1. Galadriel says:

    I LOVE the kissyface robots!

    I have three really good (at least I think they’re good) examples from Doctor Who:

    Amy about Rory:
                  You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful — and then you actually talk with them, and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick. But then there’s other people, and you meet them and you think: “Not bad, they’re okay,” and then you get to know them, and their face sort of becomes them, like their personality’s written all over it; and they just — and they turn into something so beautiful.  Rory is the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.

    River Song about the Doctor:
        Every time we meet, I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him. But I know that every time I do, I’m one step further away. The day’s coming when I’ll look into that man’s eyes, my Doctor, and he won’t have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it’s going to kill me.

    Rory to the Doctor about Amy’s time in the Pandorica:
    Rory: Will she be safer if I stay? Look me in the eye and tell me she wouldn’t be safer.
    Doctor: Rory…
    RoryAnswer me!
    Doctor: Yes. Obviously. 
    Rory: Then how could I leave her?

    While the revived series does get a lot of fan-bashing for romance, it does try (with considerable success, in my mind) to connect the romance to the world the characters live in. And for Amy, that means her husband became the Lone Centurian for her. For River, it means she never can be in the same place in the relationship as the Doctor is.

  2. Kessie says:

    I haven’t read a ton of science fiction, but it just doesn’t seem to lend itself much to the romance thing. More often romance is eschewed for kinky sex, which authors seem to think is the same thing.
    Back to the Future had some romance elements (misplaced romance from Loraine for Marty), and it did add excitement to the story. Oh no, his mom has the hots for him! How will he fix this so she falls for his dad instead? I think BTTF qualifies as science fiction.
    But you’re right about romance taking place more in fantasy settings. I personally like romance as long as there’s some action in it. I endured Twilight primarily for the fight scenes (and Bella should have gotten herself a shotgun. There, I said it).
    I tried to write a fantasy romance once, between a young lord and an orc slave (pondering where half-orcs come from). And then dragons invaded and the romance fell by the wayside. Sigh.

  3. J Wilson says:

    For a good Sci-Fi romance, I would recommend Firebird by Kathy Tyers. The romance is instrumental and intertwined with the plot. It becomes part of the “what if….?” question, and drives a powerful allegory that emerges.

  4. Fred Warren says:

    Galadriel & Kessie: If there’s a sub-genre of science fiction with a warm, gooey, chocolate center, it’s the time travel story. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ll be pondering it this week and may have more to say next Tuesday. Nice quotes from Doctor Who, and yes, I think Back to the Future qualifies as science fiction, despite the abundance of handwavium. I especially enjoyed the romance between Doc Brown and Clara in BTTF 3–and the steampunk closing scene rocks.

    Kessie: Science fiction dragons may be more romantic–there’s Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, which contains a fair amount of romance, both human and dragon.

    J. Wilson: I’ve also heard many good reports about Firebird, and I need to read it soon.

  5. Maria Tatham says:

    This is not only witty but substantive, Fred. Thank you!

    The original movie of Dune had the beautiful love story of the Duke and Duchess–remember? That was kissyface plus agape. (A lot of the rest of the movie was perverse.)

  6. Several of the books in the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (most notably Shards of Honor and the arc containing Komarr and A Civil Campaign) include romantic plots; the series is space opera (she ignores the laws of physics when they get in the way of the story, for example by providing interstellar travel via wormholes), but this space-opera setting is used to deal seriously with serious issues; the only time she even approaches flippancy is when the denouement of A Civil Campaign, which is a comedy of manners (she dedicates it to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Charlotte Bronte, and Dorothy Sayers (by their first names only)) in her science fiction setting, dips briefly into slapstick comedy and farce.
    I suspect part of the trouble is that romance is, after all, a genre all its own; die-hard SF fans sometimes complain if an author imports too much of some other genre, whether that be romance, fantasy, or police procedural, and readers of that other genre brought in by the promise of their genre complain about the SF stuff getting in the way, so straightforward fusions are rare. Instead, we get lots of books with romantic, or fantastic, or mystery, or whatever, elements, which their primary target audience can easily ignore if it’s not their “cup of tea.”

  7. stardf29 says:

    The methane must be much lower on the other side of the pond, because I cannot count the number of Japanese sci-fi anime with romance as a fairly major part. I haven’t watched too many of them myself, but I know enough of their plots to know that they’re there.

    (And yes, one of the ones I did watch and happened to like, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, is, as one can guess, a time-travel story.)

