Nov 29 2008 3:18pm

Challenge of the Skiffy Rommer Brigade

Super Friends

Big fan of Hanna-Barbera here: I especially love the old skool fare featuring ensemble casts such as Josie and the Pussycats; The Herculoids; Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?; The Banana Splits Adventure Hour; and, of course, Super Friends.

Ah, Super Friends. So much to adore in that show...!

One of its more charming highlights includes close-ups of characters staring ahead vacuously (perhaps dreaming of future, higher-budget productions) while poor Wonder Woman usually finds herself cross-eyed. (Note to self: Never visit an optometrist on Paradise Island.) And don’t get me started on why they continually endanger two ditsy teenagers and their dog, or how on earth a blue monkey continually saves the likes of Superman and the Batman.

Like I said, Super Friends is a Kryptonian gold mine of entertainment.

All jesting aside, the show did imprint the importance of teamwork and camaraderie upon me at an impressionable young age, and that’s a good thing. So it’s no wonder that since the inception of my science fiction romance blog, I took notice when certain visitors made repeat appearances, effectively transforming The Galaxy Express into an ersatz Hall of Justice headquarters.

Only this time, the members heeding the call to arms were superheroines of a different sort altogether…. See what I mean after the jump.

And so, the Skiffy Rommer Brigade sprang into being.

Most are aspiring authors, but first and foremost they are all devoted fans of science fiction romance. They are bloggers united for a common purpose, “to fight injustice, to right that which is wrong” namely, the adulation and promotion of science fiction romance.

Why do they expend so much effort? Too often, bloggers view each other as competitors, but like the aforementioned Alex Toth blessed heroes, we’re bound together for a greater good—this being science fiction romance.

SFR books currently reside under a niche market umbrella. That aspect has its appeal but it also means that the sub-genre relies on the loyalty business model to remain viable. Fans of any niche market products knoweth of which I speaketh.

And if fans want their beloved art to continue, it helps to focus their super skills wherever they’re needed the most.

Who are these stalwart fans of science fiction romance? I gained access to the secret dossiers, and I’m revealing them here for your reading pleasure (and to stoke the blazing fires of my favorite sub-genre, natch).

Herewith, the members of the Skiffy Rommer Brigade to date:

Often the first on the scene, Lisa Paitz Spindler is Danger Gal, whose “stiletto heels are licensed weapons and she keeps ninja stars in her bra.” ’Nuff said...except maybe, rowwrrr!

Laurie Green a.k.a The Worldbuilding Wonder has the ability to create fully functioning galaxies with a flick of her cosmic pen. She’s on a mission to put “…the science fiction back into science fiction romance.” In her downtime, you can hang out with Laurie at Spacefreighters’ Lounge.

The legendary Star Captains’ Daughter is Kimber An, the intrepid cosmonaut and staunch supporter of SFR. In her universe, “…hyperspace takes on a whole new meaning.”

Ella Drake is The Goddess. With her power to manipulate the fabric of time, she “draws on myth and folklore to create a modern or futuristic angle to old stories.”

Flying Whale Productions is commanded by Mfitz the Mysterious. Her specialty is an extrasensory vision that uncovers pockets of real world weirdness that writers can incorporate into their science fiction adventures.

Frances Writes is the abode of Frances Drake, otherwise known as The Whizard. The moniker is fitting given that she has “a mind like a steel sieve”! You’ll find all manner of wonders in her brain including “thoughts on writing, book reviews, astronomy, art, science fiction romance, pets, gardening, travel and living.”

Jace Scribbles is, of course, The Scribbler! With her support of SFR authors such as Susan Grant, she understands the power of words in the age of the ’Net.

Susan Macatee is The Thespian. With her background as “a Civil War civilian reenactor with the 28th Pennsylvania Regiment based in Philadelphia,” she can whip up a good SFR tale faster than you can say, “Abraham Lincoln’s hat.”

Take It To The Stars is a spot frequented by Dawn Jackson, who goes out undercover as Watchwoman, the cyborg femme fatale super soldier who isn’t afraid of a little action—or a lotta love.

What Time Is It Again? is the fortress of Natalie Hatch, The Awesome Aussie. She has the power to beguile a person’s funny bone, which comes in especially handy whenever a villain threatens the Skiffy Rommer Brigade and all else has failed.

Now here’s your chance to join the roll call.

