content by

Heather Massey

Female Action Stars: You Know You Want Them

In “Death of the Female Action Star,” (link leads to a cached post—the original was taken down) author Joel Shepherd laments the lack of female action stars in big budget Hollywood films. In fact, when a producer shopped around his Cassandra Kresnov series, this was the result:

‘They’re just not interested,’ he [the producer] said. ‘I mention she’s female and that’s the end of the conversation.’

Wow. Like, way to dismiss half of the human race there.

In his post, Mr. Shepherd wonders why A-list actresses don’t address this imbalance more aggressively, but I think the situation is far beyond their ability to solve. In fact, in order to create the conditions that are conducive to female action stars, it’s going to take—cue clichéd phrase—a village. And that starts with questioning our own preconceived notions that a female action star is inherently impossible.

[Dare to dream the possibilities…]

The Manos: The Hands of Fate Blu-ray Project

Manos: The Hands of Fate is a horror film that currently resides at # 3 of IMDb’s Bottom 100 list. If you’ve seen this “hallmark” film, it was almost certainly because of the much-deserved lambasting given to it by Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Every shot of the film is pure amateur hour with continuous continuity errors, out-of-sync sound, and abundant bad acting. When is the last time you watched anything with swarms of moths in the nighttime shots (outside of the occasional YouTube video, that is)? Well, they’re here in all their Mothra-lite glory.

And yet despite the multitude of flaws—or more likely, because of them—one man has taken on the challenge of restoring this paragon of bad cinema for 21st century viewers. By chance, he has stumbled across a rarity among rarities—a workprint of this 1966 film. Fate selected him to restore this classic disaster, but to accomplish this Herculean task, he needs your help.

Who, I’m sure you’re wondering, is this celluloid superhero in our midst?

[Be a part of cinematic history]

Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s Unto Zeor, Forever: More Than Just Tentacle Sex

I love to read science fiction romance, but I also enjoy studying this subgenre on a more scholarly level. There are trends to explore, covers to analyze, and subtext to discover. Reading for entertainment alone is great, but I also want to actively evaluate stories in terms of their culture, context, and impact.

Exploring the subgenre’s history—especially the more obscure books—yields a lot of interesting information about its origin as well as how it has evolved over the years.

Such is the case with a book I recently read, namely Unto Zeor, Forever by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. This book was initially published by Doubleday in 1978. But thanks to the wonders of digital technology, the author has been releasing the backlist of her Sime~Gen series, of which Unto Zeor, Forever is a part. So, I snagged a copy for my Kindle.

The least you need to know about the story:

[Here there be tentacles…]

Amazing Stories: Rising from the Ashes

Few things in science fiction are as iconic as Amazing Stories. When the magazine premiered in 1926, it was the first of its kind to focus solely on science fiction tales.

Its influence is undisputed, helping shape modern-day SF as we know it.

SF juggernauts such as Ursula K. Le Guin (being celebrated this month at The Center For Fiction) Isaac Asimov, and Roger Zelazny had their first stories published in the magazine. Fanzines grew out of the social networking fostered by its letter column. Even Steven Spielberg licensed the name for his 1985 television series. One would think that such an influential and well-known mainstay of science fiction would never, ever die.

But, Amazing Stories amazingly did just that. After nearly eighty years in circulation, it ended.

Now, that’s about to change.

[Help stoke the SF fire]

Top Ten Geek Girl Sites

Did you hear that explosion? It’s the sound of geek girl sites popping up all over the web!

Geek girl sites are run by women (and sometimes with a few guys in the mix) for geeks of all genders. These sites cover a broad spectrum of SF/F pop culture news. Some of them operate from a specific angle while others simply declare their love of geek culture just because they can.

[Channel your inner geek girl…]

Sci-Fi Romance Anthologies: Free of the Ghetto At Last

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.

[Find out what happened next below…]

The Shock And Terror Of It All. James Nguyen’s Birdemic

There are movies, and then there are cinematic experiences that simply must be shared. So move over, Hitchcock, and take your old skool birds with you. Director James Nguyen is the new maestro in town. And if Birdemic: Shock And Terror (2008) is any indication, he’s kicking ass and taking names.

Well, sorta.

Birdemic: Shock And Terror is basically about a guy, a girl, and their epic battle with the deleterious effects of global warming. Said effects take the form of—wait for it—angry birds. But, these are some really, really angry birds.

[And somehow out of this… science fiction romance]

It’s An Honor Just To Be Nominated: Three Sci-Fi Romances Final in The 2011 RWA Golden Heart Awards

Most days, I’m happy to wear my “proud to love obscure genres” badge, but there are times when I’m itching for some of them to break out. Or at least take a baby step toward some mainstream lovin’. To that end, I’m excited about the opportunity to report on one such event.

