Our topic this week is to name our favorite SF&F tropes.
Well okay, I neither read nor write in terms of tropes. By which I mean I don’t search out books in specific niches like the bully’s best friend’s sister expelled from her academy solving a cozy mystery on Mars, to make up a wild example. I read a book if the plot sounds interesting to me and I write a book if there’s a story I want to tell.
Now most of my science fiction novels do fall into the classic SF trope of military man (or ex-military man) and strong woman heroine plunged into a dire situation, which they have to work together to survive or to solve and along the way respect and romance happens. For my Badari Warriors series, I deliberately picked the trope of genetically engineered beings, because I do love series with that as a central theme and I wanted to write one. So I guess technically you could say that’s a trope I enjoy and I write, but I don’t do searches in Amazon form my next new read based on books in that category. If I see one that sounds interesting, I might one click it. Or I might not.
And with my Badari, I put many other elements into the plot and the world building so there are various aspects to the plot.
They do have fated mates, however, which again isn’t a trope I necessarily search out to read. I just happened to think it made a nice twist in this particular series.
But rather than be totally meh here today, let me share three top tropes in science fiction romance that I am seeing strong reader interest and appetite for.
ALIEN ABDUCTION remains huge. I can’t tell you how many books I see each week that start out with some variation on the phrase “I’ve been kidnapped by aliens.” Usually the woman is destined for a dire fate until she meets a strong male – a gladiator, an alien commander, another prisoner (usually of an alien race), a soldier or mercenary with a conscience (or her fated mate maybe) who bonds with her and fights for her. There’s infinite variety in these stories as SFR authors have vivid imaginations and storytelling skills and the books span a wide range from extremely steamy to more tame. Alana Khan, Athena Storm, Ruby Dixon, Regine Abel, Kate Rudolph, Tiffany Roberts and many other authors have written this type of story.
ALIEN PROTAGONISTS WHO LOOK LIKE ALIENS. There are entire groups on Facebook dedicated to this trope and much discussion of this. A truly alien hero offers all kinds of possibilities for…ahem…interesting bedroom scenes with tails, tentacles and other physical gifts coming into play. I have to say this isn’t a variation I personally read much but I have enjoyed a few. S. J. Sanders, Tiffany Roberts (again), Ann Aguirre (her recent novel Strange Love was so well done I had to enjoy it!), Honey Phillips, Amanda Milo, Auryn Hadley and others write using this trope.
CYBORGS are still and always hugely popular. The idea of heroes who are part human and part machine, whether it be actual metal parts, or nanocytes or some other method of enhancement, falling in love with a human woman just really works for readers. Cynthia Sax is my go-to author for this because I do enjoy a good cyborg romance and she writes them so well, but Anna Hackett wrote my all-time favorite entitled Cyborg: Galactic Gladiators Book 10. Laurann Dohner is another author who has a top selling cyborg series. Naomi Lucas, Mina Carter, Grace Goodwin, Cara Bristol and others write excellent cyborg novels.
It should also be noted that, like me, SFR authors may bring many different tropes into play in one book - an alien looking alien who's a cyborg and kidnapped a human woman, for example.
I’m sure in each of these three categories I’m missing a chance to highlight many other authors but I’m just taking the ones on the top of my mind for today. That’s enough SFR tropes for one quick post – next time we tackle this topic on SFF7, I’ll be sure to give you some others for your reading pleasure.
Here was my most recent release in the award winning Badari Warriors series: