I playfully claim to write post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction romance. The description is spot on, if a bit overwhelming. I could go on and on about the subgenres, but today I’d like to focus on science fiction versus romance.
Science fiction is about possible futures: humanity has reached the stars, or aliens have arrived (with their advanced technology,) or our genome has evolved to include paranormal abilities. In science fiction, readers may not care about getting inside characters’ heads, but the events must be plausible. Genetic mutation must explain superpowers, and the laws of physics had better apply to a spacecraft leaving orbit. Sci-fi fans don’t always expect a happy ending, as long as the facts behind the science add up.
Romance, on the other hand, is all about characters in a relationship and the emotional changes they undergo. The last thing the hero and heroine want is to fall in love, yet readers know that is exactly what the characters are going to do. Regardless of whether or not the physics of the warp-drive are explained, the story had better explore the angst of a heroine who kept the birth of her baby from its father, or the self-sacrifice of a hero who would die for his one true love. In romance, emotions need to rule the story. In addition, the story has a guaranteed happy ending.
To satisfy both types of readers, science fiction romance must meticulously incorporate enough science to explain the world, and enough psychological introspection to validate a character’s emotional changes. Yet, it must also resist overwhelming readers with too much of either aspect.
In Botanicaust, genetically engineered weeds have wiped out Earth’s croplands, and the world is no longer hospitable to human life. The heroine is a doctor with green, photosynthetic skin who believes humanity must accept genetic modification in order to survive. The hero comes from a remnant farming community where they believe anyone who has accepted modification is damned to Hell. Who would think they might fall in love? Science is the main source of tension between the lovers, which in turn mimics the conflict between their cultures, creating a rich and deeply emotional plot for fans of both science fiction and romance. But I didn’t include every scientific fact I discovered. I condensed the information into a few salient points about each character – like giving the villain a skin disease caused by his chloroplasts.
Science fiction romance is a growing genre, and there are many great books that successfully incorporate scientific plausibility with a satisfying emotional experience. If you read romance, how important to you are facts? For science fiction readers, how important to you is developing a character relationship?
Tam Linsey lives in Alaska with her husband and two children. In spite of the rigors of the High North, she grows, hunts, or fishes for much of her family’s food. During the long Alaskan winters she writes speculative fiction. You can find her at www.tamlinsey.com or on Facebook or Twitter
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The only crop left ... is human
Levi Kraybill, a devout member of the Old Order, left his Holdout farmland to seek a cure for his terminally ill son. Genetic manipulation is a sin, but Levi will do almost anything for the life of his child. When he's captured, he's sure he's damned, and his only escape will be death.