Guest Blogger Smugglivus

Smugglivus Presents – Heather (The Galaxy Express)

Day 3 of Smugglivus

Who: Heather, the pioneering gal behind the dedicated Science Fiction Romance site, The Galaxy Express!

Heather runs a true, dedicated niche blog–and though you might think Science Fiction Romance is too narrow a genre classification to warrant such devotion, you could not be more wrong. Heather’s blog provides awesome insights into the branding and marketing of the genre (see her recent guest article) as well as giving in-depth reviews of SFR books and profiles/interviews of SFR authors. Truly, this is an awesome site, and one we highly recommend!

A round of applause, dear audience, for Heather!



2008 Retrospective: Birth of a Science Fiction Romance Community

Greetings, Smugglivus attendees!

My name is Heather Massey, and I’m the conductor for The Galaxy Express, a blog devoted to science fiction romance. The fab ladies here extended an invitation my way to post for Smugglivus, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of this commemorative celebration.

Congratulations, Ana and Thea, for a most excellent accomplishment!

Now for our feature presentation:

Science fiction romance goes waaaay back, far before The Galaxy Express began its journey across the sea of stars. The subgenre is nothing new, and the advocates behind it have been chugging along through feast or famine, but science fiction romance still has that undiscovered country feel about it.

I wanted to help advance it.

You can read the full story behind that in an interview I did here. Essentially, the time seemed right. Authors Linnea Sinclair, Susan Grant, Rowena Cherry, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg are the advance guard of science fiction romance. Loyal readers such as >Kimber An, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Laurie Green, Ella Drake, and other Skiffy Rommers have been flying the science fiction romance banner for years. I simply threw up a big tent so we could all party together.

And the support of the SF & romance bloggers has been phenomenal. Because of the outpouring of positive responses, I knew I was onto something. I’m honored that so many sites—Enduring Romance, Lisa Paitz Spindler, and Dear Author, to name just a few—all added The Galaxy Express to their blogrolls right out of the gate.

Then there’s John “Link King” DeNardo of SFSignal who linked to various Galaxy Express posts—and he’ll be the first one to tell you he’s a better man for it ;). And when a debut blogger gets visitors from premier sites such as The Book Smugglers and Ramblings on Romance, well that leaves me all atwitter.

As the year 2008 unfolded, I also had the pleasure of participating in discussions at Grasping for the Wind. As if that weren’t yummy enough, I was invited to become a blogger at, where I crash the party with all kinds of science fiction romance goodness.

And speaking of…

Science fiction romance: Smarter. Stronger. Edgier.

Science fiction romance continues to evolve and is experiencing growing pains, but that makes the anticipation of where it could go that much more exciting.

It’s evolving for the better, as indicated by the increased focus on external plots and swell science like nanotechnology. Authors have been creating flawed heroes and heroines who challenge many a romance stereotype. And what’s not to love about girls with guns—and pimped up trucks? Or admirals with attitude (Philip Guthrie, meet Brit Bandar)?

Rather than the “favorite books” angle, I’d like to present examples of what made the past year a particularly strong one for science fiction romance. The following sampling of books I read epitomizes the subgenre for me and indicates a promise of what’s in store for the future:

DRIVEN by Eve Kenin
GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre
HIDDEN by Kristin Landon
MOONSTRUCK by Susan Grant
SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair
THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald

(Honorable mention goes to a 1997 futuristic romance I read in January, KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS by Dara Joy. I have a feeling they won’t make ‘em quite like that again!).

As for science fiction romances on my TBR pile, the first includes Linnea Sinclair’s HOPE’S FOLLY (February 2009). Lots o’ buzz around this book. I’m also looking forward to Susan Grant’s WARLORD’S DAUGHTER (February 2009), especially since she’s taking her stories and characters in a different direction—one that promises much coolness. Then there’s BEYOND THE RAIN, an intriguing story by debut author Jess Granger (August 2009).

Other books include series titles such as WANDERLUST (Ann Aguirre), THE COLD MINDS (Kristin Landon), and THE STARS DOWN UNDER (Sandra McDonald). There are other Shomi titles I’d like to explore, as well as more old school futuristic romances (in particular, I’ve got my eye on Catherine Spangler’s SHADOW CROSSING. I mean, check out the hero’s sexy uniform!).

Since Sharon Lee & Steve Miller have re-released some of their “Regency in space” books, I’m ordering those as well. And finally, I’m also looking forward to sampling more ebooks, particularly by authors such as Nathalie Gray, Ann Somerville, and Sara Reinke.

And that’s just the short list!

