Seemingly ages ago, author and Star Trek guru Jacqueline Lichtenberg wrote about alien vampires in her books Those of My Blood (1988) and Dreamspy (1989). Given their mix of science fiction, fantasy, and romance, the stories are among the forerunners of paranormal romance.
Fast forward to 2012: Nina Croft’s Break Out (Entangled Publishing) hits the virtual shelves. Break Out features a supernatural-based vampire hero in a futuristic setting. It’s a lighthearted action-adventure space opera romp about a space pirate vampire who joins forces with the heroine to rescue her brother from the maximum security prison of a powerful corporation.
As a vampire living in the far future, Rico has emotional baggage, but he’s not highly angst-driven. Given his history, he’s a Friend of Old Earth, so there are quite a few Old Earth references. At one point he plays poker with actual cards—no holographic card deck for him!
In terms of mythology and the cultural mindset toward vampires, Rico is still a mythical being in that world. He’s a known space pirate, but people like Skylar, the heroine, have only heard whispers about his true nature. On the other hand, his crew knows exactly what he is. He bares his fangs a time or two and has glowing eyes. The fact that he seems only mildly concerned about hiding his true nature raises the question about how humans from a technologically advanced culture would react to an ancient vampire in their midst. Would they even fear him?
Rico’s crew perceives him as a supernatural monster, but also a safe one who is (mostly) in control of his cravings. The story touches upon the theme that Rico has been considered a monster no matter what time period he inhabits.
I’m not sure Break Out fully addresses the “What if?” speculation of a vampire-in-space scenario, but from what I’ve heard, the next book, Deadly Pursuit, fleshes out more of the world.
Then there's Tina Christopher's Celestial Surrender series, a trilogy of erotic sci-fi romances from Ellora’s Cave. The titles are Tangled Shadows (2011), Tangled Hunger (2012), and Tangled Indulgence (2013). I’ve read the first two (book one is m/f/m and book two is f/m). These stories feature vampires and angels in a futuristic setting. And lots and lots of scorching sex.
Where Nina Croft’s Break Out is action-adventure/Firefly oriented, Christopher’s Celestial Surrender is more character-driven. In this world, the vampires and angels are alien in origin and have an antagonistic relationship. Space faring technology exists and various planets have been colonized. The stories kind of circle back to what Jacqueline Lichtenberg was doing in the late '80s, only with heavy duty erotica elements. The erotic journey is front and center.
I would tag the first two books as the ultimate “take me away” futuristic fantasies in that the heroines unabashedly pursue their desires for pure sexual release with a being who’s a psychically powerful “Other.” One nice subtext, however, is that the closer a couple (or threesome, in the case of Tangled Shadows) becomes and the more trust they have in one another, the greater their ability to bring about peace.
What do you think about paranormal characters in a futuristic setting? Is it an appealing mashup? Given the popularity of vampire romances, why haven’t we seen more of them in space or future time periods? Or are supernatural characters better off in paranormal worlds?
Heather Masseyis 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 in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.