Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, Issue 4

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On visibility and the potential of cyborgs Welcome to one year of the SFRQ magazine and our new website look! What began as nothing but a dream for the editorial team has grown beyond our wildest hopes and we have you, our readers and supporters, to thank for it. In fact, we’ve grown so quickly that our original website design couldn’t cope with the additional columns we’re planning to incorporate (a Roundtable in this issue, for example), hence the need for a new format that will scale better. As you know, this is our Cyborgs issue and I’ll get to our wonderful contributors in a moment but, before I do that, I’d like to discuss visibility. Earlier this year, I had a book coming out and I contacted six female SF/SFR writers, asking each if she would like me to include details from one of her books at the end of mine. There was no fee, no expectation of reciprocation, I just thought it would be a good idea. Do you know what happened? Only two writers said yes. The others either declined or didn’t reply. That’s two out of six. Interesting, wouldn’t you say? The situation is not as rare as it seems. Women, as a sex, tend to be less self-serving/more restrained/ more self-conscious (whatever term you’d like to use) than men which—in this world of raucous marketing and selfpromotion—puts them/us at a disadvantage. Which, in turn, puts SFR at a disadvantage as the majority of SFR authors are female. Can you see where I’m going with this? I think female writers, especially in less established or “recognised” genres, need to be more open to marketing opportunities. I know, it’s a big step for some who are uncomfortable with touting our own horn but, really, what have we got to lose, except our obscurity? However, I need to add a caveat. If we’re going to court prominence, then we have to make sure that our books are the best they can be. I know the authors among our readers have heard this ad nauseam, but it bears repeating: thorough editing, good cover art, tighter blurbs. Moving along, while writers may (and do!) have their own ideas on SFR and visibility, in the course of musing on this topic, I realised that there was a market out there we had never heard from before; people who knew, and know, more about SFR than any other group on Earth. I’m talking, of course, about SFR reviewers. With this in mind, the team compiled a short list of questions, turned our reviewers loose, and our inaugural Roundtable article is the result. But, enough of that. What about cyborgs? The term “cyborg” is an abbreviation of “cybernetic organism”, a being that is made up of both biological and biologically-driven mechanical parts. Interestingly, the term is a relatively modern one, only first cropping up in 1960. My first exposure to cyborgs was through a 1989 JeanClaude van Damme film (don’t judge me) and, later, the “Teen Titans” animated television series (2003-2006): strong men (and they always seem to be men, although Charlee Allden brings up an excellent, oft-forgotten exception!), augmented with wondrous pieces of machinery that catapult them to the level of superhero. Can they control their powers? Will they misuse them? What motivates them to use the tremendous potential available to them? The topic of cyborgs touches on all these very human issues, and magnifies them along with a cyborg’s strength. Any wonder cyborgs have made their way into SFR? For a discussion on the duality of cyborgs, steel and flesh, logic and emotion, we are delighted to welcome Linnea Sinclair and one of her best-loved characters, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten, to this issue. If you wanted to know what was going through Linnea’s mind when she created Kel-Paten, now’s the time to find out! We reviewed C791 (a future SFR classic, for sure) in the last issue of the magazine and, this time round, have an interview with C791’s creator, the very talented Eve Langlais. Eve caters specifically for the cyborg crowd; if you love cyborgs, you’ll love Eve. If you’re still not sure what all the fuss is about, Heather Massey gives us an invaluable primer in this quarter’s Cosmic Lounge column, and Charlee Allden wraps it all up in gooey chocolate and caramel in her

3 Scopebox column, titled “I Like Big Cyborgs and I Cannot Lie…”. And now onto some bad news. We would love to have included a cyborg fiction piece but, although there were some strong contenders, none of the submissions we received were strong enough to get our Fiction Editor, Diane Dooley, excited. (She’s a tough sell, our Diane.) Issue #5 is open (no special theme), so I encourage all writers to get polishing and submitting. But be sure to read the submission guidelines; Diane is equally ruthless with people who don’t know how to follow the rules. You’ll note that we have also increased our rate from a flat fee to two cents a word, all thanks to our sponsors. So get writing! I mentioned our first Roundtable earlier on and we are also including an interview author Veronica Scott conducted with us at USA Today back in August. Ian Sales (SF Mistressworks) is back with a notable anthology edited by Pamela Sargent and we have an excellent swath of reviews that are sure to spark discussion! All in all, it’s another jam-packed edition of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, so sit back, relax and lose yourself in an entire galaxy of “what-if”s. Go read!

Kaz Augustin PS For any SFR authors reading this, we have expanded our promotion opportunities to include full chapter excerpts of selected new releases. Please see the “Advertise with us” tab on the website for more details.


CONTENTS Editorial........................................................................2 June releases................................................................ 4 July releases ................................................................ 8 August releases ........................................................ 13 September releases ................................................. 18 The Cosmic Lounge: Taming the Cyborg Hero ........................................................................... 22 Scopebox: I Like Big Cyborgs And I Cannot Lie ............................................................................... 24 Reviews ......................................................................26 SF Mistressworks .................................................... 39 Opinion: The (Not So) Secret Life of Biocybes......................................................................44 Roundtable: The Past, Present and Future of SFR ........................................................................ 46 Interviews ................................................................. 52 This issue's team...................................................... 56


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.

CUBED (Brenna Lyons, novel, $4.99e, $11.95p, Phaze Books) On the Earth colony Kielan in the far future, social standing is based on two things, family affiliation and power. All power is psi. Every individual has between five and forty units of psi power, but on Kielan, soulmates and bond-siblings are a way of life. By the science of matches, power increases geometrically by finding pairs destined to you. When Balin Night sub Summer, a member of a bondmated Trio, finds her bond-sister, a classless waif named Riann, she believes she has completed a bond-mated Quartet. To everyone’s surprise, Riann is soulmate to the unmated single of their Trio, Lio. They have formed one of the rare Quatrels, and the untrained Riann is their cornerstone. But there is a secret surrounding Riann. She is a member of one of the four great houses on Kielan and not lowborn as her name would suggest, but how could such a thing occur? It is up to Lio and Talek to solve the mystery of Riann’s past and help her find her way as one of the true elite of their world.

CORE PUNCH: A Baker and Ban!drn Adventure (Pauline B. Jones, novella, $2.99) A kiss may be all they have life expectancy for. When an intergalactic cop exchange program serves

up an alien partner for NONPD Detective Violet Baker, she can’t help wishing the handsome alien would be a little less Joe Friday about keeping the pleasure out of their business. Yeah, he”s kind of purple and she can’t pronounce his name to save her life, but he’s almost the only guy in the New Orleans New police department that she’s not related to. Dzholh “Joe” Ban!drn has come a long way hunting the evil that has infiltrated Vi’s floating city. When he meets his charming partner, he discovers another reason to stamp out evil. If only he wasn’t keeping so many secrets from her… When an epic hurricane heads their way, they are sent dirt side to New Orleans Old (NOO) on a rescue mission. But murder and sabotage strands them in the heart of the raging storm. As they fight for their lives, Joe realizes that the evil he’s hunting is actually hunting them….

COVERT DESIRES: Universal Defiance #6 (Chandra Ryan, short novel, $5.20eb, Ellora’s Cave) Rowe is a Sub Type Five—a prophet—so her future should be laid out in front of her, clear as the stars in the night sky. But since Type Fives can’t remember their visions once they wake, the only thing she’s certain of is her overwhelming attraction to her partner, Jack. And that the desire seems one-sided. Jack does everything he can to put space between them.

5 After working undercover together to bring down a militia group, she discovers she got that one wrong though. Some hot encounters reveal that Jack wants her as much as she wants him. But they’ll have to survive the final mission and discover the identity of its mastermind before she finds out what their future holds.

DELIVERED INTO HIS HANDS: WindWorld (Charlotte Boyett-Compo, plus novel, $6.99eb, Ellora’s Cave) He is the bastard son of the invading king, she the daughter of a baron. An ancient prophecy binds them long before birth. Love will be theirs despite the tremendous odds—he’s a Vampire and she’s human. To Garrick Warwyck, Antonia Blackthorn is his world. Her body and soul belong to him. Antonia’s fire heats his blood. Her touch renders him helpless. Nothing will prevent him from branding her his own. rom the moment Antonia lays eyes on Garrick, she feels the pull of a woman for her Life-mate. He is all she’s ever dreamed—a living, breathing hero from the pages of her romance novels. Becoming his wife might be a wise political move for her family, but to her, it’s a wish come true. In the shadows another man bides his time. Alyxdair Clay has loved Antonia since childhood. Despite the prophecy and claim Warwyck makes upon her, Alyxdair will do everything in his power to tear them apart.

FORBIDDEN: Planet Alpha line (J.J. Lore, novella, $3.99eb, Evernight Publishing) Working to heal wounded Alphan warriors is the new duty of bondmates Leo and Deklan. Although they have recovered from severe injuries received on the field of battle, they are no longer fit to fight. They have accepted this, but then their orderly, all-male existence is turned upside down when an injured human female becomes their new responsibility. Aura Tremain wakes up in an alien hospital, healing from a beating delivered by the scaly Xyrans who’d kidnapped her. Upon her discharge, two handsome Alphan men offer her refuge until she’s well enough to travel. Even though Leo and Deklan know they will never be permitted to bond with Aura as their souls demand, they can’t ignore the desire she stirs in them. Her time with them is short, but so intense. Will the intimacies they share be strong enough to withstand the expectation that bondmates are for battle-worthy warriors? Can their passion bind the three of them forever? Be Warned: menage sex (MFM)

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

6 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.

PROJECT RECRUITMENT: Recruitment: Project Recruitment #1 (Ann Raina, novel, $5.99, eXstasy Books) The Telen know the war with the Palesei will come. In their need to solve their most important problem, they invite human men to participate in an outstanding project. Sidarra is one of them. He falls in love with a Telen and in the hands of kidnappers. Amid war, uproar and rejection, they both have to prove if their love withstands the odds.

SILVER STRIFE: Immortal Quicksilver #1 (J.A. Kenney, novel, $5.99, Bottom Drawer Publications) Life…Death…Rebirth Quicksilver is an ancient immortal warrior. One of a group of alien beings that were once pure energy, living in the void between galaxies, and who have taken mortal form to influence history.

The Purists, compelled by a zealot prophet, are immortal extremists who will use any means at their disposal to wipe out all mortal life. Qui and her Conservationist brethren have spent millions of years fighting for their survival. In Silver Strife, Quicksilver has been reincarnated on an Earth devastated by centuries of planet-wide civil war. She awakens in the body of a human Elite named Lini: one of a race of superhumans, bred and trained by a Purist-led government to massacre the remnants of humanity. Quicksilver joins the rebel forces, despite their reluctance to trust a hated Elite, determined to take down the brutal dictatorship that has decimated the human race. From their first meeting, she is drawn to Captain David Mitchell, the rebel officer who aided her escape from the Elite’s gilded cage. Even after swearing to never love again when her last mortal lover was killed saving her life, she finds herself falling for the honorable and driven soldier. When Quicksilver crosses the path of an immortal ally on a top-secret mission behind enemy lines, a decision is forced upon her. She must choose between the fate of the human rebels, her mortal lover, and fulfilling her Conservationist oath to protect all mortal life.

TRYST DENIED: Mating Mark #3 (Cynthia Sax, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Tawania sees aliens. She knows they’re not real. To avoid being locked up in an institution, she does what any functioning insane person would do—she ignores her imaginary intergalactic visitors. Only one tall sexy alien won’t be ignored. Raff’s heated touch scorches Tawania’s grip on reality. His kisses drive her to madness. He declares that she’s his destined mate. He also insists he’s real.

7 Raff, an Orogone warrior, is very much real. This handsome warrior has been sent to Earth to round up misbehaving offworlders and he’s not accustomed to being ignored, especially not by a brown-eyed human female with the most kissable lips in fifteen galaxies. He has mere days to convince her to bond with him. Failure

power is immense, but is threatened because he has yet to take a Lifemate. WITCH With the blood of an Anathergian and a witch running through her veins, Leah is a force to be reckoned with. After leaving her foster family to learn how to master her new-found powers, Auden finds her. With him, she discovers her heritage, her strength, and her love.

results in death.


VARIANTS: Anathergians #1 (Michelle C. Reilly, novel, $2.99eb)

An Anathergian is using variant strains of his DNA to turn humans into Anathergians.

Sworn to protect the very people bent on destroying them. POWERFUL Auden, the king of the immortal Anathergian race, came to Earth five thousand years ago when he and his people escaped from their destroyed planet. His

This enemy’s goal: use the Variants to take over the world and take Auden’s place as king. Auden and Leah’s goal: Stop the enemies and discover what connections Leah has with them.



Releases - July 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.

BORN OF FURY: The League Series (Sherrilyn Kenyon, novel, $12.74eb, Macmillan) The war is on… Counted among the fiercest Andarion warriors ever born, Hauk is one of the five founding members of the Sentella—an organization that has declared war on the League that rules the Ichidian universe with an iron fist and terrifies it with an army of well-trained assassins. Hauk’s enemies are legion, but he fears nothing and no one. He will do whatever it takes to survive and protect his Sentella brethren. Sumi Antaxas is one of the best assassins the League has ever trained. In her world, failure is not an option and she has never met a target she couldn’t execute. So when she’s assigned Hauk, she believes it’ll be a quick and easy mission. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and Hauk is far better trained and skilled than his dossier shows. More than that, as she pursues him, she stumbles upon the key that will bring down not only Hauk, but the entire Sentella organization. In the race to report her information, she is overtaken by enemies out to end her as effectively as she intends to end Hauk. Now her only key to survival is the one man she’s been sent to kill. And Hauk doesn’t trust her at all.

CAPTURED RAPTURE: Mercy #3 (Lexxie Couper, novella, $4.45eb, Ellora’s Cave) Galactic Union Enforcer Raina Mynn never knew

what hit her. One minute she’s busting bad guys across the galaxy with the help of her scary and scarily reliable partner Fraz, the next she’s being attacked by an insane man who thinks he’s part of an extinct species. Attacked in the best way, mind you. Attacked by his hands and mouth and more southerly body parts. Torr is as fascinating as he is infuriating. He won’t stop until Raina is mated…sated… Captured. But her gorgeous hunk of nutjob isn’t what he appears to be. And much to her surprise—neither is Raina. Inside Scoop: Ever had sex with a dragon shifter? No? Well, we’re here to tell ya, it’s hot, hot, HOT!

DRAGONS OF VKANI: Atrapako on Eden #2 (Aurora Springer, novel, $1.99, indie) This Science Fiction story is set on the two remote planets of Eden and Vkani. Peaceful Eden has an independent colony of Terrans and a small population of Atrapako. The alien Atrapako sport spiky crests, sharp claws, and scales covering massive humanoid bodies. Their scales come in one of four colors, representing

9 their traditional class system. The meeting and adventures of the Blue, Sa Kamizan Veedak, and Dr. Lucy Stannis are described in the first Book “The Lady is Blue”. The happy family life of Sa Kamizan and Lucy Stannis is interrupted when the Space Traders bring a distress signal from his sister, Veela. They must travel to the hostile Atrapako planet of Vkani to rescue Veela, the Dragon Lady of Ravenak. In a radical break from tradition, Sa Kamizan befriends two Reds, the Ziggurak brothers, from the unnamed, dispensable soldier/laborer class. The rescue mission is combined with a scientific expedition led by Dr. Jun Danzho and Te Tamarkis Varenne to probe the Deadlands for evidence of Lucy’s hypothesis of an ancient nuclear holocaust. The rescue teams encounter new friends and deadly foes in the hostile, barbaric environment where warlords wage battles amid ferocious sandstorms. In their search across the inhabited continent, Sa Kamizan demonstrates his prowess with a sword, while Lucy employs explosives, and, of course, the dragons, as they combat treachery by power-hungry Blues.

