Wow! For Today’s Femme Friday, I’ve joined up with some other fabulous science fiction romance authors as part of the SFR Brigade Showcase.To check out all the other great posts from the featured authors, click here. Amazing authors of sci-fi romance to be discovered!
I’m celebrating the release of Freedom Bound: Coriander, the next episode in the serial.
I’m asking the question of myself, my fellow authors, and you, what makes a Science Fiction Romance (SFROM) heroine archetype? Why are SFROM heroines the ones more likely to kick in the door, fire the blaster, rescue the slave babies and generally walk into a firefight with nothing but a bare midriff and chutzpah?
Want more questions? Why is SFROM the medium for romance that frees the heroine to carry the gun? Why are they more likely to be both sexy and lethal? Not all, generally, go around slashing evil-doers throats but SF has a higher percentage of deathmetal broads than the new Roller Derby Romance genre does, by about a billion fold.
This is not to say that all SFROM heroines are created equally. So, let’s look at some awesome past examples of Space Opera heroines, starting with the Space Princess.
To up my space opera geek cred, I recently plod through Heinlein’s Glory Road, arguably not the best of his work… but still widely read and respected. Glory Road is Heinlein’s homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs: a tale of an American solider seduced by a fair princess into taking on all manner of alien and fantastical foes. And yes, some may argue that this is Heinein’s only work of fantasy but Star is the Empress of the Multiverse so right there… Come on! Space Princess! Ok, Space Empress but you get the idea.
The first time I saw the cover of this book I was greeted with this lovely 1960’s pulpy shmaltz. Up front is blonde hourglass perfection in Robin Hood attire sashaying through what appears to be a haunted forest. Is she carrying a sword? Sweet! Not your typical SciFi. However, Star is probably the best example of archetypical Space Princess. Sadly, Star is underused as a strong female heroine and over-used as a plot point. When reading though, I had to remind myself the era it was written in, much in the same way that I have to remind myself that Captain Kirk was also a byproduct of his time, and read the 1960’s style sexism as a “quaint anachronism” rather than a rage response. Despite this, as a study of Space Princesses, you can’t overlook Star. She is lethal. She is soft. She is smart. She is clever. She is the catalyst of the change in the hero, Oscar, and conflict of the story is controlled by the romance between the two. This makes Glory Road a SciFiRom. What? Really? Heinlein was a romance writer? Yup.
Why do strong female protagonist and SciFi Romance go together so well? Do all SciFi Princesses have to be killer ninjas? Not all! Know who else is a Space Princess?
Nope. I lied. But I had you going there for a second. She’s more of a super space ninja, though. Not unlike my heroine Corrie Scott in Freedom Bound. Corrie is not a space princess, but she is a genetic freak of nature, like Miss Zor-el. You see her up there, with the prerequisite midriff shot. Corrie does not have a cape. Yet. I’m pondering the boots.
But Jayne, what about Leia!? What about the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris? Well duh. These are our archetypes for the female heroine they are both courageous and resolute as well as vulnerable. We meet Leia when she’s about to be captured. Her Mommy, Amidalah, was also made of the same tough stuff. They used heavy diplomatic chops to their advantage to get things done. When that didn’t work they pulled out the blasters.
But when we meet Leia, we immediately think, “Just another princess that needs saving. Except that she isn’t a snivelly wimpy whiner of a princess. She’s made of tough stuff, despite having the pretty white dress and the cinnamon buns on her head. Hrm… hairstyles of space princesses? Ok, another day. She practically spits in Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader’s faces, and when she finally is rescued her first reaction is a volly is at her rescuer, “Little short to be a stormtrooper…” Smartassy and sassy. After which she promptly finds a blaster and helps fend off the bad guys while they make their escape. That’s our SciFi heroine, she knows she can count on herself, if not her entourage. Let’s just forget about that painful bikini trope usage for now and concentrate on the fact that Leia saved her man from the carbonite. Lucas was obviously having a Dejah Thoris fanboy fantasy flashback.
Ok maybe we should talk briefly about the bikini…
Despite Thoris’ nudist tendencies, she really was a kickass heroine. You’ll have to read Burroughs yourself to truly appreciate her. The difference between the Leia costume and that of Thoris? Leia’s was designed to denigrate a princess to a slave. Thoris was uh, warm. Yeah, ’cause Mars.
Jayne Fury is a SCIFIROM author who writes pulpy serials about bodice ripping ninjas in space. She lives on her urban farm in the Pacific Northwest with her three cats, five chickens and extremely tolerant husband. If asked, she will deny that she’s creating nest in her office out of old socks and wooly pooffs. She is also a performer in Tacoma’s one and only Ukulele Sing-a-long Circus. Her project, FREEDOM BOUND, is currently publishing on Amazon.com