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Talk Genre > SFR that's not erotica

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I'm just getting started in reading SFR. I have the list from Galaxy Express, but it's more than a little overwhelming.

I'm looking for recommendations of good books that are *not* erotica. I like dark, I'm good with steamy/hot, I just don't want erotica. Since I'm a newb it's so hard to tell the difference, even with samples for my Nook.

I'd prefer to keep the military ones to a minimum and I'm not interested in futuristic or heavy on the paranormal. I'm looking for classic science fiction type stuff.

namericanwordcat | 156 comments So, how would you define classic SF? This might might recs easier.

message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments Not futuristic or heavy on the paranormal. I love space opera. I like epic, I like deep themes, I like social commentary couched in the distant future. I just don't want erotica or paranormal or things set a few years in the future.

message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments No, I haven't. Thank you! I'll add them to my list.

message 6: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 334 comments I'm reading Shards of Honour Shards of Honour (Vorkosigan Saga, #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold by Lois McMaster Bujold and am loving them. There is kissing and some love talk but nothing intricate. I think you'd love these too Rachel.

message 7: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Rachel, I was going to HIGHLY recommend you to Lois McMaster Bujold's series. Cordelia's Honor has both Shards and the "second half" of that story (it's nearly seamless the way the book Barrayar picks up where Shards left off--like an hour later!

Lois has written over a dozen stories in that series and JUST released another one (it came out on eARC last week and will be out on hardcover next October--it's already gotten over 50 reviews so that should tell you how ardent we, her hard core fans, really are!)

I'd also like to recommend my own book, Conditioned Response, both because it's FREE, today only and because it's definitely a "Classic SciFi." I wrote it specifically to be more of a social science fiction (no exploding space ships or strange aliens). There is a deep, abiding love between the female protagonist, Shayla, who is a non-human Phoenician and Raif, the male lead who you realize in Chapter 1 is going to's just a matter of when. The fact the Hero dies means I cannot call it an SF Romance but it's very much a Romantic SF story. I think you'll enjoy it. A couple of professional reviewers are mixed in there with "regular readers" in my reviews here on Goodreads so sift through those to get a better description of what's to like--and not like--about my book. It's an unusual book ^)^

Get your free copy of Conditioned Response today and shelve it here to read when you have time:

Conditioned Response (Phoenician, #2) by Marjorie F. Baldwin

It's a long book but after the first few chapters, it seems to fly for just about every reader (so far anyway)

Even if you don't want to try my book (it's FREE!! why not :) I have a tip for you. Starting today, July 1st, Smashwords is having a site-wide blowout sale where Authors and Publishers can enter our books to be discounted at one of 4 rates (25%, 50%, 75% or 100%/FREE). The sale is site-wide and goes on all month, but we Authors can add or remove our books at will. Be sure to browse through the "romance | science fiction" category | subcategory at Smashwords to see what books are free as of today. Be sure to stop back periodically this month to see which books get added to the promo, as I'm not the only Author who'll change their book's status this month. It's a very exciting month every July at Smashwords.


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I've read the first chapter of Cordelia's Honor on Baen and it's on my list. I'm reading a David Weber right now, Crown of Slaves.

I did download Conditioned Response. I'm not big on explicit sex scenes as a personal preference, but since I got it for free today I'm more than willing to give it a shot. It's definitely intriguing, and I *love* social commentary science fiction. Nemesis is my favorite Star Trek movie because of the brilliant social commentary on the dangers of cloning.

Steamy doesn't bother me and I'm a sucker for a good kiss! I'm a writer and what I'm working on right now is a space opera SFR. Their first kiss lasted for nearly 300 words.

namericanwordcat | 156 comments I would also recommend the Stardoc series. Excellent.

message 10: by Marjorie (last edited Jul 01, 2012 10:14AM) (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Rachel wrote: "Steamy doesn't bother me and I'm a sucker for a good kiss! I'm a writer and what I'm working on right now is a space opera SFR. Their first kiss lasted for nearly 300 words. "

Thank you for downloading my book. There's definitely a bit of sexual content that drones on (deliberately, it's part of the plot and intended to be annoying) but when Raif and Shayla FINALLY have a first kiss, wow, it is hot hot hot. I still get all fidgety reading it and I must have read it about 50 times by now during editing :) The rest of the sex in the book is explicit but not intended to be vulgar or erotic, just relevant. I have one sex scene that is utterly irrelevant so I fade out before the sex starts and come back for the pillow talk :) Just be assured if it's there, it's relevant.