First, some background. The goal of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest is “…to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance manuscripts.” The Golden Heart is the contest for aspiring authors (as opposed to the RITA, which is for published authors).

This year, three science fiction romance manuscripts finaled in the Golden Heart contest. They are:

[See the nominees…]

Announcing Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Expanding Universe Contest”

When I think of authors who should be required reading for science fiction and science fiction romance fans, the names of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller come immediately to mind. This writing duo is the team behind the classic and ever-popular Liaden Universe®. This series of “adventurous romantic space opera” holds crossover appeal for both romance and science fiction readers.

To celebrate the release of Mouse and Dragon, Lee and Miller’s thirteenth Liaden novel, the authors are holding a cosmically cool contest. They’re giving away 36 digital copies of The Dragon Variation omnibus, which includes Conflict of Honors, Local Custom and Scout’s Progress. This contest is open to anyone and everyone who has yet to sample the galactic gold (sorry, couldn’t resist) of a Liaden Universe® novel.

[More contest news after the break…]

Romance and Science Fiction, Sittin’ in a Tree…


I know. Romance and science fiction hybrid stories? Scandalous.

But is it really? Isn’t this rather old news, that writers in mainstream, niche, and fan fiction venues have blended romance and science fiction in books, films, television, graphic novels, and even videogames?

In light of runaway blockbuster hybrid films like Avatar, it is rather passé. These days, science fiction romance stories (including romantic SF) are poised to exit the ghetto. Because it’s one thing to say you don’t care for romance-SF blends, and quite another to say they have no place in science fiction…or romance, for that matter.

The cat’s already out of the Han and Leia bag.

[More unleashed SFR brouhaha contained herein…]

Win Free Books with the SFR Holiday Blitz!

If you’re reading this, chances are you like to read genre books. And, there’s an even greater chance that you enjoy reading them when they’re free…! Therefore, I’m cross-posting a Galaxy Express book giveaway announcement at Tor as a way to introduce you to the joys of science fiction romance.

If you think you’re completely unfamiliar with science fiction romance, chances are you’ve sampled a taste without realizing it: Think of the romance in found The Empire Strikes Back. Or, perhaps you’re already a fan of Catherine Asaro’s character-driven hard SF stories. There’s room for all.

[Want to know more…?]

Animated Sexual Shenanigans on Mongo

The New Adventures of Flash Gordon (1979-1980) is a delicious adaptation of Alex Raymond’s classic comic strip. According to IMDb, the series was originally conceived as a live action vehicle, but NBC opted for a budget-friendly animated one by Saturday morning staple. The serialized format delivered 16 episodes in the first season. I’m assuming you know the basic plot, so if you’re new to this series, beware slight spoilers.

There’s quite a bit to enjoy in this particular adaptation—including better than average animation and some feisty action. But what got my fist pumping the air was the surprisingly high level of sensuality and romance. For a Saturday morning animated show, Flash Gordon practically bleeds with romance if one counts the various love triangles, secret crushes, and reckless lust.

[Here there be Lion Men with ripped abs…]

Steampunk Needs a Shot of—Wait for It—Romance

I lurv me some steampunk when it’s properly polished and gleaming. I love it for all the usual suspects: the brass goggles, its retro-Victorianism, its nostalgia, the brass goggles, automatons, airships, steam powered rifles (and steam powered everything else), its socio-political themes—hang on, did I mention brass goggles?

Yet for all of its wonders, steampunk can feel awful dry at times. There are occasions when I crave a steampunk story solely for its Deep Thoughts, but if it can deliver the same punch with character-driven tales then sign me up! Mixing romance with steampunk is simply one way to add that particular ingredient.

Currently, there is no such subgenre as steampunk romance. Who knew?! I’ll admit, it feels a bit surreal to be discussing a subgenre that may or may not emerge, but steampunk romance is ripe for exploring.

[More steamy goggles after thee break….]

Series: Steampunk Month

Dear Publishers: Girls Read Comics, Too

Evie Nagy’s PW article “What a Girl Wants is Often a Comic” presents a great overview of comics and the girls who love them. Dark Horse, Slave Labor Graphics, and Oni Press are doing a bang up job of creating stories that range in appeal to everyone from the Hannah Montana mall crowd to the cerebral Persepolis coterie (not an easy thing to do).

But what about the Big Two, DC and Marvel? Sure, there are a few if you look, but apparently the crash and burn of DC’s Minx young adult graphic novel line indicates “…that a market for alternative young adult comics does not exist in the capacity to support an initiative of this kind, if at all.”

Oh, really? Just because the distributor in this case, Random House, was unable to get its coveted shelf placement for these graphic novels, there’s barely a market? R u nuts?

Here’s the deal: Most girls love to read and would adore reading great comics—it’s just that sometimes they don’t even know it yet.

[More on cracking the Mary Jane code…]

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