the fact that aliens are the new vampires hasn’t quite hit the telegraph wires just yet. Trust me: Green is the new red. Translation? Aliens (green) are the new vampires (red/blood.)I'm certain that Deidre Knight knows far, far more about current and forthcoming trends in romance sales than I ever will, but even I've begun to notice that science fiction romance seems to be gaining popularity. AAR, for example, recently published an interview with Susan Grant, who's been writing 'alien romantic comedy'. It isn't just about aliens, though. According to Linnea Sinclair
there are three subdivisions: science fiction romance, romantic science fiction and futuristics. Some books cleanly and clearly fit in one category; others straddle the fence. To make matters worse, many readers don't even realize there are subdivisions. Futuristics is the term most commonly used by readers.Corinna Lawson's interview with Linnea Sinclair was a follow-up to Corinna's original article on 'Science Fiction and Romance: A Very Uneasy Marriage'.
Technically — and pun intended — futuristics are the least technical of the three types. Futuristics — as I've seen them defined — are books in which the science fiction setting is the least stringent requirement. I've seen futuristics referred to as historicals in spacesuits, in the sense that the story could as easily be placed on a pirate ship sailing the Atlantic as on a starship cruising the space lanes. You could probably relocate the action to a different "era" or remove the science fiction elements and the story would still stand. [...]
Romantic Science Fiction is the opposite end of the spectrum. There, the romance plot is very much a sub plot and the HEA (Happily Ever After) requirement may not apply. You could also remove the romance element and the story would still stand.
Science Fiction Romance (which is where I think my books fall) is the middle ground: it's a novel in which the balance of the science fiction elements and the romance elements are nearly equal. If you were to remove either the romance element or the science fiction element, the story would fall apart.
I'm rather behind the times: I've only recently come across a couple of Dorchester's Love Spell Futuristic Romances from the early 1990s, but I see that they're currently acquiring futuristics:
FUTURISTIC - Futuristic Romances are set in lavish lands on distant worlds but must be believable to today's reader without an overabundance of explanation. Avoid science-fiction-type hardware, technology, etc.'Believable' isn't the first adjective that would spring to my mind if I was trying to describe 'lavish lands on distant worlds', but suspension of disbelief isn't difficult for a reader to achieve, if the author's world-building is consistent.
The science fiction romance sub-genre would seem to me to offer the opportunity to explore some of the issues arising from current scientific knowledge in a way similar to that in which, in the early nineteenth century,
British drama reflects its linkage with the culture's preoccupations with science and medicine. Science did, in fact, take form in the theatre, where production strategies were shaped by the machinery of staging enhanced and encoded with scientific discoveries. [...] Techno-gothic is an ideologically charged and melodramatic structure in which disturbing issues and forbidden experiences characteristic of gothic are recontextualized by the period's pursuit of science. Techno-gothic drama is, in fact, a product of the Romantic revolution in science. A hybrid genre, techno-gothic drama constitutes an incipient "science fiction"—theatrical, and therefore fictive, representations of science. While we often think of the period's fiction writers as originators of science fiction, and some scholars point specifically to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, I argue that roots of Romantic science fiction are also located in its techno-gothic drama written by women before 1818. (Marjean D. Purinton, 2001)Of course, Purinton is writing about 'Romantic' in terms of the Romantics, not 'romance fiction', but it seems to me that there may be parallels here, because science fiction romance offers authors the opportunity to explore the boundaries of modern science, along with the threats it may pose, and the opportunities it may offer, in the future. In addition, as Purinton observes of these nineteenth-century dramas, authors were able to
appropriate staged science as techno-gothic drama, specifically charged with scientific ideology, to challenge the roles and afflictions assigned to women by medical and scientific discourses that sought to keep them subordinate to men.In a futuristic or science fiction setting, the author is set free to create alternative societies, bound by different rules from our own, perhaps with different gender roles and different marriage structures.
So, how do you feel about futuristics and science fiction romance? Tired of vampires and ready for new frontiers? Wary of gadgets and characters which unusual names and habits? Appalled or thrilled at the thought of what an alien might be able to do with strange powers and unique appendages? And what does a romance between different species mean in terms of the traditional happy ending which features the happy couple surrounded by plenty of off-spring?