I think Weber's free library edition (Crown of Slaves) is in the middle or so of the Honor Harrington series but it's a good space opera (not so much romantic SF as female lead in a series) Weber's a very good writer -- and prolific -- so a good choice for taste-testing Baen's free library :)

If you like Cordelia's Honor after reading it, you can get the first / next book in the Miles part of the series, The Warrior's Apprentice, from the Free Library also. TWA has absolutely zero romantic SF content. It's hilarious, fun, exceedingly well-written, interesting and exciting but not a romance in any way, shape or form. There are LOTS of exploding spaceships ^)^ ooooh, pretty! HIGHLY recommended. Wish I could give it more than 5 stars LOL


message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments If the sex is relevant I don't have a problem with it. So long as it moves the plot forward in some way.

When I was looking at chronology on David's website Crown of Slaves is the first in the Honorverse series. I have the first Honor Harrington book downloaded already too. My dad's been a faithful Baen customer for over 20 years! He's been trying to get me to read David Weber for years now, but he never said the magic words. Tom Clancy in space.

I picked Crown of Slaves first on purpose. My hero is a slave and this is the story of his race's journey to freedom, with him as the reluctant king. I'm having so much fun with it and it's nice to have no structure/content rules outside what I want them to be. The science is not a huge aspect, it's definitely more in the social commentary vein.

My critique partner went nuts when I told her they finally had their first kiss. It only took me 54,000 words to get them there and my CP was about ready to beat me up to make them do it.

message 12: by Marjorie (last edited Jul 01, 2012 12:37PM) (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Oh Rachel, you're going to really like some of the aspects of my book, then. The Proctors are, basically slaves and Conditioned Response definitely strives to highlight the injustices of slavery as a "caste" of an established culture. Later in the series, more of that is addressed more directly but Raif goes a long way to make changes to the world in this book. His existence is/was intended to "change the world" literally. I created his character in 2005 specifically to alter the world ;-)

And the reason (I think) that Raif and Shayla's first kiss so damned hawwwt is that you have to wait so damned long for it to actually happen. I dunno, I think you're going to get bored with Raif's obsessive sexual thoughts in the first 3-4 chapters. You should be but once they get out of the office, it's over, don't worry. I don't dwell beyond that, just had to make that point for the plot. You'll see when you get there but I think you'll have a similar reaction as several other readers have to date. It's tasteful, they don't mind it but it's tiresome. It's supposed to be (like I suppose this paragraph is *LOL*)

So has your dad, the Baen customer for 20 years, been a member of the Bar? I've been on the Bar on and off since 2005 but haven't really had time to deal with its ever-changing software the last year or two (something like 4-5 software changes in 2 years). What's his screen name? Maybe I know him (or ask if he knows me :-) I'm logging in there now as "marjoriefbaldwin" and sign my posts the same way as here.


p.s. Be sure to come back here to solicit Beta Readers when you have an "ARC" version ready for proofreading and final checks prior to publication. Are you going Indie or going to submit to places like Baen, Tor, etc.?

message 13: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I'm sure he is on the Bar, but I have no idea what his user name is. I haven't registered.

Oh yes, kisses are way hotter when you put them off as long as possible! I'm a big believer in that and don't like to do it before the 50K mark if I can help it.

I haven't decided yet what route I'm going to go with it. My other writing hat is Christian historical romance and I had originally set out to do this without a spiritual/Christianity thread in it. But now one's trying to weave itself in, which makes finding a home for it that much more difficult. There are a lot of prejudices against SF with a Christian bent, and rightly so. Much of it is terrible or badly done allegory. C.S. Lewis being the exception. In the CBA all of that falls under the term "speculative" and the bulk of it is actually fantasy and dragons.

message 14: by Marjorie (last edited Jul 01, 2012 01:56PM) (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Well, I'm sorry to say as someone who is very much NOT Christian, I absolutely wouldn't want Christianity preaching (or Christian content that is Christian without preaching or non-preaching in your mind) woven into my SciFi.

I feel pretty strongly against it in fact. I think humanity will eventually outgrow Judeo-Christian belief systems and I definitely and unapologetically get at that in my writing. It's not prevalent Conditioned Response, but it's definitely in the series. If I read a book that claims to be SciFi and ends up being Christian fiction instead, I'm likely to put it down unfinished and disappointed. The Christian stuff rarely (or never) can be skipped over and ignored. It's usually integrated and annoys me more than "wrong science" might. That's just me. Others might have no issue with an SF book that is Christian fiction and if there's a thread of it, there's probably more you simply overlooked.

