Monday, October 20, 2008

The Future is Now

Rowena’s post about chastity, abstinence and time periods brought up an interesting issue that I’ve dealt with since I’ve been writing SFR professionally. From time to time I get emails from readings telling me that the militaries portrayed in my books aren’t structured properly because “that’s not the way the USAF or USN” functions (or RAF or whatever other military you want to include).

And I have to reply, “Yes, I know. But my books aren’t about any Earth-based military.” (The Down Home Zombie Blues being the notable exception).

But, but, you write science fiction romance! It’s about the future!

No, it’s not. It’s about my character’s present day.

FINDERS KEEPERS is not Trilby Elliot’s future. It’s her present day. Granted, AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS throws Gillie almost four hundred years into the future but it’s not four hundred years into Earth’s future, but hers. She’s Raheiran. She’s never heard of Earth, Florida, France, Malaysia, Ohio, Moscow, London, South Africa or Canada. Honest. She hasn’t.

The same is true for the rest of my books (other than ZOMBIE). The same is true for a lot of science fiction and science fiction romance.

One of the reasons to read SF and SFR is to move your mind out of the usual and the known. It’s to set the “givens” aside and open up to what else just might be. Our characters’ stories often aren’t ones you can plug into your home calendar—your can’t fast forward to 2075 and think you’ll find Trilby Elliot. Or Tasha Sebastian.

The cultures, the mores, the beliefs our characters have often are not Earth-In-The-Future but right here, right now for those characters. So chastity or abstinence, if it exists in that character’s life, is because of the current beliefs or life’s structure (as it was for Branden Kel-Paten in GAMES OF COMMAND). And what god or gods they worship, how they’re educated, what they eat, how they run their militaries—these are all things unique to their current time and place.

Which isn’t here.
Except when you’re reading my books.
Then the future is now.



  1. Is it very sad if I admit to getting girlwood when I see those covers?

    It is? *blushing*

  2. This post reminds me of both why I love SF and that I need to stretch my reading horizons and dig into some non-Westernized SF stories. RIVER OF GODS is on my TBR list so I hope it does the trick.

    Thanks, Linnea!

  3. Anonymous7:06 AM EDT

    Love your books Linnea!
    I found another reason why "alien" romances are good. It's the same reason fantasy/future worlds are such good settings for stories in general .
    With books set in today's world, cultural/race/national differences immediately, trap and restrict the plot and the characters, eg, the cliched Nazi German "baddie" or the arab "terrorist".
    It is so refreshing to read books where the antagonists have no relation to today's world so there are no reflections or restrictions to limit them.
    Similarly historically based novels annoy me when they get their "facts" wrong or when the language or cultural actions are so wrong for the time they were set in.
    This is why I think your books are so good. You have total control of the physical setting and how the cultures inter-react. Inevitably some is derivative, with influences you have admitted from Star Trek and Star Wars.
    But creating your own worlds gives you total control. Also, by using different worlds for most of your books you are not trapped by the culture/world you created. So fans can't nitpick about inconsistency of details between books.
    I am so looking forward to Hope's Folly!