The Politics of Scifi Romance


“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.”- Asimov

Now, the question constantly being asked in today’s market is; Does SFR have that kind of weight to it? I believe it does. While the focus of our stories remains the relationships, scifirom has expanded horizons, in that, we can build worlds to play and think in, and we also have the power to invite the reader to think with us. So that, we are not merely a moment’s escape, but a powerful voice as well, only it’s a whisper and not a shout.

In the world I’ve built, I have an empire with a puppet ruler, and the real power lies in corporate interests. I didn’t exactly set out to write a picture of corporatism in our lives, but the image is there. No denying that. I’ve often wondered if authors like Heinlein or Asimov or Norton wrote politics by accident. Simply because, so much of who we are goes into our work. We are bound to write about what makes us sad, or happy or scared to death. In my Brother Assassins novel, I take a look at the nature of slavery and the nature of resistance.

Adame is somewhat passive in his resistance of the human laws keeping him in virtual slavery, and he is only considered free because of the value he has as a weapon against the enemies of the powerful.

Most of his brothers were human. Adame was Braxian. He fought the urge to lump them all into the same pot, but it was difficult. Around him every day, he saw the mistreatment of his people and wept internally at the fate that would be his without his special skills. It was why he’d never sought a mate, never tried to have his own family. They would be enslaved before their first breath, regardless of the fact that their father was a freedman.

According to Human law, one had to earn one’s freedom, unless you were human. No, the only future he had was in righting the wrongs where he could. The Brotherhood allowed him to do that. They were careful to direct his skills at those most worthy of them, allowing him to keep a conscience as clean as it could be for a trained killer. Excerpt from Brother Mine.

In a recent discussion with other writers of the genre, I had an epiphany. Hard scifi of the classic kind usually rings the bell to warn humanity of some danger, and that’s as much about the very nature of humanity as it is the events. Humans tend to repeat behavior.

An observation, to which, one SFR author responded beautifully. Alison Aimes, author of the condemned series, answered with this; The good news for us is the same is true for other human tendencies: like courage, forgiveness, and love.  

And, that is the difference. While scifi sounds the alarm, Scifi romance offers hope as it sounds the alarm. Because our stories are as much about courage, love and hope as they are about conflicts. Scifi romance gives us solutions more often than not. Here’s some of what the authors had to say:

  • Greta Van de rol–  Mine are very much influenced by politics. The plot for The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy was loosely based on a fabricated incident which Hitler used to start WW2. And my Morgan Selwood series has a society engineered to try to prevent racial tensions, on the basis of “a place for everyone and everyone in their place”. But (of course) it didn’t work.
  • Cynthia Sax- Many of the tactics the Humanoid Alliance (the baddies in my series) use have been used in human history. The ethnic cleansing in Breathing Vapor is based on real events. – Cynthia Sax
  •  Melisse Aires My Diaspora Worlds are more focused on the romance but there are larger political issues. The very wealthy tech planets have lab created babies, Puregens. Some planets have DNA testing for citizenship to keep out humans with lizard characteristics, the Zh’ Cle. The Zh’ Cle worlds were colonized by Terrans but were kept as reservation worlds in the recent past.
    My other newer series, Love on the Space Frontier, has more Gilded Age problems — the very wealthy class and systematized exploitation of the working class, with colonists seeking opportunity.
    All reflect political issues in our history or present times.
  • Stephanie J Pajonas In the Nogiku Series, I used the politics of Japanese clans first, to build the city and social ecosystem in which my main character would live and survive. By giving her a love interest from within the clans, she was able to see the politics at play through the eyes of her beloved. She went from outsider to insider, which was an important part of her journey, and an important part of the romance too.

These were just a few of the responses, and  it made one thing very clear. The roots and tradition of classic science fiction is very much present among the writers of scifi romance. All this discussion comes at a time when industry movers are hinting that SFR is due to “break out” soon, and more and more authors are entering the genre.

For more info on the growing list of authors in SFR, click the link on the banner above to connect with the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and find issues of Scifi Romance Quarterly. 

series photo HOme

2 thoughts on “The Politics of Scifi Romance

Add yours

  1. I think you’ve hit on a key difference between contemporary romance and science fiction romance. Most (not all) contemporary romance exists in an a-political vacuum that focuses laserlike on individuals. In science fiction romance, we writers are creating an entire milieu that (usually) includes some sort of political backdrop, and that backdrop can play a big part.

    In that sense, SFR is like fantasy, which often involves defending a medieval political structure — princes, kings, princesses, etc. (I realize not all fantasy fits into this straitjacket, but hey, this is a short comment.)

    Compared to fantasy, the politics in SFR are often more diverse, believable, and mature, IMHO. To use examples from my own books (because I’m familiar with them), The Trial of Tompa Lee follows a lower class heroine who is scapegoated into cruel alien justice simply to keep a trade deal alive. My Alien Contact for Idiots series includes subthemes of the political difficulties of integrating aliens-amongst-us into our world.

    Personally, I think SFR’s forays into politics are a huge plus for the genre. Thanks for bringing up this issue, Jolie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of my favorite things about SFR. Kind of like that old phrase, “Everything is bigger in Texas”. Everything means more in SFR and scifi. And I concur with your entire statement. 🙂


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