ENFORCER’S CRAVINGS: Dragon Alliance #1 (DJ Michaels, novel, $5.95eb, Ellora’s Cave) Chelsea is kidnapped from her Melbourne home and taken to an alien planet to be sold at auction. Luckily, she a gets a last-minute reprieve and is rescued by Tarkan and Ari, two sexy male dragon riders. The Enforcers have long resigned themselves to the fact that they will never have a woman of their own. But when Tarkan lays eyes on Chelsea he concocts a plan to ensure she not only commits to them, but will fight for their right to be together. Chelsea has many challenges in her new world but her biggest and most immediate concern is finding

her best friend. Alone and without support, she turns to the only two people who have offered to help. If Chelsea accepts the bargain, the Enforcers will do whatever it takes to rescue her best friend. Chelsea is attracted to them, but can she risk herself and her heart with two men she barely knows?

EVOLUTION: HEX: The Evolution Series (S.A. Huchton, novel, $12.66p) A lie is a prison without bars. A captive of the enemy, Candace is forced to confront mistakes and regrets from both sides of the battlefield, including her own. Nothing is simple, and lines in the sand that were once clear have become blurred and indistinguishable. Even the unlikely love she found teeters on the edge of uncertainty. The truth is not always what it seems, and can be a prison of its own. Alone, she must decide where she stands. Alone, she must decide who to trust. When the smoke clears, what’s left might not be much… But it might be enough.

GILDED LILY: Steam and Seduction #3 (Delphine Dryden, novel, $5.99eb, Berkley) Hidden identities, scandalous secrets…deadly attraction. Frederique Murcheson’s introduction into society hasn’t gone smoothly—some would even call it a disaster. Only Freddie considers her debut a success. Her scheme to become a makesmith has gone off flawlessly. The only thing that could upset her plans now would be if someone discovered that

10 brilliant tinker Fred Merchant is, in fact, a lady in disguise. Wooing a spoiled heiress is not exactly Barnabas Smith-Grenville’s idea of high espionage. However, considering his brother disappeared on the job, supposedly into the most iniquitous of opium dens, he cannot expect much better. At least the assignment will afford him time to search for his brother, whom he suspects is in spy-related trouble rather than a drug-addled haze. But when Freddie proves to be both irresistible and the key to the answers he seeks, Barnabas finds himself not only entwined in a scandalous mystery involving lethal submersibles and deranged dirigibles, but also in a dangerous game of the heart….

HEIRS AND GRACE: Amazing Grace #3 (Misa Buckley, short story, $.99eb, Champagne Books) Grace McKenna and Benedict Thomas have uncovered a mutation facility under the stark walls of Hammel Mental Institute. Freeing the mutated patients is risky, but Grace and Benedict needs answers and the hard-faced nurse at the asylum isn’t—or can’t—talk. However the more they learn, the more muddled Hammel’s plan seems. Grace is convinced another attempt at world domination is on the cards, but can she and Benedict put the pieces together before that happens?

IN THE DEVIL'S NEBULA: Phoenix Adventures #2 (Anna Hackett, novel, $3.50, indie) He lost it all. His career, his woman, his sanity. Two years ago, on a deadly mission to the lawless Devil’s Nebula, Commander Zayn Phoenix’s life imploded. Now the former Strike Wing pilot fills his days with dangerous adventures alongside his treasure hunter brothers. But his nights are another story: haunted by

nightmares of one unforgivable act. Until an assassin lures him into a hunt. A hunt for her freedom from the Assassin’s Guild. A hunt for a derringer used in an ancient and infamous assassination—of old Earth president, Abraham Lincoln. Zayn is compelled to join the perilous adventure with Ria Dante that will take them straight into the heart of the Devil’s Nebula, but not for money, fame or treasure. He joins because Ria has the face of the woman he left for dead in the Nebula years before.

INTO ETERNITY (Christina James, super plus novel, $7.99eb, Ellora’s Cave) Born in the past, raised in the future, Augusta traveled through time as a child. Leaving her life in the Scottish Highlands of the past and hiding in the future was the only way to save her life. But when an accident sends her tumbling back through time, she lands in the arms of a handsome Highland laird and finds herself thrust into the middle of a world filled with intrigue, murder and unparalleled passion. As Alexander searches the length and breadth of Scotia for his runaway young nephew he finds the lad traveling with a beautiful, mysterious woman. No matter that his mischievous relative actually found the woman—by her beauty and grace and her misfortune at having crossed his path this day, Alexander decides to make her his in every sense of the word. Little does he know it will take all his skills to hold on to her.


REBEL: The Cat Star Chronicles #10 (Cheryl Brooks, novel, $6.15eb, Sourcebooks Casablanca) He helped to find her kidnapped friends. Will he let her steal his heart? Kimcasha has lived by her wits since she lost her family when she was eight years old. So when three of her friends vanish, she has no fear about using herself as kidnapper’s bait, until a stranger foils her plot…. After ten years of selling his services in a brothel, Onca has decided to retire. A refugee of planet Zetith, he has no family, no surname, and no woman—until he rescues a young homeless girl from a kidnapper. Onca helps Kim find her friends, but as their intense attraction deepens, he begins feeling too jaded for someone so innocent. It’s up to Kim to convince him otherwise….

SALVAGED DESTINY (Lynn Rae, novel, $5.20eb, Ellora’s Cave) Delphine Browen knows what it takes to survive on the rough agricultural planet of Sayre. She helps with her family’s recycling business, prospects for minerals in the Outlands and keeps clear of corrupt officials. When a handsome security officer recruits her for a secret mission, she’s suspicious. But it’s his allure that worries her the most—Lazlo Casta makes her feel things she finds hard to ignore. Things that involve getting up close and far more personal

than a simple salvage operation. Lazlo wants to impress his boss and prove to himself he can handle a clandestine assignment. After meeting Del, he’s certain she’s the woman for the job. He vows to keep their interactions professional, even though his thoughts often stray to sharing activities that involve horizontal surfaces. Retrieving the weapons brings risk and unexpected danger. Can Lazlo protect Del while they explore the chemistry sparking between them?

SCI SPANKS 2014 (Eve Langlais, Maren Smith, Kate Richards, Sue Lyndon, Natasha Knight, Jessica E. Subject, Louisa Bacio, Eva Lefoy, Anastasia Vitsky, Anne Ferrer Odom, Cathy Pegau, Erzabet Bishop, Leigh Ellwood, Olivia Starke, Carole Cummings, Anthony Walsh (Illustrator), anthology, $2.99/0.99eb, self-published) Sci Spanks 2014 offers fifteen sexy spanking stories for you in an easyto-read, portable format. You’ll find everything from sweet, tender romance (Cathy Pegau’s “Jen and Maddy”) to laugh-out-loud humor (Maren Smith’s “Oh What the Hell”) and references to old-school science fiction popular culture (Eva Lefoy’s “Sweet Punishment”). You’ll find a mixture of romantic pairings, from M/F to F/F and M/M. Some stories are harsher (Natasha Knight’s “A Public Caning”) while others appeal to the softest-hearted romantic (Kate Richard’s “The Moon Trainer”). Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

STOLEN DESIRE (Barbara Donlon Bradley, novel, $5.99eb/$12.95pb, Phaze Books) When Heather is confronted with her time traveling self she fears the worst. The woman came to warn them of a terrible accident but something isn’t right. The visitors her future self says are there to help only wants to kidnap her and kill her mate.

12 Using her mind she tries to protect her friends and family. Yet she wakes up as a prisoner after seeing the ship Storm is in blow up. She is now alone, and trapped.

cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Somehow she has to figure out a way home and hopefully reverse all the horrible things that have taken her family from her.

TETHERED (Pippa Jay, novel, $4.99, Breathless Press) She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war? For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only



Releases - August 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.

ALIEN ATTACHMENTS: Alien Attachments #1 (Sabrine Priestly, novel, $3.79eb, Lyrical Press) Will their love be strong enough to keep them alive and get them back to Earth? Finding one’s psi-mate is something every Sandarian hopes for, but when Ian Cavacent accidentally starts the bonding process with the Earthling, Dani, he has to fight his desire with every ounce of his being. If the process is completed, it means both political and financial suicide for Ian and his family. A natural klutz, Dani somehow always manages to land on her feet and win her mixed martial arts matches. At home on Cat Island, her balance is thrown when bazillionaire Ian takes notice. Unfortunately some Torog aliens also take notice, sending her life spiraling out of control and into Ian’s arms. But Dani isn’t the type of woman to let alien voodoo decide her future or her mate…no matter how gorgeous the man is or how much pleasure he gives her.

Destiny is written in the stars? Maybe, but when you’re in a black hole you make your own damn destiny. It’s not every day you get abducted by an alien general, but then, Jerusa Whichab isn’t having an average day. Earth is fading from view and she’s got a decision to make—cooperate with her despotic, yet unnervingly attractive captor or receive an injection of goo. General Toyeb can’t be trusted, and his body-healing, mind-blowing Theta waves leave her panting for more. But what choice does she have if she’s to stay alive? None, if enemy bounty hunter Berwyck dal Korth has his way. Intent on capturing Jerusa, he performs a binding ritual to ensure she cannot escape him—a ritual with unforeseen side effects for both of them. Forced into hostile proximity, Berwyck and Jerusa battle to subdue their rising attraction, but will they conquer their desire—or succumb?

BLISS (Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau, novel, $13.59pb/$6.99eb, Riptide Publishing) They're always happy.

For centuries the Cavacents have mined Earth for a precious element, carnium, while protecting the planet from other alien species. Thanks to the Torogs, Dani and Ian must flee to Sandaria. As Dani learns to use her newfound psi powers, the empire crumbles around them.

Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.

BLACK HOLE BOUNTY: Black Hole Bounty #1 (Sienna Bronwyn, novel, $4.99eb, Secret Cravings Publishing)

So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he

14 crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes. If it seems too good to be true, that's because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.

DAY IN THE SUN (LaVerne Thompson, novella, $2.99eb, Isisindc Publishing, LLC) If you run from love can you hide? As a member of the ruling class on her planet, Callie had no say in who she would marry. Her mother made the decision for her. She’d never even met the man she’d be bound to for the rest of her life. Her parents left her no choice. She fled her planet and wouldbe husband for a chance to live her life as she chose. Landing on the back water planet Earth, Jaran had one plan: to find Callie his reluctant bride and decide if he wanted to be married to her. No woman should be worth this kind of trouble. But it didn’t take him long to realize he wanted her by his side. But she ran

from him once already. How can he convince her to stop running long enough to love him? This work has been previously published but has been re-edited and republished.

LOVING THE PRINCE: Jorda Trilogy #1 (Nicole Murphy, novel, $3.53eb, Escape Publishing) From Escape’s fresh, exhilarating science fiction romance catalogue comes a story of corporate espionage, betrayal, sex, and bodyguards. Just another day in the colonies. Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it. When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen. Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions—ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.


LUCIEN: Fueled By Lust #4 (Celeste Prater, 94,000 words, $6.50eb, Siren Publishing) Emperor Lucien Tarquinius agrees to retrieve the future king of a race that annihilated every Insedi female and doomed his planet’s future. Why would he do such a thing? Simple. He cannot have his enemy retake the throne and continue the war against Insedivertus. Yet an unexpected encounter changes everything. Just one day away from collecting the reluctant ruler, the royal transport inexplicably disappears from its flight path. As the empire scrambles to find their missing emperor, Lucien embarks on a journey that challenges his intellect, tests his endurance, and pushes his emotions to the breaking point. Tana Jameson wonders who she pissed off to warrant an investigative assignment aboard a cargo ship in the middle of the Atlantic. A moment of curiosity jettisons her into an alien world beyond her imagination and directly into the arms of a man stepping right out of her wildest fantasy. Book 4 in the Fueled By Lust Series compounds the desire to find an Insedi walking amongst us. How can you not want one of these males?

MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR (Veronica Scott, novel, $2.99, indie) An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’mountains. After

Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother. Mike, for his part, resists his growing attraction to the princess; he has a mission on this planet and rescuing the vulnerable but brave princess isn’t it. No matter how much he wishes it could be. But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet? Can there be a future for a simple soldier and an intergalactic princess?

RAASHH DECISIONS: Xxan War #3 (Brenna Lyons, novel, $4.99eb/$13.95pb, Phaze Books) Raashh was Daahn’s second in command, a powerful Grea elder, now head of a nest of his own. But his nest is missing one essential detail; THE FOUNDING of a nest requires a female to fill it with children. When Rayn and MacNair bring Marie to him, Raashh is convinced it’s a joke, but the tiny human female proves to be more than a match for the elder. The humans are restless, and it’s not safe to be Xxanian on Earth. When Daveed Raashh hires a new designer for the Spice clothing line—a human female designer, both of them know it’s not smart to get involved. But the heart doesn’t follow the head in

16 THE BUSINESS OF LOVE. A tragedy at birth left Arren Raashh a SUBDOMINANT SON in a nest full of Dominants…always lesser, always looked down upon. A chance meeting with Zondra Duncan brings something into Arren’s life he never expected, a human woman looking for a man who will never cheat on her. Sandy doesn’t mind that Arren is a Subdominant, but can they mend a lifetime of scorn from his family and reunite a broken nest?

A TALE OF TWO COLONIES (Aurora Springer, novella, $1.99, self-published) The heroine, Lily White, struggles to escape the grimy subterranean habitations of the underprivileged of Terra. She competes for a place on the team selected to search for the lost colony on planet Delta. The hero, Conley, is a grim warrior with a tortured past, who longs to escape the confines of the isolated valley on the planet Delta. Their lives will intersect, as Lily finds romance while searching for the lost colony amid the myriad of dangers posed by the native life in the mountains and jungles of Delta. Who are the real rulers of the lost colony: the hostile princesses or the unknown native inhabitants? Will the team succeed in their mission to locate the original colonizers and establish a new colony, or will they be forced to depart ingloriously for Terra?

WHILE YOU WERE AWAY (D.J. Davis, novella, $3.29, Red Sage Publishing) Kev Thorsin has returned from a twenty-year war campaign across the stars to find that his own world has been overthrown by a corrupt regime ruling with an iron fist. His fiancé, Rianna Elain, is in the thick of it with a group of freedom fighters known as Libertas headed by the charismatic Terrill Briggs. They are on the run from a noose that closes tighter each day and may soon find themselves behind bars, or worse. Yet Kev knows of a place where they can live in safety, if he can just evade Tetraparagon forces long enough to find his love, acquire a ship, and grab stars—a task easier said than done.

YOURS TO UNCOVER: ES Siren #1 (Mel Teshco, novella, $2.72eb, Momentum) Is she willing to sacrifice everything to keep her secret and her lover safe? It’s the year 2202. Earth is grossly overpopulated and seriously polluted. Rita Songworth has spent half her twenty-two years trying to escape the dying planet. It’s taken the last five of those years to realize making it in the hard-ass infantry is her only way out, via space transporter Earth Ship Siren. But the journey to Unity, the new colony, isn't easy. Rita has to resist an attraction to hard, brutish prisoner, Tristan MacFallan, whose masterful hands create more than the beautiful art he’s been assigned to make. His forbidden touch affects her

17 profoundly and he sees things in her no man ever has before. But obeying Kane, her ex-lover and malicious lieutenant, who is appointed to keeping the prisoners under guard, comes at a high price. Is she willing to sacrifice everything to keep her secret and her lover safe?

YOURS TO COMMAND: ES Siren #2 (Shona Husk, novella, $2.72eb, Momentum) He would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him. Corporal Sienna Jade wasn’t given a choice about joining the mission to Unity. Seen as a troublemaker after reporting an assault by a senior officer, the army wanted her gone. Sienna resents the army for assigning her to Earth Ship Siren, and suspects the fleet’s Unity mission will fail. But others would do anything to escape Earth… Alex Tariel knew his only chance to get a place on ES Siren was as a prisoner, so he stole water rations. As a former construction foreman, his skills make him a valuable prisoner on board, but still a prisoner unable to control his own life. Instead of keeping his head down, he gets involved in the fights set up for gambling privilege tokens, the only currency aboard ship among the prisoners. Getting patched up by Corporal Jade might be the

best thing that’s happened to Alex on the trip so far, but becoming her ship husband puts him between her and the lieutenant who tried to kill her for kicks on Earth. While Sienna tries to keep control of her feelings for Alex, Alex would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him. As ES Siren faces its first crisis, a little trust and love goes a long way.