It's hard NOT to write about something about which you feel so passionately as to write it at all! It's not wrong, but it's going to alienate SF readers like me who'd rather not go there for our SciFi. I should also note that there is a HUGE Christian fiction market. You can appeal to them with Christian SciFi and do quite well. It's just that infusion of that stuff will kick it out of popular mainstream markets. Probably. Maybe I'm totally wrong. I have definitely heard others echo my distaste for preaching and religious currents in what is supposed to be a science fiction book.

message 15: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments p.s. isn't it amazing how much fantasy, dragons, RenFaire/period and Christianity all have in common? Or at least seem to, given how those topics always seem to cluster together? I don't understand the connection between Knights, dragons, slaying beasts and Christianity, probably because I'm not Christian but it seems weird to me that those are always clustered together--and yes, they are NOT "speculative fiction" so I do see your dilemma.

R *is for Relentless* namericanwordcat wrote: "Have you read Freedom's Landing Freedom's Choice Freedom's Challenge Freedom's Ransom"

I'll second these too. great books

You might also take a look at the start of a trilogy The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
this is a trilogy about her daughter Damia by Anne McCaffrey Damia's Children by Anne McCaffrey Lyon's Pride by Anne McCaffrey

message 17: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments R, thank you!

Marjorie, I have always found it a bit weird. Why are dragons okay, but finding life on other planets isn't? I think part of it might be because of Lewis and Tolkien making fantasy "cool" and a bit more mainstream with the movies, but SF is still solidly the realm of nerds and geeks and includes nothing but Star Trek. (which unfortunately too many Christians take offense at and miss the brilliance of)

I grew up on Star Trek. TNG premiered when I was five and I remember watching it with my dad. I *love* Farscape. It's brilliant. I don't find any of it incompatible with being a Christian. I have way more issues with magic and wizards than I ever will with the thought of life on other planets. I even know a few people who think Dune should never be read by Christians. My pastor gets major points in our house for being a Dune fan.

That's part of what makes it a sticky situation and a very difficult decision. I am very firmly and soundly a Christian and it permeates everything I do. But I have no issues whatsoever reading books that view religion the way yours does. Next Generation is my favorite Star Trek and it's very dismissive of religion. DS9 is my second fave because it actually does explore religion.

I have no issues going either way, it's just a difficult decision. Ultimately I have to stay true to the story pouring out of me. If that's the way the characters tell me to go, that's the way I have to figure out how to go. And of course I selfishly think maybe what I'm writing could help break open the possibilities for SF within the Christian market. There's a massive readership waiting to be tapped, but nobody really seems to reach out to them. My dad and sister are two of them. They'd read good Christian worldview SF. If it existed.

You may or may not have heard of Marcher Lord Press. But even the type of SF Jeff publishes still isn't what I'm going for. I like subtle, not smack-me-upside-the-head with a faith element or a thinly disguised allegory.

message 18: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Rachel, wow, what an amazing take on the subject you have! I still don't know if I could get past the Christian elements--kind of the same way I'm shocked and apalled (as you) that there are Christians who just can't get past the "Spice" (pseudo religious) aspects of Dune. I didn't like Dune at all, by the way, and not because of any of the story elements--it was the religious oppressiveness in it. Ironically, it felt very veiled Christian to me. Is that not hilarious or what?

As I said, there is definitely a huge Christian fiction market and you're probably right, a huge, untapped SF fandom within it. You always have to write what you feel or what your characters tell you to write but bear in mind who will or won't find it appealing--that's a marketing consideration, not a writing one. Write what needs to be written, THEN find the market to whom to sell it. My work is not "mainstream" either. I don't go for the labels and strict categories. I don't think anyone should just because the industry HAS them. I think the way you GET something new and fresh and different is to write something that DOES cross lines. So cross away (pun intended) :-)


message 19: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I have no idea if Frank Herbert was a Christian or not. He definitely enjoyed exploring what happens when religion goes bad. Paul and Lato weren't really an improvement over the old system.

I thoroughly enjoy writing stuff that's a bit difficult to peg or doesn't fit the mainstream. That's who I am as a person and I don't know any other way to be or write. Part of what I'm tackling in my space opera is very difficult to do outside a concept of absolute truth.

