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The Tension Between Sci Fi Romance and Gay Sci Fi

Gay Sci FiIn my wanderings through the LGBT sci fi community, I’m finding that there’s a whole lot out there these days melding sci fi themes with MM romance.

While I think that’s wonderful and an amazing thing, I also find very little that’s straight (pardon the pun) sci fi that includes LGBT characters, but is not centered around an MM (or FF) romance.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of great sci fi out there (Angel Martinez, Amy Lane, I’m looking at you) that gets the sci fi right and includes the romance too.

But I come at this from a “pure” (oh, I’m gonna get comments about that) sci fi angle, where the sexuality of the characters is usually secondary or tertiary to the plot and the science and/or culture of what’s going on.

I’d love to see us break into the mainstream market as well, writing stories with vivid LGBT characters that didn’t need the romance element to succeed as a story.

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “The Tension Between Sci Fi Romance and Gay Sci Fi”

  1. I agree with you, Scott. The sci-fi m/m romance is good, especially with the sci-fi aspect is done well. But it would be great to have LGBT characters reflected in “pure” sci-fi, as you call it. It’s touched on periodically on TV sci-fi (Dr. Who/Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica) but I can’t recall seeing it much in books.

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  2. I think we’re still a ways from that happening. The public has certain expectations, even under good circumstances, about what LGBT material is and should be. It’s going to take a while, but I do find myself expecting it to happen.

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  3. I think both are good. I am a romance writer, so people will expect romance in my books. It would probably be a disappointment to them if there wasn’t any. However, I’ve set out to write a post-apoc YA with a gay character under a different (YA) name, and the main focus was supposed to be the survival as opposed to the romance. However, the romance has weaved itself around the plot and has become a part of surviving (they find comfort in each other in a world that’s crumbling around them – there’s no sex or hint of sex in the story though). It bothered me, that the romance came in so strong, but then I thought that since it’s YA, people are also probably expecting some romance.

    I don’t know, maybe I’ll be able to write “pure” gay-character sci-fi one day 😉 I do have one in mind, but the romance might demand attention in that one as well – I just don’t know yet.

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  4. Just to clarify, when I say that I think both are good, I mean that both will help broaden minds. People who only want “pure” sci-fi shouldn’t want authors to stop writing romance sci-fi and vice versa. In fact, if romance readers stumble onto a romance sci-fi, they might get more interested in sci-fi and find the “pure” sci-fi books, so it’s a win-win.

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  5. Great post. Rhi Etzweiler and Andrea Speed each have short stories that fall into the scifi not SF Romance category – see Making Contact Anthology. There are others but their names just didn’t jump to mind right now.

    I think that because so many of the wonderful authors out there who write science fiction are also categorized as romance writers. And their efforts are seen as romance first, science fiction second (rightly or wrongly). Romance is the engine driving the M/M releases today, the other is coming, just not as swiftly as we would like.

    I know some writers are discouraged because they have been told their stories aren’t romantic enough. And that’s unfortunate because a great adventure, espionage, science fiction or whatever the genre shouldn’t have to be labeled romance in order to sell.

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  6. Funny. I write spec fic with m/m subplots. Romance readers dislike my stuff because it doesn’t have romance in it. Spec fic readers who are open to LGBTQ content seem to like it, but those who aren’t don’t really give it a glance. I would’ve thought spec fic readers would be more open-minded. Some of my books are getting a re-release this fall through a new genre imprint (of the romance press that originally published them), so I’m going to be interested to see if the focus of the audience is a bit broader.

    I think what you’re talking about is coming, just maybe a bit slowly.

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  7. May I suggest the Queer Dimensions anthology?
    A variety of SF stories in which the QUILTBAG characters take center stage, but it’s not a romance.

    http://www.amazon.com/Queer-Dimensions-Erastes/dp/1920441026

    I write SF romance because that’s what I came up reading. John Carter searching Mars from frozen south pole to frozen north pole to find his beloved Dejah Thoris. Han Solo and Princess Leia. Julian May’s Pliocene books, where one of the primary couples–albeit one of the doomed ones–was lesbian.

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