Science fiction romance: 2009 and Beyond

Science fiction romance is a subgenre in flux, and will continue to be for the next year or two. Probably more. I discussed that issue at length in a recent guest post at Dear Author.

About a month after launching The Galaxy Express, I posted my State of the Science Fiction and Romance Union in which I made a few predictions. Not enough time has passed to evaluate them all, but a few have shown some colors: The economy did indeed weaken further, and some authors have taken a detour into other genres, or are seriously considering it.

Yet the cup of hope overfloweth as it seems that 20090-2010 might be the years in which aspiring science fiction romance authors storm the NY castle with their manuscripts in hand—and those are just the ones I know about.

Since a good bit of time has passed since The Galaxy Express’ launch, accompanied by a fresh prospective, I have a few predictions for 2009:

Debut authors or the works of established authors in traditional print formats will appear sporadically. A few published authors may have surprise science fiction romance manuscripts/proposals up their sleeves as well. I know of one for certain. Because of the current economic challenges, epublishers most likely will step up to fulfill the demand while NY is downsizing.

We’ll continue to see smarter, edgier, and spicier stories. The sex scenes will increase before they’ll plateau or take a breather. But the speculative component will strut its stuff in an increasingly sophisticated fashion. And in light of this post, it seems a few good villains might be in the pipeline as well.

Whatever happens, I invite one and all to join me aboard The Galaxy Express for continuing coverage on the science fiction romance front. I’m honored to share this journey with such devoted colleagues. Thanks for your support, and for your art!

NB: The accompanying image is © Hiroyuki Kitazume.


Thanks again Heather for yet another insightful article!

Next on Smugglivus: The Discriminating Fangirl

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  • Jess Granger
    December 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Your devotion to the subgenre is an inspiration, Heather.

    And you didn’t mention your Steampunk extravaganza. That was awesome.


  • Linnea Sinclair
    December 28, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Heather, figuring out what NY buys and why could be a lifelong occupation. Actually it is–one called “literary agent.” Agents hear the back office gossip and some, like mine, blog about it. (google Kristin Nelson and PUBRANTS for more info). The ups and downs of Regency and other historicals has made the blogiverse. The demise of the Bombshell line I think was a shocker, though. That action worried me–the stories were similar enough in nature to SFR that I got nervous. However, the talk on the street was that the line didn’t go down for lack of quality. It was a marketing error.

    Which leads you all to understand how tenuous this life of writing is.

    Note to Heather: if you’ve not done so already, doing so agent interviews on SFR might be verrrrry interesting.

    Susan Grant and I have long lamented the marketing faux pas in the genre. She’s kindly held my hand through lousy cover art and I’ve poured her a drink through her cover art fiascos. Sad to say, books are judged by their covers and misleading cover art can kill spontaneous sales, ie: drive-by readers. And we need those drive-by readers if the genre is to grow.

    So for 2009 I hope marketing–through belt tightening–puts their savvy on. This goes not just for NY but for small presses. Let the cover art depict the romance AND the action/adventure. C’mon, in HOPE’S FOLLY I have a female protagonist who collects weaponry like most women collect lipsticks. Yes, there’s a huge emotional aspect to the book but I was just passing through the living room where the huz had the recent James Bond on the screen, and I stood there moment, watching the opening mayhem (and no, it’s not because of Daniel Craig–he doesn’t float my boat) and anyway, watching fists and feet and bullets fly, I thought: I write that.

    Book cover artists needs to learn THAT.

    Then, I think, economic woes or not, the subgenre will gain fans.

    Sex may sell (and a goodly percentage of SFR has a lot of that) but good old fashioned edge of your seat action also sells. I’d like to somehow get the readers of books like those by Suzanne Brockmann give SFR a try. I think there’s a huge compatibility factor there.

    IMHO, IMHE, your mileage may vary and your delete key is your friend. ~Linnea

  • Kristen
    December 28, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Grimspace and Shades of Dark were two books I really enjoyed this year as well so I will have to check out the rest of your list (other than The Outback Stars which is already on the wishlist). Thanks for the ideas for new books!

  • Kris
    December 28, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks Heather for an interesting post about a sub-genre that I’m just getting in to. Between you and Kristen I’ve got some great authors and titles to try. Cheers.

  • KMont
    December 28, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    That is indeed a sexy man in uniform on that Spangler cover – now someone please slap someone else into waking up someone else who'll put her books back into print for the love of scifi romance!!! Garrrr!…it's just always galled me that some of her best work is out of print. Shadow Crossings is a great scifi romance. It was a pleasure to read the entire series though and literally see how well she grew as a writer.

