Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hot Mamas In Outer Space

By Kimber An

I’d like to thank Rowena Cherry for inviting me to guest blog today. She inspired today’s topic with her post a couple of weeks ago about the various backgrounds Science Fiction Romance authors bring to the table. I’m not yet published, but my life certainly impacted this column. I’m a former Certified Professional Nanny. Currently, I stay home and educate our children after the Classical Method. I majored in English first in college, and then switched to history. Yes, Linnea, I’m going to blog about babies!

Science Fiction Romance is a character-driven subgenre. As far as we know, all the readers are human. I think we all know this means there must be enough humanity in the characters for the readers to relate to. The readership is almost entirely female. According to the RWA, most Romance readers are mature and well-educated. Nearly all of the women readers I know are happily married mommies.

A long time ago, it seems to me both the Science Fiction and Romance genres suffered from the Old Madonna/Whore Syndrome (unable to think of mothers as hot lovers.) As the genres evolved, the heroines evolved into worldly wise and, ahem, experienced women. But, they were still childless. Considering my fanaticism for babies, you can imagine how often I groaned and tossed a book over my shoulder. Fantasy is nice, but I have got to be able to relate, yanno. I now know there was good stuff, but I couldn’t get past the anti-baby crap back then.

The fact is I’m extremely picky about my Science Fiction. More than that, I went on strike against the Romance genre for about a decade and a half. When I first started pursuing publication, I was instructed to read widely. One of the first authors to drag me kicking and screaming back into the Romance genre was Susan Grant. Well, okay, maybe I wasn’t exactly kicking, but I did scream. I didn’t know there was such a bird as Science Fiction Romance. I started reading THE STAR KING and I was, like, “Holy tribble poo, Batman! She’s a mom!” Needless to say, I was Hoover-fodder after that.

So, we’ve gone from the Old Madonna/Whore Complex to a woman admiral who’s had a brush with motherhood in Susan’s next novel, MOONSTRUCK, in just a few decades. How did we get here?

The role of American women changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century, getting a huge boost from World War II. We went from having our wedding day as our highest aspiration to having a myriad of life choices. Nowadays, women can choose not to marry or to marry but not have children. We can have children and choose to stay home with them, even if we’re doctors or lawyers as a couple of my friends are. We now know children are worthy of intelligent mothers. We can choose to work outside the home. Men are expected to be active parents, as well. Demi Moore showed the world in 1991 that mommies are sexy when she posed nude and seven months pregnant. Did you know she nursed her babies over a year? I think it was closer to two. Nowadays, she’s married to a man fifteen years younger. Yes, we’ve learned mommies are sexy and crying babies are romantic. Oh, yes, crying babies are romantic! They cultivate *selfless* love in their parents. Selfless love transforms ordinary couples into fabulous lovers.

I’m being idealistic, of course. Not everyone is so evolved. There are still parents who shake their babies to death.

So, you see, it’s only the natural course of evolution and I think Science Fiction Romance is the ideal flagship.

Bring it on, Susan! We’re ready.

Guest blog by Kimber An


  1. Great post, Kimber! And here's to more hot mothers in SF/F!!!

  2. Speaking of va-voom, Michelle, Nefertiti was the mother of six and quite a hottie herself.

  3. Being a hot-mama doesn't necessarily mean having air-brushed looks. A plot driven by a fierce mother-love that has the male protag struggling to keep up (and of course he comes through eventually) - what's off-putting about that? It's a winning device Kimber An has down to art. ;)

  4. A mother's passion is an awesome thing, Henny. Anyone ever heard of the hormone Oxytocin? Both men and women enjoy it, but mommies get a double-whammy of it.

    Getting back to Nefertiti, I found it interesting there was none of that stigma in Ancient Egypt. Right after birth, Nefertiti was strutting around in her skirt with henna on her hands and bare breasts. This explains the multiple pregnancies in rapid succession, I think.

  5. Anonymous1:58 PM EST

    As one of those rarities, a male reader of SFR, I have to say Kimber An's (and others') inputs on women and moms have influenced my thoughts regarding my male protag, not to mention his significant other. I managed to give my fictional couple a couple of kids before I knew what I was doing and it's surprising (also daunting) how that and external influences have affected my approach to the story and the relationships therein, and not just those of that one couple, either. In a way, this is a significant learning experince for me as I've never had a wife or kids either one, and it's input from Kimber An, Susan and others that's (hopefully) helping me to write something that won't get thrown against the wall. So, keep it up, y'all. Thanks , Kimber An and Rowena. I may just have to go read up on Nefertiti now. (grins)

  6. As a male reader of SFR, David, I think you have a unique opportunity to write something which will bring others of your gender into the fold. Men love romance too, just in a different way. There are some passionate dads out there too. I'm extremely lucky to be married to one. I try to be very thankful for that because I know what it's like to not have a dad who cares and I know my husband could fly into a mountainside on any given day and never come home.

  7. Kimber, what a wonderful column, sooo many great take-aways in there--in particular your connecting the selfless love that child require to how motherhood may make a woman a good and selfless lover. Good stuff there.

    I am late in coming here to post as I just returned from a visit to "Grandma and Grandpas' house" with my teens, a day earlier than expected because of the terrible storms here. Wanted to say that I, too, never understood WHY female strong characters could never be moms also. Some of it may be because moms themselves weren't the authors. The more moms writing the books, the more women who are moms will turn up in our published stories. And, yes, motherhood and children and how it changes a woman is a central theme in Moonstruck.

    Kimber, I never heard the story how Star King helped drag you back to the romance genre. That was so flattering to learn! And now that i've gotten to know you, I see how that particular book would be it. Thanks for sharing that. What a compliment.

    Again, GREAT column, so thought provoking. I'm going to link to it from my blog.

  8. ps--i always enjoyed the character of the doctor on Star Trek TNG and her son Wesley. It was a dynamic not often seen in SF TV or Sf in general. But it makes sense. Not everyone is going to be single and childless.

  9. Susan, I've noticed there are a lot more childless women authors than moms. At least, the ones I've interacted with on the Internet. And it makes sense. The biggest challenge to a mother's intimate life is finding time for herself because there are soooo many incredible demands on her life, regardless of whether she works inside or outside the home. When can a mom find time for a haircut or trying on clothes to make sure they fit and look good on her? It's so hard! But, the pay-off is big in a more enjoyable life, so I hope any mom reading this will remember to make time for herself. The man who realizes his woman needs help with this will be so glad he helped!
    Yes, if memory serves, it was you, Susan, and Gwyneth Bolton (author of SWEET SENSATION) who first pulled me back into the Romance genre. Gwyneth's not a mom (yet!) but she's wonderful with Secret Baby and enduring romance stories. SWEET SENSATION was all that.

    P.S. I always thought Dr. Beverly Crusher had the best hair in ST! I realize that's a shallow distinction, but yanno...

  10. Anonymous5:59 PM EST

    Great post, Kimber an! All I know is, I can't wait to share my passion for science fiction and romance, and science fiction romance, etc. with my daughter when she grows up (she's in for quite an inheritance of books and movies, heh heh heh).

    >When can a mom find time for a haircut

    lol! I can relate to that, now. I just got my hair cut a few days ago after putting it off for like, six months. Even the hairdresser was like, wow, it's been a long time, huh? And she didn't even know I was a mother!

  11. I know what you mean, Clara. I'm always on the look-out for Science Fiction for the younger set, especially for girls. They're tough to find. When I was a teen, they were impossible to find. I do find great adventure stories for girls all the time, however. Tanith Lee has been around for decades. She writes Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I'm going to start reading her novel, PIRATICA, as soon as I'm finished with my next ARC.