YOURS TO DESIRE: ES Siren #3 (Denise Rossetti, novella, $2.72, Momentum) A man more potent than any drug. It’s 2202 and on board ES Siren, the brilliant Doctor Lily Kwan has worked in secret to develop an antidote for the aphrodisiac rape drug, sexmeth. She’d be overjoyed if it wasn’t for an embarrassing problem: the antidote has no effect on her extraordinary reaction to Connor Madison, the Siren’s tough quartermaster. Scientifically, it should be impossible, but the man’s a raging fever in her blood. If a single dark glance sets Lily on fire, a kiss might kill her dead—but what a way to go! A former gang rat from the slums of a dying world, Con came up the hard way, so when geeky Doctor Kwan tops his hit list of possible drug runners, nothing’s going to save her—not her family’s money, nor her clever mind. Not even the smile in her eyes.


Releases - September 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.

MY NAME IS A’YEN: A’yen’s Legacy #1 (Rachel L. Smith, novel, $4.99eb, indie) They’ve taken everything from him. Except his name. The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A’yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master’s murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant. Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A’yen’s trust. But she’s a breeder’s daughter and can’t be trusted. Hidden rooms, information caches and messages from a long-dead king change A’yen’s mind about her importance. When she’s threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Association’s radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.

PARADOX: The Felig Chronicles #4 (P.J. Dean, 61,000 words, $5.99, Exstasy Books) Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your best friend. Especially when they are your last resort. Taken! Tina has been taken by Felig from the home she and Nate

shared and they had believed Felig-proof. Just when the couple had smoothed out and polished the jagged edges of their relationship. Just when everything had fit together so perfectly. Nate is on a mission now to get her back, and is learning nowhere is safe and no one, untouchable. And most importantly that allies can be found in the most unexpected of places.

RECAST, Volume 1 (Yolanda Sfetsos, bundle, 304 pages/89,452 words, $16.00pb, Samhain Publishing) When betrayal, revenge, secrets and lust collide, there can only be chaos (bundle includes the first two books, WITHER and CLASH). WITHER: Recast #1 Wrangling is in Colt’s blood, but the woman he loved wasn’t easily tied down. Now a mysterious client has him wrangling someone who may not be human. Colt doesn’t care as long as he gets paid. Colt could solve or multiply Brynn’s problems. She doesn’t expect him to understand why she left, but she needs his help. Colt looks as good as she remembers, and even after years, their mutual lust is alive. Desire strips away secrets. A secret that could be their death sentence… CLASH: Recast #2 Half-Recast Ace Abu is determined to get to Fray and destroy the Clash Arena. When he finds a barstool in Grit, he’s ready for a few beers, but the sexy singer on stage only makes him

19 burn hotter. Ely’Shea longs for freedom. When the boss is away she indulges her passions. That night she catches a glimpse of an alluring cowboy. Unable to resist temptation, they’re consumed by passion…but once the fuses are set, their deepest secrets could blow any chance of forever to hell. Product Warnings: Contains shapeshifters, space cowboys, female sheriffs, singers, double lives, and so many secrets it can only end in total madness.

REPUBLIC TALES (KS Augustin, anthology, $2.50eb, Sandal Press) Four Republic tales in the one volume ON BLISS: The man Sub-Commander Hoara Felin is falling in love with is tender, caring…and not a man. COLLATERAL DAMAGE: On a lonely orbital, Meyal Lit has to decide between saving the life of her sex-chat partner or financial security for her family. THE PIRATE’S GRAND PLAN: Mix one member of the gentry with a rakish space pirate and watch the sparks fly! PRIME SUSPECT: The hermaphrodite Heron Meed is looking for a new life, but suspicion dogs its heels. One novelette, two novellas and a short novel all in one easy-to-read collection!

RESCUING RORY (N.J. Walters, short novel, $5.20eb, Ellora’s Cave) Betrayed after her father’s death, Rory Banks finds herself dancing on the Exos, a deep-space pleasure ship, with no way out of her nightmare. It’s a far cry from earning her keep as a mechanic on her father’s ship. Time is running out and within days she will be consigned to the pleasure rooms on board. So when a stranger breaks open her cage and offers her a way out, she grabs it and runs. Kal Marks and his brothers are space mercenaries

and traders who have spent the past ten years searching for their younger sister. Their hunt has led them to the Exos and Rory, who they hope will have information. Once Rory’s told them all she knows they plan to let her go. But Kal never counted on wanting Rory or the sexual tension and scorching heat that blazes between them. What starts out as a simple mission soon become something much more complicated.

SHADOW WARS: Homebound #1 (Ursula Sinclair, New Adult, novel, $3.99eb, Isisindc Publishing, LLC) Did you ever feel as though you don’t belong? Veil had been a step out of place all his life. Until one day he found a phone that took him on a path far beyond the world he knew. But to get all the answers he had to save the princess he fell in love with—only to lose her once he made her a queen. Nikki never felt she quite belonged. Until she met a man who saved her life and placed her on a throne she never knew was hers. But in order to be queen and save a world at war, she had to give up Veil. Would you walk away from the love of a lifetime if you could prevent the destruction of a planet?

TAKING STOCK (Barbara Elsborg, novel, $5.39eb, Samhain Publishing) Her last days on Earth could be out of this world. Zoe has accepted that a brain tumor will make this Christmas her last. She plans to spend it in the

20 Caribbean, hoping some gorgeous guy will scoop her off the beach for a passionate affair, a one-night stand—anything just to be held and wanted. When she discovers—horror of horrors—she has no unread books for the plane trip, she heads out for an early-hours run to good old 24/7 Supa-Mart. Rowe’s and Kai’s lives are so regulated by their home

planet’s equivalent of Big Brother they even have to hide their thoughts. Not easy when a secret attraction exists between them. When they’re chosen for an off-world reality show involving unsuspecting humans, they jump at this no-rules chance to open their hearts. When the giant store’s exits clang shut, trapping Zoe and several others inside— including two impossibly sexy guys—Zoe figures she won’t need a beach for a no-strings romance. But it doesn’t take long for her to realize she could be facing the end of her short future sooner than she expected. Warning: This book contains two hot aliens with “interesting anatomy”, one lucky human heroine, zero-gravity ménage sex, male-male tongue worship, and all the toys one super store can provide.



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Taming the Cyborg Hero The Cosmic Lounge with Heather Massey

Cyborg—one of the coolest words ever—is short for “cybernetic organism.” Part man, part machine, a cyborg’s capabilities supersede those of ordinary humans. We encounter these heroes most often in futuristic worlds, but they exist in other technology-based settings as well. Cyborg heroes are stronger, faster, bigger, and smarter. Often they’re the first of their kind, or one of a few rare, experimental specimens created in a scientific and/or military laboratory. The transformation from ordinary man to superhuman is a complicated, stressful process and a surefire recipe for brooding, tortured heroes with traumatic pasts. A heroine who can tame such an extraordinary being makes for a powerful fantasy, both sexually and emotionally. Science fiction romance cyborg characters offer readers a familiar hero wrapped in a fresh, inventive package. Witness the popularity of Admiral Branden Kel-Paten from Linnea Sinclair’s Games ofCommand. Kel-Paten is a “biocybe”, which earns him a reputation as the fiercest super soldier in the galaxy. As the story opens, we learn he’s harbored a longtime love for Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian. But because of his cyborg nature, emotions are forbidden to him. Duty dictates that he focus on the mission and forego love. Despite the strict regulations of his programming, the torch he carries for Sass only grows brighter. The question becomes one of which will prevail, man or machine? Would a “Tin Soldier” such as Kel-Paten ever be capable of love? Cyborg heroes are often depicted in terms of their beastly, primitive nature. This is because their enhanced strength always has the potential to spiral out of control. They become dangerous—even destructive. Heroines then face the challenge of harnessing a cyborg’s strength and coaxing his human side back to life if romance is to blossom. An illustration of this dynamic can be found in Melisse Aires’ Her Cyborg Awakes: Kaistril pushed inside, just a little way. “You know you’ve uncaged the beast, don’t you?” he groaned. Sabralia clutched him tight to her with legs and arms, and he slid deeper into her. “Maybe I’ll tame him,” she whispered…. (Kindle location 1159)

The current Queen of Cyborg Erotic Romances is Eve Langlais. Her Cyborgs: More Than Machines series is at a robust five books. The tag line for the series incorporates the dual, conflicted nature of cyborgs: “Half man, half machine, which side will win the battle when it comes to feeling emotions?” This is a series for readers who enjoy ordinary (and voluptuous!) heroines matching wits with devious, deadly heroes. Steampunk romance also delivers a few sexy cyborg heroes.


Lucas, Earl of Huntley, is the hero of Kate Cross’ Heart ofBrass. His body has been augmented by “regorite” and the result is enhanced strength and a body that can withstand deadly attacks (he’s not too shabby in bed, either!). Lucas is a nearly indestructible spy, yet his abilities come at a terrible price. In Zoe Archer’s Skies ofFire, hero Christopher Redmond is a Man O’ War. As a result of his “telumium” implant, he’s huge, strong, and fast. When he and the heroine, Louisa Shaw, make love in one scene, he pins her easily against the wall with his technology-enhanced muscles. While being penetrated by him, Lousia notes the nature of his allure: Here again, the benefits of his transformation, for he moved as no ordinary man could, piston-fast. (Kindle location 2545)

Redmond is basically a giant steampunk cyborg vibrator! The scene delivers one of the ultimate heterosexual female fantasies, that of being penetrated by a lover who is at the sole service of the heroine’s pleasure. Skies of Fire explores the erotic nature of cyborg lovers: they are stronger, bigger, and have unequaled stamina in bed. The underlying message? That a woman deserves an energetic lover who can deliver superlative sexual pleasure. That said, cyborgs offer more than hot sex (I know, right? It just gets better and better.) Meljean Brook’s Riveted features a scientist-hero with multiple prosthetics. David’s physical trauma is a jumping point for social commentary about the intersection of romantic relationships and physical disabilities. Catherine Asaro’s Sunrise Alley features a biomech hero. The story explores the transformative effect of technology and what it means to be human, as well as featuring a tender romance. Here’s a list of other sci-fi romances featuring cyborg heroes: Burning Up Flint and Hunting Blackie - Laurann Dohnner How To Lose An Extraterrestrial In 10 Days - Susan Grant Jane’s Warlord - Angela Knight Kiss or Kill (from Red Sage’s Secrets,Volume 8) - Liz Maverick Abiogenesis - Kaitlyn O’Connor Now, take this fan to cool yourself off while reading—you’re going to need it!


I Like Big Cyborgs and I Cannot Lie… Scopebox with Charlee Allden

When I got the word that this issue of SFR Quarterly would be cyborg-focused I squeed with delight. Then I collapsed in a corner and fretted on how to get everything in a single article! So, please forgive me if I leap frog over big swaths of important things related to cyborgs. And although I am happydancing- eager to get to my favorite SFR takes on cyborgs, I’m going to stick with my usual format and start with a bit of background and information on the topic. First, what are they? Cyborgs are organisms that have both mechanical/technological and organic parts. This could be something like the Terminator, a machine with a layer of organic tissue over it, or something like The Bionic Woman, a human with mechanical parts designed to replace and/or enhance the natural ones. It isn’t a new or difficult concept, but when I talk with other SFR fans, cyborgs are often conflated with androids. Androids are 1 00 % machine, though in SFR they are often endowed with an artificial intelligence so advanced that they seem human. But that’s a discussion for another column. Cyborgs are notably more prevalent in our big brother genre of Science Fiction and often provide a means of exploring our humanity and our relationship with technology. In the subgenre of cyberpunk, the technological enhancement of humans is a given. There, cyborgs often represent how we are dehumanized by government or corporations or our competitive culture. In a cyberpunk tale, humans might be forced to submit to enhancement to do a particular job or might voluntarily add enhancements to stay competitive with others. I’ve always found such stories to be both creepy and cool. That is the technology geek in me, I suppose. If you’d asked me 20 years ago if people would ever willingly incorporate machines into their bodies I’d have laughed, but now I can’t wait for the first neural implant that will allow me to do everything with a thought. Alas, my biological self will never last long enough to own one. At this point I am really tempted to launch into a full discussion of the Transhumanism movement, which is NOT fiction, but I’ll just suggest you look it up if you’re interested. The melding of technology and the human body is very relevant today. We already have cochlear implants for the deaf and researchers are working on perfecting the brain-machine-interface that will one day let humans control a mechanical limb with thought. As one of the possible things to explore with cyborgs in SFR, I would like to advocate more of this please. It’s timely and important and best of all, it can make some memorable romantic fiction. The romantic elements in the new RoboCop movie really made the film for me. This summer I was also introduced to the short film, As You Were, by filmmaker Trevin Matcek. The film is about a soldier who is fitted with robotic prosthetics after losing an arm and leg in battle. When he goes home he struggles to reconnect with his family and fit into society as the man he has become. So well done and the romantic elements make me cry out for a romance novel with heroic people like those depicted in the film. You can find out more about it on my blog: Smart Girls Love SciFi and Paranormal Romance. While there are many interesting takes on cyborgs in science fiction and science fiction romance, I’m really head over heels for the romanciest of the lot. Call me shallow, but I like my cyborgs as the uber-romanceheroes—big, hulky, smart and capable of giving their true love their complete devotion. They are the


“protector” archetype from romance with a more egalitarian sensibility for the geek girl in each of us. I like these cyborgs at the center of a romance series with a new romantic couple in each book and a well built futuristic setting with slowly developed overarching stories. These stories tend to have much more to do with lust and love than with science and technology, but they still hit on the important themes connected to cyborgs. So, I’ve chosen three series to recommend that come quickly to mind when I hear the words cyborg and romance. Let’s start with Melisse Aires’ Disapora Worlds. The series isn’t actually about cyborgs, but the first book definitely fits the bill. In Her Cyborg Awakes we are introduced to the PureGen, a race of genetically perfected people and a universe at war. Our cyborg in this story is a PureGen warrior, captured and turned into a cyborg. We meet him at a brain-washed, emotionless prisoner acting as personal servant to a woman who seems pretty clueless at first, but she does catch on quickly and makes a pretty fabulous heroine in the end. This story focus a lot his transition from “safe” and easyto-understand cyborg to complex, dangerous, and in-love wounded warrior. He is a little like the android who is turned into a real man. Pinocchio-bot! (No. Pinocchio-bot is not real. I just made that up.) Next, I have to mention the Cyborg: More than Machine series by Eve Langlais. All you have to do is drop by the Amazon page of book one of the series, C791, and check out it’s rankings to be convinced readers love cyborgs and love this series. C791 builds on an idea common in the genre—the cyborgs are mostly military men, enhanced and then betrayed. The themes center around the balance of logical machine and emotional man and what it means to be human. There is a lot familiar in this series, but there are also a lot of new ideas and twists in the execution. Just a heads-up, I struggled a bit at the beginning of this book because the hero is very, very mad and that makes him behave a little less hero-like than I generally prefer. As my third pick, I have the Cyborg Seduction series by Laurann Dohner. I adore the entire series, eight books so far, but my very favorite is Stealing Coal. Coal is a damaged cyborg and feels a bit apart from his brother cyborgs, as if he is somehow less because of the damage. His book is number five and it begins right after he sacrifices himself for others. His heroine saves him and to her, he becomes everything. She certainly has no complaints about damaged parts. The series starts with Burning up Flint and while you can read out of order I recommend starting at the beginning and working through the books to get the full glory of what Dohner has given us. The series is set after the cyborgs (made by humans to be tools and workers) have rebelled and left Earth to make a new home for themselves. The intertwining plots and continually expanding universe that make up this series is fascinating and a brilliant piece of work. To wrap things up, here are a few other books I’d like to mention with a bit more diversity along the Romance-to-SciFi continuum. Leaning more toward SciFi: Sunrise Alley by Catherine Asaro. Back on the romance side of the spectrum: Bayne by Misa Buckley. Be sure to check this quarter’s reviews for more book recommendations and feel free to share your favorite cyborgs in the comments.


