Monday, June 16, 2008

Revisiting an old post - The Futuristic - My Genre du Jour

Having just enjoyed Susan Grant's latest book, Moonstruck and looking forward to Linnea Sinclair's latest book coming out soon, and also with so many new bloggers in blogland, I went back into the vault for this post. This is one I did way back when in 2005. Hopefully I can get it to post now in 2008. It's funny how a few years can change things. I don't know if it's me being optimistic, but Futuristics seem to be making a bit of a comeback lately with a new name for the genre SciFi Romance. I still love them just as much today as I did back in 2005. And one other thing has changed since I first posted this - I know how to add pictures now!


I read a good one recently and I can feel a futuristic reading marathon coming on. I know this genre isn’t for everyone but it’s one of my favourites. I’ve read them for years but I seemed to have gotten away from them for a while. After thoroughly enjoying the book I read, the fire is back again. Before I start blogging about the futuristic books I’ve read recently and/or are planning to read, I thought I’d explain why I like them so much and what I find appealing about them.
To do a well written futuristic,
I find the author has to have a limitless imagination. There’s a specialty channel here in Canada with the catchy phrase – Space – the Imagination Station. I think that applies to futuristic books too. With a historical the boundaries are already set. There’s the ton with all the rules and regulations, the seasons, the country homes and parties; the dukes, the earls, the marquis etc. etc. etc.. What the author does is follow the parameters already set up. She/he adds their interpretation, storyline and characters within the outline already done in history. The same goes for medievals and westerns. Since it’s already happened, there is no need to create something different or unique. With romantic suspense and contemporaries, the same holds true. But with futuristics, the sky is the limit (so to speak).
The author can have
a setting on earth in the not too distant future with still recognizable events or places such as the In Death books or Susan Grant’s The Star King, The Star Prince and The Star Princess. Or they can take place in a world completely unrecognizable such as Robin Owen’s world.
If we are far into the future the ruling empire can be evil such as the Coalition in Justine Davis Lord of the Storm and Skypirate or looking out for the greater good such as futuristic world in Angela Knight’s
Jane’s Warlord (I wish we had seen more of it than we did. Hopefully for the futuristic lovers she will revisit it someday)

**** And she does have another one coming out in this series!! I just noticed this the other day and I was one happy camper! In fact I ordered it and since it's out in July, 2008 I don't have to long a wait.****

The author can create regular type heroes and heroines or the unusual such as Kathleen Morgan’s Heart’s Lair or Christine Spangler’s Shadow Fires (*note: this is one I haven’t read – just the reviews). The hero’s can be a ruler, an escaped convict, a bounty hunter or a pirate or any other creation of the author’s imagination. There’s also a wide variation for the heroine too; princess, convict, healer or empath (although if the heroine is either of the last two, the author may face the wrath of Mrs. Giggles – she’s tough on them healers (grin).
Another issue th
at doesn’t necessarily have to be dealt with in futuristics is unwanted pregnancies or STD’s. Since they take place in the future is seems almost a given that this is no longer a problem. Science and advanced medical treatment will have taken care of this. While I applaud authors who deal with this issue in contemporaries, wouldn’t it be nice to know that in the future it’s something we won’t have to worry about? And honestly, in RL instead of RW, there would be a whole lot of heroes in historicals running around with syphilis and a whole lot of heroines who were inconveniently pregnant
It seemed for a while like futuristics we
re on their way out. I’ve read that Justine Davis had a third book in mind for her journey into the futuristic but was told not to bother, that it wouldn’t sell. I’m sure there were other authors who were told the same thing. And at the time they probably wouldn’t have. But one of the things I most admire about Love Spell which I believe is a division of Leisure Publishing is they never gave up. They published them in 1995 and they are still publishing them today. I hope they and other publishers continue and that readers who are loving paranormals discover that futuristics can be just as good and different a read. Berkley is also publishing some good ones these days.
So if you’ve never tried one before, try that final frontier, explore strange new worlds, seek out new adventures, go where you the reader has ne're gone be
There are some crappy ones out there I know – same as crappy historicals, medievals and every other genre, but there is also some very very good ones.

For anyone interested here are a just a few of my favourite favourites.

Banner’s Bonus by Carole Ann Lee (1995): I loved this book. One of my all time favourite furturistics, it was the only one I’ve ever been able to find by this author. This will be the first in line for a reread. There were some secondary characters who would have been great with their own books but alas – whatever happened to the author and/or sequels is a mystery

Lord of the Storm and Skypirate by Justine Davis: I wish more had been written. She did a wonderful job with these. And yes, I know. *sigh* They are Very Bad Covers.

