Friday, October 3, 2008

Sound Off about SFR

We've been revelling all week on what's so great about Science Fiction Romance, but there's always room for improvement. I asked for a few comments on what fans aren't so happy about, and boy, did I get them. Here's a Sound Off:

While mental lusting has its merit, I'm all for reining it in as far as science fiction romance is concerned. I think that in the romance genre as a whole, there's an over-reliance on mental lusting for both building sexual tension as well as for character development. Too much of it lapses into telling, not showing. Plus, page after page of it lessens the impact.

I'd love to read more Mundane SF stories, near-future, and alternate history with a romance. Oh, and let's have some alien shape shifters with super superpowers!

I prefer titles that are more SF and less romance-y (e.g., Wicked Hot Intergalactic Lover). Not to be confused with titles that invoke a sense of romantic adventure--those are great.

Do authors and publishing professionals even give a horse’s hiney about what we think? For the love of Spock! Gives us some stories with Heroes and Heroines who are not all Alphas and Kick-Butts, Caucasian-looking, between the ages of 25 and 35, and childless, regardless of how many times they do it against every bulkhead on their spaceship, their perfect pecks and perky boobs (no stretch marks, of course) described in graphic detail. SFR readers love the Fantastic Unknown. Tastes vary, but the only cardinal rule is the ‘Happily Ever After’ ending.

I'd like to see more variety in Science Fiction Romance. I mean, there's a whole universe of possibilities out there. So many have the same elements again and again--pirates, smugglers, princes, princesses. There's a myriad of other occupations, and a broad spectrum of government types that could be incorporated to avoid the rubber stamp feeling so many novels of the genre take on. Also, I get bugged when a novel is labeled as Science Fiction and the author creates a planet full of vampires or werewolves. There's no limit to imaginative possible life forms that could be created, why use the same old tired Fantasy icons?

Thinking green is great, but not when it comes to plots. I have a lot of gripes about recycled ideas. Most of them here: The Great List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches.

Names that are too complex to read and hold in your head, too much world building too early on in the story, not enough sex in them (each to his own!!!). Heroines that are too in your face - too kick ass too much!! You know what I mean? It emasculates the men and diminishes them. Also, plots that are too complicated. I liked THE OUTBACK STARS apart from the magic aboriginal angle thing, but I liked Terry much more than the heroine. I can't remember her name either! I like the softer scifi romance without too much technical stuff. I don't need three pages telling me how a ship works.

I think telepathy is a little overdone. Why do so many stories set in the future have somebody with the power to read minds? I would love to see genuine character interaction without at least one character having the ability to know what the other is thinking.

Is there some universal law in SFR that names have to start with d'something-or-other?

Pet peeves...Sci Fi that isn't original. With all you can do with worldbuilding I hate to see the same ol same ol Star Trek or Star Wars flashback. Beam me up, hyperdrive, cyborgs, anti-grav sex. Please use your imagination and yes sci fi can have fantasy elements, don't be afraid to use them and be creative.

I love fresh world-building and a writer who isn't afraid they might offend. I love writers who don't censor. I don't care if they say F*&#, as long as it's not just to throw in gratuitous cussing. If it truly reflects the characters personality, by all means, give em a potty mouth. I'm a big girl. I also hate books that preach to me, whatever it is the writers belief, personal, political or environmental. It's okay to write about it, sure it makes for great stories, but don't make it an obvious soap box. I also hate when writers hedge sex scenes. If you're going to write romance, don't hedge and shut the doors. I think it kills the tension. I'm not saying they all have to be graphic and dirty, but god don't lead me to the door and slam it in my face. I hear a lot of people say they'd rather not read it, but I'll bet if you get some of them one on one, they'd admit that they actually like it. Stop being a public prude... Write what you want and stop censoring yourselves because you think that all your readers are prudes. Let us make the decisions for ourselves.

Thanks to those who took off their gloves and let us have it straight to the jaw. Sometimes we need to know what's wrong, as well as what's right.

6 comments:

  1. Laurie,
    All of your reader comments are fantastic. I have a comment that I did not see addressed. My pet peeve in SFR, in addition to plot holes that you can drive a MACK truck through, and characters that are TSTL, is the writer who doesn't do his/her homework in worldbuilding.

