Cyborgs are an ever fascinating, evergreen trope in science fiction romance and USA Today Best Selling Author Cynthia Sax writes some of the best! Sizzling, as she sometimes says. December 2 is known as ‘cyber Monday’ for shopping but in the SFR world it’s also “Cyborg Monday” so I thought there was no one better to interview this week than Ms. Sax.
She recently released Dominance and Dissent (Cyborg Exploration Book 3) and here’s the blurb: To earn the love of his curvy human, this cyborg will have to set her free. Dissent has one primary mission—to find his female and protect her.
He doesn’t know who she is, where she’s situated, or what she looks like. That doesn’t stop him from searching the universe for her. He’s a cyborg and he’s determined. He WILL track her down.
While the J Model warrior is exploring a settlement on a merchant planet, he hears a defiant scream. Dissent has finally located the one being he’s genetically compatible with. He rushes to his little human’s side, ready and willing to defend her, eager to claim his female…forever.
Greer has only one dream—to be free. She’s been a slave her entire lifespan, has been subjected to soul-crushing abuse and pride-shredding humiliation. When an opportunity to escape presents itself, she takes it. Steps away from independence, she’s apprehended.
As she looks death in the face, waiting for the final strike, a tall, handsome cyborg warrior saves her. He exudes power, makes her tremble with desire, is unlike any of the males she’s ever known…except in one heartbreaking way.
He wants to own her.
As Dissent and Greer battle for dominance, danger looms. An enemy from the past has returned. He’s heavily armed, he’s not alone, and his sole goal is to kill both of them.
Veronica Scott for AMAZING STORIES MAGAZINE: What do you think the appeal of cyborgs is to science fiction romance readers?
CS: The appeal of cyborgs for me is the conflict between their machine side and their human side, between logic and emotion, between the head and the heart. I think we all have that conflict. Should we take jobs that feed our families or jobs that feed our souls? Should we listen to our brains or to our guts?
Cyborgs are also often military heroes and who doesn’t love someone who is willing to die to protect others? That type of bravery and self-sacrifice is definitely worth writing and reading about.
ASM.: What inspired you to start writing cyborgs? Have there been any new developments in the genre that excite you?
CS: I have always been fascinated with cyborgs but I first viewed them as romantic heroes when I read Laurann Dohner’s Cyborg Seduction series and Eve Langlais’ Cyborgs: More Than Machines series. Those stories shifted my universe.
I started writing my first cyborg romance (Releasing Rage) when these two fabulous writers were taking a break from their awesome cyborg series. I was bellyaching to my Dear Wonderful Hubby about having no cyborg romances to read and he told me to write my own.
So I did exactly that. My stories are darker because I wanted to explore why cyborgs, who were often loyal warriors and beings manufactured to serve humans, would rebel. I knew that reason had to be serious, had to involve pain.
I am super excited about how some writers are applying the concept of cyborgs to non-human characters. The being modified isn’t a human. He is a spider shifter or an alien or some other being. I find that fascinating.
ASM.: Can you clarify the various ‘Models’ of cyborg from A to J in your worldbuilding? Do you have a special favorite among your named cyborg characters?
CS: Having a background in product development, I realized cyborgs would evolve as any new development evolves. There would be different models. The early models would be more primitive, likely larger, be single purpose. As technology improved, they would become more ‘efficient’, more compact, more multi-purpose.
It is believed there are no A and B models still in existence. They have all been killed or decommissioned. The C Models are the oldest cyborgs. They are large, savage, are designed only to fight battles and breed. As the cyborgs evolved, they became more human-like and smaller. The J Models look like very large (and very handsome) humans. They have a better grasp on languages. They can take on different roles in society.
Do I have a favorite cyborg? Ahhh…that’s like naming a favorite child. I love all of the cyborgs in their own way. Power, however, fascinates me. He seems extremely arrogant yet every once in a while, I catch a hint of vulnerability in him. It makes me think the arrogance might be an act.
Or it might not be. (grins) I never know with Power.
ASM.: Power is an intriguing character all right, can’t wait to read more about him. I’m still really fond of Vector and Vapor and…well, okay, point taken, hard to pick only one! What were your major influences when writing Dominance and Dissent?
CS: All of the cyborgs are protective but Dissent, the hero of Dominance And Dissent, takes that trait to the extreme. He believes safeguarding others, especially his female if he is fortunate to find her, is his primary goal in life.