Knighthawk by Kristen Kyle: After reading a few other books by this author and loving them and seeing she had a futuristic I knew this was one I had to have. It took me a while to track one down and I finally ordered it from Amazon but it was well worth the effort.

Heart’s Lair by Kathleen Morgan: This one was thinking on it now, was ahead of it’s time. The hero is part man, part lion. I found it a very interesting book.
There was a prequel to this one, but I didn't like it nearly as much.

Kinsman's Oath: Sadly, very sadly, she quit writing Futuristics after this one. I hope some day she goes back to them

I’m really looking forward to finding some new ones.


And luckily, over the years I have found new books and new authors. I've discovered Linnea Sinclair. Susan Grant still continues to impress. Patricia Waddell wrote a nice book that I quite enjoyed. And of course I'm still as deeply in love with the In Death books as I was in 2005.


McVane said...

Eek! I love, love futuristic romances, but I find that there is a very few that managed to strike a good balance between romance and new world. More than not, they went for:

a) a pseudo-medieval romance that sets in the future. This rarely makes sense to me. Even if today's world was wiped out by a major bomb, there should be an explanation how it comes to be primitive again, but authors rarely do.

b) a contemporary romance with a few 'THIS IS A FUTURISTIC!!!' bits scattered around to remind us.

c) a world where gender inequality, a very few women in senior positions [including the military], and the value of virginity STILL exist. Come on! What is the f. point of having a futuristic romance that is no different from a historical romance? Again, authors don't explain why social values still exist 300 years' time, when you consider the fact that social values 400 years ago are drastically different from today's.

So, I feel that most futuristic romances for a while had a limited/restrictive imagination. In a way, it was an excuse for heroes to exercise their machoism and for heroines to fall back in the damsel-in-distress role.

I can't STAND healer or empath heroines in futuristic romances because there are SOOOO many of them out there yet not one I read has had ever explained how these women came to have those gifts. Artifical? Drugs? What? :> I do avoid most - no, all - novels that use of an apostrophe in names, e.g. Ta'Kal or L'lina.

With these elements in mind, I was told that I'm more suited to military-type and/or action futuristic romances.

That makes sense, I think, especially when you consider the fact that I enjoyed Susan Grant's multi-author series 2167; the first half of Patti O'Shea's RAVYN'S FLIGHT [loathed the second half]; Kristen Kyle's NIGHT HAWK [I'll never forget the heroine's first appearance], Angela Knight's short stories, and blah blah.

So, the ones that I'd like to read *were* hard to find [specially those with solid world-building], but although it's still not a popular sub-genre, I think there are more books we get nowadays that are a lot more adventurous, more imaginative and more confident that its precessors. So I'm cautionously [sp?] excited.

I agree with your list, except for one: Carol Ann Lee. I had a copy but for reasons unknown I lent it [unread!] to a friend who moved away. I'll have to track down a copy. I don't think I have ever tried CJ Barry's books, so perhaps I'll give it a try.

Thanks for the heads up. :> I'm guessing this is a very long response, so apologies in advance. :)

McVane said...

F***!! That's far too long! Delete it, please! *blushes madly*

Kristie (J) said...

No, I like what you had to say. It's true, there are a lot of crap ones out there. That's why when you find good ones, they're even more special. Kathleen Morgan, for example, wrote quite a few but the only one I recommend is Heart's Lair. Most of the others did have wimpy heroines.
I really liked Unleashed and will blog about it when I have some more under my belt to compare it too. The heroine in this one is
a)not a virgin
b)not telepathic or empathatic
c)strong willed and able to stand up to the hero very well and
d)a damned good heroine.
And it is action packed :)
Which ones do you recommend - since I'm on a kick now?

Kristie (J) said...

Do'oh - I meant Unmasked. I think I have Unleashed TBR somewhere.

One more thing. No apostrophe in either name :)

CW said...

I've only read a couple of the ones on the list--the Davis ones and the Kyle one--but yeah! I so wish there were more good ones out there. Maybe J. Davis will write some more, now that there's a paranormals run. :P

Nicole said...

There was going to be a sequel to Banner's Bonus that was I think supposed to be released by Novel Books Inc, but they folded before it could be released (Banner's Bonus was released by them for awhile as an ebook that I reviewed at RJ).

Oooh...the wonders of the internet.

Sequel in Jan. 2006 from LTDBooks which I think means they also release it as a trade at the same time as the ebook.

I also enjoy Robin D. Owens and just bought Heart CHoice today. And I also like C.J. Barry, though I haven't read the newest one, Unmasked (I have it though).

