When Science Fiction is Not Science Fiction
Okay, the author is employed by a Science Fiction magazine to produce the occasional thought-provoking magazine article. In this case the
writer has decided to restrict SKIFFY from containing romance or mystery (he said "intrigue"). I
said "skiffy," since he obviously wasn't talking about the Science Fiction I've come to know and love.
I've spent a lot of words in this blog claiming to love some chocolate (romance) in my peanut butter (SF). Heinlein was one of several dead white authors he pointed to as being SF writers, and I say even he turned out a romance or two. Read "The Menace From Earth" from the collection of the same name and tell me the Romance Writers of America wouldn't drool all over it - despite being set on the moon! Asimov, OTOH, couldn't write romance to save his life. His only attempt, "The Gods Themselves", simply had an injection of weakened girl cooties, the way vaccines use dead or weakened viruses to build immunity.
I would have simply ignored Mr. Cook's opinion had it not been brought to my attention in the first place by William Shunn and His Response
The comment is followed by a denial of its validity by Mr. Cook, but it looks to me like weaksauce.
The introduction of my eyes to this, pardon me, tripe was in the Miles to Go conference of Baen's Bar, Lois Bujold's conference. I read Cook's article, wherein I found this:Paul Cook wrote on September 4, 2013 in Amazing Stories
Another writer well-praised (from every corner) is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her great work is the Miles Vorkosigan series. These are supposed to be military science fiction stories, but they are really at their core Romance novels. At first, they were military science fiction novels of a higher order than most. But the romance elements creep in very early on. Bujold tips her hand in the eloquence of her language (normally a good thing) and the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors. All of this is right out of Alexander Dumas. True, these intrigues and flourishes do happen in the real world (or they used to), but Bujold, over time with novels such as Miles in Love and Cordelia’s Honor, you can see that Bujold is a closet romance writer. Not that this is a bad thing, but some of us aren’t that interested in romance. For me, personally, it takes much of the dramatic urgency out of a story if the hero is already married or if during a skirmish comes back to canoodle or wine or dine with his beloved before rushing back to the fray.
What an idiot! Neither Cordeliah's Honor
nor Miles in Love
are novels, singular. Both are "megabooks" or "omnibuses" (omnibi?) consisting of two full novels and a novella.
Secondly, the statement "over time"—Cordeliah's Honor contains "Shards of Honor", "Aftermaths" and "Barrayar", some of Lois's earliest work. While "Shards of Honor" isn't a romance, it does contains one, encapsulated by the hardest of hard SF, with fleets and planetary invasions and descriptions of weapons systems, and politics and intrigue. Oh yeah, intrigue is Cook's number two anti-SF bugaboo, but he didn't accuse Lois of that.
Third. Miles in Love
consists of "Komarr", "A Civil Campaign" and "Winterfair Gifts". Lois freely admits (and in fact brags smugly) that "A Civil Campaign" is a romance first and Science Fiction second, inspired in plot and title by some veteran Romance Novelists. Dorothy Sayers, particularly. "Winterfair Gifts" began life as an entry in an anthology called "Irresistible Forces
", a collection of novellas and short stories that combine Romance with Science Fiction.
Komarr is merely the story in which Miles Vorkosigan meets Ekaterin Nile Vorvane Vosoisson, his future wife. It otherwise contains little romance.
Paul failed to cite "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance," Lois's latest and yes, very romance-centric novel.
The biggest objection I have to the article is not that he picks on My Favorite SF Author (although that would be sufficient) but that he has the nerve to say that romance and intrigue have no place in SF.