Monday, March 10, 2008

The Market for SFR

Since I mostly write SFR (science fiction romance) the science in my stories is very important. Not that I dump vast quantities of science factoids on my readers, I don’t. I do use science to help me develop the world or the culture in the story.

I don’t write hard SF. You won’t see the nuts and bolts although you might see a few neat gizmo’s :D And often as I’m creating a world, I’ll research a particularly (to me) interesting aspect…and end up in research nirvana (I’m a research junkie, I admit it). And even when I’m not actively researching for a particular story, I’m reading science zines, articles, magazines, books…well, you get the drift.

I like science but I also like the interaction of the characters (story is character) and I love writing romance. It wasn’t always that way. I used to write straight SF with romantic elements at most. Why? Because at one time, SFR was the bastard step-child of a bastard step-child. There was simply no market for it. Then times began to change.

One of my first published short stories concerned explorers on a small, barren planet orbiting a binary star. In it, I referenced a stream of star stuff (heheheh, technical word here – I haven’t had my coffee yet) going from one planet to the other. Some people loved the story, some people said my science was way off.

Ahem, they did change their minds, grudgingly, when I showed my research references :D

But the thing I noticed was that most of those who loved the story were women, most of those who cried foul on the research were men.

I’m not saying the gals were science duds, not at all. They loved the story because it was about a woman who saved her man from certain death (as for the science—they may have already checked it out and found it to be strong) and the subtle but growing relationship between them. Story is character :D

I recently heard a discussion hinting that men were now getting onboard with SFR, that they consider it Science Fiction With Sex. The gist of it was that they want the nuts and bolts of hard science but, hey, throw in some sex, it’s even better.

This may be true; I have no way of knowing. But I can say with no doubt that a SFR writer better have her Science down pat because someone, somewhere, will discover any mistakes and condemn her for it.

What are your thoughts on the SFR market? Do you think it's growing? That men are willingly seeking it out? And how do you perceive the science being used? Let's discuss it :D

-- Lynda
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Skylar Masey said...

Great post Lynda!

I think the SFR market is definitely on the rise. In fact I just heard that all of Linnea Sinclair's SFRs are being re-released with romance covers, so they'll be stocked in romance & fantasy sections.

Honestly I think women are seeking it out, because it not only has the science and research aspects, but also emotional elements that aren't common in the sci-fi of the guys. As for the men, some may bridge the gap. But I can't see them picking up SFR unless they're writing it. :0)

Savanna Kougar said...

Lynda, good questions. But I don't have a clue. One of my e-novels has been labeled a spicy sci fi, and certainly the spice is there and there are sci fi elements, but I perceive it more as a space adventure, although I do explain how certain devices perform. Hey, most of my research is listening to guests like Michio Kaku (sp?) on Coast-to-Coast, and attemping an understanding of quantum physics and mechanics -- which do make sense to me.
The gist, I doubt if I'm qualified to answer. But, if a guy or a gal likes Star Wars, they might enjoy some of the novels I write -- although, they are not fan-based in any way.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Skylar, I think the SFR market is on the upswing too. And I *do* see men picking it up...if the covers aren't too romancy :D While I don't mind having a bare chested man (or alien, lol) on the cover, I kind of doubt the guys would. They might like a bare chested woman, lol, however.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Savannah, I've always heard Star Wars typed as Space Opera (another genre I love) which is probably akin to your space adventure. My writing tends toward space opera/space adventure mainly because I'm not interested in the 'nuts and bolts' unless it is critical to the plot.

How are they making Linnea's covers more romancy? Any idea?