Saturday, December 16, 2017

Genre Wars: Why I Like Combining Science Fiction with Romance @CarmenWBuxton

By Carmen Webster Buxton

Romance and science fiction are seen by many readers as two unrelated genres. Of course, you could call any story a romance if the primary plot is the development of a romantic relationship. A benefit, to me, of focusing on a romance means, to some extent, the book will have two protagonists. On the other hand, science fiction can involve extrapolating future technology, human evolution, alternate history, alien contact, and any number of other non-real but non-magical things, with any number of protagonists.

Some people want to make genre into a folder into which they put stories. I find that limiting, because if you have a physical document, you can only put it into one folder. I consider genre more a label than a folder, and stories can have as many labels as they need. That’s one reason I like ebooks; you don’t worry about where to shelve them because an electronic shelf is virtual and can exist in more than one “place.”

What appeals to me about combining the two genres is that while I find the future intriguing, I want it to be at least a little bit familiar. Looking back at history, we see that societies change, but human emotions are more constant than politics or technology. People still fall in love. Parents still love their children. Family relationships are still with us.

Most of my books are set in the far future. A common thread in many of them is that our world could become a crappy enough place that some people might be willing to leave it permanently. In the two Haven books (The Sixth Discipline and No Safe Haven) the colonists included New Age mystics, libertarian survivalists, and entrepreneurs seeking resources to exploit.  In Tribes, the entire world was populated by prisoners. In Saronna’s Gift, my most recent romance, the colonists were followers of a patriarchal religious cult leader. I like to make my two protagonists come from totally different backgrounds, because it’s a great way to create conflict, and it means the relationship requires both work and change for both of them. Creating my own worlds lets me do this with a vengeance.

I do think that our future is bound to bring change. Advances in science and technology might well wipe out inherited flaws and other diseases. We may someday eliminate hunger, disease, mental illness, and even some accidental deaths. But I don’t think science and technology can change human nature. This might be bad when it comes to evils like war and social inequality, but I think it’s good, in that it also means that love will always be love.







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Note: the views expressed are solely those of the author and not the SFR Brigade.


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