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2 male. I hope you enjoy reading his interview as much as I did.

Welcome to the issue Despite the fact that the first science-fiction author was a woman (Mary Shelley) and the first computer programmer was a woman (Ada Lovelace), the world of SF still seems determined to make sure that women don’t breach the Citadel of Manliness that many have erected to “protect” SF. While the recent Nebula Award winners were gloriously female, and Lightspeed magazine published its “Women Destroy SF!” edition (although it feels like we keep on having to reinvent the wheel every decade over this issue), it didn’t take long for David Truesdale to play the “complete denial” card regarding sexism at conventions, editorial decisions, and generally wimmin in his SF. Under such circumstances, it’s very easy to succumb to the urge to go hide under a rock. To play it safe. To talk to the same people about the same things. It’s also counter-productive. We shouldn’t wait until we’re about to be overrun by phalanxes of orcs before reaching out and building alliances. This is a process that must be built and nurtured over time and the earlier we begin, the better. When Heather, Diane and I created Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, one thing we were very definite about was its inclusiveness. Which is why we welcome male SFR authors as much as female, and why we reach out to others who appreciate female SF and SFR authors as much as we do, regardless of colour, creed, religion...or gender. With that mind, I’d like to welcome Ian Sales to the SFRQ team. Ian created and runs the SF Mistressworks website, highlighting SF written by women, and we’ll be featuring an analysis of one book by a female SF author from his site every issue. Welcome Ian! This issue’s interview also includes Nico Rosso, a talented SFR author who also happens to be (*gasp*)

We add another reviewer to the roster here at SFRQ. RK Shiraishi is a long-time fan of SFR and she’ll be bringing her razor-sharp analyses to join the rest of the über-fine crew at the magazine. If you follow us on Twitter (@SciFiRomance), you would already know that, thanks to our generous and wonderful sponsors, we were able to feature two short stories for you this issue. Lovelab Podcast—Interplanetary Edition by Tara Campbell tackles that topic too little seen in SF; i.e. humour. It will appeal to any of us who have watched and listened to more reality entertainment than is good for us. And Emmeline Lock takes us high in the skies in Liberating Clemency, with two adventurers vying for a very special stone and the hapless Kapitaen trying to stop them both. Our columns have a great mix of articles. Heather Massey tackles the fundamental question of why you should even read SFR in her Cosmic Lounge column, Charlee Allden veers from cyborg squirrels to the potential of alien heroes in this issue of Scopebox, and Jody Wallace examines patriarchies and matriarchies in “Beyond the Patriarchy: Breaking Free of Entrenched Gender Constraints in the SFR Genre”. There’s a lot of reading waiting for you in Issue 3 and a special “Cyborgs” issue coming up at the end of September, so have fun and please support our sponsors. We couldn’t do any of this without them. Go read!

Kaz Augustin


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Releases - before April We strive to include as many sci-fi romance releases as possible, but with current time constraints, we apologise in advance if your release was not included in our round-up.

AT STAR’S END (Anna Hackett, 42 000 words, $2.69eb, Carina Press) Dr. Eos Rai has spent a lifetime dedicated to her mother’s dream of finding the long-lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star’s End—the last known location of the masterpiece—she’s shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, refuses to back her expedition. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy, a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting. Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like their father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she’s trouble, but he’s lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn’t the only thing they’re drawn to…but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on Ondinium’s governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharptongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from

CONTENTS Editorial .......................................................................2 Releases - before April ............................................. 3 Releases - April .......................................................... 7 Reviews: Marlene Harris .......................................11 Releases - May ......................................................... 13 Reviews: The Book Pushers ................................. 13 Reviews: Jo Jones .................................................... 20 Releases - June .........................................................22 Interview .................................................................. 24 Write for us! ............................................................. 26 Opinion .................................................................... 27

CLOCKWORK HEART: The Clockwork Heart Trilogy #1 (Dru Pagliassotti, 320pp, $15.95pb/$4.99eb, Edge Publishing, reissue)

The Cosmic Lounge .............................................. 30

Flight is freedom, but death hangs in the skies…

Charlee's Scopebox ............................................... 45

Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus, a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately amongst its castes. But even she cannot outfly the web of

Fiction: Lovelab Podcast - Interplanetary Edition....................................................................... 47

Reviews: RK Shiraishi .......................................... 32 SF Mistressworks .................................................... 35 Fiction: Liberating Clemency...............................39

This issue's team...................................................... 50


4 his caste and repairs clocks in the lowest sector of the city. Both hide dangerous secrets, in the city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart.

DEMONIC TEMPTATION: Demonic Liaisons #3 (Kim Knox, short story, $1.49eb, Ellora’s Cave) Adela Tilman is a woman pursued by strange lovers she can’t see. Unseen hands, mouths, tongues tease and torment her. They hint at exquisite release…but never quite fulfill that dark promise. Worse, something about the new insanity of her life has pulled Marcus Yeats back into her world. Marcus is a man who has fueled her fantasies for years, a man she ran from after one mad moment of indiscretion. But here she is again. Caught by him…and wanting so much more than an illicit fumble or the hands of strangers tormenting her body for too few moments. Now everything is about to change. Idaeus has found them both. Inside Scoop: Contains steamy ménage with unseen lovers.

DOWNLOAD MY LOVE (Eva Lefoy, 17 000 words, $2.99eb, Decadent Publishing) Security Core agent Everett is assigned a special case—protect the daughter of Simon Gold, the father of modern mechanoid life. To ensure her survival, Everett’s given a special EMO upgrade, and can experience love for the first time. He’s soon head over heels and the supercharged sexual attraction threatens to fry his circuits while he fights to stay one

step ahead of the bad guys. Samantha Gold detests her father’s work. She’s an off-the-grid back-to-lander who wants to keep life simple with her cows and her crops. When her father dies and inadvertently transfers a secret code to a hidden receptor in her brain, it’s only android Agent Everett who can protect her. Can she ever forgive her father for creating Everett—a man so perfect for her that he even loves her cows?

EXODUS: Heaven Corp #2 (C.C. Bridges, 200pp, $6.99eb, Dreamspinner Press) Henry “Hank” Abraham’s privileged status in the floating city of Heaven lets him flout Morality Laws that control the lives of others. But when he wakes up in the arms of another stranger, only bodyguard Ian Caldwell’s quick thinking saves his life. Though Ian’s from the low levels and the labor class, he’s used to dealing with the pampered society of Heaven. He’s assigned to protect Hank while angels, cybernetically modified humans who defend Heaven, investigate the assassination attempt. Doing his job means Ian must ignore his growing interest in Hank. Acting on their mutual attraction would certainly get Ian reprogrammed, something neither of them can afford. When Hank follows Ian to a popular BDSM club in Downside and his ID chip is lost during a nearly fatal mugging, he finds himself locked out of Heaven. As Ian fights to get them home, rumors of impending war begin to circulate—along with more troubling news that Ian is wanted for Hank’s murder. While struggling to keep the man he has come to love safe, Ian must find out who’s behind the plot and if it’s a catalyst for war or just a convenient excuse.


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HARRY’S SACRIFICE: Resonance Mates #5 (Bianca D’Arc, 230pp, $5.50eb, Samhain Publishing) Embracing the unexpected can lead to all sorts of adventures. The prophesied time has arrived and Harry—born of an alien mother and a human father—must journey to the top of the world to unlock a mysterious ship found trapped in an icy crevasse. A ship only someone of Harry’s bloodline can open. Roshin, a young Alvian scribe, is sent to record events as they unfold. Beneath her remote, icy beauty, Harry feels an unwanted hum of attraction. He has always dreamed of a warm, giving relationship with a human. Not a cold, emotionless Alvian. Then there’s Cormac, an Alvian officer sent to head the expedition. When all three are trapped inside the vessel, Harry is confronted with an unexpected dilemma—cling to his dream of a human bond, or answer the call of fate and form a lifelong alliance with not just one, but two aliens.

HIS ALIEN VIRGIN: A 1Night Stand Story (Jessica E Subject, 38pp, $1.99eb, Decadent Publishing) She is desperately seeking freedom… On the eve before her twenty-first birthday, Skylar steals a ship and escapes from the planet Rebed. She refuses to be another wife for the slimy space pirate that is her betrothed. After hearing of her brothers’ success, she applies to the 1Night Stand service on her way to Earth, hoping Madame Eve can find her a hero, to make her feel special, even if for only one night. He is trying to fit in… A longtime friend to Skylar’s brothers, he’s always relegated her to the look and don’t touch category.

Though, Daran traveled to Earth years ago, he still struggles to fit in on the planet. When his boss suggests a blind date, he reluctantly agrees. What would happen if anyone found out about his alien ancestry? And they are not at all meant to be together… Has Madame Eve made a huge mistake, or will Daran tread into forbidden territory to be with the one woman he’s always wanted, and become the hero Skylar craves?

SKY PIRATE: SAFE HARBOR (Finnegan H.H. O’Riordan, 67pp, $0.99eb) Finnegan O’Riordan isn’t your usual pirate airship captain. In a world of burly, salty sea dogs, he’s a small, nicely dressed gentleman. And it’s no secret amongst the other pirates that he wasn’t always a man. In a time when being transgender was unheard of, Finnegan felt no choice but to be true to himself. Equipped with a Rejuvenating Elixir that keeps his body masculine and his pirating skills, he purchases his own ship, the Safe Harbor, and is determined to make her just that. With a crew of made up of another transman, an automaton surgeon, a cross dressing cook and other misfits, the Safe Harbor takes to the skies. Follow in Finnegan’s adventures as he proves himself to the rest of the pirate world and takes his revenge on the crew who tried to kill the man he loves.


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STARSHINE: Aurora Rising #1 (G.S. Jennsen, 494pp, $12.66pb/$3.03eb, Hypernova Publishing)

modified to be the strongest, brightest and fastest. But not even he is strong enough to fight the pull between him and his new captain.

Alexis Solovy is a space explorer who has made a fortune by reading the patterns in the chaos to discover the hidden wonders of the stars. She also happens to be the daughter of a fallen war hero and a powerful military leader, but she’s never let the handicap get in her way.

As their attraction grows and the affair deepens, they have to work together to stop a political coup. If they fail, Harlow will lose the ship she loves. Parker doesn’t know if she’s capable of sharing his feelings, but he’s willing to risk it all to protect her.

Caleb Marano is a spy. His trade is to become whatever the situation requires, to lie, deceive and do whatever is necessary to bring the enemy to justice. Then he meets a woman who isn’t an enemy at all—only she seems to think he is. Can they overcome their carefully-constructed barriers and find a way to trust one another? Can they do it in time to save humanity from powerful aliens set to invade—or from itself? Can they do it in time to save each other?

SUBSERVIENCE: Universal Defiance #5 (Chandra Ryan, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Harlow is a Subservient, created to serve the military’s needs. Even though her kind’s been freed and she’s managed to become a military captain, she still struggles with relating to humans, many of whom hate or fear her. So when a hot new navigator comes aboard her ship and she can’t stop imagining him naked above her, she has no idea how to handle the pleasurable distraction. Parker is a genetically engineered soldier,

WARRIOR’S CLAIM (C.J. Gnos, 283pp, $13.95pb/$5.99eb, Offspring Books) Will this be the Warrior’s beginning or his end? Cassie loses her Allkrum love Garon. In her pain, she shuts almost everyone out of her life including the Malai warrior Kamarsoman, who has loved her from the first time he saw her on Torva so long ago. He knew she cared for him, but in the end she chose Garon. Kam and the Saah Dylim Zall have been searching for Kelem Phyl the murderous Saah whose acts killed so many people and almost Cassie. Kam’s hatred of the cruel Saah is what has fueled his continuous search until events bring him back to Cassie. Cassie’s friend Dulcy insists that a change of scenery would be good for her friend. She talks her into spending time at a remote home on the Oregon coast for some R&R. To everyone’s surprise, there is an attempt by Kelem Phyl to kidnap Cassie but stopped by Kam. Once more part of Cassie’s life, Kam and Cass join forces to find justice for Garon’s death and stop Kelem and his obsession for power, and his insane need to possess Cassie. Cass, Kam and their colorful friends race across space, land on alien planets and go through portals in their search for Kelem. Will they find their enemy and in the process reignite the feelings they once had for each other, or, is this the end for the powerful alien warrior and the Earth woman? Join Cassie and Kamarsoman in their newest adventure since Torva.


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Releases - April We strive to include as many sci-fi romance releases as possible, but with current time constraints, we apologise in advance if your release was not included in our round-up.

DANGER BY DALLIANCE (Tina Christopher, novel, $5.95eb, Ellora’s Cave)

join forces to solve the mystery, or will his dark secret tear them apart?

Sequel to Rescue by Ruin. Sarah Rigdon is desperate. Penniless with taxes due, she can either beg mercy from the ruthless tax collector or turn to the last man she wants to ask for help. Archer Latimer stirs desires no proper lady would ever admit to. Though their meetings always end in quarrels, she can’t deny the heat between them. When he agrees to help, Sarah thinks her luck has turned. But she should have known nothing with Archer is ever easy. Archer and his lover Warren Dorvee have spent years searching for the right woman to complete their family. Both believe luscious Sarah is the one and now have a chance to pursue her. After all, the price of Archer’s help is for Sarah to pose for Warren’s latest painting. Nude. But trust has to be earned and a crisis in London threatens their love. The three must navigate through lust, lies and secrets or risk being torn apart forever. Inside Scoop: Contains m/m, GLBT and ménage.

DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS (Heather Massey, Interactive novelette, $1.99eb, SilkWords) Agent Lucia Alvarez is investigating rumors of bizarre experiments on a distant planet when she encounters the man who broke her heart. Can they

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DAUGHTERS OF SURALIA: Tales of Tolari Space #2 (Christie Meierz, 298pp, $4.99eb, Sky Warrior Book Publishing) Three women, two planets, and a whale… For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses—complete with thorns. Especially thorns. With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander is gone…for now…but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bondpartner who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society that isn’t quite human. Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has plans for her, too. Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and gifted healer who knows what—and who—she wants. Circumstances have conspired to deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she finds an unexpected ally. Daughters of Suralia is a non-erotic scifi romance.

