Aliens, Spaceships and Love in the Stars (Part 2) by Cassiel Knight

So, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post focusing on science fiction (futuristic) romances from the nineties. Today, I’d like to talk about science fiction romances as we know them now. Again, with the caveat that I know I will be missing some awesome authors and stories. This genre has exploded so that it would take a book to write about the, um, books. <grin>

First, I want to start with terminology. Why? Because futuristic romance no longer exists. At least, the term futuristic doesn’t. There are a lot of us die-hard fans that still call “space” romances futuristic, and if you do a search online for futuristic romance, you’ll get a lot of hits. What I didn’t see was a definition from Wikipedia. Not that I think Wikipedia is THE source of information; however, rarely would you not find an entry.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, for most of the publishing world, futuristic romances are a thing of the past. For the most part, especially in the Big 6, they aren’t buying them. Not like the ones from the past. They are different now. Whatwe have now are space romances categorized as science fiction romance, romantic science fiction and the catch-all term of paranormal romance.

In fact, the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA doesn’t even have a search for futuristic in their Book tab. Instead, they call it science fiction.

Because of this, it’s harder to scan a row of books and find the futuristic gems I’m looking for. And nowadays, with variations of futuristic/science fiction, you can find post-apocalyptic futures, which are becoming more popular and steampunk. So many great choices under the ambiguous term of paranormal romance. Oh, for the days when you knew clearly what you were getting.

For those of you who like some solid definitions, here are some I’ve borrowed from Heather Massey’s terrific website, The Galaxy Express (www.thegalaxyexpress.net) where she talks about all things science fiction and futuristic romance:

Romantic Science Fiction is science fiction (SF) with a romantic subplot. The speculative elements drive the plot. Remove the subplot and the story continues with no effect. Romantic SF falls under the SF umbrella since a happily-ever-after is not guaranteed.

Science Fiction Romance (or Sci-Fi Romance) tends to be a 50-50 split between the SF and the romance. Both interweave to drive the plot forward. Remove one or the other and you’re left with only half of a story. A happily-ever-after of some kind is guaranteed.

Futuristic Romance typically describes stories where the romance drives the plot. Romance with science fiction elements. Remove the speculative elements and the story survives just fine as a romance.

With the demise of Dorchester mass market, they took LoveSpell with them and a real, steady home for futuristics. However, there is hope. Futuristic romances are a thriving part of the e-book field and they are the publishers that continue to call them futuristics.

So, let’s talk about the stories we have now. For me, TOR Romance broke some ground with their line of romances, like The Dare by Susan Kearney. They are hot romances with feisty heroines and lots of space action. Then you have Robin D. Owens’ Heart Mate, a continuing series set in an alien world that is still going strong.

And how about the phenomenal Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, who I’m ashamed to admit I missed in my last article, with her terrific In Death futuristic suspense series that started in ninety-five and is also still going strong.

Dorchester, as they so frequently did, also broke in with a short-lived Shomi line, action-adventure/science fiction romances with their cartoonish covers. These had a lot of unusual settings and intriguing plot lines.

Now, we have some very strong authors in this area. Ann Aguirre, breaking out in a big way with Grimspace, a story about an unusual heroine, Sirantha Jax, who has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized asset. Her space romp takes them all over the galaxy into some very interesting, and dangerous places.

And how about Nalini Singh with her uber-popular Psy/Changling series where she dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

More and more science fiction romances are bursting onto the scene and that excites me. A lot.

The authors writing today have many things in common with the ground-breaking authors of the nineties. Talent, imagination, boldness and a passion for going beyond.

While I love a lot of the new “futuristic” romances, sometimes I still long for the ones from the nineties. They were criticized many times as being “historical romance in space” and for their lack of plot or space technology but I didn’t, and still don’t, care. They were fun. They were entertaining and most of all; they filled a need for those of us who wanted romance with their space romps.

For that, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. And hopefully, in the next six months or so, I’ll have my very own futuristic published. A tribute to the nineties.

And since I’m always up for finding new authors and stories, got any suggestions for me? Some gems I’m missing that I should rush out and get? I picked a couple up from my last post so share away! My Kindle is waiting. <grin>

Happy Reading!

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Posted on June 13, 2012, in Cassiel Knight and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I just published a science fiction romance series this year that I had a lot of struggle trying to categorize when I realize the first book. I settled on “science fiction” and “space opera”, but then later joined the SFR Brigade who use the definitions you mention.

    I like calling my stories “science fiction romances”. They are set on a spaceship, but are definitely 50/50 on the balance of romance versus science fiction. I saved your blog in my feeds as I am collecting “like-minded” science fiction romance authors to follow. I love my new series and hope to write many more. Book 3 is releasing shortly and yet I feel like I am still defining it for myself. It’s hard to look for a wider reader audience when you can’t make up your own mind about how to refer to your books. LOL

    Thanks for the great post.

  2. Gina Fluharty

    There’s a book in my head and I can’t remember the author or the title but I know the story. Sexually active female with awesome tidal wave tattoo that crests up her body pilots a virgin monk across space. Of course, they have hot sex and a relationship blossoms. It was published late 80′s or early 90′s. I loved that story. Wish I could remember the author because it was a fantastic romp.

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