Core Punch (Pauline Baird Jones) Review by Marlene Harris

Core Punch certainly occurs sometime after The Key [also reviewed in this issue -Ed.] in Pauline Baird Jones’ Project Enterprise series, but the science-fictional elements in Core Punch are not the center of the story. Core Punch is a survivalagainst-the-elements story; where the hope-to-be survivors are both cops, and it’s possible that a mysterious enemy has taken advantage of the storm to make sure that everything that can go wrong does go wrong for our heroes. There is often a question in the story whether they are meant to survive, meant to die, or are just in the middle of a gigantic and deadly test. Their mission is always clear—get out alive. But someone (several someones) may have different agendas of their own. The story takes place in a future New Orleans, where technology was used 20 years in the past to move the citizens of “The Big Easy” or “The Big Uneasy” in Jones’ future, from New Orleans Old (NOO), the city we know now, to New Orleans New (NON). NON is a quasi replica of NOO, except that it is a sky city, elevated above the wreck of NOO. And they have skimmers and space cars. The future envisioned in The Jetsons is finally here! NOO has survived not only Hurricane Katrina, but also a Hurricane Chen sometime between 2005 and the book’s now. In the book’s now, Hurricane Wu Tamika Felipe is bearing down on both NOO and NON, fully capable of earning its inevitable nickname, WTF. Violet Baker and her partner are police officers in the NONPD, unfortunately taking a police skimmer (just as flimsy as it sounds) down to the surface of NOO to pick up land dwellers who ignored the original warnings that WTF was an SOB. Vi Baker is related to most of the NONPD. The Baker family collectively cleaned up the corruption in the New Orleans PD by replacing all the corrupt cops with family. But it’s kind of strange for Vi, not only is the NONPD effectively the family business, but her Captain is also her Uncle. Her partner Joe is where the science-fictional element really finds its way into our story. The exploration of the galaxy that results from the Project Enterprise mission in The Key has become an intergalactic tourism and exchange program. Joe, whose real name is unpronounceably Dzholh Ban!drn, is a cop from another galaxy on a job exchange program. He also happens to be slightly purple. And equipped with a nanite he calls Lurch. (Yes, that Lurch). Joe is also the only cop in the NONPD that Vi finds attractive. While it helps that he’s one of the few who is not a blood relation, it’s also that he really is handsome, if slightly shy and by-the-book (and purple). Vi refers to LOTS of things as crapeau. The police skimmer that she and Joe were assigned to retrieve reluctant surfacers is the epitome of crapeau. It is so crapeau that it crapeau’s out in the middle of the worst hurricane NOO has ever seen, while they are transporting an unexpectedly found murder victim and his dog.


Joe isn’t sure whether the skimmer was just that bad, or whether someone is setting him up. And whether Vi is really his enemy, or just the woman he desperately wants to kiss before the storm finishes them off. Escape Rating B+: It may be because I haven’t read The Big Uneasy (and I want to), but this relatively short novella left me wondering about how the universe got from “first intergalactic trip” in The Key to “frequent enough for exchange programs” in Core Punch. They are definitely the same universe, because of the Garradians and Joe’s nanite, although Lurch is a bit more advanced an AI than the individual nanites in The Key. Whatever is going on with Lurch and his enemy needs fleshing out. There was a part of me that kept wondering what Lurch’s agenda was. Not just that he wants to eliminate his enemy, but he seemed to have some other secrets up his virtual sleeve. It may be that he just can’t share the perspective of a flesh-andblood (and hormones) creature. But it felt like Lurch was hiding something besides himself. Also I wasn’t sure if Vi had actual powers, or if she was just really good at manipulating people. The story could be read either way. But I really liked both her and Joe. A lot of things in her world may be crapeau, but she herself was pretty terrific. Fighting the storm in that absolutely crapeau skimmer made for edge-of-the-seat tension. There were times when I felt like I was torquing my own body to help them wrest a few more feet of motion out of that POS vehicle. Core Punch read like it was the introduction to something bigger, and I really want to see whatever that is.

Download My Love (Eva Lefoy) Review by Jo Jones

What happens when your prince is really made for you and only you? That is the premise in Download My Love. Samantha Gold is a back-to-basics woman in spite of the fact that her father is the inventor of modern mechanoid life. Now her life is in danger and the one sent to keep her safe is Security Core agent Everett, a mechanoid that her father made just for her. I like how the story developed. Lefoy manages to pack a lot into 50 pages. The danger is real and arrives at the beginning of the story. The focus then shifts to Samantha and Everett. As soon as that happens the danger intensifies. So does the attraction between the two. Samantha has to decide if love with a mechanoid is possible. Everett has to come to terms with the emotions he is starting to feel. Look for the two to find time for sex as they run for their lives. The plot moves fast, the action is non-stop and the romance adds to the tension. I loved the blurb where it says “a man so perfect for her that he even loves her cows’. And, yes, in addition to saving Samantha, he also saves her cows.


In the Black: Tales From the Edge #1 (Sheryl Nantus) Review by Jo Jones

In the Black is Science Fiction Romance written the way I love. It is a romance but a romance wrapped in a mystery. Here is what I said about In the Black the first time I read it. The First Time I Read In the Black: It is SFR but SFR with a difference. First look at the premise: When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies.

OK, a ship full of courtesans. That is a first for me. So it must be erotica, Yes? No, it’s not!!! Instead this happens: When one of her girls turns up dead, it’s Sam’s job to find out who killed her, fast.

So it is a mystery but, wait a minute. It is supposed to be a romance. Where does that come into the story? Here is where: Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can’t help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam.

They are attracted to each other but guess what? With a killer on the loose and threatening the Belle, attraction is there but romance will have to wait.

In the Black was a really fun read that kept me guessing the entire time. The mystery is the focus of the story. Sam is a great character and Marshal Daniel is a match for Sam. There are problems with them getting together and the way Sheryl Nantus got to the HEA without changing the responsibilities and commitments both Sam and Daniel had was unexpected and very elegant. All in all, a great fun read that has an unusual setting. The Second Time I Read In the Black: The first thing I noticed was how, once again, I fell into the story. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still wanted to keep reading. As I read I did notice things I missed the first time. It did not take Sheryl Nantus long to set the tone and build the world for In the Black. The writing was great and the character-building fantastic. Early in the story I knew a lot about each of the eight people on the Belle. It was the same when Marshal Daniel entered the picture. All of this was presented as part of the action and dialog in the story. I liked how Nantus kept the mystery was as focus of the story while the romance developed as the two main characters worked together. In the Black held up to a second reading and is on my favorites shelf for future re-reads.


In the Black: Tales From the Edge #1 (Sheryl Nantus) Review by Toni Adams

Are you in for a good mystery that involves high profile courtesans, a space cowboy, and a quick-thinking captain? Wait, why did I just imagine “Firefly” for a moment? This could have have been, in an alternate universe where Fox never cancelled “Firefly”, one of their episodes. I can easily see the crew of the Serenity being involved in this story. Heck, I’m pretty sure Jenny, the ship mechanic, could have been a close cousin of Kaylee. The foundation of this story is simple and relevant to what makes our society click. Mining planets are spaced very far and in between. After long weeks of working with very few women around, men have very strong sexual needs. Mining companies understand that blue balls may result in a delayed workload. Courtesans provide that need. Each courtesan ship is assigned a route and they visit a planet for two weeks. After an extravgant display showcasing the many talents of the courtesans, the workers schedule their appointments while the shop is docked. While sexual needs are being seen to, the ship goes through its own needs: maintenance and laundry. The ship is pretty much a large articial intellience machine. Even so, I really kept imagining it as a sentient ship, just like Moya from “Farscape”. In fact, I feel like this novel was a mish-mash of a whole bunch of science fiction shows. Nothing too direct is referenced or, if it was, I did not catch it. They were more like similarites that would shape how I imagined the characters and the ship. The Bonnie Belle is docked for the majority of the novel so Nantus explores the small details of the maintenance of the ship. From the way laundry is settled, communication is handled, security, and even gravity is used, it was very technical and logical. It was very interesting how everything on the ship was monetized, including the use of gravity. Details like these have me appreciating this novel as more of a mystery noir type than a romance. I really loved that a detail such as laundry was involved. I’ve always wondered about laundry in space. It would be a waste of power and water resource to use a machine within a ship. Conan O’Brien had already asked Chris Hadfield (the astronaut who did that great David Bowie music video) this question.The answer is that they eject their laundry out of the window so it burns upon re-entry. What happens during a long voyage through space? You can’t just keep ejecting all your laundry out. Does that mean everyone is floating around naked? (Note to authors: I have no problem with this line of reason, you are free to have your hot, muscled space men float around in space because they ran out of laundry.) Back to the review: After two weeks, the ship usually takes off for the next planet. Except it does not go smoothly for the crew of the Bonnie Belle. On the small account that one of the courtesans was murdered. From this small incident spurs a whirl of problems. The big corporations (courtesan alliance and the mining company) are very anxious since they are rapidly losing money. Courtesans are grieving and frightened and also losing money. Lots of money is being lost. Even in space, people will worry about money. On top of that the captain is stressing out and the miners are horny. Problems in a small space with nowhere to go create lots of tension. In swoops Daniel LeClair, a space marshall (descended by a line of lone rangers, hence cowboy), tasked to solve the mystery. Even though there is crazy pressure from all sides, he still has eyes for the captain of the Bonnie Belle, Sam. Sam, the soldier veteran who has escaped from some horrible battle. She is full of mental scars but she can still kick some major butt. LeClair is intriqued by the sexy captain. What is a highly-


skilled soldier doing manaing a lowly courtesan ship? Another mystery of which LeClair tasks himself with. There is the barest, slimmest sexual content or even romance fun in this novel but it makes it up as an enjoyable mystery read. It pretty much reads like a special science fiction episode. I could even picture the dramatic breaks for commercials and teaser trailers. I am not an avid reader of the mystery genre so I was guessing it every step of the way. At the risk of spoiling the reveal, just think of what a ship of courtesans would be concerned about. Then it all makes sense. For a romance novel with courtesans, I was not gifted with any interesting sexual fun times. Each courtesan had hinted at some interesting talents. Then again, I suppose a courtesan would not show without full payment? In hindsight, it would not have made a load of sense to include the sexual exploits of the courtesans. It would have just been needless fluff and greatly weaken the novel. Although there are hints that there will be sequels to this novel, so here’s to hoping. If the smexy times were minimal, then the romance happened so fast that I missed it by a millisecond. The love that blossoms between our characters happens in a blink and they’re already thinking of getting into each others britches. Usually, I get pretty miffed that it’s the “love at first sight” trope. It’s vain, boring, and unrelatable unless you’re a Disney princess. This novel does that, but adds in a realistic touch: both protagonists have traveled in space alone for a long time and they are very, very horny. Both characters each try to reason to themselves that it’s just lust due to being alone. When a threat occurs to the other character, then the love slowly begins to rise. I appreciate this so much. It is what any other normal human would do in that situation. Become physically attracted but question that it may be nothing more. Then spend an inordinate amount of time debating on developing feelings despite obvious signs. Who has been guilty of this? All of us, including myself. Thank you Nantus. I forgive you for the lack of smexy times for telling a great story. It was definitely a refreshing respite from the lackluster pile of so-called romance books piling up on the floor. By the end of the novel, I had very solid hopes that this would be a strong couple. I was genuinely happy with how it all worked out. I also imagined a sweet song playing as the screen faded to black as I read the last chapter.

Ritual of Proof (Dara Joy) Review by RK Shiraishi

Dara Joy’s Ritual of Proof was a good read, a good time, and a solid romance. The novel is set in a far future society on a distant world of human descendants. Women rule in a council of She-Lords; and men’s lives are relegated to the private sphere reflecting a gender reversal of Regency mores. Our heroine, Marquelle Tamryn Green is the powerful aristocrat, beautiful, and a confirmed bachelorette. Jorlan Reynard is the grandson of a wealthy aristocratic family slowly losing their money and position. In this world, men of the wealthy are married or “fastened” taking on the women’s name. As such he can be protected. He is expected to be a virgin and a handsome man can fetch a dowry, like a “bed price”. It is an insular, socially stratified of competing She-Lords and She-Counts in the civilized cities. There are references to more untamed territories with fewer social strictures. There is also a groups of men know as Sensitives—said to have empathic abilities and be excellent lovers. Another class are Santorinis—said to be part of a specialized genetically enhanced breed.


There is plenty of SF tech and SF xenobiology in this SF Romance. Though the social mores featured a world of low day to day tech, (transportation is based on alien beasts called klee and kloo, reminiscent of horse-back riding) there is plenty of alien floral and fauna on Forus; science and medicine; and use of reproductive technologies (women can have a pregnancy come to term at a rapid rate and can control their fertility). This novel can be seen as a parody of Regency novels with a gender flip, but what makes it work is that is it not quite that simple. Dara Joy spends a lot of time creating a unique world. One of the really intriguing themes in the novel that Joy does not shy away from is the concept of “virginity” and sexual purity. Men like Jorlan, to fetch a good bed price, are expected to be virgins—thus the “Ritual of Proof” they must undergo to prove they are not sullied. In other hands, this might come across as farce, but Joy makes it convincing, keeps Jorlan sympathetic, and gives a sharp look at the way in which women were often condemned for not remaining “pure” or for enjoying sex while the same standard was not given to men. It is flipped in this world—Jorlan is expected to be innocent of sexually while Green is allowed to openly have a kept “pleasurer” that she provides for in another quarter. Character development is Joy’s specialty. Both Green and Jorlan are likable characters with foibles—Green can be admired for her power and independence, though she can be condescending in her attitudes towards men. Jorlan is clearly a man fighting the system, who wants more than just to stay at home and be protected. He also hides other secrets that set him apart from the others. The secondary characters are also well-drawn: Green’s household staff, Jorlan’s grand dame grandmother, and Green’s arch-enemy Claudine D’ Anbere. This is definitely a romance. Dara Joy makes sure that we see Green and Jorlan’s marriage—forced at the beginning—grow into true love. The ending tends to shy away from this book’s overall rather radical approach to gender relations. I won’t give away too much—it does have the good old fashioned Happily Ever After. I wanted something just a bit more radical; a bit more of a fanciful critique of M/F gender norms. Still, I came away feeling like I had a good time reading it and that’s what counts. It is out of print so I ordered a paperback copy from a used bookstore online. It was definitely worth the time and effort. Apparently a pdf version is available for sale from the author’s site.


Silver Strife (JA Kenney) Review by Toni Adams

Writing a book is one of the most challenging projects anyone can undertake. It takes great discipline and practice to work on a piece. May I repeat that, great discipline and practice to create a piece. The next major need: EDITING. With so many authors peddling their novels through self-publishing, the sheer amount of works out there is daunting. One thing that almost every single self-publishing author shares is that editing is nonexistent or at bare minimum. This is what hurts the science-fiction romance genre most of it all and makes it one of the least prestigious genres out there. Silver Strife will bear the burden of this critique. It is written by JA Kenney and published through Bottom Drawer Publications. Bottom Drawer Publications seems to act more as a publicity agency than publishing. According to their FAQ, once they approve and accept manuscripts from authors, the work is then promoted to various outlets and sold through online retailers. It is this reviewer’s understanding that Bottom Drawer does not provide feedback or editors. The synopsis of the novel was interesting enough for me to choose to review it but was so full of random tidbits that I had my misgivings. The heroine seems to be Quiksilver, an immortal warrior of pure energy who takes mortal form to influence history. (How...?) Quiksilver is reincarnated on earth as a human named Lini. (Why reincarnate? If you’re pure energy, why even take mortal form? What are the limitations and advantages of being pure energy? Do you follow Newtonian laws?) The antagonist of the story is a zealous group called the Purists and they just want to wipe out mortal life. (Why? It is so easy for the villain to just destroy life but most have a valid reason. Is there a hatred aspect to this? Or are the purists fulfilling the role of being just an evil faceless entity?) This synopsis makes my head and heart ache. There is more to the synopsis but this already presents too many problems. For a lover of science-fiction, this just reads as a juvenile make-believe fantasy with no solid foundation. The synopsis may be absurd but if the reader is still willing to give it a chance, than it is the first paragraph that will make or break the deal. I gave it five paragraphs before I gave up. The story may have improved, since it seems that there are some contented readers on the Goodreads website. I have long since stopped judging a book’s potential because of Goodreads however. For a seasoned reader of science-fiction and romance, Silver Strife dropped the ball on grabbing my attention. For the pure reason that the editing was terrible. The novel starts off with a creature flying through the skies. The creature “senses” something coming and is suddenly attacked. Then it dies and I suppose the next chapter is about the reincarnation phase. Why was the creature flying? Was it escaping? Was there a destination? Did the creature then not obtain their goal? Were these attackers the Purists? If this creature was Quiksilver, then was this her immortal energy form? If she could sense these attackers then why not deflect away? She couldn’t attack? Was she wounded? What is going on?! Too many questions with no answers didn’t spur any interest in continuing the story. For a science-fiction romance story that had already introduced a bunch of confusing elements in the synopsis, the prologue just


prolonged the confusion. In addition, there were too many run-on sentences that offered no depth to the story. It all read like a second draft. The answers to these questions may been explained later in the book, but if the reader does not care by the first paragraph, then it means nothing. Silver Strife has been one of hundreds that I’ve discarded after the first paragraph. It was not a book that met my caliber of enjoyment. Instead of drawing me into the story, I questioned every single part of that first paragraph. If a reader has to switch gear into editing, then there is no chance for enjoyment in escapism. In order for the science-fiction romance genre to grow, it needs to improve on editing. It needs to improve on its story content. Also, it needs to take into consideration which audience is being targeted. If the goal is just to present a sexual scene with random space elements thrown around it, there is a readership for that. If the goal is reach a broader audience, then there needs to be a goal to create a legitimate story with elements of romance and actual science-fiction elements that work as a cohesive unit within the context of the novel. Just as in fantasy, world-building is essential, in addition to editing. Easier said than done, even easier to critique. This critique is not written out malicious sentiment or disdain. This is an earnest recommendation for authors everywhere in the science-fiction romance genre to pause, edit, and really work on your craft. It will pay off when you have legions of rabid fans (like myself) who will follow your progress.

