That’s the theme I got out of this post.
Also, somebody, with his narrow ideals and stringent opinions, get to define what a genre is. Because he says so. He says so, and so it must be.
Another writer well-praised (from every corner) is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her great work is the Miles Vorkosigan series. These are supposed to be military science fiction stories, but they are really at their core Romance novels. At first, they were military science fiction novels of a higher order than most. But the romance elements creep in very early on. Bujold tips her hand in the eloquence of her language (normally a good thing) and the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors.
That is what define romance? Ah… that would bore me. Probably why I could never get into her books. But that is what he uses define romance? Okay. Since he gets to set his own definitions, then so do I. It’s only fair, right?
I’m going to redefine non-fiction. Nonfiction is now about purple unicorns and sparkly kitties that sing bedtime stories.
And guys didn’t like the intrigues, the balls, the court dress… ya know…the detail that made Lois McMaster Bujold’s stories what they were? Really? Wow.
There’s also the underlying idea that girls can’t really write real science fiction. We’re not going get into that debate, because other people have done it far better than I can. It’s apparently the time for all of this to break out, too, because Jim C. Hines is talking about more diversity in SFF and he’s taking on crap for it. People discuss it on twitter and just like any other time we try to talk about bringing more women in genre fic, more people of color into genre fic, anybody outside the traditional orientation…there are people who scream and rage over it.
Actually, romance is pretty progressive when it comes to that. We’ve got gay romance, lesbian romance, interracial romance, although I think we still struggle to get more non-white romances out there. But you can find a little bit of everything, historical pieces from all over the word, so many subgenres to choose from, many nationalities, multiple orientations, many classes, varying heat levels, and a lot of books with strong, positive female influences where the woman isn’t just a toy for the hero to use here and there and toss off when he’s done. And I’m rambling… back on target.
One author interviewed in the Guardian has discussed having more diversity in the classes found in SF… not just the captains, but the working class.
Saladin Ahmed mentions:
He tweeted: “Class diversity also needs to be part of #DiversityinSFF. I want fewer kings and starship captains, more coach drivers and space waitresses.”
Other than writers like Ann Aguirre and S.L. Viehl, SF tends to bore me… or many of the writers annoy me. Basically, after how rude a few of them treated me, I stopped looking at a lot of them and focused more on UF and romance, but I’m going to have to branch out because some of the people speaking up against the author of the Amazing Stories post (Paul Cook) have impressed me. Jim C. Hines has long been on my TBR read list and now, so is Saladin Ahmed.
One thing I found almost insanely hilarious about Paul Cook’s piece?
…over time with novels such as Miles in Loveand Cordelia’s Honor, you can see that Bujold is a closet romance writer. Not that this is a bad thing, but some of us aren’t that interested in romance.
The implication here is that guys don’t read icky romance. They don’t want to read about feelings and mushy stuff.
And of course this line…
For me, personally, it takes much of the dramatic urgency out of a story if the hero is already married or if during a skirmish comes back to canoodle or wine or dine with his beloved
I highlighted the personally part…see, it’s all about what he thinks. He also claims he’s the most hated guy on the internet, and seriously, talk about arrogance. No, he’s an annoyance, and narrow-minded, not to mention ill-informed on things, but hey, that’s not worthy of hatred. Being a judgmental, sexist asshat isn’t worthy of my hatred. Just my pity.
This part was funny, too.
Lee’s and Miller’s stories in this series are carefully written, but I’d call them science fiction-lite because there really isn’t much tension in these stories
So tension is what defines science fiction?
Asimovs (an online mag) looks for this…
In general, we’re looking for “character oriented” stories, those in which the characters, rather than the science, provide the main focus for the reader’s interest. Serious, thoughtful, yet accessible fiction will constitute the majority of our purchases, but there’s always room for the humorous as well. Borderline fantasy is fine, but no Sword & Sorcery, please. Neither are we interested in explicit sex or violence. A good overview would be to consider that all fiction is written to examine or illuminate some aspect of human existence, but that in science fiction the backdrop you work against is the size of the Universe.
I don’t see any mention of tension there. How about Tor’s online site
What we’re looking for: Tor.com welcomes original speculative fiction short stories and poetry. We define “speculative fiction” broadly, including SF, fantasy, horror, alternate history, and related genres. We want our stories to represent the full diversity of speculative fiction, and encourage submissions by writers from underrepresented populations. This includes but is not limited to writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and ability, as well as characters and settings that reflect these experiences…
Nothing about tension there. Funny, though…one thing actually a lot of romance editors will say is a problem with submissions? Not enough tension. Hmmmm. Funny, that. Maybe Cook is actually a closet romance reader and doesn’t know it. Especially if he’s looking for tension. Come to romance, buddy. We got tension.
