I like big, visual, high-stakes SFR--with equally high-stakes romances--whether set on an advanced phototype ship, in an alien civilization, or a near future solar system expedition.
But in the last couple of years I've noted a definite paradigm shift in popularity from Space Opera SFR to Shifter SFR. That would be Dragon, Wolf, Bear, Lion, Tiger shapeshifters, in spaaaaaaace. And other flavors of SF that edge into the Paranormal sectors of fiction.
Hmmm. Is my work out of step with the times? And what does this mean for the genre?
It concerns me that SFR's already tiny sliver of the Romance pie is now being further divided by these new trends. The genre has always been wildly diverse flavor-wise, but it's struggling (yet again) with what it wants to be when it grows up.
For reference, this is the list of current "types" of SFR that fall under the SFR Brigade's umbrella:
Whew! That's a very broad spectrum for one genre. (Or even one sub-genre, if that's how you choose to classify it.)
Though Shifter SFR isn't yet specifically mentioned, most could probably fall under science fantasy romance, futuristic, slipstream, bio-engineered or alien romance, depending on the level and type of science elements introduced to explain (or not explain) the "shifter" characters.
Looking closer, SFR now seems to be morphing into Paranormal-based SFR and SF-based SFR. That trend concerns me, for a number of reasons.
SFR seems to be about the only genre struggling with this breakdown. Historical Romance is much more cut and dried in what its readership expects--era-based romances. Contemporary Romance is the same--modern themes and complications. Suspense Romance may be a little more diverse in what creates the "suspense" elements for readers.
But SFR?---it's all over the frickin' board!
Some SFR readers like shapeshifters in space. Some like cyborgs. Some like gladiators. Some prefer alien warriors. A unifying theme sometimes helps, like the Pets in Space collections, that joins various genre-diverse stories in a common element. But, all-in-all, the readership of one SFR may not transfer to another.
This made me take a hard look at my planned series to ponder if the vision is still valid for SFR readers.
And my intuition tells me it is.
|Expanded novella coming soon|
The flipside of that is I'm seeing romance themes getting more and more acceptable with SF, since they're now found--or at least given a bit of air time--in some very popular series (televised or otherwise). Even The Martian, where author Andy Weir has stated he intentionally created a hero without a love interest back home on Earth, explored a very subtly portrayed romance between two of the crewmembers, Chris Beck and Beth Johanssen (though the scenes where Commander Lewis actually deals with their mission-taboo romance were cut from the original movie and are only seen in the extended cut version).
So, after much pondering, my advice to myself (to quote a line from an old Star Wars episode) is to: "Stay on target."
So back to writing my SORs (Space Opera Romances).
Have a great week.