    On another note, psychologist Robert Sternberg notes that, in our real lives, we use “love stories” as mental guides for what we think relationships should be like, and then these stories affect our actual relationships. Sternberg gives various examples of love stories, such as the fantasy story where we expect a charming prince or knight to sweep the beautiful princess off her feet.

    He also notes a “science fiction story”, where one person is attracted to another because there is something strange and “alien” about them, and it is the strangeness of  that “alien” which fuels the relationship. So maybe science fiction romance is less about putting pants on a duck and more about falling for the pants-wearing duck. (Not literally, I hope.)

  8. Kaci Hill says:

    Where, for the sake of all things blossoming, chocolate-coated, glittery, and pulse-pounding, is the romance?

    I think, for the most part, the real thing doesn’t feel forced, doesn’t feel thrown in for the heck of it, and certainly has more to do with the actual relationship than the physical part. I can think of a few that worked for me, in no particular order.

    The only sci-fi I can think of offhand that hasn’t been mentioned are two Star Wars books, but I really didn’t like either.  Does the love interest in Independence Day count?  I know the new “Merlin” show’s doing some of that, but I’m also only in season two.
    Kessie – Do not get me started on Bella Swan.  Personally, the vampire mafia idea intrigued me. ::snicker:: No, really, eat her, then we get a new narrator….
    Okay, I’m going. I haven’t read/watched that much sci-fi, anyway, I don’t think…

  9. Fred Warren says:

    Maria: Do read the book–it’s a marathon, but it’s worth it. The movies don’t begin to do justice to the story. The relationships between Duke Leto Atreides and Jessica, and between Paul Atreides and Chani, are portrayed with much more depth and nuance.

    Jonathan: I’ve only read a couple of the Vorkosigan stories, but I enjoyed them very much and thought the romance was handled well. I agree with your observation about fans’ dislike of mingling genres (“You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” or “I can’t eat this–the peas are touching the mashed potatoes!”). Audience demographics may be a factor also–romance is a harder sell to guys 25-55, but I think the readership is becoming more diverse. 
    stardf29: You’re absolutely right about the anime (which reminds me I need to do a series about that sometime). As for the pants-wearing duck, that’s Part 3. Of course, we already have Howard the Duck (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091225/). Pardon me, I’m going to have to chug a bottle of club soda now to kill the nausea. 🙂

    Kaci: Aw, romance in Star Wars is like kissing your sister. I mean, not *your* sister…but…oh, you know what I mean. Never mind.

    • Kaci Hill says:

      Kaci: Aw, romance in Star Wars is like kissing your sister. I mean, not *your* sister…but…oh, you know what I mean. Never mind.

      ::Snicker:: Ironically, both books I read include Luke, too. In one he falls for an assassin who can’t decide if she’s going to kill him or if she loves him (I stop paying attention after about the fourth time a threat turns out to be bluffing); and in the other he falls for the spirit of a dead girl living in a computer.   I’m sorry, but more often than not, sci-fi romance turns out more weird and at least slightly disturbing than cute or endearing–at least in my experience.

  10. Maria Tatham says:

    Fred, I’m sure you’re right that the movies don’t do justice to the Dune books. I’ve only read one–can’t remember which but it wasn’t the first. Herbert’s world is amazing, unique, and it all hangs together. But, even for the sake of enjoying the deep and nuanced relationships I couldn’t go back there. His world was disturbing.

    Lewis’s Space Trilogy has its share of romantic, true love in That Hideous Strength and Perelandra. And, an embodiment of courtly love in P.

    • Christian says:

      I’ve read Dune. The world-building was excellent and the premise was very intriguing but I didn’t think much of the writing-style and quality of writing. Still, despite all that it’s heavily influenced sci-fi (particularly Star Wars).

  11. Patrick says:

    I know this is animated movie and not a sci-fi book, but the romance in Wal-e between him and Eve was really cute. He seems to be this malfunctioning Johny 5 kind of character, a robot with emotions that was not part of his design. Then, love at first sight with the scary destructive robot, who seems cold and unfeeling as we expect a robot should be. She’s deactivated once she completes her directive- and unknown to her he takes care of this immobile robot until her ship comes back to take her away… and in the ensuing adventure in space she learns to love him too.

    • Maria Tatham says:

      Sorry I missed this film–must rent it. Some of the animated films are sheer imagination, with warmth and immediacy.

      There is lots of love, poignant and unsettling, in Spielberg’s AI. There was a.i. to human, human to a.i. agape love, I feel. Would the android child’s love for the boardwalk statue be a kind of romantic love, or another idealized picture of agape love? This film was tremendously interesting but actually grief-producing. We promised ourselves not to see another Spielberg movie dealing with a.i.

What do you think?