    Pimpage time: Calling all Spangler fans! Her third Sentinel book is finally out in 2009! Touched by Light will be here June 2.

    BTW, what's a Skiffy Rommer? I've been to your site before, Heather, I suppose I just didn't look hard enough for some clues.

    Can't wait to read Sinclair's and Grant's newest ones too. Could always use a little more SFR. NYC – can't read with 'em, can't read without 'em. >:(

  • KMont
    December 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Just saw your comment, Jess! Can’t wait to read Beyond the Rain too!

    OK, it’s late, and I think I’m getting hopped up on SFR free love. Will sleep kill the euphoria? Only time will tell.

  • marie andreas
    December 28, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for leading the fight Heather, and making it so fans of the genre can find more authors to delve into. I’m a Fantasy and SF fan first, then a romance fan (came to me later in life ;)) that being said, the SFR out there is as cutting edge as the “straight” SF I used to read back in the day. I don’t think there is any reason this genre won’t find it’s space legs in a big way in the coming years. Might just take a lot of hollering (and promo- my first introduction was being handed a SFR book at Comic Con and being told I was going to love it- I did and I keep doing so. And am constantly grateful to the editor standing in her booth who told me to read it ;))

  • Susan Grant
    December 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for the mention of Moonstruck, Heather! Enjoyed your latest blog. Keep up the fabulous work–it’s really great how you publicize the genre!

  • Cynthya
    December 28, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Great post! I love SF romance and wish there was more of it. I love anything by Linnea Sinclair–Games of Command is one of my all-time favorites. I also really enjoyed Susan Grant’s Moonstruck (the best book of hers I’ve read, and I’ve read most of them.) I’m reading Grimspace right now since I got it for Christmas. Now to go check out The Galaxy Express….

  • vickyb
    December 29, 2008 at 4:44 am

    I’ve been reading SF romance (and writing it!) for years – ever since I picked up my first Linnea Sinclair book – and am delighted to see others enjoying it. Thank you for an insightful blog and for promoting this lesser known sub-genre.

  • Pauline B Jones
    December 29, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Galaxy Express rocks the universe. Love it and always learn something new when I visit.

    I love the *romance* and action of the genre. Linnea’s definitely a favorite in that she delivers both in spades. Can’t wait for Hope’s Folly.

  • Lisa
    December 29, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Love your blog, girlfriend. You’ve got such dedication. Thanks again for mentioning me. You mentioned some of my favorite titles from this year. Here’s to hoping 2009 is the year of SFR.

  • Hilcia
    December 29, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Isn’t this awesome! I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan, as well as a Romance reader, yet I never put the two together until this year **bangs head against the wall** So, this year, thanks to KMont, from Lurv a LaMode, I actually “discovered” Sci-Fi/Romance, and what a thrill for me! I’ve devoured all of the old Spangler books, the new ones, Ann Aguirre,the old Barrys and am in the process of catching up with all of you! Sinclair, here I come…

  • Heather
    December 29, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Jess, thanks for reading! I have one thing to say about the steampunk omission: D’oh!

    Linnea, I appreciate your input. The market cycles and that’s the way things go. However, when I was younger, I *never* anticipated that I’d be blogging about my love of SFR. It’ll be interesting to see what role the Web will play in future book, film, and television trends.

    I love your idea about covers conveying action/adventure and romance. It’s worked for movie posters, so why not books?

    Kristen, thanks for reading! And I’m glad you’re willing to explore The Outback Stars—personally it lived up to my every expectation.

    Kris, so glad you could stop by!

    KMont, your enthusiasm is infectious! I’m sure I’ll be blogging about Catherine Spangler’s work at some point. To answer your question, Skiffy Rommers refers to SFR fans but in particular aspiring SFR authors, and as I learn of those with blogs I add them to the blogroll at TGE. Laurie Green of Spacefreighters’ Lounge will insist that I coined it, but I was inspired by one of her posts so I give her equal credit. I’m looking forward to the day that I can switch their sites from the right column into the left one, with all the other published authors.

    Marie, thanks for your kind words! I agree a major factor here is the basic hand sell/word of mouth. I feel lucky to be able to organize things a bit via Web resources and make it that much easier.

    Susan, hello and thanks for visiting!

    Cynthya, so great you could come! Thanks for adding your voice to the mix.

    Vickyb, my pleasure!

    Thanks, Pauline! And there’s another book folks can add to their TBR piles—Pauline’s SFR epic THE KEY. If you search the archives here, you’ll find a review. I also did a feature on Pauline here.

    *Clinks glasses with Lisa*. Hear hear!

    Hilcia, you’re a woman after my own heart! So glad to hear about your interest in this subgenre.

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