Posted On June 5, 2015 by Print This Post

Launching Romance Into Space, New Horizons In Sci-Fi Romance by Athena Grayson

I’ve known Athena Grayson for several years now, and in that time I’ve learned she always has something interesting to say, whether it’s tech-related or Trek-related. Please welcome Athena – this is her second visit to Romance University.

Authors are flocking to this small, but tenacious, sub-genre that’s sometimes seen as the “nerdy little sister” of both Romance and Science Fiction. The main groups of readers in each of these genres don’t traditionally have a large intersection. SF fans often don’t want to be “bothered” with one-on-one relationships in the midst of all the wonder and strangeness of the vast cosmos, and Romance fans tend to count as a “distraction” story elements that drift away from the interpersonal relationships.


…Or so we’ve been told…


For me, it gives character based science fiction, where the interaction between the people is a major driver.” – Greta van der Rol


Many of us grew up with iconic science fiction media in our background–Star Wars, Star Trek, Isaac Asimov, and Carl Sagan. We cut our teeth on Saturday afternoon space adventures, or syndicated sci-fi adventure shows that took our imaginations to places we hadn’t thought possible. Or we haunted the bookshelves of the library or bookstore, pulled in by outlandish covers with alien planets and strange starships on them. Perhaps we were even entranced by current events that embedded themselves into our minds as firmly as they are embedded in our cultural history. We grew up knowing sci-fi. And when we became romance readers, we knew romance, too.


“I think many Boomers got hooked on scifi as kids–the space race, Lost in Space, StarTrek and then Star Wars, so scifi worlds became fixtures in our imaginations. Finding the romance genre, it is just natural that we would want to write and read romances set in a scifi world.” – Melisse Aires


Sci-Fi Romance is a blend of two strong genres. For a relatively unknown sub-genre, however, it is as wildly diverse as both of its parents. The most common dismissal of the genre is that the science suffers for the romance…or that the romance gets thrown under the space-bus for flashy future tech. Delving deeper, we find that SFR runs the gamut from Space Opera (epic stories in galaxies far, far away), Military SFR (support our troops against the alien invaders), and First Contact (boy meets girl, girl meets alien) to otherwise-hard SF (boy meets girl over complex quantum mechanical wave functions)


I love SF but I like stories with strong characterization.” – Elizabeth Lang


Boldly Going Where No Man…


Science fiction has historically been a genre of storytelling that allows authors and readers to explore the human condition through a lens uncolored by our own historical prejudices or the connotations ascribed to concepts within our own culture. SF classics have explored the ideas of science run amok, the implications of interstellar exploration, the atomic age, and experimental ways of building or re-building societies outside the framework of our native or extant ones. And SF has explored some more intimate and personal concepts, as well–what constitutes life? Is artifical life simply mimicking sentience or sapience? Is it entitled to rights, if it was created? What is our moral responsibility towards life we create?


In a more subtle way, romance has explored some of those same questions that seek to establish the truths about the human condition–can we overcome the beast-like nature of our primal instincts for greater purpose? Are we better together or apart? How selfless is the nature of love?


Sci-fi romance combines these two thematic titans to provide the reader with rich, imaginative settings that stretch the boundaries of what we think is possible, and rich, imaginative relationships that push the boundaries of how we define love.


SFR gives me the chance to experience an entirely new universe through eyes that already have a frame of reference to what is and what isn’t. Teaching new ways to love ourselves, our mates, and our worlds is a fun playground to explore.” – Stephanie J. Pajonas


SFR speaks to us as humans, as explorers and spotlights how our strongest emotion is our greatest motivator to be more than we were yesterday.” – Toni Edge


The Cover-Up? A Conspiracy? A Key To The X-Files


Finding sci-fi romance on the bookshelves can be about as easy as gaining access to Area 51 or Hangar 18 (you know…where they keep the “weather balloons” *cough*). Scanning the shelves for signs of life, the SFR reader might request a beam-up after discovering few signs of life. The big publishing houses seem to have as much interest as interstellar space has atmosphere. Reports from authors and anecdotal experience suggests that the sci-fi elements and the romance elements that are symbiotic in SFR have a hard time translating into the “bestseller” formula that the large publishing houses love.


Romance is a part of LIFE. A part most humans enjoy immensely. Who wouldn’t enjoy reading about that in their scifi?” – Jen Foehner Wells


But where the large publishers have left a gap, small publishers and indie/self publishers are filling that gap in amazing and creative ways. The rich tapestry of exploring our relationships along with our universe is out there in our stories, and it’s as endless as the limits of the universe and beyond. But it would be a little foolish to leave orbit without some idea of where to go, so in the name of the Great Mixed Metaphor that this article has persisted in indulging, here are a few keys to Mulder’s “X-Files” cabinet of strange, exotic, and otherworldly reading material.


