Five Fun SFR Discoveries
Part of my ongoing journey as a sci-fi romance fan involves seeking out stories in a variety of mediums. Over the past several months, I discovered some items with SFR appeal and decided it was the perfect time for a roundup. Let’s begin!
Love Machines is a comic series by Josh Trujillo and various artists. The comic features “…stories of lives and loves touched by technology.”
I’d snagged Love Machines #1 during a ComiXology promotion. The first issue includes two stories: “Workers of All Lands, Unite!” (written by Josh Trujillo, illustrated by Ryo Kawakami, Letters by Adam Pruett) and “Appliances In Love” by Josh Trujillo.
“Workers of All Lands, Unite!” is about how love can inspire us to accomplish great things and struck me as more of a philosophical commentary than genre sci-fi romance.
“Appliances In Love” is a romance between a microwave and a vending machine. After finishing it I was like, sure, I can roll with that! It’s short, cute, and makes a quirky companion piece to this Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly’s featured short story, Flying Sparks by Mark Quaglia.
Now that I’ve had a taste of Love Machines, I’m interested in reading more to determine if SFR stories are included on a regular basis.
Fluffy SFR of the highest order
Another of my discoveries is a cyberpunk romance called Buying Time by Casey J. It’s a digital, animated webcomic that’s not only complete, but has a Happily Ever After! Buying Time is a super fun, super fluffy story and I love it to pieces! Here’s the description:
“Buying Time is a sci-fi cyberpunk romance. Set in the future megalopolis of Hyperion City where all forms of entertainent, including our own personal social lives are regulated by a micro-transaction monetary system called Daily Leisure Credit.
When Vinnie Smalls, a lonesome welder working for the Hyperion City Core finds he has a crush on a fellow co-worker, he finds he must break away from his usual loner lifestyle and dive headfirst into the inner workings of the Daily Leisure Credit system. Our story deals with the ups and downs of his relationship in the midst of system that makes staying in contact with someone a financial battle.”
The couple in this romance is adorable. Vinnie is cute and pudgy (a character type of which I’m a fan!] and Galvin is a POC cyborg with an Adonis-like body (Galvin’s character design tells me the creator might be a fan of Cyborg from Teen Titans, heh).
This story has a tight focus on the romance and the worldbuilding impacts how much and how often Vinnie and Galvin can interact. The general tone is lighthearted, with a splash of angst and a dash of comedy. In fact, it’s so funny in places I snort-laughed. Also, there’s lots of cute blushing!
Be advised this R-rated story includes a few graphic images involving blood. Their appearance surprised me given the overall tone, but they do serve the story. The love scenes are tender and tasteful.
My one quibble with Buying Time was the inclusion of a stereotypical “sassy black girlfriend.” Galena is likeable and comes across as well-meaning, but her depiction relies too heavily on this trope, especially her dialogue.
Buying Time will induce all the squees if you enjoy fluffy and unapologetically romantic sci-fi romances! Learn more about Casey J. and his work in this YouTube interview.
An exquisite SFR discovery
Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time (2016, Bedside Press, edited by Hope Nicholson) is an amazing anthology of SF/F stories featuring LGBT indigenous characters and themes. Here’s the blurb:
“Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman undergoing an experimental transition process to young lovers separated through decades and meeting in their own far future. These are stories of machines and magic, love and self-love.”
News of the anthology popped up on Twitter and immediately intrigued me, especially since folks whose taste I trust were recommending it. I immediately emailed the editor and she confirmed the stories have appeal for sci-fi romance readers. The editor also surprised me with a review copy, so I wasted no time checking it out.
Three of the stories have a distinct SFR feel, but I’m going to be coy and not specify them because all the stories are worth reading. This anthology features uplifting, award-worthy tales that both entertain and offer invaluable insights into the worlds of indigenous two-spirit and LGBT people. Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is an example of diversity and inclusion done right.
Is Michael Avolio’s Flesh Machine too good to be true?
Writer-illustrator Michael Avolio describes Flesh Machine as a “sci-fi war story romance webcomic”. I discovered it while searching for—wait for it!—sci-fi romance webcomics! So far, I f**king love this story! Oh my gosh, where to begin describing this glorious experience? How about a general description?
The story takes place on far-future, non-Earth worlds and features a POC couple: Lucy Olmos, a mechanic, and Seiji Dequier, a brigadier in the Interplanetary Watch. They live in a time of war. Guerillas are making life dangerous by raiding weapons and ships from the Watch and supplies from civilians.
Lucy and Seiji’s courtship is so sweet and tender I was sighing happily while reading it. A certain plot twist throws their burgeoning relationship into forbidden romance territory. The love scenes are artfully depicted and so, so hot.
Since Flesh Machine is hitting all my SFR happy buttons so far, I’m terrified it won’t have an HEA/HFN, or that the story has a huge, honking problematic issue I’m somehow missing. I’m keeping my expectations in check, but it’s a challenge because I really, really want this story to fall within SFR genre conventions. Alas, that’s the risk an adventurous reader like me must be prepared to take!
New pages appear every Tuesday. At the rate it’s going, it’ll take a while to end and when it does, I’ll report on it in more detail via SFRQ’s blog, Galaxy Express 2.0. If you can’t wait for my update, you can start reading it here as well as subscribe to the creator’s newsletter for updates on new content. You can also follow Michael Avolio on Twitter: @MichaelAvolio
Stories for your consideration
Check it out: Anne Renwick’s The Golden Spider is a steampunk romance featuring a scientist couple! The heroine invented a clockwork spider that spins artificial nerves—how cool is that?! After learning about the book via a sighting on Twitter, I realized scientist couples is a pairing I enjoy very much, but haven’t nearly read my fill of.
What I have read so far includes KS Augustin’s In Enemy Hands and Overclocked, Catherine Asaro’s The Phoenix Code, and Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet. After I notch my proverbial belt with The Golden Spider, I’m going to stay on the alert for more SFRs featuring scientist couples. You really can’t beat adorkable nerds in a science-based setting falling in love!
Here’s some information about two other in-progress webcomics that aren’t SFR, but have appeal for SFR readers who also like diverse SF stories featuring female protagonists.
Relativity by Beck Kramer is a smart, touching story set in contemporary times and explores how an unusual lightspeed flight space mission impacts the marriage of an astronaut and her wife. So far, I can tell you the story includes lots of angst, deep thoughts about Time, and twisty plot twists. Relativity updates weekly.
Follow on Twitter: @RelativityComic
Bounty Hunter Space Besties by Christine Hipp stars two spunky female bounty hunters in a space opera setting and offers action-adventure, witty banter, and mystery. This is one of those stories where the name alone made me want to check it out!
Here’s the story description:
Paget and Cory took this job thinking they’d go on adventures and get to see the universe, but so far they’ve just seen a lot of embezzlers and tax evaders. When they are transferred to a new sector that’s known as the Wild West of the universe, they see it as fresh start and a chance to see some real action, but they find themselves in over their heads when they agree to clear the name of a shapeshifter accused of murdering his magical peers.Updates Thursdays.
Follow on Twitter: @BHSBComic
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for joining me on this journey and may your own sci-fi romance adventures be full of delightful discoveries!
And all of that sweet content definitely gives me something to talk about.