I still need to read Kyle's book. And never heard of the Morgan one.

I just haven't been in the mood for much romance lately, it seems. But I do love SF romance.

Also I enjoy Linnea Sinclair/Megan Sybil Baker.

Nicole said...

OOps, yeah, also love Susan Grant. I think I've read all the Star books and Contact.

Kristie (J) said...

Nicole: Am I reading you right that there is going to (finally)be a sequel to Banner's Bonus? In anticipation of a yes answer

For this one I WILL pay trade price!
What did you think of it? It's been ages since I read it, but I'm valiantly going to go through my boxes of books in the corner of the basement - in the dark - where there are spiders to get it out.

Kristie (J) said...

Oooh Nicole. I just checked out her website (thank you so much for including it - It didn't even occur to me to look for her on the internet - maybe 'cause way back when I read it in '95 that was pre-internet days.) I like the covers. I may just have to get me another copy if it's on the hard copy cover.

Tara Marie said...

Kristie, I feel like I'm chasing you around the romance reading world.

I finished Carved in Stone over the weekend and I started reading Susan Grant's The Legend of Banzai Maguire this morning, I took it with me to the hair salon this morning and didn't want to put it down so the stylist could color my hair. The grey in my hair won out and had to wait until I got home to finish reading.

As soon as I finished it, I realized I only have one more in the series, Liz Maverick's The Shadow Runners (I think it's #3 in the series and I'm wondering if I need to read them in order??) I'm heading to the UBS tomorrow in the hope I'll find the rest of the 2176 series. I think I'll look for CJ Barry while I'm there.

I'm joining you in your "Genre du Jour". Maili listed most of the reasons I avoid futuristics, but this one was great, I'm hoping the rest of the series lives up to this one.

Nicole said...

I really liked Banner's Bonus and think I gave it a 4.5/5 star review when I did it for ROmance Junkies.

Jaynie R said...

Apart from the In Death series I don't think I've read any NY published futuristics.

I have read quite a few erotic romance ebook futuristics and have loved them.

Rosario said...

Kristie, I love futuristics, but have the same reservations Maili has. Right now I'm reading Nance's Day of Fire (book 2 in the 2176 series), and I was just thinking how good it was to have a futuristic, post-disaster world which hadn't reverted to medieval mores. You should definitely read it, if you haven't yet. It's even set in Canada!

I've gone and ordered a used copy of Banner's Bonus. I already have the Davis (I'm reading Skypirate this weekend and I LOVED Lord of the Storm), and I ordered Nighthawk (I think after something Maili said about a love scene?). I still have to think on ordering the one with the part-lion guy, but I'll probably end up going ahead. I have no self-control *sigh*.

Oh, and I second Nicole's rec of Megan Sybil Baker / Linnea Sinclair. I recently read Gabriel's Ghost and it was great.

Kristie (J) said...

I braved the spiders in the basement looking for my copy of Banner's Bonus and what do you know! It was in the fourth box I checked (considering I have 15 - that's pretty good) and no spiders. Happy dance time.
I read Day of Fire and was quite impressed with it. I got a chuckle though we were under a bubble.

Heather said...

This is such a great piece, and you better believe I'll be linking to it in the future!

One thing that's so great about futuristics and science fiction romance is that there are different groups of books available depending on one's mood.

There's SF with romantic subplots, futuristics where the romance takes center stage, and books that are closer to a 50-50 blend.

I admit, I'm a lover of camp so futuristics that understandably turn many off will float my boat. But then I'll want something completely different, and the books are there for me.

I agree that a new wave of futuristic romances is here--and hopefully more are around the corner.

kmont said...

Wonderful post! I'm gaga over futuristic romance and am agoggle over some of the older titles you've listed here. Going to see if I can lay hands on some of 'em. Thanks!

Katie(babs) said...

Kristie, I see many of these covers have major man-titty going on. Are you trying to tell us something?

Carolyn Jean said...

What a fun post, and good for you for pulling it back up!!

I've never read any of these older futuristics, but I think I might have to. It sad that because of trends, these authors had to stop writing SF type stuff back then.

Heather said...

Carolyn, I agree with you. On the other hand, I don't think the authors give up either. I'm guessing they try at a later time. Nor do aspiring authors, or fanfic writers stop writing. No matter what publishers do, good futuristics and SFR is out there--you just have to know where to look!

JenB said...

I think futuristics may have suffered the most from the Very Bad Cover syndrome that plagued the 90's, and it has taken them the longest to recover.

