I may be revealing myself as an old lady that holds a grudge, but does anyone remember when Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard University back in 2005, said that the underrepresentation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate” differences between men and women? In short, that women were underrepresented because we just don't like that weird stuff. Math is hard y’all!
Of course, the SFR Brigade begs to differ, and attitudes like that make me happy that Science Fiction Romance exists as a genre. There’s something delicious about fulfilling a stereotype (women like love stories!) and then inverting it (women like stories about interstellar war!). The genre celebrates an area of fiction women have long dominated, but moves into the space that until the past few decades, was dominated by men.
I'll go even further. By creating this bridge, SFR writers can make the science-zone more comfortable for women and girls who might encounter outdated attitudes à la Summers, whether at school, in fandom, or in the professional world. We know after things like Gamergate, that when women venture into male bastions it can get a little uncomfortable.
And of course, traditionally female pursuits are so often undervalued. Like romance. I unapologetically love it. I love reading and writing about the heady experience of falling in love (and lust). I suppose it’s my socialization, but that’s okay. Relationships make the world go ‘round, though people sometimes seem to forget this.
I had a beta reader once, a man. He liked my book and gave me great advice. The he said, “I wish there wasn’t so much stuff about their relationship.” So I said, “I don’t get why men don’t like romance. After all, they get married and have children at nearly the same rate as women.” He thought I was quite droll.
Honestly, I do not get the lack of respect with which romance is treated. I think SFR is a great genre because it creates that bridge. Romance as a comfortable, familiar place of emotion that offers an entry into some cool-ass science, even if it’s not overly technical. SFR stories can say, you see, both kinds of stories belong to us. They blend, they enrich each other. They are not mutually exclusive.
The best SFR makes science come alive. It stirs the imagination and gets those neurons firing. A personage no less than Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks so, too. A blog by Alex Hansen of the StarTalk Radio Show this summer related how deGrasse Tyson would like to see scientists more integrated into the stories we experience as a culture.
“‘I want scientists to show up in the everyday storytelling of novelists and poets,’” he was quoted as saying, “‘the people who are responsible for bringing culture and the joys and pains of culture into our daily lives.’”
Shall we contemplate that? When we incorporate quantum physics and astronomy into our novels, we’re making Neil deGrasse Tyson happy! And he’s awesome! Keep on writing.
Libby Doyle Short Bio
Libby Doyle is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. She escapes the mundane by writing extravagant yarns, filled with sex and violence. She loves absurd humor, travel, punk rock, and her husband.
Enter Libby’s world at http://libbydoyle.com.
The Passion Season: Book I of the Covalent Series: A superhuman warrior from another dimension battles his evil father’s minions while struggling to decide if he should reveal his true nature to the woman he loves.
The Pain Season: Book II of the Covalent Series: When a courageous FBI agent discovers the love of her life is an alien warrior, she nearly loses her mind, but there are violent criminals to catch and he’s just the beautiful demi-god to help her.