Do you hear the call of science fiction romance? Would you like a touch of interpersonal with your outer space? I know many uninitiated run when seeing the Romance label on a book. But I’m not talking about a bare-chested Fabio with a light saber here. Think more in line with Han & Leia’s relationship in Empire.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, come join up! We always remember that there’s no “I” in “team”...unless, uh, you’re on Bizarro World, and it am spelled “tiiim.”

Head on over here and add your voice to the cause!

Phil Frederick
1. flosofl
I am continually amazed (and delighted) at how the Super Friends still manage to persist as part of our pop consciousness in the US after all this time.

Anyone who doubts the impact of the Super Friends need only shout out "Wonder Twin powers... activate!" and, without fail, someone will come up and bump fists. And then start the shape of/form of dance.
Eugene Myers
2. ecmyers
I can't watch the Super Friends anymore, ever since I caught a rerun on the Cartoon Network in college. Filmation was notoriously cheap with their shows, to the point where it could barely be called animation. They would only move the mouths for instance, while keeping all other cels stationary, and they would also save money by reversing cels to make a character turn its head. That's fine for heroes with symmetrical heads, like Batman, but I kind of freaked out when Superman turned his head and *his spitcurl flipped backwards*. It was like some kind of demon possession... So yeah, no Super Friends for me.
Frances Drake
3. Frances
*&@#%^& That is the trouble with growing up in the age of dinosaurs! We didn't even have a TV until I was almost too old to watch. FURY, the Black Stallion, and MIGHTY MOUSE were my favorites at first. THE MAN FROM UNCLE was pretty cool when I was older. Real horses and real books quickly overshadowed the fare offered on TV when I was that age. I was an adult when I discovered the wit of THE GUMMY BEARS. Talk about sly! Then some studio exec. found out that it was actually intelligent, funny, and that kids liked it. It was quickly canceled. Can't have kids or adults watching that sort of thing! Oh well, there was always Edgar Rice Burroughs, Heinlein, and Jules Vern to fall back on.
Natalie Hatch
4. Natalie Hatch
Thanks for the plug Heather!
Science Fiction Romance gets an even worse wrap than straight romance in today's media. Ah well. I just think that there are plenty of intelligent women (and men) out there who aren't scared of futuristic settings or high tech options in the romance department. Romance and relationships will always be at the forefront of writing.
As for myself I so love reading science fiction/ speculative fiction to see what others opinions of the future will be. I was raised on Heinlein, Clarke, and the likes, and have been able to salute in Vulcan since I was three. I am excited that there is an increasing demand in the Young Adult market for science fiction romance. My teens have had the old classics foisted at them just like my parents did for me. Though I can't compete with Twilight right now in Miss14's obsession.
I'm currently working on a Young Adult novel featuring a Female Space Pirate - think Mary Read in the 24th century (but there's no Buck Rogers!), and I love the freedom writing in a futuristic setting gives. Naming gadgets that have never and probably will never be invented is great fun - though I've been reminded by my teens that it has to somehow be physically possible in some small region of the galaxy to actually work or else I have to ditch the product. So far the teens have thrown out my all in one positron/neutron flow engines and space folding mirror. But they did allow me to have Space Whales that suck up Thorium atoms in nebulae for food instead of krill.... we had a big debate about that around the dinner table.
As for superheroes, well I always considered myself more like Bionic woman, I'm nothing special, but give me a couple of gadgetry implants and I will leap tall fences in high heels whilst my feathery hair works at accentuating my smile.
Heather Massey
5. sfrgalaxy
Flosofl, exactly! Despite the inherent awfulness of the Wonder Twins, they are the most endearing of any superheroes. Why Hollywood hasn't yet made WONDER TWINS: THE MOVIE is beyond me. I could totally see Ben Stiller playing Zan. His face staring up from a bucket of water? Priceless.

Ecmyers, thanks for reading! I feel your pain about the freaky Filmation. On the one hand, it's so maddening because of all the lost potential. On the other, little else in this world can reduce me to such helpless paroxysms of laughter.

And can I just mention how much of a guilty pleasure Hoyt S. Curtin's music is for me? In his prime, he gave John Williams a run for his money fer sure.

Hi, Frances! Thanks for coming by. THE GUMMY BEARS, hmm??? Sounds like I missed some yummy stuff.