HEAVEN’S QUEEN: Paradox #3 (Rachel Bach, 388pp, $9.49pb/$9.99eb, Hachette Book Group) From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive. Now, with the captain missing and everyone—even her own government—determined to hunt her down,

things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running. It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

LADDER TO THE RED STAR: Once Upon a Red World #2 (Jael Wye, 242pp, $2.99eb, Carina Press) Once upon a ruined Earth 300 years in the future… Jacques Tallinn, biotech smuggler and thief, is after the cure for a brain disorder he’s suffered since childhood—a disorder inflicted by a powerful tyrant. To get the cure, Jacques will need to climb the space elevator to the new Zenith space station hovering above Earth and go undercover in the lab where it’s produced. Martian head tech Devi Chandra is immediately intrigued by her sexy new lab assistant. Though she insists on keeping things professional, she finds herself charmed by Jacques. Until he betrays her trust, kidnapping her and spiriting her off to Earth. All Jacques needed to do was steal the biotech and get back home. But when things go wrong, he can’t bring himself to leave Devi behind. Now she’s injured and a simple caper has become an intergalactic cause, endangering his life and the lives of millions of


9 others. But the hardest part? Winning back Devi’s trust.

With two Nordic hunks to keep her company…

QUICKSILVER SOUL: The Shadow Guild #2 (Christine d’Abo, 400pp, $15.50pb/$2.99eb, Grand Central)

Are the two men really extraterrestrials or just a fantasy created by her lonely soul?

Archivist Emmet Dennison has fallen from grace. Instead of extracting the memories of the dead, he finds himself assigned to protect Nicola Tesla, a woman who is as mad as she is brilliant. Each moment they are together challenges not only his beliefs, but jeopardizes his future with the Guild. Nicola Tesla hasn’t met a man like Emmet Dennison before—intelligent, insightful and full of anger. Despite her curiosity, she has no desire to pursue a relationship. Her life is her work and no distraction, no matter how attractive, will get in her way. Thomas Edison intends to grow his influence and take control of New London’s underbelly. When Nicola and Emmet are kidnapped by Edison and become pawns in his plot, their feelings for each other grow. Edison unleashes his creations on New London, putting Nicola in danger and forcing Emmet to choose between saving her life or saving his soul.

SEXY SUITORS FROM SPACE (Paisley Brown, 43pp, $2.99eb) A vacation to the far North… Heather is gifted a week away at a resort in the Arctic Circle by her grandmother, a chance to finally move on after finding her fiancé in bed with another woman.

The two sexy studs make is easy to get over her failed relationship. That is, until they tell her their secret.

Caution: Includes alien probing, anal sex, and a hot MFM ménage.

SILO SAGA: CHOSEN: A Silo 1000 Romance #1 (Michelle M. Pillow, 41pp, Kindle Worlds) Trapped in an underground silo because the air outside is too toxic to breathe, the people of Silo 1000 are very aware they’re only one of many such self-contained units. Human survival is top priority as they wait for the day they can once again walk the earth. In such a reality, Maryann Holston never bothered trying to fall in love. She knows she’ll have to take whatever fate the silo thinks is best for the betterment of all. But as she runs into childhood friend, Paul Allison, she realizes that maybe love is exactly what her life needs. No longer the lanky boy from her youth, Paul is everything a woman could want and she intends to be his wife…until the unthinkable happens.

TERMS FOR SURRENDER: Corwint Central Agent Files (C.E. Kilgore, 120pp, $0.99eb, Tracing the Stars) Ogrridannes leads her Central Strike Team on the hunt for the fugitive Lucas Ardos. Ardos is wanted for betraying his Central Agent partner and the murder of twenty-eight civilians. She must track him deep into dangerous T’jaros territory, but she isn’t the only one who’s after Ardos. Cassien is not what he appears at first glance. He’s on a desperate mission to preserve the research


10 done by his adoptive parents and save the future of his people. Ardos has stolen their research and Cassien is willing to do whatever it takes to get it back, even learn to trust a woman who could either open his heart or break every bone in his body.

all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Ogrridannes isn’t looking for love. She’s been burned before, and she gets that to most, her bulging muscles, mohawk and orange, scaled skin is nothing more than a curiosity. Being just one of the guys, however, is starting to get depressing. When Cassien shows up, needing her help, she has to decide if she’s going to let him in or keep him away to save her mission and her heart.

Asha and Pax—strangers and enemies—find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

THE OPHELIA PROPHECY (Sharon Lynn Fisher, 320pp, $12.32pb/$8.89eb, Tor)

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters—the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they

Some of us intend to do more than survive.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource—information—viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society. Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

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AT STAR’S END (Anna Hackett, Carina Press) Review by Marlene Harris Space pirates and the Mona Lisa. Now there’s a combination that doesn’t turn up everyday! At Star’s End is a rollicking space piracy adventure wrapped around a hot romance between an archeologist and the pirate captain. Although the emphasis in the story is on the action/adventure and the romance, the science fiction aspects provide just the right sauce, along with a touch of pathos. Star’s End is a place. A mythical place where the first Earth colony ships, loaded with the most beautiful art and artifacts of our dying planet, ended up. By the time period of this story, Star’s End is a lost legend, it appears in history books, it’s treasures are mostly known through surviving computer files, but no one has ever found the actual place. It seems to be literally at the stars’ end. Archeologists’ careers have come to unhappy ends in the fruitless search for the lost Terran treasure, including the career and life of Dr. Eos Rai’s mother. Eos has devoted herself to proving her mother’s theories correct. And at last she has a lead on the trove—but her bosses at the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation refuse to back an expedition. That’s where the Phoenix brothers come in. Dathan Phoenix, along with his brothers Niklas and Zayn are pretty legendary themselves. Legendary treasure hunters, that is. The Phoenix brothers search for treasure and historic artifacts for purely mercenary motives; they’re in it for the money. Eos is in it for the thrill of the hunt, and for the glory of getting her latest finds into the museum. But without museum backing, the Phoenix brothers are her only choice for this personal mission. A mission that becomes even more personal when she and Dathan can’t seem to stop the spark of attraction that flares up between them. They’ve always been on opposite sides of the fence, but opposites definitely do attract. Treasure hunts also attract poachers, including a hunter who is as much after brother Niklas as any treasure they might discover. (I hope this story turns up in a later book). As they get further away from civilized space, the chase gets more and more dangerous. Too many rivals try to kidnap Eos for the secret she holds. But no matter how difficult the hunt, Eos never gives up or gives in. Except to what she feels for Dathan. Escape Rating A-: Another review called At Star’s End the love child of Indiana Jones and Firefly, and that’s a pretty good description. The universe by the time of the story has gotten kind of dark and gritty, much like the background of Firefly. But the adventure part of the story is pure Indiana Jones’ treasure chasing, nonstop action and danger, with a heroine who gets herself into, and out of, every kind of trap and trouble imaginable. This is Eos’ story. Her information, her find, and often her danger. It’s about what she wants, and what she thinks she wants. Does she just want to find Star’s End, or is she trying to validate her mother’s career? Does


12 she want to go back to the Museum, or does she want a more interesting, and more dangerous, future with Dathan? If he’s looking for a long-term relationship, and not just a fling, that is. If you love the action/adventure type of science fiction romance, let these space pirates steal you away, and steal your heart.

C791 (Eve Langlais) Review by Marlene Harris Two of the things I love about Eve Langlais’ books are her snarkier than snark dialog (which usually makes me laugh) and that her heroines are not cookie-cutter Barbie size 2’s. Even in a science fictional type story like C791, her heroines always feel more real because they aren’t supposedly perfect, just perfect for the hero. C791 is the first book in her Cyborgs series, so it needs to both introduce the world she has created and fulfill Langlais’ trademark of being one hot love story. It works on both counts. There have been lots of ways for futuristic stories to develop cyborgs, but it’s usually done by either converting a human with the addition of a few cybernetic parts (think Six Million Dollar Man) or by bringing an injured person back from the brink of death (or after) by taking away their previous identity when they are completely reprogrammed (think Robocop). In the latter situation, the military is almost always involved in some skullduggery. The cyborgs in this series were created by the military, and they seem to have started with unwilling participants and then reprogrammed and brainwashed them. They know that they were once men, but not who they were. However, like the Cylons in BSG, the cyborgs rebel. Not for any mysterious motives, but simply because the military decides to exterminate them all. A few of them have broken their programming, and don’t merely refuse to walk out the airlock, but reprogram their brethren to turn on their former “masters”. I keep using words like “men” and “brethren” not because I’m using “men” as the universal word for “people”, but because as far as anyone knows, there are no female cyborgs. Of course, not everything that “everyone knows” is always the truth. The military has lied about absolutely everything involved with the cyborgs. The cyborgs are hunting the galaxy for those involved with the program. Not just for revenge, but primarily for information. They don’t know how they were created, and they can’t reproduce biologically. (Like Data, they are fully functional, but they’re all shooting blanks.) Just as the cyborgs are creating their own culture, their leadership is all too aware that they are a dying race. And that’s where Joe’s story begins. He’s on a mission to find some of that information, and has allowed himself to be captured so that he can infiltrate the systems in this one particular lab while the military thinks they are torturing him. (How this works is very cool). But as part of their testing, the military bring in a lab technician to take “samples”. Chloe is slightly clumsy and not the willowy type that is considered beautiful, but she is one of very few women on the military base.


13 Her compassion for the cyborg as well as her own sweet nature break through the impassive shell that Joe has formed around himself. So even though his wooing redefines rough (the cyborgs are not all that socially ept) his desire to protect Chloe, and simply his unrelenting desire for him, wins Chloe’s heart. Chloe lets herself be swept along, even though she doesn’t believe that Joe can return all of her feelings. Then her secret is revealed, and she’s not sure she can survive all the negative feelings that she has engendered among the entire cyborg colony. Or if she is worth loving at all. Escape Rating B+: If you are looking for a short and very sexy sci-fi romance to sweep you away, then C791 just might fill the bill. Or any other craving that happens to be in need of filling. Just like all of Eve Langlais’ books, this one is absolutely fry your circuits hot. But there is also a very cool sci-fi story mingled with the sex. The story of the cyborg rebellion, how it started and where they are in the development of their own society, would make for good SF with or without the romance. There have been other series where the military has been overcome or outwitted by people they have made other than human and enslaved (Lora Leigh’s Breeds series comes to mind), but the worldbuilding that creates these more than humans is off to a great start. Chloe, the heroine, often seems like a bit too much of a victim, but when all is revealed, her reasoning, and her courage in the face of overwhelming circumstances, shines through. Joe, as the leader of the cyborgs, makes a terrific hero. He’s not just brave and self-sacrificing, but he’s also endearingly awkward as he falls in love. He’s the ultimate geek hero. So far, there are four more books in this series, and I can’t wait to scoop up each and every yummy bite.

Releases - May We strive to include as many sci-fi romance releases as possible, but with current time constraints, we apologise in advance if your release was not included in our round-up.

DANGEROUSLY HIS: Loving Dangerously #4 (A.M. Griffin, novel, $5.95eb, Ellora’s Cave) Justin “JB” Blake has never met a woman he couldn’t bed—or one he wants to keep. That changes the second he lays eyes on Princess Saia Xochis. The beautiful alien makes his body burn and his heart ache. She will be his. All JB has to do is risk life and limb at the hands of her abusive father, her protective brother, and her warmongering intended mate.

The possibilities of death and dismemberment have never stopped him before. Inside Scoop: This book has a small taste of female/female fun—as well as scenes of abuse that are decidedly not fun.

DRAGONS & DIRIGIBLES: Gaslight Chronicles #7 (Cindy Spencer Pape, 48 000 words, $3.59eb, Carina Press) When airship engineer Melody McKay’s dirigible explodes and plunges her into the yard of a gothic manor, she suspects foul play. With her ankle injured—an indignity far too feminine for her taste—she resolves to crack the mystery while in the care of Victor Arrington, the stuffy-yet-disarming Earl of Blackwell. Ex-Royal Navy Captain Victor runs a tight house and is on a mission to protect his niece and foil a ring of


14 smugglers using firebreathing metal dragons. He has no time for romantic attachments. Particularly not with women who fall from the sky wearing trousers and pilot’s goggles. As he and Melody navigate a treachery so deep it threatens the lives of everyone in Black Heath, the earl becomes unexpectedly attached to his fiery houseguest, and Melody discovers a softness in her heart for him. But when the smugglers strike, there’s more at risk than just their future together.

EVOLUTION: SAGE: The Evolution Series #2 (S.A. Huchton, 404pp, $14.99pb/$2.99eb) Devastated by her choices, Candace Bristol is on the brink of losing it all: her mind, her hope, everything she thought she was. But from the ruins rises new purpose. An enemy has emerged and it will take everything to combat this new threat. Broken as she is, picking up the pieces and carrying on might be the hardest battle to win, but it’s either fight, or lose what little she has left. Amongst the wreckage, hope still burns. The flicker of a flame kindles something within her she thought was dead. Love can break you. So, too, can it bring you back to life.

HIGHFELL GRIMOIRES (Langley Hyde, novel, $6.99eb, Blinde Eye Books) Born to privilege, gifted in languages and spells, Neil

Franklin has planned his brilliant future—from academic accolades to a proper marriage—and is intent upon upholding his family name and honor. The sudden death of his parents shatters all of that, leaving Neil and his younger sister beggared and orphaned. When Neil’s estranged uncle offers him a bargain that will save him and his sister from debtor’s prison or exile, Neil eagerly agrees. Handing over the family grimoire as collateral for their debt, Neil devotes himself to working as a teacher for wayward youths at a charity school high in the clouds. But Highfell Hall is not the charity Neil imagines it to be and the young men there aren’t training for the dull lives of city clerks. Amidst the roaring engines and within the icy stone halls, machinations and curious devices are at work. And one man, the rough and enigmatic Leofa, holds the key to the desire that Neil has fled from all his life and a magic as dangerous as treason.

IN THE BLACK: Tales from the Edge #1 (Sheryl Nantus, 91 000 words, $2.99eb, Carina Press) Sam Keller is a woman running from her past, landing as a captain on a Mercy ship—ferrying courtesans from stop to stop to indulge the sexual fantasies and needs of distant mining colonies. She thought she’d left the violence behind but when one of her crew is brutally murdered she has to find the killer before the Bonnie Belle loses enough money to be put out of commission.


15 Marshal Daniel LeClair arrives on base to investigate and the sparks between the two fly both professionally and personally. As the pair weave through corruption and the sensual world of the professional courtesan they find themselves drawn together not only by a need for justice but also for survival in a world where Sam knows the shadows hold dangerous secrets.

