Please note I did not say it was “wonderful” week. I mean, amazing is defined as: “startlingly impressive.” That does NOT mean I have to like it. (*headdesk*) That’s the reason for the delay in posting. Sorry.
Now back to the topic of Futuristic Romance.
A good rule of thumb when hybridizing fiction is to lean hard on the first element then weave the second element into the narrative. We see this in Romantic Suspense, where the romantic element arrives before the suspense elements (J. Garwood, L. Howard or JA Krentz), as opposed to the suspenseful romance, ala The Thomas Crown Affair, where the suspense is flavored by a romantic sub-element.
In the former, the romance theoretically could continue even if the suspense element remains unsolved or unaddressed, whereas in the latter the romance is a direct consequence of the suspense plot. If Thomas Crown hadn’t decided to steal a Monet from a museum, then there would have been no logical reason for the protagonists to connect and continue to connect. (True, these lines are not hard and fast. Creative minds refuse boundaries.)
How does that reflect upon FutRom? Sadly, a great deal. Remember the last post where the scorn is the argument that the sub-genre is only “Fabio in space”? Basically, because too many authors appear to understand futuristic romance’s primary plot element is sex in space. It’s not.
Why? Because it’s Futuristic Romance. It’s Sci-Fi romance. What do we know about Sci-Fi? Here’s a few substantive quotes, swiped from wiki:
- According to science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, “a handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.”
- Rod Serling‘s definition is “fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.”
- Lester del Rey wrote, “Even the devoted aficionado—or fan—has a hard time trying to explain what science fiction is”, and that the reason for there not being a “full satisfactory definition” is that “there are no easily delineated limits to science fiction.”
So, it appears to be the old “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.” Consequently, I like this quote:
- “The question addressed in SF is who we are within the changes of our culture and what will happen to our humanity among the changing technology and the expanding universal conscious?” (yeah, I quoted myself. My bad!)
Ultimately, Sci-Fi addresses our current sociopolitical dynamics.
Wiki also tells us: “Social science fiction focuses on themes of society and human nature in a science fiction setting. Since it usually focuses more on speculation about humanity and less on scientific accuracy, it’s usually placed within soft science fiction.”
Soft science fiction is the area FutRom has been awarded by the Sci-Fi crowd, albeit grudgingly. (One can argue that Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness is a futuristic romance, sans the “hookup” scenes.) (She’s in my city so I’m hoping the author won’t beat me over the head for saying that.)
A recent love of mine is Meljean Brooks’s Iron Seas series. These are a brave foray into Maritime Science Fiction blended with a taste of steampunk and romance. Two chapters into the first book Iron Duke and I had only one thought: “GREAT worldbuilding!”
Worldbuilding is a critical element of the Iron Seas books, as is the romance. However, there is a subtle discussion in the stories of the iron seas, the Sci-Fi question of “who are we?” and “Those aliens? It’s frightening how they look like us but…”
We can see that in the covert xenophobia spotlighted by our current political culture. It’s always been there and, as our poets, lyricists and authors have done (and continue to do), toxic threads of this type are identified and explored.
Remember the Star Trek episode where there was a vicious war between folks with black/white faces and the folks with white/black faces? Titled “Let that be your last battlefield” it is an in-your-face to the culture of ignorant and hate that filled the those times. Brooks’s Iron Seas stories are the very same thing to the culture of hatred in these times.
But the larger question of SELF is not the only question addressed in Sci-Fi. The smaller-but-no-less-important questions are also addressed in the various sub-genres. Utilizing the “superhuman” motif on her Harmony series, Jayne Anne Krentz (W/A Jayne Castle) uses her book Dark Light to discuss the problematic way our culture treats its returning and/or retired veterans of foreign wars. As a nation, we have much to apologize for with respect to our veterans and Jayne Castle took it straight into the face of the dismissive section of our cultural consciousness.
My personal love is Space Opera so that is why I selected it for my Catching Her Balance. There, I discuss the subjugation of the middle class by the jackboot of the “1%ers.” Yeah, I’m not shy.
Next post? We’ll discuss my beloved Space Opera and its penchant for reflecting the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
*turns up the Star Trek theme*