Slip Point (Karalynn Lee) Review by The Book Pushers

From childhood, Shay had one dream—to join the Space Corps with her best friend and sweetheart, Jayce. When the Space Corps reveals that the father she thought was dead is actually an infamous pirate and rejects her application, the dream dies and she leaves the planet without saying a word to Jayce. Ten years later, Shay is a pirate herself. She captains her own ship and has earned a reputation as one of the slipperiest pilots around. That’s why she’s recruited for a dangerous secret government mission. But the cargo she’s assigned to smuggle turns out to be a woman with a government bodyguard—Jayce. Jayce never thought he’d see Shay again, and when the mission forces them together on her ship, he isn’t sure he can forgive her for deserting him; but their desire for each other is stronger than ever. Jayce knows he wants to be with Shay, but how can he trust a woman who’s both a pirate and the girl who broke his heart? (Blurb from Goodreads) I love me some science-fiction romance, and this Lee novella was a great space opera romance! Shay has wanted nothing more than to get off world and join the Space Corps, but when she realizes that her father is not who she thought he was, she is denied entry into the Corps and her life takes a turn she never expected. Now a pirate under her father, she is approached to take a job from the government that is peril to their survival. Shay is hesitant, but takes the job anyway. When she realizes part of her cargo is her old flame Jayce, things heat up.


Jayce never got the chance to even say good-bye to Shay, so when she ends up as being the Pirate leading his latest mission, Jayce takes the chance to rekindle their friendship. But when things with the mission take an unexpected turn, Jayce may have to choose between Shay and the job. I really enjoyed this short novella. It was a great mix of space opera style science fiction with heart warming romance. I loved that the story started with Jayce and Shay as kids, meeting and sharing a love of space and flying. From there we get a glimpse of them as young adults—in love and hoping to embark on their future on the Corps together. It set up the story line beautifully and gave the reader a chance to feel as if they knew who the Jayce and Shay were, their history and their love before the meat and potatoes of the story started. I absolutely LOVED both Jayce and Shay. They were such great characters, and I really did feel like I got such a great understanding of them both. One of the things I liked most about Shay was that despite the fact she was a pirate with her father, she also had her morals and values. I love that she really stayed true to herself, that she didn’t become corrupt and jaded after having to lose her dream and become a pirate. Even through the entire novella, I thought that Lee did an excellent job keeping the characters true and consistent and enjoyable to read. The romance between Jayce and Shay was very well done as well. It was painfully obvious they were both still head-over-heels in love with each other, despite their years apart. Their time together was sweet and at times very sexy, but they also took their time building trust, a friendship and them commitment. There was plenty of sexual tension and build-up as they danced around the adults they grew into. I really enjoy second chance romance stories, especially when they are done as well as this. The action plot was great as well. I really liked the overall story line with their mission and how it all ended up panning out in the end. The story-line moved at a quick pace, while still being informative and detailed. All in all I was extremely happy with my first Lee read. The romance was great, the characters were easy to relate to and the action kept the story moving along at a quick pace. Although it’s a shorter novella, the story didn’t feel rushed at all. I will be checking out more from this author in the future! I give Slip Point an A

Taking Stock by Barbara Elsborg Review by RK Shiraishi

Zoe is a single schoolteacher recently diagnosed with inoperable brain tumor. She is facing a Christmas alone—and getting ready for one last vacation in the Caribbean to pursue a one-night fling before she becomes too ill. Zoe discovers—much to her horror—that she had nothing to read on the plane. Our heroine decides to go to the local 24 hour Supa-Mart to get something. This is the hook that drew me in, I must confess. I have worked at one of those 24 hour super-stores. (Starts with W, ends in MART.) Like one of the secondary characters, I too was working my way through college. There is something fun about a novel that brings back memories of long nights of minimum wage. While Zoe is visiting the superstore, strange things begin to happen. The entire store is evacuated, save for Zoe and a handful of other customers. Two of the customers happened to be very attractive men with no ID, who ask odd questions, and seem overly fascinating with English words. These, of course, are the sexy alien dudes. Taking Stock is a M/M/F erotic sci-fi romantic fantasy. Despite its dark premise, it’s actually rather humorous. It turns out that the store and its remaining customers are part of a network reality show for


alien audiences. The two men, Kai and Rowe, are from the alien planet and are planted in the store to keep the reality show going. During the course of things, they both fall for Zoe and confess their long held love for each other. The sex is very explicit, but I thought well done. (Explicit descriptions, but not violence, or crude language or dubcon.) Plus, despite the fact that it is definitely about the sexing, there is plenty of plot and character development. The secondary characters are hilarious—especially after they start to pair off and reality show drama ensues—and there are lots of little jokes about TV culture and mega-stores. The only part that didn’t quite work for me was the megastate of Tantula. Basically, the government limits personal pleasures and directly influences thoughts and opinions via sentient implants. It’s a little complicated—which is fine—but that means you get odd info-dumps at times. Plus, I guess since so much is erotic fun and broad comedy, the scenes focused on Tantula didn’t always mesh. Elsborg is a thorough writer—she ties up all the loose ends—so the issues with Tantula are resolved. This plotline just wasn’t as engaging as the Zoe-Kai-Rowe reality show romance. Taking Stock may not be the deepest SFR I have ever read, but it was a good time. If you want something playfully erotic and a fun escape, I can recommend this one.

The Key by Pauline Baird Jones Review by Marlene Harris

The difficult thing about reviewing for Science-Fiction Romance Quarterly isn’t the book I’m assigned—it’s the commitment to review one “classic” work of SFR. The definition of “classic” is thankfully loose—the book just has to be older than the current quarter. Since I chose Core Punch by Pauline Baird Jones for my current book, my decision was made for me, sorta/kinda. Core Punch is a spin-off of not one but two of Jones’ series: Project Enterprise and The Big Uneasy. Much as I love the sound of The Big Uneasy (yes, it’s New Orleans) it doesn’t quite seem like SFR. The Key is very much SFR. And here we are. The crew of Project Enterprise, which in this story is a group of ships, and not just one intrepid explorer, has definitely gone where no Terran has gone before. Unfortunately, they’ve ended up in a galaxy under extreme contention between two empires, the Gadi and the Dusan. The non-aligned Terrans, and their flagship Doolittle, choose sides pretty quickly when the Dusan start a shooting war without provocation. If the Doolittle isn’t named after Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, the leader of the famous “Doolittle Raid” over Tokyo during World War II, I’ll eat my rocketship. Or yours, just find me one. The Key to the story, and to the intergalactic hi-jinks that ensue, is Captain Sara Donovan, a hot shot Air Force pilot who joined to explore new worlds meet new people, and kill them. Mostly Sara just wants to fly fast and far. The mission of Project Enterprise to another galaxy is about as far as it gets.


Except that she may have come right back to where she belongs. Sara bears an incredibly strong resemblance to a legendary woman of the Garradians, and all the planetary powers that be are much too certain that Sara is the key to a vast treasure-trove, because the legendary Miri must have given that key to her. And Sara, who has always been firmly convinced that she is not beautiful, is utterly certain that all this alien interest in her is a result of who she resembles, not who she is. So the chase is on. Sara just wants to fly. The rulers of both the Gadi and the Dusan want her to be their queen. Or their chief prostitute. Or their slave. Opinions vary, but both Sara and her commanding officers are sure that whatever fate the locals have in store for Sara, it isn’t for her good. Or anything she would ever want. What she thinks she wants is Kiernan Fyn, the alien she found on a deserted planet. After the Dusan crashed her ship. And it turns out, his ship. They might be made for each other, if he can manage to spill all the secrets that chain him to his old life. And if Sara is willing to embrace her destiny. Escape Rating A-: The Key is a huge, sprawling space opera of a book, so be prepared to wallow in the pleasure of exploring this universe for a good long time. Emphasis on both “good” and “long”. I’m annoyed at the “long” because I want to dive into the rest of the series (Girl Gone Nova is next) right this minute—and I’m booked up until late October at the earliest. DAMN! Sara is a terrific heroine, not just because she seriously kicks ass, but because all of her actions, even the ones she isn’t conscious of, have incredibly good reasons behind them. I also loved that while she does fall “gooey in love” with Fyn, it doesn’t remove her brains, her reason or her agency. This is Sara’s story, and she’s not in it looking for Prince Charming. She’s in it to take care of herself and do the best job she can for her country. Finding Prince Charming, or even Hot Alien sometimes Charming, is a bonus. Speaking of Sara’s country, she really is a U.S. Air Force Captain. This series is set in a slightly alternate version of our world (well, back home it is) and does not seem to be very far removed (if at all) from our current timeframe. It’s as if the U.S. Government has a “black” project to solve Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel right now, and it worked. Sara and her team’s pop culture references are very contemporary, which was fun and provided lots of perspective, but seems slightly off, unless that “black” project exists after all. It feels like she should be just a bit further into our future than she is, or that our past should be different than it was. While I like Fyn, a lot, he does fill the role of alpha male with big secret more than he stands out as an individual. He fills that role very well, but this is Sara’s show. It felt like I’ve met his type on Star Trek a million times—not that that is a bad thing. What shone for me was Sara’s relationship with her commanders and crewmates. While she has deliberately suppressed much of what makes her “extra-special” in order to blend in, the depth of her commitment to her ship and to the crew that serves her feels right. She calls herself a fighter-puke and she


presents herself as such. (Think Starbuck on BSG but with a bit more respect for the rules). She sees the crew and the Air Force as family, and it’s mutual. If you like your space opera with romance, The Key is a fantastic way to get your fix. The way that Sara and Fyn meet is reminiscent of Cordelia and Aral in Shards of Honor. The role that Sara both fulfills and subverts reads a bit like Gillaine Davre in Linnea Sinclair’s Accidental Goddess. Those are terrific “fairy godmothers” for any SFR.

While You Were Away (D.J. Davis) Review by The Book Pushers

Kev Thorsin has returned from a twenty-year war campaign across the stars to find that his own world has been overthrown by a corrupt regime ruling with an iron fist. His fiancé, Rianna Elain, is in the thick of it with a group of freedom fighters known as Libertas headed by the charismatic Terrill Briggs. They are on the run from a noose that closes tighter each day and may soon find themselves behind bars, or worse. Yet Kev knows of a place where they can live in safety, if they can just evade Tetraparagon forces and get off the rock—a task easier said than done. (This blurb came from When I read the blurb I was captivated with taking the fact that someone who goes off to war returns to the people left behind have changed, the world has changed, and they have changed. In this particular case, the changes were quite drastic and led to what seems to be the beginning of an epic struggle. As much as I enjoyed the premise, I ended up feeling let down by the execution. Davis included so much in this story, it seemed like several aspects were superficially touched on or glossed over in order to string action scenes and other kinetic events together. Kev was the sole survivor of his troop transport ship when it was destroyed in route to his home. After learning they were deliberately targeted, he was able to borrow a stealth fighter and finish his trip only to discover a planet full of bombed-out ruins and whose people lived in fear under brutal enforcement. He also discovered his fiancée’s name and picture on a most wanted list for associating with “terrorists”. I liked Kev’s cybernetic tools and enhancements along with his ease of using them but it seemed like he was the perfect all-knowing, adaptable, better-than-everyone-else warrior. He was always able to figure things out or had the keys to solve any problem despite being away for twenty years. He also didn’t seem to suffer from much disassociated shock at the unexpected drastic changes but it was great to see his faith in Rianna wasn’t misplaced. Rianna, left behind when Kev was sent off to war, tried to do her part in sending him messages to keep his spirits up. Then as life started changing with more and more restrictions. Message traffic became censored and finally eliminated as Tetraparagon took over. Recruited by Terrill Briggs, she joined the Libertas and did everything she could to cause disruption and destabilize the Tetraparagon organization using guerrilla tactics. Throughout her entire time in the organization, she never gave up her faith that Kev would return to her. I really liked her support for Kev and how hard she fought for


her people but I never really gained a sense of her as a person, just a freedom fighter who stayed faithful over a 20-year separation, and picked up some useful skills along the way. While You Were Away was full of action, too much action. So many things occurred, from the moment the story opened until the final scene, that it was extremely difficult trying to get a sense of individual personalities. While described as a romance, Davis did not spend any time developing the romance for the reader, aside from a few flashbacks. Rianna and Kev picked back up where they parted twenty years ago and I had a hard time believing that, with all of the changes over time and the lack of connection, they meshed as if the separation was only a few minutes’ long. In addition to the lack of relationship development, I felt the constant action detracted from the world-building. Unfamiliar terms, technology, abilities, and species were included in this story as if the readers were already familiar with the world, which made me double-check that this was the first installment. I also had the sense that Davis plans to continue writing in this world because Terrill had a rather grandiose long-term plan whose first steps occurred in this story. While You Were Away ended at a natural break point, but the door was left open to continue their adventures. I found While You Were Away a disappointing story. As I read, I realized I really didn’t care enough about the characters to wonder if, or how, they would get out of any particular sticky situation. I knew Kev would have the solution, Rianna would provide some assistance, and the others would go along with his solution. The elements of action, romance, and world-building were out of balance. I felt like I was reading a space action adventure because the story was so action-heavy at the cost of the bedrocks needed for this subgenre. I give While You Were Away a D-



WOMEN OF WONDER (Pamela Sargent) From SF Mistressworks by Ian Sales [Headnote: Women of Wonder was the first of three women-only reprint anthologies edited by Pamela Sargent and published during the 1970s. It was followed by More Women of Wonder in 1976 and The New Women of Wonder in 1978. The series was later rebooted in 1995 as two volumes: Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years and Women of Wonder: The Classic Years. —ian] The story of women in science fiction clearly suggests the continuing emergence of a body of work characterized by the new-found outlook of its practitioners. This new outlook belongs naturally to good science fiction, where it has always been present to some degree, and to the new social-futurological concerns in the culture at large.

