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Aug 13 2017 11:00am

Why Romance Readers Might Be Interested in Zoe

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Zoe Asks: If Technology Could Make Your Romance Perfect, Would You Use It?

We currently have dating apps like Tinder and sites like Match.com to help us find compatible romantic partners, but what if technology suddenly took a giant leap forward and perfected the very process of falling in love?

A forthcoming film called Zoe (2018) plans on exploring exactly that issue. Helmed by Drake Doremus and written by Rich Greenberg, this “sci-fi romance” story is about “…two colleagues at a revolutionary research lab who design technology to improve and perfect romantic relationships. As their work progresses, their discoveries become more profound than they could ever have imagined.” (via Collider). The film stars Léa Seydoux and Ewan McGregor, alongside other prominent actors including Rashida Jones, Christina Aguilera, Miranda Otto, and Theo James.

A perusal of the film's entry on IMDB.com revealed an interesting tidbit: actress Jordana LaJoie will play a character called “The Other Robot.” Whoa. What's that all about?

So, what can we speculate about Zoe so far?

Based on the scant available information, it seems the technology in question will have an impact on the scientists themselves. If they serve as the first experimental subjects for the technology, that would certainly be an interesting angle to explore. Or maybe the technology will cause them to accidentally fall in love and then, hmm, maybe they'll “accidentally” fall into a bed and have hot sex….

Ahem! Anyway.

At this early stage, it's impossible to say what form the technology will take. Will it involve advanced software? Virtual reality? A holographic romance guru? Brain implants? A device to help us determine with whom we share strong romantic chemistry? How accessible will the technology be for people with disabilities? How affordable will it be?

Since the film has a science-based approach, I'm also curious to see if the story will address how the technology will intersect with interracial relationships and LGBQT couples. Will the film establish that the technology is inclusive and applies to all kinds of romantic relationships? Will the story explore unexamined biases and prejudices on the part of the researchers that might worm their way into the software?

When it comes to courtship and romance, you might ask, what's wrong with romantic dinners, walks on the beach, and good ol' fashioned conversation? Well, nothing, except the romance and courtship process doesn't always conform to the fantasy in our heads. What if technology could streamline the process and minimize the stress that comes with the uncertainty of falling in love? It sounds like a good fantasy, yet begs the question, do we want the process to become demystified and mechanized?

Zoe sounds intriguing, although as with any Hollywood movie being described as a “sci-fi romance,” I'd caution you to take the implied promise of an HEA with a grain of salt.

While we're waiting for more details about Zoe to emerge, there are a few movies available right now that touch upon the intersection of courtship, romance, and technology. They're not strict sci-fi romances in the genre convention sense, but films like Her, Ex-Machina, Passengers, Alphaville, The Lobster, and Equals (also directed by Drake Doremus) provide food for thought all the same.

(P.S. One of these days, can we please get a few sci-fi romance films written and directed by women who are romance genre experts?! Just sayin'.)


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Heather Massey seeks out sci-fi romance adventures and writes about them for Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.

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