Historically, science fiction romance anthologies have been about as common as woolly mammoth sightings. I know what you’re thinking: it’s a crying shame. Even more scandalous is the fact that there seems to be a “Mammoth Book” of every subgenre except science fiction romance. Where, I beseech you, is the love?
There’s little to report on sci-fi romance anthologies from years past. What I can tell you is that a number of years ago, the dearly departed Science Fiction Romance Newsletter hosted the Zircon Short Speculative Romance Contest.
In 2007, several of the winning stories from that contest were published in SUM3: The 2006 Zircon Anthology of Speculative Romance (Zumaya Publishing). SUM3 is out of print, but former newsletter proprietor Jody Wallace kindly sent me a copy.
While not all of the stories are sci-fi romance, as far as I know, SUM3 was one of only two anthologies in the past decade with this subgenre at the helm. The other one was Irresistible Forces (2007, Signet), which included stories by—maybe you’ve heard of them—Lois McMaster Bujold, Catherine Asaro, and Mary Jo Putney.
Various paranormal romance anthologies over the years have periodically featured science fiction romance stories, but never in significant numbers. In the past decade, dedicated authors such as Linnea Sinclair were prime candidates for sci-fi romance short story collections, so lack of interest on their part wasn’t the problem. However, chances were slim-to-none that a mainstream print publisher would release one.
Well, I understand. Publishers can only take so many risks. *Sniff*
Fortunately, good things come to those who wait. Time has been a friend to the subgenre, tearing off those ghetto chains, opening unexpected doors, and creating new opportunities.
Ebooks, I’m looking at you.
In the past couple of years, digital and small press publishers saw that the demand existed and swooped in to deliver sci-fi romance anthologies to those underserved readers. But then a funny thing happened. Three mainstream print publishers released sci-fi romance themed anthologies within two years of each other. The timing is probably coincidental (i.e., why now vs. six or seven years ago?), but I find the synchronicity highly intriguing nonetheless.
Without further ado, allow me to present a list of science fiction romance anthologies currently available:
1) Songs of Love and Death: All Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love – Gallery Press
Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, this anthology features “Courting Trouble,” a space adventure by intrepid author Linnea Sinclair. Not every story includes the romance genre convention of a “Happily Ever After,” but the general sci-fi romance theme is there.
2) Impulse Power – Samhain Publishing
The current leader in sci-fi romance anthologies, Samhain Publishing’s Impulse Power features three space opera romance tales edited by Sasha Knight.
3) Men in Space – Samhain Publishing
This anthology was also edited by Sasha Knight, and is a collection of three male/male space opera romance stories.
4) Love and Rockets – DAW Books
Edited by Kerrie Hughes, this anthology includes “Wanted” by Anita Ensal (pen name of Alien Tango author Gini Koch).
5) Seeing Stars – Total-E-Bound
Hot off the press in May 2011, six authors wove tales of erotic sci-fi romances for this steamy collection.
More SFR anthologies—steampunk style
1) Silk, Steel and Steam – Samhain Publishing
This anthology features three steampunk romance stories (Stealing Utopia, Bluebeard’s Machine, and Flavia’s Flying Corset)—the first of its kind as far as I know. For that, we have editor Sasha Knight to thank.
2) Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances – Running Press
3) Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1. – L&L Dreamspell
This new e-anthology contains two steampunk romances: “Steambot Rampage” by Heather Massey (in the interest of full disclosure, that’s me!) and “Steam Time” by Pauline Baird Jones. Given that this anthology has four stories total, a 50% ratio of sci-fi romance ain’t bad at all!
4) Hot and Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance – DAW Books
Edited by Jean Rabe, this anthology includes tales such as Tobias Buckell’s “Love Comes to Abyssal City.”
Finally, here’s the lowdown about a forthcoming collection:
5) Cybershock – Samhain Publishing
This cyberpunk romance anthology will feature three stories: “Gridlock” by Nathalie Gray, “Ghost in the Machine” by Barbara J. Hancock, and “Zero Factor” by newcomer Stacy Gail. The release date is August 30, 2011.
Well there you have it, folks: a science fiction romance anthology for every mood. Now that’s what I call catching up for lost time!
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express.
She’s also an author: Once Upon a Time in Space (Red Sage Publishing) is her debut sci-fi romance novel. To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.