Monday, June 26, 2006

Why do SF readers boldly go everywhere...but the bedroom?

Okay, first let me state that I'm not talking about ALL SF readers. So put your laser pistols back in their holsters. Second, I can't take credit for the subject line. I filched it from author Barbara Karmazin and maybe I can talk her into responding here.

But the point is this: I'm a long time and avid reader of:
Science Fiction /Fantasy
(not necessarily in that order) and it's only in the SFF venues do I see an author's novel being trashed for including a romantic plot or subplot.

I certainly have never seen a romance reader trash a novel for including a mystery or speculative fiction plot or theme. And I've never personally seen a mystery reader trash a novel because the detective had a love interest.

But put a love interest in an SF novel! Incoming photon torpedoes! Ion cannons firing at will (poor Will, why does everyone fire at him?)! A segment--a certain segment of SF readers go totally ballistic. Their beloved genre has been sullied. Damaged. Insulted. A LOVE INTEREST? LOVE? That...that...::shudders:: four letter word? LOVE?

It baffles me.

Or maybe it doesn't. We live on a planet in which love is equated with weakness. Hatred, violence, bigotry and criminal activity are "manly". Strong. Bad is good. Caring and compassion are for weaklings. You know: wimmin.

What baffles me even more are the wimmin SF readers who uphold this philosophy. Romance in SF/F is bad. Sex is SF/F is punishable by tarring and feathering. Some arguments I've seen by those who support this is that a female character in an SF story who falls in love is being 'objectified' or manipulated into a stereotypical cultural norm (ie: wimmin fall in love as if that's the only thing they can do).

Well, my characters fall in love. I personally can't envision a future (if the SF is set so) or a planet/star system I'd want to spend time in (and that's what you do when you read a book) that doesn't value companionship. That doesn't recognize the importance of emotional intimacy, physical intimacy. (I'm not saying I can't ENVISION an emotionless society. I'm just saying I don't want to spend ALL my time there.)

So one of the things that my characters experience in my books is falling in love.

It may come as no suprise to you that I'm happily married. Very happily. Since 1980. And while yes, my husband is an enormous center of my life, I've also been a tape-recorder-wielding news reporter and a gun-totin' private investigator. Love didn't diminish my abilities in either of those careers. So I rather figure if I can do these things--and be all these things--so can my characters.

One last thing. I've often wondered if those SF readers who recoil from SFR also recoil from listening to rock/pop music in which the lyrics plainly are about the singer's feelings for someone else? And I'm not talking Barry Manilow type music, either. But Springsteen. Billy Joel. Led Zepplin. Van Halen. (Does anyone think "Hot For Teacher" was about an arsonist?) ZZ Top. (Oh, "Legs" was about fried chicken, right?) . The list (and the beat) goes on...

Hugs all (because yeah, my characters aren't the only ones who have emotions),