Author and genre blogger Heather Massey is here today to share with readers how sci fi romance differs from other subgenres of romance in a big way when it comes to the heroine's occupation. These leading ladies aren't the proper socialites you find in some historical stories or the everyday gals you meet in contemporary romances. From engineers to computer experts, ship pilots and beyond, Massey tells us how these professions shape the heroines of some of her favorite sci fi romances.
Here’s a word association challenge for you. If you were to identify the factors that define a romance heroine, which ones come immediately to mind? Social status? Virginity? Selflessness? Attractiveness? Capacity for love and forgiveness?
There are probably as many answers as there are heroines, but if you’re venturing into science fiction romance territory, these heroines are frequently defined in significant ways by their occupations. Each romance subgenre promises heroines with a variety of skills and traits, but one day I got to thinking about just how much sci-fi romance heroines are shaped by their occupations.
I’m a reader who’s been working since age sixteen (earlier than that if you count my babysitting years), so I can easily relate to working heroines. But not just any working heroines—I’m talking about the ladies with out-of-this-world jobs. For me, the core fantasy is the idea of empowerment. I will never be a scientist, starship captain, spy or space engineer, but I can live the dream vicariously through the heroines of science fiction romance. Because holy cow, those gigs are a lot more exciting than ringing up sales at a cash register.
Sci-fi romance heroines frequently have jobs where they wield great power and skills. Their adeptness with gadgets (even the made-up kind) never ceases to amaze me. They’re smart, capable, and savvy professionals. As risk-takers, they’re not afraid to question or combat the status quo using their knowledge.
What’s especially great is that the heroes love them for it. Possessing a strong occupational skill set is a turn on for these guys! Some stories feature the hero being pleasantly surprised that the heroine is so capable. Increasingly, however, heroes and other characters simply assume that a woman can handle the responsibility of her job. As we well know, that was never a question to begin with.
The sheer variety of heroine occupations in sci-fi romance is a unique feature of this subgenre. Just about any kind of job you want to imagine can be found. Here’s a few from the tip of the iceberg:
- Computer expert—Unacceptable Risk by Jeanette Grey and Synthetic Dreams by Kim Knox
- British Naval Intelligence agent—Skies of Fire by Zoë Archer
- Psychologist—Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
- Evolving Intelligence engineer—Sunrise Alley by Catherine Asaro
- Corporate executive—Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau
- Blogger/journalist—Stellarnet Rebel by J.L. Hilton
- Astrophysicist—In Enemy Hands by KS Augustin
- Diplomat—Wars of the Heart by Inari Gray
- Psychotherapist—Phoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson
- Commercial freight captain—Unmasked by C.J. Barry
- Starship pilot—Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Quite a few sci-fi romances feature heroines as starship captains, namely, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair, Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard, Metal Reign by Nathalie Gray, and The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler.
The above characters and others have jobs that play a key role in their ability to battle treacherous odds. Talk about occupational hazards! And if during the course of the mission they incur work-related injuries, they are strong enough to overcome them.
A heroine’s occupation is more than just a job—it defines her character, her choices, and her relationships—especially in a futuristic setting where technology frequently levels the playing field.
Powerful women. That’s what these stories deliver.
- Heather Massey
Want more recommendations for sizzling sci fi romances? Check out Heather's sci fi romance blog,The Galaxy Express. And you can always find more genre news and coverage on our Everything Science Fiction & Fantasy Page!