Wednesday, 12 January 2011

When romance isn't romance

I write science fiction romance. I like to read SFR as well, however I've noticed some disturbing trends that I seriously don't like. For the purposes of this post, the alien is male and the MC is female, because that's how it usually is in the books.
The alien kidnaps the MC. Okay, I'm fine with that, as long as it pertains to the main plot. As a device to get the alien and MC together, it's questionable. Trust (and love) in your kidnapper is called Stockholm Syndrome and it's not sexy, never mind romantic.

The alien has a pheromone and/or empathic ability. This usually makes the MC physically aroused and ends up in rape. No, I won't call it sex - if the MC is saying no, if she is trying to fight the alien off, then it is rape, regardless of how aroused she is.

The alien has a different moral code. This is an excuse I've heard far too many times. I don't care if the alien comes from a different culture, has different rules and morals - if the MC is human, then the story needs to follow human morals. The clash is great anywhere but in the bedroom. Use it as conflict, but don't use it to coerce the MC into bed.

The alien uses mind control to "seduce" the MC. Just... no. Removing the MC's will can work in some stories but it does not work in SFR. I cannot believe that a MC can fall in love with anything that manipulates her in any way, least of all with what comes down to mental abuse (there's a very good episode of ST: TNG covering Deanna being mind raped - go watch it and then see if that's what you want to read/write).
Now, there is nothing wrong with these things of themselves. I want to read about alien aliens. I just don't want that alienness to effect the romantic relationship with the MC.I don't want to read a story that is basically mental, emotional and physical abuse masquerading as romance.


  1. Aliens or humans. "No" means "NO".

    [Did you guess I agree with you. I get tired of this theme even in interactions between two humans.]

  2. I did, indeed.

    And yes, these themes happen in human/human stories, but my field (loosely used term since I'm not published) is SFR, which generally involves aliens at some point.

  3. I definitely agree with the empathic or the mind control ones. The theme is, as Kay said, tiring.

    And you have an award waiting here:

  4. Yeah, the only way ignoring a "no" would work is if we're not supposed to like the person/creature who ignores it.

  5. @nindogs Thank you so much!

    @Trisha Exactly, but very often the person/creature ignoring it is the "hero". I think what some SFR writers forget is that the reader is supposed to fall in love with the hero as the heroine does (or even before).