And this led me to a question if there's really a difference in tastes and a difference in audience expectations between the Hollywood motion picture industry and the New York (Big 5 traditional) publishing industry, or if the difference is merely a perception.
How did I formulate these perceptions?
Actually, they came right from the horse's mouth, so to speak. These are the paraphrased words of New York editors I've gleaned from retreats, editor panels, judged contest entries, publisher spotlights, and yes, even rejection letters, for the past three years.
And unfortunately these perceptions--or very possibly misperceptions--are creating their own reality. Because if editors don't buy books because they contain both science fiction and romance, then readers can't read them. And if readers can't read them, then it's true that they'll have a limited audience. The perception creates the reality.
Now let's look at Hollywood.
When a motion picture is made, the audience dynamics are taken into consideration. Generally, couples or families are going to go see films together so when it comes to science fiction, the films are formulated to include elements that will appeal to a wider audience. That element is usually romance.
- Star Wars was a sweeping Sci-Fi (or Science Fantasy, if you prefer) adventure with an iconic romance--Han and Leia.
- Avatar was unabashedly a Sci-Fi Romance--and an alien romance at that--and became one of the biggest blockbusters of all time.
- Oblivion had at it's heart a romance that spanned decades and the fall of civilization, and even overcame a so-called "memory-wipe."
- Battleship was a SFR between a ne'er-do-well Naval officer and an Admiral's daughter. Yes, there was a lot of action and explosions and alien battles in between, but the story started and ended with the romance.
- The re-imagined Star Trek franchise has strong elements of romance, most notably between Spock and Uhura.
- Contact featured a romance between a scientist and a clerical leader who discovered their beliefs were more alike than different via their experiences--the film simply wouldn't have had the same punch without the romance.
- Serenity, the motion-picture adaption of the cult TV favorite Firefly, played heavily on the Captain Mal/Inara romantic elements.
These are only a few of the SF with R offerings of the past couple of decades, so where does the New York perception arise that science fiction and romance don't work together, when they clearly make for some enormous audiences and huge successes in Hollywood?
Is it because we read books as individuals instead of as couples or families, so the tastes of the individual must be catered to without thought to their significant other or family members?
If so, then how did the perception that individual readers will reject either the science fiction or the romance in SFR originate, especially when it's so popular and so widely accepted, and even sought after, on screen?
Why are New York and Hollywood light years apart in this respect?
What are your thoughts on why New York isn't keen on SFR? Do you believe the reading and viewing audiences are two different groups or that they expect different things in a book than they expect in a motion picture? Do you believe the perception in New York arises from the failure of SFR books in the past to find a substantial audience? Or do you think it's rooted in other factors? We'd love to hear your opinions.