Best Heavyset Hero - A Gift For Boggle by PJ Schnyder (Free short story at the author’s site)
A Gift For Boggle pushes sci-fi romance boundaries—and romance boundaries in general—in the best way possible. A spin-off of the author’s Hunting Kat (and I strongly recommend you read that one first), the story gives Boggle a romance of his own. Not only is Boggle overweight, but he’s also physically disabled, a nerd, and a loner. Despite those seemingly non-hero attributes, PJ Schnyder made him superlative hero material. A Gift For Boggle is a truly innovative science fiction romance.
Best Channeling of Django Unchained In A Steampunk Romance - Nights of Steel by Nico Rosso (Avon Books)
I’m giving Nights of Steel an award for two reasons: One, the hero, Jack Hawkins, is a person of color. That’s a rarity in steampunk romance (and also in stories with a Western setting, hence the Django Unchained connection) and I was excited to encounter an example of diversity. I also applaud Avon for representing the hero on the cover. Two, Nights of Steel packs a lot of action-adventure and steampunk gadgets into the story, which is a considerable feat given its novella length. And who can resist Jack's jazzy prosthetic arm?!
Best Non-Traditional Romance - Stellarnet Rebel by J.L. Hilton (Carina Press)
Stellarnet Rebel covers a lot of science fiction ground, but what really makes it unique is the non-traditional romance. I love that the story took the romance in an unexpected direction. The author layers interesting social commentary about romance, marriage, and family through the lens of an alien culture. The experience prompted me to question my assumptions about how we define romance both in this subgenre and also in real life. In that regard, Stellarnet Rebel stimulates both the mind and the heart.
Couple That Worked Hardest For Happily Ever After – Moon and Srin from KS Augustin’s Balance of Terror (Sandal Press)
Balance of Terror is a sequel to In Enemy Hands (Carina Press), the story where Moon Thadin and Srin Flerovs first meet. While In Enemy Hands is a mix of hard SF, political themes, erotica, and suspense, Balance of Terror is a tale of lovers on the run from the sinister Republic. Moon and Srin endure multiple obstacles and their journey is all the more harrowing considering that neither character possesses kick-butt skills. The two stories work best when read as a single unit.
Best On-The-Edge-of-My-Seat Premise - Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher (Tor)
Ghost Planet has a terrific high concept hook, one involving a mysterious alien species. I found myself caught up in the questions raised by the premise. What does it really mean to be human—are we simply one version of many possibilities? Is the human race truly ready to encounter an alien species? Ghost Planet invites readers to contemplate the “Other” using the structure of an intimate adventure. And if that weren’t enough, it’s also a science fiction romance spin on soul mates melded with a First Contact story!
Most Eclectic Collection of Lesbian Speculative Stories – Adventuresses by Angelia Sparrow
Adventuresses offers an eclectic mix of ten stories, all of which were written by the author. Each story features lesbian protagonists—because sometimes you just want sci-fi romance with women headlining the show. The heat level is erotic, but varies in intensity across the stories. Two standouts for me include the steampunk airship pirate in Adventuress because she’s just so darn cool, and Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, a Western steampunk romance with action-adventure, a heartfelt romance, and zombies. (Indie release)
Best Sci-Fi Romance Film Discovery of 2012 - Happy Accidents
Happy Accidents is a mind-bending romance with a time travel twist. The film came out in 2000, but I didn’t discover this sci-fi romance gem until 2012. With quirky characters and an unpredictable romance, it’s a great example of what can be accomplished with sci-fi romance in a contemporary setting. Happy Accidents kept me guessing right up until the end about the couple’s Happily Ever After, and that’s exactly what a good science fiction romance film should do.
About Heather Massey