The romance genre tends to be misunderstood among certain segments of geek fandoms. Perhaps it’s because, like me, they grew up believing that romance was all about women being rescued and needing a dude. I can’t blame them, that’s still the prevailing wisdom about the romance genre, which should instead be seen for what it is, a feminist genre.
But the more time I spend in both communities, the more I see how much they have in common. Fandom may call romances ‘shipping (short for relationships) but they’re both talking about their love for deep, emotionally resonant relationships. ‘Shippers and the romance readers want the ‘d’aw.’ They want stories that touch their heart, ones that hits them with the feels.
You have only to look at the terms used by shippers and their devotion to the pairings to know that.
There are multiple terms for different types of relationships in shipping, starting with “slash.” Star Trek fandom was the originator of the term from way back when as female fans first paired up Kirk and Spock and separated their names with a slash.
The romance genre eventually picked up the slash as well. As LGBTQ fiction and ménage fiction becomes more popular, the slash is used to differentiate types: m/m, m/f/m, m/m/f, and other combinations.
Fandom, too, separates their ‘shipping. There’s the OTP (one true pairing), OT3 (one true threesome), the BroTP (which Hollywood sorta stole as bromance), and TTP, when a fan can’t make up their mind which pairing is their favorite. (Hey, who can choose? Both fandom and romance writers often say ‘what the heck’ and add in multiple happy combinations.)
When I listen to shippers, they sound just like romance readers discussing their favorite heroes and heroines or arguing about what pairings should exist, and whether the author of the romance made them buy the romance of this hero and heroine.
I wish romance readers would use fandom terms like “crack pairing” because they’re so perfect for these kinds of discussions. (A crack pairing might be, say, Roarke and McNab from the “In Death” series.) I also love fandom’s PWP (Plot? What Plot?) as a term for stories that are all about sex. While romance readers and writers struggle to tell the difference between romantica, erotica and erotica romance, PWP nails exactly what kind of story a reader will get.
It’s my hope the shippers will eventually seek and find the kinds of stories they love in the romance genre, especially in the SF/F settings that many members of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade use in their stories. After all, there is never too much of a good thing.
For instance, for those who love the all-powerful guy who picks the strongest women they know, like Lois/Clark or Steve/Peggy, there are many SF Romance parallels or even paranormal romance parallels, starting with Eve Dallas and Roarke, or in the military SF or Linnea Sinclair.
Then there is the thriving romance genre featuring LGBTQ relationships in all combinations, with the happy endings for the characters that they are so often denied in the source materials for fandom. (See: Lexa/Clark or the trope of “Killing off the Gays.”) Oh, and tropes? Yes, romance readers have their favorites too.
The biggest difference between fandom and romance readers? Romance readers don’t’ have to write their own HEA (happily ever afters) for their favorite characters—they always get them.
And that will always will hit me in the feels.
About Corrina Lawson:
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, and the author of the Amazon bestselling steampunk romantic mystery, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, and the Galaxy-Award Winning superhero romance series, the Phoenix Institute, which begins with Phoenix Rising. You can find her at www.corrina-lawson.com, on Twitter as @CorrinaLawson and find her full list of novels at Amazon at: (https://www.amazon.com/Corrina-Lawson/e/B006HV96BA)
Corrina Lawson's latest book in the Phoenix Institute Series. Award winning superhero romance!