Recently in the online science fiction romance community, a reader asked for book recommendations where the colonization and homesteading tropes drove the story. This sparked a lively discussion on Goodreads and in two Facebook groups devoted to SFR, so I thought I’d share some of the resulting recommendations here with this audience. So many books were mentioned that I’ve had to prune the list down a bit, and many drifted into alien abduction territory, which is another theme entirely.
I immediately flash back to two classic Anne McCaffrey series – the Petaybee Trilogy (with Elizabeth Anne Scarbrough) and the Freedom’s Landing books. Both deal with colonies and the people trying hard to make life work on those planets. I liked Petaybee more, mostly because I thoroughly enjoyed the way the feisty colonists pushed back against those “Powers That Be” in the big, cold hearted company. Isn’t there always a bunch of corporate hacks at the bottom of the problems in a colony story? Think of Hadley’s Hope in the Aliens movie.
On the other hand, the alien Catten, not a corporation, and their heartless approach of just dropping human slaves onto the planet to see if they could survive are the root cause of the problems in Freedom’s Landing.
Here are some of the recommendations from other SFR readers (story synopsis will be from first book if this is a series):
Ghost Planet by Sharon L Fisher: Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world — a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
The Barren Planet Romance Series from Rinelle Grey: Stranded on the dying planet of Zerris, Marlee longs for the one thing she can’t have…a family. Due to the noxious gas covering the planet, she can’t conceive a child, and the Council, determined to repopulate the planet, have ended her third — and most precious — relationship. They insist she pick a new mate and try again, but she’s sworn off love and the possibility of ever having a real family.
When a ship from the thriving planet of Urslat crashes on Zerris, Marlee rescues the ship’s daring captain, Tyris. His ship is grounded, winter is setting in, and he won’t survive without help. She offers him a deal…he can live with her if he pretends to be her mate so the Council will leave her alone.
Author Liza O’Connor’s Surviving Terranue is part of her Multiverses series and here’s the story: Leading a colony of frightened people on a new world is rarely easy. The human colonists of Terranue have as their leader, Tamsarandem, the only Soul-bond of Three that has ever existed. Unfortunately, some perceive the innate kindness in the shaman’s choice of leaders as a weakness, thus, challenges begin. From the moment they arrive on the planet, self-survival instincts take hold among the people, putting everyone at risk.
To survive, they must act for the good of the colony rather themselves, even when their natural instincts tell them to do the opposite.
Breath of Life by Christine Pope: Anika Jespers, a homesteader’s daughter on a Gaian colony, thinks she’s destined for a dull existence on her family’s farm. But when her father makes an impossible bargain with their neighbor, one of the alien Zhore, she faces a future different from anything she could have possibly imagined. The familiar story of Beauty and the Beast takes on new life in this SF romance novella, with the Beauty a homesteader’s daughter and the Beast an alien on a faraway colony world.
Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner: In the late 21st Century, with Earth wracked by climate change and political upheaval, an ambitious private foundation launches a starship to find a new world. Aboard Aeon are Catharin Gault, an idealistic astronaut-physician, and scientist-passenger Joseph Devreze, a molecular biologist as brilliant as he is irresponsible. He has his own hidden motives for fleeing old Earth.
Things begin to go amiss while everyone is still in the cold suspended animation called cryostasis, on the long journey through interstellar space.
Programmed to search for a planet with a large moon — the only way to guarantee stable seasons, tides and an Earthlike ecosystem after terraforming — the starship finds a destination better than Catharin ever dared hope for: two Earth-sized planets locked in orbit around each other. Planet Green has abundant plant life and a puzzling lack of large animals. Planet Blue is an oceanic world covered with hurricanes. The green planet with its bright blue moon seems like a perfect stage for the drama of civilization to begin anew and turn out better this time. But the journey took far longer than anyone anticipated, and a millennium of cryostasis exacted a heavy price: insidious molecular damage.
Undersilver by Linda Mooney: The planet had secrets it never revealed, until it was too late.
Centuries ago, mankind’s only hope for survival were the seven vessels specially fitted to send the last survivors of Earth to a planet named New Earth. Seven space ships that became floating cities once they landed on the water-only world teeming with edible seafood, as well as dangerous creatures.
Lt. Jace Novick, of the ship UnderPlatinum, is sent to sister ship UnderSilver to see if he can help find a possible solution to their growing problem. Food is beginning to run low, catches are growing scarcer, and the tension between ships is increasing as starvation becomes imminent.
The Syn-En Series by Linda Andrews was new to me and also has a cyborg component. Here’s the description of the first book: Admiral Beijing York volunteers his army of Synthetically-Enhanced soldiers on a mission to settle a new planet. With the promise of freedom and equality, Bei and his cyborgs encounter death and hardship on a one-way trip to nowhere. Bei has two choices: die slowly in space, or return to Earth and make the Humans who betrayed them pay.
When Nell Stafford passed out it was 2012. When she wakes up naked aboard a starship it’s 2138, and she’s surrounded by Syn-En carrying a grudge against Humans like her. But Nell gained something in her 120-year sleep; somehow, she knows everything the Syn-En need to survive. Now she must convince Bei and his people to trust her — as soon as she learns to trust the mysterious intelligence.
Heart of Stone by Cathryn Cade is the first in the two book Frontiera Series and here’s the plot: He’s an ex-space pirate who’s changed his wicked ways…or has he?
On the wild planet of Frontiera, Rose Thorne is out to save her brother. But when she holds his disreputable boss at gunpoint, Stone Masterson shows her just how ruthless he can be … and how tender. With space pirates on the loose, is she safe in his arms, or is she just another pawn in his struggle to rule this new planet?
Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarian Series came in for multiple mentions. The series is up to fourteen books now and going strong. I’ve enjoyed them — the challenges faced by the humans and the barbarians are diverse and there’s a lot of steamy action. Here’s the blurb for the first book: You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women — including me — on an ice planet.
And the only native inhabitant I’ve met? He’s big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me…
Melisse Aires has a Love on the Space Frontier series…
Aubrie Dionne’s A New Dawn series and her Paradise Reclaimed Series came in for a mention as well.
What colonization novel with romance recommendations do you have for us?