Thursday, June 22, 2017

Teresa Roberts shares her thoughts on Heroines with Agency

On Heroines with Agency

Earlier this month I—like most of the women I know—saw Wonder Woman. I came out of the theater babbling gleefully about bits that made my night. I’d like to see it again on the big screen, which I don’t often say, and my husband and I will add it to our collection when it becomes available. (I mention my husband here I think it’s significant that he, a long time superhero fan who introduced me to the joys of Marvel and DC, also thought the movie was terrific.)

I’m almost afraid, though, to say I didn’t find Wonder Woman the life-changing experience some fans found it.  It’s a terrific superhero movie and I love that neither Diana nor Steve becomes a lust object for the camera. The filming is done in such a way that the fact that both Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are exceptionally good-looking people isn’t a focus of who their characters are. Competent? Check. Smart? Check. Able to kick serious ass? Check. Reasonably calm while coming to terms with being in an entirely new version of reality? Check. That they’re easy on the eyes is almost a bonus feature. (Compare to the focus on Black Widow’s ass in black leather in the Avengers movies...or for that matter, any time Thor is shirtless in the same movies. The camera lingers to make sure you have time to ogle.) But I think it seemed less astonishing to me to see a heroine not depicted through the “male gaze”, a heroine who’s doing her own thing but is glad that someone competent (who also happens to be hot) has her back, than it was for a lot of people.

You see, I write science fiction romance and paranormal romance. I read romance and urban fantasy, obsessively.

I’m used to heroines with agency.

While the romance genre used to be famous for heroines in need of rescue, it’s no longer true. While the genre still has its share of capture romances and women who need rescuing by tough guys (who in turn need emotional rescue), there are plenty of women doing the rescuing. Better yet, couples bond while battling aliens, or dealing with demons—or dancing through challenging reality together. Sometimes she’ll get in over her head and need some help, sometimes he will. But they’re both strong and competent and they find each other’s abilities just as sexy as their bodies. Granted, our heroes are always hot, and they always find the heroines compellingly beautiful. It’s part of the fun. But at its best, romance shows women in a central role and celebrates true partnership between women and men (and men and men, and women and women, but in this point I’m talking more about relationships between women and men.)  In my opinion, the subgenres that deal with the out-of-this-world and the otherworldly do it particularly well. 

But whether you’re enjoying an interracial pair of Civil War spies (Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union); a pair of cyber operatives infiltrating the headquarters of alien terrorists (Cara Bristol’s Trapped with the Cyborg);  or two powerful supernatural beings from opposing factions who can’t decide if they want to shack up or murder each other (basically anything in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series), you can find plenty of women with agency and men who love them that way, even though they occasionally want to wrap them in something soft and protect them. And even in old-school “bodice rippers”, you’ll find heroines such as sea captain Skye O’Malley in the book of that name by Bertrice Small. Definitely some rapey moments that’ll make most modern readers uncomfortable, but she’s an Elizabethan pirate...or is that privateer...who matches wits with Queen Elizabeth and wins. What’s not to like?

I’m not saying romances with tough, fierce heroines undermine the importance—or the fun—of Wonder Woman. Just saying that comics and movies, often created with a male audience in mind, are finally catching up with the heroines, and the dynamics a genre written mostly by and for women has featured for a long time. 

Author Bio: Teresa Noelle Roberts is the author of a science fiction romance series The Chronicles of the Malcolm, which is full of tough, smart heroines working with and sometimes rescuing their heroes, and several kinky romances featuring submissive heroines who are anything but outside the bedroom.

Teresa is a geeky granola girl who enjoys belly dance, superheroes, yoga, cooking, hiking, playing in the ocean, and growing more vegetables than she and her husband can possibly eat. She’d enjoy sleeping too. She thinks. But it takes so much time!
She shares her home in southern Massachusetts with her husband, a Leo in law enforcement, and three cats. She and her husband often plan vacations around food, history, and/or proximity to water.
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Aurora Springer shares Cosmic Rift, Bk 4 of the Grand Master's Galaxy

Cosmic Rift 
Book 4 of the Grand Masters’ Galaxy

Empath Violet embarks on a new and desperate mission to find her missing lover.

