Interspecies science fiction romances aren't new, but those with an alien heroine and human male pairing seem to be fairly uncommon. Today's Big Question: Why is that?
By “alien heroine,” I mean an alien who is markedly distinct, biologically, from human women in some way (admittedly, the distinction isn't always a significant one, usually in the interest of making the character accessible).
Not every sci-fi romance has aliens, but of those that do, I go in expecting either the hero or the heroine to be one (or even both). I don't have an expectation for just one type of alien character. So if the heroine is an alien, cool.
Perhaps I'm an outlier, though. It's interesting to note that Goodreads has a list of “Outer Space Heroes Sci-Fi Romance” and “Best Alpha Male Alien Meets Human Heroine Romance,” but for the life of me I can't locate a similar list for alien heroines. Something's telling me that alien heroines aren't familiar enough to readers. I wonder why?
Sci-fi romance is a fairly young genre, so that could be one reason. Not enough books have been written yet to create the variety. Another is that if the point of a story is to offer a heterosexual female reader a titillating sexual fantasy, then yeah, I can see not wanting alien biology to distract from the sexy times.
But romances of all heat levels allow for exploring a couple's emotional connection as well–and yet alien heroines still seem to come up short. It's a frustrating lack for readers interested in meeting more of such characters.
In my reading experience, there's a higher chance of encountering alien heroine-human male couples in erotic romance titles. As a positive exploration of female sexuality, that can be a good thing. At the same time, there's a risk of an alien heroine being defined more by her sexuality than her personality.
Am I finding more alien heroines in erotic romance because the sexual content lowers the risk of writing them?
Regardless of heat level, these ladies are difficult to find. Some days it seems I'd have an easier time locating a unicorn! But I've run across a few titles so far:
Gena Showalter's Enslave Me Sweetly, from her Alien Huntress series, features an alien heroine whose job is to protect humans from other aliens.
Lilly Cain's Confederacy Treaty erotic series features two titles with an alien heroine: Alien Revealed and Undercover Alliance. The Inarri have L'inar, nerve lines that enhance sexual pleasure.
In Melisse Aires's Starlander's Myth, the heroine is a shifter gryphon.
The Antaren Affair by Erica Anderson features a human-like heroine, but with a key physical difference. Her body is covered in sharush, spirals of raised skin that change color according to her emotions. They're highly sensitive and reflect her level of sexual arousal.
The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair stars an alien heroine who hunts biomechanical creatures, a group of which intend to use Earth as a breeding ground. This story features an alien heroine at her most accessible—basically a human from another planet. Heat level is on the sweet side.
Julie E. Czerneda's A Thousand Words for Stranger is romantic SF and the start of her Trade Pact trilogy. It has a slow-burn romance between alien telepath Sira di Sarc (who is human-like) and a human man.
A few stories involve a heroine who started off human and became alien, such as Melisse Aires' Refugees on Urloon and Sharon Lynn Fisher's Ghost Planet, or who were born half-human, half-alien, such as Lara Soto from Lisa Paitz Spindler's The Spiral Path. These three heroines develop unique abilities as a result of their altered genetic makeup.
Do you know of any others? If so, show alien heroines some love in the comment section!
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 in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.