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?"