Natalie, hello! I lurv your Space Whale idea! Srsly, in the right story it could work. And your Mary Read space pirate book sounds fab--sign me up yesterday!
Lisa Paitz Spindler
6. dangrgal
Heavens to mergatron, Heather, thank you!

Flosofl beat me to it, but I adored the Wonder Twins too. Unlike ecmyers I've resisted watching SuperFriends as an adult so that I can preserve my memory of it.

Now, Battle of the Planets/G-Force, that's another story. :)

SFR does get a bad rap. Sometimes I think it's the nexus of no respect that is both SF/F and Romance. None of us get any real respect, true?

I keep hearing lot of people these days saying that Science Fiction is dead, but I don't think that's true. I think it's just seeped its way into so many other genres that's no so distinct anymore. I see this as a sign of its success, though, rather than a symptom of its downfall.
Natalie Hatch
7. Laurie SFR
Shazzam, Heather, thanks for the mention of Spacefreighters Lounge.

I remember my Saturday mornings with The Herculoids, Josie and the Pussycats, and The Banana Splits (and, of course, the original Star Trek...Vulcan salutes Natalie back) but somehow I missed exposure to Super Friends or the Wonder Twins. I guess I was a deprived child.

I do love being among the ranks of the Skiffy Rommer Brigade. Though the Science Fiction purists may still see us as "a small band of writers terrorizing the SF genre," I'm committed to the rebel cause. (Thanks to Heather for allowing us to make The Galaxy Express our rebel base.)

For me, Science Fiction and Romance are the Wonder Twins of storytelling, a perfect blend of possibility and the human condition, of shiny technology and natural emotion. Like Dangrgal, I don't believe SF is dead, and I think SFR has the potential of broadening the interest in SF.

Long live the Skiffy Rommer Brigade.
Natalie Hatch
8. DLaree
Watchwoman. I like it. LOL
018:00 hours. Do you know where your laptop is???
If she's not crashing her laptop she's hanging out on Takeittothestars. LOL
I hit the cursed chapter 12 again on my current WIP. Remind me to tell you about it sometime. I swear to skip it from now on and move to a luckier number--13.
So...I've been scarce. I will be around hopefully soon. Once I have my trusty sidekick back and we can go online. To help Heather terrorize, er...unite all Skiffy Rommers in the cause.
Can't wait to spring the latest on you.

Oooh Sat morning cartoons. Superfriends, G-force and Scooby Doo.
Sorry, still love those meddleing kids.
Ella Drake
9. elladrake
Thanks for the nod, and I'm proud to be a Skiffy Rommer. Bring on the space pirates, time jumpers, and futuristic societies. Love 'em all.

But as for Super Friends, I must confess, I was more of a Spiderman & his amazing friends kind of gal.

Spider-friends, Go For It!

Talk about a love triangle. Who would Firestar pick? Spidey or Iceman?

And the movie...would Spider-man be the same person, the same hero, without Mary Jane? No, the romance is essential to his story. The interaction between people, who they are, how they love, that's part of life. It's what makes the superhero real.

Look forward to more of your wonderful posts!
Heather Massey
10. sfrgalaxy
Dangrgal, so glad you could swing by! I agree, SF is not dead, it's just undergoing an extreme makeover. The journey is fabulous imho.

Laurie, great to see you here! that is such a cool metaphor of Wonder Twins and SF & Romance. Love it!

DLaree, glad you liked "Watchwoman"! Best of luck on your WIP and please do keep me updated.

Hi, Elladrake! The pleasure is mine. I agree about Spidey. A vast majority of the success of that comic is his flaws and foibles and the love that drives him. Great stuff.
11. rogerothornhill
What an inspired post, Heather. You make me want to comment on your wonderful blog more.
Natalie Hatch
13. Susan Macatee
Great post, Heather!
I cut my teeth reading science fiction, both novels and short stories, both by the sci-fi greats and new authors. I love sci-fi romance and hope to see the genre grow.

Though I've been writing historical romance, (another love of mine), I decided I had to take the plunge and write a SFR of my own. I'm writing the first draft of what I hope to be a trilogy set on a strange far-off world in the far future. The love story is between a female space ship captain and a military linguist. They have a past, the relationship ended badly and now they have to work together to save Earth colonists and native aliens from a conquering alien race bent on taking over the planet and inhabitants.

And thanks so much for inviting me to be a Skiffy Rommer!
Mary Fitzpatrick
14. mfitzz

Now I feel the pressure to be brilliant!

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