Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scruffy Lookin' Nerf-Herders

Click on the link and pop on over to eHarliquin.  Try to find a hero who does NOT have brown hair.  I double-dog dare you.  Go ahead, go ahead, I'll wait.
Back?  Okay.  Good. 
This post, my first at the SFR Brigade, is about Heroes.  Somewhere out there is a Hero Cloning Facility and it must be destroyed.  A couple of photon torpedoes oughtta do it, I think.
Now, I get the reasoning behind the cover art for major publishers, like Harliquin.  They want to appeal to as many readers as possible.  Unfortunately, this can also confuse readers and drive them away.  To wit-

SUREBLOOD by Susan Grant.  The dude's supposed to be a space pirate and a dad.  The novel is supposed to be Science Fiction Romance.  Now, we all love Susan here and so we know the truth about this story, but what about the poor mommy rushing home from work with three screaming toddlers and a carton of frozen chicken, desperate for a little out-of-this-world romance?  What is she gonna think when she sees that cover while racing through the book aisle at her local grocery story?
This is Science Fiction Romance we're supposed to be writing and loving here, gang.  Readers are after it BECAUSE of the diversity.  We wouldn't have Spock if his Mama hadn't gotten the hots for a Vulcan, you know.  So, mix it up a little.  Especially if you're in ePublishing, I would imagine you could get away with a blond or an African American once in a while.  And, seriously, if your starship is spiraling out of control in a D-Class atmosphere, do you want Conan the Barbarian at the helm?
Mix it up a little! 
A girl likes a little variety.
An SFR girl likes to explore the endless possibility of existence.
While I'm at it, I'm creating an SFR short story right now in which several female characters complain about over-done Hero types in their Romance genre holo-novel.  Got any inspiration for me?
Who are your favorite SFR Heroes?  And why?  Mine are the ones from DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES and GAMES OF COMMAND, both by Linnea Sinclair.


  1. Hi Kimber-- I had to laugh at the humor in this post. And it is so true, those brown haired heroes dominate the romance world!

    Yeah, that Susan Grant cover was a real surprise for me. But ya know... Given where it came from...
    But too, as much as I like Susan Grant, I don't like the title either.

    In my recent SFR the hero is truly alien--meaning with Reptilian DNA, and while I did get some input into the cover design, I didn't get my alien on the cover. I had a wonderful cover artist, it just seems in the romance world, creating non-human aliens is tough.

    I haven't tried my hand at writing military SFR. I would love to research more and write one someday. It is within these books, I believe we glean our best stories and most useful SF terminology.

  2. I remember an older Cathy Spangler SFR with an alien/reptilian kind of hero, one of her Shadow series. I think he was bald, too! But ITA on the Kel Paten love (Games of Command).

  3. You're under the misapprehension that authors have much sway over the covers. It doesn't matter if you've written that your hero has blond hair, or your heroine has short, spiky hair- most of the time you get what you are given and you smile and say nothing - even if you hate it.

  4. Sorry Susan, I wouldn't grab that book for it's cover. But a pirate Daddy? I love the idea!

    My heroes have a range of hair colors, not baldies I don't think, I may write one. Current hero is a blond with yellow or blue eyes, depending on his mood. He's... not quite human. *puts on her rather tarnished halo*

    Favorite hero types to read? Commanders. Mmmmmmmmm. Give me a commanding male in uniform any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Kel Paten. Vorkosigan. Nyls Jessan (Mageworlds series).

    Give me a man who can shoot straight, save the day, give orders, and take a few... ;o) Color, hair, species - it doesn't matter as long as the attitude is right.

  5. We had an interesting discussion on another post concerning what grabs a reader first, and the cover is important, yes, but for most its the blurb. Soon as I open a book, I forget the cover. Any color hair, the most alluring body the publisher dreams up in a generic rush to be done with it, it becomes irrelvent to the persona the author wishes me to see. So yep, I'm echoing Liana

  6. Hello Anonymous--

    I have to agree with you to some extent about the input authors have on book covers if you are in mainstream print.

    But I beg to differ when it comes to ebooks. If you are an ebook author, it's usually a different story. Most epub artists do work with you and try to get your cover the way you want it to be. Granted, it doesn't always turn out to be what you envisioned.

    The cover artist for Forbidden Love and I went round and round about the hands, and she did work really hard to give me what I wanted.(hands are the only visible part of my alien hero on the cover) She's a really good artist and we finally settled. I do love this cover because it does convey the essence of the story I wrote. So here's to great SFR covers and author input.

    But on the other hand, and as many are saying here-- it's the story that counts-- great covers, okay, but if the story isn't what I want to read, I don't care if the cover is the best in the universe!

  7. Hair color...hmm. Well Admiral Philip Guthrie (HOPE'S FOLLY) has prematurely silver hair... but other than that, yes, most of my heros are dark-haired. Statistically, when you're dealing with human males, that seems to be the trend. I don't know why--I'm an author, not a geneticist. But I'd also guess that if Clairol was removed from our planet, we'd see one hell of a lot more dark-haired women as well.

    See, men don't routinely change their hair color and even fewer color their hair to remain their childhood color. Boys and teens, maybe even early 20s guys if they're beach bums, can be blond. But by their mid-30s, the majority of those blonds have become browns. And since I don't write 22 year old surfer-dude heros, them's the breaks.

    Could one posit a humanoid race in another star system where the blond gene was stronger than it is here? Sure. Totally. But you're still dealing with readers who are HERE and readers who have cultural concepts based HERE, which tends to align blond-haired BOYS as being eternal surfer dudes. Or blond is equated with youthfulness, femininity, fragility, innocence--generally not the profile of a hero. It's a cultural thing. "The fair-haired boy..." "The ethereal blonde..."