I think the new Shomi line will help futuristics bounce back, as will those cool-looking Susan Grant books. I know it's lame (and I rarely pay attention to covers), but appearance really does make a big difference to a lot of romance readers.

I'm just now getting into them myself. I'll keep an eye on your blog for new recs!

Kristie (J) said...

Heather: If you like campy sci fi, you really should give Slave by Cheryl Brooks a try. *laughing* Campy is one way to describe it.
And you are right - there is such a wide variety of SciFi books to choose from. And now with the trend towards Urban Romance, there is even more.
And in regards to your second post, I hope it's a growing trend and that some of the authors who wrote it in the past such as Justine Davis and Susan Krinard will find a market once again. I read a while ago now that they were planning on reissuing Sherrilyn Kenyon's Futuristics. Now that she is so big, I would love to see that happen. While I gave up on her Dark Hunter books a while ago, I really enjoyed her Futuristic.

Kmont: Thanks! And that's just a few of them. I went and looked at my handy dandy spreadsheet and there are quite a few more on there that I really enjoyed. I need to do a post at a later date with more. Although I think the ones I mentioned are probably out of print now, I don't think they would be too hard to find at Paperback Swap or Amazon.

Katie: LOL - nope - that's just the way they made them back then.

JenB: They sure had some bad ones, that's for sure. And I get a kick out of the genre name change. When I did the original post in 2005, Sci Fi Romance wasn't a name for them. But if it will help sell more and open doors - hey - it works for me.

Taja said...

Hi kristie (j)!

I'm a long-time lurker here (heck, I probably was around the first time you posted this) and after already being tempted over the weekend to comment (Lara Adrian), this time I do.

I really like to read futuristics / science fiction romances although oddly enough I haven't read that many. I'm not sure if the shift to call the newer romances sci fic instead of futuristic is just for marketing reasons (something jenb hinted at, I think) or if it also reflects a general change in the way they are written. For me, I'm more likely to call a romance novel a futuristic when it displays one or more of Maili's points (a-c). To be clear: I don't view this distinction as a quality statement.

I adore Linnea Sinclair - can't wait for July! - and I loved Susan Grant's "Contact." So yes, maybe I prefer science fiction romances after all. But then, I have read all of Robin D. Owens's Heart Mate series and they sure have a lot of features that normally I try to avoid (cutesy names, apostrophe abundance and so on).

Thanks for making me comment.

Kristie (J) said...

Taja: Hello!! And welcome out of lurkdom.
I think the name change is a bit of both. Linnea Sinclair books for example aren't shelved in the romance section here - they are in the science fiction department -which makes me want to investigate that department some more. And there seems to be more blending too, for example Eve Kenin's books. I think they could appeal to Futuristic lovers too.
I like the newer Sci Fi romance title better actually after giving it some thought lately. It seems more inclusive than Futuristic. And maybe you could help me with Robin Owens. I stopped reading her a few books ago and was rather saddened by that. But I just couldn't take the cats anymore. I'm a huge cat lover as my sweet little Zina will testify, but Owen's cats were too much and way too annoying. Are they still as prevalent? And the merry greetings got a little tiresome too. But I did enjoy her books.
And welcome again out of lurkdom. And finally - *huge, huge grin* you should have dropped by sooner!! I see that you are a Crusader!! You go on the list!

Taja said...

When I read my first book by Linnea Sinclair's (“Gabriel's Ghost”), I thought of her as first a science fiction writer and then a romance writer. In some ways I still do, although I changed that to sci fi romance for the last books in my notes. I thought about getting Kenin's “Driven.” Will have to look into it again.

Robin D. Owens. Actually, I don't quite understand why I keep buying this series because, as you said, it has some really annoying elements. What I like is the potential for (great) conflict I see in her stories and the new (but admittedly small) world building elements in each novel. They add up and add to the larger picture of the society and politics and culture, cutesy customs or not (IMO). I would say that the cats are not that prevalent any more but I don't huff with exasperation over the use of writestick for a pen any more, either. So it could as well be that I'm used to it now and it all just doesn't register any longer. I liked “Heart Choice” best and IMHO “Heart Mate” is the weakest. Actually, I think about reading them all in a row to see what I think about them then and if I can actually drive myself crazy that way.

Being a crusader is not a bad thing if it's for the right thing. And "North and South?" There's no question and thanks for having me on the list.

Kristie (J) said...

Taja: While I haven't read all of them, Heart Duel was my favourite of the ones I've read and *heavy sigh* Heart Choice was a DNF (it was the cats). I think I'll try the one you liked best and see how it goes. It's not like I don't have several hundred (or more) books I can read in the meantime.