Your Five-Year Reading Mission


The Galaxy Express – Run by Heather Massey, the Galaxy Express has been keeping us up to date on Sci-Fi Romance since 2008 and features monthly new releases, editorials, and discussion on the media we find in the genre. @ThGalaxyExpress

The SFR Station – Find your next keeper by sub-genre, pairing type, author, and series. Also fond of hosting blog-hops and author events with contests and prizes. @SFRStation

Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi (and Paranormal Romance) – A great blog about sci-fi and paranormal romance in books, movies, TV, and other media, with a monthly “SF Obscure” feature that will have you hopping in the Wayback Machine and remembering some of the great sci-fi (and that which came with a hefty helping of velveeta) that came to us on the small screen.

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly – A free online (and downloadable) magazine devoted to science fiction romance. Issues include news, reviews, editorials, and an original, exclusive short story.

Sci-Fi Encounters at USAToday’s HEA Blog – Author Veronica Scott has written a collection of columns covering sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal romance for USAToday. This is the collected archive of her columns thus far.

The Sci-Fi Romance Brigade Fanpage (Facebook) – A reader’s resource for sci-fi romance and discussions about SFR (promo is limited)

The SciFi Romance Group (Facebook) – A moderated, reader-based community with weekly events for authors to feature releases and excerpts, and discussions about sci-fi romance media


Twitter Hashtags: Find sci-fi romance at #scifiromance or #scifirom, SFR Teaser Tuesdays at #sfrgtt


These are only a few points of entry into a larger world (with a hat-tip to Obi-wan Kenobi). Outside of the contemporary orbit or our historical gravitational pull, we’ve explored issues like race relations, artificial intelligence, and the morality of independence ranging from slavery to bodily autonomy. In the future, we are going to have to grapple with these concepts for real, and sci-fi romance is doing its part to help us start working through them with the power of story. By working through these concepts, we define who we are.


“I love the way humans are always humans, no matter the time or the place. We live, we love, sometimes we lose. We perservere. Throw in a rocking awesome space cowboy with a cocky attitude and a spaceship, or a sexy space pirate, or the silent bad boy cyborg and that only adds to the excitement and enjoyment of the story.” – Amy Riddle-DeClerk


SFR is the future of romance. We’re creating new worlds, new relationships, and new ways of looking at love while exploring and explaining the universe.” – Liana Brooks


Don’t Panic

What science fiction influences do you remember from your formative years? What science fiction influences do you remember from this past year? Would you like to see more romance in your science fiction? Is the vast universe in the gleam of her eye? Or is his heart big enough to hold all the stars in the sky?

“In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important.” — The Doctor

Join us Monday when RU Founding Member ADRIENNE GIORDANO joins us




Athena Grayson writes romantic fiction ranging from sci-fi romance to magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She adores smart, sexy, beta heroes, and savvy heroines who aren’t afraid to demand–and get!–the best from their relationships. Underneath it all, she has a love of language and a deep respect for how words can uplift and transport us to a higher state of being, even if only for a few hours. Please visit her website at for more on her fiction, and “narrative hacking” – finding the story in everything.

Latest Release: The Chase (Huntress of the Star Empire Episodes 1-3):

Getting him in handcuffs was the easy part…


The Chase (Episodes 1-3)

–Episode 1: Hot Pursuit

–Episode 2: Captivated

–Episode 3: Tailspin


Known to her targets as the Huntress, Treska Sivekka hunts down the aliens and psypaths whose mental talents are a threat to Union security. Now, with the last free psypath in her crosshairs, Treska’s mission is about to be fulfilled.


She’s not the only one who wants a piece of Micah Ariesis, and she’ll have to fight off the scum of the star system to keep him in her handcuffs. Her only problem is that she wants him in her arms…


About the Huntress

Ever since she was found in the aftermath of alien attacks, Treska Sivekka has been trained to one purpose–to hunt down threats to the security of the Union that gave her an identity. But when the Union’s biggest threat inspires desire, and not fear, it’s going to take all her training to protect her principles against his persuasive onslaught.


