Dec 10 2012 5:30pm

Extraordinary Heroines—and the Heroes Who Love Them—in Sci-Fi Romance

Alpha by Catherine AsaroThere are many, many romance stories wherein the hero is a creature of the paranormal world and he’s paired with a human heroine. But what about the reverse scenario? That is our $64,000 question of the day!

Science fiction romance titles frequently feed my appetite for heroines with special abilities. Since sci-fi romance features more tech-based/non-human characters (as opposed to those with preternatural abilities), I like to call them “extraordinary heroines.”

Extraordinary heroines fascinate me not only because of their special qualities, but also because the characters tap into my own need for empowerment. I admire extraordinary heroines who push gender boundaries and challenge stereotypes. The cooler they are, the harder my crush.

But I still feel like I'm missing out on more of them, especially those who are paired with a human hero. I enjoy reading about these types of pairs because one, the heroines get a chance to play the hero. Two, it’s refreshing to read about heroes who worship their extraordinary partners as opposed to feeling threatened or insecure. To me, it’s a creative use of social commentary because the human heroes are validating the awesomeness of women!

Close Contact by Katherine AllredWhy don't we encounter this dynamic more often, especially in paranormal romance? Are “ordinary” human heroes not exciting enough in paranormal/sci-fi settings? Is the idea of an extraordinary heroine too strange to contemplate, even for books that target a largely female audience?

It's easy to market the idea of a dark and dangerous male fantasy lover to a heterosexual female audience. Sometimes all it takes is a pretty man titty cover. At least, it is now. Talk to a romance publisher marketing department about marketing paranormal heroes before paranormal romance was all the rage and you’d probably just get a blank stare.

Conversely, it's currently a challenge to effectively market romance stories with a heroine in a role that has traditionally been reserved for the hero. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, however. Urban fantasy seems to have satisfied many readers' desire for extraordinary heroines—a worthy feat. But urban fantasies don't always include a romance or HEA.

Luckily, there are science fiction romances that feature an extraordinary/paranormal heroine paired with a human man, and I’d like to share them with you.

The Antaren Affair by Erica AndersonFor the purpose of this post, I’m concentrating on heroines who have some kind of inherent ability or aspect that raises them to a whole other level of existence, whether that includes alien physiology, cybernetic enhancements, bioengineered talents, or psychic skills. The titles are listed alphabetically by title. I also noted the type of heroine featured in each book.

  • Alien Revealed - Lilly Cain (alien)
  • Alpha - Catherine Asaro (android)
  • Blue Nebula - Diane Dooley (cyborg)
  • Children of Scarabaeus – Sara Creasy (cybernetically enhanced)
  • Close Contact – Katherine Allred (genetically engineered; psi abilities)
  • Ghost Planet – Sharon Lynn Fisher (alien)
  • Grimspace – Ann Aguirre (psychic)
  • Kicking Ashe – Pauline Baird Jones (time travel ability)
  • Starlander’s Myth – Melisse Aires (shapeshifter)
  • The Antaren Affair - Erica Anderson (alien)
  • The Down Home Zombie Blues – Linnea Sinclair (alien)
  • The Spiral Path – Lisa Paitz Spindler (alien)
  • Unacceptable Risk – Jeanette Grey (cybernetically enhanced)

Can you think of other paranormal/sci-fi romance titles that feature these types of couples? Why do you think we don’t encounter them more often?


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, exploring the dynamic of extraordinary heroine/ human hero in her erotic clockpunk romance, The Watchmaker’s Lady. To learn more, visit

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Lege Artis
1. LegeArtis
Great post, Heather!
You are my authority concerning SciFi Romance, so I don't have much to add, but Julie E. Czernada comes to mind. She is former biologist and her aliens are very intresting. There is Sira di Sarc from her Trade Pact Universe trilogy-she is an telepath alien, most powerful of her race, and she hookes up with human trader. This one is more heavy on sc-fi part of the story then on romance, but easy to read. I enjoyed it.
2. SandyH
What about S.L.Viehl's Stardoc series? Also Linnea Sinclair's Games of Command.
3. CM Doporto
Great article Heather and this is exactly what encouraged me to write Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasies with heavy romantic elements. I love to write about the female heroine and I think you may like my debut novel, Element. Feel free to check out the synopsis at
4. Kelly Ethan
I love Jeff and Kitty from Gini Koch Alien series. lovedthe cople and love the story!

Kelly Ethan
Melisse Aires
5. Melisse_Aires
Great post! Now I am trying to think of a paranormal romance with a human hero and a supernatural or somehow enhanced female. I have a paranormal novella with a human hero-demon heroine. Hmmm. How odd I never noticed how rare that was. My brain was fogged by vampire hotness!

But the human hero-enhanced female seems so natural in scifi! Am working on one now, a human hero and a dancer turned cyborg.

Perhaps it seems natural because somehow I envision the future filled with powerful women.
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