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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trouble on the Playground

A controversy is going on in science fiction land. It seems like the boys don’t want us girls playing in their sandbox. Say what? According to one male writer, those of us who write science fiction romance don’t know the rules of “pure” science fiction. Horse pucky, as Celara in The Pilot would say.
What I find more appalling is the way some male s/f writers have treated women who write science fiction and/or science fiction romance. You can read Anne Aguirre’s experience at http://www.annaguirre.com/archives/2013/06/02/this-week-in-sf/
I don’t know why I'm surprised this type of behavior happens to women writers. After all, look what has happened to women in the military. Do the obnoxious male s/f writers behave this way because they think we’re taking away their audience?
Science fiction romance appeals to a certain audience—like me—who are more interested in relationships than a lot of scientific data. Actually, my eyes glaze over when a writer dumps a ton of info on how things work into a story. But then I’m not that writer’s target audience. Men, in general, prefer to read that type of story.

The following is from a post I wrote for Pippa Jay’s blog last month:

I’m often asked by family and friends why I write science fiction romance. The simple answer is I love it. When I saw Star Wars for the first time back in 1977, I was hooked. Adventure, action, romance. What a combo. And they flew spaceships, went to alien planets and it all seemed real. That movie was my first venture into the world of science fiction. I had never seen the original Star Trek, never read sci-fi books and thought those science fiction movies of the 50’s were cheesy. Though I’m trying to catch up, I still feel inadequate when people talk about “classic” science fiction. As a result, I waded through Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and just discovered Andre Norton. On the other hand, books by Linnea Sinclair, Susan Grant and Jayne Castle have been at the top of my sci-fi romance list for a long time.
The appeal of space adventure, for me, is imaging a future where we survive and thrive. I’m not crazy about dystopian books or movies, yet I loved the Matrix series. Perhaps it was the promise of hope for mankind at the end. The same promise we get at the end of a good romance novel. That life will go on.
So I write what I like to read, what I enjoy in my favorite movies. Adventure and romance. In my books, they just happen to take place in space.
Creating a world that is different from our own yet similar enough for the reader to relate to is a challenge. A fun challenge. Gene Roddenberry, when pitching the concept of his TV series Star Trek, referred to it as “wagon train to the stars”. At the time, the most popular TV programs were Westerns so that should have been an analogy the network producers could relate to. I like the concept of space being a new frontier. Like the explorers of long ago, we can set off into the unknown—if only in our imagination. And like those old Westerns, good always triumphs over evil and the hero always gets the girl. How escapist is that?
But isn’t that what we want to believe in? That good will triumph? That the bad guys will “get what’s coming to them”? It would be very depressing otherwise. There’s enough to be depressed about in real life. So in sci-fi romance, we set off for the stars. We don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what we’ll find when we get there. We don’t know who or what we’ll encounter along the way. Friends, enemies or the one who will turn our universe upside down? All we know is that an adventure and a romance await.

So I don’t write hard science fiction. I don’t follow the rules of “pure” science fiction. I make no apologies for that. I don’t write to educate. I write to entertain. I want to take my readers on an adventure with characters whose growing relationship they enjoy.
The world of readers is huge. The sandbox is big enough for all of us. We don’t all like to read the same type of books. And that’s a good thing.

Here’s another blog post you may find interesting. http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/2013/06/out-with-old-boys-club-in-with-new.html


  1. Great post, Diane! I have to agree that my eyes do the same thing if there are pages of technological information and world building in a sci-fi story. That's me. And that's why I put only what is necessary in my stories. I DO enjoy relationships, and some romance. Once again, that's me. So, those are the stories I write as well. Keep writing, Diane!

    1. Thanks, Jessica. I think variety is great. No matter what people like to read, there's always someone who likes to write it.

  2. Great post! I think this is one more area where some men feel threatened by women and our differing points of view.

    I have at times been pounced upon because I don't write "anything like Aasimov." A reviewer actually said that. Well, too bad, LOL. I'm interested in people and their relations, and when a writer goes off on a several page splurge about how their newly invented science allegedly works, I leaf through it or fall asleep. I'd be interested if it were real, but it's not. It's fiction.

    I am interested in science and technology and I usually make up a lot of backstory to how stuff in my books work, but that goes in a file of its own. It might entertain me, but has no place in the finished product. If I sneak some in there, I at least attempt to make it entertaining. I'm not saying I always succeed, hahaha, but I do my best. =)

    1. I'm learning so much science and technology when I research for my books. Like you said, I need to know all this info but the reader doesn't need to wade through it all.

  3. Diane, you just keep on writing what you're writing. Your fans, me included, will keep reading. The "purists" can go play on their own playground.


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