    I can get over the writer creating something that is impossibe according to the known laws of physics, if, and only if, the writer presents it in good enough BS form that I can think "cool BS!" This generally presents itself in the form of 'faster than light' travel, and is fine. Space distances are just to great to traverse with the technology that we have now.

    What I can't handle, and pulls me right out of the story, is a planet being described which *ABSOLUTELY CANNOT* support human live. A case in point: Frank Herbert's DUNE. In DUNE, people should not have been able to live unprotected upon the surface of the planet Arakis. There was virtually no water, of which the human body needs 70% availability; and there should not have been enough oxygen. Herbert gets around this with the great BS device of the worms being the source of the oxygen on the planet.

    When it comes to new worlds, a writer must, either know the laws of physics and what the human organism can tolerate, or come up with some really creative BS that can make the reader believe the world is plausible.

    Frances Drake
    Writing Science Fiction Romance
    Real Love in a Real Future
    http://frances-writes.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points, Frances, and I can't agree more that SciFiRom needs a good foundation in science before the liberal doses of imagination are applied.

    One of my personal pet peeves is starships that corner, bank, etc. Those are aerodynamic functions which don't exist in a vacuum. (A few of the Star Wars scenes make me cringe.) In space, movement is going to be defined by the main propulsion system--whatever it may be--and retro rockets or similar 'small burst' energy drives that make course adjustments or allow for very subtle or intricate movement, as in docking. Also, away from the gravitational fields of other objects, the vehicles can fly upside down, backward, sideways...it really doesn't matter, because there are no lift forces at work on the vessel surfaces. They aren't souped up jet fighters, they're a whole 'nother animal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I also hate when writers hedge sex scenes. If you're going to write romance, don't hedge and shut the doors. I think it kills the tension. I'm not saying they all have to be graphic and dirty, but god don't lead me to the door and slam it in my face. I hear a lot of people say they'd rather not read it, but I'll bet if you get some of them one on one, they'd admit that they actually like it. Stop being a public prude... Write what you want and stop censoring yourselves because you think that all your readers are prudes. Let us make the decisions for ourselves."

    First of all, not wanting to read graphic sex scenes does not make a person a prude, and so what if it does? Prude comes from 'prudent' which means to consider things carefully, and that's a healthy thing. Readers who don't like graphic scenes feel that way for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with morality. Personally, all the graphic descriptions of naked body parts reminds me too much of childbirth and makes me want to gag. Puh-leeze, I know what it all looks like and how it all works! Leave something for my imagination!

    2) If you've found Science Fiction Romance which does not include graphic sex scenes, please recommend them by title and/or author. I can't find any and I'm always searching for them so I can recommend them to my younger friends and friends who have sensitive stomachs like me.

    On a positive note, if the love story is well done the nookie doesn't jerk me out of the story no matter how graphic. The trouble is a lot of people have forgotten that Hot Nookie does not equal True Love. It can happen as a result of True Love, but it is not True Love and it does not ensure Happily Ever After. So, when Hot Nookie is substituted for True Love in SFR, or any novel, I roll my eyes, groan, and throw the book against the wall. I cannot suspend my disbelief for it.

    But, I think this illustrates a common theme throughout the Sounds-Offs. *Readers want more variety!*

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gosh, these are all such valid points. On the other hand, if you ask me, it also shows that there's not a whole lot wrong with SFR. The main pattern I see emerging is that, like Kimber An said, variety is key--and I would add more of it.

    Frances, you make a good point about plausible science. I think authors can do this without turning it into a science lesson ("...three pages telling me how a ship works"--exactly).

    A lot of it is in the little details, too, like you mentioned, Laurie (regarding the "banking"). Even if an SFR focuses more on the romance, it's important to get even the tiniest worldbuilding details correct/plausible because you're doing more with less.

    Why? One, so the reader doesn't get pulled out of the story, and two, the target audience for these stories are often the same people who follow science news and/or are/were in the military. I really appreciate it when an author gets those details right because it shows they know what excites their readers.

    Kimber An, I was on the verge of making some recommendations but even though the sensuality is totally sweet, the mature themes/violence of some stories made me hesitate to recommend said books for anyone under 18. It's a tough call sometimes. But it'd be nice to have a number of "sweet" SFR, whatever that would be. Like WALL-E for young adults/adults.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the ping, Heather. Very interesting topic. :)

    ReplyDelete

Comments set on moderation - all spammers will be exterminated!