Violet’s happy family is shattered when Athanor Griffin vanishes. The formidable Grand Master might have teleported anywhere in the galaxy. Violet strives to find her psychic partner, while looking after their baby and fulfilling his duties on the Council. Her frantic search uncovers a new threat to galactic civilization along with resurgence of the infamous Ixioth slavers. The Council dithers in response to her call for action, and even her former allies believe the Griffin is dead. She must risk her son, her psi-powers, and her life to rescue her beloved mate in the hope they can unite to fight the menace.

Even galaxy-trotting heroines need babysitters
For most of the book, however, Violet hops from planet to planet in search of Athanor.

Violet grasped the Meilai’s hand and seized the thread of direction from Flatipus. The two women tapped their enhancers in concert. They flipped into the vortexes, crossing swiftly to the Southern Ocean.
They emerged on a beach of tawny sand. Fragments of shell littered the shore from the tideline above the lapping waves to the base of the craggy cliffs further inland. A line of people trudged toward a spaceship, poised ready for blastoff. Six-legged aliens with glossy black carapaces scuttled alongside the line of thin, hunched figures, the blue-hued inhabitants of the islands. 
Shielding quickly, Violet flung a cloak of invisibility over herself and Ravaleen. Her swift action worked as far as she could tell. No one looked at them or raised an alarm. A small figure caught her attention by the dazed torment of her mind and wobbly legs. The scrawny girl stumbled and fell. The nearest alien lashed an energy whip at the cringing child. Whimpering, the girl scrambled back into the line. Her pain and misery seared into Violet, hardening her resolve to save them. 
“What are they?” Ravaleen whispered, tilting her dainty chin at the slave masters. The aliens had a humped carapace like a beetle, six red eyes, and vicious claws on their forelimbs.
“Voids!” Violet swore. “I’ve seen their hellish kin in Athanor’s memories. They’re Ixioth slavers.”
Her tone rising in fury, Ravaleen hissed, “Kill them!”
“Wait,” Violet urged. “We must stop the spaceship. The holds are full of miserable slaves. Your people snatched from your domain. If we kill the slavers, the ship’s crew will take alarm and lift off with their wretched cargo.”
“You cripple the ship. My power is inadequate for such a task.”
“I’ll try. You stall those guards.” Shutting her eyes, Violet probed inside the ship. She veered away from the steel cold minds of the Ixioths and searched for the ship’s propulsion system. If only she had Athanor’s skill at detecting metals, sensing inanimate objects was not her forte. Swinging her mental probe from the raised prow to the base of the ship, she located a pulsing source of energy. Nearby, two Ixioths were intent on stoking the drive.
Flatipus,” she called, “I need your help to smash the foe.”
The huge sea creature offered, “Flatipus can rock the island.” 
No. You will hurt the innocent as well as the guilty. I wish to harness your power for a delicate operation.”
Funnel your psi energy to me. I’ll focus our combined beam on the ship’s drive.” The tremendous power of the gigantic creature surged into her. Engorged with psi energy, Violet staggered a step backward. Gathering her amplified power into a psi weapon, she speared into the drive. She raised a barricade around the roiling fuel and expelled the heat into the ocean. The ship shuddered on its base, but did not topple.
Ease your output,” she sent to Flatipus. The excess energy withdrew, leaving her weaker and tired.
Opening her eyes, she told Ravaleen, “The ship is stranded. Let’s free the slaves.”

What a delightful journey!
I was hoping that the Grand Masters would be better behaved now that Athanor was in charge of the group of sentient plants, animals, and other creatures. But the moment he gets abducted, it’s back to bad behavior, leaving Violet to not only care for their son, but to figure out what happened to her husband.  And I’ve got to say, it looks hopeless for a long while.

Aurora Springer is one of the most creative and imaginative authors of sci-fi that I know. Her books are unique, intelligent, romantic, and always satisfying. 

And in my opinion, The Grand Masters series is her finest work. 

Buy Links
Cosmic Rift is available at Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N

You can start the series with Book 1, Grand Master’s Pawn, for only 99c this month at Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N

Aurora Springer’s Published Stories are listed HERE

Author Bio
Aurora Springer is a scientist morphing into a novelist. She has a PhD in molecular biophysics and discovers science facts in her day job. She has invented adventures in weird worlds for as long as she can remember. In 2014, Aurora achieved her life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven adventures and romances set in weird worlds and described with a sprinkle of humor. Some of the stories were composed thirty years ago. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the keyboard. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like gardening, watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.

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