Well, I like chocolate likely more than the next woman. But what I really covet is a great book.
So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I put together a list of science fiction books that satisfy both my geeky and romantic soul.
Bujold is the author who pulled me back into reading science fiction. I read the classics growing up, with Robert Heinlein a particular favorite, but after a while, it was difficult to find excellent science fiction that also featured three-dimensional characters. Then a fellow romance writer insisted I read Cordelia’s Honor.
It’s the story of how Cordelia Naismith, a women from a completely open galactic culture, and Aral Vorkosigan, a man from a brutal backward planet, fall in love and then try to bring the best of both their cultures together to change Aral’s planet for the better. What I love most about Bujold’s work is how unpredictable it is. Aral and Cordelia are on opposite sides of a war, yes, but that doesn’t play out the same as any other book that I’ve read. There’s intense action but the consequences of those actions are fully explored. At the end, I adored these characters and wished their universe was real.
For those looking at the cover above and thinking “David Weber,” I have to apologize. It’s not a particularly good representation of the book. There is a sword but Cordelia doesn’t have a captain’s chair and I can’t recall her ever wearing a green dress. Bujold in general needs better covers.
While Cordelia’s Honor is the first book in the Vorkosigan series, A Civil Campaign is one of the later ones. It’s focused on the romance Aral and Cordelia’s son, Miles. But, like all Bujold’s books, it’s far more than that. The book is a conscious echo of the best Regency romances from Jane Austen and others and, like those novels, explores the culture around them through the prism of the romance.
It also has one of the most embarrassing and yet funniest dinner scenes I’ve ever read. Poor Miles. Even though he deserves it.
Linnea Sinclair’s Gabriel’s Ghost and Finder’s Keepers. I recommended Sinclair’s books for the holiday gift guide as well as she’s one of my current favorite writers. She combines the fast-pace and the detailed world building of galactic science fiction with an excellent romance. It’s a hard combination to pull off and Sinclair does it with panache and fun.
Catherine Asaro’s Primary Inversion and Quantum Rose. A Nebula-award winning author, Asaro has a PhD. from Harvard in physics. Her galactic stories of the Skolian Empire showcases that knowledge. These are two of my favorites. Quantum Rose is a good place to start as it’s told mostly from the point of view of a women on a rural planet who must find a way to use the newcomers from the Empire to help her people.
Karin Shah’s Starjacked. Shah is an author I found through an online group dedicated to SF Romance. She had a free short story available on her blog that I enjoyed, especially because of a well-written hand-to-hand fight scene. This is only available in ebook form but for those looking for a last-minute gift, that might be an advantage since it can be downloaded instantly.
The Key by Pauline Baird Jones. Jones counts among her readers a rocket scientist who works for NASA. The heroine of this book is an Air Force pilot who crashes on an inhospitable planet during an intergalactic war.
For those who are woefully short of funds this year, there are still options.
The Baen Free Library includes books by Bujold, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, David Drake and David Weber, among many others. And The Gutenberg Project has a ton of free science fiction in the public domain. Of course, it’s not all romance, but among the many authors there’s likely to be something that she will enjoy.