Jules Verne. William Gibson. E.E. “Doc” Smith. Zenna Henderson. Isaac Asimov. Ben Bova. Ursula K. LeGuin. S. M. Stirling. Vernor Vinge. Octavia Butler.
If you’re a science fiction fan, these names have weight. They evoke hours of breathless adventure and pages of mind-expanding ideas. Each and every one of these writers saw the universe in a different way, a unique and special way. To pick up one of their books is to share in that writer's vision and ride along with him on his journey. And what a ride it can be!
Jules Verne’s trip to the moon was very different from Ben Bova’s, and not just because of the difference in the time in which they were writing. Zenna Henderson and Octavia Butler both wrote about people with special powers here on Earth, but that’s where the similarities ended. Asimov and Vinge are both scientists, but their books? Nothing alike.
The wonderful thing about science fiction has always been that it is broad enough stylistically to encompass both an Edgar Rice Burroughs and a Phillip K. Dick. It’s a big galaxy out there, folks. It ought to be big enough to include science fiction romance in all its facets, too.
Recently we launched the SFR Brigade, a community of writers and readers committed to promoting SFR more widely in as many ways as possible. Over on THE GALAXY EXPRESS, Heather Massey was kind enough to give us a plug, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. A few commenters, though, were reluctant to jump in, fearing there might not be room for “their” SFR in the pool.
On the one hand, you have a contingent of writers and readers who have come over from the SF side for whom the romantic elements, and especially the sex, can be said to be secondary. They feel pressure to accept more sex in the books they write and read and feel there’s no room for stories without it.
On the other hand, you have a number of writers and readers, many of whom are most comfortable in the e-publishing world, who wonder whether there is any room for erotica in SFR. They feel squeezed out of the mainstream publishing world entirely.
Somewhere in the middle of this continuum, I suspect, are the Susan Grants, Linnea Sinclairs, Nalini Singhs and Alexis Morgans of the world, who have found a way to write successful SFR novels that combine SF, romance and sex in a way that satisfies most people. So, too, have writers like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Angela Knight and Deidre Knight, who have combined brilliant careers in paranormal romance with SFR.
These women prove that it IS possible to sell science fiction romance “to New York”. The idea behind the SFR Brigade is that the more noise we make, the more possible it becomes. For ALL of us.
Does that mean you have to wholeheartedly support every possible manifestation of SFR just because someone says she’s a fellow space traveler? No. You don’t chuck your judgment or your personal taste out the airlock when you come onboard. Still, just as with any other group enterprise, you use your tact and sensibility as a member of this crew. You can support SFR and simply say your personal preference is not erotica or military space thrillers or whatever.
We all have a larger goal ahead of us. It should be the same goal, whether the SFR we love boasts spaceships or steam-science, aliens in our heads or aliens in three-ways. The more we have to offer readers, the more we will be able to find agents and editors who can not only believe in us, but believe with us: In science fiction romance love has no limits.