I sometimes link to Cora Buhlert, so it was nifty to see her getting linked to by Dear Author today, for her post Of Hard SF and Messy Emotions.
She was inspired to post in turn by this article at Uncanny Magazine, asking the question “Does Sex Make Science Fiction Soft?” It’s a question I think needs to get asked more often, because a lot of the SF/F genre’s tendency to go “LALALALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” every time a relationship of any kind shows up in a story–particularly if that story is written by a woman–is maddening.
Tansy Rayner Roberts says it beautifully here:
One of the most important things that science fiction can do as a genre is to show how scientific breakthroughs and changes might actually change the way we live as humans, and that includes issues to do with sex, family, and love. Famously, social change is also the thing that science fiction has been least successful about predicting. But that just means it’s an exciting challenge for the future, right?
Maybe science fiction readers and romance readers have more in common than they might think.
Speaking as someone who likes to read both SF/F and romance: YES. YES WE DO.
And I particularly like Cora’s describing how she got into reading more modern romance, since it tracks pretty well with my own. Popular perception of the romance genre is still very much “bodice-ripper”, and that seriously isn’t fair.
There are reasons that the majority of SF/F novels I tend to read are in fact by women–because that dramatically improves the chances that I’ll get a story in which one or more female characters contribute in meaningful, multi-dimensional ways to the action. Meanwhile, over there in the romance genre, the vast majority of the works written are indeed stories in which one or more female characters contribute thusly. And indeed, my top romance novelists–and for that matter, my favorite novelists in general–are the ones in which the heroine and hero are participating as equals in moving the plot along.
Yet the SF/F genre is still flailing about this. Massively enough that I’ve seen more than one woman on the Net posting about how she wanted to like science fiction, but the genre drove her away because of its misogyny. And frankly, I can’t blame any woman who makes that decision.
As a fantasy novelist I’m certainly not leaving the genre any time soon, and I take heart from seeing others calling out SF/F for its snubbing of stories with any whiff of romance in them.
And clearly, I need to be reading Saga.