So opens the 64-page introduction by Pamela Sargent to Women of Wonder, a reprint anthology of twelve sf stories by women writers designed to both showcase the talents of the contributors and to demonstrate that women writers have as much to offer as men to the genre, and have in fact been doing so since its beginnings. The stories range from 1948 to 1973, and most of the names will be familiar to twenty-first century readers of sf. Not all of the stories are especially notable, and many have not aged particularly well. Sargent’s introduction, however, is worth the price of admission alone. I do have one small quibble with the quote given above—I think there’s a danger in associating women sf writers with a particular type of sf which provides both an opening to discredit their contributions to the genre and also mischaracterises the breadth of science fiction women writers have produced. After all, Pamela Zoline’s The Heat Death of the Universe is no more emblematic of sf written by women than, say, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin is of sf written by men. Sargent gives a brief history of women in science fiction, both as writers and as characters in the hands of male writers, quoting and citing where necessary to support her argument. Of especial interest is her mention of a discussion between Stanislaw Lem and Ursula Le Guin on The Left Hand of Darkness, which took place in the pages of the Australian critical magazine SF Commentary. Lem criticised Le Guin’s novel, saying her “psychological insight … is only sufficient and sometimes even insufficient” (p xxxii). Lem’s chief argument seems to be that Gethenians would always choose to be male during kemmer because there is a natural human tendency to choose the dominant role. Which seems to me to miss the point of the novel by a massive margin. The Gethenians do not have binary gender in the normal course of their lives, so dominance and submission is not linked to biological gender. I’m surprised Lem was too dim to realise this. (If I may weigh in on this with an observation that may/may not be relevant. Within this timeframe, I believe Le Guin had already described Lem's work as being "future" science-fiction, as opposed to "current" science-fiction that mirrors the fears and anxieties of the contemporary world. I fear that Lem saw this as a criticism (which it is not and, indeed, encapsulates Lem's sf quite well), which may have prompted him to “return the favour”, if you follow my meaning. A shame, all things considered. —Ed.) The fiction begins with The Child Dreams (1975), a poem by Sonya Dorman, which speaks to the purpose of the anthology and contains some effective imagery. Judith Merril’s That Only a Mother (1948) is a bona fide classic of the genre, though you won’t find it on that many lists of science fiction classics (I’ve looked). You won’t even find it in the 1978 anthology 100 Great Science Fiction Short Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov, Joseph D Olander and Martin H Greenberg (which—disgustingly—only contains 5 stories by women writers). The premise of That Only A Mother may be somewhat hoary these days—a nuclear war and its effect on children conceived and born in a world of high


background radiation—though events with drugs during pregnancy after its publication have given it added poignancy. Perhaps the gender roles are old-fashioned, but the protagonist is still active and independent and the domesticity of the set-up only makes the final reveal more heart-breaking. As an indicator that women can write sf as carefully crafted as men, That Only A Mother is a prime example; but some may also see it as evidence that women write a “different” kind of sf, perhaps of more interest to women readers—and that I think is to wholly miss what it brings to science fiction and why it should be considered a classic. In pulp fiction, radiation traditionally created monsters, making both cause and effect subject to ignorance and fear. In That Only A Mother Merril has personalised the cost of an atomic war, and rendered the atomic monster trope mere foolishness at a stroke. If I have one criticism it’s that the title of the story suggests a reading in which the mother is not in her right mind, whereas the story is in fact a damning indictment of the husband’s reaction. That Only A Mother deserves to be on a lot more lists of classic science fiction. Contagion (1950), Katherine MacLean, unfortunately, initially reads like a piece of 1950s sf silliness, despite being based on an interesting premise and displaying an admirable gender balance in its cast. In fact, the story is remarkable for the general good relations between men and women, and the way in which they work equally together to resolve the puzzle presented by the plot. A spaceship has landed on a new world which appears to be ripe for settlement. But then a young man appears, and proves to be from an abandoned colony which settled the world years before. Unfortunately, a “melting plague” killed off most of those early colonists, and only a handful survived. The spaceship’s crew immediately begin researching the disease, but despite their best efforts at decontamination some of the crew are struck down by it. And then June Walton, one of the doctors, realises what the plague is and why only a handful of the original settlers survived it… The story manages to keep its final reveal well hidden for much of its length, but its reliance on 1950s visions of future worlds—pointy rockets, test tubes, giant computers, etc—gives its world a dated feel which works against it. I’m a little mystified by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s career. Her The Mists of Avalon is considered a classic fantasy—it might even be considered a break-out genre novel. Her Darkover series proved so popular within the genre it eventually comprised around forty books. And there was even a fantasy magazine bearing her name. Yet every piece of non-Darkover sf I’ve read by her has been…well, not very good. Sadly, The Wind People (1959) is no exception. A spaceship lands on an uninhabited planet, and the crew enjoy several weeks of well-earned planetary rest. But one of the crew learns she is pregnant, and babies and young children cannot survive faster-than-light travel. The mother chooses to stay on the planet and have the child. During the years she spends there, and as her son grows to manhood, she feels she is not alone. Occasionally, she witnesses spectral figures in the woods, but each time she persuades herself it is her imagination. Except perhaps the planet really isn’t uninhabited, and perhaps her son has a close relationship with the eponymous people. The Wind People unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of what it’s about, and so it flounders around looking for a point or a revelation, only to cheat the reader with a non-ending. The Ship Who Sang (1961) by Anne McCaffrey is a well-known sf story, and spawned a further ten novellas and short stories (some of which were share-cropped), a novel of the same title, and four share-cropped sequels. A baby born with severe physical defects—“She was born a thing” (p 82)—is given the choice of becoming an “encapsulated ‘brain’, a guiding mechanism in any one of a number of curious professions” (p 83). The profession in this case is the control mechanism of a scout spaceship. Such ships have a single ordinary human crew-member, and the first section of the story recounts how Helva, the “encapsulated brain”, meets and falls in love with her “mobile partner”. Helva proves to have an excellent singing voice—hence the title—and she and her partner become known for the music they make together. But then he dies during a medical relief mission, and Helva must choose a new partner. I have never really understood the appeal of this series. Not only is the idea of making use of disabled people by denying their


humanity offensive, but the story itself is clogged with cloying sentimentality. It’s a love story but of a purely romantic kind, because the two protagonists do nothing but mooncalf at each other. And they will never be able to do anything except that. Clearly, however, The Ship Who Sang found some fans, given the number of sequels and its longevity (the last share-cropped work appeared in 2004). I’ve a feeling stories about protoplasmic aliens who take human shape and live among humans are quite common in science fiction. Indeed, the premise has even been used in Star Trek for a recurring character: Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When I Was Miss Dow (1966) by Sonya Dorman may be an early entry, but it’s also quite an odd one. The narrator is referred to as male while he is his protoplasmic self, but he then takes human female form to infiltrate a nearby human colony. The humans know of the aliens, and even suspect some of them are working disguised among the humans, but Dr Procter does not know that his secretary, Miss Dow, is one such alien. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes too deeply involved in his/her role, and finds it hard to return to his natural form. Unfortunately, the story seems to peter out rather than resolve itself, and while it’s clearly played for laughs—Dr Procter, anyone?—the humour feels too incidental to affect the reading experience. Kit Reed is one of science fiction’s better-kept secrets, which is a shame as she deserves to be much better known. Unfortunately, The Food Farm (1967) isn’t, well, actually science fiction. An overweight young woman is sent to a “fat farm” to cure her obesity. Her favourite singer comes to visit, so she tries to pile back on the weight she has lost, even going so far as to stage a revolt. But it is not enough, and the singer mourns the young woman he nearly had, just as she mourns the intimacy she might have had. While not everything in the story need be real, there are no ideas or “nova” in it that might readily identify it as science fiction. It can certainly be read as slipstream, but it might also be read as mimetic fiction—except the latter reading fails because the real-world details are too inexact. The title of Baby, You Were Great (1967), by Kate Wilhelm, unfortunately promises more than the story delivers. The central premise is not unfamiliar these days, though I don’t know how common it was in 1967. An actress has been implanted with equipment which allows her emotional state to be recorded and then broadcast. She has proven so successful at this because she feels emotions very strongly, but now she wants out and the network is having trouble finding a replacement. They’re already having difficulty keeping audience interest, and have had to devise ever more dangerous situations for their star. An unscrupulous producer has plans to keep the actress working, while the inventor of the recording equipment looks on in despair. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to this story, and whatever commentary it might have made on the nature of celebrity has been well and truly superseded by reality television. The title of Carol Emshwiller’s Sex and/or Mr. Morrison (1967) is equally suggestive, but like the Kit Reed it is so peripherally science fiction it’s difficult to see how it might qualify as genre. The narrator is a young woman in an apartment building, and she is obsessed with her upstairs neighbour, the corpulent Mr Morrison. The story describes a series of prosaic fantasies she has about the man—in lovely prose, it must be admitted—before she sneaks into his room one day and remains there hidden when he returns. The story is little more than a view of the world through the narrator’s eyes—and there’s a a vague hint she may not be human, much like the title character in Karen Joy Fowler’s


Sarah Canary—and it’s quite an odd world in which she lives. The story originally appeared in Dangerous Visions. I love the title of Ursula K Le Guin’s Vaster Than Empires and More Slow (1971), though I’m less enamoured of its—coincidental, given the exchange documented in the anthology’s introduction—Solaris-like plot. An Ekumen scout ship has been strengthened by the addition of a new crew-member, an empath. Unfortunately, this empath is a thoroughly nasty piece of work and actively disliked by the rest of the crew. Their first mission takes them to an empty world, which they are to survey. But longer they stay on its surface, the more anxious they become and the more they turn on each other. Eventually they realise the forest covering the continent they are exploring is a single giant organism and it is picking up and reflecting back, much increased, their own emotional states. However, the genius in this story lies in Le Guin’s treatment of the ship’s crew-members’ cultural backgrounds. There is “one Low Cetian on the team, one Hairy Cetian, two Hainishmen, one Beldene, and five Terrans” (p 174). These are not Earth cultures with the serial numbers filed off, and the way in which Le Guin presents the various crew-members’ worldviews in the narrative is a thing of beauty. Read it for that and not the disappointing plot. False Dawn (1972) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is post-apocalyptic, but not after a twenty-first-century style apocalypse. Pollution seems to have done much of the damage, but society has fallen apart all the same. Now mutants and self-styled militias inhabit the US. Thea is a mutant, although it is not obvious, and this allows her to survive. While travelling by foot, she finds a man with one arm hiding in a silo, and the two decide to travel together. Then they run into a member of a local powerful militia and he takes the two prisoner. The story starts well enough. Perhaps the setting owes a little too much to cinematic postapocalyptic landscapes of the time, but Thea is a strong and resourceful protagonist. Until they meet the militiaman. He treats Thea like chattel, verbally assaults her, and then when they stop for the night, sexually assaults her. The one-armed man kills her attacker and rescues her. Why? She could have done it herself—why have a one-armed man rescue a strong female character? Her strength and resourcefulness has already been demonstrated earlier in the story. In fact, until the appearance of the militiaman, Thea has been the dominant of the two travellers. It’s a disappointing turn in what could have been a so much more interesting story. The past, they say, is a different country; they do things differently there. And it holds equally true for visions of the future made in the past, as is illustrated by Joanna Russ’s Nobody’s Home (1972). In the future of Russ’s story, instantaneous travel has apparently turned the population of the Earth—much reduced, though no reason for that is given—into peripatetic dilettantes. Jannina, the protagonist, is part of a large extended family, and lives in a huge house in the Himalayas. Everyone is apparently really clever—especially the children, as is illustrated by mention of a silly verbal game they are playing when Jannina arrives home. Everyone, that is, except Leslie Smith. Whom they have invited to stay with them, and who is “stupid”. But apparently “bright-normal” in comparison to earlier humans (ie, twentieth-century readers). Whatever sympathy Jannina and her family might have felt for fish-out-of-water Leslie soon palls, and… I’m not entirely sure what this story is trying to say. There’s a sort of arrogant hippyness to it all, which not only dates it badly but also leaves a nasty aftertaste. The Nebula-Award-winning Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand (1973) by Vonda N McIntyre was later expanded into the Hugo-Award-winning and Nebula-Award-winning novel Dreamsnake. It is also the only awardwinner in Women of Wonder, although three of the others were shortlisted for various awards. Snake is a healer and she uses three snakes to accomplish it: Grass, Mist and Sand. In a small desert community, she is asked to heal a young boy of a tumour, but the parents are scared of the snakes. The healing is successful, but Snake pays a price. There’s very little in this story—it takes place mostly inside a tent, the world is left unexplained, there are no more than a handful of named characters. What little info-dumping there is explains only the purposes of the snakes in healing. 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. Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand is the best heartland genre story in the anthology, which may well explain why Sargent chose to end Women of Wonder with it. While I can rue the need for an anthology like Women of Wonder, I can also be glad it exists. In an ideal world, writers such as Merril, MacLean, Dorman, Reed, Wilhelm, Emshwiller, Yarbro and McIntyre would be as well-known as, if not better than, their male contemporaries. Le Guin, of course, is perhaps the best known woman writer in genre fiction, and McCaffrey and Zimmer Bradley must run her a close second and third (although the last perhaps less so now). Russ, of course, is an entirely different matter, and while always highly-regarded she has become much more critically appreciated in the last decade or so. This is not only all to the good, it is long overdue. Sadly, it’s only too plain that initiatives such as the Women of Wonder series of anthologies—this volume was followed by More Women of Wonder (1976) and The New Women of Wonder (1978)—do not appear to have had that much effect. A later rebooting of the series, Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years and Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (both 1995), weren’t even reprinted in the UK (as two of the earlier volumes had been). Women of Wonder is, for 1974, a good anthology. If some of its contents have not aged well, then so is the case for other anthologies from that decade. The stories Sargent chose are actually quite typical of the decades in which they were written—the Emshwiller, for example, is clearly an obvious fit for Dangerous Visions, and even the Le Guin is as characteristic of her work as anything she has written. That Only A Mother deserves to be better known, if the MacLean is indicative of her work then I’d like to read more, and Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand certainly makes me want to read Dreamsnake. (Russ and Emshwiller I already own books by, waiting to be read.) Perhaps what Women of Wonder does best, however, is demonstrate that a similar project is needed today. Not just an anthology showcasing the best of women sf writers of the second decade of the twenty-first century, but also something akin to the Asimov anthology mentioned earlier, say, 100 Great Science Fiction Short Stories by Women. There is more than enough excellent material available to fill such a volume, and it’s criminal that so few people are aware of this or that their ignorance is considered unremarkable. Advertisement


The (Not So) Secret Lives of Biocybes Opinion from Linnea Sinclair When I was asked to write a blog about my biocybernetic character, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten, one of the first things that came to my mind was this bit of dialogue between Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian and Doc Eden Fynn as it appears in Chapter Six of Games of Command: Eden closed her eyes briefly. “I don’t know how to explain this but there’s an emotional resonance that shouldn’t be there.” “Are you sure? The U-Cees built their strategies around the fact that between the cybernetics and Psy-Serv’s emoinhibitor programs, Kel-Paten is one six-foot-three deadly emotionless sonofabitch. That was the whole point. No emotions to sway decision making. Only cold, hard, clinical facts.”*

It pretty much sums up his character and it’s, well, pretty much a lie. Oh, Kel-Paten is a six-foot-three biocybe. That’s fact. But emotionless? Anyone with a modicum of computer experience—and a relationship with Murphy’s Law—can tell you, programs don’t always operate as, well, programmed. Part of the reason is that the programs always contain a human element. And part of the reason is that programs always contain back doors—supposedly secret ways of gaining access for “maintenance” purposes. Did all this figure in to my thoughts when I was creating Branden KelPaten about a decade ago? Not in the least. That kind of justification came later. I grew up watching Star Trek, both the original and later versions. Mr. Spock, in all his stoic glory, was to me later echoed in Commander Data. Both characters fascinated me. Like many fans, I avidly watched for those episodes where the psychological training (Spock) or psychological programming (Data) failed. I wanted to see them struggle with what we struggled with: Emotions. There was almost a pious purity in those two characters’ abilities not to be affected by feelings. The writer in me—even way back then—wanted to mess with that. So when I had my joyously irreverent and out-of-control character in Sass Sebastian, I could think of no better partner in crime than Kel-Paten. Heat and ice. Emotional hurricane meets unbending oak tree. And I threw in a touch of Pinocchio—secretly, Kel-Paten wants to be full human with all its messy complicated emotions, as long as he could center those emotions around Sass. What’s the appeal with that kind of character? I was asked to address that as well in this blog and, to be honest, my answer right now is probably not what was in my mind over a decade (or more) ago. It could be that we prefer flaws (emotions) to perfection (emotionless data). It could be the conquering of the seemingly unconquerable, and that works in both directions—Kel-Paten saw as impossible the fact that Sass might love him:


He angled back towards his console and tried to concentrate on the problems at hand. They were lost in a malfunctioning shuttle, out of range of help from any sort of civilization as they knew it. That should be the problems he needed to address. Not that he was on that same shuttle with a woman who’d never see him as anything other than a ‘cybe…

And Sass found herself torn between duty, admiration, and her own self-doubts: She couldn’t stop thinking that to him, she was his green-eyed vixen. She wasn’t remotely a vixen, and she never considered herself more than passably attractive. To be the subject of such undeserved passion…It almost made her more nervous than when she thought he was the enemy.