A mentor once told me that the opposite of safety isn’t danger. It is freedom. The safer we are, the less freedom we usually have. Some of the safest people in the world are prisoners in solitary confinement.
I thought it was apt that Dissent’s female, Greer, would be a slave determined to free herself. She struggles with Dissent’s need to protect her and Dissent struggles with her need to escape him, views it as putting herself in danger.
Altair Alpha, the planet Greer lives on, is a merchant planet. Slaves, as well as other goods, are bought and sold in the settlements. I’ve studied similar markets/settlements that have existed in the past and still exist on Earth today and I used that research to help craft the Altair Alpha settlement.
As merchants and other beings visiting Altair Alpha are bringing items to buy or sell, the beings living on the planet don’t have to produce food or other goods. The terrain could be inhospitable for growing things.
I immediately thought of the Canadian Shield, that awesome part of Canada that is covered with exposed Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks. Altair Alpha’s surface is covered with a similar bedrock-type rock. Water rushes through the cracks (as water is often necessary for life) but the vegetation is limited.
I liked the contrast of the seldom-changing Altair Alpha with the always-shifting Khambalia 5 featured in the previous story, Doc’s Orders. It emphasized how out of place and scared Nibbler, the baby miljoonasuut, would feel on his new planet.
ASM.: How did you arrive at the truly fascinating miljoonasuut? What kind of research did you have to do or? Quite a lifeform to have as a pet! He was intriguing.
CS: Miljoonasuuts are awesome. They resemble giant pill bugs (also called roly-polies, doodle bugs or wood shrimps) but are much more deadly.
Pill bugs have hard, segmented exoskeletons and I knew the cyborgs would appreciate that design. Like miljoonasuuts, pill bugs eat almost anything. They can dissolve heavy metals.
Miljoonasuuts are larger, faster and much more dangerous, however. They have multiple mouths and numerous sharp teeth on their undersides. That would also appeal to the cyborg warriors. They have respect for all efficient predators.
Respect can often be a step along the path to caring. Many of the cyborgs are looking for someone or something to love. Miljoonasuuts are rather grumpy recipients of their affection. (grins)
ASM.: Is there a TV show or movie you’ve recently binge watched and what do you like about it?
CS: The trend that I’m absolutely loving in movies right now is the long, multi-movie build. We saw that with ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and with M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Glass’. Individual movies in those two series can be watched on their own yet build to and are woven together in a super powerful final movie.
I enjoy re-watching the previous movies and looking for the breadcrumbs or hints the filmmakers have left for us. I have great respect for these storytellers for taking all of those plots and wrapping them up well in one final movie.
I’m impressed that they took that risk. So many things could have prevented them from making those last movies. Yet they accepted that challenge and they completed it.
This is something I very much want to do with my cyborg and alien romance series. I want readers to enjoy the stories as standalones but I also want the stories to build, for actions in one story to reverberate through the entire world. I would like to eventually see all of the series come together.
ASM.: Who is your cover artist?
CS: Amanda Kelsey from Razzle Dazzle Design crafts all of my cyborg and alien romance covers. She is AWESOME and I’m so happy to work with her.
We’ve teamed up to establish a few guidelines around Cynthia Sax cover. They should have sexy manchest because I write sexy stories and I love manchest. (grins) They should have some space images like planets or stars so reading buddies know it is a SciFi Romance. Plus I love those types of images.
Other than that, I fill out a cover request form, sharing what my characters look like, the blurb, the setting, a short excerpt, etc. and Amanda does her magic.
ASM.: What’s next for you?
CS: I’m currently working on Warlord Reunited, the fourth story in the Chamele Barbarian Warlords series. That reunion alien romance will be releasing in February. I think reading buddies are really going to enjoy it. The emotions are so strong.
After that, I’ll work on the next cyborg romance. That will be North’s story. The cyborgs are heading to Balazoid Minor, the home of Steve, the male-eating plant. That story will be a blast to write and to read.
ASM.: What’s on your To Be Read List?
CS: I have not yet read Daegan, your latest Badari Warriors story! It is in my online library but I told myself I have to complete Warlord Reunited first.
I have to bribe myself with great books or I won’t write. I would read all day long.
For more about Cynthia and her books go to http://cynthiasax.com/