The Christian fiction market is growing exponentially, and not just in romance. I'm a member of the largest Christian writers organization, American Christian Fiction Writers. Our yearly conference is *the* largest Christian-fiction only conference in the country and one of the largest fiction only conferences in the industry.

I'm having loads of fun figuring out how to do all this and tell the story I'm dying to tell. Right now I'm not thinking about what I'm going to do with it, just enjoying the process. I'm writing faster than I've ever written before. To the tune of 63,000 words in less than two months. It's a grand adventure to sit down every day and find out what comes next.

message 20: by AnnaM (last edited Jul 13, 2012 10:43AM) (new)

AnnaM (annamc) | 1111 comments Here are some that you might like:
Break Out Yes, vampire space captain. But I don't like vamps and this was so uniquely done I enjoyed it enough to buy the sequel.

The Eleven-Hour FallThe Elemental CrossingKate of Kratos Great SF in this. A bit different as an SFR. Not overly romantic and that's the weakest part writing-wise, if you ask me. These three novellas together make one complete story, as if they're long chapters of one novel. They don't cost much, so it's okay.

Happy SnakExcellent sf and aliens. Not overly romantic, but fun.

The Spiral Path Romantic. I honestly don't remember how hot this was because I read it long ago, but I usually choose milder ones, too. I don't usually pick any erotic--to me meaning where the plot hinges on sex or is mostly about sex.

DarkShip ThievesExcellent SF. Excellent slow romantic build up.

Grimspace Dark. Very dark. I haven't finished the whole series because it was too dark for me. But it's romantic too, a bit. The SF was good. I do have the rest of the series.

Song of Scarabaeus Excellent SF. Romantic but not overly so. I really loved this short series. Really loved it.

I got all these off my "read" list. Too bad you don't like military SF. There's a lot of military SFR. Old Man's War was wonderful.

We do have a group bookshelf that lists books by specifics like space opera, military, etc. And if you read a few of the reviews on the ones that sound good you can often pick out the erotic vs the hot vs the barely sexy. LOL. Happy reading!

Oh, and you can always ask on here about any book you're interested in. Someone has probably read it.

message 21: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments Thank you, Anna! I do like military stuff, it's just not what I'm writing so I'm trying to get a feel for what's out there that doesn't involve military. The closest thing I've got to a military presence is someone similar to a no longer serving National Guardsman.

Song of Scarabaeus immediately grabs my attention.

message 22: by AnnaM (new)

AnnaM (annamc) | 1111 comments I understand. :-) Enjoy! You have a lot of good stories to read.

message 23: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Chater (chaterpublishing) | 7 comments Rachel wrote: "I'm just getting started in reading SFR. I have the list from Galaxy Express, but it's more than a little overwhelming.

I'm looking for recommendations of good books that are *not* erotica. I like..."

Try this Rachel:

message 24: by Jadetyger (new)

Jadetyger Sevea | 56 comments Has anyone mentioned the Liaden Universe books to you yet? :)

message 25: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments No. What are some of the titles?

message 26: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Jadetyger wrote: "Has anyone mentioned the Liaden Universe books to you yet? :)"

In response to which Rachel asked, "No. What are some of the titles?

A quick search gave the entire series here, Rachel:

message 27: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments Thanks! I'll be checking them out later.

message 28: by Jadetyger (new)

Jadetyger Sevea | 56 comments Marjorie--Thanks for responding! I just got home, so just saw Rachel's question. FWIW, Rachel, most people recommend starting with Agent of Change. I actually started with Conflict of Honors, which is also a good intro book.

message 29: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I'll probably start at the beginning, in all honesty. I'm kind of anal like that.

message 30: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 76 comments Jadetyger, not a problem :) I often fail to come back to check threads for days despite having the notifications turned on. It's not forgetting or not seeing the notification. It's just that sometimes, REAL life just has to take a priority for a minute (LOL)

message 31: by Rinelle (new)

Rinelle Grey (rinellegrey) | 21 comments I'm new to sci-fi romance too. I'm enjoying Aubrie Dionne's books (the New Dawn series, and the more recent Paradise Reclaimed series, beginning with Colonization) Both have strong romantic elements, but not erotica. There are sex scenes in the first series, but the second series is YA, and I haven't come across any yet (still part way through the first book).

I also have a sci-fi series, the first book is Reckless Rescue, and it's about a spaceship captaion who gets stranded on a planet with a small group of settlers.

message 32: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Smith (rlsauthor) | 44 comments I have the sample for Aubrie's first book on my Nook, but haven't read it yet. It does intrigue me.

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