LANA’S COMET: Outer Settlement Agency #4 (Lyn Brittan, 86pp, $0.99eb, Guy Brown Press) Drill Instructor Cyprus Dhoma lives and dies by the Outer Settlement Agency badge on his shoulder. Every soldier in the solar system wants to be him and just as well, he’s trained half of ’em. But when a loud, obnoxious and completely insane recruit signs up for the next round of basic training, it’ll test the famous control and reputation he’s spent years building up. Lana hates the military. Everything about OSA completely, totally and unredeemingly sucks—except for the hottie instructor with the bad attitude. He may be annoyed with her now, but she’s on a secret mission and needs his help. It’ll take a lot of work to bring him in line, but she’ll be doggoned if she doesn’t get him in tow. Besides, a man that cute shouldn’t be that pissed off. Interracial Sci-Fi Romance Futuristic Novella.

LUNAR DANCER: Decadent Moon #3 (Shona Husk, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Ima is a courier charged with delivering a message to a dancer on Decadent Moon. What the King of Ograth wants with Jorin she doesn’t know but when Ima sees Jorin dance she knows exactly what she wants from him. He is lean and muscled and alien.

She’s never had a man not of her species. And she wants him with a passion. Jorin fled Ograth hoping to avoid the death sentence of being the spare heir of the royal family. When Ima gives him the message, he knows his past has caught up with him. However that’s not going to stop him from having some sexy fun first. One lust-filled night leads to an idea that might save Jorin’s life but Ima has her own demands before agreeing to a marriage of convenience.

NO REFUGE: Known Universe #1 (Annie Nicholas, 24 000 words, $2.99eb, Lyrical Press) Life on the run can be very lonely. Hunted to near extinction by an alien race called the Ko, my people have run from Earth and drifted so far among the stars we can’t remember the way back. We live everywhere, but call nowhere home. The Ko want us erased from existence and memory. They don’t even want our DNA in the space dust. Humans disguise themselves as other alien species and hide in plain sight. It’s the only way we can survive. I believe in the myth of Earth. I’ve even discovered a bona fide book written in the dead language of my people. My man, Brody, dreams of a secret human colony. He’s searched for years, hunting any rumor we’ve run across, and finally he’s made contact. Usually, he’s the one grounding me to station and keeping my head out of the atmosphere. Time for me to return the favor…that is, if I can ditch the Ko who’ve


16 discovered me, thanks to my incessant artifacthunting. If we don’t make our rendezvous, and the Ko don’t kill me, Brody just might… Content warning: Aliens, cargo ships, and a fast paced race against all odds.

QUEEN OF SWORDS: Sanctify #1 (Katee Robert, 352pp, $5.69eb, Entangled Publishing) When the cards tell Ophelia Leoni she’s supposed to marry the Prince of Hansarda, the gunrunner grits her teeth and boards the starship that comes for her. It doesn’t matter if the ship’s commander is the gorgeous stranger she just spent a wild, drunken night with. As a Diviner, she’s painfully aware the cards don’t lie. Ever. Boone O’Keirna knows Ophelia is trouble the second he sees the way she moves. Not about to let the little hellcat marry his sadistic halfbrother, Boone pretends to be the Prince’s emissary and kidnaps Ophelia. Too bad they can’t be in the same room without him wanting to throw her out an airlock—or into bed. Even as they fight each other—and their explosive attraction—Ophelia and Boone sense something is wrong. Too much is going their way. Soon, they realize while the cards may never lie, the truth is sometimes hidden between them…and the future king of Hansarda is not one to take defeat lying down.

SALVATION: Defiance #3 (Stephanie Tyler, 57 000 words, $3.59eb, Carina Press) Luna is headed for trouble. She knows exactly what the men who run motorcycle clubs are capable of—the ruthless violence, the grabs for power, the brutal treatment of women. The one bright spot in her dark world is being held against his will by a rival

gang after sacrificing himself for the sake of the club—without saying goodbye first. She needs to bring Bishop home to Defiance, both for the good of the MC and for herself. Keller’s mafia has thrived in the fallout from the Chaos and their compound is a city of sin, a world of depraved excess where people live in fear with nowhere else to go. When Luna is taken prisoner, Bishop has no choice but to lie. As far as the enemy knows, she’s his. It’s the one thing that will keep her safe. Caught off guard, Luna follows Bishop’s lead. And that’s where the lines begin to blur, because what’s been building between them for real is undeniable. But what Keller’s protecting is something he’ll kill to keep under wraps and with Defiance unable to come to their rescue, and only each other to turn to, Luna and Bishop may be facing their final goodbye.

THE ASSASSIN: The Reunion Trilogy #2 (Imogene Nix, short story, $2.99eb, Beachwalk Press) Kumi Ito has her mission, as does Carmichael Snow, but are their objectives compatible? Kumi Ito is a woman with a problem. Since assuming the role of head of the Commerce Department, she’s found discrepancies…the kind that could cause anarchy if the truth got out. When Carmichael Snow, the commander of the Emancipation, comes across intelligence that


17 someone has placed a hit on Kumi, he has to save her. His plan? Hide her and find the assassin. As they dodge the killer, a passion ignites between them that runs from simmering all the way to steamy. But will the actions of one snatch away their happiness before they can accept what is growing between them? Content Warning: This book features a buff, hot guy and a kick-butt heroine. Naturally, hot scenes will follow.

THE CONSORT: Tellaran Series #2 (Ariel MacArran, 360pp, $4.99eb, Here Be Dragons)

leave tangled together, neither knowing the passion that stirs within them won’t soon subside. When a violent drug lord forces Tai back into slavery, Tai has no choice but to give up his new love. But when Gideon learns that Tai’s fate lies with those who brought about his own ruin, he’ll need to revisit his own difficult past in order to save them both.

After spending a year enslaved by the Az-kye, Commander Kyndan Maere has good reason to hate them. On the eve of peace between the Tellaran Realm and the Az-kye Empire, Kyndan finds himself drawn into a duel for the hand of Alari, the First Imperial Daughter. When their passion ignites, Kyndan learns the only thing harder than winning this princess would be losing her…

VOODOO ’N’ VICE: Galactic Alliance #3 (K.C. Burn, 71 000 words, $2.69eb, Carina Press) After nearly causing a galactic incident, fleet captain Gideon Arcturus is disgraced, demoted and exiled with nothing to do but pass the time at a seedy club on seedier planet Elora Ki. It’s no place for a straightlaced soldier, but following the rules is what got him there in the first place. When he meets a mesmerizing fire dancer, he’d do anything to get close to the flame. Tai doesn’t date customers—it’s far too dangerous for a man who was once for sale. But the shy, awkward Gideon entices him, and the two spend Gideon’s

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COLLISION COURSE (Zoë Archer, Carina Press) Review by The Book Pushers Mara Skiren is a scavenger, a black-market dealer. Blackmailed into helping Commander Kell Frayne infiltrate a treacherous corner of the galaxy, Mara learns that her biggest danger is from her sexy, by-the-book partner. She’s a loner with more than a few battle scars on her heart, but something about Commander Frayne stirs up her long-buried need for an intimate connection. An ace pilot for the elite Black Wraith Squadron, Kell’s mission is to rescue a lost pilot and ship. Unable to deny his attraction to the beautiful, rebellious woman, he decides bedding her would cool his ardor. But one taste is not nearly enough, and he finds himself sharing more of his real self with Mara than he has with anyone. With deadly criminals on their heels and an increasingly dangerous assignment to complete, he’s starting to wonder… If they survived, could he let her go? And will Mara want to stay? I’m a big fan of space opera romance, and man oh man does Archer deliver one of the best I’ve ever read! Mara is down on her luck when she gets blackmailed into helping the 8th Wing get back one of their pilots and top secret ships. Because of her special skills (dealing in the black market), Mara really doesn’t have a choice. But her day gets worse when she realizes she has to work with a partner, the sex on legs Kell. The two are instantly attracted, but for them both, the mission has always come first. But with danger lurking around every corner, the two quickly fall to their passion. With their enemies, other mercenaries and mercs hot on their heels, they will have to work together to complete their mission, get out alive, and figure out just where life can take them. I really can’t say enough fabulous things about Collision Course. I loved the world Archer created, and the fact that she didn’t go heavy on the science fiction. It was soft, easy to understand and get involved in, and so compelling I immediately got sucked in. The balance of space battles and romance were the perfect combination to give any romance reader a thrill ride, regardless of the sub-genre. Mara and Kell were super fun characters as well. Both were strong in their values and beliefs. I enjoyed that they both had such depth to them, even though the story was shorter than your average novel. The history they each had to go through to get to where they are today, was so fun to watch unfold. I loved that Kell was, in many ways, a very alpha hero. And at the same time, he gave Mara a lot of liberties to be her own woman, pilot her own ship, and get them out of some sticky situations. Likewise I enjoyed Mara’s ability to be a super strong heroine, and yet vulnerable and able to change at the same time. Plus, they had this great chemistry together. They burnt hot and steady and I enjoyed watching them deal with that.


19 The action was great in this as well. I loved the way that Mara and Kell had to rely on each other to continually get out of sticky situations, they way they each played off of the others skills. Again, there were so many things I loved about the world building: the different planets, the in space fights, the neat ships and crazy scenarios were so fun to read. The book was constantly moving at a fun pace, and I never felt like I was left behind or confused ( as can happen in some Sci Fi Romance). For anyone out there thinking about jumping into the Sci Fi Romance genre, this would be a great starter book for you! All in all, I give Collision Course an A.

KISSED (Kim Knox, Entangled: Flirt) Review by The Book Pushers Every princess should be kissed. And by a man who knows what he’s doing. Beatricia had been enjoying just that with Farris Turner when she was caught.But running only drives her into the arms of a stranger. A man who wants to offer her one night together, to offer her the experience her life and duties in the city of SunAiror—a place set out of space and time—have denied her.It’ll be her only chance before she’s forced to enter a loveless marriage…but who exactly is her stranger? And what will kissing him reveal? (*Blurb from Goodreads*) Oh kissing… First kisses, passionate kisses, angry kisses. I’m a fan of all kinds of kisses, so a book about a princess who was interrupted during her first kiss and ended up on the run pushed all my buttons. Bea has lived a sheltered life because of her bloodline and responsibility to her people. The only thing she’s ever really wanted with a passion enough to risk turning her back on her duty is Farris. After being caught mid lip-lock by her mother, Bea risks everything by running. When she is at a different New Year’s party and finds a man who reminds her so much of Farris, she takes yet another risk by allowing him to proposition her. But as their night together heats up, Bea realizes there is more to her mystery stranger than she originally thought. I really liked the set up of this book, but my biggest complaint is that there wasn’t enough time to really establish the world. I loved the concept of Bea’s power, and her people who live their lives hidden from the rest of the world. However, I never really felt like I understood exactly why they did, or why Bea felt she was forced the hide, or what exactly her duty as princess was. I needed a little bit more in the backstory in order to truly appreciate the intricacies of why Bea felt like she had to run, and why she felt like she couldn’t be with Farris. That being said, I did really like the story, despite the fact that I felt a little lost in places. I loved the way that Bea was so attracted to her stranger, because of the way he reminded her of her one true love. I liked that she even came out and told him so. I thought it was real and sweet and a little bitchy at the same time. I liked the way she really struggled with her duty to her people, especially because she seemed to really want to live a normal life, have a normal relationship. Although she was a bit of a mystery to me at times, I liked her overall character and spirit.


20 I also really liked Bea’s stranger. He was strong and sexy and oh-so willing to corrupt little innocent Bea. His character had a wonderful twist at the end, and I really enjoyed the way it played out. I thought it was a neat, fun, sweet, and sexy way to bring the story all together. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that I desperately needed more. I would have liked to see Knox expand more with the backstory and world-building, especially since it was such a vital part of who Bea was as a character. But, as always, Knox writes a wonderfully sexy and fun story. I give Kissed a C.

NO REFUGE: Known Universe Book 1 (Annie Nicholas, Lyrical Press) Review by Jo Jones Hunted to near extinction by an alien race called the Ko, my people have run from Earth and drifted so far among the stars we can’t remember the way back. We live everywhere, but call nowhere home. The Ko want us erased from existence and memory. They don’t even want our DNA in the space dust. Humans disguise themselves as other alien species and hide in plain sight. It’s the only way we can survive. I believe in the myth of Earth. I’ve even discovered a bona fide book written in the dead language of my people. My man, Brody, dreams of a secret human colony. He’s searched for years, hunting any rumor we’ve run across, and finally he’s made contact. Usually, he’s the one grounding me to station and keeping my head out of the atmosphere. Time for me to return the favor…that is, if I can ditch the Ko who’ve discovered me, thanks to my incessant artifact-hunting. If we don’t make our rendezvous, and the Ko don’t kill me, Brody just might… Content Warning: Aliens, cargo ships, and a fast paced race against all odds. No Refuge is a novella and a very quick read. Like the blurb says there are aliens, cargo ships and an exciting race against time. While No Refuge is book one in a new series it reads more like a prequel. Why? Look at all that has to be included for the series to work. World Building: All of the following have to be explained in a very short time. Start with why humans are hiding disguised as aliens. Then there are all the different alien races. Add the rumor of a human secret world. The space station where the story’s starts has to be described. All of this happens and is part of the story in 93 pages. Characters: This is Brody and Lucille’s story. They are two humans disguised as another alien race. I loved both and they were fully fleshed out. That took time. There also had to be side characters to keep the story moving. The Ko who hate humans are introduced and there is a hint that Lucille has discovered something important in defeating the Ko. Backstory: Why humans are running and hiding is revealed. Brody and Lucille have been together for several years and how they met and how they have managed to hide is part of the story. Plot: Brody and Lucille have to find the ship that will take them to the secret human world with out getting caught by the Ko who are looking for them. That required all of the world building and character development to work.


21 Annie Nicholas manages to stuff all of that and more into 93 exciting pages. So why the prequel feel? It seemed to me that when Brody and Lucille got where they were going the groundwork for the series was in place and everything for the real story of how the humans were going to survive is ready to start. Now that I have read No Refuge I am also ready to see how the story in the Known Universe series develops and will be on the look out for the next book.

