Last monday, Linnea posted a blog -- Love Beyond Boundaries -- and continued on the topic of barriers that challenge the development of romantic relationships between individuals -- a ready source of the very conflict that makes a story work. I found this particularly relevant to my own fictional work-in-progress. Linnea cited several examples of society's traditional taboos, and in my story, set a century and a half into our future, these still hold stubbornly true in one form or another.
Take my main character and his love interest, for example. Daie Fahr is a commoner with ambiguous religious beliefs. He was born and raised on an agricultrual colony planet in another solar system. His accent, his idiomatic expressions and slang, all mark him as an outsider. Anya, the apple of his eye, comes from a well-to-do family on Earth. She's well educated, dresses in the current fashions, and adheres to a fairly rigid belief system. Anya has never left Earth. She's also never met an alien in person, while Daie spent a couple of years on a commercial hub space station -- he ran into them all the time. Daie's immediate environments have always been fairly remote as well. Anya lives on a planet teeming with people. Even aside from these obvious things, Daie's lack of inherent bias against those different from himself, particularly aliens, makes him a potential outcast even among his own kind.
At great odds with these two is the nearly symbiotic relationship between two of my alien species. The one is indigenous to their now-shared home-world while the other is a long-ago transplant -- in essence, an invader. If ever there was a barrier, that ought to be one. Moreover, the indigenous race is corporeal while the other, in its adult stage of life, is ethereal. Nevertheless, over time the two have crossed the boundaries that separated them and learned to coexist so well together that neither would now dream of an existence without the other. Moreover, this hybridization of their cultures has allowed them to advance their knowledge and expand their reach to the point that they have long since become the dominant species in this particular universe. Ironically, that in itself is enough to cause resentment on behalf of other species, humans included.
As you may have surmised, I like to tinker with things. I think Linnea calls it what-if-ing. It's like playing with a chemistry set made of characters and settings. Mix, stir, BOOM! Stuff happens. Whether reading or writing, this is the appeal for me of SFR as a sub-genre -- the maximum potential for situational diversity, by way of a science fictional universe, combined with the exploration of personal relationships, by way of romance. And, of course there's the HEA factor. Yes, guys like HEAs, too. Given such widely variable perspectives amongst the characters, is it any wonder why SFR/RSF is so exciting to read? Every one of these people is embarking on their own Intimate Adventure, about to be afforded an opportunity to walk a mile in another's shoes and maybe see if they should re-examine what they believe and why. They might just get a whole new slant on what unconditional love really is.