Saturday, January 31, 2015

3rd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Seven by Anna McClain

Most Fun New Series
The Phoenix Series by Anna Hackett

Indiana Jones in space, with more Romance, and assassins, and a nebula full of baddies with a shifting wormhole entrance. It's fun. It's different. It's romantic. Each book can stand alone and focuses on different characters, but the prior stars are in the background of the later books. After the second story I bought the entire series, which incidentally, all came out in 2014. Well, so far.

Most Mysterious SFR
Into the Black by Sheryl Nantus

Sam Keller leaves the military to captain a ship transporting courtesans between planets. When one is murdered she teams up with Marshal Daniel LeClair to try to figure out the complicated puzzle while slowly falling in love. The mystery kept me guessing until the end. Well done!

Best Fairy Tale Jump Off
Ladder to the Red Star by Jael Wye

This is the second book in a series loosely framed around Snow White. It stands alone so well I didn't even know there was a first book. There's a space elevator, religious crazies, a crazy ex, interstellar power plays, and cool biotech all included in a good Romance.

Creepiest Use of Ancestors
Mission to Mahjundar by Veronica Scott

Princess Shalira was blinded as a child, making her worthless in her society and a target to her evil stepmother. Her dying father arranges a marriage to a warlord in the distant hills, then orders a visiting Sector Special Forces officer to deliver her. Mike Varone just wants to finish his short mission and retire, but is stuck ferrying a Princess into the hills. A touch of fantasy, some brutality, and a slow broiling Romance make this story an intriguing read.

Best 'Opposites Attract' Story
Lana's Comet by Lyn Brittan

A Drill Instructor who lives and dies by the rules and a spunky recruit who hates the military with a passion but is on a secret mission combine for a hot and surprising action-packed romp through back streets and space. The secondary characters are terrific enough to warrant stories of their own.

3rd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Six by Heather Massey

Best Unpredictable Sci-Fi Romance
Paradox by P.J. Dean

P.J. Dean's The Felig Chronicles is an alien invasion sci-fi romance that takes place in a contemporary Earth setting. Paradox is the fourth installment of the series. Key highlights include an interracial romance, an ensemble cast of lively characters, and lots of homemade meals.

The series is best read in order, so suffice it to say that Paradox continues the ongoing adventures of Tina Cain and Nate Lowe as they simultaneously navigate their burgeoning romance and defend Earth against the Feligs, a horde of winged, energy sucking aliens. The alien invasion framework is used to explore various themes and Paradox takes the series into darker territory.

The diverse cast is a huge part of this series' appeal and in my reading experience it’s one of the few sci-fi romances where a black heroine headlines the story. Even scenes as seemingly mundane as Tina getting dressed provided me with as much "sense of wonder" as the story's science fictional elements.

What makes The Felig Chronicles a stand out series is its sheer unpredictable nature. Each story offers a multitude of twists and turns and I loved not knowing what was going to happen next!

Best Carnivorous Blob Villain Since THE BLOB
Hellcat's Bounty by Renae Jones

Hellcat's Bounty is a fun blend of classic Western and far future space opera. A sweet "opposites attract" romance with hot, tasteful love scenes develops amid a threat of carnivorous, amoeba-like aliens. A big "Yee-haw!" for this futuristic lesbian romance.

Most Persuasive Smiling Heroine
Lana's Comet by Lyn Brittan

Who can resist the smile of that lovely heroine on the cover? Not me! I came for the heroine and interracial romance and stayed for the social commentary, which touches upon themes of racism, privilege, and gender roles. Some of it plays out in the dialogue between the hero and heroine, which made it even more entertaining. Lana's Comet also offers a forbidden romance and a touch of cli-fi for the win.

Most Inventive Secret Identity For A Futuristic Gypsy
Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett

Heroine Relda Dela-Cruz is a gypsy by trade on the market world of Souk and going into this action-adventure sci-fi romance one may wonder how the story will explain the existence of a fortune teller in a far future setting. Well, now I know and It. Is. Awesome!

No spoilers from me, though--you'll just have to read Beneath a Trojan Moon yourself to discover the deep, dark secret that makes Relda special. What I can tell you is she's an engaging heroine with a keen nose for business and a great fashion sense. She's also paired with a good guy hero who supports her and her abilities in every way. All of the above is why I'm on #TeamRelda.

Best Transgender Hero Sci-Fi Romance
Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor by Spring Horton

Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor was my favorite discovery of 2014. I'd been actively seeking more diverse reads and I’m grateful to the alert reader who brought this title to my attention. This romantic steampunk story stars a transgender hero who craves adventures, but first he needs to acquire an airship.

Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor features a cast of quirky characters--my favorite was the automaton ship's doctor! This story is worth checking out for its positive portrayal of an underdog trans hero who takes a crew of misfits under his wing.

Best In-This-World Sci-Fi Romance Television Show

MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR is cracktastic sci-fi romance at its best! This twenty-one episode South Korean TV show is about an alien, Do Min Joon (Kim Soo-hyun), who falls in love with movie star Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji-hyun) after being stranded on Earth for four-hundred years.

The romance is primarily one of soul mates and star-crossed lovers. Hero Do Min Joon is a “I can’t believe no one has done this before” cross between Spock and Superman. The “opposites attract” factor generates much of the humor and conflict.

MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR is a heady mix of comedy, drama, and science fiction-lite. The villain subplot and non-linear storytelling techniques make for a number of surprising and occasionally tear-inducing twists. It’s also a show with beautiful actors, amazing fashion, and most importantly, chicken and beer!

Most Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Romance Film
Directed by Charlie McDowell
Screenplay by Justin Lader
Starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss

THE ONE I LOVE is a comedic, character-driven sci-fi romance with big appeal for SFR fans. An estranged couple visits a lavish mansion retreat to rekindle their love, but it doesn't quite go according to plan. In fact, the plan goes deep into Twilight Zone territory. You'll have to excuse the cryptic description, but spoilers must be avoided at all costs in order to obtain the maximum enjoyment from this quirky, thought-provoking film.