DISCOVERY—A FAR OUR ROMANCE (T.M. Roy, Zaptsone Productions 2009) Review by Jo Jones Oregon naturalist Dr Kent Xavier, after a harrowing breakup with his two-timing fiancée, flees to the wilderness to nurse his broken heart—and wounded ego. Some peace and quiet amidst the emerging flora and fauna of very early spring was just what he needed. Lured into exploring the beautiful planet, xenobiologist Povresle takes a moonlight walk and meets with disaster on a slope of loose rock. The native dominant lifeform who comes to her rescue is at first chaotic and angry: but his curiosity and intelligence soon dispel his frightening first impressions. Two scientists from very different worlds discover the most important element of all: love. But will their respective cultures keep them apart forever? T. M. Roy says that Discovery—A Far Out Romance is “a short and sweet read, something easy to polish off in an afternoon at the beach or with a pot of tea and a fire”. I have to agree. Dr. Kent Xavier is the main character in Discovery. When he arrives home early and finds his fiancée in bed with another man he goes on a camping trip to try to heal his hurt. Not far from his campsite an alien group is taking samples. When Povre, one of the women in the group, wanders off and is trapped in a rockslide Kent comes to the recue. Because of the rockslide Povre does not get back to her group in time and is left on the planet when her people leave. Kent is the one to help her. Kent and Povre are both great characters. Kent is one of those men you would love to meet. He is kind and wants to help without asking for anything in return. You can tell that Povre is an alien (water and Povre are a bad mix and the scene where Kent put her in the shower is priceless) but like Kent she has a wonderful personality. Although Kent and Povre are different species they are attracted to each other even knowing they can never stay together. Their feelings grow as they end up on the run from several groups trying to capture an alien. This is Science Fiction Romance so we know the destination. It is the journey that makes this such a good story. There is enough action, adventure and romance to satisfy any SFR fan and there are enough twists and turns to keep a predictable plot interesting. Povre and Kent share center stage in the story but Kent’s point of view is often front and center. It is a nice change to have the male as the main character and Kent does a great job of carrying the story.


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Releases - June We strive to include as many sci-fi romance releases as possible, but with current time constraints, we apologise in advance if your release was not included in our round-up.

BRONTO’S REVENGE: Barbarian Lust #2 (Jennifer LaRose, novel, $5.95eb, Ellora’s Cave) Momma warned Ivy to stay away from the bloodthirsty Barbarians but only a Barbarian can show her true love. Bronto’s compassion, affection and gentle touch overpower his fierce nature. She places her heart and future in his hands as he introduces her to a life of passion while protecting her from the deadly creatures overrunning her planet. Aliens. Mutants. Dinosaurs. What the hell kind of planet has the government sent Bronto to? He tolerates the creatures lurking around every corner but not the alien abduction of Ivy. He’s just begun to introduce her to the ways of lust when she’s taken to be used for their brutal experiments. Bronto never believed he could fall for one of Helixis’ “primitive” humans. But now he can’t imagine life without Ivy. He’s determined to save her and destroy the invasive species before they leave her to rot in their lab. Inside Scoop: Some Barbarians live up to the name. Contains brief nongraphic scenes and descriptions of rape.

HER CYBORG LOVER (Anne Kane, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Natalie’s loved and lost and she’s not so sure she wants to risk her heart again. She’s willing to settle for a challenging career as a space-pilot instructor and a succession of no-strings attached lovers. But that’s before her boss saddles her with the last thing she wants—a new partner. Jebediah recognizes his perfect match in Natalie

from the moment she seduces him on a dare. Everything that makes her a top-notch pilot, from her fearlessness to her passion, make a night in her bed both challenging and unforgettable. Too bad she cuts Jebediah off the moment they’re assigned to a mission in the outer limits of Alliance space. A dangerous confrontation with a brutal enemy, an exploding drive engine and a traitor close to home throw everything into perspective. Natalie is going to have to put the past behind her and risk it all, because when your partner is also your lover, failure is not an option.

MORALITY: To Be Sinclair #8 (Eva Caye, 545pp, $4.99eb) What can jolt an 18-year-old Princess from her worries about her sex life? Her training in Grandmother’s secret stelluric science, of course! Daughter of the most brilliant scientist on the planet, Princess Grace Encino-Sinclair fights to have a private life, quite difficult to achieve since she has been trained to so many Imperial secrets and is constantly followed by Sentinels. By using her scientific and political knowledge, as well as her consummate social skills, to balance Imperial needs and demands, her relentless duties see her dealing with one mind-boggling near-disaster after another,


23 with objectivity but also with heart. When the most unthinkable assassination of all occurs and everything goes downhill from there, Grace suddenly finds herself the most highly trusted person in the Empire, the power behind the Imperial throne….

comes aboard her ship and she can’t stop imagining him naked above her, she has no idea how to handle the pleasurable distraction.

Discover the power of ladies as the backbone of Demesne society in this novel of social intrigues, ethics, and justice, as Princess Grace defines the true meaning of morality!

Parker is a genetically engineered soldier, modified to be the strongest, brightest and fastest. But not even he is strong enough to fight the pull between him and his new captain.

ON HER WATCH: Don’t Tell #2 (Rie Warren, 97 000 words, $16.20pb/$4.99eb, Forever Yours) The year is 2071 and all hell has broken loose. As the government tries to control the territories that were once the United States, an armed rebellion erupts…. AWOL from her military post, Lieutenant Liz Grant will do anything for the rebels she now calls friends. Her latest mission: return to the Beta Corps army and obtain classified information that could turn the battle in the revolutionaries’ favor. There’s only one problem: Commander Linc Cutler. Strong, coldly handsome, and always in control, Linc is perplexed by the beautiful soldier brought in for questioning. He doesn’t know if he believes her explanation for why she went missing. He only knows his intense sexual desire for her cannot be denied.

SUBSERVIENCE: Universal Defiance #5 (Chandra Ryan, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Harlow is a Subservient, created to serve the military’s needs. Even though her kind’s been freed and she’s managed to become a military captain, she still struggles with relating to humans, many of whom hate or fear her. So when a hot new navigator

As their attraction grows and the affair deepens, they have to work together to stop a political coup. If they fail, Harlow will lose the ship she loves. Parker doesn’t know if she’s capable of sharing his feelings, but he’s willing to risk it all to protect her.

VULCAN’S WOMAN: Barbarian Lust #1 (Jennifer LaRose, Novel, $5.95eb, Ellora’s Cave) Wisteria’s clan demands she mate with a brutish hunter to carry on a strong bloodline. Instead she discovers the sexy, forbidden Vulcan. When she’s seen kissing the foreign tribesman she’s beaten and ostracized before being taken prisoner by the bloodthirsty Barbarians. While hoping for Vulcan’s return she takes her rescue into her own hands, complicating matters further. Vulcan is the leader of a US Special Forces unit, which has purportedly been sent to planet Helixis to observe the native species. However, he discovers he’s part of a deceptive government plan. While struggling with his conscience he falls for the independentminded Wisteria and introduces her to the joys of lovemaking. But when he’s called back to Earth, he must decide where his heart lies. Inside Scoop: Helixis is overrun by vicious creatures that cause violent, bloody havoc.


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SFRQ interviews Nico Rosso SFRQ: When did you decide to become a writer, and why? Nico Rosso: I come from a family of writers, so I was always around the process, whether it was novels, screenplays, magazine articles or poetry. Through the years I’d been writing in one form or another, but it took me a while (with a detour in Hollywood) to find my way to novel writing, and then romance novels. That inspiration came with my wife, Zoë Archer. Reading her work, being part of that process, was very appealing, especially after working on screenplays for so long. With a novel, the work is protected, while a screenplay is up to interpretation from hundreds of people right up until the film is released (and sometimes after). Once I started writing novels, I was hooked. What’s your favourite aspect about writing science-fiction romance? I love how many possibilities are out there for sci-fi romance. Even when a series is set within the same universe, there are always diverse venues for different kinds of stories, so my creativity can always be stretched. In the LIMIT WAR, I was able to have plots involving an imperiled Earth, interplanetary espionage, and soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, all within the same framework. And all this feeds perfectly into the romance. With the different stories, the growing relationship between the hero and heroine can be highlighted by the external conflicts. One thing I found very interesting about steampunk romance THE ETHER CHRONICLES is that you and your wife, Zoë Archer, write the books in the series, but not together! How does that work? Do you ever fight each other over plot lines? The only fighting we did was when it was time to choreograph an action scene. It’s not uncommon to find us standing in our office, rubber knives in hand, working out the moves between hero and villain. When it came to plotting, our collaboration was very smooth. Because my stories were the steampunk Westerns and hers were set on other parts of the globe, there was little conflict or overlap. I’m the main plotter for us in general, but all was fair as we worked on the steampunk. If one of us had a great idea for one of the books, we’d fit it where it worked best. Why steampunk? Why romance? The steampunk actually came about as an accident. While Zoë was working on her BLADES OF THE ROSE series, we had to come up with some cool tech her heroes could use, as created by their resident inventor Catullus Graves. Since that series was set in the Victorian era, the devices and weapons I wound up designing were inherently steampunk. We both liked the mixture of sci-fi and historical settings, so we came up with a new series, THE ETHER CHRONICLES, to highlight those aspects.


25 I learned the romance genre from reading Zoe’s work. As I discovered more of it through her and then other writers, I found a lot to like. The inherent optimism is important. It may be a rough road for the hero and heroine, but we know they’ll ultimately be together. And even if it’s a dark or understated story, there’s still a celebration of emotion and the ability of people to overcome obstacles (internal or external) to be together. I also found that the romance community of readers and writers is an incredibly generous and supportive place to be. Also, you can’t beat a genre where I get to write laser-gun battles and hot sex. Tell us a bit of the background in your LIMIT WAR series. Is there a larger arc you’re writing to, or do the plots occur to you as inspiration sparks? When I created the universe for LIMIT WAR I didn’t have an overall arc in mind. I’d wanted to set up a war between very distinct elements, then see what might play out. The planet-hopping nature of the conflict was a natural fit for diverse types of stories and characters I was imagining. From there I let the inspiration take me to different corners of the war. I did know that I wanted the first story, Taken to the Limit, to take place on Earth, so the reader could be swept up into the conflict at the same time as the heroine. You started a post-apocalyptic series, BURNING EARTH, a couple of years ago but we haven’t heard any more from Erica and Jake. Have they ridden off into the sunset or are they just resting for a spell? As I see it, Erica and Jake are still headed for the coast, spreading the word about how humans can survive after the upheaval. I have a second book planned, following Ray into the badlands, but other projects have slowed his progress. I would like to return to that world some day, though. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think of it? The last film I saw in the theater was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was good, with solid intrigue and well produced action scenes. I honestly don’t see a lot of modern films (spent a little too much time in Hollywood to just be able to sit back and appreciate them), including the movies leading up to this one, so I’m sure there there was a lot of context that went over my head. But I did read a lot of comic books as a kid, so I could still find a way to connect to the story. And as a comic reader, it was nice to see a smart film adaptation with live-action heroes. What can readers look forward to from you in the future? The third paranormal DEMON ROCK book, MENAGE WITH THE MUSE, will be coming out in August. One of the heroes is Wolfgang the drummer, who we met in the first book, HEAVY METAL HEART. After that, I’m taking readers into the workshop for some hand-crafted erotic romance with a little extra spice. There is more sci-fi romance on the horizon. I don’t quite know how far away yet, but I can say there will be some unlikely heroes stepping up to defend Earth against a cosmic threat.


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Write for us! Short stories sought for publication in online quarterly journal focused on Science Fiction Romance Length 1,000 - 7,500 words. For Issue #4, stories must include Cyborg and Romance elements with an upbeat ending. Payment $30 (U.S.) paid upon publication, promotional biography w/two links, and a complimentary quarterpage advertisement. Deadline for Issue #3 August 15, 2014. Rights Sought Six-month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter. Other Info One/two short story/ies will be published per quarterly issue so please send only edited and polished work, with the understanding that the majority will be rejected. Due to time constraints we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories. Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone. All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered.

Any heat level from sweet to erotic will be considered. Be aware that the fiction editor prefers her erotica on the literary side. Original, previously unpublished fiction only; no fan fiction, please. We’re okay with simultaneous submissions, but if you sell your story elsewhere in the meantime, PLEASE be courteous and let us know! **Submit**: Standard manuscript format, please . Send brief cover letter with biographical information and publication history along with attached story (.rtf or .doc format) to Diane Dooley: fiction {@} SciFiRomanceQuarterly {.} org by deadline.


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Beyond the Patriarchy: Breaking Free of Entrenched Gender Constraints in the SFR Genre Opinion from Jody Wallace I read mostly SF/F, SFR, UF and PNR. If those acronyms don’t mean anything do you, that means what I read usually has some woo-woo (science fiction, fantasy) and some woo-hoo (romance). While I’ve encountered everything from squid aliens to sentient planets to mutants to unicorns in my reading, one 95% consistent factor amongst all the woo and hoo is: the patriarchy. Male-dominated cultures are ingrained in today’s writers for obvious reasons—our entire planet is so steeped in patriarchy that anthropologists and historians can’t agree on whether there has EVER been a true matriarchy in our past. At least according to the Wikipedia article I read, heheh. It’s on the internet so it must be accurate. Now I’m no cultural scholar, proven by the fact I just used Wikipedia as a source, but it’s true that the majority of SFRs feature a form of patriarchy as their social underpinning. Whether it’s because the male aliens are more powerful because ALPHA MALE RARRRR or because it’s a science fantasy set in a medieval world full of violence, rape, and penis jousting, it’s male emperors and male heads of state and male sky pirates and male rebel leaders and males males males males males. The rolling and the tolling of the males. I do love that SFRs are full of “kick-ass” females, but you know what’s consistent about those leather-clad, tough, sharp-shooting ladies? They’re outliers in their own society, so noted in their stories. While we want our protagonists to be interesting and special, does every culture in SFR have to spring from a man’s loins? Why do the women in our beloved genre, outside of the heroine and any future heroine bait, fall so much further down the food chain than the men, hanging out in kitchens and schools and hospitals, landing jobs as assistants and underlings and maybe middle management if they’re lucky? I know we need to please readers, and readers are also steeped in patriarchy whether they want to be or not, but I can’t help but wonder. Is a reconstituted here-and-now the best we can imagine in all the possible futures and worlds? SFR is SCIENCE FICTION. Anything can happen. Anything we want. Anything we can imagine. Plus romance, so life has hoo to go with the woo. What if, as writers, we were to exercise our think-boxes and branch out of these ingrained cultural norms? Toss some matriarchal (or at the very least, more comprehensively egalitarian) societies onto our SFR pages? Matriarchies could happen. They really could. Especially when we’re talking aliens and revolutions and people with technology and powers that aren’t constrained by twenty-first century cultural expectations. And we will also agree to avoid, when and if we do this, creating a matriarchy solely for salacious purposes or to demonstrate that the wimminz aren’t so good at being in charge. We’ll resist the easy route of portraying a matriarchy as an effed up, gender-flipped version of patriarchy’s suckiest features and really delve into some fascinating reflections on gender relations. Not to mention the restructuring of corporations, governments,