The Huntress’s neuro-collar and repulsor cuffs may keep Micah bound to her mercy, but they can’t stop him from challenging her convictions, and the lies she’s been told about his people. But when the secrets surrounding her own missing memories begin to reveal themselves, he may be the only one she can trust.
Buy it here:

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24 Responses to “Launching Romance Into Space, New Horizons In Sci-Fi Romance by Athena Grayson”

  1. Athena – Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I started reading sci-fi early on but my go-to genres as an adult have always been mystery and romance. I still like sci-fi, and I read a lot of paranormals, too. Thanks also for the five-year-plan. It looks like my work is cut out for me!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 5, 2015, 10:58 am
  2. Athena – When I first started reading historical romance (not all that long ago), Anna Campbell gave me a “must read” list. While I’ve read a lot of sci fi, I haven’t read a lot of sci fi romance. Where should I start, and what books are “must reads”?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 5, 2015, 11:20 am
  3. Aaand, something that’s brand-spankin’-new… Heather Massey at the Galaxy Express has JUST released a FREE ebook about sci-fi romance and its history! It’s free at Smashwords and you are invited to download and distribute.

    Posted by Athena Grayson | June 5, 2015, 4:20 pm
  4. Hi Athena,

    Thanks for a fabulous post.

    I’m old enough to recall Armstrong’s walk on the moon (does anyone remember Tang and Space Food Sticks?) and my dad’s interest in the Apollo missions, and even though I’ve always been an avid reader, I could never get into sci-fi. However, incorporating more romance in sci-fi would generate more interest to the genre, and that includes people like me. Hooray for small presses for supporting SF and SFR.

    Now I’m wondering if The Little Prince qualifies as sci-fi.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 5, 2015, 4:31 pm
    • Do they still sell Tang? I always liked it but it was too expensive for my big family – we went through it too quickly.

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 5, 2015, 10:21 pm
    • Hi Jennifer! The moon walk was a bit before my time, but I grew up just as the space program was opening up to women. I still remember with stark clarity the day the Challenger was lost, and it never fails to choke me up. But it’s alao one of the reasons I got into sci-fi–I knew our future depended on not giving up. And even at that young age, part of me knew how important it was to first dream it, and then be it. 🙂

      Posted by Athena Grayson | June 6, 2015, 9:51 am
  5. Nice article, Athena! For readers who would like to check our SFR books, Heather Massey has a whole page a cheap and free SFR reads on the Galaxy Express, and there is also the SFR Station(.com), a one stop shop that links to the book stores.

    Posted by Melisse Aires | June 5, 2015, 5:33 pm
  6. There is also the SF Romance Galaxy Awards, with lots of books involved!

    Posted by Corrina | June 5, 2015, 7:37 pm
  7. Thanks to all of you for the suggestions! And, Athena, thanks so much for joining us! Are you going to Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together? I almost always go, but this year we had some conflicting family plans. I hope to make it there again next year!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 5, 2015, 10:22 pm
  8. Fascinating post! I really enjoyed reading about the scope of SciFi Romance & where it’s heading today.

    Posted by Diane Reed | June 6, 2015, 6:30 am
  9. “Exploring relationships as well as our universe” says it all.
    There seems to be no limits to the imagination when it comes to SciFi, which is quite refreshing. Great post, Miss Athena!

    Posted by Sandy Pennington | June 6, 2015, 2:42 pm
  10. Excellent post, covered a lot of ground (or should I say a lot of the galaxy LOL?). Thanks for mentioning my USAT posts, I love being able to interview SFR authors and bring some attention to the genre on that platform.

    Posted by Veronica Scott | June 7, 2015, 10:44 am
  11. What a great article. Well done Athena. You made me wonder what Star Wars would have been without the relationships between each of the characters. Imagine Hans, the bad boy cowboy, without the warrior Princess? It would never have had the depth of plot, the humanity or the passion of the readers/watchers. Never thought of that before. Plus, our world (yes, earth) needs more happy endings. Best wishes always.

    Posted by Mary Ulrich | June 9, 2015, 6:10 am
  12. Hey Athena!

    A bit late, but I loved your post. =) I used to read sci-fi, then just…didn’t. Read romance (historical only) and then slowly branched out from there. Recently I’ve read two sci-fi romance, and love them. =) The magic and wonder of a new world, it just seems to make the romance even more wonderful.


    thanks for a fun post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 11, 2015, 11:11 pm
  13. That’s an excellent read, Athena!
    Actually I don’t like Sci-fi books, but after reading your article I decided to give this genre a second chance;)

    Posted by Pimion | July 13, 2015, 7:13 am


  1. […] Launching Romance Into Space, New Horizons In Sci-Fi Romance Athena Grayson on Romance University blog on a subject close to my heart – Sci-Fi romance. Includes a great list of online resources on the subject. […]

    June Links | Becky Black - June 13, 2015

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