Outstanding Debut Story
The Stranger - Kyndra Hatch (Tales From the SFR Brigade anthology)
There are so many things to love about this short--but very powerful--SFR, the first published work by debut author Kyndra Hatch. It takes place amid a terrible war with an alien species, centering on a battle worn soldier who has sacrificed everything for her cause. This tale of survival artfully blends high stakes, suspense, mystery, heartbreak, duty, and honor in a succinct mix that completely engages, and then delivers a twist that thoroughly satisfies. The Stranger is truly an outstanding debut effort by a "Next Generation" Science Fiction Romance author.
The Human Division - John Scalzi (Tor)
Early in 2013, John Scalzi released a number of serial short stories connected to his Old Man's War trilogy. These thirteen stories were later compiled into the novel The Human Division. Aptly named, the stories take place in a distant future where two factions of humanity--the planet Earth and the Colonial Union--are dividing to form two distinct, and often opposing, political entities. Separating Earth from her defense system and the defense system from the world that supports it could lead to cataclysm for the human species, but there are a number of players--human and alien alike--who are scheming to make it happen.
Amidst the trans-galactic settings, multiple viewpoints and dangerous political intrigue, the thread of a romance develops between main character Lieutenant Harry Wilson, a genetically-enhanced Colonial Defense Force officer, and a female doctor, Danielle Lowen, sent to monitor negotiations. The developing trust forged between these two characters is introduced in The Observers and showcased brilliantly in the explosive, heart-pounding climax, Earth Below, Sky Above.
I struggled a bit with my decision on this award. Though the romance is very subtle and may not satisfy those who crave a fully realized relationship within the body of the story, I felt the the intelligent banter, mutual respect and monumental show of trust between the two characters in the final installment was beautifully crafted and very deserving of recognition as outstanding SF with Romantic Elements.
Best Presentation of Alien Mysticism
Escape from Zulaire - Veronica Scott (published by author)
Veronica Scott's Escape from Zulaire is a full length novel with lavish world-building and politics, particularly the beings and artifacts at the heart of the planet's mysticism. When assistant corporate planetary agent Andi Markriss is confronted by Captain Tom Deverane--the leader of a Sectors Special Forces team sent to escort her to safety--she is both skeptical of the danger and resistant to the intrusion into her personal affairs. As the two are swept up in a global civil war that explodes around them, they must forge a strong bond to have any prayer of survival.
From the magical and supposedly extinct urabi antelope to the secret jeweled chamber hidden inside an ancient monastery, the story artfully interweaves paranormal and technological elements into a gripping tale of struggle and alien intrigue. The effects of ancient legends on both the main characters and the politics of the various tribal conflicts is well-drawn. The end result is a story with rich cultural and historic detail that enhances both the plot and the romance.
Outstanding Alien Hero
Uyane Meoraq in The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
Uyane Meoraq is a powerful warrior-priest who delivers swift justice and demands tributes wherever he travels on the planet Gann. As a Sheulek--the Striding Foot of God--he is both feared and honored by the people of his society. And, oh yes...he's a lizard.
When Meoraq stumbles upon a band of alien castaways during a quest, he believes he is up to the test his god, Sheul, has put before him, to protect this helpless band of humans and take them to the most holy site on his planet where his God will reveal a great truth about their presence on Gann. But Amber Bierce, a tough, outspoken human survivor with a never-give-up attitude and a never still tongue, is a troublesome distraction, and she will ultimately cause him to question everything he believes about his God, his world and his heart.
Meoraq is an unforgettable, standout hero who is equal parts intimidation, virility, patience, and wit. The fully-realized and sometimes explicit romance that develops between Meoraq and Amber flourishes despite a complex emotional soup of extreme devotion and fundamental differences.
Game-Changing SFR Novel
The Last Hour of Gann - R. Lee Smith (A Red Hot Romance Erotic Novel)
This sweeping, trilogy-length, independently-published alien romance takes tremendous chances and sidesteps the limitations normally imposed on more traditional SFR. Not for the faint of heart, it's fraught with violence and cruelty, but with iron-willed characters who aren't afraid to fight for themselves, for each other, and for their chance to be together despite the odds. The alien world of Gann is also brilliantly drawn with its multi-layered politics, imaginative flora and fauna, and apocalyptic landscapes.
The Last Hour of Gann tells a remarkable, epic-length tale with edgy content and extreme jeopardy that might well offend more sensitive readers. (For more details about the content, see the review Seven Reasons Why You Shouldn't Read This Book.) Because the story takes these chances, it ventures where few SFRs dare to tread and earns a SFR Galaxy Award for Game-Changing SFR Novel.
Best Motion Picture With SFR Elements
Produced by Joseph Kosinski, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Berry Levine and Duncan Henderson
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Screenplay by Karl Gajdusek and Michael DeBruyn
Starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman
With stunning visuals, dazzling special effects and an enduring love story that overcomes all, this post-apocalyptic tale unravels a suspenseful mystery where nothing can be taken at face value. OBLIVION is an example of what makes Science Fiction Romance so great--a twisty, surprise ending that offers new hope and is only possible via technology.
About Laurie A. Green
Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA® Golden Heart® finalist and science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which now totals over 300 members. Her extended family includes her husband, David, four dogs, three cats and several horses, all who reside on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico. When she's not writing, networking, or searching out the perfect cup of Starbucks, she's usually busy exercising her left brain as a military budget director.