Editor’s Corner: Why I Love Science Fiction, by Kerry Vail

Today, Kerry Vail, an associate editor with Entangled Publishing, offers up the first entry from Entangled In Romance’s new Editor’s Corner.

This feature will run every Friday, so grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and get to know our editorial staff.

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I’ll admit it – I’m a science geek. I love how science both defines and inspires. I love the infinity of space and the quandaries of time. I believe in faster than light travel and a Theory of Everything. It naturally follows that I love science fiction (any speculative fiction, really). It isn’t just the science, though (otherwise, I’d just read a physics book).

Like many people growing up in the 70s and 80s, I watched re-runs of Star Trek after school and Battlestar Galactica on Sunday nights at 8pm (in my pajamas and with a glass of milk). I saw Star Wars at the theater three times – and once at a drive-in. I spent many nights reading Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke and dreaming, drawing and painting the worlds they created.

Alien still scares me (“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality” (Alien)- scary –a being without conscience…). In the 80s, I fell in love with the hard sci-fi of Gibson and Sterling. I named my cat Neuromancer and spent the next eighteen years explaining the name. Yes, nerd. I soaked up female writers Le Guin, Griffith, Tepper, Butler, and McCaffrey and learned to appreciate strong female characters in science fiction.

So what is it that draws me to science fiction above all other genres?

Science: It better be correct, or derived from current knowledge, or at least believable and explained logically. Yes, I insist. I can make an exception sometimes to enjoy pure pulp, but don’t count on it.

Escapism: Drop your troubles at the door… there’s a Death Star waiting to be destroyed! Travel through time? Sign me up! A world where women rule? I’m there! Save a planet from extinction? Before lunch! Books are often a means to escape the daily grind for a brief time and science fiction takes me way beyond the mundane.

Hot men: Han Solo, Mal, Jean-luc Picard, Neo, Robert Neville… you get the picture. (If you don’t, then look them up and come back) Ah-hem.

Imagination: Singing certain frequencies to mine crystals. Floating cities. Interstellar travel. Billions and billions of new worlds. Living forever. Wormholes and star gates. Transporting and re-materializing. Mind melds. Alternate histories. Parallel universes where you *didn’t* go out with *that guy*.  Cylons, Overlords, Sith Lords, Morlocks, Alien. Need I say more?

Social commentary: What happens if people lose creativity? What happens if there are too many of us? What happens if we ruin our world? What if we inadvertently create a super-bug? How do we feel about class structure, racism, sexism, eugenics? How do we define sentient life?  Everything that makes us human is explored and challenged in science fiction. The genre often dramatizes the human dilemma in questions like these from the BOOK OF QUESTIONS: “For an all-expense-paid, one week vacation anywhere in the world, would you be willing to kill a beautiful butterfly by pulling off its wings? What about stepping on a cockroach?” or “Would you be willing to murder an innocent person if it would end hunger in the world?” I love to escape, but I also love to think.

Romance: Add a great love story to great science fiction, and it just doesn’t get any better for me. We live on a perfect little planet with just the right combo of light, gravity, atmosphere, water, magnetic field, ozone layer… but what really makes our world go around (keeping in mind that we have the science in place *wink*)? Human relationships, of course – the nitty gritty of making friends and finding mates. Reading about the permutations of human relationships set against the backdrop of the universe = win.

In its best form, science fiction moves the heart and the mind. Worst case, I’ll take a hot guy and some pulp.

Why do *you* like sci-fi? Do you have a favorite book that has inspired you to read or write sci-fi?

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Kerry Vail, Associate Editor (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal)

Kerry holds a BA in English: Writing and Editing with a minor in Classical Studies from NC State University. She has extensive freelance editing experience, and teaches various fiction writing classes at a local college. In addition to editing, Kerry writes science fiction, romantic fantasy, and paranormal romance.

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8 Replies on Editor’s Corner: Why I Love Science Fiction, by Kerry Vail

  • Great post on science fiction, Kerry!

    I like science fiction for all the same reasons. It is a way to escape the mundane.

    Although, Data was my favorite instead on Jean Luc Picard! lol

    The best science fiction, in my opinion, makes us think at the same time as entertains, and you’ve got to have a dose of romance in there somewhere!

  • Wonderful article, Kerry. Reading is all about discovery and there’s so much territory to explore with SF. For me, combining the science of the final frontier with romance equals an exciting and thought-provoking adventure.

    A favorite book that inspired me to write SF?

    Though I read Anne McCaffrey and most of the classic SF authors, I think I can trace my fanaticism to one particular book, a novel published in 1968 by French author Rene Barjavel and translated into English as The Ice People. (A 900,000 year old civilization discovered deep in the ice of Antarctica yields two human survivors in cryogenic suspension–a male and a female. The woman, Elea, is revived, still mourning the love she lost 9,000 centuries before, and carrying secrets that could forever change–or destroy–the modern world.)

    Though some of the prose is dated and a bit purple, I think it was the emotional impact of this story that inspired my life-long love affair with SF/R. 🙂

  • I adore science fiction and fantasy romance, though I haven’t read any for a while. I spent my twenties devouring whatever I could get my hands on. Ursula le Guin and Anee McCaffery are two writers I especially liked.

    Any suggestions for books from new SF rom writers I might enjoy?

  • I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal. As a kid, I read Tolkien. I was amazed by his world, and craved more. In the early years of college it was Rice, and her vampire series. Wow, could she write. Readers started off hating Lestat in the first book, but empathized and liked him by the end of the second book. Then I moved on to Crichton. I think I started with Jurassic Park, but then went retro and read Terminal Man. He wove a story than kept the reader on the edge of their seat. I remember reading Jurassic Park until the wee hours of the morning, and not wanting to put the book down even though my eyes hurt. After college I moved on to Jordan. The Wheel Of Time was a journey that kept my interest for years.
    Now I try to write my own stories, emulating my heroes, and their brilliance.

  • I still get excited when I find other people interested in Science Fiction Romance!

    My interest in all things SF growing up took on a romantic bent the first time I saw Star Wars, then later Farscape and BSG. These were love stories in space!! Perfect for my geek girl soul.

    SFR is such a misunderstood genre mix, in my opinion. The September issue of RT Bookreviews had an article asking where all the SFR is. They cited the problem as possible mislabeling under paranormal. I think that idea has merit because not all SFR has a paranormal element and readers who read in the paranormal genre have certain expectations which may be different than what SFR has to offer.

    I’ve been following the market for years, even wrote an essay about the duality of SFR for a writing guide (MANY GENRES). And my thesis novel for grad school was SFR, but when I graduated in 2007, it was tough to find a publisher interested in those kinds of books–they always told me it was either too lovey-dovey or had too many ray guns. 😉

    But that’s what I liked, so I kept writing it and reading it–probably always will. I’m glad there are other writers and readers out there like me!

  • Ooh, sci fi. One of my favourite genres too 🙂

    For those looking for recs: I can’t speak for Kerri, but I’d read some authentic scifi. Scifi romance isn’t just love in space, and a lot of manuscripts end up being a little light on the “sci.” (There is a different between space opera and scifi, even if there’s also an overlap). Isaac Asimov, the author of I, Robot, is a good place to start with his short story collections. Michael Crichton, as Kyle points out above, is a great contemporary example (in fact scifi thrillers are getting hot right now, so throw a romance into one and you may be on to a winner).

    Evangeline Anderson writes scifi erotica with her Kindred Brides series. While the intimate details might not be of the same tone as a romance, she builds her alien world really well with lots of original details.

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