    Plus, our culture accepts that women can and will change their hair color. We don't have quite that acceptance with men.

    George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Shemar Moore...sorry. Can't see a one of 'em as a blond. And no, Daniel Craig does NOT do it for me. At all.

    Susan Grant's cover--trust me, Susan was not a happy camper. She's fought the HQN cover art demon before but you have to fight those wars you can win. I've fought them with Bantam. Blessedly, Susan Grant's an awesome author and all we can do is keep spreading the word to look beyond the cover art.

    My cover guy on REBELS AND LOVERS has glasses. Anyone notice? I won that war. I lost the one where I wanted starships on the cover as well. ~Linnea

    PS: my husband is a blond gone light brown/gray except when--ahem--I have extra hair color left over from doing MY hair...

  8. The glasses totally turn me on. Just sayin'

  9. Loved the glasses on REBELS and I like to imagine the hero as blond.

    Yes, I know most authors have no control over the cover art.

    Most of the time, they do have control over the heroes.

    Personally, I don't care about genetics or statistics. When I read a book, I'm just after a good time and that means a little variety and diversity. Strike that, reverse, back up. Actually, I'm after a LOT of variety and diversity.

  10. Yes, Linnea-- those glasses are the first thing I noticed on the cover. Love them! I had to take a second look. I go weak for those guys.(me-- I'm such a Daniel Jackson fan from SG1 so there you go.)

    I love the R&L cover, even with no starships!

  11. The gene for dark hair is dominant, to a point. Brown and blond are the same color. The difference lies in how much of the pigment expresses on an induvidual.

    Theoretically, the blond/blue combination is a freak mutation. Possible emphasis on freak. Humans aren't naturally trended towards fair skin, hair, or eyes. The majority of the human species has darker skin, dark eyes, and dark hair.

    Red hair is an unique allele. A completely different set of genes than the brown/blond.

    That being said, when we do get around to having designer babies I think hair color is going to be one of the first things we see a change in. We already know where those genes are in the human DNA complex. It wouldn't be hard to manipulate.

    The real question is whether or not those designer genes would be inherited by the next generation. What happens if mom has purple hair and dad has neon orange? You might wind up with brown again. :o)

    *tucks her genetics notes away*

    My favorite characters would look comfortable on the beaches around the Pacific: darker skin, lighter hair, eyes in every shade you can imagine.

  12. Linnea, I hear you on the blond turning brown. I had blonde hair as a child and hubby was a towhead. All three of my kids were little blondies who are trending toward the light brown now--unless it's summer.

    In two of my stories the heroes have dark blond hair--think the guy who played the ex in Sweet Home Alabama.

    Still, Han Solo was the first hero to steal my little 12 yr old heart! (But then, Luke was a blond.)

  13. Forgot to add that now my blonde comes from a box and hubby's only shows if he spends a lot of time in the sun. LOL.

  14. Okay, have to jump in, 'cuz my hubby's a blond, blue-green-eyed cutie, still at age 57, though the silver is sneaking in. I've liked 'em blond since Stevie McElroy at age 5. Jim Kirk? (First Mission only, though) Tarzan? Errol Flynn. Viggo Mortensen. Kiefer Sutherland. Did I mention Viggo Mortensen? Yeah. Blond and sexy and the model for the psychiatrist hero of my SFR novel UNCHAINED MEMORY.

  15. [...]Scruffy Lookin’ Nerf-Herders (via Kimber An at SFR Brigade)[...]

    You don't want to get me started on favorite SFR heroes because I'll be here all night. But I'd like to give a shout out to Terry Myell in THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald. Team Terry, that's me!

  16. Team Terry! I'm there! Definitely a fave SFR hero of mine. Right up there with Admiral Kel-Paten. And Three. And Murphy...but you haven't met him yet.

    Right after the glasses on REBEL the next thing I noticed was the duster. I heart dusters! I think that harkens back to my Man from Snowy River days...but whoops, different genre (and media) entirely.

    What was the topic? Oh yes, blonds vs. dark-haired heroes. I'm actually partial to blonds. Robert Redford, Brad Pitt (in his younger days), Viggo Mortenson, Mark Hamill, the list is long. That said, of my first three novels, two of the heroes are dark-haired but one is most decidedly from a race of genetically predominant blonds.

    Hey, I just realized ALL my heroines are blondes. Wonder why that is? (heh)

  17. Ooh, Viggo! And Orlando Bloom. And Hayden Christianson and...


    Heather's got a cover art exclusive on the new DARKSCAPE novel over at the Galaxy Express. Oh, so shiny! A hero in uniform instead of butt-naked! I totally got over his not being blond right away.


  18. Oh goodness, Laurie, I'm so honored you included Murphy on your list! An atypical sort of hero (I think?) but alas ... DARK HAIR!

    I do like blonds, though. I had a serious crush on Luke Skywalker and never got over him being Leia's brother.

    I have GOT to read THE OUTBACK STARS ...

  19. Yeah, I'm probably in the minority, but I'd rather see a hot guy in uniform than bare-chested.

    I'd definitely pick that book up (physically or virtually) to read the blurb.

  20. I do prefer blond men myself. Hubby used to be blond,now is grey, the cool silver white grey. I still heart Spike. But the hero brothers in my series have dark hair--because that's what Mama picked in the lab. They have different eye color though. I have considered making the hero of the last book, the youngest, a blond. Hmmm.

    Another WIP I'm working on has an older hero with blond hair. And I do have a short blond fellow, which I know is not a popular hero type --but that story is just one scene right now.

    Have you seen the photo of Olivia Newton John's lost and found boyfriend? He looks like a scifi hero to me. Just needs a story.

    Kay--I have lizard humanoid aliens, too!


We love to hear from you! Comments must pass moderation to be published. Spam will be deleted.

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation