Speculative fiction, whether sci-fi or fantasy or paranormal, is all about the what if? questions. Those wonder and awe inducing daydreams that have been a part of the stories we've heard and read since we were kids. What if we could fly? What if there are unicorns in another realm? What if there's a big red dog that wants to be my friend? What if there's something hiding in my closet, and does it want to eat me or play with me? What if I could command magic? What if aliens landed on Earth . . . and they looked like smoking hot men?
The questions may change in detail between when we're young and when we're adults, but the invoked awe and wonder doesn't.
Why does romance need to be in the mix of speculative what ifs? Why not? Everything's better with romance!
But more seriously, romance is also a genre of awe. Two disparate people come together against all odds and realize and express their love for each other. The romance novel, with its tight focus on character emotions and overcoming personal baggage within the course of a compact sweeping courtship, is in many ways more of a fantasy than fantasy fiction. It is the slaying of a different kind of dragon no less awe-inspiring. So the sliding together of tangible and metaphorical dragons feels not only natural to me, it feels like love.
The what if possibilities--what if he's a shape changer with predator/territorial instincts? What if he's from an alien culture?--allow me to accept alpha males or otherwise taboo practices because they provide a so-different-from-reality situation that I can't even compare the two. I would never, in real life, put up with a boyfriend who was overwhelmed with territorial jealousy when I spoke to another guy. But as displayed by a supernatural book boyfriend, I kinda dig it.
What if hot men were more than just hot men? What if the good old boy next door was actually the vampire next door? What if it turned out the new guy in town was a mage on the run from some mage-ish organization and you had to help him . . . by making out with him? What if you could build a cyborg lover to your specifications? What if a gargoyle, a protector from on high, saw you walk by his perch every day and developed a crush on you?
I like real men. Real, normal, human men in the here and now. I also like reading about those men in historical settings. But my imagination is far too quick to run wild in the realm of the speculative to be constrained to the what ifs that present themselves to me in the course of real life: What if you met someone at a wedding, or fell for the guy you hired to take you to that wedding? What if when injured something sparked between you and your doctor? What if your new boss seduced you? What if your high school flame showed up in your life again? All interesting possible stories. But my brain just jumps from there to What if your high school flame showed up in your life again and now he's a werewolf? I can't help it, it's too much fun to play with romance what ifs when out-of-this-world possibilities are thrown into the mix.
What are the reasons you love sci-fi romance or paranormal romance? Let us know in the comments.
Eileen Wiedbrauk is an editor, writer, coffee addict, cat herder, MFA graduate, fantasist-turned-fabalist-turned-urban-fantasy-junkie, Odyssey Workshop alumna, photographer, designer, tech geek, entrepreneur, avid reader, and a somewhat decent cook. She wears many hats, as the saying goes. Which is an odd saying in this case, as she rarely looks good in hats. eileenwiedbrauk.com.
Read more about what Eileen Wiedbrauk and the other Red Moon Romance editors are looking for in the 2015 open submissions.