Today column, which appears on the Happily Ever After blog, I definitely adhere to the rule.
And the second thing is that there are very loosely defined “heat” levels in romance novels, ranging from no love scenes (or none described) to sensual encounters with some direct descriptions, to the really steamy, explicit novels with LOTS of sex. I read all heat levels so the books I’ll mention in this column may fall anywhere along the spectrum.
I guess a third point would be that the whole SFR genre is very fluid and flexible, which leads to some fun stories!
We’ve got aliens, cyborgs, sexy intergalactic gladiators, genetically engineered humans, space pirates, futuristic archaeologists, bounty hunters….but today I’ll keep my focus on books featuring the military or ex-military men and women of the future.
Pauline Baird Jones’ The Key is an exciting series with nonstop adventure, featuring a woman top gun pilot from Earth and an alien fighter pilot, stranded together in space.
The Frost Station Alpha series by Ruby Lionsdrake is set in outer space rather than on good old Earth, with the engineered human beings struggling to keep their people alive and a military heroine who has to struggle with some thorny choices about which side she’s truly on. She and her enemy have to make a lot of decisions about how far their respective ethics can be bent.
Hell Squad, a series featuring kickass soldiers – male and female – by Anna Hackett is one I’m really addicted to. Set on a dystopian future Earth, with dinosaur like alien invaders for the ragtag military heroes to battle, the characters are trying to save what’s left of the human race.
No discussion of tough heroines would be complete without the Rachel Bach Paradox series, featuring heroine Devi Morris. She’s a skilled mercenary with a kickass suit of armor and I love her! Fortune’s Pawn is the first book in this series.
Black Ice Heart (Space Grit Book 1) by Ella Drake has more of an Alienesque feel to it and isn’t as much of an SFR, but I’ll include it because I think it’s the start of a highly intriguing series. I couldn’t turn away from the story, that’s for sure!
A novel that gets mentioned by many people as the first SFR they ever read is Susan Grant’s Star King, which begins when a female fighter pilot is shot down over the Middle East and encounters a stranger from another world. The adventure moves out into the galaxy later in the book, where an alien enemy wants to destroy both their worlds.
Greta van der Rol’s The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy (Ptorix Empire Book 1) is another story often cited as a “gateway book” to SFR. A systems engineer and a retired Admiral known as “The Destroyer” must work together to avert an interspecies war.
I’ll include one of my novels here, because I’m an author as well as an avid reader. My most recently released novel featuring an ex-military hero and a kickass heroine is Star Cruise: Marooned. Left behind on a deserted alien planet when their ship suddenly departs, they have innocent passengers to protect as well saving themselves.
That’s probably enough to start this column off with! I plan to post here two Thursdays a month, and cover various aspects of the SFR genre. Let me know if there’s a topic or a book or an author you think might be good to include. I’m always open to suggestions, although I make no guarantees – I can’t cover everything and still get my own novels written!
Best wishes for an excellent 2016…