28 science and education when females have more social and political power than males. Seriously. I want to read these books. How would we make war, how would we make peace, and how would we make love if a society were based on the power of the feminine and the wisdom of the mother? Or at least based on something besides yet another patriarchy. Author’s Note: No, I haven’t published a full-on matriarchal story yet, but many of my made-up cultures are based on egalitarian social structures. Author’s Note: I guess I should write one, after talking such smack. Author’s Note to Self: The title “Herland” is taken. Probably call it something else. Author’s Note to Self: Also don’t title it “Fat, Happy Women in Space”—that joke is way old. Some interesting quotes I found online that touch on this dearth of reading material: From the Wiki article: “According to Adler, ‘a number of feminists note that few definitions of the word [matriarchy], despite its literal meaning, include any concept of power, and they suggest that centuries of oppression have made it impossible for women to conceive of themselves with such power’.” Author’s Note: I can conceive of having such power. And other women, too. Can’t you? Let’s write about it. From another article: “Imagined fictional matriarchal societies seem to always run into the same problems again and again. Gender roles are usually simply reversed and patriarchal control mechanisms (law, fear, violence) are assumed.” —Zo0tie Author’s Note: In my matriarchal-based book which will not be called “Fat, Happy Women in Space”, the control mechanisms are going to be positive reinforcement, fear of large spiders, and hot flashes. An author’s gotta put a little of herself in each story, don’t you think? From a review on Goodreads about Gail Dayton’s One Rose trilogy: “Dayton’s matriarchal society surprised me a few times as I’d forgotten how dominant it was. I found myself feeling outraged on behalf of the male characters, which interested me as they are treated no worse (and often better) that any woman in a standard patriarchal-focused fantasy.” —Reader Kerr Here’s a list I pulled together of SF/F and SFR books that have some version of a matriarchy in them: Catherine Asaro: The Last Hawk Elizabeth Bear: Carnival Anne Bishop: Black Jewels & Tir Alainn Trilogies David Brin: Glory Season Joely Sue Burkhart: A Jane Austen Space Opera (series) Suzy McKee Charnas: Holdfast Chronicles Gail Dayton: One Rose Trilogy Hailey Edwards: Araneae Nation series Eric Flint: Mother of Demons Jess Granger: Beyond the Rain, Beyond the Shadows Nicola Griffith: Ammonite


29 Pippa Jay: Keir Alaya Dawn Johnson: The Summer Prince Dara Joy: Ritual of Proof Sylvia Kelso: Amberlight series Mercedes Lackey and Piers Anthony: If I Pay Thee Not in Gold LE Modesitt: Saga of Recluse Andre Norton: Witchworld books Melanie Rawn: Exile’s Trilogy Leigh Richards: Califa’s Daughters Pamela Sargent: The Shore of Women Sharon Shinn: Heart of Gold Wen Spencer: A Brother’s Price Sunny: The Monere books Sheri S Tepper: Gate to Women’s Country Here are more links and lists of matriarchies in fiction and the matriarchal trope: 1. http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14692.Matriarchal_Societies_in_fiction 2. http://www.amazon.com/Matriarchal-Societies-fiction-romance-adventure/lm/218478FCIDM6J 3. http://www.librarything.com/tag/matriarchy 4. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Matriarchy 5. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LadyLand Advertisement


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Why read SFR? The Cosmic Lounge with Heather Massey There are many—so many!—reasons to read science fiction romance, but a big one is its take-charge heroines. Many romances feature this type of heroine, but SFR settings—particularly the far-future, technologically advanced ones—lend them a few unique qualities. How do you know one when you encounter her? First and foremost, take-charge heroines are characters with agency. Their decisions and actions drive the plot—sometimes on an equal par with the hero, sometimes more. Take-charge heroines may make mistakes, but they consistently act rather than react. Check it out: In Jeanette Grey’s Unacceptable Risk, Plix is a cybernetically enhanced heroine in charge of solving her father’s murder as well as overcoming a sinister corporation. Take-charge heroines in sci-fi romance have a range of powers—intellect, emotional resiliency, physical strength, survival skills, and many more. They possess sexual power, too, but their power and worth aren’t based in their sexuality alone or defined by their ability to tame a hero. Check it out: Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt, Angeli by Jody Wallace, and Hathor Legacy: Outcast by Deborah A. Bailey all feature heroines who are in charge of saving the hero! They’re not usually virgins—or pseudo virgins. They’re in charge of their sexuality and seek heroes whose tastes are compatible with their own. Take-charge heroines can indicate a multi-faceted romance wherein sexual attraction plays a part rather than being the main event. Often, they fall in love and save the day. Check it out: Fedni, the heroine of Renae Jones’ Taste of Passion, is a sexually confident courtesan by trade who knows a thing or three about taking charge in the bedroom. Take-charge heroines are flawed characters even if they suffer endlessly and make sacrifices to save the day. They perform selfless acts even while acting a little selfishly at times. They grow and have character arcs. In other words, they’re three-dimensional. Check it out: The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler and Lady Rogue by Cinnamon Burke were published 17 years apart, but both showcase determined heroines willing to go the distance on behalf of those needing protection. SFR has many opportunities to explore take-charge heroines because the science and technology in the settings frequently level the gender playing field. Heroines can wear transforming mecha, work as engineers—or be genetically engineered—run an intragalactic corporation, or work as brilliant scientists. Check it out: One of the smartest SFR scientist heroines around is stellar mechanics expert Moon Thadin from In Enemy Hands and Balance of Terror by K.S. Augustin (disclosure: Ms. Augustin is Editor-in-Chief of the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly).


31 Given the range of roles an SFR heroine can inhabit, it’s difficult to make an argument for using an ordinary heroine whose magic vagina is her main marketable skill. In an SFR, it’s generally not plausible for a hero to do all of the heavy lifting when there’s an external threat to overcome. Check it out: In P.J. Dean’s The Felig Chronicles, heroine Tina Cain may be an “ordinary” human, but she’s the catalyst for kick starting a rebellion against alien invaders. In fact, SFR heroes worth their salt welcome the tactical/physical/emotional/intellectual help of take-charge heroines—especially in the face of an oncoming alien horde and the heroine’s plasma weapon is the only one fully charged! This romance fantasy is for readers who read not only for the heroines, but also for the two main characters as a couple. Separately they’re great people, but together, they’re awesome. Check it out: Heroines Natalie Howell and Genevieve Cain join forces to investigate a corporation’s suspicious activities in Cathy Pegau’s Deep Deception. It’s double the heroine pleasure! Take-charge SFR heroines are not damsels in distress, sexual peril bait, or one-dimensional characters whose primary role is for readers to vicariously experience a one-sided rescue fantasy/book boyfriend. Neither are they overshadowed by their extraordinary partners—especially if they’re extraordinary themselves. Check it out: Examples of books featuring extraordinary, take-charge heroines include Starjacked by Karin Shah, Alpha by Catherine Asaro, and Moonsteed by Manda Benson. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of hero worship in the romance genre. SFR certainly has its share of “heroes are the be-all and end-all” stories. But where heroines are concerned, this genre can harness the power of science and technology to provide a sorely lacking alternative. One of the marks of a truly conceptual and daring “What if…?” SFR is not its tech, science fictional ideas, or action-adventure quotient, but rather its ability to execute heroines with true, irreversible agency. Picture the tallest pedestal you can imagine. Now put a take-charge heroine on it. Let’s admire her. Doesn’t she look amazing? Advertisement


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COTTONWOOD (R. Lee Smith, Blushing Books) Review by RK Shiraishi Aliens have arrived on earth. They are herded into compounds until they can integrate into the larger society. Some humans want to be a part of this grand heroic effort to understand the aliens commonly called “bugs”. This is the premise of R. Lee Smith’s SFR Cottonwood. This is solidly SF-with aliens and the social commentary that the golden age of SF strove for. The story centers on Sarah, who proudly declares that she is “untrained and uneducated” and applies for a job with the International Bureau of Immigration (IBI) Human Resources Department as a social worker for the Cottonwood camp facility. Sarah remembers when the aliens first arrived with the same childlike romanticism in believing that she can be a part of intergalactic understanding. The job is not quite what she expected. The long hours. The threats. The aliens who make it clear they do not want a social worker in their lives. Then she meets Sanford. And Son. That was the name given to the alien and his son, and it was intentionally mocking. They are from a complex, highly advanced society with a language humans have little ability to speak, despite their attempts. So, the humans decide that if they can’t understand something, it must be lesser. The IBI has no respect for the alien visitors—they only want their technologies. The living conditions at the camps are horrifying. This is definitely a novel heavy on themes: prejudice, oppression, fear of the unknown. At times it can seem almost heavy-handed, yet it primarily works because the focus remains on the heroine Sarah and her growing relationship with Sanford. The romance subplot keeps the social issue themes from overwhelming the book. It, of course, hinges on whether or not you can truly believe in the romantic relationship between Sarah and Sanford. R. Lee Smith creates aliens that are truly alien, with a completely different physiology. So you have to believe that this human woman can have a romantic relationship with an insectoid man. I felt that the relationship worked, believe it or not. I think it was largely because R. Lee Smith writes an epic length novel and gives the emotional side of the relationship enough time to develop. At the beginning, Sanford doesn’t trust Sarah anymore than he trusts any human given the cruelty with which the aliens are treated. His goal is to protect his son, and return and repair the ship enough to leave Earth or send a signal for someone to come and rescue them. He is a man conflicted. In one sense he is filled with deep anger and wants to act as violently as he has been treated. Yet, from the beginning, it is obvious that Sanford has compassion and decency making him a true hero. He is a caring father to his son; he is courteous to Sarah—though he believes her to be foolishly idealistic—and he doesn’t fall into the violent patterns of behavior that those around him do. Regardless of his circumstances, this is a man determined to hang on to his dignity.


33 This is not a novel for the faint of heart. Much of the novel concerns Sarah’s idealism and innocence running against the machinations of Damek van Meyer (head of the camps) and his sadistic assistant Piotr. There is rape, sexual assault, and torture. The parallels to apartheid are obvious, perhaps, too obvious. And the book can be criticized for falling into the pattern of having aliens as stand-ins for people of color while having few people of color in any obvious way. There is also the “movie style” epilogue ending in which R. Lee Smith gives us brief glimpses of other camps and the human-alien relationships. It’s not terrible, but for me it seemed to undercut the pace of the novel. I did enjoy this novel. R. Lee Smith has a unique voice. She does not write for the faint of heart. It you want an SFR that is epic, rich, suspenseful, and a deep read I recommend Cottonwood.

HOT REDEMPTION (KD Penn - D.T. Dyllin & Kenya Wright, Dragonfairy Press) Review by RK Shiraishi Hot Redemption is set in a gritty, futuristic world where work is hard to come buy and most of the people still living on Earth live in fairly desperate circumstances. The hero, Epic, robs strip clubs for money to care for his younger siblings after their mother’s death and father’s suicide. Phoenix is a stripper who has managed to rebuild her life after a horrible past with a drug addicted abusive boyfriend. There is apparently a universe of many worlds centered around the authority and worship of the Duchess-if the duchess is real or symbolic is not quite clear. There is also a stratified human society explaining the diverse racial mix of Epic’s family. Epic strikes a deal with Phoenix for a big score on a much more affluent planet, and most of the narrative (done in duel first person) revolves around planning for the big score—and whether or not their alliance will hold. And sex. The craft is used quite effectively—the alternate first person point of view actually works quite well. The dialogue is sharp, the pacing apt, and the style is consistent. It is never a dull read that’s for sure. KD Penn is a pen name for the writing team of D.T. Dyllin and Kenya Wright, both of whom have several works to their credit. This novel has very explicit sex scenes, violence, and profanity. Drug use, shootings, kidnappings are all par for the course. This is an edgy book to say the least and perhaps not to everyone’s taste. Though SF Romance is difficult to define, I would describe this as futuristic erotica. First, because the SF element provides and interesting setting but is not critical to the plot. Second, although many romances are heavily erotic, I tend to prefer equal attention to the emotional aspects and character changes in the love interests when I seek out a romance. Epic and Phoenix have all kinds of sex, but emotional development is not this novel’s chief aim. It’s all about the action and the sexin’. This doesn’t make it bad; but it is what it is. So, how did I feel about it? My personal reaction was mixed. There are many things to enjoy, and in terms of pure escapism with erotica, action, and not taking anything to seriously, KD Penn can write it well. Still, as per my personal taste, it was a bit over the edge. I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that Epic was a drug addict and he kicks the


34 habit conveniently easy for the sake of plot. Some of the sex scenes were very explicit with raw language. There are also scenes of orgies and sexual slavery, which I was not keen on reading more of. Phoenix, the heroine, was well written and well conceived. She is a stripper who refuses to let people use and define her. She takes care of herself, handles sleazy club owners, is comfortably sexual on her own terms, and a truly smart. She is likable. It is therefore puzzling as to why all the other women in the book (other than deceased mother and a kid sister) are mainly reduced to hair color and breast size. They rarely speak a word unless offering sexual services and mainly referred to as ’sluts’. Even by the heroine. And the final act of violence, which I won’t spoil, did not sit well with me. Verdict…this is for a specific audience. It is dark, edgy erotica. Read only if that is what you are looking for. Advertisement

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Fireflood and Other Stories (Vonda N McIntyre) From SF Mistressworks by Ian Sales But first, an introduction:

Back in 2011, people were talking about the lack of women science fiction authors being published in the UK, a topic of conversation that had been sparked off by mention of how few women writers had been nominated for or won the Arthur C Clarke Award since the turn of the millennium. The conversation widened to include great women sf writers of the past and why lists of so-called “classic” or “great” science fiction always seemed to be almost all male. So I put together a list of sf novels by women from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818 to Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle in 2000, and I called the list “SF Mistressworks” after Gollancz’s SF Masterworks series. From there, it seemed a natural step to put together a blog to host reviews of the books on the SF Mistressworks list—to host reviews of any science fiction book by a woman writer published before the millennium, in fact. I persuaded some people to let me reprint old reviews of theirs of relevant books, threw in some of my own, wrote some new reviews…and launched the site on 3 June 2011 with a review by myself of Maureen F McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang, which I’d originally written for my own blog. In the last three years, SF Mistressworks has reviewed 198 books by 98 writers, with 44 people providing the reviews—some original to the site, many reprinted from reviewers’ own websites and blogs. Currently, we’re posting two reviews a week, though there have been periods in the past where the schedule has been somewhat erratic. But we’ve no plans to stop, and we’re always looking for more reviews. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a book we’ve reviewed before—just as long as it’s science fiction, was published before 2001 and was written by a woman. I like to think SF Mistressworks has rekindled interest in some of the writers we’ve reviewed. It’s certainly introduced me to plenty of excellent books I’d not read before. --ian *** Vonda N McIntyre was one of several women science fiction writers who came to prominence during the 1970s, but by the end of the 1980s seemed to have drifted from the public eye. That was likely due to cyberpunk, which shook up the genre and pushed feminist sf authors out to the edges…from where they eventually disappeared. Which is a shame, if not a crime. Though the genre’s history may claim the 1970s was a creative and artistic wasteland in science fiction, comprised only of tired old American white male middleclass fiction such as Heinlein’s late novels, Niven and Pournelle’s best-selling bloated epics, and Asimov’s futile attempts to tie all his fiction into one Gordian Knot of continuity, in point of fact there was a lot of excellent science fiction written during that decade, novels and stories that carried on what the New Wave had started, that introduced feminist concerns to a genre that had been resistant to them for far too long. While Star Wars (1977) may have in one fell swoop re-positioned science fiction as a genre of swashbuckling adventure in space in the public mind, that same period also gave us stone-cold sf classic sf novels such as Joanna Russ’s The Female Man (1975) and Samuel R Delany’s Dhalgren (1975). McIntyre was one of the many casualties of cyberpunk’s “re-imagining” of science fiction’s history, and that’s shown clearly in Fireflood and Other Stories, her only published collection. Its eleven stories won a Hugo and a Nebula award, and were shortlisted for three Hugos, two Nebulas and five Locus awards. Clearly, she was not ignored at the time. After a pair of well-regarded sf novels, McIntyre spent much of the 1980s writing Star Trek novels and film novelisations, before returning to sf in the late 1980s with a hard sf quartet. Her last novel was published in 1997, although she has written a handful of short stories since then. The stories in Fireflood and Other Stories date from 1972 to 1979. Fireflood (1979). This originally appeared in F&SF and was shortlisted for the Hugo Award in 1980. At some undefined point in the future, groups of human beings have been altered to live on other worlds. Dark is one


36 such, a digger, and she is more comfortable tunnelling underground than living on the surface. She is also one of six who have escaped from a strip mine where her people are treated like serfs. She heads for an area of land that has been handed over to yet another group of changed humans—these have wings and were designed to colonise a low-gravity world. Fireflood describes the encounter between Dark and one of these winged humans, Jay, and they both reflect on their situations—their similarities and their differences. While the flyers are free within the land given to them, they are just as much prisoners as the diggers, and Dark’s request for sanctuary among them is to neither’s advantage. Both groups have not been given the chance to do what they were designed for, and are now treated like second-class citizens and freaks. Dark is subsequently captured, and Jay decides to follow her. But a human warns him off – “We can’t control anyone outside your preserve.” Strangely, the human sounded concerned. “You know the kind of thing that can happen. Flyer, stay inside your boundaries.” (p 31) I’m not entirely sure who the diggers and flyers are intended to map onto, or indeed if they represent anyone or anything. As a general commentary on humanity’s predilection for creating and then abandoning objects, it packs more of a punch by making those “objects” living, breathing people, but that, perversely, also muddies its points by suggesting it’s just as much about race relations. The thinness of the background—humanity can create other human races for other worlds, but still flies around in helicopters—also confuses matters somewhat. I’ve a horrible feeling the story’s success was as much a result of a “slans are fans” reading of it as of the quality of its prose. Which is a bit sad. Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand (1973). This novella was reprinted in Women of Wonder, the first of the three women-only anthologies edited by Pamela Sargent—see here. It won the Nebula Award in 1974, and in my review of Women of Wonder I wrote: “It’s not hard to see why this story won an award. The prose is extremely good, Snake is well-drawn, sympathetic and mysterious, and the world is sufficiently intriguing to merit further exploration.” On reread, Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand remains just as strong a piece of heartland science fiction. Spectra (1972). Set in another undefined future, the narrator was taken from her mother as a child, had her eyes replaced with devices, with which she is plugged into a machine in order to process some sort of visual patterns. The narrator is one of many such women. They live in a complex, sleep in pods and are fed via a valve in their ankle while they sleep, are carried to their work stations by a moving belt, and then spend all day identifying patterns in the signals sent to them through eyepieces. But the narrator remembers her past, and she remembers what the world looked like when she could distinguish colour. As a result, she is punished. There’s a definite 1984 feel to Spectra, but it reads more like a writing exercise than an actual story. In fact, it’s little more than a a depiction of the contrast between the reader’s situation, as represented by the narrator’s memories, and the narrator’s current situation. Wings (1973). This first appeared in an original anthology, The Alien Condition, edited by Stephen Goldin. On an alien world, the winged natives have all flown up above the sky, an injured youth comes to the temple where an old keeper is the only person remaining—and who cannot fly himself. The keeper tends to the youth’s injury until he is well enough to join the others. McIntyre handles her alien culture well, although the keeper’s use of “thee” and “thou” to signal an older form of language occasionally feels clunky. All the same, it’s a well-written elegiac piece, and it comes as no real surprise to learn it was shortlisted for both the Hugo


37 and Nebula awards. The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn (1974). This story is set among the same people depicted in Wings, but aboard one of the starships in which they departed their dying world. An old female who remembers life on their world enters into a relationship with a youth who has known only life aboard the starship. The story is pretty much a reflection of Wings, a story of love between two generations in an alien culture. Unlike the earlier story, however, this one didn’t make any shortlists—despite being more heartland sf with its starship setting. The End’s Beginning (1976). Originally published in Analog, The End’s Beginning appears to be told from the point of view of a dolphin—hardly the sort of sf for which Analog is known. The dolphin is being compelled to perform some task by men through the use of a machine, but the details are vague. As the story progresses, it becomes clear the dolphin is a weapon—and the prose compares and contrasts humanity’s destructiveness with the natural predators of marine life—and it eventually swims into a harbour full of—enemy?—ships. Screwtop (1976). This was reprinted in The New Women of Wonder, and I covered it in my review of that anthology—see here. On rereading it, I’m still not entirely sure why the story was written in a science fiction mode, or how the actual thermal-power generation system is supposed to work. While Screwtop is wellwritten, it fails for me in its world-building, and that I think is too fundamental a flaw. Only at Night (1971). A nurse on night shift in a hospital spends her time wandering through the ward of deformed children rejected by their parents. One of the “larger children (I can only think of him as a large child)... He’s perfectly formed and beautiful, but he has no mind” attacks and injures her, and there’s a hint she accepts it as expiation of the parents’ abandonment of their newborns. Recourse, Inc. (1974). At some point, it seems, every sf writer of the twentieth century had a go at an epistolary story. Most seem to involve computers behaving badly, and this one is no exception. A customer is misbilled by a giant corporation, and so asks the titular company to intercede on his behalf. The situation spirals out of control and… Stories like this are as a rule not especially amusing, and they do not age well. This one even features a punched card. It would be undeserved flattery to call it “slight”. The Genius Freaks (1973). Lais is one of the freaks of the title, a genetically-engineered genius, but she has escaped from the Institute where she and her kind are kept and tasked with making life better for the rest of humanity. She has discovered by chance a new virus that will undo the effects of “clean-gening”: It might wait ten or fifteen or fifty years, or forever, but when injury or or radiation or carcinogen induced it out, it would begin to kill. (p 193) But Lais is herself dying, and she’s on the run. She knows the authorities are not interested in her discovery—on the contrary, they would likely cover it up. Aztecs (1977). This novella first appeared in an original anthology, 2076: The Third Centennial, edited by Edward Bryant and Jo Ann Harper. It was shortlisted for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. There’s a definitely Delany-esque feel to this story—although, to be fair, throughout this collection McIntyre has demonstrated a more lyrical prose-style than is common in science fiction. Laenea Trevelyan is a Pilot. She has had her heart removed and replaced with a special pump, because Pilots must stay conscious during interstellar travel and can only survive by means of a biocontrolled pump in place of their heart. Laenea discharges herself early from hospital after her surgery and heads for the spaceport to revel in her new status. Pilots are elite. Although not the only people to travel routinely between worlds—starships have Crew as well, but they must spend the journeys asleep like the passengers—there is a definite pecking order. In a bar frequented by Pilots and Crew, Laenea meets Radu Dracul, an unsophisticated Crew from a backwater world. Even though Pilots and Crew don’t mix, Laenea takes Radu to a party, then to her bed. She falls in love with him, but as a Pilot she cannot live in the same world as him…


38 Between 1974 and 1980, McIntyre was shortlisted five times for the Hugo and won once, five times for the Nebula and won twice, and nine times for the Locus Award and won once. I suspect there are only a handful of genre authors who can better that record. And yet McIntyre is all but forgotten today. This is a shame—the stories in Fireflood and Other Stories demonstrate a lyricism and poetry more in tune with twenty-first century science fiction than what we’re told was common back in the 1970s. Many of her stories are written from the point of view of an alien, or an outsider—usually female—and that, plus her prose style, suggests she is ripe for rediscovery. She was a singular, and successful, voice in science fiction four decades ago, and it’s long past time she took her rightful place in the history of the genre, and was introduced to a new audience.

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LIBERATING CLEMENCY by Emmeline Lock Immersed as I was in my last-minute check of the underground tunnel blueprint of Dulaheim, I didn’t hear the airlock of my flightcraft’s pedestrian entry hatch hiss. In fact, I was oblivious that someone unauthorized had entered my little ship until I felt the cold press of a weapon at my neck. Careless of me, but I wasn’t too concerned. “Easy.” The voice was deep and coarse, and made the skin between my shoulder blades shiver. I slowly swiveled my chair. My seat now rotated a full one-eighty degrees, I could see the man at the other end of the weapon. A black and white old-school bandanna covered his face, like one of the cowboys on the old entertainment vision my grandfather watched. A utility belt, with various useful tools, lines and sharp things adorning it, was slung low around narrow hips and a vest of sturdy khaki fabric held even more paraphernalia. Spikes of tawny hair fanned out from under a dark watch cap, the hair a similar color to his tanned skin. His big, bare forearms were littered with various scars. A fighter, then. Damn. Why couldn’t he be a dreadful little man with a size complex like most starpirates? I didn’t have time for a good-looking, finely-built distraction. I was on a quest. Above the covered face, eyes the color of the bright blue saltwater that covered half of my home world watched me. His grip on his weapon and his tightly coiled stance said military. As did the little khaki-colored patches placed strategically on his vest, covering insignias and badges. The one over his left breast pocket would be his name… Damned if he didn’t rev my engine. It was a similar getup to what I would wear for my work, except I favored black over khaki for my marauding uniform and opted for knives and speed over high-tech gadgetry to get the job done. He was, as I had about to be before he’d interrupted, up to no good. I liked him immediately. But, he had accessed my craft unauthorized, so there was a good chance he was going to have to die. I swept his legs out from under him with my boots. He hit the deck with a muffled grunt, and leaped his feet immediately, like he’d bounced. Heavens, those muscles weren’t just for show. The man had strength. I launched out of my seat and attempted to pin his arms, while he tried to pin mine. He had the muscles, I had the speed. Slightly concerned about the location of the weapon he’d previously had at my neck, I slid my knife from my boot as I kicked his legs out again, and fell with him. Before my body could touch his, he flipped me until I was underneath him, his hands pinning my wrists to the floor, his body a whisper from mine as he held himself rigid on the tips of his boots. A smooth, milky-white object hung precariously from a pocket on his vest, and my heart seized in my chest. He had the Herz des Mondes, the moonstone icon I had come to steal. I’d been out-thieved. My skin prickled with heat. Nothing more appealing than a man with excellent skills. He gripped my wrist with both hands and I let him thump the knife from my grip, with just a few quick decoy


40 punches to his excitingly-firm mid-section with my free fist for good measure. That stone was the key to finding my future. It was rumored that the Herz des Mondes assisted in all facets of love. I didn’t need help with all facets, just one. And I was running out of time. Ergo, where that stone went, I went. If the stone was with the hot solider, I was with the hot soldier. The game had changed. I went limp, to let him know he’d won. For now. He moved to his feet like a man half his size. “I have to get out of here, but my own aircraft is currently…indisposed. I need someone to fly me out. ASAP.” I slid back into the pilot’s chair. He reached forward and I froze, but he angled his body past mine, slapped at a few buttons, and flipped on the external camera switch. He spun my chair until I faced the immense control panel, the pistol a firm presence at the base of my skull again. I had to admire his skill with a weapon. I still hadn’t set eyes on the damn thing. Viewscreens across the cockpit came to life, showing dark-clad guards searching for something, checking doorways of the airport, attempting to board craft. Dulaheim, the beautiful artificial planet that was home to the Herz des Mondes, was also home to a large group of well-trained soldiers called the Wache, intent on protecting the moonstone and the scantily-dressed Priesterin who worshipped it and channeled its power. On the viewscreens, as the Wache executed a regimented search, four Priesterin of various skin colors—and I could see a lot of skin—wrung their hands and consoled each other. Served them right for being lovers, not fighters. I spun back to face the solider, and crossed my arms. “I have…liberated something from them.” My hijacker indicated the screen. “I’d like to keep it for now.” I know exactly what you’ve liberated, sir. I was hoping to liberate it for myself. Still, just to keep it fun, I shook my head. The color of his eyes intensified, and he leaned in, grabbing me by the forearms and hoisting me up against the wall. As he did, his bandanna slipped, and I saw his face. A scar from cheekbone to mid-neck bisected his brown skin. His lips were full, and his nose perfectly formed. His jaw line looked sharp enough to cut fingers. I was dying to see if it would. Dying to. With a hand that only shook a little, I hooked a finger in my mask and pulled it from my face. His indrawn breath was rewarding. Reaching for the zipper, I unfastened the mirror cloak at my neck. It dropped to my feet, and left me standing there in my gear, a serviceable black bustier and leather pants with low boots. “Mother of Heaven,” he whispered, easing me down the wall until I stood. I watched his eyes cloud a little and he reached one of those strong fingers towards my left collar bone, to the Wings of Thorn. Across my décolletage, I was marked with swirling designs that glittered electric blue over my cleavage and petered out in silvery-green curlicues over my shoulders. His fingers traced the pattern in a way that made my insides clench. “Assassin. The Wings...so beautiful.” Sadly, he seemed to remember himself when I used my forefinger to lift up the rectangular patch over his very-nicely-put-together chest, dropping his hand and stiffening into a pose that was one hundred percent


