Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tomboys of Romance

Science Fiction Romance is a niche genre--a sub-subgenre--and a hybrid that combines the shiny aspects of technology found in Science Fiction with the emotional vulnerabilities of the human heart found in Romance. SFR often pits the attraction of the main characters against a universe of overwhelming odds, or an impossible dream of ever finding happiness.

In SFR, the heroine is seldom a delicate flower, she is more often the hero's match, maybe not in raw strength, but in saavy, smarts and surviving on her wits.

She can more often be found in a flight suit or leather jacket and deck boots than a dress.  Her natural habitat might be in the captain's seat, the engine room, or instigating a brawl in a seedy watering hole on Cirrus 6.

So why do we write this stuff?  And from where do these daring, resourceful heroines manifest?

Through the SFR Brigade--a collective voice of some 170 writers and authors of SFR--I've heard a lot of "How I Came to Write SFR" stories.  Most profiles have a definite pattern, and they usually start...

I read Science Fiction as a kid, romance as a teenager, and later longed for stories that blended both. But I couldn't find any.  So I started writing my own.


I fell in love with the Han and Leia love story in Star Wars.  The impact of their conflicted romance set in the adventurous realm of a war in space completely captured my imagination, but I couldn't find any books like that.  So I started writing my own.


I was a Trekkie from way back, but most Science Fiction I watched was missing something.  It lacked the full blown emotional development of the characters or that ellusive happily ever after.  (I may have even dabbled in romantic fan fiction starring Spock or Captain Kirk.)  But I couldn't find any published novels like that.  So I started writing my own.

I also noticed that SFR writers often tended to be the more adventurous females as children.  We were the tree-climbers, the sole girl on the soccer field at recess, the ones who experimented with motorcycles, fast horses, martial arts or surfing, while our peers were content to dabble in lipstick colors and new hairstyles. We were aspiring Amelia Earharts, Annie Oakleys and Sally Rides. 

We were seldom cheerleaders, more often found in the marching band or playing powderpuff football.  We thought exploring a forest or a museum was much more fun that hanging out at the mall.  We were curious and inquisitive--and sometimes daring--and we would often make our parents shake their heads in dismay.  How many times we heard: "That is not how a young lady acts!"

We usually preferred male company to female.  We were the girls-next-door, the sort the guys liked to hang out with, but not necessarily take out on Friday nights. (Until they got smart).  We were more often clad in jeans and sweatshirts than skirts and blouses. 

And we matured chasing our preferences for something exciting, non-traditional or beyond the norm.  We joined the military, law enforcement, became attorneys, pilots, scientists, engineers, and business owners, and continued to push the envelope on what a female should be, how she should behave, how much she could achieve...and what she should write.

And that's why we write Science Fiction Romance.  Because, just like the characters in our stories, we believe we can achieve anything we want, and overcome any obstacle, as long as we always dream big and never surrender.  Though we may have homes, careers, children and responsibilities now, our writing allows us to continue seeking the edge.

What do you think?  Do you consider yourself a Tomboy of Romance? Were/are you an adventuress? A risk taker?  Does my profile of a SFR writer fit you, or were your experiences far different?


  1. Laurie,

    A great post! I was a bit of a tomboy when I was younger, climbing trees, catching tadpoles in the creek. I used to hold snakes and feed turtles, but things changed as I got older. More from geographical changes than anything.

    I am one to question tradition though and I tend to reflect that in my writing.

  2. Oh, yeah. I was the best tackle in my neighborhood, hated putting on a dress to go to school (this was back in the day of dress codes), climbed trees with the best of them. Loved Tarzan almost as much as a good sci fi picture. Later became a TREK fan, wrote fanfic, discovered romance and here I am. Oh, and along the way had adventures in Africa with the Peace Corps and became a martial artist. Guess I fit the profile!

    Still, it's not easy for me to craft a heroine who is a true "warrior". As an adult I'm too much of a peacemaker at heart. I have to dig deep to access my inner child when I write!

  3. Well, I'd say you two certainly fit the mold!

    I too had an adventurous side. I raced go-karts. My first car was a muscle car--a bright orange Dodge Dart Swinger. (Ok, Ok, I brought it from my boyfriend.) I also had a passion for fast horses and speedboats. Oh, and snowmobiles! Marching band? Powderpuff football? Girls softball? Yup, all of those. Later in life, I went through academy and became a reserve police officer.

    (And in spite of all that, I'm a classic introvert.

    No, really!)

  4. Definitely a tomboy. ;) Still, haha.

    I was a child of the 80s and wanted nothing to do with the Cabbage Patch Doll my relatives inflicted on me. I watched Star Trek, the A-team, and MacGyver. My interest in brainy, scheming heroes/heroines probably had its origins in those shows too.

  5. You said it, Laurie. And how well you did. Surely did touch a chord, I can see me there too. Although I was a trained dancer—yeah, that is athletic as well. I was the one taking up for the shy little boys in class, defending their honor, as it were. Adventuresome? Oh yeah. No malls for me. Hated them and still do. I could do ten flips for a trek episode! You get the picture. Thanks for this awesome post. Really! I love your opening statement and just may ask your permission to use it sometime.

  6. Oh yes, the trees. Never met one I didn't want to climb, LOL!

    Wonderful post!

  7. Hmm, definitely a tree climber! Otherwise, was total book geek. Just loved to read. Grew up in a small town and books were my travel and my adventure, so not sure where I fit in there. I started writing romantic suspense, then moved into action adventure and that just naturally took me into space. I can check the Star Wars box, though! I will confess I didn't read a lot of SF when I was young. I thought I wasn't smart enough (grew up just as women's movement took off. What's sad, I did find in science and math until I hit high school. I wonder now, if I could have done better if my teachers had believed I could?)

  8. P.S. But I did have four brothers and was often with them, playing with lizards and snakes and horse back riding. But mostly I read books. (grin)


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Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 5 RWA Golden Heart finals between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of Science Fiction Romance, our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.