Almost any plot or subgenre of literature can be reinvigorated as science fiction.
Westerns are a natural. You simply give black hats to some of your fellow Space-Ark-mates, or colonists and substitute aliens for the gentlemen in war bonnets.
Better still, make the alien equivalents of Native Americans the heroes. Or, make all of humankind walk in the shoes of all the aboriginal peoples our own colonists have wronged in the past, and present the incoming aliens as pilgrim fathers or conquistadors. Ah, but that isn't the stuff of Romance. Moreover, the natives win in "Independence Day".
You can have Quest plots (The Holy Grail in outer space... and very often, as with the Da Vinci Code, the holy grail in sfr is a fertile, pure young woman), Discovery plots, Adventure plots, Pursuit plots, Rescue plots, Mysteries (including murder mysteries), Rivalry plots, Revenge plots, Underdog plots, Transformation and/or Metamorphosis Plots, Beauty and the Beast, Coming Of Age, Who's Coming For Dinner (prejudice/forbidden love)....
The one plot that may not translate so well into an alien romance is The Comedy Of Manners... which in turn might be described as a highly entertaining, watered down Morality Play. (Erring protagonists don't die, they just end up married till death do them part.)
Yes, I watched "Sense And Sensibility" last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast included Emma Thompson, Tim Rickman, and a rather hunched Hugh Grant. I wonder how long it will be before Emma Thompson does us (us Romantics) a huge favor and makes movies of some of the Georgette Heyer novels.
The trouble with Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer --when it comes to space travel-- is that their plots and heroines don't kick butt. They are rewarded for not kicking butts, nuts, or giving tongue lashings to anyone. Heyer heroines, actually, are more dynamic. Some of them do have violent tempers, like Leonie, and they shoot men (or want very much to do so) and fight with swords, and cross dress (like Viola and a few other Shakespearean heroines), and drive racy vehicles too fast.
A Comedy Of Manners depends on the heroine wanting to marry a gentleman, but not being able to tell him so. She is too well-mannered, and he requires more encouragement than she offers.
Usually, she has a sister (possibly multiple sisters) who is/are man magnets, often for the wrong sort of man, and who behave like the sort of woman/women a chap would take as his mistress, but would never marry. Villainy in a man could mean that he has sex with a virtuous young woman (or tries to do so, or promises to do so within marriage) and then leaves her.
Imagine! James T Kirk would be the worst of villains in a Comedy Of Manners. The continent Spock would be the hero.... which he was for most of us, anyway.
In science fiction romance, our heroines have to be in greater physical danger than losing their reputations (ie being suspected of not being quite virginal). Unless they are Queens or Empresses married to a Henry VIII type, and likely to be subjected to a show trial and executed. But that is a different sort of plot. The archetypical Sir Jasper does not cut the mustard as a sfr villain. He'd have to want her world as well as her body.
Our heroines in futuristic settings are expected to be sexually liberated, to have smashed the glass ceiling, to hold their own and often their hero's (blaster or equivalent weapon). They have to rock. And multi-task. They cannot sit around, being nice and proper.
By rights, Eleanor ought to have ended up with Colonel Brandon. We saw much more of the Colonel. He was by far the most heroic. However, he did not want Eleanor. He was doggedly determined to love Marianne... and Marianne was the stock "silly girl" whom (in my opinion) we see far too often, setting themselves up as role models for our impressionable daughters in endless sit coms, Disney movies for teens, and high school dramas.
Eleanor got the man she wanted, but only because of the perfidy of Miss Steele. Colonel Brandon's patience was rewarded... but in sfr, does any hero or heroine worth his or her salt settle for being second best?
Happy Thanksgiving Recovery Day
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