Sunday, May 20, 2007

The forbidden underbelly of alien romance

Twelve hours ago, at three in the morning, I "Twittered" about whether or not my alien romances blog today would be about aerodynamic snot.

When one's husband is a car guy, one's daughter is multi-allergic, Elm pollen is in the air, and juvenile coughing wakes the family so it is necessary to get out the nebulizer, then the pre-dawn conversations sometimes sink to a rather low --but terminologically precocious-- level.

I venture to say that being a mother is a brutalizing influence. Pre-motherhood, I doubt that I'd have laughed with malevolent glee at the thought of a burly dustman fainting over the whiff of someone else's thoroughly-used diaper (nappy) in the trash.

Snot. Allergies. Aliens.

There's a long literary tradition of aliens succumbing to Earthly ills. It's not surprising. In the olden days, missionaries and colonists unintentionally killed off isolated, "primitive" communities by exposing them to "civilization's" diseases.

If this happens on our own planet, imagine how an alien would suffer if he visited us and encountered airborne irritants and allergens which were new to his immune system.
I've read that allergies may be worse in the modern western world because we keep our homes too clean, and our toddlers no longer hunt, gather and consume worms fresh from the soil.

Contact suits would protect the alien from the dreadful spores, fibres, chemicals, dander, powders, and other bits and bobs that fill the air we breathe, but how many hunky aliens wear them?

How many hunks walk about sporting a surgical mask? In Japan, out of courtesy, people who have a cold wear surgical masks in public to help keep their germs to themselves. That would make Japan a very good beach-head for a stealthy alien invasion, wouldn't it?

Sneezing and coughing isn't romantic, so we alien romance authors are encouraged to gloss over it, just as Regency Romance authors are not pressed to talk about the logistics of chamber pots, the driveway hazards of collapsing cess pits, and the summer stench of the Thames.

I was looking at someone's wonderfully romantic MySpace site the other day. It showed image after image of tall (usually hirsute and unkempt) knights in armor, clutching swooning and flimsily clad females to their steel-breastplates... and (apparently) persisting in an attempt to inflict a french kiss --do you think the French call it that?-- on the insensible lady. I couldn't help wondering whether the ladies were fainting because the Knightly breath was devastating.

My own olfactory senses are quite acute, so are those of my aliens. The notion --mentioned on television last night-- of "smellyvision" appalls me. Life is quite enough of an intrusion without adding compulsory smells to the entertainment media! But, I'm giving further serious thought to a hayfevered alien heroine.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Insufficient Mating Material (release in the UK 5/25/2007)
Heroine with rash, alien berries.

Forced Mate
Heroine with smoke sensitivity, nicotine allergy


  1. Great post! I think any fault a character must live with makes her or him feel more real, because none of us real people are perfect. If that imperfection stands between her and her heart's desire - like Jas feeling self-conscious about her stretch marks in the STAR KING, only to discover Rom loves her just as she is - all the better! I think it's an extra dimension which sets a Great Story apart from a good one.

  2. Anonymous8:23 AM EDT

    Oh, I can't wait! And, aerodynamic snot? LOL There has GOT to be some way to use that in a story. I can just see a bespectacled professor peering concernedly over said glasses as numerous students swoon following his descriptions of the aerodynamic benefits of Variable Geometry Projectile Fluid. And I SO hope that's not a real term, 'cause eeewww!

  3. Thank you, Kimber an.

    I'm so glad that you liked my post. You make a good point about stretch marks. The STAR KING was a really good story!

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  5. David,

    Thank you. My nine year old knows the speed at which a sneeze propels sinus secretions. I'm proud and appalled.

    I assume that if thick fluid matter travels at 100mph or so, it would assume a comet-like appearance, which is an aero shape.

    What I'd like to do is go to that place (I think it is in Alaska) where Earth's gravity is a bit less than normal owing to the ancient pressure of glaciers which have now melted. Then, I'd like to find out if body functions such as sneezing turn out differently in lesser gravity.

    Of course, it might be easier to ask someone who's been on the Vomit Comet!

    Best wishes,