You go digging around for definitions for science fiction and you get things like this…
Definition of science fiction (n)
fiction based on futuristic science: a form of fiction, usually set in the future, that deals with imaginary scientific and technological developments and contact with other worlds
Definitions of what Science Fiction is and is not
It’s often said that Science Fiction is the literature of change.
A science fiction story must be set against a society significantly different from our own — usually, but not necessarily, because of some change in the level of science and technology — or it is not a science fiction story.
Definition of Science Fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction in which the stories often
tell about science and technology of the future. It is
important to note that science fiction has a relationship with
the principles of science—these stories involve partially truepartially fictitious laws or theories of science. It should not be
completely unbelievable, because it then ventures into the
So basically, science fiction is about how science and technology will change the future. It doesn’t focus on tension…but maybe it should. Because unless the world of the future totally eliminates sexual desire or the human need for companionship (which most of us, even the guys), then those needs and desires will also be a part of the future…not writing about them kinda means you’re skipping out on a messy, but intrinsic part of human nature.
It doesn’t become romance until the focal point of the story is the developing relationship between the hero and heroine (or whoever the main couple is). Duh. If Cook was so educated about romance, as he seems to think he is, he’d know this.
Because that is the definition of romance. Plenty of books have romantic subplots–didn’t Lord of the Rings have a carefully written subplot about Arwen and Aragorn? You didn’t really get the full story until the end, but it was there, hinted at all the way. Dude. Tolkien is a closet romance writer! Who knew? I’m pretty sure there was a romantic subplot in the John Jakes books I read when I was a teen. And STEPHEN KING! He’s had a lot of romantic subplots, didn’t he? Stephen KING is a closet romance writer! Wow. Oh, Ilona Andrews! She’s got a romantic subplot…and a killer one, too. There are so many closet writers out there. I can’t even name them all.
To fulfill what a true romance reader is looking for, those who are looking for a romance when we open up a book, it can’t be a subplot. That story has to focus on the hero and heroine all the way through. Otherwise, when we close that book, we’re going to be pretty damn upset, assuming we even finish.
We’ll take a subplot that might detract from the romance, briefly. That is okay. But the romance is the driving force and there can only be one outcome. The heroine and the hero end up together. Happy ever after. The end. That’s it.
Again, I go back to this comment…
…over time with novels such as Miles in Love and Cordelia’s Honor, you can see that Bujold is a closet romance writer. Not that this is a bad thing, but some of us aren’t that interested in romance.
Some of us. Who is us? Is it guys? Does that mean he thinks only girls are interested in romance? Are all girls interested in romance? (Try telling that to bratlet. You might escape unscathed. But then again, you might not.)
That us thing…that only women thing, I just find it all laughable. Plenty of women like SF, and we like it a variety of ways. I like my SF to actually reflect the human condition. And humans do get engaged in all those messy, messy emotions and sometimes we even like to have that messy, messy sex.
It’s one of the reasons I like authors like Ann Aguirre and S.L. Viehl… they write people that I can connect to. These are real people, even if they are situations that I’ll never be in. They feel. They love. They hurt. Why in the world does a space captain try to fight a war anyway if he doesn’t feel or love or hurt? If he can’t feel love, remorse, passion, what drives him to do the ‘right’ thing?
Honor isn’t a good enough reason. Revenge wouldn’t do either, because why does he want revenge if he never loved anybody enough to need revenge? It makes no sense. The human condition is what drives us to do everything…emotion is at the core so many things, but heaven forbid some writers touch on that.
The other thing I find amusing is the unsaid thing…guys just don’t like romance so stop making us read it.
In the years since I’ve been published, I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve sent overseas to soldiers. The majority of them, by far, are men. The books I send? They are romance. And the SOS coordinator who takes receipt of them still sends me emails from the guys who get those books. They love them. They appreciate them. One of my prized possessions is the US flag I received as a thank gift for the books I’ve sent. Many of those books are traded around and shared among the other soldiers. I can remember one email Kelley (my SOS contact) sent me about one of the guys who used to be on her list but is home now…he’s kinda upset about that, because he doesn’t get these kinda books anymore. Not just from me, but the other romance writers who send books out.
So you go ahead, Mr. Cook. Why don’t you hunt up the guys serving overseas and tell them how guys aren’t into romance? While you’re at it, be sure to hunt up all the guys who’ve had me sign their books over the years–their books, not for their girlfriends, or their wives. But for them. It’s not just one or two guys, either.
Have fun with it. I dare ya.