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December 16th, 2007

12:04 AM

Calling all men to the futuristic romance landscape

Steel Sleet by Eric Del Carlo

After writing down my review of Eric Del Carlo's Steel Sleet, I realize that I am, in a way, a snob.

I'm a snob in that I've always wanted to see more males writing romantic futuristic or science-fiction just to see whether their works will turn out to be any different than a typical sort written by a female author. And I realize that over time (and many cringe-inducing examples of futuristic romances filled with oracle sex and very dated 1970s-style pulp fiction elements), I've developed this unfortunate allergy to Carebear-style "Our magic sex will ward off the Evil Druids!" storylines, which I've (fairly or unfairly) come to associate with the "female" voice where the subgenre is concerned. The "male" voice" will be, of course, more geeky in the sense that there will be more emphasis on the setting and plot rather than the soulmates forever overkill.

If you ask me, the only authors in the romance genre whom I can think of writes in a somewhat "male" voice - which is to say, no overt emphasis on Magic Vagina Puppy-Eyed Waifs whose deflowering will save the day and kill evil - will be Liz Maverick and Susan Grant. Nathalie Gray too if you read her futuristics from Ellora's Cave. Maybe Melanie Jackson on a good day and Susan Squires if she'll quit with those annoying vampires. On the other hand, I like how Eric Del Carlo, just to give a recent example, plunges straight into the action without bothering to emphasize how pure, innocent, special, whatever one of the characters is or how their magic special sex OMG heal all wounds and OMG make the wounded hearts feel like they belong and how OMG magic sex is the answer to some cryptic prophecy. The characters are human in a futuristic setting instead of being some dandified Regency rake with fangs or someone with Mary Sue powers. It's just... science-fiction action with love. None of that cheesy stuff I've associated with flowery, flowery "female" voice in futuristic romances.

An interesting showcase of this difference between how guys and gals look at futuristic romances is in Dorchester's two recent special series. I may be wrong here as I am basing my facts on the dedication of the authors in their books, but the most urban fantasy books in Crimson City and two of Shomi's most cyberpunk books have a male editor working on them. The Immortals has a female editor involved in the series. The differences are quite obvious - the books commissioned by the male editor have very little cheesy nonsense like "OMG making magic makes the heroine horny - MUST SHAG NOW!" stuff present in abundance in The Immortals, where the third book actually has the heroine in the nude casting magic spells that make her feel horny. Don't ask me why casting those important spells can make one horny. Or why one needs to be in the nude when summoning spooky things. How embarrassing when you accidentally summon an evil demon only to give it a free show of your Mary Sue boobies, I must say. It also seems to defeat the purpose to cast spells that will only distract you when you are supposed to be concentrating on saving the world but there you go.

Maybe I'm just talking out of my rear end here, but I think we need more male editors and authors in the futuristic and paranormal romance scene. At the very least, some people who can insert some fresh new perspective into the tired "our beating soulmate hearts and pounding soulmate genitals will solve every problem in the universe, but first, watch as we have sex under contrived circumstances" formula. I want to see more cyberpunk stuff. Kickass science-fiction romance that actually feels like science-fiction instead of a rip-off of the setting in some 1970s/1980s science-fiction movie franchise like Dune or Star Wars. I more want big machines and sexy rockets and less psychic soulmates. Too many female authors seem to be content with insipid woo-woo sex in their books and I have lost my faith in them. We need more testosterone to combat this nonsense. Bring on the guys!

2 comment(s).

Posted by bettie:

"I think we need more male editors and authors in the futuristic and paranormal romance scene"

I think the OMG! Magic! We must shag! thing is a result of authors, editors or readers being uncomfortable with female protagonists who have sex for reasons other than twue wuv. Because if a woman has sex with a guy she hardly knows because he's hot, or she's horny, or because she's tense and needs to take the edge off--or any of the hundred other reasons real women have sex, then the heroine is, like, a total slut. IMO LKH is a huugge example of this. She writes sex scene after sex scene, but her heroine isn't a slut because the heroine "has to" have sex.

This is a pet peeve of mine in sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, too. Every time I read a story where they have to a) make a magical baby, b) raise power through sex c)have sex because some maaagickal force is making them, I want to say, "Own up, peoples!" There is nothing wrong (and everything right) with having sex because you want to.

We don't need more male editors, we need women who aren't afraid of their sexuality to step up to the plate and write, edit, or buy the sort of books they want to read.
December 16th, 2007 @ 5:18 AM

Posted by Ann Bruce:

This is why I stick to male authors when I want to get away from magic va-jay-jays...which is more and more often these days.
December 17th, 2007 @ 2:20 AM