I think the appeal is that most of us have played one or both parts in our lives. We know self-denial, selfdoubt. We know “…if my friends knew the real me, they’d never speak to me again.” Of course with Kel-Paten, the risk was greater. If his emotions were revealed, he faced termination. But there are many kinds of death, psychologists tell us. Physical and emotional (and all things in-between). When, as a writer, you get to play with those parameters and get to do so in science fiction romance, it creates nothing but havoc and fun. The best part is the melding of the two: clinical intellectualism opens itself to the delightful and frightening messiness of emotions. And wild and fragile emotions find solidity and acceptance from the stable intellect. And you do that all while battling the bad guys and grasping for that one thread of hope called love: Kel-Paten leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers together as he studied Sass. “That would mean abandoning this ship, hijacking the Traveler, locating Fynn, Serafino, and the furzels, locking them in a transbeam, and getting everyone on board, off planet, and through the jumpgate. Without anyone at the outpost taking retaliatory action. And without any more enemy fighters waiting to blow us out of the space lanes when we arrive.” Hell of a list. And a hundred things that could go wrong. A hundred ways to die. “Piece o’ cake,” Sass quipped. “Anything else?” “Yes.” The perimeter warning chimed. He turned to it then slanted her a quick glance. “Don’t forget you still need me when we get home.”

*(all quotes from GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair, Bantam Books. Sass and Kel-Paten also appear in the novellas “Seven Months of Forever” in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF FUTURISTIC ROMANCES and “Mission: Nam Selan”, in TALES FROM THE SFR BRIGADE.)


The Past, Present and Future of SFR Roundtable with the SFRQ Reviewers

It can be argued that romance has been in science-fiction for as long as there’s been science-fiction and will continue for as long as there are two or more beings involved in, or wanting to be involved in (or even not wanting to be involved in), a relationship. Why then, after all this time, are we still seeing SFR in a ghetto? Historical romance has managed to break out of its subgenre limitations to become a fiction powerhouse. Why not a genre that is older? It is difficult for authors to answer the question of visibility in SFR because, by definition, they have quite narrow foci. But there is one group of people who have remained untapped while this discussion rages on: a group that has more experience and knowledge of SFR as a whole than any other group in the world. We are, of course, referring to SFR reviewers. With this in mind, we put some questions to our team of SFRQ reviewers. This is what they had to say… PARTICIPATING REVIEWERS: RK Shiraishi (RK) Toni Adams (TA) E_Bookpushers (E) Jo Jones (JJ) Marlene Harris (MH)

SFRQ: How do you define SFR?

RK: I define SFR as the combination of speculative or futuristic setting with the conventions of romance, especially the HEA or HFN. To be real SFR, I think it definitely needs the romance whatever the level of eroticism. Speculative settings include time travel, space opera, androids, tech, aliens, parallel universes, steampunk as long as the speculative is based on science or extrapolated from science. TA: I pretty much agree with RK there. I would also add that SFR can also be a wonderful “what if” situation for romance in a setting that can be as scientific as possible or stretch the realms of imagination. Whether it’s in the unforgiving landscape of space, the confines of a steampunk world, the limitations of time, or even in a small laboratory, romance can flourish anywhere. E: Both RK and TA made some great points. To me, SFR is whatever fits within the bounds of Science Fiction and add Romance. Both the Science Fiction and the Romance aspects are crucial. They have to be balanced because without one or the other it shifts to Science Fiction or Romance. JJ: A Book that has both Science Fiction elements and Romance elements that are in balance. Because I love Science Fiction, the Romance elements should not overpower the Science Fiction. The very best SFR books have tension and danger related to the setting. The romance comes as the characters work to overcome those elements. For me, the romance should be a side effect of the story not the main theme. MH: Can I just agree with everyone? But seriously, for me SFR is a romance that only works because of the SF/speculative setting. And the SF is enhanced because the main characters fall in love. But the action/adventure/danger parts of the story all have to be firmly grounded in SF or other speculative


concepts. Linnea Sinclair is one of my favorite authors because her SF is fully realized—no missing worldbuilding—and her characters fall in love because of the situation in which they find themselves.

What attracts you to a good SFR?

RK: The same things that attract me to any genre attract me to an SFR book-engaging characters, good dialogue, interesting setting. I can read any heat level and I have a soft spot for the quirky. And androids. I put down books for the same reasons as others, mainly craft-related. Poor dialogue, poor grammar, weak plot and lots of sex scenes that go nowhere. I would rather had a standard plot done a thousand times with good craft than read through poor writing to get to something new. TA: It just has to a great story. I need characters that are interesting and relatable for me to enjoy. The science (whether based on true or fictional guidelines) has to be consistent and relevant to the story. It really irks me when I read a great science fiction story with the most improperly placed sex scene jammed through (there is a deadly battle going on and now you want to bump uglies?). Steamy sex scenes can be hot and amp up the romance but most sex scenes fail to prevent me from skimming through. Most follow this boring formula and adds nothing to the story. Some even read as written-out pornographic scripts. For me, that bores me. To stand above the rest, the sex has to be interesting, loving, and exciting. I continue reading certain SFR novels the same as other genres. The story, whether it has a sex scene or not, was written so well that I was not pulled out of it. MH: SFR is a love story wrapped in a giant “what if”, or the other way around. But as far as what attracts me to one, it’s where the story is solidly built on both sides of the equation. The worldbuilding/internal logistics have to be internally consistent and make some kind of logical sense, and the characters have to have great chemistry, wit, be relatable and the romance has to come organically out of the SF situation and not just be “tacked on”. E: Like the other commentators first and foremost I need the foundation I would expect from any story. A good SFR allows my imagination to fly with the worldbuilding, I get see a mix of characters from those who fit the world/universe or those who work to adapt to their new “normal”. The characters are threedimensional, and the romance develops as they work through the situation with a mixture of external conflict and internal attraction to who the other characters are. This is more than insta-love or instaattraction because a believable HEA provides depth and actual building of the romance on more than a stressful situation. The sex scenes don’t have to be exotic, detailed, and can’t be boring but they need to fit organically. A good SFR won’t let me mentally delete the sex scenes and not miss them or have zero story left because it has balance. When all the elements come together, I am an extremely happy reader.

How do you know when a story has hit your personal “sweet spot” of SF and Romance elements? RK: When the romance plotline and SF plotline blend together to create a love story that can only belong to that couple (or more) in that situation and it all feels very real. TA: When I’m grinning like a fool and making nonsense happy noises. Or when I look up a science aspect from the novel and forever associate with it. Or combine the story characters to other established fandom worlds. JJ: I can tell I love the story when the problem, the setting, the world building, the characters and the romance all blend into a great story. I can handle the Science Fiction part being more dominant. What I


don’t like is when the romance elements overpower everything else. I want well written Science Fiction as a big part of my SFR story. After all it is Science Fiction Romance and Science Fiction comes first in the description. MH: When I’m chuckling at the dialog, or when I can’t stop reading because the characters are in a tense situation. People in real life are funny without meaning to be. I want characters who sometimes screw up. E: When I find myself laughing, crying, tense and holding my breath, then remembering to breathe while I read. Realizing after I finish that night has fallen or the sun has risen, my hot drink of choice is cold, I should have eaten a meal and hopefully I hadn’t started cooking one, and I immediately look for something else by the same author. In short, when I am completely immersed in the world and drawn into the characters and their lives to such an extent I become completely oblivious to my surroundings until I have read “The End”.

Have you noticed any general trends in SFR in the time you’ve been reading?

TA: The books that I decline to review are self-published and horrific to read. That’s the nicest way of saying that. Writing a SFR is like writing any other novel. It takes time, it takes dedication, it takes honed skills, and EDI TING! The ones I do keep reading are full of passion. Not just in steamy sex scenes but in character development or story. As a prolific reader you almost develop a special sense of whether an author really worked on it or if it’s just a second draft. The trends that I read last year are still the same now. Post apocalypse and steampunk are still going strong. RK: Good trends: more SFR out there! Better science, more intricate world building, more attempts at diversity, but needs more. Not so good: I want fewer books with heroines in the sex industry. I get sexual empowerment; I get the desire for fiction as an outlet to embrace sexuality. But I find it disheartening that I can readily find way more books where the heroine has a job in the sex industry (strippers, cyber sex mates) than heroines who are scientists, researchers, or generals. MH: I’m with RK, I want way fewer heroines in the sex industry. Also way fewer books of the “Mars needs women” trope. I find it both boring and illogical. If it’s truly SF, women should be participants in all professions. I want more female starship captains, scientists and doctors. Also more female grand villains. E: I don’t read a lot of self-published works comparatively speaking. The ones I do read either come from a recommendation through my book circle of trust or I have read them before. But over the years I have noticed a few trends. First on the negative side is throwing a romance or sex into a SF story and calling it SFR instead of fully integrating the different aspects; using sex to replace plot; or skimping on the worldbuilding. These can occur in any sub-genre so they are not limited to SFR. On the positive side, it seems as if there are a lot more SFR options coming from a variety of different publishing aspects from selfpublishing, all the way through major NY publishing companies.

Would you like to share one or two of your favourite SFR characters? What about them made a lasting impression on you?

TA: A good favorite is Arianna from “Hearts of Ishira”. I can relate to Arianna so much. She is a lover of romance books, knits, love creatures, and has the attention of multiple men. Except for the last part, she is


a wonderful character to follow. Plus “Hearts of Ishira” is hot! JJ: I loved several of Linnea Sinclair’s characters. Both the female and male characters were so well drawn that they stayed with me for a long time. Another favorite was the shape shifter in On Bliss. I could just picture the shape shifter and all he had gone through. I’ve always wanted a follow-up story, showing what happened to the two after they left Bliss. MH: I loved many of Linnea Sinclair’s characters too. The men and the women both generally had equal agency. Miller and Lee’s Liaden Universe is also filled with terrific characters. I’ll also say that I have a soft spot in my heart for Cordelia Vorkosigan, Miles’ mother. E: I really enjoyed Kat from PJ Schnyder’s series The Triton Experiment because of the role reversals between Kat and LT Rygard. Devi Morris from Rachel Bach’s Paradox Trilogy was also a lot of fun because she couldn’t survive and remain a mercenary who used brawn instead of brains, she had to use both and was a complete wild card. And finally Sidney Kildare from Regan Summers’ Night Runner series. She was such a fish out of water but managed to survive and prosper by playing by the rules better than those who established the rules.

What, do you feel, is the most important element to get right in an SFR?

RK: Making sure that the romance plotline and the SF plotline weave together. Ideally, the romance can grow out of the circumstances of the created world. For example, if a spaceship captain falls in love with an alien, how do the demands of the job and the differences in culture affect their relationship? TA: For crying out loud, stop having sex at the worst possible time. Or drooling over body parts at stupid moments. You’re trying to survive/save the world. Time and place people. Also use SCIENCE! There are endless amounts of material for romance using science. It doesn’t have to be a kidnapping by alien, or visiting alien, or being the last being on earth. JJ: I keep coming back to balance but for me that is the most important thing. I have to have good Science Fiction to go with my romance. MH: The SF worldbuilding has to be right. So many works of SFR (and other speculative fiction) these days are novellas, and it feels like the romance is used to paper over the thin parts of the worldbuilding. Anyone not willing to take the time to make the universe hang together might want to stick to contemporary romance. E: So can I just say “ditto” to everything stated before? Balance, logic to the characters’ actions and timing of those actions, solid world-building, and characters I can become invested in as a reader. This really boils down to writing a complete story with all of the same basic elements required in any other story twisted for the sub-genre.

What can authors do to improve the profile of SFR?

TA: Write a legitimately good and well written story. Treat it as extension of what you love.The rest will follow. RK: I completely agree with Toni. Good stories get remembered and you remembered. Write with your passion. Decide who your audience is and


write to them. The best books are those in which the reader can see that the writer loves their genre and their genre audience. JJ: Lead up to the romance. Set the stage. Make the attraction gradual. Keep the tension up. Show some conflict and let it all the elements play out as a part of the Science Fiction part of the story. Anticipation is everything. I also like stories written in an active voice. Use action and dialog to show what is happening. I know it is easy to stay in a character’s head to show feeling, but action and dialog lead to a much more exciting story. MH: It’s been said before, if you build it, they will come. So much of speculative fiction owes its popularity to a handful of books that were just so damn good that people demanded more. (I’m thinking of The Lord of the Rings and the popularization of epic fantasy, in spite of Tolkien’s unwillingness to include female characters of agency in the story). Speculative fiction in general has an unfortunate history of authors of great works disavowing where they came from. E: Write the best story you can, read others in the genre and see what worked, what didn’t work and why, then apply what you have learned. Apply your own twist. Determine the rules of your world and stick to them. Bring the reader along on the journey through your external world and your characters’ internal growing relationship, don’t just dump the reader in the middle and expect them to go along for the ride.

What can publishers do to improve the profile of SFR?

RK: I hope that publishers see the potential of SFR in the same way as paranormal, which really took off. It would be nice to have more SFR books profiled on mainstream romance sites. I would also like SF publishers to consider SFR as a viable genre, because I think there are many crossover readers. TA: I don’t think it’s publishers that can improve SFR. From what I understand, it’s how they market novels to specific demographics. It really comes down to grassroots cheering from us fellow bloggers and readers. The more we spread appreciation for the genre, the more we promote great books, the more the market will coin the phrase SFR. JJ: Give stories and authors time to build their audience. Push the Science Fiction element not the Romance. If the Science Fiction is good Science Fiction fans will read it even if there is romance in it. Romance fans tend to have their favorite types and I think it is harder to get them to read outside their comfort zone. MH: I think there are lessons to be learned in the sudden and swift rise of “New Adult” Romance. Five years ago, it didn’t exist, and now it’s everywhere and “Adult” authors are turning their skills to “New Adult” on every side. The publishers clearly had something to do with marking NA off as new territory and popularizing it. E: Marketing. SFR is a sub-genre of its own and has the potential to attract readers of SF and readers of Romance but if readers aren’t aware, they can’t give it a try. The other thing I would say is ask for and seriously consider SFR submissions.


Are there any last thoughts on the genre you’d like to share?

RK: I want more stories that embrace the wonder of space travel and possibilities of the future. It doesn’t have to be all sweetness and light, but people working to embrace ideals. I am starting to see more comedy and humor—that’s nice. TA: As of now, SFR is imagined as a science-fiction story with sex scenes. I would honestly love to see some romance. I’ve devoured regency romance novels so much that I’m pretty sure that every guy is just a duke. I really want to see romance develop along with the sex scenes. Don’t be afraid to explore or diversify your characters. Just edit it. JJ: Just that I hope authors keep writing SFR. I know I push SFR wherever I can and I hope everyone else does too. MH: SFR needs to continue its development from space-travel-with-sex to more stories with exploration, whether scientific or space exploration that include relatable characters who develop a relationship, and don’t merely fall into bed. It would also be terrific if Linnea Sinclair came back and gave us more examples of stories that have both great SF and real romance. E: Like the others I want to see the romance grow along with the SF in the story. I also love the idea behind Star Trek that started with exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations; add actual romance and I would be in reading heaven. But don’t let that limit you, I will gladly follow where your imagination goes if you give me the balanced story. Huge thanks to our reviewers for weighing in on an important topic. You’ve given both authors and readers lots to think about. If any readers have any feedback, leave a comment or drop me a line at Editor #at# SciFiRomanceQuarterly #dot# org Likewise, if you have any ideas for future Roundtables, let us know! Advertisement


Interview We have two interviews for you this issue. The first is with that Mother of All Cyborgs, Eve Langlais. And the second is the interview that author Veronica Scott held with the SFRQ Editorial team. Enjoy! [* The interview with Eve Langlais originally appeared at The Galaxy Express and is reprinted here with the author’s permission. * The interview with Veronica Scott originally appeared at USA Today and is reprinted here with the kind permission ofUSA Today and Veronica Scott.] TGE interviews Eve Langlais

Some readers report they’ve been experiencing paranormal romance fatigue for some time now. If that’s the case, author Eve Langlais has just the antidote—and its name is science fiction romance! Eve Langlais has been consistently and prolifically penning sizzling SFR stories for the past several years. Her tales involve either seductive aliens or brooding, dangerous cyborgs. When I recently had reason to visit her site again, I marveled at how many more stories she had on tap since the last time I’d been there. I said to myself, this is an author who’s serious about sci-fi romance. Read her bio because a) it’s charming and b) she provides us with many tags about the types of fantasies she offers. One of them is the dynamic of human heroines who harness the power of love to bond with an extraordinary hero. So if one enjoys paranormal romance, one can find similar elements in Eve Langlais’ SFR books. The author pairs her heroes with a type of heroine one doesn’t encounter very often in mainstream print or even digital-first romances. It’s part of her brand and I’m thankful she consistently provides readers with such an alternative, especially in a science fictional setting. I won’t spoil it for you since I invited Eve Langlais aboard for a meet and greet! Read on to learn all about the woman behind the cyborg hotties:

The Galaxy Express: When did you know you wanted to become an author? How long have you been writing for publication? Eve Langlais: Like many, I aspired to becoming a great author in my youth, but the reality was I needed a job to pay the bills. Hence, the imaginary worlds I dreamt up as a teenager got shelved for almost twenty years. It wasn’t until 2009 that I began to write again, more because I was frustrated at the lack of books telling stories my way lol. To my surprise, and delight, the characters and scenarios I brought to life hit a note with some epublishers and readers, and my writing career took off.

