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March 2017

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bear by san

WisCon Warblog: the saga continues

"A Kiss is Still a Kiss" panel on the explosion of romance/SFF genre crossovers: Karen Joy Fowler, Cynthia Gonsalves, coffeeandink

The panel addresses the issue of whether romance and science fiction/fantasy are unmixable genres--are they moving in essentially different directions? Is the current trend of publishers looking for science fiction a reaction to the realization that women buy more books than men do? Is that a mistake? In other words, does the very rigidity of the American romance genre's formula render it inimical to science fiction style plots?

coffeeandink commented on the appeal of romance and the appeal of science fiction, and how they may contradict each other.

An audience member comment on shoujo, and how to function as short stories, romance can't really show the entire arc of a relationship; that's for novel length work.

Karen Joy Fowler commented on Pride & Prejudice as a first contact novel, with regard to how the characters must grow from initial misunderstanding--Tiptree was mentioned, "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death," first-contact-as-romance. She also mentioned how Carol Emswiler's comment that all she writes are romances changes the way she looked at romances.

The conversation ranged over Bujold, Asaro, Kinsale, Crusie, and several other writers, before briefly attempting to define the difference between category romance and 'love stories.'

Karen commented that romance concentrates only on the romance, while in a love story (her example is The Left Hand of Darkness, mine would be Beasts, perhaps) the love story is imbedded in a larger matrix.

Does fantasy express dissatisfaction, necessarily?

Misha (audience): "A fantasy is just a fantasy"
Karen: "A kiss is just a kiss"
Sarah Monette (audience): "A cigar is just a cigar"
Amy Thompson (audience): "But you have to take it out occasionally."

The conversation also touched on slash, yaoi, Mary Gentle, and focused for a while on "What Do Women Want?" (Men to talk about their emotions) pausing for a while to explore the phenomenon of what category romance teaches women (does it teach them that men can be changed, or does it teach them to recode men's behavior so that they can interpret silence as affection?)

melymbrosia commented on Body Electric by Susan Squires, which she felt was unsuccessful, but interesting in how it tackles gender roles.

The suggestion was made that a list of successful science fiction/fantasy romance crossbreeds might be useful to readers was made. Karen Joy Fowler said (tongue in cheek)
that she would not participate; there was still time to turn back. Nevertheless, email suggestions to cynthia.gonsalves (at) comcast (dot) net

melymbrosia: "It doesn't matter if the woman is the hero if she can only be the hero in two plots, marriage or death."

"Is there a book that isn't a romance?"

Comments

(Anonymous)

Wiscon Warblog

I've often thought of de-lurking to tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your posts about writing, and now I'm finally doing it. Thanks especially for these fascinating notes from Wiscon!

--Dot Imm

Re: Wiscon Warblog

Thank you, and please feel free to comment any time. I don't always answer, but I do love company.
Aww, shucks. *g*
Wow. Thanks for the notes. You make me sorry I'm not there.
Next year! Next year!

I think that there's a romance at the heart of many, if not most, romance novels.

'course, I *write* romances (or try anyway) and I'm a horrible romantic, so I may be looking for it where it doesn't exist. However, that's my two farthings.
*g*

and a very shiny two farthings it is....

In the dictionary under redundant, it says 'see redundant'.

I meant, in most novels. Not most romance novels.

Because that's just obvious.

'scuse me.
Part of me wants to comment that if it's not marriage or death, it's at best a comedy of manners.

The rest is taking this as an indication that I need to put the kettle on.

- Tom
*snicker*

Pour me a cup too, would you?
The conversation also touched on slash, yaoi, Mary Gentle, and focused for a while on "What Do Women Want?" (Men to talk about their emotions) [...]

Emotions!?! I don't want to talk about my stupid emotions, look, I got this new PS2 game, where you get to shoot zombie robots! ZOMBIE ROBOTS! How cool is that? C'mon, let's play!

...

As for women only being in two plots, I've got two shorts surfing America's slushpiles with women doing non-marriage, non-death stuff, and neither has been picked up. Of course, that could be the writing, too...
*nod* I think that situation has changed a great deal, personally.
Someone in the audience said "Is there a book that isn't a romance?", I think; it certainly wasn't me, because I think that makes the term so broad it's meaningless.

To clarify something: the two plots quote was a paraphrase of--um, some important feminist theorist I read in college. I thought it was Joanna Russ, but now I think it might have been from The Madwoman in the Attic. It's a pretty common feminist comment on the Victorian novel, anyway. I was trying to express some skepticism about Janice Radway's theory that the romance novel is innately empowering because it's a story with a woman at its center, which is currently being argued (in general) most articulately by Jennifer Crusie. (Whose books I adore, and recommend whole-heartedly as an example of feminist romances, not to mention funny romances and sexy romances and just all-around excellent examples of the form -- but whose theories about the genre at large do not always persuade me.)
ooh thank you for doing this. i used to be a compulsive note-taker and i've stopped and gone the other way and now forget everything.

nice to meet you, by the way!
Nice to meet you, too!

An absolute pleasure!
I know it doesn't really go with the motif of what you were doing, but I think a better quote from me would have been, "I like reading about brooding, Byronic heroes, but I wouldn't want to date one." ;-D

--Misha
*snicker* That is a good one too, but I don't think I heard it.

Hello!

Love your icon!