41 soldier. “L’Arc.” I read, the name familiar, but I was a little distracted by my increasingly desperate need get that watch cap off him and see if his hair would be cut short enough to prickle my fingers just right. And if I could melt a little of that military ice while I did it. “I’m Clemency.” His eyes crinkled at the corners. “A pretty name for a hired killer.” “If you meet any attractive girls called Charity or Mercy, be careful. It’s a family business—they’re probably my cousins.” He smiled. Maybe. More of a lift of the corner of his mouth, but on him, it did funny things to my nervous system. I needed to be on my guard around him, or I’d develop a nasty tic. A noise outside the cockpit, a raised voice, a bit of girly weeping indicated that the group of guards and girls was getting closer. I let my gaze rake over my captor. I could have been captured by worse, for sure. And I wasn’t actually his captive at this point. He just thought I was. The only sign that he’d heard the kerfuffle outside was a controlled stretch of his fingers. I had come to find the Herz des Mondes. It seemed, it had found me and came complete with a tasty side order of sexy soldier. The noise got closer. The Wache were stealing their way up the gangplank. Amazing how much noise that walkway made when you actually listened to it. If one didn’t sneak up it like a highly-trained man of war. Or a felon on the run. “It’s your lucky day, soldier. I’m feeling up for a bit of adventure.” The Kapitaen of the Wache walked to the threshold and saw L’Arc, who waved with a grin. The Kapitaen drew in an indignant breath so fast, he gagged on his own tongue. Winking at my sexy stowaway, I dropped into the pilot’s chair. “Gangplank’s yours.” I slapped the hatch closure button as L’Arc hit the walkway release, the Kapitaen’s shout only just audible before there was no sound at all. He might have to go home to change his pants before he came after us. That was a good drop into the bottom of the docking hub. Leaning on the J-stick, my very interesting cargo and I moved out. *** The man knew his way around an airboat like a master, checking levels, adjusting sliding levers from the copilot seat. Something about those long, strong fingers confidently adjusting my console made me feel like I’d shrunk my skin when I last washed. He was pushing my buttons, and not just in the cockpit. “So, L’Arc, you going to kill me?” I had changed my mind about having to end his life fairly early in the piece, but nothing was set in stone. If he decided I was dispensable, I’d just have to be faster. He watched me, his blue eyes sharp. He’d taken his cap off, and his hair was a ruffled mess of sable, with some very fetching silver over his ears. Me like. L’Arc leaned over me, the warmth from his body seeping through my clothing, and flipped the ship to auto. “It wouldn’t be in my best interest to terminate you.” Still no smile, but...was that an eye twinkle?


42 Be still my galloping heart. “Well, cheers, Commandant. I’m fairly keen to stay alive myself. I’ve just finished paying these boots off.” I flung my foot up into his lap, so that my combat boot landed awfully close to his groin. He didn’t flinch, but he wrapped a large hand around my ankle, anchoring my leg to his. He looked at me. A challenge. Sliding my hands behind my head, I lifted my other leg and crossed my ankles. Warm hands closed over my shins. “So, if you’re not here to murder innocent assassins, what were you doing on Dulaheim, running from women who were barely dressed? Hot tip for free—usually men run toward the pleasure Priesterin, not away.” With a smirk, he gave my shin a squeeze. “Not my kind. I’ve been looking for a certain kind of woman. Prior to now.” His fingers massaged my calf muscles and all quippy replies exited my brain. If he kept that up, he would need a bucket to get me out of my own ship. I was melting. I sighed, which was very un-assassin-like, but every killer has their weak spots and mine was sitting in the seat next to me, working my tired, tired calves with his very strong, very capable, hands. L’Arc swung our seats to the centre and leaned forward in his seat, his knees settling either side of mine. Reaching forward, he took my hand in his, his palm dwarfing mine, and linked our fingers. So gentle for such a big man. I had a tight ache under my breastbone and I breathed deep to dislodge it. “What were you doing here, Clemency?” “Ah, well. Do you want the heart-breaking epic version, or the quick summary?” He tapped the screen displaying the ship in our wake. The Wache were obviously keen to get their prize back. “That’s a big, clunky ship they’re flying. I think we’ve got a moment or two.” His grin was unexpected and completely devastating. Heavens, he should have dragged that out instead of his weapon when he first climbed aboard. I would have had his babies right then, without question. “Okay, so I’m an assassin, right?” His gaze dropped to the Wings of Thorn and his eyes did that unfocused thing. He shifted in his chair a little. “Right.” “Well, lately, it’s been getting old, you know. Like there’s something more I need to be doing. Don’t get me wrong, knocking off nasties is fun, and pays well, but I wasn’t…happy.” “Know what you mean.” He nodded at me to go on. “So, there’s my biological clock, gonging, I was just existing, not living. Eventually, I worked out that living on an all-girl world was not my thing, due to the distinct lack of men. Oh, there are men there, but they’re other assassin’s partners, and it’d take a braver assassin than me to steal an assassin’s man. Taking into account the fact that the men are so darned content, you’d have to drag them away by their hair anyway, I had to find my own future. All before I hit the big three-five, when I’ll be pressured to level up to master assassin and give my life—my everything—to the cause.” “Sounds…hard-core. And your birthday is soon?” I nodded. “So—and this is going to sound a bit daft—an Oracle came to town one day, probably wanted someone dead and needed to organize that, but she had a little trancey-episode when she met me, sent me on a quest, which you kindly hijacked, and here I am.” “I think I know the oracle you mean.”


43 “You do?” He nodded. “A woman came to see me about a protection issue, and she did the same thing. Trance slash quest slash moonstone. Eventually no protection detail was ordered. She just left.” “And we find ourselves both looking for the Herz des Mondes.” L’Arc nodded. “I didn’t put much faith in the ‘true love’ myth attached to the stone.” He looked down at our joined hands, to where he was massaging my fingers in slow circles. Each press arrowed a fiery path straight to every single girl part I possessed. “But I was ready for a change. I’m too old for running around like a teen because other people pay me to. There’s more to life than work.” “Amen to that.” I breathed. “I’m a good boss, and a good friend, but that’s all I am, Clemency. Any full life should have more than that. A happy home, children, a great love. I’m not the only soldier out there. When it comes down to it, there’s no one who can’t live without me. ” He looked into my eyes. “That’s where the stone came in.” He gazed at me like he could see insid me, all my darkest corners. If he kept that up, I would be forced to ravish him on my cockpit floor and completely forget about the men who were slowly flying up on us from behind. “So, L’Arc.” I got to my feet and stood behind my chair. “It turns out I’m looking for a man I can’t live without. You might be a contender. Do you have any special skills?” If it came out a bit purry, it was completely his fault for putting me in a mood. He smiled, and this time, it transformed his whole face. Heavens, his parents needed a medal, or a gift basket, or something, because he was fine. “Special skills? Depends on the talents you require.” His eyes sparked as he stood too, and raised an index finger toward me. He shot a shimmering thread of pure silver electricity in a perfect curve straight at my tattoo. I stiffened, expecting it to hurt. It felt like a warm hand stroking the design. Oh, yes. This time, he winked at me. At the console, something dinged, but I was busy, man. L’Arc glanced at the console and shrugged, his mountainous shoulders rolling. “Hey, you’re one of the Coulombae Mercenaries. The perfect soldiers—disciplined, loyal, fierce.” I should stop with the descriptions—they were making me hot. “No need for weapons, because they’re right at your fingertips.” I stepped toward him. “A whole world of subservient women at your disposal. But you’re not a subservient woman kinda guy are you, L’Arc?” “No, ma’am. I need a firm hand.” His big palm was at my waist, and the other fingers were sifting through the short strands of my close-cropped hair. He pulled me close. “And it’s Munro.”


44 Munro. His breath was on my lips, tantalizing, when I heard the clang of a walkway clamping into place. The Wache ship was connecting to ours. There was a hiss as the airlock released. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Kapitaen of the Wache standing at the threshold. “He’s got a lead attached to his utility belt.” Munro said, his lips hovering over mine. “Aww, someone’s got trust issues.” I smiled. My hot new man laughed and rummaged around in his vest with his free hand. From his chest pocket, he withdrew a palm-sized hollow moonstone, deeply carved with filigree, and fairly buzzing with power. Power we’d just experienced first-hand. Tossing the rock to the Kapitaen with a backhanded flick, Munro said, “We won’t be needing this anymore, thanks boss.” The Kapitaen’s jaw loosened and he made to step into the cockpit. Munro was back at my lips when he murmured, “Gangplank’s yours.” Our lips touched as we simultaneously flipped the switches, the Kapitaen’s shout drowned out as we sped off, and a bright wave of possibility crashed over Munro L’Arc and me.

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Demanding More of our Alien Heroes Scopebox with Charlee Allden Mr. Spock was my first alien crush. That was the Leonard Nimoy version. I was thrilled when the new alternate universe turned the character into a total hottie (thank you Zachary Quinto) and thrust him into a romantic role. It was never the pointy ears or ruler-straight bangs that drew me to the half Vulcan. It was his internal and external struggles for balance. Whether it was his struggle to stay true to his philosophy and upbringing amidst a ship full of humans or his struggle with the demands of his own half-alien biology, those struggles made the character for me. Adding the challenge of dealing with romance only makes the character more appealing. If the character falls short in any way, it might be that his creator held back. Perhaps his human half was included to make him appeal to a broader viewing audience or just to help explain his very human appearance. No matter the cause—in my opinion—it is his alien heritage that makes him interesting and crush-worthy. As a SciFi romance reader, I embrace the alien hero for his “differentness”. That’s not to say that I snub human heroes, just that aliens hold a special place in my heart. For such special privilege I ask that they wear their alien differences proudly. There are plenty of entertaining erotic Scifi romances that feature big, strong alien heroes with protective instincts, insatiable sex-drives, and a mile-wide monogamous streak. There is nothing wrong with a little wish fulfillment in romance. An alien can be anything we want him to be. Why shouldn’t he be crafted to fill all our fantasy desires? But once in a while, why not make him more? There are so many wonderful ways a hero’s alienness can add conflict and depth to a story. Aliens can serve as a foil for human characters, letting us explore our own strengths and weaknesses. They can let us challenge our beliefs without throwing up red flags from our real world biases. Alien differences can make a strong character vulnerable or a vulnerable character strong. Whether it is a clash of culture, complications that arise from alien biology, or an illustration of the strength found in accepting and uniting those differences, I’m thrilled when an author uses an alien’s differences to the fullest. As they become part of the plot or the character journey, they enrich the story. Of course, romance requires that an alien hero must still be human enough to be attractive to our heroine and to us as readers. That line is one of those things that’s hard to define, but you know when it’s been crossed. I suppose, pushing the envelope is a risk for authors, but it is a risk well worth taking now and then. Here is where I give kudos to some of my favorites brave authors and provide recommendations to those of you who’ve not yet discovered the true wonder of the alien hero. In Alien ‘n’ Outlaw by KC Burn, overcoming some very serious cultural differences is a huge stumbling block for the unlikely love affair between the two heroes of this book. R’kos, son of the Ankylos Emperor, and Darien, a human Robinhood type who lives always on the run and very much alone. In this story, KC Burn did an amazing job of using R’kos’ alienness as a source of trouble and conflict in the story. Culturally, the Anklyos have a hive-heard culture. They don’t value personal freedom and privacy is not even in their vocabulary. Physically, R’kos’ species have an excellent sense of smell but poor vision. His poor vision turns simple tasks, like climbing a ladder or navigating a sewer tunnel, into a challenge and


46 an act of bravery. Both this vulnerability and his willingness to face those obstacles to aid Darien made R’kos one of my all time favorite heroes. The hero in Alien Blood from, Melisse Aires’ Diaspora Worlds series is one of those wish fulfillment type characters. Genetically engineered for beauty, strength, and intelligence; he is swoon worthy. His heroine is also part alien, but another sort altogether. She is physically imperfect. She’s lame, her looks are ordinary; but she is smart and determined. Although the hero’s alien attributes don’t seem so different, the author uses them well. The characters struggle with their own preconceptions and cultural stereotypes and the contrast between what we might think of as perfect and imperfect is deftly used. Jess Granger’s Beyond the Rain features an alien hero whose eyes change color with emotion. It is a small thing with enormous impact. Imagine living your life as an open book. One look and everyone knows what you’re feeling. His race also has a close connection with flora. They make gardens. It’s a big deal to them and closely tied to their ability to bond with a mate—once and only once. They give ‘til death do us part’ new meaning. In Captive Surrender by Linda Mooney an alien and a human are thrown together in bad circumstances and fight an unfair system that punishes them for what they had to do to survive. Despite being from very different cultures, they face punishment and scorn from both leading them to rethink their own beliefs. This is an erotic romance, so much is made of the hero’s size, but they author doesn’t stop there. Finally, I’d like to suggest something from master story teller Anne McCaffrey. Freedom’s Landing, book one in the Freedom series in not, strictly speaking, a romance. The relationship between a human woman and an alien from the race that helped enslave her people is a strong part of the book and runs through the course of several books, but the hero here and the challenges they face, provide a deeper look at the difficulties in loving outside your race.