With so many romance subgenres available, why do you write science fiction romance?

Science fiction is a genre with so many possibilities. The chance to structure a new society, race and entirely new dogma is addictive. And fun! I’m one of those people who truly believes there is life out there. As an avid watcher in my youth of Star Trek, and other sci-fi adventures/movies, I couldn’t help


but imagine the wonders that lurked beyond our star system. As a writer, I can now share some of my visions with readers.

How many erotic science fiction romances have you written? What’s the average length of your books? I am up to eleven science fiction romances ranging from about 25 thousand words to over 50. What can I say, I am prolific lol.

You have three erotic sci-fi romance series: the Abduction series, the Alien Mate series, and Cyborgs: More Than Machines. Are they best read in order (and if so, why) or do the stories stand alone? While each of the stories can be read as a stand alone, for full world immersion and to grasp the random reference to pervious characters or events, I would recommend reading them in order. Not to mention they’re all lots of fun J

ARAMUS, book four of your Cyborgs: More Than Machines series, is your most recent offering. What kind of erotic and romance fantasy can readers expect from this story?

My cyborg stories, while containing hints of the humor I’m well known for, also have a darker edge. The cyborgs went through horrific abuse at the hands of human and aren’t very forgiving about it. They struggle against their humanity and their emotions, especially Aramus. It takes the meeting of the right woman to show them love can be a strength and a possibility for these men who are also part machine. Aramus is probably the book that best sums up the emotional struggle and journey. Wiping out humanity is his number one objective—until he meets her. Aramus has no patience or sympathy for the excuses humanity uses to hunt cyborgs down and eradicate them. He’s put up with too much at their hands to ever forgive and forget. But all that changes when he rescues a fragile human doctor who refuses to see him as a machine. She teaches him that perhaps not all emotions are a weakness and that love can make even a cynical cyborg like him stronger. And for those who’d mock his change of view or threaten his female? Go ahead. His iron knuckles could use some exercise. The Cyborgs: More Than Machines books can be read as stand alone stories, however, for total reader enjoyment it is recommended you read them in order. C791 - Book 1 F814 - Book 2 B785 - Book 3 Aramus - Book 4 Seth - Book 5

In your bio, you state that many of your heroines are women of curves. Please share a few of your relevant SFR titles. What is it about curvy heroines that appeal to you?

Actually, most of my heroines are ladies with a bit of cushion. Being a larger sized girl, I wanted to write about heroines I could relate to. Girls with healthy appetites and in most cases, a positive body image. In


the cases where the heroine struggles with her weight, I make sure that the hero shows her that he loves her as she is. And in the case of Alien Mate, thinks she’s hotter because of her extra pounds ;D

What’s your favorite fictional science fiction gadget?

The translator. Seems like such a simple thing, but can you image a world, or a society where language isn’t a barrier?

Please describe a few of your favorite cyborg/alien characters from books, film, or television.

It’s not so much characters as whole series, like Star Trek, especially the Next Generation—I miss Jean-Luc! Star Wars, Battlestar Galatica…I totally love anything sci fi related.

What else can readers look forward to from you in terms of science fiction romance?

I am currently hard at work on Seth, the fifth story in my cyborgs series. His is an interesting tale because we’re going to really get a look at the origins of the cyborgs. Lots of surprises coming in this one. I am also toying with an idea for a new Alien Abduction book—my purple guys are addictive. And, I’ve had on the shelf for a while now, a new book partially started about a race of aliens who meet a wormhole and a human. So many stories, so few hands! Lol. Veronica Scott interviews SFRQ!

Veronica Scott: What attracted you to the idea of starting a magazine?

Kaz: Firstly, we’re not the first SFR magazine that’s ever existed, but the time seemed right to launch one. With even traditional publishers open to SFR submissions, we felt like we were on the cusp of something big, and we wanted to help that along by creating something that brought authors and readers of SFR together.

How did the three of you came together to work on it?

Kaz: We had various, informal dealings with each before. I think that’s a good way to judge team “fitness” because nobody was trying to impress someone else. As a result, we had implicit trust in each other before we began working with each other.

What is your target audience?

Heather: SFR readers come from all walks of life, but there are three groups most likely to find the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly (and SFR!) appealing. Romance readers are one, particularly those who enjoy otherworldly characters and settings and action-adventure elements. SFR is full of experienced, sexually confident heroines, so it’ll appeal to readers seeking alternate kinds of romance fantasies. Oh yeah—the heroes of SFR range from powerful Alpha cyborgs to strapping starship captains to geeky scientists. The range, I must say, is breathtaking! Geek girls would be the second group. SFR offers geek girls something that’s often missing from mainstream SF: stories told using a female gaze and often featuring heroines with agency. In other words, books that focus on issues important to women. The third group is readers who like character-driven SF. “Sense of wonder” ideas are, well, wonderful, but their impact is only as strong as the characters behind them. Since SFR focuses on the intersection of love and technology, it’s a natural fit for readers who enjoy stories about the impact of science on our intimate relationships.


What’s the (brief) elevator pitch you’d give that audience on what they’ll find in SFRQ?

Heather: SFRQ is a free, downloadable e-zine—perfect for readers on the go. Features include SFR releases, short stories, opinion columns, reviews, interviews, and more!

What is the biggest challenge of doing a quarterly magazine?

Diane: Time management, probably. All three of us are working writers with kids. We have day jobs, books to write, children to raise, social media to stay on top of, and all the demands of everyday life. The Quarterly is truly a labor of love. The revenue we raise through ads goes to pay writers and artists—not us.

Are there any particular authors you’d love to have in an interview? Or write a story?

Diane: I personally love interviewing Gini Koch and Lucy Woodhull; just because they’re both hilarious.There aren’t any particular authors I’d love to see a story from, but, in general, I’d love to see more diverse submissions: some f/f, m/m stories and/or PoC characters would be fabulous.

What’s been the most satisfying moment or aspect of having the magazine out there?

Heather: The tremendous collaboration between authors, reviewers, and bloggers demonstrates how invested the SFR community is in helping the genre to grow, thereby making SFRQ 20% cooler!

How do you decide on the theme for each Quarter?

Kaz: We brainstorm. Because we also know each other’s strengths (and weaknesses), we find it easy to concede a point to the person with the most knowledge in each area. Also, we can’t do without cloud collaboration tools!

How do you celebrate when each issue is “put to bed”?

Diane: We hold a post-publication international conference call, which involves three different accents, all of us talking a mile a minute, and a great deal of cackling. Sometimes, there’s booze *grin*

What’s missing in current SFR?

Heather: Diversity, diversity, diversity. SFR has so much potential to represent a wider variety of readers. A key way of accomplishing that goal is to feature more characters of color, LGBQT characters, and characters with disabilities. Especially heroes and heroines. While aliens can sometimes be used to explore issues of race, they don’t equal true racial diversity. If readers can relate to aliens, androids, cyborgs, and superhuman characters, why can’t they relate to characters of color? Everyone deserves to be represented in SFR, whether they’re wheelchair users, transgender, or PoC.

What is an SFR book (other than your own) each of you are feeling passionate about currently?

Heather: No fair! I can’t name just one book, so I’m going to cheat with two. Catherine Asaro’s ALPHA is my favorite android romance and P.J. Schnyder’s A GIFT FOR BOGGLE features the greatest geek-genius-heavyset hero ever. Diane: I recently loved Alisha Rai’s NIGH T WHISPERS and am eager for more stories in that series. Kaz: Oh no, I can’t do this! Just one book? Aargh. In that case, I’ll have to name my favourite SFR author, Cathy Pegau. I love her characterisations and the twists she puts in her books. DEEP DECEPTION is her latest.


Meet the editorial team Editor: KS "Kaz" Augustin 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 and she also runs Sandal Press ( If you're a Twitter fan, you can find her at @SandalPress . Send all feedback to editor {@} scifiromancequarterly {.} com (I hope we don't have to tell you how to string an email address together; we're all geeks, right?) 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 .

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. You can find out more about Charlee at her website, catch up with her musings at her blog and she’s also active on Twitter. Toni Adams is here to voice her opinions. Toni Adams resides in Los Angeles. Among the normal plane of reality, she has B.S. in Molecular, Cellular Developmental Biology and works as a veterinary technician. She has dealt with Felis catus, canus lupis familiaris, reptilian creatures, various avians, lagamorphs, rodentians, chelonians, and testudines. In her loving care are four felis catus, one canus lupis familiaris, and one pogona vitticeps. In summary, she really loves animals.

57 When she is able to shed off the shroud of a Responsible Adult, she partakes in so many guilty pleasures that the guilt has long worn off. To name them all would make your brain explode from the sheer power. Just know, that it involves a blue police box, ponies with absurd markings on their rumps, a norse alien god, a rock band from the nineties, gaming (trading cards, board games, consoles), random international romantic dramas, and lots of crafting. The guiltiest pleasure of all has been decades of reading romance novels. From corset ripping heroines to gun toting she-devils, she continues to devour story after story. Romance and science fiction is a blend that can either intoxicate her to dangerous levels of excitement or entice boiling frustration. Bring on the excessive transfer of heat and get some hydrogen elements shakin'! 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 on their website, on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Booklikes.

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. Reviewer RK Shiraishi is a lifelong fan of SF and Fantasy. She blogs at SMART GIRLS LOVE SCI FI AND PARANORMAL ROMANCE ( 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,

58 All That Outer Space Allows, will appear in 2014. He is represented by the John Jarrold Literary Agency, can be found online at and he also tweets. Artist Alfred Klosterman lives in Philadelphia. He has long worked as a graphic artist for printing firms and has read and collected fantasy and science fiction most of his life; in fact, it fills much of his spare time. He’s contributed artwork to many genre small press publications for a number of years. These include titles such as CEMETERY DANCE, THE HORROR SHOW, ELDRITCH TALES, SPACE & TIME and DARK HORIZONS. He is totally devoted to black & white work. Other interests include gardening, serving his pets, and listening to extremely loud music while enjoying a cold beer. He can be reached at Eve Langlais is a stay-at-home mom who writes full time in between juggling three kids, a husband, and housework. She writes really raunchy stuff—usually with werewolves lol. Eve is a bestselling Amazon author, ranking often in their top 100 romance authors, was one of the top ten selling authors on AllRomance for 2013 and has had numerous of her books hit the top 20 books overall on Barnes & Noble as well. You can learn more about her at her website and follow her on Twitter. Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories. Married young to her high school sweetheart then widowed, Veronica has two grown daughters, one grandson and cats Keanu and Jake. Veronica’s life has taken many twists and turns, but she always makes time to keep reading and writing. Everything is good source material for the next novel or the one after that, right? She’s been through earthquakes, tornadoes and near death experiences… Always more stories to tell, new adventures to experience—Veronica’s personal motto is, “Never boring”. Her website is at and she tweets as @VScottTheAuthor. Winner of the prestigious national book award, the RITA®, as well as the PRISM, PEARL, and SAPPHIRE, author Linnea Sinclair is a name synonymous with high-action, emotionally intense, character-driven science fiction romance novels. Reviewers note that Sinclair’s novels “have the wow-factor in spades.” Her books have claimed spots in the Locus Top Ten and received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly. Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine consistently gives Sinclair’s books 4-1/2 stars (their highest rating). Starlog magazine calls Sinclair “one of the reigning queens of science fiction romance.” She’s the author of the exciting Dock Five Universe series that starts with Gabriel’s Ghost. Other Sinclair novels include PEARL award winners Finders Keepers, Games of Command, and Hope’s Folly (Dock Five book #3). Sinclair, a former news reporter and private investigator, resides in Florida with her husband, Robert Bernadino, and their thoroughly spoiled cats. Readers can find her perched on the third barstool from the left in her Intergalactic Bar and Grille at


Advertise with us! Here at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, our mission is to empower and entertain with sci-fi romance stories and original artwork. To accomplish this goal, we rely on the sustenance of your advertising contributions. Advertising with Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is a smart way to grow your readership because our readers are passionate about SFR. If you’d like to support this magazine and also reach a highly motivated audience of power readers, then please consider advertising with us. Deadlines for Issue 5: Quarter-page ads – 15-December 2014 Two-chapter excerpts – 01-December 2014

Quarter-page ads For a quarter-page ad in SFRQ, we require an image that is: 250px by 300px Full colour Minimum 140dpi One URL (for click-through) The ad will appear on the website and in the EPUB, Mobi, PDF and Flipbook formats of the magazine. Price: $16 if you supply the magazine-ready ad / $26 if we create the ad for you. Questions? Email Promotions ~at~ SciFiRomanceQuarterly ~dot~ org

Two-chapter excerpts *Please read this section carefully and do NOT send any funds unless specifically requested by us. Any funds prematurely sent to us will NOT be refunded (they will be regarded as donations!), so make sure you understand what’s in this section first.* In order to satisfy readers’ curiosity about SFR releases, Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is currently soliciting excerpts for a new section we call “SFR Excerpts.” Excerpts will appear on the website and in the EPUB, Mobi, PDF and Flipbook formats of the magazine. “SFR Excerpts” submission guidelines > Only excerpts from current releases will be considered (i.e., last quarter, this quarter, and the following quarter) > The excerpt must be suitable for readers ages 13 and up. Excerpts with sex scenes will be automatically rejected > Create a new document. On the first page, include the book’s title, your name, release date, publisher, available formats, price, click-through URL and your contact email address > Place the first two chapters of your book after the title page

60 > Save your document in DOC/DOCX/ODT format > Send the document to Promotions ~at~ SciFiRomanceQuarterly dot org, with “EXCERPT – [book title] – [author name]” in the Subject line > The Editorial Team will evaluate your submission. Any excerpt with sub-par cover art, formatting errors, copious typos and/or grammar mistakes will be declined. > All rejections are final. Rejected excerpts are ineligible for future consideration >

Authors will be notified if their excerpt has been rejected/approved

If your excerpt is chosen and you wish to have it included in the magazine: > Cost is $30 per excerpt. An author may advertise up to two (2) approved excerpts in a given calendar year. > Bonus discount: If you purchase a quarter-page ad for the same issue where the excerpt is running, the price will be $41 for excerpt plus a DIY ad, or $51 if we create the ad for you. (Regular price $46 / $56) Disclosure As you may know, Heather Massey, Diane Dooley and KS Augustin (i.e. the Editorial Team) are SFR authors themselves. With this in mind, and to preclude any perceived conflict of interest, the Editorial Team will be restricted from using this opportunity for a full year of issues; that is, from Issues 5 to 8, inclusive. Questions? Email Promotions ~at~ SciFiRomanceQuarterly ~dot~ org. We are constantly thinking of opportunities we can offer to help promote SFR, so watch this space! And thank you for your support. you! For short story and artwork submissions, please refer to our website at

Issue 5 will be out on 31 December 2014