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LOVELAB PODCAST - INTERPLANETARY EDITION by Tara Campbell This week on LoveLab: A fleen-playing scientist from Zink looks for love on Earth. An advertising professional from Ohio expands her dating horizons. Will their First Contact lead to a Space Odyssey or a crash landing? We gave Tanya and Neil a LoveLab date budget and sent them out on the town to find out. Now they’re back in the studio to tell us all about it. So let’s jump right in: Tanya, why don’t you give us a LoveLab introduction? Tanya: Hi, my name is Tanya, I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Akron, Ohio. I work in advertising, and in my free time I like to play soccer and go to baseball games—go Sox! I just started taking guitar lessons, so I still suck, but you know… Anyway, my favorite food is chocolate cake; and, um…oh yeah, the first thing people notice about me is my eyes. LoveLab: And they are beautiful, by the way. So, Neil, how about you? Neil A: Oh, hi. My name is Neil A. I’m approximately 25 Earth years old. I come from Frandis, Barvis; planet Zink; Glinkian System. I’m a planetary scientist and, uh, when I’m not taking measurements I like to play soccer and denkval, which is a game like basketball. I also play the fleen, but I’m still looking for an ensemble here. LoveLab: Favorite food? Neil A: Binquist, which are like sardine pancakes. LoveLab: And first thing people notice about you? Neil A: My eyestalks. But that was on Zink. I’ve made adjustments for Earth, and so far so good! LoveLab: Okay, so we’ve met Tanya and Neil. Now tell us what happened! Start from the top. Tanya: Well, he wanted me to pick the restaurant, so I chose Sirius Eats. They’re known for their steaks, but they also do comfort food from other galaxies. You know, eclectic and comfy, so he’d feel at home. Neil A: I got there about 5 minutes early to give myself time to settle in. I was a little nervous, so I ordered a milk on the rocks—I wasn’t driving. As soon as Tanya walked in, I realized I’d made a big mistake. Tanya: I was right on time—well, maybe a minute late—and the hostess said Neil had already arrived. She had this funny expression on her face, and when I got to the table I saw why—Neil was a she! LoveLab: Neil, WTF? Neil A: That was my mistake, taking on female form. The person in the picture LoveLab sent me had short hair, so I stupidly assumed Tanya was male. I can’t tell from the names yet. I know I should have asked, but I didn’t because I would have felt dumb. Well guess what—I felt even dumber sitting at the table with mammaries and a miniskirt when what she clearly wanted was a guy! LoveLab: I don’t understand; didn’t you mark “guy seeking gal” on your form? Neil A: I marked them all, actually. I wasn’t sure… LoveLab: Oh, right. We’re sorry about that, Tanya. Tanya: Hey, it all worked out. But I have to say, I was pretty shocked when I first saw him—her. I knew he wasn’t from around here, but holy crap! You know what, though? He could tell he’d made a mistake and he fixed it right away. He turned from a she to a he in, like, half a second. So I give him credit there. LoveLab: Okay, quick recovery, Neil. So what happened next? Neil A: Well, I was kind of rattled after my initial snafu, and when I’m nervous I start to babble. She sat down and I just launched into this whole apology and explanation, like “you see, on my home planet blah blah blah.” I kind of monopolized the conversation at first, but she was nice enough to wait it out. Tanya: I actually enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about him. I mean, ever since I’ve expanded my


48 dating circle to include extraterrestrials—you kind of have to figure that introductory part is going to take a little longer, you know? LoveLab: Yes, but did he ask you anything about yourself? Tanya: Oh, sure, once he relaxed a little. You know, we ordered an appetizer and started talking about other kinds of food we liked and stuff. Pretty soon I caught on that he could read my mind, so I didn’t really have to talk that much. It was kind of convenient, really. I could just think about the answers to his questions and eat without having to worry about talking with my mouth full. LoveLab: And that didn’t bother you, the mindreading thing? Tanya: No, I’m pretty much an open book anyway. What you see is what you get! He seemed like enough of a gentleman not to go rifling around in there. Neil A: Oh, my people are very circumspect about looking into other people’s minds. We only scan for content specifically directed at us. I mean otherwise, just think about it, delving into other minds from different planets? Pardon my language, but trying to interpret all that shit would pretty much drive us insane. LoveLab: Right. So what happened next? Tanya: Well, after the appetizer I got a steak, but Neil didn’t get a main. He said he just needed milk. I guess he was nervous, which I thought was kind of cute, you know? But then the tables around us began to fill up and it felt like people were starting to stare at us. I think it was because he was reading my mind. I mean, I guess I can understand it: one person’s drinking milk, having half a conversation, and the other one’s just thinking and eating steak. I could see how that would look a little weird, so I started talking again. Neil A: I was glad when she started talking out loud again. I was starting to lose track of her thoughts. I’d ordered a second glass of milk, you see, and that one went right to my head. I probably should have eaten more. Tanya: I know, I feel bad about dessert. You could have finished it, you know. Neil A: No, that’s okay, I wasn’t thinking. LoveLab: What happened? Tanya: Well, he was so excited to see a dish from his home planet on the menu— Neil A: Tscharanga. Tanya: Right, taschengarta. Neil A: No, tcharan—close enough. It was amazing; they were so fresh! Tanya: “Fresh” meaning still alive. I mean, I like to keep an open mind, but you don’t expect that from a dessert, do you? They were these cute, pink, fuzzy-looking things, wriggling around on the plate and cooing. LoveLab: Cooing? Tanya: Yeah, they sounded so cute. But then you have to… LoveLab: Yes? Neil A: There’s some technique involved. LoveLab: Meaning? Tanya: Meaning you have to tear their heads off and squeeze their guts out. Neil A: It’s easy; you just twist and roll, like a tube of toothpaste. Tanya: Except toothpaste doesn’t squeal when you take the cap off. LoveLab: Okay, eww, change of subject: what happened next?


49 Tanya: Well, we still had some LoveLab money left after dinner, so we decided to go play some pool. I know, cliché, but Neil said he’d never played before, so I thought it would be fun—until we got there. Neil A: Yeah… That was kind of uncomfortable. We have some stuff that looks like that back home, but, uh, it’s used for different purposes. LoveLab: Like what? Neil A: Well, umm… It’s not something you’d typically do on a first date back in Barvis. Tanya: I’m so embarrassed right now. Neil A: It’s not that I’m not attracted to you— Tanya: Let’s just skip to the next question. LoveLab: Well, okay then, let’s cut to the chase. How did it end? Did you kiss him good night? Tanya: I’m not sure. LoveLab: … Neil A: Well, I was nervous, but yeah, I leaned in and made my move. I kissed her for about 5 nanoseconds. But then I realized she probably didn’t catch it, and by that time her cab had arrived so… Well, next time—if there is a next time, which I hope there is—I’ll try kissing her slowly enough for her to perceive it. Tanya: Awww! LoveLab: Well, sounds promising. And now it’s time to Rate the Date! Tanya: He was a real sweetie, and I’d like to see him again. But I’m gonna have to give it a 4 out of a 5 cause of those first few seconds. First impressions, you know? Neil A.: It was wonderful. What’s the scale; can I give it a 7.5? I’d give it an 8.0, but I messed up the kiss. Or maybe a 7.0—that “pool hall” sex palace was pretty freaky. Maybe a 6.5. Oh, yeah, and I kind of messed up the very beginning, so probably a 6.0. Or maybe a 5.5. But I’d definitely like to see her again! Update: Another LoveLab success story! Despite their busy schedules, Neil A and Tanya have met up twice since they appeared in our studio, and they have another date on the books. According to Tanya, Neil A has learned to slow down his kisses; and his shapeshifting ability allows her to date a variety of handsome men with the same sweet personality. Sounds like Tanya’s boldly going where no Earth woman has gone before! Next on LoveLab: Squinn, a lovelorn Lorithian banker meets Queenie, a barista from Barbados. She says tentacles turn her on, but will she get more than she bargained for? Join us next week to find out.

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Meet the editorial team Editor: KS "Kaz" Augustin is an ex-Brisbanite (Australia) who loves space opera, SFR and all things geeky. She currently lives in Malaysia, where she loves the shopping for tech gadgets, but hates the heat! Her website is at www.KSAugustin.com and she also runs Sandal Press (www.SandalPressOnline.com). If you're a Twitter fan, you can find her at @SandalPress . Send all feedback to editor {@} scifiromancequarterly {.} com ( Fiction Editor: Diane Dooley is the Fiction Editor for Science-Fiction Romance Quarterly. Born in the Channel Islands, raised in Scotland and now resident in the USA, she is an author, an editor, a voracious reader, an unrepentant troublemaker, and a geek of intergalactic proportions. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter. Live long and prosper! Releases Editor: Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author. Her stories will entertain you with fantastical settings, larger-than-life characters, timeless romance, and rollicking action. When Heather’s not reading or writing, she’s watching cult films and enjoying the company of her husband and daughter. To learn more about her work, visit HeatherMassey.com .

This month's cover image. Artwork by KS Augustin. SFRQ would also like to extend its thanks to Tallia22 and Vjeran Lisjak for permission to use their artwork.

This issue's contributors Charlee Allden is a long time fan of SciFi, love, adventure, and happily-ever-afters. She grew up in Florida where a huge fallen oak tree in the swampy woods near her home served as her very own Star Ship Enterprise. Luckily the alligators were almost never a problem on her space ship as the flight deck was several feet above the muddy ground. She did lose a few tennis shoes on away missions, though. By day she’s a technical writer; in her spare time she pursues a variety of geek endeavors, including blogging. She is the founder of the Smart Girls Love SciFi and Paranormal Romance blog. When the moon is full, she writes fiction. She’s a veteran of Dragon*Con, a member of Romance Writers of America©, and has a tendency to take on more projects than any sane woman would. Sanity is over rated, anyway. The Book Pushers are six book-loving girls from around the world who share a love of all things romance. From small town contemporaries, to sweeping historicals, to gritty paranormal, to the futuristic science fi, they read it all. They are known for their fun, conversational style joint reviews, and can be found lurking at their website, on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Booklikes.


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Marlene Harris is currently the Technical Services Manager at The Seattle Public Library. She's also one of the co-editors of SPL's Romantic Wednesdays feature on Shelf Talk, which gives her a chance to expose her love of romance novels. In addition, she's also a reviewer for Library Journal's Xpress Reviews, and the author of their annual Librarian's Best Ebook Romance feature. Because she can't resist talking about the books she loves, and occasionally the ones she hates, she has her own book blog at Reading Reality. In her professional persona, before coming to Seattle she previously managed Technical and Collection Services Departments at libraries in locations from Gainesville Florida to Anchorage Alaska to the Chicago Public Library. Jo Jones is a retired pilot who, after retiring, had an RV and traveled 6 months out of the year. After traveling seven years she left on a trip and realized that she was ready to spend more time at home so she sold the RV. She isn't giving up travel; she just takes the trips that did not fit with RVing. When at home, she gardens, reads, plays bridge, hikes, visits with friends, and volunteers. Jo is an unabashed big cat lover and shares her home with TC, her shelter cat. Both of them live in the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas which, they unanimously agree, is one of the best places in the country to live. RK Shiraishi is a lifelong fan of SF and Fantasy. She blogs at SMART GIRLS LOVE SCI FI AND PARANORMAL ROMANCE (http://smartgirlsscific.wordpress.com) as well as occasional guest posts at other romance and SF related blogs. She is the author of an upcoming fantasy novella to be released later this year. RK can be found on her Facebook page (RK Shiraishi), Twitter, or Pinterest (mrsbookmark). Ian Sales has recently been working on a quartet of novellas, the Apollo Quartet. The first, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, was published in 2012. It won the BSFA Award for that year and was shortlisted for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The second book, The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself, was published in early 2013, and the third book, Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, in late 2013. The final novella, All That Outer Space Allows, will appear in 2014. He is represented by the John Jarrold Literary Agency, can be found online at www.IanSales.com and he also tweets.

Tara Campbell is a Washington, D.C.-based writer of crossover sci-fi. With a BA in English and an MA in German Language and Literature, she has a demonstrated aversion to money and power. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Tara has also lived in Oregon, Ohio, New York, Germany and Austria. Her work has appeared in the Washington Independent Review of Books, Potomac Review Blog, Hogglepot Journal, Lorelei Signal, Punchnel&rsqou;s, GlassFire Magazine, the WiFiles, Silverthought Online, Toasted Cake Podcast, Litro Magazine, Luna Station Quarterly, Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers and T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog. Emmeline Lock writes slightly irreverent sci-fi and fantasy romance. She lives on a small farm bang in the middle of South Australia’s wine regions (win!) with her long-suffering husband, three offspring and numerous pets named after old ladies. (Ah, the animals, not the husband). Find her special brand of love and lunacy at www.EmmelineLock.com, on Twitter or Facebook (www.facebook/emmelinelock).


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Jody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general all around pain in the butt. She currently lives in Tennessee with her family: 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 cats. One of her many alter egos is “The Grammar Wench”, which should give you an indication of her character. She is a terrible packrat and likes to amass vintage clothing, books, Asian-inspired kitchenware, gnomes, yarn, and other items that threaten to force her family out of the house. She also likes cats. A lot. So much so that she has a website devoted to them at MeanKitty.com. You have been warned.

Nico Rosso was born and raised in a factory town. The major industry: Movies. Growing up with a creative family in Los Angeles, Nico was surrounded by the film business, and after college he returned home to work in that industry. From cleaning up gallons of milk after a special effect to pitching ideas to executives as a screenwriter, Nico was there. But the movies had changed from the glowing pictures that once inspired him. He found there wasn’t as much space for his voice and turned to writing narrative fiction, and more specifically, romance (inspired by his wife, Zoë Archer). He created the sci-fi adventure world of the Limit War, taking readers into an intergalactic battle between planet-consuming aliens and the army that combats their spread. Turning his sights on home, Nico set off the apocalypse on the Burning Earth, where humans fight to survive against mutant Fire Eaters. In a joint effort with his wife, he is now working on a steampunk Western set in their shared world of the Ether Chronicles. And he’s finally bringing to life all the superheroes he doodled in high school with the Heroes Guild. Inspiration comes from travel, daydreams, research and random lightning bolts, so there’s no telling where the next adventure will start.

Want to contribute? We are always on the lookout for exceptional talent. Fiction requirements. Payment is US$30 (paid via Paypal) and one quarter-page ad in the issue where the story appears. Full details are provided in this issue. Please send submissions to fiction {@} scifiromancequarterly {.} org Artwork requirements. We are after original artwork. Minimum resolution of 240dpi, 300dpi preferred. Ideally, the image should be in the ratio 500 wide x 650 long, or it will be cropped. Please make sure your image has a relatively uncluttered background and lots of empty space as that's where the magazine's teasers will go. We will accept one side image but no more...we really don't want to write on someone's face or vessel! (Planets are okay. ;) ) Payment is US$30 (paid via Paypal) and one quarter-page ad in the issue where the artwork appears. PNGs and JPGs preferred. Please send submissions (max. 2MB in size) to artwork {@} scifiromancequarterly {.} org Advertisements. We only sell quarter-page ads at a rate of US$16 per ad per issue. If you need us to do some (basic) artwork, the cost is US$26 per ad per issue. Payments accepted only via Paypal. Send enquiries to promotions {@} scifiromancequarterly {.} org If none of the above appeal to you, why not write us a letter? We'll publish the most interesting ones in the next issue. So, if you have something to say, why not say it and send your opinion to editor {@} scifiromancequarterly. {.} org We can't wait to hear from you!

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, Issue 3  

The third issue of a magazine devoted to SFR!

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